6.12 Galatians -- Live by the Spirit

Paul's answer to the legalists is to embrace the Spirit of God.  It is He who sets us free from both Law and sin.  How this must have confused the Judaizers, as it does us -- influenced as we all are by the indoctrination of childhood that obeying the law is the only way to avoid wrong-doing.  Yet here, Paul, in these two verses, posits the Holy Spirit as the antidote to both spiritual diseases: the sinful nature and the legal code. We don't have to pick one to avoid the other.  Jesus Christ has opened up the third way, accessible and maintainable only by faith in Him:  "live by the Spirit."

          

But this Spirit has nothing to do with anti-nomianism, anarchy, or that more modern invention, relativism.  Just as the works of the flesh are plain (Gal 5:19-21), so are those of the Spirit:

           But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law (Gal 5:22-23).

These results cannot be forced, they just appear as an outflow of the Spirit's presence in a believer, or a church.  Likewise, their absence shows that the believer has acted out of a different spirit than that of Jesus.

          

Paul does not mention the works of the Law.  Since these are just as perilous as those of the flesh, let us make a provisional list of them:  focus on externals, compulsion, willpower, performance orientation, shame, judgmental spirit, factionalism, hierarchy, exclusivism.  These are just as incompatible with life in the Spirit as are the works of the flesh.  

         

Racism is a compound of both the old nature and the legal spirit.  It seeks to justify, legitimate and perpetuate, base prejudices of the fallen man.  With high-sounding words, racism obscures the injustices it commits.  Expropriation, jealousy, hatred, lies, domination, dehumanization -- all are given a cloak of moral rectitude.  This is the work of ideology in general, to practice the embalmer's art of dressing up a hideous corpse and hiding the stink so that it gains the admiration of the mob.  In our own day, the same spirit of hatred, exclusivity and self-righteousness lies beneath the rhetoric of anti-racism and forced tolerance.  You can always discern it because it allies itself to political activism so as to vanquish its opponents.  The spiritual man attempts to defuse the conflict and be reconciled to his enemies.