VERSE OF THE DAY
Galatians 5:16 (New Living Translation)
So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.
New Living Translation
Living by the Spirit’s Power
16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.
Jesus told us that the truth will guide us through the Holy Spirit
That the spirit would be sent in his place till he returned. The spirit can not be seen but can be felt and is truth the spirit is the truth we know it keeps us in line from our sinful nature to live a godly fearing life.
at does it mean to walk by the Spirit?
Walking by the Spirit means looking to Jesus for our direction. It is a daily journey of asking ourselves, “What does the Lord want me to do today? What will honor and please him?” It involves examining our lives and if we recognize the works of the flesh within us, we repent and ask for the Spirit’s help.May 3, 2021
What Does It Mean to Walk by the Spirit?
I’m sure you’ve heard the idea of living and walking by the Spirit before. But, what does it really mean? Why should Christians even care about walking by the Spirit? How can we live and walk by the Spirit in our everyday lives? How does walking by the Spirit transform us? I’ll give you a hint: it is one of the most important aspects of our Christianity. If we’re not living and walking by the Spirit, our Christian journey will be a lot more difficult than it needs to be.
Galatians 5:25 says, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” It’s one of my favorite verses of scripture. Walking with the Spirit, or keeping in step with the Spirit, is the simple antidote to many of the struggles with sin and temptation we experience as Christians. Walking by the Spirit does not mean we won’t be tempted but the Spirit gives us the power to choose Christ rather than submitting to our temptations. If your Christian walk feels impossible, take a moment to read this article and be reminded of how submitting to the Spirit can bring so much freedom and peace into your life.
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Who is the Holy Spirit? Why do we need him in our lives?
Before I get into what it means to live and walk by the Spirit, I want to remind you of the significance of the Holy Spirit in our world and in our lives. We know that the Spirit was poured out to believers on the day of Pentecost. The early believers began to speak in other tongues and observers nearby heard them praising God and proclaiming the gospel in their own languages. But how did we get to Pentecost? What came before?
God gave his people the law through Moses. The law was meant to instruct them and teach them about the character of God. However, their hearts were not in the place to obey the law and they consistently failed. The thing is though, trusting and obeying God is a huge part of one’s relationship with the Lord. 1 John 2:3 tells us that we can have certainty that we know the Lord when we keep his commandments. So, how can people who do not have hearts to love and obey the Lord change? Through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Related: How to Develop a Personal Relationship with God
A New Heart and New Spirit
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. Ezekiel 36:26-27 ESV
God promised to give his people a new heart and a new spirit and put his own Spirit within them. The Spirit of God would empower them to obey the Lord. They would no longer struggle to keep the law and fail miserably all the time. Instead, the Spirit would direct their lives and their choices and empower them to obey God as they should.
The event that took place on the day of Pentecost was the fulfillment of this prophecy spoken through Ezekiel and many others. God poured out his Spirit and began to dwell within his people.
The Situation of Galatians
There was a very specific issue in the Roman province of Galatia that prompted Paul to write about keeping in step with the Spirit. Certain people from Jerusalem came to Galatia and told the Gentile believers that in order to be right with God, they needed to be circumcised according to the Jewish law. This was literally anthetical to the gospel. Becoming in right standing with God comes through Christ and then the Spirit enables us to live righteously.
This is perhaps why Paul emphasizes freedom in Galatians 5. Christ set his people free from the curse of the law. The law does not bring justification, only Jesus does. Now, the question that must have risen in their minds is, “How do we make sure that we’re living righteously?” Paul’s answer is simply by the Spirit.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 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. Galatians 5:16-17 ESV
If the Israelites couldn’t obey God without the Spirit, why do we think we can? Every aspect of our lives should be led and directed by the Spirit. It isn’t easy, I know, but there’s no other way to live. If we try to do life without the Spirit, it might appear to go well for a while but our endeavors will eventually fail.
Related: Why “Good” People Need the Gospel
What does it even mean to walk by the Spirit?
Walking by the Spirit means following the Spirit’s lead. Stoichōmen is the Greek word translated as “let us walk in step.” It refers to marching in rank or conforming to virtue and piety. In ancient Judaism, the term “walk” referred to the way in which one conducts their life. Walking was often associated with the law. So Paul flips this around and instead of calling believers to conduct their lives according to the law, he tells them to conduct their lives according to the Spirit.
Think about being on a tour or marching in line with someone else. When you’re on a tour, you go exactly where the tour guide goes. They have experience in the area they are taking you through while you do not. The best way to avoid getting lost is to follow them closely.
Likewise, since the Holy Spirit is God, he knows God’s ways pretty well. Sure, you can try to navigate your relationship with God without the Spirit but you would only get lost. Instead, if you follow the Spirit closely, you’ll stay on the right track.
Related: How to Actively Pursue God
The works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit
Paul goes on to tell us about the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. The works of the flesh include sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, division, envy, drunkenness, and orgies. (Galatians 5:19-21) However, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)
When we walk by the Spirit, we do not end up living out the works of the flesh. Instead, the fruit of the Spirit becomes evident in our lives. Walking by the Spirit means looking to Jesus for our direction. It is a daily journey of asking ourselves, “What does the Lord want me to do today? What will honor and please him?” It involves examining our lives and if we recognize the works of the flesh within us, we repent and ask for the Spirit’s help.
Fighting against sin and temptation is futile without the Spirit. Attempting to live a godly life without God is legalism. The Mosaic law was good but it wasn’t enough to keep people from succumbing to the works of the flesh. Likewise, you might have many methods that you’re using to help you live a godly life. Some of those methods can be good. But without the Spirit, they are worthless. Only the Spirit of God can lead us into godliness.
Living Lives Controlled by the Holy Spirit
I want to end with this: our lives should be ordered and controlled by the Holy Spirit. We should be wholly submitted to him. All of our decisions and choices should be led by the Spirit. The Spirit of the Lord lives inside you. He teaches you how to live. But it’s important to take time to listen. Sit in prayer and spend time in the word. Listen for his still, small voice.
Walking by the Spirit makes us more like Christ. Isn’t this our goal? We want to become like the One we behold. We cannot become more like Christ through the law, our own morality, or rules that we set up for ourselves. It has to be through the Holy Spirit, always.
May we earnestly pray, “Spirit lead me” and commit to going wherever he leads.
◄ What Does Galatians 5:16 Mean? ►
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
As believers, we are called to live in the Spirit, to pray in the Spirit, and to walk in spirit and truth. As Christians, we are called to live a spiritual life and not to be carnal, to bear the fruit of the Spirit and not to produce our own works of the flesh, to live under grace and not under law. As disciples, we are to walk by the Spirit for in so doing, we will not carry out the desires of the flesh.
Scripture reminds us, in many places, that we can only walk by means of the Spirit when we place our lives under His full control. We can only walk in spirit and truth when we are led by the Holy Spirit of truth and guided by His Word of truth.
To live the spiritual life that God requires of all His children, means that we should be willing to submit to His will and authority in every situation we meet… that in all our day-by-day dealings, we remain submissive to His leadings and obedient to His corrections – that we trust His Word, listen to His voice, and depend on Him alone – not relying on our own human abilities, actions, intuition, and strength, but doing only those things that we heart
The spirit and the flesh work in opposition to each other. They lust against one another and are totally incompatible one with the other. Our regenerated human spirit and our old sinful fleshly nature will remain bitter enemies and in conflict with each other, throughout our earthly life. But through the resurrected life of Christ, we have been given the means to walk by the Spirit so that we will not carry out the desires of our old, sinful, fleshly nature.
Paul himself recognised this inner conflict that we all face, when he cried, “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this dying body.” He recognised the inner turmoil that he faced in the inner core of his being – but Paul knew that the answer to overcoming the lust of the flesh was found in Jesus Christ. He alone has given us the power to overcome the desires of the flesh and it is achieved as we walk in spirit and truth – in submission to the Holy Spirit of Christ.
The flesh refers to the old sin nature, ‘the old man’ that was crucified with Christ when we trusted Him as Saviour – and we are to keep our fallen nature, that ‘old man’ nailed to the Cross and permanently disabled as we walk in spirit and truth. Only as we submit ourselves to the Holy Spirit and depend on Him by grace through faith in Christ, are we able to walk by the Spirit and be enabled to live as God as intended us to live.
By Faith, or by Works of the Law?
O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? zIt was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly aportrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: bDid you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by chearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? dHaving begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by1 the flesh? 4 eDid you suffer2 so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and fworks miracles among you do so gby works of the law, or by hearing with faith— 6 just as hAbraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?
7 Know then that it is ithose of faith who are jthe sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that kGod would justify3 the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, l“In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
The Righteous Shall Live by Faith
10 For all who rely on works of the law are munder a curse; for it is written, n“Cursed be everyone who does not oabide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that pno one is justified before God by the law, for q“The righteous shall live by faith.”4 12 But the law is not of faith, rather r“The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ sredeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, t“Cursed is everyone who is hanged uon a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might vcome to the Gentiles, so that wwe might receive xthe promised Spirit5 through faith.
The Law and the Promise
15 yTo give a human example, brothers:6 zeven with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. 16 Now athe promises were made bto Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, c“And to your offspring,” who is Christ. 17 This is what I mean: the law, which came d430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as eto make the promise void. 18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but fGod gave it to Abraham by a promise.
19 Why then the law? gIt was added because of transgressions, huntil the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was iput in place through angels jby an intermediary. 20 Now kan intermediary implies more than one, but lGod is one.
21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For mif a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture nimprisoned everything under sin, so that othe promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given pto those who believe.
23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, qimprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, rthe law was our sguardian until Christ came, tin order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus uyou are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as vwere baptized winto Christ have xput on Christ. 28 yThere is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave7 nor free, zthere is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And aif you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, bheirs according to promise.
Sons and Heirs
I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave,1 though he is the owner of everything, 2 but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. 3 In the same way we also, when we were children, cwere enslaved to the elementary principles2 of the world. 4 But dwhen the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, eborn fof woman, born gunder the law, 5 hto redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive iadoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent jthe Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then kan heir through God.
Paul’s Concern for the Galatians
8 Formerly, when you ldid not know God, you mwere enslaved to those that by nature nare not gods. 9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather oto be known by God, phow can you turn back again to qthe weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? 10 rYou observe days and months and seasons and years! 11 I am afraid sI may have labored over you in vain.
12 Brothers,3 tI entreat you, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. uYou did me no wrong. 13 You know it was vbecause of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you wat first, 14 and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me xas an angel of God, yas Christ Jesus. 15 What then has become of your blessedness? For I testify to you that, if possible, you would have gouged out your eyes and given them to me. 16 Have I then become your enemy by ztelling you the truth?4 17 They make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them. 18 It is always good to be made much of for a good purpose, and anot only when I am present with you, 19 bmy little children, cfor whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ dis formed in you! 20 I wish I could be present with you now and change my tone, for I am perplexed about you.
Example of Hagar and Sarah
21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, eone by a slave woman and fone by a free woman. 23 But gthe son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while hthe son of the free woman was born through promise. 24 Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two icovenants. jOne is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia;5 she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But kthe Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. 27 For it is written,
l“Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear;
break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor!
For the children of the desolate one will be more
than those of the one who has a husband.”
28 Now you,6 brothers, mlike Isaac, nare children of promise. 29 But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh opersecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, pso also it is now. 30 But what does the Scripture say? q“Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.” 31 So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but rof the free woman.
Christ Has Set Us Free
For sfreedom Christ has tset us free; ustand firm therefore, and do not submit again to va yoke of wslavery.
2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that xif you accept circumcision, yChrist will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that zhe is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are asevered from Christ, byou who would be justified1 by the law; cyou have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly dwait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus eneither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but fonly faith working through love.
7 gYou were running well. Who hindered you from obeying hthe truth? 8 This persuasion is not from ihim who calls you. 9 jA little leaven leavens the whole lump. 10 kI have confidence in the Lord that you will ltake no other view, and mthe one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. 11 But if I, brothers,2 still preach3 circumcision, nwhy am I still being persecuted? In that case othe offense of the cross has been removed. 12 I wish pthose who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!
13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. qOnly do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love rserve one another. 14 For sthe whole law is fulfilled in one word: t“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you ubite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
Keep in Step with the Spirit
16 But I say, vwalk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify wthe desires of the flesh. 17 For xthe 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, yto keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are zled by the Spirit, ayou are not under the law. 19 Now bthe works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, cdivisions, 21 envy,4 drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that dthose who do5 such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But ethe fruit of the Spirit is flove, joy, peace, patience, gkindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 hgentleness, iself-control; jagainst such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus khave crucified the flesh with its lpassions and desires.
25 If we live by the Spirit, mlet us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 nLet us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
What does Galatians 5:16 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]
In the previous passage, Paul has spoken truth to the Galatian Christians. That truth applies to all Christians, even today. His plea is for believers not to waste their freedom in Christ on serving their own flesh, and their own selfish desires. Instead, he has told those free in Christ to serve each other in love. He is describing a life of self-sacrifice lived out in response to God’s love for us (Galatians 5:13–15).
Now Paul begins to describe how to live in this way. After all, this kind of love does not come naturally. Not only do we resist giving up our own way, we often simply do not know how to love. Without the rules of the law to guide our every decision, how will we use our freedom in Christ to love each other?
Paul points to the only source of power and wisdom beyond ourselves: the Holy Spirit of God. He revealed earlier in this letter that the Spirit comes to live in the hearts of every one of God’s sons and daughters (Galatians 4:6). Now Paul tells us to use this freedom in Christ to access the power of God’s Spirit in our hearts in our everyday lives. He tells us, literally, to walk, and keep on walking, by the Spirit’s power and guidance.
Again, the picture Paul will paint is about setting aside our own power and relying on God’s. In the same way we could not fulfill the law by our own effort, Paul tells us to quit trying to serve each other in love on our own. The Spirit of God in us is available and willing to help.
Yes, this is a mysterious idea, but it’s also how free people in Christ avoid giving in to the desires of our flesh. It’s how we overcome our strong appetites to do what feels good even if that thing is sinful. In the Spirit’s power, we can say no to ourselves.
Galatians 5:16–26 focuses on how God’s Spirit gives those in Christ the power to serve others in love. We must allow the Holy Spirit to lead, however. When we don’t, our selfishness will lead us into all kinds of sinful lifestyles. When we live by the Spirit, on the other hand, we gain more than just being able not to live in sin. What comes out of us are a collection of powerful, positive characteristics.
Those who trust in Christ have been set free. Paul’s readers were in danger of wasting that freedom, by veering off in one of two directions. On the one hand, false teachers were pressuring them into circumcision in order to be sure of being right with God. On the other hand, freedom can also be squandered on serving only our sinful desires instead of investing it through serving others in love. God’s Spirit gives us the power to do that when we let Him lead us. Life in the Spirit bears powerful and positive fruit in a Christian’s life