16: This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17: For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18: But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. 19: Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20: Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21: 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. 22: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23: Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24: And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25: If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26: Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
And so against a background of horrendous attack on the very foundations of Christianity we find teaching that is perhaps the most precious and practical in the whole of the NT. Paul says, walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfil the lust of the flesh. Some might and many do, object to Pauls teaching on the grounds that if NT believers are not under the Mosaic law then they will have no check on their sinful nature and that this teaching is a licence to the most degraded sinful living. But this is not so. On the contrary the law never did raise the moral standard of men. So what are the practical implications of Pauls teaching? He says you believers are to live in a state of continual, (moment by moment) dependence on the empowering of the Holy Spirit. So turning from the Law which cannot change men we begin a new life of dependence on the Holy Spirit, who is able to give us the power to live a life well pleasing to God. And when we live like this constantly, we will find that we will not see, worked out in our lives, the lusts of the old human nature. Our old human nature is completely at war against the Spirit of God. They are in eternal opposition to one another. We as believers are completely unable to live as we would like to live. However, if we are guided and enabled by the Spirit then we will find we are not under the old Mosaic Law. (The whole economy of the Law was based on the works of the flesh. And there was no provision in the Law to enable men to overcome the flesh.) So turning our backs on the Old Mosaic Law is the only way that God has provided to live a holy life. Paul next reminds the Galatians of what the works of the flesh are. He lists them so that the believers might examine themselves – sexual immorality, dirty living, lust, the worship of false gods, drug taking, hatred, excommunications, jealousy, anger, party spirit, divisions, parties, envy, and drunken nights out. He says l have told you before that those who do these things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Next Paul lists the fruit of the Spirit which is seen in the lives of those who live in dependence of the Spirit. A noble love, a deep abiding joy in the realisation of Gods blessing, a peace with all men, a patience in all circumstances, a kindness to all, a wholesomeness to all, a willingness to trust and be trustworthy, mildness, and holding all the passions of the heart in check. There is no charge that the law can level against anyone who does these things. Those that belong to Christ have put to death the old nature with its desires and passions. So says Paul, if we have the life of the Spirit then let us walk orderly, as soldiers shoulder to shoulder, in the enabling of the Spirit. Lastly he says, Let us not seek an empty pride by which we constantly challenge each other over little things and envy those who we think are doing better than us.
- What does it mean to walk in the Spirit?
- Does leaving the Law behind lead to sin?
- What does Paul mean by the fruit of the Spirit?