Updated: Oct 11, 2022
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
This old Cherokee truth finds its original conception from the Word of God, which states that you are a slave to who or what you obey. You can either obey and walk in the flesh (your sinful desires/bodily impulses and cravings), or you can obey and walk in the Spirit by fulfilling the desires of the Creator, who has the best interest for all in mind. The walking in the flesh is the evil wolf, and walking in the Spirit is the good wolf. At the end of the day, the acts of the flesh, or the evil wolf, is living life in a selfish manner, while the acts of the Spirit is living a life of self-sacrificing love. The Scriptures define what things constitute “walking in the flesh,” or fulfilling sinful desires: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21 (KJV). I know some of these words may sound a little archaic, so here is a translation which is not quite as technically succinct, but is much easier for the modern reader to comprehend:
“It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on. This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom.” Galatians 5:19-21 (MSG)
Many are in slavery to their carnal/fleshly/sinful nature. This nature is all of the “animalistic” impulses we have, which originate in the Limbic System (black wolf) of the brain, which is responsible for our desires for sex, hunger, fear and selfish gain-all of which are bodily impulses. For instance, some of us are slaves to our bellies and appetites, and whenever it calls on us, or rumbles, we do whatever it asks to satisfy that craving. Likewise, some are slaves to coffee, and if they don’t religiously grind those beans and brew that coffee in the morning, they will have a terrible mood all day long and treat others poorly. Some are addicted to sex, and will go out of their way to fulfill their bodily inclinations at the expense of another person’s heart. Some are controlled by drugs; some to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Tiktok; some to alcohol; some to status, etc.
All of us have put something upon an altar that we “cannot live without,” which we find comfort, relief, or happiness in. But often times, these worldly things we idolize end up ruining us physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. Continue with a smoking habit for too long you’ll get lung cancer or some other disease. That short-term pleasure will lead to long-term pain. Similarly, if you’re a slave to your bodily impulses and it habitually tells you to eat as much ice-cream as you want for that quick hit of dopamine, you could end up with health problems ranging from inflammation (and the chronic diseases which follow) to diabetes to obesity to an early death. An interesting point to ponder is the fact that healthy habits work in the inverse manner. If you start going to the gym, you will feel short term pain in the beginning but will reap long term results if you are consistent. When you begin reading the Bible consistently, it will seem boring and unproductive at first, but after a while you will learn to love reading the Scriptures and you will reap unspeakable pleasure and peace. The conception of karma is true in the regard that one indeed does reap what he sows.
“For the one who sows to his flesh [his sinful capacity, his worldliness, his disgraceful impulses] will reap from the flesh ruin and destruction, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not grow weary or become discouraged in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap, if we do not give in. So then, while we [as individual believers] have the opportunity, let us do good to all people [not only being helpful, but also doing that which promotes their spiritual well-being], and especially [be a blessing] to those of the household of faith (born-again believers).” Galatians 6:8-10 (AMP)
Now that we understand what the evil wolf is – the sinful nature – and the results of feeding that wolf (sowing in the flesh) – death -, let us contemplate what it means to “sow to the Spirit.” One who is driven by the impulses of the Holy Spirit, is actively using his Frontal Lobe of the brain, which is responsible for your character, decision making, empathy, love and more. The Prefrontal Cortex/Frontal Lobe of the brain is where one makes pure choices; here is the faculty which allows the individual to search for truth as for hidden treasure; it is the area in the brain one uses when worshiping the Creator. Actively using your Frontal Lobe rather than the Limbic System is the equivalent to mind over matter, Spirit over flesh.
Interestingly enough, the Limbic System and the Frontal Lobe cannot operate simultaneously. This is affirmed in Scripture where Jesus said “You cannot serve two masters. Either you will have the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” Matthew 6:24. There is only enough food to feed one of the wolves. The Spirit and the flesh are diametrically opposed and cannot be intermingled any more than water and oil.
So, how does one starve the evil wolf, or Limbic System, and feed the good wolf, or Frontal Lobe? This is a key question, for the diet of the evil wolf is not the same as that of the good wolf. The Limbic System is fueled by FEAR and SELFISHNESS, while the Frontal Lobe is driven by LOVE and SELFLESSNESS. For instance, we should not let our desire for food control us and our happiness. That desire comes from a (usually subconscious) FEAR that you will go hungry and die. Likewise, the inappropriate desire for sex is driven by a FEAR of you being alone and of not having anyone connect with, as we were created to do. Greed (selfish gain) is also fueled by the FEAR of not having enough money for yourself. Now, don’t get me wrong, the desire for food is not evil in and of itself, for we all need it to live life, and God made it as a blessing for us! In the same way, sex was made to a blessing to a couple who loves each other with all of their heart and will never leave forsake each other. Making money is also a fine thing to do. But when one is consumed by the desire to selfishly do whatever they want, so that the object of their adoration dominates their thoughts continually, then they have taken a good thing and corrupted the use of it. Jesus said, concerning His Second Coming and the destruction of the wicked, that “as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” Matthew 24:37-39. Now, it is interesting that Jesus pointed out these three specific things, because, as we saw, in and of themselves they are fine. An interesting point is that all three of those things are based upon the drive for survival and continuation of life for self. That being said, eating, drinking, and sex/procreation are three things that are ingrained deep within our nature, and come out when we are focused on the survival and pleasure of self.
Jesus said “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.” Matthew 6:31-32. We should not depend on ourselves to provide all things for ourselves, for we are not in control of our reality, but we grasp at the illusion of control. Let’s put our faith in the Creator of all things to provide for us, for He cares about us more than He cares for His own life! And the Creator has shown us how to get rid of all fear, thus deactivating the Limbic System, weakening the evil black wolf. According to the Creator: “PERFECT LOVE CASTS OUT ALL FEAR.” 1 John 4:18. Yes, it is a scientific fact that you cannot actively use the Frontal Lobe while simultaneously actively using the Limbic System – truly only one wolf can survive. Thus we find that, according to the Scriptures, we should feed the good wolf with selfless love.
Indeed, the answer is LOVE! But who should we love? The Scriptures teach that we should love God and love our fellow man. How should we love? God gave us 10 simple points on how to love, and it’s called the 10 commandments, God’s law of love. The first four commandments on the first tablet detail how to love God:
1. Have no other god’s before YHWH/Jehovah
2. Don’t worship any idols (anything you go to for comfort or strength besides God)
3. Don’t say God’s name without any feeling (in vain)
4. Rest, or don’t work, on the seventh-day Sabbath (Saturday), because God rested on the 7th day after creating earth. Spend that day contemplating the character of the Creator and His awesome works revealed in creation
Jesus summed up these four points in a simple phrase: “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’” Matthew 22:37.
And how are we to love our neighbors? The last 6 commandments, found on the second tablet, explain how to do such:
5. Honor your parents
6. Do not murder, which begins as hatred in the heart
7. Do not commit adultery, which begins as inappropriate desires, or lust, in the heart
8. Do not steal
9. Do not lie about your neighbors
10. Be content with what you have and who you are with. Don’t be jealous of the things someone has nor their spouse
Jesus summed up these commandments with the phrase: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” According to Him, “The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:40.
Now that we know who and how to love, the next question is: why should we love? We should love because the God of the universe sent His literal only Son, who had been with Him from eternity past, to die for all who have broken God’s law of love at one time or another, because the natural consequence of breaking that law is death. When mankind first sinned, Jesus and His Father implemented some good news for us: a plan to redeem us from the penalty of sin (death), to free us from the power of sin which so easily captivate us, and to bring us from the presence of sin back into His loving arms, just as it was before the fall. The plan to save us was to send the divine Son of God to earth, under the veil of human flesh, to die the most excruciating death imaginable and place the guilty wages of sin and death - from all mankind - upon Him. He is the only one who could redeem us, for He was the Lawgiver! The Father and the Son were in agreement with this plan, for they are of the same Spirit – they have the same mind, character, and purposes.
When Jesus was about to die, He could not see past the portal of the grave, for He didn’t know if His Father would accept Him after sin was placed upon Him, but He had faith that His Father knew what to do for the good of all. We did not deserve to go free, but God loved you so much that He would rather not exist than for you to perish! When one truly digs deep into this truth, actively pondering it, we will realize what great grace we have received. If you want to make Jesus the Master of your life, the Scriptures tell us that: “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord [the Master, Boss of your life] and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:8-9. When you do this you are inviting His personal presence, the Holy Spirit, into your heart to speak to you as your conscience in every and any situation. The Spirit of Christ within you is the regenerative moral agent that helps mold you back into the image and likeness (character) of God. “Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; let Your good Spirit lead me into the land of uprightness.” Psalm 143:10. He shall be your Helper and Comforter in every situation, as long as you stay true to God’s covenant, which is unconditional love for God and your fellow man (see 10 commandments for details). And if you have made Jesus the Boss of your life, here is His command: “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:12-13.