Think about the last time you drove your car. You got in, you had a destination in mind, and you started it up and took off. Contrast that experience to the way you behaved at 16 driving a car. At 16, you were thinking much differently. You were thinking about which pedal to push for gas and which for the brake, most likely taking a glance at your feet. You were thinking about the position of your hands, most likely looking at the steering wheel to find 10 and 2. You were thinking about the mirrors and gages, although you still should, but you were spending an unhealthy amount of time focused on them. What are you looking at today when you go for a drive? The road. There is a reason that insurance is higher for young drivers. They look everywhere except where they are going.
In a similar way, there is a difference between the behavior of a person who is trying to keep the law and a person who is walking in the Spirit. The first has an eye on their mistakes. They are focused on the rules. They are looking at themselves. The second has their eye on Jesus. They are following him. They are looking at the goal.
16: This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
The beginning of this chapter persuades us that it will not benefit us to try and live by the law. No one will be saved that way. Those who kept God’s law in the Old Testament were saved by the fact that they trusted God to fulfill it, and He did by sending his Son. So, how are we to live on this side of the cross? We will never live a godly life by concentrating on our own behavior. We have to concentrate on the person, pattern, and perfection of Christ.
Walking in the Spirit means to set our minds on who Christ is and on His character. The Holy Spirit’s job is to glorify Jesus. It’s our job as well, to know who He is and worship Him. Our behavior then is patterned after the heart of Jesus. We want to love because He is love. We want to offer hope because He is our only hope. We want to be obedient to the Father because Christ was obedient in all ways. The pattern of His life, even His willingness to lay it down for others, is the one we are striving to honor.
Also, the perfection of Christ stands in stark contrast to our imperfection. A godly life is not a person glorying in their own self-righteousness, but humbly confessing their weakness and boldly proclaiming the strength of God. Not one person will be won by you talking about how good you are, their only chance is for you to introduce them to how good God is.
17. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit lusteth against the flesh: and these are contrary one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things ye would.
Our human flesh is at war with the Spirit of God. The things I want, in the flesh, are always opposite of the things the Spirit wants me to have. When I am prevented from doing the good things I’d like to do, it’s because I am walking in the old way. A Christian can walk in the flesh, and they will be frustrated and dissatisfied, because the Holy Spirit’s job is to make them aware that those ways are dead and unprofitable. There’s misery in that way of living.
18. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
If we are getting our direction from the Lord, following after Jesus and living His way, we don’t have to be under the burden of the law. Having our eyes on the goal, Jesus, will set us at liberty to do the things that please our father and escape misery that living a self-focused life produces.
19. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication uncleaness, lasciviousness,
20. Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
21. Envyings, murders, drunkeness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
“The works of the flesh are manifest” they are easy to see and very obvious. Try as we might to live a good life outside of the power of God, we will fail. We won’t be able to hide works of the flesh because they are unmistakable. It’s an interesting list. Right there beside murder is envy. In the same line as witchcraft is strife. It’s interesting that some of these words have lost their meaning in our day, and yet they are prevalent. They rule churches sometimes and Christian families and they are destroying our joy and our witness to others. Some are easy to condemn and some are hard to deny.
Idolatry: extreme admiration, love, or reverence for anything but God.
Witchcraft: the word comes from a word that means “one who knows”. Beyond our idea of someone who has made a pact with the devil, a witch is someone who claims spititual knowledge and insight outside or contrary to the word of God.
Hatred: extreme dislike, aversion, or animosity.
Variance: the state or fact of disagreeing and quarreling.
Emulations: an effort to match and pass someone in achievement, making yourself higher than another.
Wrath: vengeful anger and retribution.
Strife: angry bitter conflict over fundamental issues.
Seditions: encouragements to rebel against authority.
Heresies: willful and persistent resistance to the word of God.
Envyingings: to feel unhappy because someone else has, or has accomplished something that you wanted.
Murders: the unlawful and premeditated killing of another. Jesus said, “whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer.”
Drunkenness: intoxication. A state of being overwhelmed and overpowered by any substance.
Revellings: parties lasting into the night usually involving alcohol and sexual sin.
24. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
There’s only one answer that will enable you to escape the just penalty of living in the flesh, which is eternal separation from God. That is to identify your sin with the suffering and death Jesus endured at Calvary. Our sin was crucified with Him, in that pattern Paul tells us “I die daily.” We don’t hide sin, we kill it. We recognize it for the dead thing that it is and leave it at the cross. We are able to live in the Spirit because Jesus Christ rose from the grave three days later in a resurrected body. We are new creatures in Christ, He has given us the power to leave it all behind.
25. If we live in the Spirit let us also walk in the Spirit.
26. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
This is a conditional statement, if you live in the Spirit and walk in the Spirit, then you should no longer desire vain (empty glory) and continue to fight one another. If the first part is true then the second part naturally follows.
Therefore, if you are living so that you will be better than others, (vain glory) you are not walking in the Spirit. If you are trying to fight with others, are jealous of others, or are angry over injustices real or imagined that others have done to you, you are not walking in the Spirit. Lay it down, follow Jesus, get your eyes on the road. Crucify the flesh, daily, and walk in the liberty that Christ gives us at the cross. Don’t seek to be “treated right” , seek to glorify God in every situation and to love His people in the pattern that Jesus showed us. He said, “Father, forgive them...”
22. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23. Meekness, temperance against such there is no law.
Just as you cannot hide the works of the flesh, the fruit of the Spirit is impossible to miss. This fruit is not produced by outside exertion, but by the inner conversion of the Holy Spirit on your heart and your mind. You won’t be able to fake it, and it will take the power of God to produce it. Your job is to surrender to God and keep Christ the first of your thoughts, the first of your desire, and the first of your relationships. To define these characteristics, you need look no further than to Jesus- He is the meaning of them.
Love: Love in the Bible is a word of action. The King James Version uses charity as the form of love that God has. Charity is love in action.
4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.- I Corinthians 13:4-8
“ Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”- John 15:13.
Joy: great pleasure and happiness in knowing who Jesus is rather than on what is happening around us.
Peace: complete wholeness that comes with a relationship with Christ, lacking nothing.
Longsuffering: having and showing patience in spite of circumstances.
Gentleness: the exact opposite of viewing ourselves better than others, a willingness to help even our enemies.
Goodness: holiness, purity, real righteousness.
Faith: confidence in the power and love of God, believing that He is, and will do what He says that He will do. Believing God rather than our feelings and understanding.
Meekness: the quality of heart that allows us to submit our will beneath the will of another in order to bless or benefit. It is power under control for the good of another.
Temperance: emotional restraint, self control. Not allowing our feelings to rule, but obeying God.
Before you even begin, be aware that you have no power to produce this list of qualities within and for yourself. This is the power of the gospel of Christ. He will begin this work in you and He will complete it. You have to be made new, and to have your mind transformed daily in order to walk in the Spirit and bear the fruit of His presence in your life. Keep your eyes upon Jesus, invite the Holy Spirit to have His way in your life. When you are prompted by that “still, small, voice,” don’t resist and don’t delay. Obey it. God has “created you for good works in Christ Jesus.” You will never be perfect on this side of eternity, but God at work in you will produce fruit that will be obvious to everyone around you. They will be drawn to the good thing you have found and want to have what you have, that has caused such a transformation in your life. In summary, you are not keeping the law, you’re keeping company with the King of Kings.
I like to think that the fruit of the Spirit is obvious in my life, but sometimes I give the impression of an old fruit salad three days in a hot car trunk. Walking in the Spirit is a choice, a choice of where my focus is placed. God mercifully gives me grace and forgiveness, when I am lazy, selfish, disobedient…etc. As a pattern, as a lifestyle, I am required to surrender to God and I know that when I am my life is so much sweeter regardless of circumstances. I need to remind myself to keep my eyes on the road, and clean out the trunk.
Thank you for studying with us! God bless!