World English Bible translation
5:16But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you won't fulfill the lust of the flesh. 5:17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one other, that you may not do the things that you desire. 5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious, which are: adultery, sexual immorality, uncleanness, lustfulness, 5:20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousies, outbursts of anger, rivalries, divisions, heresies, 5:21 envyings, murders, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these; of which I forewarn you, even as I also forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
Christ has set us free, but we must not use our freedom to follow after the way of the flesh. The Judaizers had brought their message of law to the Galatians. But Paul had warned the Galatians not to allow the Judaizers to take away their freedom in Christ. By attempting to convince the Galatians to take on the ritual of circumcision, the Judaizers were trying to separate them from the grace and the mercy of God and enslave them to the flesh.
But since the Galatians had been baptized into Christ, the Spirit of God lived in them. If they lived their life in submission to the Spirit of God, they would not live in order to fulfill the desires of the flesh. The Spirit and the flesh are opposed to one another. So, when the Spirit of God comes to live within us, the Spirit struggles for us against the sin that tries to ensnare us. It is not our job to struggle against sin. In fact, the more we attempt to battle the flesh the stronger it will grow. The Spirit, though, is God divine. Where the Spirit resides, He reigns.
When the Spirit of God lives in us, we are no longer under the law. The Spirit cannot be constrained by the law. The Spirit of God is greater than the law. So when the Spirit lives in us, we are no longer under the law either. Paul does not write that the Spirit is opposed to the law. Rather, the law stirs up the flesh within us. The law tells us not to commit adultery and we are stirred up with adulterous thoughts. But, the Spirit works in us to turn the greed and covetousness of adultery into a truer love and concern for those that we live around.
Paul does not want these Galatians to be unsure of just what he means when he writes about the lust of the flesh. He tells them the works of the flesh are obvious, but just to be sure that we know what they are, Paul lists them. Some of the things that are listed are obvious: adultery, murder, and orgies. Some of the listings may appear more innocuous: jealousies, rivalries and divisions. We tend to think that the more social sins are not as bad as sins of violence and sexual uncleanness. But, Paul had a special concern for social sins that can even find their way into the assemblies of God. Jealousies and divisions have troubled many more churches than have ever been impacted by murder.
Do you sense the struggle within your life - the struggle between the Spirit of God and the sins of the flesh? For the rest of today and tomorrow, which will you serve, the Spirit of God or the desires of the flesh?
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