Peter Foster Tasmania Tasmanian scenery
My Reflections on the Word of God
Be Led by the Spirit
For you, brothers, were called to freedom; but do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh. Rather, serve one another in love. The entire Law is fulfilled in a single decree: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” But if you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out, or you will be consumed by each other.
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh craves what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are opposed to one another, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; idolatry and sorcery; hatred, discord, jealousy, and rage; rivalries, divisions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no Law.
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us walk in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying one another.
Galatians 5: 13-25 (Berean Study Bible)
We are Called to Freedom in Christ
The leading of the Holy Spirit is one of the least understood concepts in the New Testament. In fact it is blatantly misunderstood by many Christians – and in particular cessationists. Because of this misunderstanding God’s power is badly underrated by those who should understand it.
The dichotomy outlined in the scripture above shows what being led by the Spirit really means. However, many Christians fail to see how God frees us from sin. They don’t understand how these two contrasting concepts above are being linked together to show God’s power.
Paul is trying to tell us something very important, and something cessationists and others often fail to see. The Spirit of God is not a passive companion that we accept by faith, who cannot be experienced personally and who only reveals the will of God through the scriptures, or by answering our prayers. Paul leads us to believe He is an active and powerful ally who frees us from slavery to our sinful nature and consciously leads us into a life where we are able to fulfil the requirements of the Law. By placing the opposing descriptions in his letter side-by-side the reality of Paul’s message jumps out at us.
The following is what I believe Paul is trying to say; I will restate his argument in a simpler form. The sinful nature, the flesh, uses powerful motivational forces to control our thoughts and behaviour. They can also be very subtle and even unperceivable at times so their effect is not always apparent to those under its control. From Paul’s dichotomy we see that the Holy Spirit also prompts us with similar motivational forces, which directly oppose those of the flesh.
Before we became Christians we were bound to the promptings of our selfish sinful natures. But now, with the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, this bondage is broken and we are now able to choose who we follow and what controls us. Unlike the sinful nature the Holy Spirit is not a bully and won’t force Himself upon us. We must choose to follow His leading which will produce in us the fruit of the Spirit. Having been freed from bondage to the flesh we can now live as God’s children in obedience to the indwelling Holy Spirit. We are able to consciously experience His presence day-by-day as friend and advocate. This is the way Paul, in his letter, encourages the Galatians to live – and it applies to us as well.

© 2019 - Peter Foster