Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 4 Study # 2
Thesis: Walking by the Spirit is to be accompanied by a commitment to abstain from fleshly "intentions".
Introduction: Last week we looked into the exhortation in 5:16 to "walk by the Spirit". It was my argument that Paul's grammar should be interpreted as a command to effectively "use" the provision God has given us to live effectively: the Holy Spirit as a "replacement spirit" so that our bodies can be tools of the manifestation of the Life of Jesus. But then I went to a "theological" issue regarding the anartharous use of "spirit" wherein we have to decide to put the issues of "spirit" in place in order to walk by God's Spirit. Those "issues" boil down to one: making the search for glory a search for God's approval in the contrasting setting of doing things to "impress" others.
So, I have concluded that in order to effectively "walk by God's Spirit" we must make it our goal to please our Father above all others.
Now we come to the other half of the verse. It is translated as if it carries some kind of promise, or guarantee, that if we walk by God's Spirit we will not be guilty of fulfilling any "lusts" of the flesh. The question is whether the translation and conclusion it seems to present is actually valid. It is my contention that it is not and that Paul is actually giving us a "way" to fulfill the command. So, I would ask your indulgence as I try to make my case.
April 21, 2013
- I. A Look At Similar Verses.
- A. Romans 13:14: Two imperative mood verbs, one of which is unnecessary if Galatians 5:16 is a "promise".
- B. Romans 6:13 and 19: Two more imperative verbs with the same "logic" as A. above.
- II. A Consideration of "Mood" in Galatians 5:16.
- A. "Promises" are typically "indicative mood" statements (often in the future tense).
- B. Paul used what is called the "subjunctive" mood in the second half of the verse.
- 1. The "subjunctive" mood is a statement that is one step removed from "reality"; it posits what is potential, or possible.
- 2. If Paul's theology of the methodology of life boiled down to simply deciding to permit the Holy Spirit to use our bodies to accomplish God's objectives, life would be simple indeed.
- a. Under that thesis, we could make one decision to yield to the Holy Spirit and never again be subject to the power of the flesh.
- b. But ...
- 1) Nowhere in the Scriptures are we taught that the outworking of our relationship with God can be carried by one decision.
- a) Justification is a one-time decision and it does have a permanent impact on all of our future.
- b) But justification is the beginning point of a relationship that serves as a microcosm of the methodology of the Life that begins at that point (faith in Truth as it is made true to our minds by the Spirit of God).
- c) Justification does not provide an automatic barrier against temptation and believers who "begin well" can be, and often are, "hindered" by both temptation and deceit.
- 2) Everywhere in the Scriptures we are taught that Life is a "fight" (2 Timothy 4:7), deception must be unmasked and rejected (1 John 2:26), and maturity is the result of trial and error (Hebrews 5:13-14).
- 3. In Paul's context in our text, he pointedly declared that believers can misuse their liberty (5:13), that the Galatians themselves were clear examples of those who had stumbled badly into the kind of error that could have horrendous consequences (1:6-8), and that the command to walk by the Spirit presents an on-going scenario wherein the decision to yield is to be made over and over and over (the imperative mood in 5:16).
- 4. So our question is this: what is Paul's point in using a "subjunctive mood" verb preceded by an emphatic negative?
- a. As "potential/possible action" the subjunctive ought to be translated by some form of English that removes it one step from reality ("if I am really sleepy when I go to sleep, I might sleep till morning").
- b. The kind of action involved is important.
- 1) Paul is talking about the pursuit of an intended goal.
- 2) The statement indicates that one should put an emphatic negative into the process of decision-making: no "lust" of flesh is allowed to be pursued to its end.
- a) This means that any process of pursuit must be interrupted as soon as it is unmasked.
- b) This also means that all of the preliminary steps must be "backed up" by "confession", "repentance", and "restoration of any relational disruptions".
- c) This also means that all believers everywhere are subject to making bad decisions and pursuing them at least to some degree.
- c. The conclusion: Walk by the Spirit by responding quickly to the presence and development of "fleshly lust" by putting an "over my dead body" kind of determination in place.
- 1) The will of man will not carry you; God will.
- 2) But the will must be involved: no action is taken without decision.