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Those Who Have the Desires of the Spirit and Those Who Have the Desires of the Flesh

God has told us to always have the desires of the Spirit. Since the Spirit is God, the desires of the Spirit are the desires God gives us, which come from the same heart as God. On the contrary, the desires of the flesh are the desires Satan tries to instill in us to divert us away from spiritual things.

When Satan tempted Jesus at the beginning of His public ministry, he also used the desires of the flesh; he attempted to entice Jesus with the riches and honors of the world. However, Jesus answered all the temptations of Satan by using the words of God, which awaken the desires of the Spirit (Mt 4:1–10).

Now, let’s see in detail through the Bible what kind of people have the desires of the Spirit and what kind of people have the desires of the flesh.

Live by the Spirit


Gal 5:16–17 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.

The above verses teach us that if we have the desires of the flesh, we cannot entertain the desires of the Spirit which we should indeed have, and that if we have the desires of the Spirit, we will not gratify the desires of the flesh. The desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh. If we have strong desires of the Spirit, we will escape the desires of the flesh—the worldly desires. On the contrary, if we have strong desires of the sinful nature—the desires of the world, we will go against God’s holy will.

Ro 8:5–8 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

Those who have the strong desires of the flesh are not concerned about spiritual things and have their minds set on physical things. However, those who have the strong desires of the Spirit have their minds set on spiritual things. What is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Co 4:18). So, what we should have is the desires of the Spirit.

How are we able to have the desires of the Spirit then? The most important requirement is humility. If we do not have a humble heart, the desires of the Spirit cannot be instilled within us.

The desires of the Spirit are acquired when we humble ourselves


Isaiah 14 shows us the previous life of the king of Babylon. In heaven he was an angel who held the glorious position of the “morning star, son of the dawn.” As he became arrogant, however, he even attempted to take over God’s throne of glory. When he became proud, his heart was filled with the desires of the flesh—the worldly desires, not the desires of the Spirit. As a result, he rebelled against God and was unfortunately cast down to this earth.

Satan wants all mankind to have such an arrogant heart. God, however, came to this earth as the “One who serves” and humbled Himself. If we humble ourselves and look at everything, we can have the heart of God, but if we become arrogant and look down on others, Satan injects his thoughts into our minds.

Ro 12:16–18 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Whether we can have the desires of the flesh or the desires of the Spirit depends on whether we become proud or not.

The word “understand” is a combination of two words: under and stand. If we stand under everything and everyone and look at them, we can understand them all.

However, if we stand over others, we cannot understand them. To look down on others means to put them under your level or to think you are better than them. If we have an arrogant heart, we come to look down on someone or something.

The opposite of “to look down on” is “to look up at,” which means to respect someone or something. All creatures of God seem worthy of respect if we put ourselves under them; we can fully understand all of their conditions or situations.

Those who have the desires of the flesh always try to exalt themselves; they look down on all things with an arrogant heart. Since they exalt themselves, they feel superior to others in everything. If people do not treat them with respect, they feel disappointed and complain about it.

So, standing under others is the way to have the desires of the Spirit. If we try to stand above other people, we will fall into the path of destruction like the morning star, son of the dawn. That is why God tells us to put ourselves lower than others.

The desires of the Spirit that Abraham had


One of the representative figures who had the desires of the Spirit is Abraham, our father in faith. As Abraham lived with his nephew Lot, each of them had his own servants and livestock. At first, there was no conflict between them although they let their livestock graze freely. However, as their livestock grew in number year after year and the land became insufficient for both of them to co-exist, there arose a quarrel between Abraham’s shepherds and Lot’s shepherds over whose cattle should go to the water first and get the best grass. Then Abraham called Lot and suggested to him:

Ge 13:8–12 So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are brothers. Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.” Lot looked up and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan was well watered, like the garden of the L ORD , like the land of Egypt, toward Zoar. (This was before the L ORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company: Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom.

Here we can see the mindset of the person having the desires of the Spirit. Though Abraham was the patriarchal head of his household, he allowed his nephew Lot to choose the best land first. Lot chose the land near Sodom and Gomorrah, where there was plenty of grass and water for his flocks, and Abraham was left with the land which seemed inferior. However, the land of Sodom and Gomorrah that seemed good and fertile at that time turned into a place of destruction later on, and the land of Canaan which Abraham settled in became an eternal inheritance for him and his descendants under God’s blessing (Ge 17:8; 19:24–29).

Abraham placed himself under his nephew Lot. As the elder and head of the household, he had the right to choose first; if he had chosen the best part for himself, Lot would have had no choice but to follow his decision. However, Abraham gave his nephew Lot the right to choose first where he wanted to go and allowed him to live in the best land. Those who had the desires of the Spirit always humbled themselves like that.

Although there was strife between the herdsmen of Abraham’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock as their flocks grew so large, it was smoothly solved when Abraham let his nephew Lot choose the better land. It is the same now. As our brothers and sisters in Zion grow in number, we who have entered Zion earlier need to have the desires of the Spirit as Abraham did. When we have the desires of the Spirit instead of pursuing immediate pleasures and interests and give better things to our brothers and sisters, we will receive greater blessings. Those who have the desires of the Spirit always humble themselves and give good things to others, and God repays them with even greater blessings. We must remember this.

The way of love that fulfills the desires of the Spirit


Now the people of Zion are streaming to Zion. To help those who have lived with the desires of the flesh remove the impurities of the world and become purified in Zion, we who are the first need to fill our hearts with the desires of the Spirit and set them many gracious examples and lead them to the right path.

Always humble yourself at home and church as well. If you lower yourself, you can understand your husband or wife and can also understand your children. There is an overflowing abundance of peace, joy and happiness in families whose members understand and take care of each other. If you live according to the Spirit, according to God’s word, you can taste heaven at home as well as at church.

If we put ourselves above others, we won’t be able to understand their words and behaviors but complain about everything they do: ‘Why can’t they do that?’ Why don’t they do this to me?’ ‘Why are they making the situation worse?’ This will always cause conflict. If we all exalt ourselves, how can we become one?

God, who rules over the whole universe, came to this earth in the flesh in order to save us and set the example of serving others by putting Himself in the lowest position. We, too, should respect and serve others with such a humble heart and work hard to find our lost brothers and sisters, and when we find them, we should take good care of them and put forth all our efforts to lead them all to salvation. This is what those who have the desires of the Spirit must do, and it is the way of salvation God has taught us.

All these things can be encompassed by love. The greatest of all is love. Since God is love, He came to this earth, leaving His heavenly glory behind; He humbled Himself and served others, and even took the punishment for our sins on the cross.

1 Co 13:1–4 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy . . .

God has given us a new command: “Love one another” (Jn 13:34). In the new covenant, everyone should put love into practice; it is not desirable that some should only give love and others only receive it. Love is patient, love is kind, and it does not envy. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it is not proud. Those who exalt themselves cannot practice any of these characteristics of love described in the Bible.

God has awakened us to the fact that we are by nature sinners from heaven, and has repeatedly told us, “Humble yourself and repent,” and, “Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.” When we do so, we can embody the kingdom of heaven on this earth and enter the eternal kingdom of heaven as well.

Heb 10:23–25 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Unless we put ourselves in a lower position, we cannot consider one another. If we put ourselves in a higher position, we will want to be served by others, instead of serving them, won’t we? Only when we stand in a position under others can we understand all things and give love to everyone. In such a place, everyone feels like serving and sacrificing for each other.

Since we are all brothers and sisters in faith, we should consider and love one another, and we should not only receive love from God but give love back to God. When our hearts are filled with the desires of the Spirit—the love of God, we can bear beautiful fruit.

All parts of the body should have equal concern for each other.


Zion, where God dwells, is a place of grace; whoever enters Zion is comforted and blessed. As people of Zion, let us fill ourselves with the desires of the Spirit, so that everyone can experience that God is with us, through our good deeds as well as the words of the Bible.

1 Co 12:17–27 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

Sometimes there arose an argument among members of the early Church, too. Those who were not fully thankful to God for His saving grace had the desires of the flesh and looked down on others by putting themselves above them. This caused them to grumble and scramble for position.

God has established an order in the Church as well; each of us has a God-given role to play. We are the body of Christ, and each one of us is a part of it. What if the feet complain about being the lowest part of the body and try to be attached to the top of the head? The feet, the face and all the other parts of the body are beautiful when they are in their own position. If each part of the body wants to be at a higher position and tries to leave its own position, the body will lose its balance and be unable to function properly. The Apostle Paul pointed this out by saying, “Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers?” (1 Co 12:28–30).

We should not pursue titles or positions and boast about them according to the desires of the flesh, but according to the desires of the Spirit we should help our brothers and sisters receive more blessings through God’s word and serve them fully. Everyone can perform the gospel mission in a God-given position or place—students at school, housewives in their home and neighborhood, and others in their own positions and places. I want all of you to always have the desires of the Spirit and become united with one another as members of the body of Christ, so that you can follow God wherever He leads you.

Do not be arrogant. If you become proud in heart, the desires of the flesh will soon captivate your heart and you will end up as an enemy of God. Let us not forget that we committed sin in heaven, and continuously humble ourselves and always give thanks to God for making us His children and allowing us to stay in Zion. Being perfectly united and joined together, let us carry out our roles and functions as the members of Christ’s body. Brothers and sisters in Zion! I earnestly ask you to have the desires of the Spirit, so you can always concede to each other, forgive one another, endure patiently, devote yourself to finding the lost, and take good care of those who are found. While doing so, I want you all to proceed towards the path of salvation together.