“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” ~Gal 5:16-17
In looking for a topic for this week’s letter, I came upon the end of Galatians 5, which talks about the fruits of the Spirit. My plan is to go over those individually in the coming weeks, but first I wanted to take a look at what comes directly before it. Take a look at the passage above. Whenever we read passages of Scripture or even letters, such as this, our tendency is to look over it without paying much attention to it, but remember, when we read Scripture, we’re reading the inspired word of God. Even if it didn’t talk about such important topics, it would be important merely because of the One who spoke it. But it is made all the more significant because of what it says, so read it again. Now in Eph 4:24 it says, “put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” In other words, we are to walk in the Spirit. Yet what does this tell us about ourselves? If we truly put off the old man and put on the new, if we truly walk in the Spirit, we would not gratify the flesh. And yet every day, we struggle with our fleshly desires and often we give in to those desires. This means that we have disobeyed a direct command of God Most High. We shy away so much from the thought of hard training and pain that we continue in sin. For what is the opposite of walking in the Spirit, but walking in the flesh? If we are not doing one, we are assuredly doing the other.
But, how do we walk in the Spirit? First, by hiding God’s Word in our hearts. This is such an important part of the Christian’s life that it cannot be neglected without serious consequences, for how can we walk in the Spirit if we do not know what that entails? We can only find this out in the Word. Scripture is our daily bread; without it, we will starve. Second, we walk in the Spirit by applying the Word. In James we are told to be doers of the Word, not just hearers. While it is important to know what to do, after we find out how, we must actually do it. The final part of walking in the Spirit is prayer. Prayer is a refinement of our faith. It is one thing to think, “I need help,” it is another to be on your knees crying, “Father, help your servant.” Through prayer, we not only praise God for who He is, but we lay our needs at His feet. Through the combination of these three – hiding God’s Word in our hearts, applying the Word, and praying – we equip ourselves for the war against our flesh and work towards walking in the Spirit. As we will see in the next few weeks, many of the fruits of the Spirit are the result of this training. Humility, though not one of the fruits listed in Galatians, is the result of seeing our utter depravity before God and understanding that salvation is not through any act of our own, but only by God’s grace. Patience comes from imitating how Jesus lived His whole life, but as seen especially in the account of His crucifixion, where He didn’t respond to any of His enemies’ mocking comments or to their actions. Kindness is seen throughout the Bible in God’s continued mercy to His people despite their rejection and in His extended mercy to the Gentiles as well as the Jews. Each of these virtues is achieved by first searching the Scriptures for instruction, then applying that teaching to everyday life, and finally in seeking help from God for the accomplishment of that goal. Be diligent and walk in the Spirit. Do not try to battle the flesh by your own strength, for you will fail, but hide, apply, and pray. Hide, apply, and pray.
Your brother in Christ,