“But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law” (v. 18). The law is a list of do’s and don’t’s — a list which no man is able to keep. The law specifies that which the flesh must do. One who is justified by the law has no need of Christ (see v. 4). One who seeks to justify himself by keeping the law is led of the flesh, not of the Spirit.
In verses 19-21, Paul lists the works of the flesh. Each and every work is contrary to that which the law requires. Fruits of the flesh are revealed in them who walk after the flesh. All of the works listed in these verses are found in them who seek to make themselves like God (Gen. 3:5).
Believers are to walk in the Spirit (v. 16). Walking in the Spirit is characterized by revealing the character of the Savior one has received. A tree is known by the fruit it yields. The Spirit, likewise, is characterized by its fruit. That fruit is listed in verses 22 and 23. Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance, are words to which lexicographers have assigned definitions. But it is the Spirit that dwells in believers who gives these words their real meaning (see John 14:26). Paul calls for the Galatians (and us) to walk in the Spirit. We are to be Spirit directed.
In verse 24, Paul states what it means to belong to Christ. It means that one is linked to His death upon the cross. In Galatians 2:20, Paul describes the linkage with the words: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Every believer receives the same Spirit by which Paul was saved. All are made alive through faith but not all live in the flesh by the faith of Him who died for all who should believe.
One, in the flesh, can resolve to exhibit love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance, but the flesh fails. When one walks by the Spirit, one will exhibit the fruits of the Spirit. The Spirit produces love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.
The quality of the fruit of the Spirit is consistent, but the volume of production is dependent upon one’s walk. Walking in the Spirit entails acting upon the Spirit’s prompting. Paul was moved by the Holy Spirit to issue specific instructions concerning how one should respond to fellow Christians who are doing wrong. Christians who are caught up in sin are to be corrected in meekness. Meekness is a fruit of the Spirit. Meekness is that attitude of mind that is not harsh or contentious. Meekness manifests gentleness and tenderness in dealing with others. Meekness has been shown to us in the person of Christ Jesus. He who was without sin refused to condemn one who was caught in the very act of adultery, but, instead said, “Go and sin no more” (John 8:11). Believers have been delivered from sin such that they might walk in the Spirit.
Walking in the Spirit is characterized by bearing one another’s burdens. When one fulfills the law of Christ, one hears and heeds the command: “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). We are to love one another as He has loved us. One is to love his neighbor as one’s self.
When one walks in the Spirit, one is to walk with proper attitude (v. 3, 4 and 6). The Apostle states that a man deceives himself if he thinks that he is something when he is nothing. In I Corinthians 4:7, Paul asks believers why they glory in themselves for gifts which were given to them. One cannot glory in himself unless he first honestly assesses what he has done with the gifts that have been given to him.
Walking in the Spirit involves sharing (v. 6). One who is taught in the word is blessed. He that is blessed is called to share that blessing with the one who has blessed him.
Walking in the Spirit is an expression of what one has received (v. 7, 8). God is not mocked. God knows true love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance; and God knows fake love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. The fake is of the flesh and the flesh is dead. The true expression of the Spirit produces everlasting reward.
The sowing of love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance will produce a harvest in due time (v. 9). The seed of the fruit of the Spirit flourishes when it is sown in the fertile soil of the household of faith. Let us walk in faith and harvest the increase.