Summary: This message is part of a series entitled "Walking in the Spirit." Though Christians believe in the Holy Spirit, many do not understand how to walk daily in the Spirit nor the blessing God grants to those who do.
LIVE BY THE SPIRIT
What principle should one follow to live the Christian life? If a group of average church members were asked that question what answers would they give? Some would likely emphasis Bible reading and prayer. Some would stress faithful church attendance. Others might mention living by the Golden Rule or using your life to serve others. Still others might say, "Imitate Christ." Good answers, but is there a principle that over-arches these? Here we have Paul’s answer to the question, "How to live the Christian life?" His over-arching guiding principle is Live by the Spirit.
Many professing Christians are quite ignorant of the Holy Spirit’s ministry and they fail to recognize and experience His work. They tend to emphasize rules rather than the life of divine grace, the life of the Spirit. We preachers often hammer on morality but teach little about the workings of the Spirit and His power to help. To substitute moralizing for the biblical teaching of the Holy Spirit led life is tragic.
The real secret of success or victory in living the Christian life is to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance and receive His empowering. This leads to an inner and outer transformation of life that a code of ethics cannot even touch. This was Paul’s understanding and deep conviction; to live in victory is to walk by the Spirit (CIT). It is each believer’s responsibility to live a Spirit controlled life.
I. The Victorious Life, v.16.
II. The Inner Struggle, v. 17:
III. Spiritual Freedom, v.18:
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will never carry out the desires of the flesh.
Here we have the answer to the abuses described in the previous verses, and the secret to the victorious Christian life. This life of victory comes not from following an external code but from obeying an internal Presence. The Holy Spirit takes the place of the law as the controlling power in the Christian’s life.
The word walk, used 32 times in Galatians, is used figuratively of one’s way of life. The verb [peri-pateite] is in the present imperative and literally means keep on walking. The promise here given is to the believer who continuously lives in dependence on the indwelling Holy Spirit for guidance and power. The Spirit does not operate automatically in the believer’s heart but waits to be yielded to, depended on, and followed. The secret to victory in living the Christian life is walking continuously by the Spirit.
To walk by the Spirit of God is to be sensitive to the Spirit’s leading and follow it. The Spirit of God will always lead us in accord with the Word of God, never contrary to it.
When a Christian does yield to the Spirit’s control, the promise, or the result, is that he will not in any way gratify the fallen nature. The word not is better translated by the emphatic word never for it represents the most emphatic double negative (oume) or negation possible in the original Greek. If you follow the Spirit directions and promptings you will never be dominated by your sinful nature, here defined as flesh.
The flesh refers to the fallen evil nature of man. It desires to dominate the free will of man. The flesh combines with the power of temptation to keep you from following the way of Christ Jesus.
When you were saved and received Jesus as Lord and Savior, the power of sin and of your fallen nature was broken, but it was not eradicated. The believer has been given the responsibility to obey the Spirt, the good new is that believers in Jesus Christ can. The believer though must walk in the Spirit for the fallen fleshly nature desires to dominate the believer’s life like it has been accustom to doing before the believer experienced salvation from sin and its power over him.
The word desire or gratify (teles te) means to complete or fulfill by outward action. This desiring was part of the original nature of man but was perverted into evil by our fallen nature. God has given us natural desires to be express in healthy ways. Satan uses our sinful nature to get us to use our natural and originally good desires in a ways that are contrary to God’s will. Much sin is an illegitimate expression of a legitimate desire. While no believer will ever be entirely free from the evil desires that stem from his fallen human nature, he need not capitulate to them, but by walking in the Spirit he will always experience victory over them. This wonderful truth is as much a part of the gospel as is the promise of the forgiveness of sin. The promise of walking by the Spirit is the guarantee of moment by moment victory.