Copyright © 2011-2018 | Esther Joy Fajoye
Galatians 5:25: 'Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.'
Living by the Spirit is not living in perfection, but striving and making every effort to live Christ-like, following His ways of love and peace so that we can resemble him and radiate everything about him.
Our own bodies can cause problems. It has a sinful nature and is governed by earthly desires and feelings, and so can be easily weakened when we give into temptations. So if we live and rely on our flesh, then our minds will centred around earthly desires and sin.
Romans 8:5 says that if we 'live according to sinful natures, then our mind will be set on what that nature desires. But if we live in accordance with the Spirit, then we will our minds set on what the Spirit desires.'
Christ gave us his glorified spirit, when he gave us new life through his death. This spirit brings closer to God and also helps us in our daily lives.
Now what the Spirit lives for and desires is the complete opposite of what the flesh desires. It wants different things. So conflict starts when we try to live by both.
God's has separated the Spirit from the flesh. Our flesh is temporary and weak, but our spirit is strong and everlasting.
This explains why our spirit may be willing, 'but the flesh is weak.' (Matthew 26:41). We may want to live but the Spirit, but struggle to resist the desires of our flesh.
When we live by God's Word and live by the Spirit, it reflects in our lives, our behaviour and attitude.
The Spirit is all about 'love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control' (Gal 5:22).
It's not easy to display those attributes living in this world. We are tested everyday... We can lose our patience or temper everyday due to any situation or encounter with friends, family, on our daily commute, place of work, or at home. We can easily fall into temptation and sinful natures and show the opposite of all the fruits of the spirit on a daily basis, because we are human and can make mistakes.
But we are not controlled by our flesh, but by the Spirit, because the Spirit of God lives in us.
And the God-breathed Spirit is what should stand out. That is why Christ said that people should know us by our fruits (Matthew 7:16).
Through brief encounters, people can make impressions on. We want our summary to be true. That is why the fruits of the Spirit mentioned in Gal 5:22 is to help us in our everyday lives and situations.
Note that the last fruit of the spirit is self-control. It is an attribute of the spirit, not our flesh, meaning that we can't control ourself with our humanly strength, we need guidance from the Spirit to control ourselves, our moods, thoughts, attitudes, and behaviour in order to stay strong in the Spirit and not fall into our earthly desires.
Christ is the ultimate role model who met all sorts of situations and encounters when he was on earth and every time, he came out dignified. This is one of the reasons why people were amazed by him. When the Pharisees mocked him, tried to belittle him, and even tried to stone him in John 8:59, Jesus remained patient, kind, gentle, faithful and loving.
Even when he was on the cross and onlookers walked past mocking him, he still chose to 'forgive them, for they don't what they are doing.' (Luke 23:34)
When he was tempted in the desert, he managed to overcome with the help of the Spirit (Matthew 4:1-11)
Christ gave us this same Spirit to live in us so we can live by his love and righteous ways.
So we can rely on His Spirit and not on ourselves. When we trust God with all our heart, and lean not on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5) we show our faith and commitment to His Word, his Spirit, his ways and direction.
Like Galatians 5:25 says, we must live by the spirit AND keep in step with it. This means striving to display its fruits and everything that Christ stands for. So we can be living examples of his good work, love and glory.
If we struggle, which occasionally we may do, Christ is always at hand to help us to stay focused on Him and not stray.
When our flesh fails us, God will always 'be the strength of our heart' (Psalm 73:26).