Galatians 5:1 tells us that, It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. And yet for the first century Christians this was a hard concept to grasp. After all, it had not been that long ago that the law of Moses was the way to God. Now Paul and others were proclaiming that salvation was by faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus alone.
Coming from a works-based background many struggled and found themselves trying to incorporate faith and works as the means of salvation. This lead to strife among the believers, in effect dividing them into two camps. On one side were those who accepted that salvation was a free gift based on faith alone, and the other side were those who felt that salvation was a combination of faith and works based on the law. Paul warned in Galatians 5:15 that, If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. He then went on to exhort them in verse 16 to live by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
It’s interesting to me that Paul saw this division as a means of gratifying the sinful nature. However it makes a lot of sense when you consider that virtually all of our “issues” are a result of the sinful nature.
Paul spends the next several verses clearly detailing what the sinful nature looks like and teaching us how to walk in the freedom that is ours in Christ. Take a few moments and read the instructions Paul gives us in Galatians 5:16-26 in the Amplified version.
16 But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God).
17 For the desires of the flesh are opposed to the [Holy] Spirit, and the [desires of the] Spirit are opposed to the flesh (godless human nature); for these are antagonistic to each other [continually withstanding and in conflict with each other], so that you are not free but are prevented from doing what you desire to do.
18 But if you are guided (led) by the [Holy] Spirit, you are not subject to the Law.
19 Now the doings (practices) of the flesh are clear (obvious): they are immorality, impurity, indecency,
20 Idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger (ill temper), selfishness, divisions (dissensions), party spirit (factions, sects with peculiar opinions, heresies),
21 Envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness,
23 Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge].
24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus (the Messiah) have crucified the flesh (the godless human nature) with its passions and appetites and desires.
25 If we live by the [Holy] Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. [If by the Holy Spirit we have our life in God, let us go forward walking in line, our conduct controlled by the Spirit.]
26 Let us not become vainglorious and self-conceited, competitive and challenging and provoking and irritating to one another, envying and being jealous of one another.
That’s quite a mouth full. Let me simplify it for you. “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him” (Colossians 2:6).
Sounds great doesn’t it? But how does it work here in the real world? It’s great to have this list of does and don’ts, but how do you actually do this? How do you keep in step with the Spirit?
It’s really quite simple. Go back to Colossians 2:6. Paul said, As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him. How did you receive Christ Jesus as Lord? You received Him by faith. How then do you walk in Him? You walk in Him the same way… by faith.
Think of it this way. God has called us to walk in the Spirit, not in the flesh, but most of us have it backwards. We look at our circumstances and pray for deliverance rather than recognizing by faith that we have already been delivered and walk accordingly.
Faith is easy. We make it difficult when we try to fit it into our belief system. What if we open our minds and our spirit to the reality of faith in spite of our belief system. Isn’t that what Paul was saying when he said that since we live by the Spirit we should also walk in the Spirit?
As we have discussed before, our problem is one of focus. We already have the power to walk in victory over our circumstances. Ephesians 3:20 says, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”
How does He do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine? He does it according to his power that is at work within us.
I think there comes a time for each of us where we have to stop and get our eyes off of ourselves and our “stuff” and just look at Jesus. Instead of trying to “fix it,” whatever “it” is, let’s take on the attitude that Paul had in Galatians 2:20. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Now that’s life in the Spirit!
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Fruitbearers Outreach Ministry