Paul addressed the Galatians with these words in chapter 5, verse 16, ‘I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.’
But, what does it mean to, ‘Walk in the Spirit’?
This sentence comes within the context of a passage that talks of being free from the law, i.e., free from the Mosaic law which demanded circumcision. The law in the liberty of the Spirit is defined as loving your neighbour as yourself. (Galatians 5:14) Through love, those in the Spirit serve one another, (v 13) and Galatians 6:2 puts it this way, ’Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.’
We find from Paul’s letter to the Romans that there are only two ways of walking: either in the flesh, or in the Spirit. They are directly opposed to one another. ‘For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.’ (Romans 8:5) Paul also says, ‘So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.’ (Romans 8:8) Verse 9 goes on to say, ‘But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.’
How do we know if the Spirit of God dwells in us? Well, Paul gives us the answer in Ephesians 1:13. ‘In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.’
If we know that we have trusted and believed in God the Father and His Son, we can guarantee we have been sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise! What a blessing! Through the Son and by His atonement we shall receive our inheritance – a dwelling place with God. We can be as confident as Job when he said, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth. And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that my flesh shall see God.” (Job 19:25, 26) We shall be raised from the dead, ‘through the Spirit who dwells in us.’ (Romans 8:11)
Meanwhile we walk in the Spirit, and through God’s blessing and design, He has numbered us within those who are of the circumcision of the heart, (Romans 2:29) not of the flesh which leads to death. We worship Him in the Spirit and rejoice in Jesus. (Philippians 3:3) Along with other Christians we are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:22)
Paul says, ‘For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake. ‘(1 Thessalonians 1:5) The Thessalonians had witnessed, ‘what kind of men’ they were who brought the gospel to them. They approved and followed their example, despite their affliction because of having turned to God and forsaken idols. (vs 6-9) They walked in the Spirit and forsook the flesh, but only by the ‘power’ of the Spirit. (v 5)
In Galatians 5:25 Paul spoke not only to the church of the Galatians, but he also speaks to us today. He exhorts us to walk in the Spirit, ‘If we live in the Spirit, let us walk in the Spirit.’ It’s a gain, gain situation, because in the ‘liberty of the Spirit’ we love one another and we love our neighbours. (Galatians 5:14) We please God, (Romans 8:8) and we have ‘life and peace.’ (Romans 8:6) Most importantly we are not condemned to eternal hell, for, ‘There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.’ (Romans 8:1)
Praise be to God the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.