Summary: Exposition of Galatians 5:16-18 about walking in under the control of the Spirit of God
Text: Galatians 5:16-18, Title: The Battle Within, Date/Place: NRBC, 6/10/07, AM
A. Opening illustration: Tell about the woman who was an impulsive shopper. Husband confronts. She repents and is really trying to make a change. He tells her to tell Satan to get behind me. She buys another dress and tells him the story about seeing and trying on the dress, and Satan telling her it looked good from the back.
B. Background to passage: Paul has worked so diligently to persuade the fence-straddling Galatian believers that they are justified by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. And now he continues his thoughts that right doctrine should bring about right living; moving deeper into the discussion of sanctification. Define it as a cooperative effort between the Spirit of Truth and the will of man, without either of which the process stalls. He gives the key truth to living a truly sanctified Christian life. See also Romans 7:14-8:14.
C. Main thought: In the text, he gives the “what” and then two “why”s about how to live what you believe.
A. A Command & Condition (v. 16)
1. Sounding a little like his Lord and Master, Paul sets off these remarks as special with, “but I say to you.” Literally he says, “by/in the Spirit, walk…” Emphasizing how the believer is to grow in holiness and sustain purity, he puts Spirit first. “Walk” means to walk about or around in something. This is a present tense verb meaning continuous action. Paul intended this walking in the Spirit to be a pattern of life, a daily discipline. It means to go where the Spirit is going, to listen to His voice, to discern His will, and to follow His guidance. And he says when you do, you will not fulfill or complete the desires of the flesh. This word for desire doesn’t necessarily mean evil desires. Paul speaks about the flesh here as being the old man, the unredeemed part of us that longs for perfection, but lacks the ability.
2. Rom 7:18, 22, 8:5-8, 12:2, 1 Peter 4:1-2,
3. Illustration: “A walk in the Spirit will of necessity be a walk in accordance with the Word the Spirit has inspired. The same results are said to flow from being filled with the Spirit in the first cast, and being filled with the Word in the second. To remain filled with the Spirit, and thus enjoy His continuing sanctifying work, will mean continuing to be filled with the Word. The relationship is obvious.” – J. Oswald Sanders,
4. So the admonition to us is to constantly live under the control of, the empowerment of, and in obedience to the promptings and the will of the Holy Spirit living within us. So how do we walk in the Spirit? 1) Begin each day by renewing your mind to the Word of God. Be purposeful about your selection of reading based on the particular sins that you are struggling with. Be thoughtful and meditative about what you read. You don’t have to stop in the morning either. In fact, you would do well to continually refresh your mind to what is truly important. You have to remind yourself that your job, your life is a kingdom oriented life. Also, you can fill your mind with good books about deep spiritual things, and with music that sets your attention on Christ. 2) Pray that God would help you be sensitive to the inner promptings of the Spirit. If we are not careful, we get so hung up in doing what we are doing that we never listen. Jesus’ entire ministry was one of interruptions, distractions, and things that are out of the norm. The Holy Spirit isn’t required to live by our schedules, rules, or priorities. Be willing to altar your previous plans, priorities, or rules to accommodate His leadings. 3) Keep constant fellowship with other Spirit-filled believers, heed their warnings, listen to their advice, ask God to help lead you through them. 4) Keep short sin lists, and be quick to come in heart-felt repentance in accordance with the renewed desires within to honor Christ.
B. A Nature of Suppression (v. 17)
1. Paul then gives the first “why” to walking in the Spirit. He says that the flesh “lusts against” or is “opposed” to the Spirit. This word means to seek to suppress. This verb is present tense, again indicating continuing action. There is a battle going on in the redeemed that pits the old man against the new man. And according to Paul there is no middle or neutral ground. One is always trying to suppress the other. But the will of man is requires to get involved. To not be involved is to be on the wrong side. Note that the desire to do right is always present. If people lack the desire to do right, then they probably are not saved at all. Paul indicates here as well as Rom 7, that the desire is critical to the legitimacy of the Christian, not necessarily the sin.