Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 4 Study # 2
April 21, 2013
I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these
; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you
in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
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
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary the one to the other; that ye may not do the things that ye would.
18 But if ye are led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these
: fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousies, wraths, factions, divisions, parties,
21 envyings, drunkenness, revellings, and such like; of which I forewarn you, even as I did forewarn you, that they who practise such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 meekness, self-control; against such there is no law.
24 And they that are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts thereof.
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. Paul's Second Comment.
- A. In this verse, does Paul "promise" that those who walk "in the realm of the Spirit's interests" will not fulfill the potent desires of the flesh, or is he adding a further exhortation?
- 1. Paul uses what is called an "aorist subjunctive" in his effort (the Authorized Version says "...ye shall not fulfill...").
- a. This is neither a future indicative (indicating a reality of the future), nor a present imperative (like the form of the command to "walk by the Spirit").
- b. The subjunctive is often used as if it were an imperative, but it is also used in simple description (this, or that, should not happen).
- 1) The "thing" that should not happen is that any "lust of flesh" be brought to its intended "telos" (end).
- 2) This sounds a bit like Romans 13:14: "...clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision (an imperative with deliberate intention) unto 'lusts'". Clearly, if the "make no provision" is an imperative, it has to be an option. Thus, Paul's statement to the Galatians is not about "decision making" per se; it is about what should not (emphatic) occur.
- 2. The problem is that Paul admits to the conflict/tension between the flesh and Spirit and actually says the conflict result is that "ye might not do (this verb is another "subjunctive") the things you might will to do" (yet another "subjunctive"). If this is a real problem, there is no "guarantee" that a person "will not fulfill a lust of the flesh" (i.e., it is not a promise).
- 3. What Paul may be saying is both imperative ("walk") and descriptive (with overtones of an imperative ("you should in no wise fulfill a "lust of flesh"). And the on-going statement of the conflict between flesh and spirit tends in the direction of an explanation for why the imperative is in place ("Do this and the other should not be done...").
- a. Involved in the questions this text raises is the fact that Paul used an "imperative" in his command regarding one's "walk" and a "subjunctive" in his comment about the potent lust of flesh. If both were to be taken as "imperatives", why not just use imperatives? If the imperative would automatically lead to a non-fulfillment of a lust of flesh, why not just use an imperative followed by an indicative?
- b. That the verbs are different in terms of their "mood" (a grammatical descriptive term) is not debatable. What this difference means is the point at hand.
- 1) It appears to me that the over-all issue of the paragraph is captured by 5:25 -- a static participation in "Life" logically leads to a dynamic practice of "Life", but will not if the Galatians do not make some deliberately "faithful" choices, among which is the imperative of our current text (5:16).
- 2) There is no doubt that "deliberate choices" have little capacity to create an actual future reality, but there should be no doubt that no actual future reality arises out of a vacuum of "deliberate choices". In other words, make the choice, but do not depend upon the strength of your determination to bring it into play. Faith "as a grain of mustard seed" will prompt a legitimate choice and God will step into the fray as the Effective Agent of the choice.
- c. So why the "mood" change?
- 1) Perhaps it is the acceptance of the reality just stated. If a person decides to "walk by the Spirit" he/she "should not" put themselves in a situation where they find themselves fulfilling a "walk in flesh" reality. When "static" moves to "dynamic" certain results are expected.
- 2) However (and that is the rub ... there is a "However"), the actual experiential reality for all men is this: the Spirit does not produce "immediate moral perfection". It might be that all men flip back and forth from Spirit to flesh; but if walking by the Spirit would keep us from doing evil, there would be no "flipping". The reality is that the Spirit responds to "the hearing of faith" (3:2) and that requires that men both know and believe the particular truth that addresses their particular situation in the point of time in which they are to "know and believe". The further reality is that no man knows and believes all that the Scriptures have said about the individual circumstances that come our way day by day. Thus, because of ignorance, there will be failures of "faith" and there will be fulfillments of "lust" out of the flesh. In theory, if we were sufficiently diligent in prayer "at all times", we would find ourselves carried along by the Spirit and supernaturally kept from doing any kind of evil, but in practice we often make decisions on the spur of the moment that are ill-advised and that lead to fleshly eruptions. Thus, the point is this: if we "walk by the Spirit" insofar as we are able, we will find grace to acknowledge our inevitable failures, grow in our understanding, and repent so that we find both the grace of forgiveness and a return to the power of the Spirit for Life.
- a) If learning were not required, Hebrews 5:14 would not have been written.
- b) If learning were not in the mix, 2 Peter 1:4 would not have been written.
- c) Transformation into moral goodness is a process that includes failure along the way and Paul's solution is "the renewal of the mind" (Romans 12:2).
- 3) Thus, the "mood" change simply sets forth the logical conclusion that must be adjusted in the light of the realities of the processes of maturation. The fact is that the Galatians themselves are illustrative of the problem of having begun well (walking by the Spirit), but not continuing (you were hindered).