“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). Learning to say “no” is the by-product of saying “yes” to the Spirit.
It is important to understand this distinction. So many well-intentioned believers spend a life time trying to overcome sin in their lives. They wake up each morning with this prayer on their lips: “Lord, please help me to not sin today.” At the end of the day, they look back only to see their prayer went unanswered.
A better prayer is this: “Lord, teach me to abide in you and to follow the leading of God’s Spirit in my life.” God’s Spirit is never going to lead you into sin. He leads you to trust in the Lord, to live righteous and upright lives. He leads you to love and serve others. In living out the Spirit’s work in your life, you will automatically be saying “no” to sin. Peter put it this way:
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 2 Peter 1:3-4
Walking in the Spirit is trusting God to complete the work He began in you. You can count on Him to complete this task, even when you do not fully cooperate. This is His promise: “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son…”
When we do get off course, and we will, the Holy Spirit merely recalculates our journey and continues His work in conforming us to the image of His Son. He does so without condemnation. Nor does He manipulate us with fear or guilt to get us back on track. He uses our mistakes, reminding us of the forgiveness we have in Christ, and works them together for our good. He comforts our hearts with this amazing promise: “that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)
You are not alone on your journey. Jesus is there with you every step of the way. Trust Him, rely upon Him, and live out what He is working in your life. When you do you will be saying “no” to sin and “yes’ to the will of God.