Holy Spirit part 4: Physical life vs Spiritual Life

part 4: physical life vs spiritual life

In the previous section, Handling Life’s Inner Struggles, we saw that going from unprepared to equipped to handle struggles, it is important to know what the source of our struggles are, and then what the solution is.
3. Exploring the Solution | Being unprepared in the face of the struggle is a sure setup for failure. But that is not God’s design for the Christian life. This passage outlined below, from Paul’s letter to the early church in Galatia, gives us some clues on how to face this new challenge.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Here’s a summary of some of the take-away from this passage:
What the Bible explains, we can believe. What is true about you and me is that we have a conflict between the flesh and the Spirit. Both are a source of desires within us. But neither you nor I live under the laws outlined in the Old Testament. We live by the Spirit.
What the Bible commands, we should do. What are we commanded to do insofar as facing our struggles? Walk by the Spirit.
What the Bible promises, we can expect. What will be the result of our lives if we walk by the Spirit? We won’t carry out the desires of the flesh, and our lives will be marked by characteristics (fruit) of the Spirit.
With these truths in mind, let’s consider the next helpful step in going from unprepared to equipped.
4. Examining the Sketch | As we grow in our relationships with God, there are two common scenarios, depicted in the sketch below.

keys to the sketch

  • The lower circle represents my life before I received Christ. What was my spiritual condition? What was true of my ability to understand the things of God? Why?
  • When I received Christ and He entered my life, I became spiritually alive and was given the gift of the Holy Spirit promised to every true believer. (John 7:37-39)
  • God intends for me to continue growing in my relationship with Him, learning how to live the Christian life and relying on His Spirit to work within me to give me power and understanding. According to Galatians 5:22-23, what would be the result?
  • But there is another possibility. I could fail to grow in my Christian life and never learn how to experience the power God has given me by His Spirit. What would my life be like then?
Scenario One
Though we sincerely desire to please God, sometimes we become aware of areas of our lives that are displeasing to Him, either through attitudes or actions. We do not intend to disobey. It’s just that we are learning more about what God is like and becoming more aware of sin. What do we do? We simply thank God that He has already forgiven our sins, accept His love and forgiveness by faith, and trust Him for the power to change in that area. This allows us to continue enjoying fellowship with Him. 
Scenario Two
Suppose we willfully choose to sin. What do we do now? To respond correctly to our sin, we can confess it to God and turn from it. We acknowledge our powerlessness to live the Christian life, and ask the Spirit to fill us anew with His power—that is, we practice “spiritual breathing.” Physically, we exhale impure air and inhale the pure. Spiritually, I exhale by confessing my sin (1 John 1:9) and inhale by claiming the Spirit’s power (Ephesians 5:18). 
What would happen if you or I refused to deal with our sin? Over time, we would find ourselves becoming more and more worldly, like the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 3:1-4) (leading down the path marked D in the sketch). But as we deal with our sin and rely upon the Spirit, we will become more spiritually mature and see the fruit of the Spirit produced within us (Galatians 5:22-23) (leading down the path marked D in the sketch).


Answer the questions below. As before, consider sharing your answers with growth partners. If you’re completing the program solo, write your responses in a journal. 
  • Looking at the passage from Galatians 5, who are the opponents?
  • What happens when our sinful desires go unchecked? 
  • What is the result when we walk in the power of the Spirit?
  • How does our relationship with our own sinful nature change?
  • Since we now live by the Spirit, what should characterize our relationship with the Spirit?
  • As you look at the sketch, where do you see yourself in the process?


Equipping of the Holy Spirit: Sharing Points 3-4
In this video, Lance walks a new believer, Will, through some of the questions we posed above.

supplemental resources

The link below provides you with a step-by-step study to help you address some of the hurdles of living the kind of life in the Spirit that we’ve been reading about in this journey.

Power Play – Hurdle Bible Study on the Holy Spirit

What did you learn from this supplemental resource? 


Respond to the questions below. As before, consider sharing your answers with growth partners. If you’re completing the program solo, write your responses in a journal. 
  • What are one or two highlights that stood out for you from the video?
  • How would you explain the difference between being in-dwelt by the Spirit and being empowered by the Spirit? 
  • What did you learn from the supplemental resource?

live it!

Memorize 1 John 1:9 below. 

if we confess our sins, god is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 john 1:9 ESV

In going from unprepared to equipped to handle struggles, the first two points covered here were to compare our stories and consider our struggles. Next, we’ll explore the solution some more, including examining a sketch that depicts two scenarios and two responses to sin.


Be Empowered by the Holy Spirit is the third journey of the Equipped Disciples Curriculum from Athletes in Action. Learn about the whole five collection series and how the parts fit together.