SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT FOR TODAY (October 29, 2013)
“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” Galatians 5:16-18.
“I SAY THEN, WALK IN THE SPIRIT, AND YOU SHALL NOT FULFILL THE LUSTS OF THE FLESH” Galatians 5:16 (MKJV).
As we saw in the previous edition, the Apostle Paul made it clear to the Galatians that those who are truly free are the ones who do not indulge their sinful nature because of their freedom in Christ. Those who are truly free express their freedom while showing love to one another. Love is therefore very important to the Christian. But it is not just easy to love one another. It takes the Spirit of God to help us love one another as redeemed people of God. Without the Spirit of God in us, we can do nothing! He therefore continued with his admonition by advising that they should walk in the Spirit.
The Greek word used by Paul which is translated walk (περιπατέω peripateō) in Galatians 5:16 can also be translated as ‘conduct yourselves’ or ‘lead a life.’ The NIV translated it as “live” which also makes sense. Here, Paul admonished believers to walk in the Spirit or live by the Spirit. The reason for that admonition is that by so doing we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.
This verse is pregnant with several important issues which require the attention of every believer. Paul is here saying that those who walk in the Spirit or live by the Spirit will not satisfy or fulfill the desires or the lusts of the flesh. What does it mean to fulfill the lusts of the flesh? We should all understand that lust, as rightly used in the Modern King James Version is not used in a positive sense here. It is used in the negative sense. It therefore does not refer to the basic needs of human beings such as food, water and air.
It is about the sinful things the flesh desires to do even under the suppression of the Holy Spirit. We lust after so many evil things and sometimes after fulfilling such lusts, we regret doing them because we realized we should not have done them. This is what Paul meant by the lust of the flesh – things which separate us from God. Things we do to grieve the Holy Spirit. Paul says that we shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh under only one condition and that is walking in the Spirit. At this juncture I want us to take a closer look at what Paul said.
Paul did not say that those who walk by the Spirit will not have any desires of the flesh, or that the desires of the flesh will totally cease to exist even as we live in this sinful body and sinful world. What he said is that we shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. This means that we may lust after certain things, the flesh will continue to make demands on us even as Christians, but we shall not yield to the demands of the flesh. This is the grace of God which comes to us when we allow the Holy Spirit to control our lives.
The Apostle John said in 1 John 3:9 that “No one who is born of God will continue to sin” (NIV). This implies that we are not yet perfect by virtue of the fact that we have become Christians. Christ is still purifying us till we are finally glorified. What it means is that we shall not allow the lusts of the flesh (sinful desires) to control us if we walk by the Spirit. As long as we remain in this world, we may sin but it should not be our desire to allow sin to destroy the temple of God.
What then does it mean to walk in Spirit?
To walk in the Spirit is to pattern one’s life or behavior according to the word which is inspired by the Spirit of God. This means living a life which is patterned after the word of God.
As we all know, Scripture is inspired by God, it is God-breathed. Therefore living a life which is patterned after God’s word implies living by the Spirit. It means you do not live as the world expects you to live or as Satan teaches you to do, but as God teaches you to do through the written word (Scripture). It implies making Scripture your ONLY standard of faith and life, so as to practice it.
It also implies seeing Scripture as a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path and allowing it to guide us in everything we do. Making Scripture our only standard for life will produce in us righteousness, uprightness and holiness which are not based upon our own strength but upon the grace and assistance which comes from the Holy Spirit who is in us. Walking in the Spirit therefore implies allowing the word of God to rule throughout our lives and conversations.
But that is not all it means to walk in the Spirit. Walking in the Spirit also means exercising the graces of the Spirit of God by putting our faith upon the person and grace of Christ. The faith exercised by the believer is authored by the Holy Spirit. It also means exercising the graces of God in our love to God, his Son and for one another, which is part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. The exercising of love for God and one another is also demonstrated through our humility, lowliness of mind and meekness.
Therefore one can say that walking in the Spirit encompasses the totality of our way of life as Christians. If we fail to walk in the Spirit, we shall deny ourselves the opportunity of being called sons of God because it is those who are led by the Spirit of God who are called the sons of God (Romans 8:14).
Paul’s advice to walk in the Spirit is very important for all believers especially in this wicked and evil generation. This is because there are many things which are going on in this world which are planned by Satan to satisfy fleshly lusts. I mean there are many things the flesh can lust after in this generation more than any other generation we can think of.
This means that we can easily be robbed of our relationship with the Lord if we do not walk according to the dictates of the Spirit of God who is resident in us and also walks with us. Not only will our walk in the Spirit help us to avoid satisfying the lusts of the flesh, it will also keep our status as children of God intact. Let us therefore take heed to what God is telling us through Apostle Paul in Galatians 5:16 to avoid fallen into habitual sins.
THE WORD OF THE LORD!
Pastor Nana Kobina Baisie
Teacher/Pastor at Nadrim Mission International School, Busan, Korea.