"THE EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS" The Flesh Versus The Spirit (5:16-18) INTRODUCTION 1. In discussing our liberty in Christ, Paul warned about the flesh... a. Not to use our liberty as an opportunity for the flesh - Ga 5:13 b. To beware of being consumed by one another - Ga 5:15 2. How can one avoid the destructive influences of the flesh? Paul is clear... a. We must walk in the Spirit - Ga 5:16-17 b. We must be led by the Spirit - Ga 5:18 [Why is it important for the Christian to know this? And how does one walk in the Spirit? How is one led by the Spirit? From our text (Ga 5:16-18) we observe regarding the flesh and the Spirit that...] I. THE TWO ARE CONTRARY TO ONE ANOTHER A. TWO OPPONENTS, FIGHTING FOR YOUR SOUL... 1. They are in opposition against each other - Ga 5:17a 2. Is the "Spirit" referring to the Holy Spirit, or the human spirit? a. There is certainly a war between the flesh and human spirit - 1Pe 2:11; Ro 7:23 b. Yet I believe here in Galatians it has reference to the Holy Spirit 3. The context of the epistle suggests that it is the Holy Spirit a. Note Paul's earlier references to the Spirit - Ga 3:2-3; 4:6 b. Through the Spirit we eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness- Ga 5:5 c. Paul's later argument "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" would not make sense if the human spirit is meant - Ga 5:25 d. Reaping everlasting life "of the Spirit" must refer to the Holy Spirit - Ga 6:8 -- While the flesh pulls us in one direction, the Spirit would have us go in another! B. A CHRISTIAN MUST SERVE ONE OR THE OTHER... 1. If we follow the lusts of the flesh, we can not do the will of the Spirit - Ga 5:17b 2. Following the flesh will enslave, placing one in a dilemma - cf. Ro 6:12-13,16; 7:14-23 3. But with the help of the Spirit, the flesh can be overcome! - cf. Ro 8:12-14 -- We must walk in the Spirit, otherwise we will succumb to the lusts of the flesh C. HOW DOES ONE "WALK IN THE SPIRIT"...? 1. By setting our minds on the things of the Spirit - cf. Ro 8:1-6 2. The things of the Spirit would be that which the Spirit has revealed 3. I.e., the Word of God, which is the sword of the Spirit - cf. Ep 6:17 4. Just as Jesus used the Word to resist temptation - cf. Mt 4:4, 7,10 -- We walk in the Spirit to the degree we follow the Word which He revealed! [So whom will we serve? The lust of the flesh, or the Spirit of God? Only one offers life and peace; the other offers death, and prevents us from serving God (Ro 8:6-8). Paul then adds another point...] II. ONLY ONE OFFERS FREEDOM FROM THE LAW A. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE "UNDER THE LAW"...? 1. In the context, "the law" has primary reference to the "Law of Moses" - cf. Ga 4:21 2. The purpose of the law was primarily twofold: a. To reveal sin - cf. Ga 3:19a; Ro 3:20 b. To condemn the sinner as guilty - cf. Ro 3:19 -- To be "under the Law", then, is to be under a state of condemnation! B. THOSE LED BY THE SPIRIT ARE NOT UNDER THE LAW... 1. I.e., they are not under the condemnation of the Law 2. For obedience to the gospel revealed by the Spirit results in freedom a. Freedom from condemnation - Ro 8:1 b. Freedom from the law of sin of death - Ro 8:2; 6:17-18 c. Freedom from the obligation to keep the Law - cf. Ro 7:1-6 -- Led by the Spirit, one is free from both the condemnation and obligation of the Law C. HOW IS ONE "LED BY THE SPIRIT"...? 1. "The Spirit leads both externally and internally. Externally, the Spirit supplies the gospel truth as set forth in the New Testament, and the rules and precepts therein found are for the instruction and guidance of God's children. Internally, the Spirit aids by ministering strength and comfort to the disciple in his effort to conform to the revealed truth and will of God." - J.W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton, Thessalonians, Corinthians, Galatians and Romans, p. 361
(commenting on Ro 8:14) 2. The Spirit leads us externally through the Word a. The Word is the instrument used by the Spirit to instruct and convict 1) The Spirit was sent to convict the world - Jn 16:7-11 2) The Spirit guided the apostles into all the truth
- Jn 16:12-13 3) Thus the Word is the "sword" (instrument) used by the Spirit - cf. Ep 6:17 b. To resist the Word is to resist the Spirit 1) As when Israel resisted the inspired word given through prophets - Ac 7:51-53 2) As when we resist the inspired word given through apostles - 1Co 14:36-37 c. When one sets their mind on the things of the Spirit (i.e., His revealed Word)... 1) They will live according to the Spirit - Ro 8:5 2) They will experience life and peace - Ro 8:6 d. When one walks in the Spirit (by heeding His Word)... 1) They will not fulfill the lust of the flesh - Ga 5:16 2) They will be thus led by the Spirit - Ga 5:18 3) They will produce the fruit of the Spirit - Ga 5:22-25 -- Do you desire to be led by the Spirit? Let Him lead you through His Word! 3. The Spirit leads us internally through His indwelling a. By strengthening the inner man... 1) God is at work in the Christian - Ep 3:20 2) Even as we work out our own salvation - Php 2:12-13; 4:13 3) The instrument by which God strengthens the Christian is His Spirit in the inner man - Ep 3:16; cf. 1Co 6:19 4) By His Spirit, we are able to put to death the deeds of the body - Ro 8:13 5) In this way the Spirit likewise leads us - Ro 8:14; cf. Ro 8:11 b. In conjunction with the Word... 1) When we make effort to heed the Word, the Spirit aids us a) Supplying what strength we may need b) So that which is produced may rightly be called the 'fruit' of the Spirit 2) To illustrate, consider the development of a Christ-like character a) Peter reminds us of the need for diligence on our part - 2Pe 1:5-10 b) Paul explains these qualities produced are the 'fruit of the Spirit - Ga 5:22-23 -- Do you desire to be led by the Spirit? Let Him strengthen you as you obey His Word! -- Christians are led by the Spirit externally as they are taught by the Word, and internally by His strengthening the inner man as they strive to obey the Word CONCLUSION 1. Paul has more to say about... a. The works of the flesh and their jeopardy to our souls - Ga 5: 19-21 b. The fruit of the Spirit and the blessedness He provides - Ga 5: 22-23 2. What Paul has said so far is this... a. There is a great conflict between the flesh and the Spirit b. Only those who walk in the Spirit and are led by the Spirit experience true freedom In the battle of "The Flesh Versus The Spirit", which side are you on? Are you being led by your own fleshly lusts, or by the Spirit of God? Eternal consequences hang in the balance...!