OUR DAILY STRUGGLE

Galatians 5:16-25

1        REFLECTING ON OUR STRUGGLE

Why do we read and watch things we shouldn’t? Why do we lose our temper after promising never to do so again? Why are we so judgmental when we know how wrong this is? Part of the answer to this is found in Galatians 5:17 when it says, “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 we cannot do what we want.” At every point, our actions are governed by either the flesh or the Spirit. There is no neutrality. The NLT says, “These two forces are constantly fighting each other, and our choices are never free from this conflict.”

Before we received the Holy Spirit, the flesh dominated and we did our own thing. Now the Holy Spirit helps us with the task of cleaning up what remains. It is like moving home. At first our new house seemed fine, but after we move, we discover a lot of stuff needs sorting out. This is what happens when the Holy Spirit moves in. He begins to clean up what belonged to the previous occupant.

The Spirit desires what is good, but the flesh opposes this. Romans 8:12-13 says, “We are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if we live according to the flesh we will die, but if in the Spirit we put to death the deeds of the body, we will live.” This leads from reflecting on our struggle to…

2        RESPONDING TO OUR STRUGGLE

Verse 16 provides a remedy for our daily struggle. It says, “Walk in the Spirit, and you will not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” The NLT says, “Live according to your new life in the Spirit. Then you won’t be doing what the flesh craves.”

This is the antidote for indulging the flesh—walking in the Spirit. A more literal translation says. “In Spirit—walk about.” When we do this, we will not fulfil the cravings of the flesh. The verse does not say when we walk in the Spirit the flesh disappears. It says when we walk in the Spirit the flesh remains, but it is suppressed. There is a double negative here. It says, “If we walk in the Spirit—we will definitely not fulfil the lust of the flesh.”

Notice we are not to run in the Spirit or rush in the Spirit. We are to walk in the Spirit. Walking allows time to reflect, to respond, and to renew. Romans 8:5-6 says, “Those who live according to the flesh set their mind on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their mind on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” This is how we respond to our daily struggles… we sense God’s presence in his Spirit and make a conscious effort to walk in the Spirit. When we do this, we will be…

3        RENEWED IN OUR STRUGGLE

It is important to notice the difference between v18 and v16. In v16, the active voice is used when it says walk in the Spirit. In v18, the passive voice is used when it says we are led by the Spirit. In other words, walking in the Spirit is our response to being led by the Spirit.

The verse goes on to say if we are led by the Spirit, we are not under law. We live in a different realm. Romans 7:6 says, “We have been released from the law so that we now serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.” We could compare this to living in one country under their laws and migrating to another country and being under new laws. We are not under the Law of Israel. We follow the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.

The expression ‘led by the Spirit’ is in the continuous tense. This implies that the Holy Spirit leads us all the time. It is up to us to respond. When we are led by the Spirit, we are not without law, we are not against law, we are not under law, we are in-lawed to Christ. In this spiritually empowered position, we become more like Christ as we produce the spiritual fruit mentioned in vs.22-23. This is the result of walking in the Spirit. The alternative is doing the works of the flesh like those listed in vs.19-21.