Read Numbers 14, Isaiah 38, and Galatians 5 today. This devotional is about Galatians 5.
The thing about the Old Testament law, and any code of rules, really, is that they promise moral protection. If you never watch TV or go to the movies, you’ll never see something that causes you to lust or to covet. At least, that’s the theory behind some forms of legalism.
But Jesus told us that the desire to curse comes from the heart, not from speaking God’s name. Lust comes from the heart, too, not from seeing an attractive person. Those are opportunities to express the sinful desires within us, not the cause of the sins we commit.
Here in Galatians 5, Paul tells that Galatians that God freed them from the law. They should enjoy the freedom they have in Christ. But the freedom believers have in Christ is not the freedom to sin (v. 13); it is the freedom to live out the new spiritual nature we have through regeneration.
The law can’t really restrain the sin nature anyway. All it does it make us aware of our sinful desires and tell us what the penalties for sin are.
Instead of living by a religious code of rules or even a moral list of rules, spiritual freedom calls us to love others (vv. 13b-14). If we love others–that is, we choose to do what is best for them instead of what is best for us, or easiest for us–then we won’t steal from them, lie to them, deceive them into a harmful business deal, or do any of the major sins that people commit.
Furthermore, since we have the Holy Spirit within us now (as we saw in Friday’s reading), we have the power to say no to the sinful nature within (v. 16).
“Walk in the Spirit” has been defined as something experiential, something emotional where you just feel the spirit and do what he says. Of course there are times when we sense God’s presence with us and in us, but that’s not what Paul is talking about here.
“Walk in the Spirit” means cultivate your spiritual life. It is a command to read the word, pray, be instructed in the word, discuss truth and temptation with your brothers and sisters, and so on. As you put effort into cultivating your spiritual life, your spiritual life will blossom and bear fruit, just like your garden grows and makes vegetables when you water it, weed it, etc.
Verses 22-23 describe for us what spiritual growth looks like. These are categories of growth, things that we will see emerge more and more in the ways we act and react to life and people and circumstances and choices we make. You have the Holy Spirit within you and he desires to make you holy in your life, too. So invest in things that are spiritual and the Spirit will produce the fruit of the Spirit in you.
It takes time, however, to become like Christ so don’t be discouraged if growth takes time