On October 31, 1999 EgyptAir Flight 990 left from New York City on a routine flight to Cairo. A short time after take-off, the pilot left the cockpit. The first officer then disengaged the autopilot, and pushed the control column forward. Seconds later, the airplane began to pitch nose-downward. The horrified pilot rushed back to his seat and battled the co-pilot for control of the plane. The pilot pulled back on the yoke, desperate to bring the nose of the plunging Boeing 767 up, while the suicidal first officer pushed his own controls forward to keep the jet in a lethal dive.
These two combatants in the cockpit gives us a glimpse of the inner life of a believer (Galatians 5:13-26). There are two realities engaged in a death-and-life struggle within us. We are born with what the Bible calls the flesh or our sin nature. And when we come to faith in the Savior, we are given the Spirit.
One of the two will dominate. Our flesh constantly attempts to hijack our lives—damaging and, if possible, destroying us. And all the while the Spirit is willing to take control and keep us locked on real freedom and truth.
The acts of our fallen natures are obvious, humiliating, easy to recognize; Paul spells them out in verses 19-21a. But the fruit of the Spirit, the evidence of the Spirit at work within us, is also on full display—in our homes, in larger family gatherings, at work, in church. It is his love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (verses 22-23a).
Flight 990 ended in tragedy—crashing into the Atlantic Ocean south of Nantucket, Massachusetts. Our struggle need not; our Pilot is greater than our fallen natures. We have this promise: “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (v. 16).
Question of the day: Which act(s) of the flesh do you need to nail to the cross? Which fruit of the Spirit still needs to blossom in your life?
Father, help me to crucify the flesh with its passions and desires, and live by your Spirit. For your sake, my sake, and the sake of those you’ve put in my life.