“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16 ESV)
In this sections of his letter to the Galatians, Paul contrasts the desires of the flesh and the works of the flesh (vv.19-21) with the fruit of the Spirit (vv.22-23). His point is that if we walk by the Spirit (in other words: if we live our lives according to the Spirit of God) the logical result will be that we no longer want to do the things that our sinful nature craves.
Consequently, we no longer need the Law as an outside, imposed standard on us, because the Spirit will supernaturally help us know and obey the Law. A few verses further, Paul says this:
“But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” (Galatians 5:18 ESV)
When the Law is engrafted on our hearts by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit will change us from within, so that there is nothing else we would want to do but do the will of God (which is what the goal is of the Law). Elsewhere, in Philippians, Paul says:
“for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil.2:13 ESV).
At the end of our chapter in Galatians, Paul tells us what the key is to let God work in us in this way:
“And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:24 ESV)
Jesus says that in order to follow him, we need to pick up our cross daily (Luke 9:23). Daily we need to crucify our flesh, with all of the passions and desires that come with it.
What to do with the empty space this leaves in your life? Let it be filled with the Holy Spirit and live your life according to his guidance, and you will no longer want to gratify the desires of the flesh. That’s where you’ll find true freedom from the slavery of sin!
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