Galatians Chapter 5: Life by the Spirit
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For 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 you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
In Chapter 5, Paul gave advice to the Galatians — practical advice on how the Gospel makes a difference in the everyday lives of Christians. The best synopsis of verses 16–25 is that the faithful Christian’s life should be lived under the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit.
In verses 19–25, Paul gave many examples of the “acts of the flesh” versus “the fruit of the spirit.” As the Galatians read through Paul’s list of the acts of the flesh, they certainly understood that such behaviors were contrary to the law and detrimental to their well-being.
Our sinful nature can lead to acts of the flesh, but abiding by the law does not remove our sinful nature. If, however, we surrender to the Holy Spirit, if we let the spirit guide and control us, then the Spirit will see to it that we don’t gratify the desires of our sinful nature.
Reading the list of fruits of the spirit in verses 22 and 23 has a remarkably soothing and calming effect in stark contrast to the emotions evoked by reading the list of the acts of the flesh in verses 19 and 20. Paul assured the Galatians that the fruits of the Spirit would be what they’d enjoy as a result of living by the Spirit.
A Moment to Reflect:
As you read the list of the acts of the flesh, my guess is that you will recall times in your life when you actually succumbed to such temptations, and for periods of your life you probably did so without contrition. Think back on how your life and your relationships with family and others were damaged during those periods and how that impacted you emotionally or even physically. In contrast, has your life been positively transformed as you live under the guidance of the indwelling Holy Spirit and you now enjoy the fruits of the Spirit?