Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
In verse 24 we are reminded that those who have been given liberty are Christ’s. We have noted before that all people are under someone’s authority. All people are born lost and most remain under the devil’s authority. A few turn to God and are delivered from the bondage to sin and self, and are brought under Christ’s authority. Those who are Christ’s have taken an active position of crucifying the flesh after salvation. This crucifying is an ongoing action. The saint has been given life and that life causes him or her to identify the deeds of the flesh and also to walk in the Spirit. Prior to salvation this is not possible. God tells us that this crucifixion includes the affections and lusts associated with the flesh.
As we have noted, and I believe all people will understand is that it is common and natural to live by feelings and desires. Children soon begin to express their desires and they have things that they like more than others. Adults choose things in life based on plans they have or based on things that make them feel good.
The saved person is changed. He or she still has feelings and they still have plans. However, they will change those plans and feelings based on truth now. The Holy Spirit indwells the true child of God and He guides the child of God into making wise decisions that are not all about the here and now, but about eternity. That is why the true child of God reads their Bible every day. That is why they seek out a good church and attend it faithfully. That is why they desire to help others to know the truth as well. They have been given a good thing and they want to know how to utilize that good thing in the best way possible and they want others to know the blessing of having that good thing as well.
That good thing is God’s gift of salvation and eternal life.
In verse 25 those who are saved are reminded to stop and think about who they are. God gives us the opportunity to examine ourselves with that little word: “if”. Notice that the true child of God lives in the Spirit. It is not a Sunday thing or a sporadic thing. The Holy Spirit indwells the true child of God and that is the reality. That is liberty. Because we live in the Spirit, it is expected to also then walk in the Spirit. Walking has to do with moment by moment, and step by step. The choices we make, the things we do, the places we go, etc. need to be directed by the Holy Spirit. That is liberty. Bondage is to try to get away from that and live by some man-made rule.
In verse 26 we are encouraged not to desire vain glory. It is easy to get the “fat head” syndrome. It is easy to think that I am better than others. The issue that Paul was addressing was that of law keeping. There were those who knew that law keeping was not God’s way of Christian living. There were others who were not so sure that law keeping was not a requirement.
The devil would like to find a way to drive a wedge between believers over something. He does not care what it is. Those who walk in the Spirit need to be aware of that fact and they need to walk in humility. The fruit of the Spirit does not include pride. It also does not include boasting. The fruit of the Spirit includes love and gentleness and several other elements.
When we walk in the Spirit as the child of God must, then there is no room for vain glory. The good things that saints learn are because of God’s gift of salvation, not because of any superior ability in them.
Paul was directed to remind us in I Corinthians 1 that those who think they are wise often reject God’s truth. They believe they are too wise to “stoop” to God’s truth. True saints need to be reminded that they were saved by God’s grace and they need to walk in God’s grace as well. That will keep them from vain glory which leads to further problems.
“Provoking” here means “irritating”. The apostle Paul was directed to write these words to help the saints to know the liberty they have in Christ. He was not provoking the recipients. He was directed by God to encourage the saints. Those who would be provoking would be using vain glory as the means of stirring up trouble.
Romans 14:19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.
The true child of God desires to know his or her God and Saviour better. When we set that goal and purpose aside, we will begin to look at others in the wrong way. When we desire to know God better we will not have a difficulty with the liberty that God provides for the saved.