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Read Introduction to Galatians


“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”


The antithesis to the legalistic problems of the previous verse is to live by the filling of the Spirit.

I say then:

In contrast to letting the flesh form a base of operations in our soul by devouring one another with words, we are to allow the Holy Spirit to control us. The Christian walk is life, not regulations. Christians will not fall into a life of sin if they do not live by operation bootstraps but by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit’s control of the believer’s life is the general principle that governs everything else. 

Walk in the Spirit,

The word “walk” means to walk around (as a course of life). The walk in the Spirit here is a way of life, not a short stroll. “Walk” then means live. The Greek tense indicates that we are to keep on walking in the Spirit as a course of life. We are to order our manner of life by the Holy Spirit and not by the law. God wants our walk with Him to be permeated and dominated by the Spirit of God.

“Walk” is also a command. The Holy Spirit will not automatically work in our lives; we must invite Him to control us. Walking in the Spirit is no option for the believer. Spirituality is not passivity, but it involves volition. There is an onus on us to depend on the Holy Spirit for guidance and power in the Christian life. The command is conditioned upon one’s liberty (Ga 5:13). 

Paul uses four distinct verbs in this chapter to designate a life controlled by the Holy Spirit. Each suggests dynamic interaction with the Spirit. 

walk in the Spirit (5:16)

led by the Spirit (5:18)

live by the Spirit (5:25a)

-live in accord with the Spirit (5:25b)


The Spirit-filled life is not self-effort but a counteraction to sin by allowing the Holy Spirit to control us.


Walking in the flesh and the Spirit are mutually exclusive. We cannot do both at the same time. We are either carnal or spiritual at any given moment. There is a clear line between the flesh and the Spirit. The line is as evident as the border between the United States and Canada. It is impossible to reside in both countries at the same time. We can live in them sequentially but not simultaneously. We are either Spirit-filled, or we are not.

There is a difference between walking in the Spirit and having the Spirit. Every Christian has the Spirit, but the Spirit does not have every Christian. A non-Christian has a conscience but can stretch and bend his conscience according to his desires. A Christian cannot blend with the trends, cauterized according to his wishes. A non-Christian can sear his conscience with a hot iron of personal desire so that it will never murmur or complain again.

“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:11).

We as Christians do not measure spirituality by how many prayers, witnessing, or services we do but by dependence on the Spirit. We cannot live the Spirit-filled life by suppressing or eradicating sin but by the counteracting power of being filled with the Spirit, walking in the Spirit. Victory does not come by self but by the Spirit. When we walk in the Spirit, we are spiritual and produce the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit comes from the Holy Spirit, not from our deeds lived in the power of self (Ephesians 3:16; 5:18).

Walking presumes activity; it is not a defensive stand. We enter actively into God’s will by resting in the power of the Holy Spirit. We rest in His sufficiency. The Christian does not attempt to walk; he walks. He maintains a manner of reliance on the Holy Spirit. He lives daily to the glory of God.

Learning to walk in the Spirit should be as common a function as learning to walk physically. A physical walk is an incipient fall. With each step, we fall until our other foot catches the fall. Thus, walking in the Spirit depends on repeated succession of faith steps. A faith step, for example, would apply a principle of Scripture to a specific temptation by faith.