Our scriptures are filled with many great promises. For a person wearied by sin’s ongoing power in their lives, and longing to freely walk in ways that honor our God, there is hardly a better promise than what Paul makes in Galatians 5:16. There Paul guarantees, “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” This is a 100% guarantee and there is no fine print. If you really want to quit your “sexual immorality,…jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition,…and envy” (Galatians 5:19-20) then live according to the reign of the Spirit. This sounds great. However, the only way to enjoy this benefit is “to have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:24) All of the gifts given to us by God, three-in-one, are secured when by faith we place ourselves completely under the Lordship of God as represented by the metaphor of having crucified the (sinful) flesh. The flesh is the reign under which we lived before we were crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20). Having crucified our flesh’s lordship always precedes keeping in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:25). Such surrender is the first of a lifetime of instances where we relinquish allegiance to self that we might live for God. Just because the promise of never gratifying sinful desires is great, that doesn’t make the action of walking in the Spirit easy. Indeed it can be very hard in a broken and evil world where the path of least resistance is often marked by neglect or outright rejection of God’s clear will for our lives. So walk in the Spirit, and know that though there are great promises, there is also hardship that comes with living according to the reign of the Spirit. No matter, for where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17), and suffering while a free person is always better than enjoying comfort while remaining a slave (Galatians 5:1).