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.
9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 10 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment (1 Corinthians 1:9–10, NKJV).
God calls sinners into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” by the gospel (2 Thess. 2:13). As Jesus said, “It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me” (John 6:45). We must understand and accept that fellowship with the Lord Jesus is not based on our desire, definitions, and declarations. Nothing less than the writings of Christ’s apostles form the basis of fellowship with God. John declared this in 1 John 1:3-4, “that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full” (1 John 1:3-4). Fellowship with God must first exist before God approves fellowship with others (2 John 9-11). Simply put, we do not validate our fellowship with God; God does with His truth. When we practice the truth, we walk in the light in fellowship with God (1 John 1:5-7). God-approved unity exists among Christians when we are in fellowship with God (1 Cor. 1:9-10).
28 And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29 So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” 31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:28–31, NKJV)
The reciprocal tension between faith and doubt is displayed in the marvel miracle when Jesus (and Peter) walked on water. Confident in Christ’s command, Peter got out of the boat and walked on water toward Jesus. Then, fear found a place in his heart as he focused on the wind and waves instead of on Jesus, and he wavered in doubt. Faith gave way to dread and doubt. Peter was being pulled in two different directions. His faith in Jesus compelled him to do what would be unthinkable and impossible (walk on water). But fear caused him to doubt. Jesus said Peter lacked trust when he doubted and began to sink (“little faith”). Jesus immediately saved Peter, which reassures us in times of doubt. When doubt tests our faith, let us remember that victory over this world’s spiritual dangers is through faith in Christ (1 Jno. 5:4-5). Trust and obey His word. Do not let doubt pull you away from Christ.
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)
What we crave determines what we follow, where we walk, where we live. The apostle Paul has contrasted the Spirit’s gospel with the law of Moses throughout his epistle to the Galatians (2:16-21; 3:1-3, 19-25); 4:21-31; 5:1-5). Disciples of Christ crave (lust) the Spirit’s direction and influence in their lives. Thus, they live by the gospel of Christ that the Holy Spirit revealed, inspired, and confirmed (Gal. 1:6-12). Paul makes a compelling argument that being led by the law of Moses places confidence in the flesh (v. 18; Gal. 3:3). The question we must ask ourselves is whether we yearn to be led by the Spirit of God through the gospel of Jesus, or do we lust after the flesh. We cannot crave and follow them both. Paul’s warning against craving the flesh and its works is clear: “those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:19-21). His counterpoint is equally evident: those who have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts bear the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-24). We live (have spiritual life) “in the Spirit,” therefore, we must also “walk in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25). And, lest we miss the point, “obeying the truth” is how we walk in and are led by the Spirit (Gal. 5:6-7; 3:1-2).
11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also, 12 and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised. (Romans 4:11–12, NKJV)
God commanded circumcision of Abraham as a “sign of the covenant” He made with him (Gen. 17:1-14, esp. 10-11). The apostle calls attention to that historic moment. Like a seal marking authenticity, Abraham’s circumcision served as a sign or indicator “of the righteousness of the faith which he had” while still uncircumcised. This distinction is notable and confirms the blessings of Abraham are offered to all (Jews and Gentiles). It also confirms that faith is the means of justification, not the works of the law of Moses (Rom. 4:13). Verse 12 says Abraham is the father of those who “walk in the steps of the faith” he had before circumcision. Walking is active. Thus, faith is active – it involves steps. Faith obeys God, just like father Abraham. He did not earn the blessings of the covenant through keeping law. He was sinner, saved “by grace, through faith” (Rom. 4:1-5). His (obedient) faith expressed his trust in God, and his faith was accounted to him for righteousness. Obedient faith is the only kind of faith that saves us (Jas. 2:17, 20-24).
1 Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; 2 for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 4:1–2, NKJV)
While some say obeying the commands of God is not essential for eternal salvation in Christ, the apostle encourages Christians to abound more and more in that very lifestyle. The word “ought” conveys a moral obligation. That is, we are morally required before God to walk (live) so as to please Him (2 Corinthians 5:9). Living to please God is accomplished by keeping the commandments we have been given by the apostles “through the Lord Jesus” (1 Corinthians 14:37). Stay the course of faithfully obeying the commands of the Lord Jesus, and Christ will give you eternal life (Hebrews 5:8-9). We can never be content with not pleasing God, as if our sin carries no eternal consequence. They do. Therefore, let us “abound more and more” in a life of faith that keeps the commands of God.
6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:6–7, NKJV)
As used here, “received” means “to receive near…to associate with oneself” (Strong’s Dictionary). Christians have a close association with Christ. This relation began with belief: “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:11-12). Those who believe in Christ are given the right to become children of God. Receiving Christ begins with belief, but it does not end there. Jesus clearly said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved: but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). To receive Christ (take Him near, to be saved) one must believe and be baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:26-27). Through obedient faith, one receives Christ and His salvation (Acts 2:38-41). Christians need a grounded and growing faith to continue to walk in Christ (Colossians 2:7). The teaching of the apostles establishes us in the faith (Acts 2:42). Having heard, believed and obeyed the word of salvation to receive Christ, our hearts were filled with thanksgiving. Now, to remain close to Christ, we must continue to live with an obedient, vibrant faith.
8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” 11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?” (Genesis 3:8–11, NKJV)
God’s constant desire is to dwell with His people. From the days in the garden, when God walked with Adam and Eve before their sin against Him, God has arranged the opportunity for men and women to share in His fellowship. The tabernacle of Moses and Solomon’s temple were places God accepted their service and “dwelt among them” (Exodus 25:8; Deuteronomy 12:5; 1 Kings 8:10-13; 9:3). Of course, these did not contain God (1 Kings 8:27). Today, He walks with His people in His temple, the church (Ephesians 2:16, 21-22). The dwelling places of God anticipate heaven (Revelation 21:3). It is sin that prevents walking with God, now and eternally. Reconciliation with God is available to you through the death of Jesus Christ (Romans 5:6-11). You cannot walk with God while living in sin (1 John 1:6). Today is the day to put away your sin, and walk with God (2 Corinthians 6:16-17, 2).
Who is wise? Let him understand these things. Who is prudent? Let him know them. For the ways of the Lord are right; The righteous walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them. (Hosea 14:9, NKJV)
One’s wisdom is calculated by that person’s relation to the ways (precepts, commands, Psa. 119:3-4). “The ways of the Lord are right,” that is, they are just and true (Deut. 32:4). One cannot go wrong by knowing and following the ways of God. Therefore, to understand God’s ways, to know them and to “walk in them” is to be wise and prudent. This wisdom is joined with righteousness as one lives according to God’s ways or rules of conduct. On the other hand, transgressors deviate from the ways of the Lord; they stumble upon His word. Paul’s description of the Roman Christians illustrates the wisdom Hosea commends: “For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore, I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple (innocent, jrp) concerning evil” (Rom. 16:19). Be wise. Make the right choice, to know and to walk in the ways of the Lord. God’s ways are right and good, and the righteous walk in them.
11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.” 14 Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” (Ephesians 5:11–14, NKJV)
Sin is viewed far too casually, far too flippantly, far too inconsequentially by far too many Christians. By doing so Christians expose themselves to sin’s deadly darkness instead of exposing sin to the brilliant light of God’s word. Sin is a shameful thing. It is not to be supported, much less practiced. It is dark and deadly. For this simple reason, Christians are commanded not to have fellowship with sin and with those who practice it. The light of truth makes public the sin that hides in the darkness. The call goes out to every Christian to wake up out of your spiritual stupor and welcome the clarity Christ’s light gives to our lives. Christians are “children of light” (Eph. 5:8). Dedicate yourself to walking in the light of truth and not in the darkness and shame of sin (Eph. 5:9-10; 1 Jno. 1:6-7).