Walking in the Spirit – Galatians 5:25 05/03/2020

Walking in the Spirit – Galatians 5:25 05/03/2020

As we continue our study in Christian living, we need to come to realize that the Christian life is a journey, and although it may not always feel secure and smooth, we will complete the journey safely. The reason for this is we have access to One who will personally guide us, that Person is the Holy Spirit. No study in Christian living would be complete if we were to ignore the reality of the Spirit of God indwelling us. But… this is more than something we passively experience. In fact, although our doctrine may be orthodox, our experience of His presence and power may not line up with what the Scriptures have to say.[1] I think the gap, which is so prevalent in many North American Churches, may be due to a failure to understand our passage today. It’s a short passage, but one that conveys a lot, Galatians 5:25 ~

25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. [2]

Notice that it opens with “if”, (εἰ) in the Greek. If you’re paying attention you will realize that this will introduce a conditional clause. Here, the grammatical structure indicates that it’s a first class conditional clause. [3] It doesn’t show up so well in English, but in the Greek this is identified through the presence of the particle “if” (εἰ), coupled with the verb in the indicative mood,[4] “we live” (ζωμεν). [5] A first class conditional clause assumes the reality of the statement.[6]

Another detail to note, in contrast to the NKJV translation, is that a better translation might be to “live by the Spirit.”[7] The word “Spirit”, (πνεύματι) is in the dative case[8] functioning instrumentally.[9] The instrumental dative shows how something is being done,[10] our lives in Christ are lived by the Spirit’s power, and so also should our manner of living be done by the Spirit’s guidance and empowering.

Finally, by way of grammatical trivia, our passage is structured as a chiasm.[11] Again, this doesn’t come out clearly in the English, but noting that a chiasm is present is more than literary trivia. Noting the presence of a chiasm tells you where the stress is being placed.[12] This passage literally reads, “If (a) we live (b) by the Spirit, (b) by the Spirit also (a) we should walk.” [13] This “a-b-b-a” structure places the stress on the center of the chiasm with the repeated “by the Spirit/by the Spirit” (πνευματι/ πνευματι). The emphasis is on the expression “by the Spirit.” Secondarily, the two verbs, “we live” (ζωμεν) and “we should walk” (στοιχωμεν) come into play as they explain our interaction with the Spirit.[14]

Essentially, the force of the statement is, “Since we live by the Spirit…” while using the conditional clause as a tool. Assuming you’re a Christian, the presence of the Spirit in your life is an accomplished fact. To be a Christian is to have Christ dwelling in our lives, and that is accomplished through His Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of God.

In context, there is an interesting detail. It seems as though Paul repeats himself in the space of just a few sentences. We find a very similar command back in Galatians 5:16. What doesn’t come out in English is the subtle difference around the word “walk.” In verse 16 the word used is (περιπατέω) and literally means to make one’s way, to move along, or figuratively, to live.[15] In contrast to this, we find a different word with a more precise meaning used in Galatians 5:25. Here, the word used for “walk” is (στοιχέω) which conveys a more intentional walk, to proceed in step in a row or column… as in soldiers marching.[16] This is something more intentional than simply walking. This kind of walking is to walk in step with the Spirit, that’s something we have to learn to do.[17]

Walking in the Spirit has a lot do with your mind-set.[18] Therefore, the first step to walking in the Spirit is to begin to identify when we’re acting out of our old natures, and when we’re under the direction of the Spirit.[19] We have to be “intentional.” What you determine to set your mind on will largely determine success or failure for walking in the Spirit.[20] To set our minds on the Spirit, to walk in step with the Spirit, is to crucify the flesh, our old man.[21]

Paul emphasizes Christian living as being neither a legal set of rules, nor of being controlled by our natural tendencies.[22] Instead, the Christian life is yielded to the guidance and enabling of the Spirit.[23] To walk in the Spirit is to walk in the presence of God.[24] It is the sum-total of a lot of small decisions taken in submission to God’s Spirit.[25] This is a trial and error process as we learn how to “walk” in step with the Spirit.[26] This is, in fact, something we must choose to do.[27]

As with everything else in the Christian walk, it all starts with what we do with Jesus. We must accept the fact that Jesus gave Himself to die on the cross as a sacrifice for sin, that would be my sin and yours.[28] By faith we’re “born again,” this is the starting point for every Christian’s walk.[29] We then give ourselves over to the cross, knowing that there is no good thing in us that does not deserve crucifixion.[30] Into this vacuum the Spirit comes at the direction of Jesus the Son. Our lives are changed, we are changed, by the presence of the life of Christ within us. Now, God asks, “Will you live in the reality of that salvation?”

This is a faith response. This walk in the Spirit is not a work of self-effort. This is a confident reliance on the Spirit’s guiding and empowering to do what He leads us to do. It is a choice to express in our outward actions what is a reality in our hearts; Galatians 5:25 ~

25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.[31]

[1] Andrew Murray, The Indwelling Spirit, (Bethany House, Minneapolis, MN.: 2006), 2. [2] The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Ga 5:25. [3] David Black, It’s Still Greek to Me: An Easy to Understand Guide to Intermediate Greek, (Baker Books, Grand Rapids MI.: 2002), 144. [4] David Black, It’s Still Greek to Me: An Easy to Understand Guide to Intermediate Greek, (Baker Books, Grand Rapids MI.: 2002), 144-145. [5]Thomas Newberry and George Ricker Berry, The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2004), Ga 5:25. [6] David Black, It’s Still Greek to Me: An Easy to Understand Guide to Intermediate Greek, (Baker Books, Grand Rapids MI.: 2002), 144. [7] Marvin Richardson Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, vol. 4 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1887), 170. [8]Thomas Newberry and George Ricker Berry, The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2004), Ga 5:25. [9] Marvin Richardson Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, vol. 4 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1887), 170. [10] David Black, It’s Still Greek to Me: An Easy-to-Understand Guide to Intermediate Greek, (Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI.: 2002), 52. [11] Ronald Fung, The Epistle to the Galatians, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, gen. ed., Gordon Fee, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids MI.: 1988), 275. [12] William Klein, Craig Blomberg, and Robert Hubbard Jr., Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, consulting ed., Kermit Ecklebarger, (Word Publishing, Dallas, TX.: 1993), 237. [13]Thomas Newberry and George Ricker Berry, The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2004), Ga 5:25. [14] Ronald Fung, The Epistle to the Galatians, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, gen. ed., Gordon Fee, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids MI.: 1988), 275. [15] James Strong, Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon (Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1995). [16] James Strong, Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon (Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1995). [17] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume V, 1 Corinthians – Revelation, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 192. [18] Kenneth Berding, Walking in the Spirit, (Crossway, Wheaton, IL.: 2011), 30. [19] Bob Beltz, Becoming a Man of the Spirit: A Seven-Week Strategy Based on the Ministry of the Holy Spirit, (NavPress, Colorado Springs, CO.: 1999), 61. [20] Kenneth Berding, Walking in the Spirit, (Crossway, Wheaton, IL.: 2011), 30-31. [21] Andrew Murray, The Indwelling Spirit, (Bethany House, Minneapolis, MN.: 2006), 253. [22] Richard N. Longenecker, Galatians, vol. 41, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1990), 265. [23] Richard N. Longenecker, Galatians, vol. 41, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1990), 265. [24] A.O. Asabor, Walking in the Spirit: How to Fulfill the Ultimate Purpose of Christianity, (Redemption Press, Enumclaw, WA, 2012), 46. [25] Kenneth Berding, Walking in the Spirit, (Crossway, Wheaton, IL.: 2011), 23. [26] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume V, 1 Corinthians – Revelation, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 192. [27] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume V, 1 Corinthians – Revelation, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 192. [28] Andrew Murray, The Indwelling Spirit, (Bethany House, Minneapolis, MN.: 2006), 255. [29] A.O. Asabor, Walking in the Spirit: How to Fulfill the Ultimate Purpose of Christianity, (Redemption Press, Enumclaw, WA, 2012), 2. [30] Andrew Murray, The Indwelling Spirit, (Bethany House, Minneapolis, MN.: 2006), 255. [31] The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Ga 5:25.

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