What does living life as a Christian entail?
In his letters, the Apostle Paul recorded numerous valuable teachings to help us live in step with God. In his letter to the churches in Galatia, many of whom he had helped get started during his first missionary journey, Paul addresses his concerns about the rapid change of direction that Galatian Christians had taken. Many of them had left the road of faith and decided to travel a path paved on their works. Paul urges them to abandon their foolish gospel of works and stay steadfast in living life in tune with the gospel of grace.
Before Christ’s atoning and transformational work on the Cross, people lived under the Mosaic Law. When Christ finished his work, he fulfilled and satisfied the old Law and ushered in a new covenant in which our blessings come from God through faith. In Christ, we are set free.
Paul quickly reminds the people of Galatia that this new found liberty does not give people the license to sin, but the freedom to produce good fruit by walking in cadence with the Spirit. As believers, when we live Spirit-led lives we tap in the power to please God by behaving in a godly manner. Rather than seeking sin, we desire holiness. That is what it means to be transformed in mind and cease to live following the world. In Christ, believers are set apart, living in the world, but not being of the world.
Walking moves us forward. We stand and intentionally put one foot in front of the other moving toward the destination we desire to reach. Compared to modern modes of transportation, walking can seem slow and tedious. Walking can be invigorating. When we walk, we are charging our batteries with the positive energy physical movement provides. When we cease to move, we stagnate. Over an extended period, an overly sedentary lifestyle calcifies the heart and debilitates our body. We grow stale and stiff. Walking translates into progress.
Paul uses walking as a metaphor to describe our spiritual journey.
When we “walk by the Spirit”, we submit our lives to the control of the Holy Spirit. By the power of the Spirit, we move forward, in steady cadence with the Spirit, who guides and directs our lives as Christians. Day-by-day, as we venture on our spiritual journey, we get closer to holiness, one step at a time. While sin no longer has neither a place in our hearts nor power over our lives, the presence of sin in the world remains. As believers, we must rely on the sanctifying strength of the Spirit to help lead us away from temptation and get us through our trials and tribulations. Apart from God, we will always fall short.
Later this week, we’ll look at how the fruit of the Spirit manifests itself in our lives as believers.
Until then, may God’s grace continue to shine upon you.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:16-26 (ESV)