Walking in the Spirit
Galatians 5:15-18 (15) But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. (16) This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil 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. The last verse of today's text was the basis of a previous meditation, Being Led of the Spirit, a theme which we shall today (ironically) flesh out a little more. It is evident from our text that the Spirit and the flesh are polarized. If one walks in the flesh, he is not being led of the Spirit and therefore not walking in the Spirit. The mutual incompatibility of the flesh and the Spirit was also set forth by Jesus Christ when He was speaking of the necessity of a new birth: (John 3:6) That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (John 3:7) Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. Jesus spoke these words to emphasize that a spiritual birth from God is needed to make one's acceptance with God possible and one's works before God acceptable. Hence, the sons of God are elsewhere described as those “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (JOH 1:13). It is interesting that the word “again” in JOH 3:7 is from a Greek word most commonly translated “above” in the Bible. Sons of men are born naturally by man's will but sons of God are born spiritually from above by God's will: this is the new birth or being “born again.” Man is by nature spiritually “...dead in trespasses and sins” (EPH 2:1) and this new birth by the Spirit of God (It is the spirit that quickeneth [makes alive]..., JOH 6:63) makes one spiritually alive without any work on man's part: (Titus 3:5) Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Now if one is a son of God, he is spiritually alive: “...God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts...” (GAL 4:6) and “...the Spirit is life...” (ROM 8:10-11): the cause of life, the presence of life and the power of life. And if one is thus spiritually alive, should he not be walking in the Spirit in his belief and conduct? This is the thrust of Paul's reasoning to the Galatian saints: (Galatians 5:25) If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Walking in the Spirit was the antidote to the Galatian saints' carnality, their biting and devouring one another (GAL 5:15): the lusts of their flesh would not be fulfilled (GAL 5:16). Paul went on to list fleshly works to avoid: (Galatians 5:19) Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, (Galatians 5:20) Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, (Galatians 5:21) 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. In that list of vile sins which have no acceptance in the church (Paul elsewhere said of such, “...let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints...” [EPH 5:3]), there were some that seem to have been problems in the Galatian churches: “...vain glory, [emulations] provoking one another, [wrath, strife] envying one another” (GAL 5:26). They may not have been guilty of witchcraft, murder or drunkenness but Paul's list still convicted them. The solution? Again, “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh” (GAL 5:16). But how does one walk in the Spirit? Remembering that all Scripture is given by inspiration of the Spirit (2TI 3:16; 2PE 1:21; 1PE 1:10-11), compare Paul's instruction for avoiding sin with the Spirit's words in this Old Testament text: (Psalm 119:1) ALEPH. Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD. (Psalm 119:2) Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart. (Psalm 119:3) They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways. The parallel is obvious. When one is walking in the law of God, he does not sin. When one is walking in the Spirit, he does not sin. The New Testament is a superior revelation by the Spirit of Christ (“...a more sure word of prophecy...” [2PE 1:19]). The Old Testament was even called the ministration of death in contrast to the New Testament being the ministration of the spirit (2CO 3:6-8). Those who walk in the clear instructions of Jesus Christ recorded in the New Testament; those who, seeing in its words His holy, harmless, undefiled example of life (HEB 7:26) and strive by grace to be like Him---they are such as walk in His Spirit and do not fulfil the lust of the flesh. We can know we are genuinely walking in the Spirit by the fruit that walking in the Spirit should be producing: (Galatians 5:22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, (Galatians 5:23) Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:24) And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. This fruit will not be produced from man's wisdom (1CO 2:13), man's heart (JER 17:9), man's traditions (MAR 7:13) or man's words (JER 23:32). If one is led by these and so walks in them, he will not only NOT be resisting the lust of the flesh, he will be accommodating it. As highly regarded as are such things in this world, that man had also better be looking for a good boot scraper (repentance) and disinfectant (the blood of Christ for forgiveness) because “...that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God” (LUK 16:15). Those things are vain, inadequate and rejected substitutes for genuine walking in the Spirit. Let our feet be “...shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (EPH 6:15).