Galatians 5: 16-26
December 5, 2013
How Do I Live In the Spirit? 16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[a] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.1
In Apostle Paul’s profound letter to the churches of Galatia, during a most critical moment in early Christian history, he addresses ideals taught contrary to the gospel he is preaching. He asserts they have encountered a “different gospel”2 by those sent to stir up dissention. The gospel in which Paul preached to the Galatians was that they could be saved by faith in Jesus Christ and no works were necessary to obtain this gift, except having faith. He counters the position of Jewish Christians from Jerusalem who have visited the Galatians and insisted on these pagan converts submitting to the rite of circumcision. Justification by faith has removed the responsibility on behalf of the followers to act of their own will to be accepted by Jesus Christ. Therefore the Galatians no longer have to be bound by law or deeds. He holds up the Jewish patriarch Abraham as an example of one who trusts God and is reckoned as righteous and, further, uses the story of Abraham’s sons to show his readers that with faith comes freedom. Paul’s conclusion, then, is that faith frees a person to become a person that does what the law requires, but without ever having to be demanded to do it. Once a believer has accepted this new found freedom in Christ, there are certain characteristics that should accompany the new relationship. Paul further lays out in the fifth chapter of Galatians some hints on what every Christian should know. They are traits of the old man (referred to as works of the flesh) and the new man (works of the spirit). These are the ways that should be adopted once a person has made up their mind to follow Jesus Christ.
According to Paul in order to adopt this new way of living, one must avoid the temptation to walk in the old ways. He says no longer should one fulfill the lust of the flesh.3 Satan would desire that we not accept our freedom and are still bound by the ways of sin. In order to break free of that habit our mind needs to be transformed. Unless one is aware is how the enemy tries to manipulate our actions, we must know what is displeasing to God. Paul lays out what should be done away with and how a Christian ought to behave.
He begins by vices or works of flesh which are adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hared, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness and reveling.4 The Holy Spirit wars against these evil doings, therefore our flesh is constantly at war with the spirit. James 4:6-7 says, “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil…” The key to the devil fleeing is first we must submit to God.5 The only way