Galatians 5: 16 – 21 (ESV) – 16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy,[d] drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (biblegateway.com)
There is so much to digest here in this passage! First of all, living by the Spirit is CHOOSING to live a life led by the Spirit. It is a moment by moment choosing to live a life that reflects Christ, not our human nature. “The command to walk in a certain way speaks of choosing a way of life—or we might say a “lifestyle,” as long as we realize that what Paul has in mind is more than a matter of outward style. His command speaks of a way of living in which all aspects of life are directed and transformed by the Spirit.” (IVP NT Commentary) It is a way of life.
Secondly, it is a conscious CHOICE to live this way, even though there is a conflict within us between the inner man and the desire to live by the Spirit. Even Paul had this struggle in Romans 7 – “18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” (ESV) But, I have to also realize that it is not the STRUGGLE that is the sin, it is GIVING INTO my flesh that is the sin.
Thirdly, Paul is not giving me a list of sins to avoid, but examples of how SIN works within us. It is my responsibility to recognize these desires, or symptoms, and give them over to the Spirit to crush. I have come from the place of living by “do’s and don’ts” to desiring to be led by the Spirit in each moment. That is not to say that I am successful in each situation, but that is my heart’s desire. To LIVE BY THE SPIRIT. To WALK BY THE SPIRIT. To be sensitive enough to His prompting and leading to make my decisions and actions come into compliance to the Word.