PRAY & READ: Galatians 5:15-21
Let’s keep it real: Christianity has a lot of rules. When I first surrendered my life to Christ, I was generally confused by so much on the “right and wrong” list. I thought it was simple —love God, be kind to your neighbor, attend church, and don’t sin. It’s the “sin” part that seemed to always trip me up.
I had a five-word, mental catalogue of what I thought sin entailed. Included were: lying, cheating, drinking, drugs, and cussing. Sounded easy enough for me! Abstain from those five and you were a goody-two-shoe Christian fit to carry the cross through the end zone and spike it like a champion for Christ.
Throughout the book of Galatians, and specifically the fifth chapter, Paul addresses the sin nature that every human being owns and reminds us of how our flesh — our bodies — are the very instruments that both tempt and lead us into areas of destruction.
“But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh…” Galatians 5:15-16.
Here’s where it gets complicated (and uncomfortable). What exactly does Paul mean by “walk in the Spirit” and “ not fulfill the lust of the flesh?” In simple terms, I used to interpret it as: be perfect and don’t have sex.
As a single, Christian woman, the struggles of my flesh are many — from controlling my tongue and not spitting out a sarcastic quip to conquering my emotions and avoiding a contentious argument. The struggle is real and yes, living a single life void of fornication is included. But the lusts of the flesh are many and they have no hierarchy. One sin is not better or worse than another one regardless if you are single or married. So what are the works of the flesh? Here’s where Paul keeps it exceptionally real:
“Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I tell you about these things in advance—as I told you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (vs.19-21)
Paul doesn’t play guessing games with us in Galatians. He unapologetically outlines the works of the flesh and makes plain the consequence: “…those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” God has given us His Spirit, and as we walk with/in Him daily, He not only gives us power to overcome temptations but power to live godly lives.
It’s not an easy commute or quantum leap to travel from accepting Salvation to learning to “Walk in the Spirit.” With this newfound awareness, you can wake up each morning knowing that you can either walk in the Spirit or on your own. Don’t get out of bed before praying to God for help living out the gospel today. God desires for you to journey through life with Him each day so that you not only inherit the kingdom of God, but can know God and enjoy Him forever.
1. Which “works of the flesh,” are challenging your spiritual life and how are they hindering your growth?
2. Why do you think Paul had to take such a forthright approach in outlining the works of the flesh in Galatians chapter 5:15-21?
3. What is one specific way ‘walking in the Spirit’ today would change the way you normally live?
MEMORIZE: Gal. 5:15-16
This week's devotional is written by Penny Dickerson. Penny is a City Church Owner who serves on our Guest Services Team. She is also a professional journalist.