Drawing Near to God in Our Desires

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A well-known tale, commonly misattributed to Native Americans,[1] was first published by famed evangelist Billy Graham in his book, The Holy Spirit: Activating God’s Power in Your Life:

An Eskimo fisherman came to town every Saturday afternoon. He always brought his two dogs with him. One was white and the other was black. He had taught them to fight on command. Every Saturday afternoon in the town square the people would gather and these two dogs would fight and the fisherman would take bets. On one Saturday the black dog would win; another Saturday, the white dog would win—but the fisherman always won! His friends began to ask him how he did it. He said, “I starve one and feed the other. The one I feed always wins because he is stronger.”[2]

Applying this parable to our spiritual lives, Graham concludes, “We have two natures within us, both struggling for mastery. Which one will dominate us? It depends on which one we feed. If we feed our spiritual lives and allow the Holy Spirit to empower us, He will have rule over us. If we starve our spiritual natures and instead feed the old, sinful nature, the flesh will dominate.”[3]

This internal conflict is the same principle taught by the apostle Paul: “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions” (Gal. 5:16–17).

The cravings of our sinful nature include sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and similar behavior (Gal. 5:19–21). In contrast, the Holy Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22–23). When we fix our minds upon these things, we feed the white dog within us (Php. 4:8). Likewise, when we refuse to participate in the behavior and lusts of the world, we starve the black dog (Rom. 8:2; 1 John 2:15–17).

Becoming God’s cultural influencers involves drawing near to God in our desires. In doing this, we will become increasingly renewed in our thinking and “will learn to know God’s will” (Rom 12:2). Indeed, when our desires are aligned with God’s desires, nothing will prove to be impossible (Job 42:2; Luke 1:37; Php. 4:13).

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Timothy Zebell

As a former missionary to Asia for twelve years and the author of several books, Timothy is passionate about helping people understand the relevancy of God's Word in today's world. His goals are to help Christians discern truth from error, empower Christians to speak into cultural matters with relevancy, and to help Christians capitalize on the opportunities that these matters provide for sharing the truth about God and His gospel message.
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1. Monique. “The History of the ‘Two Wolves/Two Dogs’ Story.” Moniquilliloquies, February 15, 2012. https://tithenai.tumblr.com/post/17655980732/the-history-of-the-two-wolvestwo-dogs-story.

2. Graham, Billy. The Holy Spirit: Activating God’s Power in Your Life. Page 92. United Kingdom: Thomas Nelson, 2011.

3. Graham, Billy. The Holy Spirit: Activating God’s Power in Your Life. Page 92.


Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. Biblegateway.com.