Online Bible Commentary
Walk in the Spirit
Galatians 5:16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. (NKJV)
Thus we have the age old battle between good and evil, all within one’s own body. Christians have this tension within their bodies at all times. We are still of the flesh, meaning we still have our human spirit, our human nature. So we still harbor the carnal desires of our humanity. And yet we also have the Holy Spirit living within us.
Romans 8:16 says “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit.” The capitalized “Spirit” in the Bible refers to the Holy Spirit, whereas the lower case “spirit” refers to a common spirit. In this case the words “our spirit” refers to our human spirit. Our human spirit urges us to commit acts of the flesh, sin (vv. 19-21a). At the same time The Holy Spirit ”testifies with our spirit”, or ministers to our human spirit, telling us not to (v. 16).
So there is always tension within the Christian, a war between good and evil. Our human spirit is telling us one thing and the Holy Spirit is telling us something else (v. 17). Although this can be challenging for the Christian, imagine if we did not have the Holy Spirit. We would be trying to obey “the law” (v. 18) of the Old Testament solely in our own strength. We would be totally at the mercy of our human spirit, our human nature.
This explains the world we live in, a world full of non Christians living at the mercy of their human spirits. Non Christians will not go to Heaven (v. 21b), and they can cause an awful lot of trouble for their Christian friends that get sucked into their world. Paul warns us “”Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:11).
So why is Paul writing like this to the “believers”, the church, in Galatia? The reality is that in all of his letters to the churches he writes in this manner. He is telling us that not everyone who calls himself a believer is actually a believer. Some are living according to their human nature. Although they were baptized, declaring to the world that they had become a Christian, they clearly had not given their heart to God and therefore had not been indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
Christians are in this world, but we are not of this world. We have the Holy Spirit and all we have to do is to yield to Him. We have the fruit of the Spirit (vv. 22-23). We have “crucified the flesh” (v. 24a). We are a new creation, the old has gone and the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Christians are no longer slaves to our “passions and desires” (v. 24b). We have the fruit of the Spirit, including the “self control” to overcome any predisposition to sin, which is simply a behavior that comes from our human spirit. We are no longer slaves to sin because we are allowing the Holy Spirit to control our behavior. We are walking “in the spirit” (v. 25).
Christians are known by our fruit. We are not “trying to be good” according to the law, but we are simply allowing the Holy Spirit to live through us. We will never be perfect this side of Heaven, but we can be better when we make it our goal to walk in the Spirit.