Galatians 5

In the fifth chapter of Galatians, Paul deals with the problem of legalism in the church there. A lot of the recently converted Jews were telling the Galatians that they still had to live under the law, most specifically that they had to be circumcised in order to be saved. Paul speaks emphatically against any such requirement, reminding the Galatians that they were saved by grace through faith and not by living up to any legal requirements.

Then, having led them out from under the law and into the freedom of grace, he warns them against letting that freedom become license. Here’s what he says in verses 13 and 14:

13     For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

14     For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

This has been a conflict within the church ever since the first century. It seems like a large portion of the body wants to live under legalism. We build all sorts of rules and regulations—do this, don’t do that, dress this way and never dress that way, don’t drink—the list goes on and on, depending on the particular rules of whatever individual happens to be talking.

We lead people to Jesus, telling them they are saved by grace. Then, as soon as they’re born again, we start telling about all these rules. How hypocritical!

The other extreme is complete license. We receive the salvation Jesus provides, and then we decide that since we have fire insurance—knowing that our ultimate destination is heaven and not hell—we can sin all we want to. If it feels good do it. When we do that, we miss the whole point of salvation.

Yes, the ultimate result of salvation is eternity in heaven, but there is more to it than that. The moment we are saved, the Holy Spirit enters us and resides in us for the rest of our lives. He gives us the power to resist sin if we’ll allow Him to, and He also begins a work in us the moment we are saved to perfect us, to conform us to the image of Jesus. This work will not be completed in this lifetime, but the more we submit ourselves to the Holy Spirit, the closer to perfect He can make us.

Paul put the key to this in verse 16, which says:

16     But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.

We do not have the power within ourselves to overcome our flesh, our sinful nature. But the more submitted we are, the more He can lead us to overcome it. It’s not we who conquer sin. It’s the Holy Spirit in us.

What does ‘walk in the Spirit’ mean to you?


If you abide in Me and My word abides in you, then you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.


For more information about David N. Walker, click the “About” tab above.

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Contact him at dnwalkertx (at) gmail (dot) com or tweet him at @davidnwalkertx.


About David N. Walker

David N. Walker is a Christian husband, father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years in the health insurance industry, during which time he traveled much of the United States. He started writing about 20 years ago and has been a member and leader in several writers' groups. Christianity 101: The Simplified Christian Life, the devotional Heaven Sent and the novella series, Fancy, are now available in paperback and in Kindle and Nook formats, as well as through Smashwords and Kobo. See information about both of these by clicking "Books" above.
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4 Responses to Galatians 5

  1. Thank you for writing this, David. I feel that this message has been lost in the Christian Church (the Body of Christ) today. I really had no idea that the Holy Spirit came to live within you (me) until just a few years ago! No wonder I was sooooo lost! Walking in the Spirit to me means that my whole entire life is a worship unto Him (at least, that is the prayer of my hear). One interesting teaching that I found in the past couple of years is that the Holy Spirit speaks to us through our conscience. We must obey our conscience, which in turn is obeying the HS which in turn is ultimately obeying Christ. 🙂 Unfortunately, our consciences become dull, turned off, etc. due to living in the flesh for so long…and so we must in essence “re-train” our conscience. We must learn to listen to that still small Voice within us that whispers those yes and no’s as to what we should be doing. At least, that is my comprehension of the Holy Spirit living within me. Ultimately, we are NOT living in our flesh but we are totally surrendered to Him.


    • Thank you, Shannon. I pray daily for God to examine my heart and show me any sins I need to confess that day. I feel that this keeps me more in submission to the Holy Spirit.


  2. Sharon K. Walker says:

    “Walk in the Spirit” to me means living a Christian life through accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior. With the Holy Spirit indwelling me, my life is forever changed for the better.


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