My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor,
have given your pledge for a stranger,
if you are snared in the words of your mouth,
caught in the words of your mouth,
then do this, my son, and save yourself,
for you have come into the hand of your neighbor:
go, hasten, and plead urgently with your neighbor.
Give your eyes no sleep
and your eyelids no slumber;
save yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter,
like a bird from the hand of the fowler.
Go to the ant, O sluggard;
consider her ways, and be wise.
Without having any chief,
officer, or ruler,
she prepares her bread in summer
and gathers her food in harvest.
How long will you lie there, O sluggard?
When will you arise from your sleep?
A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest,
and poverty will come upon you like a robber,
and want like an armed man.
A worthless person, a wicked man,
goes about with crooked speech,
winks with his eyes, signals with his feet,
points with his finger,
with perverted heart devises evil,
continually sowing discord;
therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly;
in a moment he will be broken beyond healing.
There are six things that the LORD hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,
a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers.
My son, keep your father's commandment,
and forsake not your mother's teaching.
Bind them on your heart always;
tie them around your neck.
When you walk, they will lead you;
when you lie down, they will watch over you;
and when you awake, they will talk with you.
For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light,
and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life,
to preserve you from the evil woman,
from the smooth tongue of the adulteress.
Do not desire her beauty in your heart,
and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes;
for the price of a prostitute is only a loaf of bread,
but a married woman hunts down a precious life.
Can a man carry fire next to his chest
and his clothes not be burned?
Or can one walk on hot coals
and his feet not be scorched?
So is he who goes in to his neighbor's wife;
none who touches her will go unpunished.
People do not despise a thief if he steals
to satisfy his appetite when he is hungry,
but if he is caught, he will pay sevenfold;
he will give all the goods of his house.
He who commits adultery lacks sense;
he who does it destroys himself.
He will get wounds and dishonor,
and his disgrace will not be wiped away.
For jealousy makes a man furious,
and he will not spare when he takes revenge.
He will accept no compensation;
he will refuse though you multiply gifts.
(Proverbs 6 ESV)
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.
You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 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. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, 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. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
(Galatians 5 ESV)
Galatians 5: Many of us falsely assume that “walking by the Spirit” means working with the Spirit. We assume that we are supposed to work with the Spirit and fix our sin. However, working on our sin is not necessarily what Paul is urging us to do. To work on our sin is negative in its emphasis, but Paul is speaking of something more positive. After all, we might realize that working on our sin doesn’t work.
Trying our best not to do certain things rarely leads us to succeed in actually doing the things we want to do. Trying not to swing at the slider is not going to help you hit the fastball. You will find yourself so concerned about the slider that you’ll miss on your opportunity to hit the fastball. The best way to not swing at the slider is to commit yourself to hitting the fastball.
Simply trying our best not to do certain sinful acts will rarely lead us into doing the things we want to be doing. Simply trying to be a good Christian who tries to avoid the works of the flesh will not necessarily help you bear the fruit of the Spirit. You will find yourself so concerned about falling into sin that you’ll miss on your opportunities to work out your faith in love. That is why Paul says the best way to not gratify the desires of the flesh is to walk by the Spirit.
Walking by the Spirit is committing ourselves to Christ and the way He calls us to live and then trusting Him to take care of the rest. Paul reminds us that we are those who “belong to Christ” and have already “crucified the flesh” with its passions and desires.
We “belong to Christ”. Our acceptance and access to God does not rest in our own character and what we are able to do but rather in Christ and what He’s already done for us. Therefore, we have the freedom to acknowledge and admit that we still struggle with sin. We are free to confess the internal conflict of our sinful nature versus the Spirit. However, admitting that we have a problem is the pivotal step in overcoming that problem. Walking in honesty about our sin and in dependency on our Savior are the first steps to walking by the Spirit.
We “have crucified the flesh”. Our regeneration as a new man through faith in Christ led to the decisive death to the man we used to be. As Christians, we are not to just hope the works of the flesh will go away and bother us no more. We are to put them to death. We are to decisively turn our backs on who we used to be, and we are to decisively turn toward who we now are in Christ. Although we will still find ourselves tempted by the desires of the flesh, as those who now belong to Christ and bow to Him as our Lord, our sinful nature is no longer the reigning power in our life (Romans 6).
Therefore, we are to “walk in step with the Spirit”. We are to follow the way of life that Christ has called us to live and the life that the Spirit now leads. Simply trying to be a good Christian or trying not to sin anymore will not work. We must not simply focus on what we need to stop doing, but more importantly we need to focus on the things we ought to start doing.
Rather than working on our sin in fear, we must be working out our faith in love. We are to walk by the Spirit. We are to commit ourselves to Christ and the way He calls us to live and then trust Him to take care of the rest.