Although an inward conflict between the flesh and the Spirit always will rage in the heart of every believer, the Christian life does not have to be dominated by defeat, failure, and sin.
According to Galatians 5:16–26, what is the key to living a life where the Spirit reigns over the flesh?
Galatians 5:16–26 contains five key verbs that describe the type of life in which the Spirit reigns. First, the believer needs to “walk” in the Spirit (vs. 16). The Greek verb is peripateo, which literally means “to walk around or to follow.” The followers of the famous Greek philosopher Aristotle came to be known as the Peripatetics because they followed Aristotle everywhere he went. The fact that the verb is in the present tense implies that Paul is not talking about an occasional walk but rather a continuous daily experience. In addition, since it is also a command “to walk” in the Spirit, it implies that walking in the Spirit is a choice we have to make on a daily basis.The second verb is “to be led” (vs. 18). This suggests that we also need to allow the Spirit to lead us where we should go (compare Rom. 8:14, 1 Cor. 12:2). It is not our job to lead but to follow.
The next two verbs appear in Galatians 5:25. The first is “to live” (zao in Greek). By “live,” Paul is referring to the new-birth experience that must mark the life of every believer. Paul’s use of the present tense points to a new-birth experience that is to be renewed daily. Because we live by the Spirit, Paul goes on to write that we also need “to walk” by the Spirit. The word translated “walk” is different from the one in verse 16. Here the word is stoicheo. It is a military term that literally means “to draw up in a line,” “to keep in step,” or “to conform.” The idea here is that the Spirit not only gives us life but should direct our lives on a daily basis also.
The verb Paul uses in verse 24 is “to crucify.” This is a little shocking. If we are to follow the Spirit, we must make a firm decision to put to death the desires of the flesh. Of course, Paul is speaking figuratively. We crucify the flesh by feeding our spiritual life and by starving the desires of the flesh.
What changes and choices must you make in order to have the victories you are promised in Christ—victories that now continually elude you?