Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 4 Study # 16
August 18, 2013
25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
1901 ASV Translation:
25 If we live by the Spirit, by the Spirit let us also walk.
26 Let us not become vainglorious, provoking one another, envying one another.
- I. The "Method" of "Living" and "Walking".
- A. At issue: the case of the noun, "spirit".
- 1. Authorized Version translates it "in" as a locative.
- 2. NASB translated it "by" as an instrumental.
- B. Paul is, as clearly as can be done, attempting to get the Galatians to return to the former, most fundamental, methodology: faith.
- 1. The "beginning" was "by" the Spirit (3:3) in terms of the "methodology" of "faith".
- 2. It is "foolish" to switch horses in the middle of the stream (3:3).
- C. Thus, coming into "life" was "by" the Spirit and, thusly, "walking" ought also to be "by" the same method (instrumental case).
- II. The Issue of Such a "Life" and "Walk": Having Something to Believe.
- A. Because the New Testament is filled with exhortations, imperatives, rebukes, etc., it is a small misstep for the reader to shift from "promise" to "law".
- B. Under "grace", all exhortation, every imperative, assumes the presence of a prior promise that is to be believed first, and then "obeyed".
- 1. Methodologically, every emphasis upon "obedience" assumes a prior failure of faith. No one has to be commanded to do something that faith would automatically sponsor. For example, the excited declaration, "the house is on fire", does not really need to be followed by the imperative, "get out; get out". Typically that exhortation is rooted in the fragmentation of the values of those who "believe" the house is on fire, but value some of its contents more than the risk to their lives. This false value is fundamentally a lack of faith because it is "faith" that accepts the declared "value" of a thing.
- 2. The issue of "obedience" is revealed by the etymology of the word itself: "to be persuaded so as to put oneself 'under' the persuasion". This means that all real "obedience" is simply yielding to "truth" by placing oneself "under" the content of the "persuasion". Once a person accepts the content of what is to be "believed", the action(s) that follow(s) is automatic.
- 3. This demonstrates Paul's most basic perception of "Law" as a revelation of failure, not a method of success. Every "command" functions as a "reorientation" to "faith"; the failure the command assumes is highlighted by the command itself.
- C. The "walking".
- 1. The verb Paul chose to use is connected to "rules"/"concepts". It means "to act in harmony with a concept/precept/rule". The idea is to conform the behavior to the precept/concept.
- 2. Walking "by the Spirit" simply means using the same method for "walking" that was involved in "coming alive". That "method" was simply yielding to "truth" made "true" by the Holy Spirit. The flesh of man has no capacity to take any initiative in "believing"; but, it has the capacity to resist what has become "plainly true". The "exhortation" is, most fundamentally, "stop resisting what you know is true". Every "exhortation" has this fundamental character.
- III. The Focus of Paul's Exhortation.
- A. The entire book of Galatians has to do with "justification by faith" as opposed to "by works". This "by works" heresy is, most fundamentally, an attempt to gain the glory of God by one's own works of "merit" so as to "prove" the capacity of the human spirit. It is, most fundamentally, "vainglorious".
- B. Thus, it is no accident that Paul's final "exhortation" (assuming a failure of Love) has to do with identifying the real motive behind the flesh: the desire to achieve "glory".
- 1. This "glory", Paul says, is "vain". It is unreal. It has so little substance as to be without any basis for effort by anyone.
- 2. The roots are both "methodological" (provoking) and the underlying "love" (jealousy).