Friday 10 June 2022

Bible Book:

Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh. (vs 16-17)

Galatians 5:16-25 Friday 10 June 2022

Psalm 118:19-29


The theme of the two spheres of flesh and the Spirit that I discussed yesterday continue in this passage with Paul highlighting the battle that goes on between them. One opposes the other in a war that Paul describes so eloquently in Romans 7:14-25. However, in this passage there is an urgency from Paul because he is very concerned for the Galatians who have come to believe that it is necessary for male Christians to be circumcised. Paul is very upset about this, even suggesting that those who suggested this to the Galatians should be castrated in verse 12. Instead, he says in verse 18 that if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. At the heart of this statement is the idea that the law condemns us but we have been set free to live in the Spirit, we are free from this condemnation of the law.

 The problem with no longer being subject to the law is that it opens Paul up to the accusation of lawlessness or to use the technical term 'antinomianism'. That is, because you are set free you can do what you like. But Paul is quite clear in verse 19 that he is not advocating what might be termed 'lawlessness' by referring to this long list of what he calls the works of the flesh. He then contrasts this with the fruits of the Spirit in verse 22 of which he says there is no law against such things.

 It is worth noticing that the fruits of the Spirit are not a command to not do this or not do that, but is instead an expectation of an increase in virtue, such as kindness or gentleness. Using the metaphor of fruit adds to this sense of an attitude that needs to be nurtured and fed in order to come to fruition. And in the same way that a fruit cannot grow without being attached to a tree, so a person can’t nurture the fruit of the Spirit without living in the Spirit.


To Ponder:

  • Circumcision is no longer a controversial issue among Christians. But what other requirements, if any, do we find among Christians which impede us rather than set us free to live in the Spirit?
  • What, if any, of the works of the flesh described by Paul in verses 19-21 do you struggle with? Offer the struggle to God.
  • What does it mean to crucify the flesh?
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