Walking in the Spirit / Galatians 5:16-26 (Sermon text and audio)

Posted on July 4, 2012


This is a continuing study of the book of Galatians, in which I do a verse-by-verse exposition of Galatians 5:16-26. This message was delivered on the evening of July 1, 2012 at Hillcrest Baptist Church. The message deals with walking in the Spirit, the works of the flesh, and the fruit of the Spirit. You will find the text of the sermon, and the audio. Please note that the sermon text is NOT a full transcript. Typically, as I preach, I add to what is in my notes. So, for the full sermon, please listen to the audio version.

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Gal 5_16-26


Galatians 5:16-26 / Walking in the Spirit

In the previous verse, paul had just warned against devouring one another. To do so would be to give in to the desires of the flesh, from which nothing good ever comes.

The answer is to walk in the Spirit. We cannot simply will away the desires of the flesh. It takes the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome the lusts of the flesh.

In obedience to the Gospel, we should be totally consumed by the Spirit. We should not only live (walk) according to the Spirit, we should also think according to the Spirit.

Colossians 3:2

Philippians 4:8

To do so means to have a life that is totally yielded and given to Christ. This requires recognizing Jesus as Savior AND Lord.

There is a war going on within us, and the flesh is too powerful for us to fight on our own.

Paul knew this struggle very well.

Romans 7:15, 19

Our own will is insufficient, if we simply rely on ourselves, we will end up doing the will of the flesh.

We must allow ourselves to be led by the Spirit, because that is the only way to defeat the sinful desires of the flesh.

It all boils down to the fact that we have a decision to make. We can walk in the Spirit, or we can walk in the flesh. Grace or the law.

The consequences of this decision are tremendous.

The consequences of following the flesh will seem all too familiar to us, in today’s society.

Notice that the negative is not referred to as a fruit, but as works. Paul says that these works are evident, and indeed, we see them all around us.

The first set of sins listed have to do with sexual desires.

1) Adultery – This is all too common today. Marriage has become nothing more than a matter of convenience that carries no real commitment.

2) Fornication – This refers to illicit sex outside of the marital covenant. In our society today, this is rampant. We see it in real life, and are bombarded with it in TV, Movies, and advertisements (sex sells).

Many people today simply don’t see any need for marriage, yet paul said that if you can’t control your desires, it is better to marry.

1 Corinthians 7:9

3) Uncleanness – This refers to moral impurity, in relation to sexual sin. More specifically we see from Romans that this “uncleanness” is specifically used in relation to homosexuality.

Romans 1:24-27

4) Lewdness – This refers to behavior completely lacking in moral restraint, usually with the implication of sexual licentiousness.

We certainly live in an anything goes world. If it feels good do it, is the motto of the day. no regrets, you only live once is the philosophy.

Next Paul touches on some religious sins.

5) Idolatry – This, of course, would be a direct violation of the second commandment.

Exodus 20:4

1 Corinthians 10:14

Before we go pointing fingers, we need to remember that anything we place before God becomes an idol. How many idols do you have in your life?

6) Sorcery – This would be the same as witchcraft, the use of magic, often involving drugs and the casting of spells upon people.

Deuteronomy 18:10

A variant of this word differs in that the focus is upon the use of certain potions or drugs and the casting of spells.

New age religions, the occult, sorcery and witchcraft have become quite an obsession in our society. Not only the practice of it, but the glorification of it.

Witchcraft, vampires, and other occult related practices have become our entertainment. There is big money in these types of movies and books, the nation is literally obsessed with it.

I’m sure this steps on some toes (including my own), but if the Bible warns against it, can any positive portrayal of it be healthy?

These next few still fall into the religious category, even if they don’t seem to at first.

7) Hatred – this is self-explanatory, but there are those who twist the Word of God and use it to justify hatred – Westboro Baptist comes to mind, and there are many more.

8) Contentions – To express a difference of opinion with a measure of antagonism or hostility. How often do we see that in our churches? Too often, but that’s not the way it should be.

Philippians 2:14

9) Jealousies – A particularly strong feeling of resentment toward someone. Again, this is far too common in our churches. We harbor these feelings in secret, and they fester, grow, and eat away at us like a cancer.

We would do well to remember the commandments to love.

10) Outbursts of wrath – This is a natural by product of the hatred, contentions, and jealousies.

11) Selfish ambitions – How often do our own desires become the motivation for our work? Too often I’m afraid.

Philippians 2:3

Scripture; however, tells us that the things we do should be done for Christ.

Colossians 3:17

12) Dissensions – Division into opposing groups. When these other sins begin to take hold in a church, people begin to choose sides, which results in a split. Yet, the Bible instructs us to act in unity.

Philippians 1:27

Philippians 2:2

Back to an obvious religious sin.

13) Heresies – False teaching, untrue doctrine. Unfortunately, heresies have infiltrated our churches in many ways.

Rejection of the Trinity, rejection of the deity of Christ, rejection of the deity of the Holy Spirit, rejection of the virgin birth, rejection of the bodily resurrection, the teaching of evolution, the replacing of good Biblical counseling with psychiatry and clinical psychology, tradition being taken above Scripture, and the list goes on and on.

Next we move on to social sins.

14) Envy – We see lots of this in our society. Thou shalt not covet, but we want what someone else has, and it can lead to resentment, hatred, stealing and even murders, which is the next one.

15) Murders – The unjustified taking of another persons life, this becomes more common everyday. If we add abortions to this, the numbers become absolutely staggering.

Thou shalt not murder!

16) Drunkenness – Apart from the aforementioned fornication, this is probably America’s favorite past time. Yet the Bible warns against drunkenness, and nothing in the Scripture justifies recreational use of alcohol.

17) Revelries – Drinking parties, referring specifically to orgies. What more needs to be said?

Paul concludes this verse with a warning, that those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

This is not a reference to works based salvation, nor is it saying that one can lose his salvation. Remember the context. (Paul is refuting works based salvation)

The Greek word for practice is in the present active tense. That means that it is an ongoing, continuing action. there is no sense of completeness.

Therefore, this describes someone who is continually involved in such things.

Such a person must obviously feel no conviction for his sins. Therefore, you would have to conclude that such a person is not a true Christian.

The reference here is to the unsaved.

In fact, someone who is saved, yielded to the Spirit, WILL bear fruit.

Notice that this is one fruit, not multiple fruits. You don’t get some, and not the others.

A tree can only bear one kind of fruit, but that fruit has several distinguishing characteristics. For example:

You would immediately recognize an orange because it’s round, orange, sweet, juicy, etc.

Likewise the fruit of the Holy Spirit is characterized by ALL of the nine characteristics which Paul has listed.

Some of those characteristics may develop or become more pronounced as you mature in your faith.

For example an orange starts out green, and turns orange as it grows, but it WILL turn orange.

Some are juicier or sweeter than others, but they are still sweet and they still contain juice.

There is no law against such things, no reason for a guilty conscience.

The one who bears fruit will not have to spend his life looking over his shoulder.

Jesus died sinless, He defeated our enemy for us. We can take part in His victory, knowing that our sins were crucified with Him.

We simply need to allow Jesus to be Lord over our lives, and put our money where our mouth is. We need to walk the walk.

Paul concludes with a final warning not to give in to the lusts of the flesh.

We need to remember that only the Holy Spirit has the strength that we need.

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