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.