On the last episode of this shindig, I said that I would be writing more about the Holy Spirit, but to do that to the best of my ability, I feel like we should leave Ephesians and take a step back to Galatians.
Now, I know some of you might be thinking, “WOAH, that’s topical not expository… blogging!” And to that I would say, “You’re right, but it has a strong connection with the previous text, AND we only get like 70 views a week on this website. Who really cares anyway?”
So let’s go ahead and read these verses. (We’re not going to discuss the setting of Galatians, but if you’re interested, here’s a sketchy but informative site to learn more).
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 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. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
The first sentence begins with, “But,” which implies that we need to look at the verses before verse 16 so that we won’t pull a Jeremiah 29:11. In the passage before, we see Paul, the author of Galatians, rebuke legalism and say that we are free from that lifestyle. Then, in verse 13, he warns us to not use this freedom we’ve received by Christ’s sacrifice to live in the flesh.
But, wait! What is the flesh? The flesh is, in a summary, the sinful nature with which we are born. We are all born with this sinful nature which means none of us are really good people. We can do good things, but we aren’t good. (Mark 10:18)
Knowing this, we can see that these verses made it to the canon so that we understand how to avoid living in the flesh, which, according to verse 16, means that we walk by the Spirit. This doesn’t mean that we stop doing bad things and do good things. It means that we are led in producing the fruits of the Spirit (verses 22 & 23), This, in turn, will keep us from doing the bad things.
The fruits of the Spirit aren’t “doesn’t cuss,” “doesn’t get jealous,” etc. The fruits of the Spirit aren’t a checklist of sins we don’t do but a collection of attributes that we watch Him produce in us. We don’t cleanse ourselves first before we begin collecting either; the more we collect through God’s power, the less room we will have for the works of the flesh (verses 19-21). Too often, we think we must fix our sin before God can make us fruitful, but that is a sad misconception.
In verse 17, we learn that we cannot be filled with the Spirit and express the desires of the flesh and vice versa. However, we have to consciously choose to be filled with the Spirit, and that’s one explanation as to why Christians still sin. I believe that we are in a constant battle with the desires of the Spirit and the desires of the flesh.
To further explain, even though we have been given the Spirit, we can easily produce works of the flesh. In the same way, those that have never even heard of Christ can still act in a way that someone filled with the spirit can.
Lost people can be really nice people, and Christ-Followers can be real jerks.
Finally, in verse 18, we see a comparison between the law and being led by the Holy Spirit. I believe this verse is saying that, like in the Old Testament, we are trying to live righteously on our own if we try to live by solely following the law; however, if we let the Holy Spirit lead us, we receive help from Him in attempting to live that way.
Next week, we’ll continue on with this passage.
Cover Photo: SAphotograph