Class: Galatians 5.16–26


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Purpose: To help us walk by the Spirit, and not by the flesh

Galatians 5.16–26 

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • January 3, In the year of our Lord, 2016


  1. Galatians 5.16–26 – The Culmination of Paul’s Argument 
    1. Paul argued for the superiority of Christianity over Judaism.
    2. Note especially 3.2–5; 4.1–6; 5.5.
  2. We do not conquer the flesh 
    1. by circumcision and Judaism, but
    2. by the Spirit in the faith of Christ.
      1. Then in our text, Paul gives a standard
      2. to see whether a person is walking by the Spirit in truth.


  1. Galatians 5.16–18 – Walk by the Spirit 
    1. This contrasts with verse 15.
    2. What it means to walk by the Spirit:
      1. Doing what the Spirit wants you to do.
        1. Compare Romans 8.4.
          1. He who walks after the flesh
          2. lets his flesh dictate what he does.
            1. Similarly, he who walks after the Spirit
            2. lets the Spirit dictate.
        2. Compare
          1. Galatians 6.16
          2. Philippians 3.16
          3. Romans 4.12 — rule of action
      2. Following His leadership.
        1. Galatians 5.18
        2. Romans 8.14
      3. Minding the things of the Spirit.
        1. Romans 8.5 is an explanation of verse 4.
        2. Minding the things of the Spirit:
          1. Life
          2. Peace
          3. Subjection to the law of God
      4. Heeding what the Holy Spirit has told us is right.
        1. Instructed through His Word.
          1. Ephesians 3.1–5
          2. First Peter 1.10–12
          3. Second Peter 1.20–21
        2. James 4.17
        3. Our conscience tells us whether
          1. we are violating or
          2. heeding that Spirit-instructed knowledge.
          3. Romans 2.15
    3. Walking by the Spirit prevents fulfilling the lust of the flesh.
      1. Verse 17 explains verse 16.
      2. He directs us away from fleshly desires.
        1. Romans 8.4–9, 12–13
        2. As we fill our minds with the things of the Spirit,
          1. it crowds out the things of the flesh.
            1. Thinking after the Spirit
            2. helps to keep one away from things that feed fleshly lusts.
          2. Spiritual desires cause a disgust of fleshly lusts.
      3. Walking by the Spirit gives us a new mind-set.
        1. Walking after the Spirit we dwell on spiritual things,
        2. leading to fulfillment of that desire.
          1. The Spirit mind-set looks for ways to fulfill the spirit.
          2. The more we do this, the more we put away fleshly lusts.
        3. Second Corinthians 7.1
          1. Ephesians 4.17–32
          2. Colossians 3.5–17
      4. Walking by the Spirit replaces walking after the flesh.
        1. The Bible does not simply forbid lust of the flesh,
        2. which would be inadequate.
        3. Luke 11.24–26
      5. Walking by the Spirit imparts power to win over the flesh.
        1. This is the very point of Galatians 5.16.
        2. Romans 8.10, 13
    4. The Spirit and the flesh are contrary to one another.
      1. Trying to live by both causes conflict and misery.
        1. James 4.1–4
        2. Some would pray,
          1. which is a thing in the Spirit (Eph 6.18; Jude 20), but
          2. the flesh led them to pray for selfish pleasures.
            1. They attempted friendship with the world.
            2. Consequently,
              1. they fought with one another and
              2. were at enmity with God.
      2. The Spirit and the flesh are contrary to one another, causing irritation.
        1. He who lives by the flesh, is irritated by the things of the Spirit.
        2. He who lives by the Spirit, is irritated by things of the flesh.
    5. The battle between the Spirit and the flesh
      1. keeps us from doing the things we ought to do.
      2. Note Romans 7.7ff and its proximity to Romans 8!
      3. We spend time trying to conquer the flesh:
        1. Instead of growing spiritually and
        2. instead of doing good works.
      4. Conquering the flesh is a tremendous task.
        1. It takes time, energy, and concentration that could be used for good.
        2. Matthew 26.41
    6. If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
      1. The difference between “led” and “under.”
        1. The emphasis is that the Spirit is not a taskmaster, hence he leads.
        2. The Spirit does not oppress with an unbearable yoke as the law did (Acts 15.10).
      2. Why Paul brings up the law in verse 18.
        1. Subjection to law of Moses is the issue of the Book of Galatians.
        2. But to remain under the law
          1. is to go back to that which gave no power over the flesh.
          2. Romans 6.14
          3. Romans 7.7–13
          4. First Corinthians 15.56
    7. Being led of the Spirit does not exclude Christ’s law (cf. 6.2), but
      1. excludes the law of Moses (or any other religious law).
      2. The Holy Spirit does not resist law.
        1. He gave us the entire contents of the Bible.
        2. If you follow the Spirit, you follow the law of God in Christ.
          1. Romans 8.6–8
          2. Romans 8.2
      3. Consider the context of the Book of Galatians,
        1. which does not exclude all law, but
        2. the law of Moses.
          1. Galatians 2.16–21
          2. 3.10–14
          3. 3.17–19
          4. 3.24
          5. 4.21–31
          6. 5.2–6
          7. 5.14
  2. Galatians 5.19–23 – The Works of the Flesh and the Fruit of the Spirit 
    1. The works of the flesh
      1. People work for these things.
      2. “Evident”
        1. It is obvious that such activities are not of the Spirit.
        2. Those in the flesh freely acknowledge fleshly origin of these works.
    2. The works of the flesh are:
      1. Sexual sins:
        1. [Adultery, KJV & NKJV only]
        2. Fornication
        3. Uncleanness
        4. Licentiousness
      2. Paganism:
        1. Idolatry
        2. Sorcery
      3. Relationship problems:
        1. Hatred
        2. Contentions
        3. Jealousies
        4. Outbursts of wrath
        5. Selfish ambitions
        6. Dissensions
        7. Heresies
        8. Envy
        9. [Murder, KJV & NKJV only]
      4. Debauchery
        1. Drunkenness
        2. Revelries
      5. Similar activities:
        1. Does the Bible have to list every possible work of the flesh?
        2. The Scriptures give us discernment.
    3. Forewarning:
      1. We cannot claim ignorance.
      2. Nor will God change His mind or be merciful toward the practitioners.
    4. Practitioners shall be barred from the Kingdom of God.
      1. “Those who practice”
        1. Not addressing our moments of weakness.
          1. The Spirit Himself in the Bible itself emphasizes that we do sin.
          2. First Kings 8.46
          3. Ecclesiastes 7.20
          4. First John 1.8, 10
        2. This does not justify moments of weakness, nor
          1. give excuse to engage in once in awhile, nor
          2. implying that our moments of sin are insignificant as long as we do not make a habit out of it.
      2. Hell, not heaven, is their final destiny.
        1. Revelation 21.8, 27
        2. First Corinthians 6.9–10
    5. The fruit of the Spirit:
      1. It is fruit.
        1. Works of flesh are not fruit (Romans 6.21).
        2. Fruit pictures good.
      2. It is of the Spirit.
        1. The Holy Spirit produces this fruit through a Christian.
        2. This is how we know if we are being led of the Spirit.
        3. Matthew 7.15–20
    6. The fruit of the Spirit is:
      1. Toward God (it is humble)
        1. Love
        2. Joy
        3. Peace
      2. Toward men (it is thoughtful).
        1. Longsuffering
        2. Kindness
        3. Goodness
      3. Toward handling self (it is interested in building).
        1. Faithfulness
        2. Gentleness
        3. Self-control
    7. No law of God exists that prohibits the fruit of the Spirit
  3. Galatians 5.24–26 – Crucify the Flesh 
    1. Being of Christ,
      1. the flesh, with its passions and lusts,
      2. we must crucify.
    2. If we have life by the Spirit,
      1. we ought to also walk by the Spirit.
      2. We live by the Spirit in that
        1. we have been born again, but
        2. being born again is not enough.
          1. Speaking physically there is more to life than mere existence.
          2. Spiritually there is more to Christianity than just existing.
      3. Not only do we have a spiritual existence, but
        1. we are enlivened to produce good,
        2. namely, the fruit of the Spirit.
    3. The Spirit excludes: (the Galatians’ attempt to keep circumcision had caused frustration for them and they became aggravated with one another, cf. v. 15, of which v. 16ff is a contrast).
      1. Conceit
        1. Walking by the Spirit
          1. we fill our livers with love, joy, and peace and
          2. we exclude conceit.
        2. Love eliminates boasting — 1Co 13.4–5
        3. Joy has no reason for arrogance.
        4. Peace does not do things to offend others, but maintains peace — Rom 12.18; 14.19.
      2. Provoking one another
        1. Longsuffering does not provoke others.
        2. Kindness leads to edification — Rom 13.8–10; Eph 4.31–32.
        3. Goodness avoids causing trouble, knowing it will lead to evil.
      3. Envying one another
        1. Faithfulness builds relationships, and does not tear them down.
        2. Meekness shows gentleness to all people.
        3. Self-control keeps a saint from letting another person run the saint’s life indirectly through envy.


  1. We conquer the flesh: 
    1. Not through philosophies invented by fleshly men, but
    2. through the Holy Spirit who created us in Christ.
  2. The Holy Spirit produces in us His fruit, 
    1. provided we follow his leadership
    2. as revealed in the Scriptures.