CALLED TO LIVE IN FREEDOM

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NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIAN CHURCHES

CHAPTER FIVE (Lesson CXVIII)

Adam Clarke (1760-1832) gives us his thoughts on the accumulation of these Fruit in the life of the believer. It all starts with putting sinful tendencies of the flesh on the cross with Jesus. Also, wanting to stay as far away as possible from the dictates and influence of these harmful tendencies. It means that whatever sensual appetites a person might have are being starved to death. In that way, they died on the cross of The Anointed One. By not giving in to such affections and longings, it might destroy the whole body of sin. That means, no catering to sinful tendencies no matter how small or innocent they may seem. It means making up one’s mind to reject anything which feels contrary to love and purity. These things, even in moderation, tend to stain and spoil one’s sanctified Christian character.[1]

David A. Brondos states that the purpose of The Anointed One giving Himself for the sins of others is to deliver them from the “present evil age.” It is important to note that Paul does not say that this deliverance has already come about or that the evil age is no longer a present reality for believers. Instead, this was The Anointed One’s objective in giving up His life: he sought that others might attain the life of the new age and delivered from their sins. One can also say it freed them from the present evil age in the sense that they have certainty regarding their future deliverance. Furthermore, they received many blessings associated with the new life, such as the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit that provides the nurture for the reborn spirit to produce this fruit.[2] Strictly speaking, however, their deliverance from the present age still awaits them.[3]

5:25 So, now that the Holy Spirit is leading us, let’s get in step with Him.

 After leading the Galatians through the quicksand of sin’s swamp, he now tells them that they are not on their struggle to survive. They have gotten in step with the Holy Spirit as their guide, so not stay in step with Him. It is undoubtedly in line with what Jesus told His disciples: It is the Spirit that gives life. The body is of no value for that. But the things I taught you are from the Spirit, they bring more abundant life.[4] And it sounds like Paul is quoting our Lord in his letter to the Romans.[5] The key is that if The Anointed One is in you, then the Spirit gives you life because He made you right with God.[6]

Paul explained it to the Corinthians in another way. He told them that the Scriptures say the first man, Adam, became a living person until they died. But the last Adam gave a life-sustaining spirit that is everlasting.[7] The Apostle Peter agrees, those who died long ago heard the Good News so that they now live forever with God in the Spirit. So, what was good enough for them back then it is good enough for those living today.[8] That serves as a message for us today that people who spend their time following their sinful tendencies think only about what they want now. But those who spend time with the Spirit are thinking about what the Spirit wants them to be and do until they meet Jesus face-to-face.[9]

Vincent of Lérins (circa 390-456 AD), a French Monk and early Christian writer, in his Commonitorium – the orthodox teaching of Christianity, mentions Paul’s warning to the Galatians here in verse twenty-five, as a warning to all. However, in this case, he intended this warning for the Galatians only. If that is so, then those other exhortations which follow in the same Epistle were designed for the Galatians only, such as, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, provoking, and envying each other. But that would limit the scope of Paul’s instructions. Then it follows, that these admonitions which relate to morals are also warnings about faith. So, Vincent implies that if it is unchristian to provoke people into envying one another, as Paul states, likewise, it is unchristian to receive any other Gospel than that which the Catholic Church preaches.[10]

Philip Schaff (1819-1893) takes the term “live and walk” as expressions of attitude and action. That involves our inward condition and outward conduct. If we claim we are living in the higher element of the Holy Spirit, we must demonstrate that by staying away from the lower component of the desires of the flesh. It is not just a suggestion by the Apostle Paul; he intended it to be the rule for Christian living.[11]

Then, William Kelly (1821-1903) hears Paul telling the Galatians: Let your outward life agree with the inward life. If they are moved and directed inwardly by the Spirit of God, it will control the outer life by the same divine influence. But that influence does not operate without regard to human freedom. No Christian will be kept on the straight and narrow way unless it is by his consent and choice. The exhortation means watchfulness, prayerfulness, and effort. The Greek verb stoicheō translated as “walk” here in verse twenty-five, is not the same as the Greek verb peripateō translated as “walk” in verse sixteen. The word “walk” used in verse twenty-five here suggests the idea of an orderly procedure, perhaps of moral and religious conduct regulated by a settled purpose. The word “walk” used in verse sixteen is talking about how one adjusts their life as they progress, using the opportunities given to them.[12]

The great preacher, Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892), wrote several daily devotions, and one of them fits nicely into understanding what Paul says here in verse twenty-five about walking and living in the Spirit. Spurgeon wrote that the two most essential things in our Christian faith are the life of faith and the walk of faith. Anyone who can fully grasp these two principles is not far from being an expert in experimental theology, for they are vital points to any Christian.

You will never find true faith, says Spurgeon, without the accompaniment of true godliness; on the other hand, you will never discover a truly holy life which does not spring from the root a living faith in the righteousness of The Anointed One. A warning to those who seek one without the other! Some cultivate faith and forget holiness. Such individuals may appear as standing high morally in keeping all the rules and rituals, but they will be standing very low in condemnation, for they believe that what they are doing makes them right with God. And others have struggled to maintain holiness in life, but have denied the faith, like the Pharisees of old, of whom the Master said, they were “whitewashed-sepulchers.” [13]

For Spurgeon, we must have faith, for this is the foundation; we must have holiness of life, for this is the building. Of what service is the mere foundation of a building to a person on a stormy day? Can they hide inside? They lack a house to cover them, as well as a foundation for that house. Even so, we need the structure of spiritual life if we would have comfort in the day of doubt. But do not seek a holy life without faith, for that would be to erect a house that can never offer permanent shelter because it has no foundation on a rock. Let faith and life merge, and, like the two support points of an arch, they will make our right living last longer. Like light and heat streaming from the same sun, they are alike full of blessings. Like the two pillars of the temple, they are for glory and beauty. They are two streams from the fountain of grace; two lamps lit with holy fire; two olive trees watered by heavenly care. O Lord, give us this daylight inside, prays Spurgeon, and it will reveal itself outside to Your glory.[14]

Current Bible scholar Vincent Cheung points out that Paul begins a sharp contrast, and even sets the flesh against the Spirit. Their desires are “contrary” to each other, and they are “in conflict” with each other. If you agree with one, you automatically disagree with the other. Paul says that “living by the Spirit” is having the “leading by the Spirit,” which then leads to “keeping in step with the Spirit.” It is an essential application of developing holiness in living. It is to avoid being misled by our sinful tendencies to gratifying the passions of our flesh. To follow the Spirit is to prevent a legalistic mindset. So instead of thinking, “I have to do this for God to be right with Him,” we say instead, “I want to do this for God because I’m already right with Him.[15]

[1] Clarke, Adam: Commentary on Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit.

[2] Galatians 3:3; 5:22-23

[3] Brondos, David A., Paul on the Cross: op. cit., (Kindle Locations 1815-1820)

[4] John 6:63

[5] Romans 8:2

[6] Ibid. 8:10

[7] 1 Corinthians 15:45

[8] 1 Peter 4:6

[9] Romans 8:5

[10] Vincent of Lerins: A Commonitory, Ch. 9, p. 274

[11] Schaff, Philip: On Galatians, op. cit., p. 346

[12] Hovey, Alvah: On Galatians, op. cit., p. 71

[13] Matthew 23:27

[14] Spurgeon, Charles H., Morning and Evening Daily Readings, September 18 – AM, p. 526

[15] Cheung, Vincent. On Galatians, op. cit., (Kindle Location 2555-2563)

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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