And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections (=passions) and lusts If we live in the Spirit let us also walk in the Spirit.
In this epistle we have seen that salvation is not by any work of the flesh. Instead it is by the grace of God. Likewise living the Christian life is not by our fleshly efforts, but by walking in the Spirit. By saving us God has brought us into His very own life, we now belong to Christ. We are not the devil’s, and neither are we our own masters any longer. We belong to Him alone.
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
This is the key verse to the epistle: salvation is Christ in us the hope of glory. If He lives in us, and we walk as He walked, then the life that He lived out in the days of His flesh will be manifested in us too. In short we will manifest the fruit of the Spirit as Jesus did. There is no alternative, we are either in the flesh or in the Spirit; we manifest either the works of the flesh or the fruit of the Spirit. Paul in the last section of Galatians seeks to exhort us to walk as Jesus walked as it relates to those around us.
This theme of walking occurs frequently in the NT. We shall consider a few of the many references as it relates to our thoughts from Galatians.
D1.1 Not your own
The epistles to the Corinthians were written to correct certain wrong teachings and practices in that assembly. The underlying reason for their problems is found in the opening chapters of the first letter.
And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?
All the problems of the Corinthian believers were rooted in the fact they were carnal, walking as other men. As we survey the epistle we see that amongst them there were divisions, fornication, contentions etc., so much so that when talking of the Lord’s supper Paul says that because they were eating unworthily some were sick and even ‘sleeping’ ( i.e. dead). God had seen fit to judge them thus.
The point we want here is that the Corinthian Christians were carnal and thus they exhibited the works of the flesh. In their lives the foundation Christ Himself had been laid I Cor. 3:11, and Paul never questioned that had happened to them, instead he warned them about how they were building on it: was it wood, stubble and hay, or was it gold, silver and precious stones? The former resulting from being carnal, the other from walking in the Spirit. The Corinthians were walking in the flesh and were thus exhibiting the works of the flesh.
All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body. And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power. Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
You are not you own, you have been bought with a price! Famous words indeed, but no less true for all that. The price God paid for our redemption was His own blood (Acts 20:28); having being bought we thus belong to Him. Through the new birth wee are also joined to Him by the Spirit and so we are in spiritual union with Him to do HIs will. We have not been saved to please ourselves, that is to satisfy the flesh and its desires ( Gal. 5:13). Instead we are to glorify God in our bodies and spirit, and serve one another, just as Jesus did.
D1.2 Not as other Gentiles
If we now turn to the Ephesian letter we see Paul talking about the mystery of the Gospel. After expounding the gospel in the first three chapters, Paul goes on to speak of living the Christian life. He speaks of keeping the unity of the body, then talks of the ministries within the body and their purpose.
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
The purpose of any ministry is not to exalt any man and his gifts, but rather to edify the believers and bring the whole body to a perfect man – to the stature of the fullness of Christ. Any ‘ministry’ that does not have that as its end point has to be questioned. This perfecting of the Saints means that we should no longer be carried about with every wind of doctrine that might be doing the rounds, so to speak. Since the church was born there have been many winds of doctrine that have carried God’s people astray. We have seen an example in Galatians: the Judaising tendency that took people in the opposite direction to the pure gospel, it even caught Peter and Barnabus up in it (Gal. 2).
Paul says that because the body is to edify itself in love, we should no longer walk as other Gentiles. Just as the Apostle rebuked the Corinthians for walking as other men, so he now exhorts us not to walk as other Gentiles. The Gentiles walk as they do because they have their understanding darkened, they are alienated, shut out from the life of God. This has resulted in them being given over to all kinds of unrighteousness.
If we, who are born anew, and have the life of God planted in us, walk as other Gentiles, then we are identifying ourselves with the ignorance and blindness of unregenerate men and women, and are walking contrary to the life that God has planted in us. Instead we are encouraged to live in such a manner that is consistent with the life that has been planted in us. In Ephesians Paul says this:
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind
And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.
For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise
The common note in all these references is that we should walk such that our conduct befits our profession of born again believers. This can only be done by those in the Spirit.
D1.3 Conformed to His image
Having been told not to walk as men, or as the other Gentiles what then is God’s ultimate intention for His people? The Scriptures leave us in no doubt.
….And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
In this most famous of scriptures we see what God’s purpose is for his children. If we are lovers of God, and called to His purpose, He works all things together for our good. However that working for good is in order to fulfil a specific purpose in us. The question is: what is that purpose?
The passage leaves us in no doubt at all. That purpose is for us to be conformed to the image of His dear Son. The individual plans that God has for each of us may vary, and lead to different callings in life, but ultimately God’s plan for all His children is to conform us to His own Son’s image.
Salvation from sin and new birth is to deal with the basic problem of the sinful nature, from there onwards that divine life, which has been planted, has to grow and mature unto ‘the full measure’ both individually and within the body of ‘The Church’.
The preceding verses of this eighth chapter is a further exposition on the Spirit and the flesh.
For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
The word please here is interesting. It reminds us of a certain passage in Hebrews, and in relationship to an OT example.
By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah: And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: And Enoch walked [LXX: pleased, or was pleasing to] with God: and he was not; for God took him.
We can only please God by faith, and it is said of Enoch that he pleased God, and that was because he walked with God. The tie up is plain to see and consistent with the teaching in Galatians. Our walk in the Spirit is by faith, and it is that which is pleasing to God.
Turning now to the first epistle of John we have the same teaching.
If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
In the Ephesian letter Paul says that once we were darkness , and now we are light ( Eph.5:8), as quoted earlier. Now John pursues that theme by saying that to walk in darkness, and saying that we have fellowship with Him is to lie.
When the scriptures talk of walking it must be understood that it refers to, and means the habitual walk or conduct of life. In fact in John’s epistles whenever he makes statements such as ‘ whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin … ( I Jn.3:9) in the literal Greek it reads ‘ whosoever is born of God can not continue in sin .. see also Rom. 6:1 .In other words a born anew person does not have sin as their continued or habitual practice. By correctly understanding this we avoid the extreme errors of sinless perfection, and excusing sinful behaviour in believers.
So being born again means that we are in the Spirit and our habit will be of walking in the light as He is. God’s children are light for the Light of the world is living in them. Fellowship with God is only on the basis of light. Fellowship can not exist between opposites.
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,
So as we have received Christ and have the Spirit we are to build on that foundation, and walk in the Spirit and the fruit of the Sprit will be manifested as it was in the life of Jesus.
As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.