By Brooke Holt
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:16-26)
As you study the letter to the Galatians, it is important to remember Paul’s intention was for the people to read the letter in its entirety, not piece by piece. Translators and editors have added chapter and verse designations through the years. That certainly helps you digest the content; however, this style of reading can prevent you from seeing the continuity in Paul’s writing.
Paul has been developing what it means to live in the new covenant of grace as opposed to the old covenant of the law. This new covenant Christ ushered in through his death and resurrection is based on the Holy Spirit that dwells within you. The old covenant depended upon the Law God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai. God provided the Law to teach God’s ways, protect God’s people, and continually expose the sin of his people and their need for forgiveness. Jesus paid the penalty for that sin and made the way for his people to be fully cleansed of that sin and receive forgiveness.
Today, Paul instructs his readers (the Galatians and you) that since you are God’s redeemed people, you are to live according to the Spirit. He then lists what life in the flesh looks like and what a life in the Spirit looks like—the fruit of the Spirit. Will you perfectly live into this list of the Spirit and totally abstain from the list of the flesh? Sadly, no. Not in this world. That is why you need God’s grace! However, there is a spiritual practice of living in step with the Spirit that begins with acknowledging that Spirit within you each day (and throughout the day) and then relying on that Spirit for wisdom, discernment, power, love, and grace—anything you need to manifest the fruit of the Spirit.
It is not easy to deny the flesh, especially since this world seems to herald your right to do whatever feels and looks good to you. Walking by the Spirit is an intentional alignment of your life to the Lord, asking him to guide and direct you in his will and ways. Not easy, but so very good!
Are you walking by the Spirit today? How can you be more intentional in aligning your will with the Lord? Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you anew today and guide you in all God’s good and perfect ways. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Jesus calls the Holy Spirit a "gift" who will guide us, lead us, and empower us. Yet many believers don't experience the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. This unique Christian small group Bible study provides a space in which we can explore what it truly means to "walk in the Spirit" on a daily basis. The Spirit-Filled Life small group curriculum centers on a 6-part video teaching series examining the life-giving and creative work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Begin to experience the gift today!
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