GRACE: NOT BY MAN
A Raging Battle – Galations 5:16-26
Verses 16-18 – To Walk in the Spirit of God is to walk as Jesus walked; live as Jesus lived, and not seek the fulfillment of the flesh. Could the fulfilling of the flesh also be fighting for one’s “rights”? When one, walking in the Spirit of God, fights for rights; they are generally fighting for the rights of others.
When Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11) all the things the devil promised him was already His from glory, but He was not to have them yet. By walking in the Spirit Jesus was able to reject the temptation of a lie.
When we walk in the Spirit we are assured He is working within us, bringing us to perfection (Romans 6:14).
Verses 19-21 – In these verses the apostle Paul shows us the “works of the flesh”, and that these works are plain for all to see. It would seem to me that the apostle is almost likening religious labor for salvation to these works.
“The works of the flesh” is a phrase meaning what flows from fallen human nature and its desires. The ESV Study Bible note on this states; “Apart from the transforming work of the Holy Spirit, these are the actions toward which sinful humans instinctively gravitate.”
These “works of the flesh” are for the most part perversions of something that God has ordained as being good in their proper place. Such as “Adultery” or sexual sin, is a transgression of what God has ordained between a husband and wife. “Idolatry” and “Witchcraft” are both connected to worship, but these are perverted forms of worship. Can you find any other in this list that are only perversions of what God ordained as good in His way? God’s way is the cross of Christ; His death, burial and bodily resurrection. Grace provided by God, and no work of man.
Verses 22-26 – The apostle does not say “works of the Spirit” here. He says, “But the fruits of the Spirit”, and proceeds on identifying them. Is there a difference between a fruit and a work? A fruit grows from the root of its source; which in this case would be the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.
The works of the flesh would come from the mind and efforts of unredeemed humanity. Like we would give these works to the flesh; so must we give a works based salvation over to the flesh of man as well; because it denies the power and work of God as the focus, source, and power of salvation, and gives it to the fallen human.
The ESV translates verse 25, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” Which would mean to “walk in line behind the leader”. Who is the leader if we are walking in the Spirit?
The individual Christian who is walking in the Spirit seeks to glorify God, not self, is not provoked and does not provoke; is also joyous at the promotion of others.
These are matters that every Christian faces almost on a daily basis. Walk in the Spirit, keep in step with the Spirit, and do not be deceived by perversion.
-Tim A. Blankenship