16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 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. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law (Galatians 5:16–18, NKJV).
In today’s passage, walking in the Spirit is equivalent to being led by the Spirit (v. 16, 18). Being led by the Spirit is a matter of free will, a choice to live by faith. The Spirit does not force Himself upon anyone. Being led by the Spirit is tantamount to living in the Spirit. By crucifying the flesh with its passions and bearing the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-25). Again, this is a choice of faith we make, a life we choose to live. The Spirit of God leads Christians when we hear (and obey) the gospel (the faith, Gal. 3:1-2; 1:11, 23). The Holy Spirit revealed the gospel, confirmed its validity through miracles, and inspired its proclamation (Heb. 2:1-4; Eph. 3:3-5). When we follow the Scriptures, we are following the Spirit of God. Do not expect the Spirit to act upon you in some way distinct from His word. He is speaking through His word to you and me. We walk in the Spirit when we submit to the gospel of Christ (Rom. 8:1-2, 5-8). See this choice of faith to follow the word of God and live by the Spirit in Romans 8:13, “For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” We are alive in Christ and are led by the Spirit when we choose to live according to the gospel He revealed.
8 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 of sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; 11 of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged (John 16:8–11, NKJV).
Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to His apostles (which He did, Acts 1:3-4, 8; 2:1-4). The Spirit would (1) Teach them and give them a remembrance of all the things Jesus said (John 14:25-26), (2) Testify of Jesus through the apostles (John 15:26), and (3) Guide the apostles into all truth (John 16:13). The Holy Spirit revealed the gospel to the apostles, inspired their proclamation of it, and confirmed its divine source by accompanying signs and miracles (Mark 16:15-20; Acts 1:4-5, 8; 1 Cor. 2:5, 10-13; 14:37; Heb. 2:3-4). The Holy Spirit continues to work today, convincing the world “of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” by the New Testament of Christ, the powerful word of God He revealed, inspired, and confirmed. Using the word of truth, the Holy Spirit convicts the world (1) Of sin, providing the remedy in Christ (Acts 2:36-41; Titus 2:11-13). (2) Of righteousness because Jesus is reigning in righteousness at God’s right hand (Rom. 1:16-17; Acts 2:33-36; Heb. 1:8-9), and (3) Of judgment because Jesus has overcome the evil one (John 12:31). Let the Holy Spirit work in your life by receiving and obeying the word of truth He gave the world through the apostles of Christ.
38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:38–39, NKJV)
The “gift of the Holy Spirit” is the promised redemption the Spirit gives to those who believe, repent, and are baptized in the name of Christ for the remission of sins. Many mistakenly believe the gift in verse 38 is the Spirit Himself. Yet, the gift of the Holy Spirit is the promise of redemption available to all (v. 39, 21; Gen. 22:18). It is synonymous with Peter’s parallel statement in Acts 3:19, “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” Spiritual blessings (“times of refreshing”) come to the sinner who is converted by the gospel (believes, repents, and is baptized, Acts 2:37-38; Eph. 1:3). The “promise of the Spirit” is the “blessing of Abraham,” which is received “through faith” (through the gospel, Gal. 3:14, 15-25). Our responsibility as Christians is to continue steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching because what they taught is from the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 2:10-13). God does not give us a personal indwelling of His Spirit (apart from the word of the gospel) to guide us. The word of truth He gave us through the apostles guides us (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16–17, NKJV)
This dramatic event at the baptism of Jesus capsulizes the identity and the nature of the Godhead. Seen by Jesus and John, the Spirit of God descended and rested upon Jesus as a heavenly attestation of approval. The presence of the Spirit of God was miraculous confirmation to John that Jesus is the “Son of God” (Jno. 1:32-34). At this seminal event, God the Father declared by word and by the presence of His Spirit the identity of Jesus and His pleasure toward Him (Isa. 42:1; Acts 10:38). Jesus is the Son of God, an expression denoting sameness or equality of nature (Jno. 5:17-18; 10:30-36). In other words, Jesus is Deity, God with us (Jno. 1:1-3, 14; Matt. 1:23). Three distinct individuals (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) comprising One God. The Godhead is a united One – complete and undivided in nature, purpose, and will (Deut. 6:4; Jno. 10:30). Doctrines of God that deviate from this profound truth concerning the Godhead (and, there are many) advance false gods. (For more on the Godhead, go to http://www.bibleanswer.com/godhead.htm.)
1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? 2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? (Galatians 3:1–3, NKJV)
This passage draws our attention to obeying the gospel and fellowship with the Spirit of God. 1) Obeying the truth of the gospel is wise. False teachers (who were binding the law of Moses on Gentiles for salvation) had charmed the Galatian Christians into foolish disobedience. Adding to the gospel continues to be foolish disobedience. 2) Gospel preaching of the crucifixion of Jesus leads to obeying His truth (Lk. 6:46). The gospel publicly displays the crucified Christ and persuades believers to obey His gospel to be saved. The Old Testament revealed the Abrahamic promise of blessing, and the law of Moses was added to identify and restrain sin, and bring souls to Christ (Gen. 22:18; Gal. 3:16-19, 22-25). 3) We receive the Spirit by gospel obedience (Acts 2:37-38). We receive the Spirit’s blessings by hearing and obeying the faith (gospel, Gal. 1:11, 23; 1 Cor. 1:21; Gal. 3:13-14). Fellowship with the Spirit does not come by obeying the law of Moses, by Holy Spirit baptism and present-day miracles, or by subjective experiences. Do not be bewitched by false gospels that cast aside hearing and obeying the gospel for experiences. Hear, believe, and obey the gospel to receive the Spirit’s blessings.
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8, NKJV)
These are final words spoken by Jesus to His apostles before He ascended into heaven (Acts 1:9). He uses two “you shall” statements that distinguish the apostles from every other disciple of Jesus. Understanding them eliminates many false concepts about the Holy Spirit, the apostles, and what it means to be witnesses of Jesus. First, Jesus told His apostles “you shall receive power.” Then, He told them when it would happen – “when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.” This Holy Spirit baptism was a specific promise made to the apostles, not to every Christian (Acts 1:4-5; Jno. 14:16-17, 25-26; 15:26-27; 16:12-15). It would be fulfilled “not many days from now,” and ten days later on Pentecost, it was (Acts 1:5; 2:1-4, 33). Holy Spirit baptism would equip the apostles for their assigned work, which is the second “you shall” statement. Jesus told His apostles “you shall be witnesses to Me.” Witnesses testify of what they have seen (Jno. 3:11). The apostles were witnesses of Christ’s resurrection. They saw Him raised from the dead (Acts 1:22; 4:33; 5:32; 10:39-42; 26:16; 1 Cor. 15:4-8). Christians do not “bear witness” of Jesus because we have not seen Him. They did, and we believe their testimony. Christ gave His church apostles “for the equipping of the saints, for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:11-12). Let us thank Christ for the apostles, not be led astray by false doctrines that would usurp their power and work.
“And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,” (Ephesians 5:18, NKJV)
Christians are to be filled with the Spirit, not intoxicated with alcohol. But, what does that mean? Does it mean having a warm feeling in the heart, confident in feeling that we please God? No, since “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Prov. 14:12). Since the Scriptures do not assign our feelings to the Holy Spirit, neither can we. Does it mean claiming some miracle at work in our lives? No, since the purpose of the miraculous gifts of the Spirit has been accomplished. Plus, how those gifts were received is no longer possible (1 Cor. 13:8-10; Acts 8:14-17). To “be filled with the Spirit” is a commandment, therefore, we choose whether or not the Spirit will fill us. Paul’s parallel statement in Colossians 3:16 says to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,” persuading us to conclude we keep this command by imbibing of the Spirit’s word which He communicated to us by the apostles and prophets of Jesus (Jno. 16:8, 12-13; 1 Cor. 2:10-13; Eph. 3:5). Instead of filling your body with spirits that rob you of soberness, sound judgment, and honorable conduct, fill your soul with the holy directives of revealed truth. In this way, by being filled with the Spirit you will dwell with Him and bear His fruit in your life (Gal. 5:22-23).
26 But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning. (John 15:26–27, NKJV)
Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to His apostles to be a Helper, a Comforter, after He left this world (John 14:16-18). He fulfilled His promise to them (Acts 1:4-5; 2:1-4, 33). The Holy Spirit has given powerful testimony of Jesus Christ to the world. By His miraculous revelation, inspiration and confirmation, the Spirit of truth bears witness of the gospel of Christ through the apostles He empowered (Acts 1:8). The testimony borne by the Spirit of truth is not a personal impulse, feeling or revelation uniquely given as personal experiences to each individual. His testimony is the gospel He gave the apostles which they preached to the world (Jno. 14:25-26; 16:8-13). To refuse their word for a personal testimony that contradicts the Spirit’s testimony in Scripture is spiritually destructive: “how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?” (Hebrews 2:3-4) The New Testament is the Spirit’s testimony to the world. What a comfort the Comforter has given us!
25 These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you (John 14:25–26, NKJV)
Jesus taught His apostles God’s commands. They were to obey them because they loved Jesus, as must we (John 14:15). By doing so, His abiding presence was assured, even as it is to us when we obey His word (John 14:19-24). Jesus promised He would not abandon the apostles as orphans but would come to them by the Spirit of truth (“another Helper”) whom the Father would give them (John 14:15-18). Jesus assured His apostles that what He taught them in person would continue with them through the work of the Helper (the Holy Spirit). The Spirit would reveal “all truth” to the apostles and give them an accurate recall of all Jesus taught them (John 16:12-13). We are reading and keeping Jesus’s word when we read and obey the apostles’ teaching (John 14:23). Jesus promised the apostles the Father would send them the Helper, which He did (Acts 1:4, 5, 8; 2:1-4). Jesus promised His apostles the Holy Spirit would empower them to know all Jesus taught them, which He did (Heb. 2:3; Gal. 1:11-12). When we read their writings we can understand what they knew of God’s plan to save us in His Son (Eph. 3:3-5). We love Jesus and have fellowship with Him by keeping what the apostles taught (John 13:20; 14:23-24).
5 But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.” (John 16:5–7, NKJV)
Perhaps is it hard for us to imagine a situation where it would be better that Christ was not personally with His apostles. Yet, that is what Jesus told them to assure them in their time of sorrow, just hours before He was arrested, tried, abused and crucified. Sorrow filled their hearts as Jesus told them of betrayal and denial within their own ranks, of His departure and death, and of the world’s hatred for both Him and them (John 13:18-16:4). Yet, Jesus was telling them the truth (verse 7). Sometimes truth is hard to hear, but truth is what we always need to hear. In fact, an advantage would come to them from Christ because He was leaving them. He would send them the Holy Spirit, the Helper (advocate, comforter), whose presence and work would empower them to accomplish their apostolic tasks (Acts 1:8; 2:1-4). When things seem their darkest, we should remember God has blessings for us in Christ. His blessings renew our spirits and invigorate our faith, helping us accomplish the good works God has prepared for us to do (Ephesians 1:3; 2:6-7, 2:10).