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Thursday, January 9, 2020

2019.01.09 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 5:16-18

Questions from the Scripture text: Looking back at Galatians 5:15, what would be the outcome of walking according to the flesh? By what (Whom!), instead (Galatians 5:16), does the apostle urge them to walk? What would they then not fulfill? Against what does the flesh set its desire (Galatians 5:17)? Against what does the Spirit set His desire? What is the relationship between the flesh and the Spirit? What does the believer end up not doing? What are believers not under, if they are led by the Spirit (Galatians 5:18)?
Coming out of Galatians 5:15, we are determined not to fulfill the desires of the flesh—otherwise we will be devoured! But, that presents the question: how does one keep from fulfilling the desires of the flesh? After all, our experience (end of Galatians 5:17, cf. Romans 7:15-23) is that we keep failing to do the good that we desire.

The answer is to walk by the Spirit. It is in this way that we will gain ground in the battle against the flesh. The word “flesh” here does not mean our physical nature but rather the remaining sin from our fallen nature. And the apostle tells us that the Spirit and the flesh have declared war upon each other.

The question for us is: which of the two will we side with in the battle? Or, if we are already determined against sin, then there is a great comfort for us here: we have an almighty Ally who has committed Himself to be the mortal enemy of our opponent! The battle against our sin may be frustrating, and it may be drawn out over the rest of our lives, but its end result is sure and certain victory. Hallelujah!

Furthermore, if the Spirit is leading us in this battle against sin (Galatians 5:18a), then we will know ourselves to be sons of God (cf. Galatians 4:6, Romans 8:13-17), whom the law has no more authority to condemn (Galatians 5:18b, cf. Romans 8:1). Just as in the transition from Romans 7 to Romans 8, so also here, the apostle presents to us the fact that we are in the battle for Father’s sake and for Christ’s sake, by the help of the Spirit, as evidence that we are justified.

This is great news for those who are battle-weary. And it is also an important reminder that only God’s own means can win, since He must win the battle. And He will!
Against what sins are you battling? Why are you battling—Who is leading you? Will you win?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH51C “God, Be Merciful to Me”

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