READ GALATIANS 5:16-26
WALK BY THE SPIRIT
We need to understand the relationship between the flesh and the Spirit to grasp the power that is available to us as Christians. The word “flesh” is used to mean different things in different places: “flesh” as in my body, “flesh” as in the human race. Here, the word “flesh” is used to mean the desire to sin that pulls at us through our body’s senses: Taste, Touch, Sight, Hearing, Smell. The flesh wants to pull you and I one way, the Holy Spirit pulls us a different way. We are to fight the good fight of faith. Faith puts us under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Our own human effort puts us under the influence of the flesh. This struggle, this fight of faith should never make us feel condemned. Paul takes it for granted that the Christian has the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was poured out on the Day of Pentecost, and He has never left. We can have as much of Him as we want. So now that we have the Holy Spirit, we are not under law and so we are never condemned. It’s the law that condemns, but we are not under law. Perhaps we say to ourselves sometimes “I feel condemned because of the evil desires I find inside myself. I wish I could get rid of these sinful desires altogether.” Paul addresses this and assures us by saying “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”
Which side will win between the Flesh and the Spirit? The one you yield to. The Holy Spirit enables and gives grace. Then we take responsibility to crucify the flesh with its passions and desires. In fact, Paul takes it for granted that as Christians we have already done this (verse 24). It’s not a legitimate prayer to pray and ask God to remove the flesh. It is we ourselves who “put to death the deeds of the body” through our faith in Christ. Now if we don’t have the Law to tell us what is sin and what isn’t, how do we know what the works of the Flesh are? Paul says that it is obvious. Inheriting the Kingdom of Heaven is what is at stake here. Throughout chapter 5 and 6 Paul is speaking of this life that we are living now. What is at stake is our experience of the Kingdom of Heaven in this life. The Kingdom of Heaven is (right now, present tense): righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. The way we live matters, and it matters right now.
So we have the works of the flesh which are immediate actions, and then we have the fruit of the Spirit- and fruit takes time to mature and ripen. We cannot create fruit any easier than we can create an orange or a banana. We have to plant a seed. The seed here is obedience to the Holy Spirit. We are accepted at the beginning of this journey. Justified and accepted at the start. Now we work out our Salvation. We do not work for it. We work it out. It involves not giving an opportunity to the flesh. It involves walking by the Spirit. And there will begin to be fruit in our lives. And they come as a group- you can’t have one without the other. We are not in the flesh but in the Spirit. So let’s enjoy the journey of becoming fruitful.
QUESTIONS TO REFLECT ON:
- What does the word “flesh” mean in these verses?
2. As a Christian, am I in the flesh or in the Spirit?
3. What must I do to see the fruit of the Holy Spirit produced in my life?