Sunday, 29 May 2016
For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. Galatians 5:17
Paul now explains the necessary reason why we should “walk in the Spirit” as he stated in the previous verse. It is because there is, as it were, a war between the two. They can never be at harmony with one another because they “are contrary to one another.” This does not mean, nor does Paul imply, that the physical world, including our flesh, is evil. Rather, it becomes the seat of evil through our contrary carnal walk.
God created matter and declared it good. However, our natural inclinations since the fall have worked against what is good and have used the physical creation for evil purposes. In this Paul explains that “the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.” He further explains this in Romans 8:6-8 –
“For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
As noted there, it is the mind of the flesh, the carnal mind, which Paul is referring to. Only in Christ can there be a true break from this. In Romans 7, Paul sets up the dilemma with these words –
“For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. 16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.” Romans 7:15-19
As the two are contrary to one another, we find ourselves in a losing war if we walk in the flesh. Only through reliance on Christ can we find the true victory. By faith in Him, we receive the Spirit. By continued faith in Him, we walk in the Spirit.
The point of Paul’s words is to show that by falling back on the deeds of the law, we are not walking in the Spirit. The Spirit only guides those who trust in Christ, not in deeds. As this is so, those who walk in the flesh, meaning deeds of the law, cannot be pleasing to God. They are walking contrary to His purposes.
Life application: If you are following the Hebrew Roots movement or some congregation which says you should be following precepts of the law, you are not pleasing to God. You have been duped by the devil. Trust in God, rest in Christ, and walk in the Spirit.
Lord God, our hearts yearn for You, but our earthly minds long after the things of this world. Help us to prevail over these carnal desires and to fix our hearts, minds, and eyes on the Author and Finisher of our faith. Grant us the constant reminder that Jesus prevailed over the world and that through Him, we can too. This we pray to Your glory and for our sanctification. Amen.