Walking in the Spirit

This devotional is based on Galatians 5:25-6:10.

Salvation is not only about justification, it is also about sanctification. Because we belong to Jesus Christ, we have his Spirit dwelling in us (Rom. 8:9). He is the one who does the work of sanctification in our lives in order for us to become more and more holy. In relation to this truth, this passage teaches us three things:

1. THE SPIRIT IS THE SOURCE OF OUR NEW LIFE.

“If we live by the Spirit … ” (5:25a)

If ever we are a new creation in Christ, it is because the Holy Spirit caused us to be born again. The Spirit makes our hearts new and causes us to walk according to God’s commands( 2 Corinthians 5:17; John 3:5,6; Ezekiel 36:25-27).

2. THE SPIRIT SUSTAINS OUR NEW LIFE.

“If we live by the Spirit … “(5:25a)

He produces the fruit of the Spirit in us so that we become more loving, more humble, more patient, more and more conformed to the character of our Lord Jesus Christ. He renews our minds, he gives us life and peace, he helps us fight sin, he helps us to pray, and someday he will glorify our “vile” bodies (Galatians 5:22, 23; Rom. 8:5, 6, 11, 13).

3. THE SPIRIT’S INFLUENCE IN OUR LIVES IS STRENGTHENED OR SUBSIDES, DEPENDING ON WHETHER OR NOT WE KEEP IN STEP WITH THE SPIRIT.

“Let us also keep in step with the Spirit,” (5:25b).

The picture is that of soldiers marching in line and in step with their commanding officer. The life of the church is in view, especially the relationship of believers to one another. Note the words “one another”. Walking in the Spirit lis a joint-venture, a collective enterprise; not a solo flight by a lone ranger. In other words, the way we relate to the Spirit affects our relationship to others; and the way we relate to others affects how we relate to the Spirit.

A. Negative: Things to Avoid.

i) Don’t provoke or envy one another.

“Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” (5:26)

The root of this problem is the sin of pride or conceit. This grieves the Spirit and weakens his influence over our lives (Ephesians 4:30-32).

B. Positive: Things to Do.

i) Restore one another.

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” (6:1)

The transgression in view here is not the habitual deliberate sinning born of a hardened heart and stubborn mind, but a slip, a momentary weakness, born of negligence or over-confidence. Let’s not look down on such; instead, let’s try to restore them. For we too may fall if we’re not careful. “There but for the grace of God go I.”

ii) Bear one another’s burdens.

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.” (6:2–5)

Teammates help each other get better for the sake of the team. They don’t lift themselves above their teammates or put them down just so they can prove that they’re superior. Instead, the team comes first. The kingdom of God and his righteousness comes first. Yes, we have our own burdens to carry, but we should also help others carry their burdens. This is what it means to love one another, which is Christ’s command to us.

But this won’t happen unless we learn to be humble. This involves considering others as better than ourselves and being concerned about their interests (Philippians 2:3,4).

iii) Share with one another.

“Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (6:6-9)

Sowing to the Spirit, especially in terms of supporting the ministry of the Word, not only encourages preachers and teachers of God’s Word, it is to our own spiritual advantage and results in eternal life, not only for us but also for those who are blessed by the ministry (Hebrews 13:7, 17). On the other hand, investing our resources in the flesh, its lusts and desires, results in spiritual decay.

The fact that spiritual generosity has eternal benefits should encourage us to persevere in supporting God’s work.

iv) Do good to one another (see also Hebrews 13:16).

“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (6:10)

This is still part of sowing to the Spirit. When it comes to doing good, we don’t limit ourselves to our fellow-Christians, but for obvious reasons, they have a special place in our hearts.

CONCLUSION

The Spirit is at work in us, sanctifying us (Philippians 2:13). Our task is to keep in step with him especially in the way he wants us to conduct our relationship with our fellow believers in the church. That way is the way of love, which fulfills the law of Christ. If we grieve him by means of pride, conceit, anger and envy, he may withdraw his influence in our lives, resulting in spiritual decline. But if we cultivate love for one another – restoring one another, bearing one another’s burdens, sharing good things with and doing good to one another – his influence over us (not only individually, but also corporately) will grow stronger and we will experience more and more his power to change us (John 14:15-17,21; 2 Timothy 1:6; Romans 5:5). As a side benefit, people will be drawn to Christ through the love they see in us.

TEXT: (Galatians 5:25-6:10)

INTRODUCTION:

Salvation is not only about justification, it is also about sanctification. Because we belong to Jesus Christ, we have his Spirit dwelling in us (Rom. 8:9). He is the one who does the work of sanctification in our lives in order for us to become more and more holy.

1. THE SPIRIT IS THE SOURCE OF OUR NEW LIFE (2 Cor. 5:17; John 3:5,6; Ezekiel 36:25-27).

“If we live by the Spirit …”

If ever we are a new creation in Christ, it is because the Holy Spirit caused us to be born again. The Spirit makes our hearts new and causes us to walk according to God’s commands.

2. THE SPIRIT SUSTAINS OUR NEW LIFE (Gal 5:22, 23; Rom. 8:5,6,13,26,11).

“If we live by the Spirit …”(5:25a)

He produces the fruit of the Spirit in us so that we become more loving, more humble, more patient, more and more conformed to the character of our Lord Jesus Christ. He renews our minds, he gives us life and peace, he helps us fight sin, he helps us to pray, and someday he will glorify our “vile” bodies.

3. THE SPIRIT’S INFLUENCE IN OUR LIVES IS STRENGTHENED OR SUBSIDES, DEPENDING ON WHETHER OR NOT WE KEEP IN STEP WITH THE SPIRIT.

“Let us also keep in step with the Spirit …” (5:25b)

The picture is that of soldiers marching in line and in step with their commanding officer. The life of the church is in view, especially the relationship of believers to one another. Note the words “one another”. Walking in the Spirit lis a joint-venture, a collective enterprise; not a solo flight by a lone ranger. In other words, the way we relate to the Spirit affects our relationship to others; and the way we relate to others affects how we relate to the Spirit.

A. Negative: Things to Avoid

i) Don’t provoke or envy one another.

“Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” (5:26)

The root of this problem is the sin of pride or conceit. This grieves the Spirit and weakens his influence over our lives (Ephesians 4:30-32).

B. Positive: Things to Do

i) Restore one another.

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” (6:1)

The transgression in view here is not the habitual deliberate sinning born of a hardened heart and stubborn mind, but a slip, a momentary weakness, born of negligence or over-confidence. Let’s not look down on such; instead, let’s try to restore them. For we too may fall if we’re not careful. “There but for the grace of God go I.”

ii) Bear one another’s burdens.

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.” (6:2–5)

Teammates help each other get better for the sake of the team. They don’t lift themselves above their teammates or put them down just so they can prove that they’re superior. Instead, the team comes first. The kingdom of God and his righteousness comes first. Yes, we have our own burdens to carry, but we should also help other carry their burdens. This is what it means to love one another, which is Christ’s command to us.

But this won’t happen unless we learn to be humble. This involves considering others as better than ourselves and being concerned about their interests (Philippians 2:3,4).

iii) Share with one another (especially with our teachers in the faith).

“Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (6:6-9)

Sowing to the Spirit, especially in terms of supporting the ministry of the Word, not only encourages preachers and teachers of God’s Word, it is to our own spiritual advantage and results in eternal life, not only for us but also for those who are blessed by the ministry  (Hebrews 13:7, 17). On the other hand, investing our resources in the flesh, its lusts and desires, results in spiritual decay.

The fact that spiritual generosity has eternal benefits should encourage us to persevere in supporting God’s work.

iv) Do good to one another, especially to your fellow Christians (see also Hebrews 13:16).

“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (6:10)

This is still part of sowing to the Spirit. When it comes to doing good, we don’t limit ourselves to our fellow-Christians, but for obvious reasons, they have a special place in our hearts.

CONCLUSION

The Spirit is at work in us, sanctifying us (Philippians 2:13). Our task is to keep in step with him especially in the way he wants us to conduct our relationship with our fellow believers in the church. That way is the way of love, which fulfills the law of Christ. If we grieve him by means of pride, conceit, anger and envy, he may withdraw his influence in our lives, resulting in spiritual decline. But if we cultivate love for one another – restoring one another, bearing one another’s burdens, sharing good things with and doing good to one another – his influence over us (not only individually, but also corporately) will grow stronger and we will experience more and more his power to change us (John 14:15-17,21; 2 Timothy 1:6; Romans 5:5). As a side benefit, people will be drawn to Christ through the love they see in us.

(Note: I derived a lot of help from Philip Graham Ryken’s Reformed Expository Commentary on Galatians in preparing this devotional.)

© Dennis Cortes 2022. All rights reserved.

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