So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
There’s no doubt about it - everyone wants victory. Victory at work. Victory at sports. Victory at school. Victory in relationships. Victory in everything you do.
And when you have victory, you’re a winner. You get to wear the hat that says you’re a winner. Special tee shirts are made, proclaiming that you are a winner for all the world to see. You get a trophy or plaque that declares your victory. That you’re a winner. We want to be on top. Be number one. Be the first. Be the best.
Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time. The very thought of losing is hateful to Americans.
General George S. Patton
But the way that it works now is that everyone, and I mean everyone, is a winner. Everyone’s victorious. Everyone’s a hero. Everyone gets a trophy. Everyone deserves the best.
Victory has become cheap. Victory is handed out just for showing up. Or just for signing up. What once required lots of time, energy, effort, sacrifice, and pain has become just another condiment on the hamburger of life.
Paul understands that victory over temptation, victory over sin, and victory over our default position to do whatever we want, requires God’s power and person. There’s no law, set of rules, or anything else that can really change us from within.
That’s why he doesn’t just suggest that they walk by God’s Spirit. He’s more than encouraging the, to actively live their lives by God’s Spirit. Paul’s not giving them some spiritual worksheet that they can check their lives against.
No, Paul’s ordering them to live by God’s Spirit. It’s a command. It’s a demand. He’s saying that there’s really only one way for us to get victory over evil and the temptations in our life. And that way isn’t through our good works. Our determination. Our dedication.
The only way to live a victorious life is through choosing God’s Holy Spirit. Period. We need to be constantly and consistently choosing his direction and leading in our life.
When we accepted Christ, God’s Holy Spirit came and permanently made his home within us. He’s not going anywhere. He’s here to stay. But he’s not interested in just staying, he wants to revolutionize our life so that we depend on his guidance and power for every part of life.
There is no set of rules that can tie us down or stop us from choosing sin. But God’s Spirit within us is more powerful. He will give us the strength to live the life that God has in store for us when we walk with him.
Notice that we’re to walk by the Spirit. This is a continual walking with him. It’s more than just crying out to him when we get ourselves in over our heads.
It starts with every step we take throughout the day. We’re to be living, talking, listening, and receiving his direction and power long before we find ourselves in the deep end of the pool of life.
Walking with God is to let him into every part of our life. There are no areas that are off-limits with God. There’s no out-of-bounds with God. You can’t point to the sideline of your life and say, “Not here, God. You can only come up to here. Everything on this side of the line is yours. Everything on this other side is mine.
The opposite of walking with God is to fulfill the desires of the flesh. There’s no middle ground. There’s no grey: it’s black and white. On or off. There’s no dimmer switch when it comes to living for God.
Paul lets the Galatians know for certain that if they don’t depend on God’s Spirit they will gratify the desires of the flesh. There’s no doubt about it. It’s certain.
It’s like dropping a glass onto a tile floor, it’s guaranteed to shatter. It’s like stepping off a diving board, you’re guaranteed to fall. If you try and live your life by yourself, in your own power, you’re guaranteed to fail and fall.
But when we choose God’s Spirit to direct and empower us, he leads us to victory. This doesn’t mean that there’s no pain or heartache in this life. It doesn’t mean that disease and death are no longer part of this life.
But it does mean that he’s with us every step of the way. He’s right there even through the pain and suffering that’s coming like a freight train. He’s holding our hand when everyone else abandons us.
Now that’s a real victory. A victory that was earned by Jesus on the cross. A victory that’s offered to us. A victory that he’s won and we choose when we walk with him