Previously: galatians 5:7-15, the offense of the cross
I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Gal 5:16-26
What is in opposition to each other, is not grace vs. the Law or even faith vs. works. We have seen elsewhere in Scripture that the Law is a gift of grace (as the Law of the Sabbath provides for rest even though the consequence of our sin condemned us to work, Gen 3:16-19). We have seen elsewhere in Scripture that one who has faith also has works which give evidence of that faith (Jam 2:14-26). But what is in opposition, is the Spirit and the flesh. Paul is saying that the Spirit and Law which is written on the tablets of our hearts (which expresses the will of God) is on one side, while the flesh and sin (rebellion against the will of God) is on the other side. The Law merely defines what behavior is righteousness and sin. It is a dictionary, a reference.
So why does he say, if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law?
Remember the definition of “under the Law.” This is Paul’s shorthand meaning, “under the indictment of the Law;” which condemns to death those seeking justification by the Law. We are not seeking justification by the Law and so are completely out of that brownie- point works- based system for justification. Now that the issue of justification or salvation is settled, there is another issue — sanctification, or the learning process of daily walking in holiness or right actions before God.
The Spirit inside of us causes us to walk in the manner which is pleasing to God. His Spirit aligns our hearts with God’s heart and our wills with God’s will. God has revealed His will to us. He has shown us what behavior pleases Him. His Law is the written expression of His will. So the one who is walking in the Spirit will be loving of others, in obedience to His will. They will be peacemakers in obedience to His will and His Law, they will put others first in obedience to His will and His Law. They will fulfill the Law without even thinking about it at times, because the fruit of the Spirit comes out of their lives naturally.
The phrase, “against such there is no Law” does not mean that those who are Spirit- filled can now ignore the Law as a dictionary for the definition of righteousness and sin, justice and injustice. It merely means as we have seen before, that Love is the ultimate goal and expression of the Law. The one who loves is obeying the Law. The one who is self- controlled is obeying the Law. The one who treats others with humility and kindness is obeying the Law.
But if we live by the flesh, then we are opposed to the Spirit and the Law, and the fruit that comes out of our lives is sin, that which hurts ourselves and others, and that which is an offense to God. Paul affirms in verse 21 that he is not saying that the Law is now to be ignored and obedience is no longer required – because he says that those who make a practice, a lifestyle, of living by their flesh, doing that which offends God in transgression of the Law, will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Not because we are now justified by the Law, but because the lack of concern for others or care for the heart of the Lord God shows that they never received Christ and the Spirit in the first place. The one who loves Jesus, will keep His commandments (Joh 14:15).
Continued: galatians 6:1-10, you who are spiritual