Galatians 5:16-26 | Live By The Spirit
Galatians 5:16-26 16So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whateveryou want. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
This is a rich section on the ministry of the Holy Spirit. God wants us to be led by the Spirt. This year let us commit ourselves to be led by the Spirit which can make us holy.
Paul in Galatians chapters 1-4 says that legalism can’t even sanctify you. You are not made holy by external religious behaviors or set rules of religion. Now in Ephesians 5, Paul says that you are made holy by walking by the Holy Spirit.
Galatians 5:16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
What is someone like when they walk by the Spirit?
What is someone like when they walk in holiness?
Sanctification is perfect love and perfect obedience. This is demonstrated only in Jesus Christ; only He was perfect in His love and obedience. That is why at the baptism the Father said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”
Look at Christ; that’s what a Spirit-controlled person looks like. What interests the Holy Spirit is making us like Christ.
If you walk by the Spirit you will be sanctified. The Holy Spirit is present in every believer to empower believers to live like Christ.
Now, there’s a war going on in us, a war between the world and its desires and God and his Spirit. How do we win the war? How do we triumph over the desires of the flesh? Answer: Walk in the Spirit. What does it mean again? It means to be like Christ. How is that possible? You have the power in the Holy Spirit, and you have the pattern in the Word of God. This is how we are to live. “Walk” by the Spirit, one step at a time.
Colossians 2:6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him.
Colossians 3:16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
Galatians 5:17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whateveryou want.
There is a war going on there between your fallen sinful flesh that wants what it wants, and the restraining power of the Holy Spirit stopping you from going in that direction.
Galatians 5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
You will not come to holiness or Christlikeness or sanctification by the law. Don’t go back to the law.
What did they see when Lazarus came out of the grave? “They saw a man bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face wrapped with a cloth.” “And Jesus said, ‘Loose him, and let him go.’” As long as the stinking grave clothes filled with decay and the stench of death clung to him, he did stink, and he was hindered in expressing his new life.
Now Lazarus offers a graphic illustration of our predicament as regenerate Christians. We have been raised to walk in newness of life. We’re still wrapped in the remnants of our fallenness. Even though we are alive from the dead, the grave clothes are still stuck to us: bound in our own grave clothes, raised, new life, but with a stench. This is the reality of your spiritual condition. However, there is a deeper and more profound issue for us than there was with Lazarus. Lazarus’ rags came off, they unwrapped him; ours don’t. His just material shroud. Once it was removed and disposed of, the stench was gone.
Our predicament cannot be so quickly altered. Paul says we have a body of death attached to us. Romans 7:24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?
What he is saying is that we have this body of death strapped to us, and we must exercise obedience to the Word of God, yielding our members as instruments of righteousness.
The good news, folks, is, look, the Lord knows you have a conflict, right? He knows that; He understands that. Thomas Watson said: “Saving faith lives in a broken heart.”
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
Does it comfort you to know that God understands the struggle, doesn’t expect perfection, but has provided the Holy Spirit to move you in the right direction?
Now, Why Is Sanctification Important?
1. Sanctification Is Needed For Worship
Psalm 15:1-2 1Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain? 2The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart;
Sanctification is critical, first of all, because you love the Lord; but for worship.
2. Sanctification Is Needed For Witness
Matthew 6:16 Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
2 Timothy 2:21Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.
3. Sanctification Is Needed For Prayer
Psalm 66:18 If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.
4. Sanctification Is Needed For Spiritual Growth
1 Peter 2:1-3 1`Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
Why is sanctification important? Because you can’t worship, witness, work, pray, or be built up in the faith unless you are in the path of sanctification.
How are we sanctified? By walking in the Spirit.
God’s standard is still absolute holiness. Now on our own, we cannot attain to that standard. The ministry of the Holy Spirit is simply this: your sanctification.
What is the contrast between the deeds of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit?
Ephesians 5:19-20 19The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.
This is not an exhaustive list, this is a representative list.
Now Paul divides the sins that he lists there into four categories.
First category is sin that defiles the individual, the sin that defiles the individual: Sexual sin.
And for that he begins with immorality, impurity, and debauchery/sensuality. These are characteristic of every human being’s evil desire. These are collectively characteristic of society.
There are people today who call themselves Christians who are living together as man and woman without marriage. That is the flesh, that is not the work of the Spirit. There are people who have relationship between man and mand and woman and woman. Believers of the Lord Jesus Christ are not to live such lives. Any kind of sexual behavior outside the relationship between a husband and a wife falls into the category of sexual sins which defiles the individual.
Secondly, are the sins that defile the individual’s relationship to God.
Galatians 5:20 idolatry and witchcraft
Idolatry and witchcraft defiles one’s relationship to the true God.
Third category are the sins that defile or corrupts all other human relations.
Galatians 5:20b ….hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.
Most of these identifications are attributed to this category of human relations.
This is human life. It just never goes away. World War II ended, and everybody was so happy that peace had come. True peace had not come when the war ceased. There was massacre of millions of people post World War II, slaughtered just because of their ethnicity.
So that’s life in the world. That’s what happens with the flesh; that’s what it does, that’s what it produces.
Fourth category is defiling relations to even objects.
Ephesians 5:21 drunkenness, orgies
And the illustration he gives is of the fruit of the vine that becomes fermented, verse 21, “drunkenness.” This is excessive indulgence connected to things or objects. This is what the flesh produces. And these are only samples, “things like these.” We can add on to this list based on our present things of the world.
Ephesians 5:21 I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. That’s absolute.
So how do we know when the Spirit is working?
Galatians 5:22-24 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
The works of the flesh are singular and people can pick and choose what they want to do with their flesh. So sin is a list to choose from, but virtue is produced collectively. However on the other hand, the fruit of the Spirit is singular. When you’re operating in the Spirit, you don’t pick and choose fruit, it all comes, it’s a package.
The way to see these nine virtues here is like a bouquet of the most beautiful flowers. It comes as a bouquet, it doesn’t come as isolated.
We can find the mention of fruit even in the OT.
God says to Ephraim: Hosea 14:8 ..your fruitfulness comes to from me.
So God is the source of all virtue. The life of God in the believer produces spiritual fruit. So that’s the word picture here.
Psalm 1:1-3 1Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, 2but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. 3That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers
That’s spiritual fruit being produced in a righteous life.
Proverbs 11:30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life.
Matthew 13:9 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.
The word of God is like seed that’s planted; and when it finds good soil it brings forth fruit, some thirtyfold, sixtyfold, a hundredfold. By that Jesus means spiritual virtue, spiritual results.
How do you know when someone is a follower of Christ? They have much fruit. That fruit may be a hundredfold, it may be sixtyfold, it may be thirtyfold.
So the idea is that God desires us to bear fruit.
John 15:1-2 1`“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunesso that it will be even more fruitful.
So when you’re fruit-bearing, the Lord will bring into your life those kinds of pruning experiences that make you more fruitful.
Now specifically there are some behaviors that are indicated in Scripture to be fruit.
Worship is fruit
Hebrews 13:15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.
When you worship, when you praise the Lord, when you give honor to His name, you are bearing fruit.
Giving is a fruit
Romans 15:28 So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this contribution (Greek: kapron means fruit), I will go to Spain and visit you on the way.
Repenting of sin is the fruit
Matthew 3:8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.
Leading someone to Christ is the fruit
Romans 1:13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.
Leading someone to Christ is fruit. Worship is fruit, giving is fruit, repentance is fruit, bringing someone to Christ is fruit.
The Lord says, “I want you to bring forth much fruit; and if you’re connected to Me you will bear much fruit.”
A disciple of the Lord has to be characterized by much fruit. That fruit will be there because that’s what the Holy Spirit is doing in us. The fruit is evidence that the Holy Spirit is in us. The fruit is proof of our salvation.
Matthew 7:15-20 15“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
So this is the evidence of salvation.
What does your life look like? Is it manifestly radiating virtue as defined as fruit?
Summing it up, we are commanded to walk in the Spirit, to get in line with what the Spirit is doing. And as we saw the model for this is the Lord Jesus. He was the illustration. His life on earth of the perfect Spirit-controlled, Spirit-filled, Spirit-empowered, fruitful person.
So what does your life look like if you’re walking by the Spirit? It is a life manifestly faithful, truthful, trustworthy. It is a life where meekness, humility, and gentleness are manifest, and a life where self – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life – self-will and sin is under control, as well as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness. They all come together.
The only way this becomes reality is by walking by the Spirit. And the Spirit, God in us, produces these attributes through us. This is how we are to shine as lights in the world in this dark, dark, polluted world. Those of us who are the true church, true believers, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, need to be manifest, visible by these graces.
We have seen the command to walk, we’ve seen the conflict between the flesh and the Spirit, we’ve seen the contrast between the deeds of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. The final conclusion comes then in the final two verse. This is the conclusion.
Galatians 5:24-26 24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
If you belong to Christ Jesus you have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. It’s already happened, once for all action in the aorist tense. A deathblow has been delivered to passion and desire. Yes, it’s still present until our salvation is complete, but it’s not in charge, it’s not an excuse, because your passions and desires have been crucified when the flesh was crucified.
When did that happen? At your salvation. Christ died for you on the cross. The application of that death came to you at your salvation. “You are now a new creation; old things have passed away, and all things new have come.” That’s God’s part; He’s done His part.
Colossians 1:9-12 9For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.