Living by the Spirit
Gal. 5:16 ¶ Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh.
Gal. 5:17 For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want.
Gal. 5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law.
Gal. 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness,
Gal. 5:20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions,
Gal. 5:21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Gal. 5:22 ¶ By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness,
Gal. 5:23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.
Gal. 5:24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Gal. 5:25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.
Gal. 5:26 Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another.
Here we are admonished to live by the power of the Holy Spirit, as opposed to living in the flesh. To be in the flesh means that we are living by our own personal motivations and desires and these are indirect contrast to what God would want for us. The list is put right out there. We can compare and contrast them. They define two completely different lifestyles. We may either be consumed by the flesh, or by the Spirit. Either we become involved in:
"fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these."
or in contrast when we live by the Spirit:
"love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control."
This is what the letter to Galatians encourages all of us to do -- to live by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is a new life, one that reflects citizenship in God's kingdom.
We are called to be citizens in his kingdom and that means a radical change in our lifestyles. However, if you'll notice, no longer is the lifestyle a set of rules. The Israelites had been unable to keep the law so God sent a new solution to his people. He sent the Messiah. Jesus came not to destroy that law, but to fulfill it in a new and different way. He sent the Holy Spirit who could live in every single one of us, transforming us on a daily basis into his image. You see, when we turn toward him, the power of the Holy Spirit draws us toward him and we reflect his image. When we are turned toward the world, we reflect the world and that's when you find the first list. The world is living a lifestyle filled with self-centeredness and reacts in evil ways toward one another. However, when we are reflecting Christ, himself, this will be borne out in our daily lives. The second list is not about us, or about us being able to produce these behaviors, but rather, about what happens when Christ is reflected in us. When we are living by the Spirit, then the characteristics of Christ are reflected in us. This is in direct contrast to the things of this world.
My desire, is to be like him!
Lord, please help us this day to be a reflection of you to our world. Amen.