Walking in Step with the Spirit

by Scott Vance on May 15, 2024

Galatians 5:13–21 (ESV)
13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. 16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 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. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 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.
One of the greatest milestones in a teenager’s life is obtaining a driver’s license.  It can be a bit of a complicated process, but once they obtain their license, they suddenly have a newfound freedom as they begin to drive without supervision (and parents suddenly discover a whole new level of stress in their lives).
What will these young drivers do with their newfound freedom?  Will they be respectful of their parent’s wishes, will they be courteous and safe drivers, or will they explore other options and opportunities (which did you do when you began to drive)?
That’s the point that Paul is raising in this passage.  Throughout Galatians, Paul has been making the point that those who entrust their lives to Christ are free.  They are free from their past, and in the case of the Gentile Galatian believers, they are also free from the need to adopt Jewish law and practice.  Paul has stated that in Christ they have a new identity.  They are sons and daughters of the Lord and as such, they are in the line of Abraham, and like Abraham, they are children of the Promise.  They have also received the Spirit and they don’t need to adopt Jewish law and practice (in particular, circumcision) in order to be a “true” Christian.  In Christ, they are truly free.
The question Paul is raising here is what will they do with their newfound freedom?
The very first point that Paul makes is that the freedom they enjoy enables them to truly love and care for one another in love.  As we’ve read through this letter, we know that there have been problems in the church, problems that are so serious that they are threatening to devour the community of faith which is why Paul exhorts the believers to stop the biting and bickering that is taking place. 
Instead, Paul encourages them to use their freedom to serve one another in love and so fulfill one of the greatest commands in the Old Testament (Leviticus 19.18), a command that Jesus affirmed in Mark 12.31.
Paul’s desire for the Galatians is that they are led by and walk in step with the Spirit rather than pursuing the desires of the “flesh”.  In Paul’s writings, the “flesh” and the “spirit” are in opposition to each other.  The point Paul is making is all about identity.  If your identity is found in Christ, then that relationship is the center and motivational drive of your life.  It is a relationship that changes and transforms a person’s life and sets them free from old habits and practices that once had devoured their lives and divided them from one another.
In Christ, they are no longer slaves, they are free and free for a purpose; to live into and enjoy the new life they have found in Christ alone.
That raises a great question for us today as well as we think about our freedom in Christ.  What will we do with our freedom?  Will we use our freedom to build bridges and open doors with others both inside and outside the church?  Or will we use our freedom to pursue our own wants and desires for the church (which, after all, is pursuing the desires of the flesh)?
If we genuinely want to embrace the freedom that is found in Christ alone, then there is one paradoxical thing that you and I need to do: surrender.  Surrender your life to Christ; every corner, every area, every aspect, every ambition, dream, desire, and every relationship, all of it.   Know, love, and follow Jesus and you will know true freedom as your life is hidden in Christ alone.
John 8:12 (ESV)
12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
God bless you and know that I am praying for you constantly.
I'm glad that you've decided pick up these devotionals.
The devotionals started from my own personal need to read through scripture and spend time thinking about what I was reading and the best way for me to do that was to write down my thoughts.

I began to share these devotionals when a student of mine was deployed in the military.  He wanted to continue to be challenged to read scripture and keep his life centered on Christ while he was serving abroad and so he asked me if I would be willing to share these devotionals with him.

And so I began to share the devotionals and as others found out what I was doing it began to grow and evolve from that point on.

I pray that these devotionals will encourage your faith in Christ and challenge you as His missional disciple; to follow Jesus wherever He leads.

And I want you to know that I really do pray for you constantly.  If you ever have a specific prayer request, please let me know.  It helps me to pray for you.

God bless you.


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