Here’s the notes from last night’s study. This is the first in a multi-part study on Galatians 5:16-25. We’re going to take the next few weeks to seek to grow in our understanding of how to “walk in the Spirit.” Last night, we looked primarily at verses 16-18.
First, during small group discussion time, we looked at the way Paul discusses the Spirit vs. and the Law in Galatians. We read 1:6, 3:3-14, 4:4-7, 5:1, 5:13-15 to see how the Galatians were in danger of leaving the gospel Paul had preached to them–of grace and life in God’s Spirit through faith in the work of Christ–to rely instead on the Jewish Old Testament law.
But it seems like some people were asking, if we’re not to live under the Law, then how will we keep from sinning? How will we be holy? That’s the problem Paul addresses in 5:13 and5: 16.
Paul’s Answer is the Christian life isn’t about giving into the carnal desires (lawlessnes ) or trying to stifle them with a written code (Law), it consists in a third way above either of these two options: the life of “walking in the Spirit.”
The Spirit’s desires vs. the Flesh’s desires
v. 16 to “Walk in the Spirit” prevents you from “fulfilling the lusts of the flesh”
What is “the Spirit?” and what is “The flesh”?
What is “the flesh”? It can mean: physical body, relatives, humanity in general Here, it is what we are without God. It is who we are as we are born, with only the human nature we inherited from Adam: fallen, godless, sinful. (see: John 3:5-6, John 6:63, Rom 7:5,18)
What is “the Spirit”? It is God’s Spirit. It is God Himself. Inside of those who trust Christ. (see: Acts 5:3-4, 2 Cor 3:17-18, Rom 8:9, NC: Ez 36:25-28 Jer 31:31-34, In you: Jn 14:17)
One important note: before you can “walk” in the Spirit, first you must “live by the Spirit” (v.25), that is, you must be made alive, born again, by the Spirit. …then we “walk” (that is—order each step of our life) in the Spirit. (In other words, we can ask of everything, “does this agree with what the Spirit desires, or even better yet, our minds can become so transformed that what the Spirit wants we want, and then we make decisions “instinctively” without always having to stop and think it through.)
What is “Lust”? It is strong desire, longing, craving.
What is “fulfilling” these desires? It is to carry them out, to do them, to bring desires out into the physical realm and make them real.
v.17 …both the Spirit and flesh have desires…and they are opposed to each other. This is key: The Spirit has desires! …so to “walk in the Spirit” means to live a life of allowing the desires of the Spirit to determine your actions, so that you live to fulfill them, instead of the desires of the flesh.
v.17b The flesh is committed to keeping us from doing what the Spirit wants and the Spirit is committed to keeping us from doing what the flesh wants. Or, they are both committed to preventing us from doing what we want to do when we are under the other’s control.
We are not autonomous beings. That is a lie. Either the flesh or the Spirit controls us. Our part = not to work up one or the other (do you have to “work up” lust or anger?) we will yield to one or the other. (Rom 6:16)
v.18 Here we get more information: to “walk in the Spirit” is also to “be led by the Spirit” that is, to be led by what the Spirit “desires” as opposed to being led by the flesh. (And this means you’re not “under the law” → see 3:2 & 13-14) see 4:6–there is a higher principle and energy by which we escape both the condemnation of the law and the desires of the flesh—and it’s not by law-keeping, which only brings condemnation. Note: it is also to “sow to the Spirit” (6:8) which means to invest your life in what the Spirit desires
- Do you “live by the Spirit”? Have you been born again?
- Let’s become people who know how to learn what the Spirit desires. (His inner witness leading you to The Word, the Church, and Obedience)
- Let’s recognize the desires of the flesh and call them what they are.
- In our moment-by-moment living of life, let’s yield to the Spirit’s desires, rather than the flesh.
- Let’s depend on the Spirit and His leading as our only hope for defeating the flesh.
- Looking forward—Let’s live above the level of simply avoiding doing the works of the flesh, but let’s live on the level of positively bearing the fruit of the Spirit.
Ending Scripture Readings: Ephesians 2:1-5, Romans 6:12-14, 8:1-8, 9-17, Galatians 6:7-9, Romans 15:13