Living by the Spirit!
Scripture reading for September 20th: Galatians 5:13-26
Paul’s concern for these Galatians was that they might now try to use their freedom from the law to indulge in the sinful nature! That way of thinking surely was not from Christ. The way of Christ can be summed up in one short command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:14) Living for the flesh would end in confusion, strife, and ultimate division.
“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with one another, so that you do not do what you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” (Galatians 5:16-18) Living by the Spirit first means that you have the gift of the Holy Spirit because you have repented of your sins and confessed Jesus Christ as Lord. (Acts 2:38) Prior to conversion, the Holy Spirit draws a person to Christ and convicts them of sin, righteousness and the coming judgment. (John 16:7-11) Following conversion, the Holy Spirit dwells in you to be your Counselor, testifying about Jesus and revealing His word. (John 15:26) When the Counselor leads you into truth, you still must choose to obey and follow. There is also still some conflict between the Spirit and the sinful nature!
Paul lists some of the acts of the sinful nature to help these Galatians recognize the conflict. Sexual impurity, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred and jealousy all come from this flesh. Factions, drunkenness, and selfish ambitions are also on his list. Paul warned them that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of heaven! (Galatians 5:21)
Paul also listed the fruit that comes to the person who lives by the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-24) A consistent choice to live by the Holy Spirit produces fruit that is peaceful and sweet. The person whose life is marked by the Holy Spirit will be totally different than those in the sinful nature. The Spirit produces fruit that fulfills the law without human effort. “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25) This should be our daily choice!