Galatians 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
As we see here, Christians do not live lawless lives. They have been saved by God’s grace through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. They cannot enhance their salvation in any way. As a saved person God expects His child to live according to His will.
Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
The immediate context of those verses is to false prophets. Jesus taught that a false prophet will bring forth evil fruit. Those who follow a false profit will not be able to live as Christians because they are not Christians.
In Romans 8:9 we read:
Romans 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
The true child of God receives the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation. The Holy Spirit is there to guide the true saint in the right way. God expects His children to walk in the Spirit. It is not acceptable to God for His child to walk in the flesh. When the true saint walks in the Spirit he will not fulfil the lust of the flesh. Unless a person is saved he or she cannot walk in the Spirit.
One of the reasons so many people like the perversions is because the perversions allow for sin in the professing Christian’s life. Divorce and remarriage are acceptable when a person follows the perversions. Drunkenness is acceptable when a person follows the perversions. Sodomy is acceptable when a person uses the perversions. Many other sins are acceptable for those who hold to the perversions.
Paul declared that the saint needs to walk in the Spirit.
In verse 17, he stated that the flesh lusteth against the Spirit. The flesh wants to do the opposite of what the Spirit declares to be true and right. The flesh is still there for the born again Christian. The heart has been changed, but the flesh is still there. The flesh wants to believe the lies of the devil. That was the problem for the Galatians. Their flesh wanted to believe the lie of the Judaizers. They were leaning toward circumcision as necessary for salvation. They needed to walk in the Spirit and then they would never accept that lie.
Paul reminded them that they could not walk in the Spirit if they entertained the flesh. The born again Christian needs to be mindful of the desires of the flesh. Unless the saint is in the Word of God faithfully, he will become careless and will yield to the flesh.
Verse 18 reminds us of the need to be led by the Spirit. You notice there that those who are led by the Spirit are not under the law. The Holy Spirit will never suggest that obedience to God’s Word is the way of salvation or of security in salvation. The Holy Spirit will convince the true saint of the importance of being led by Him.
Those who are saved identify the work of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God. Jesus declared:
John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
There are too many professing Christians who claim to be led by the Holy Spirit, but the things they claim He is leading them to do are not identifiable in the Word of God. A common argument used by those who distort the work of the Holy Spirit, is that others should not question their experience. No experience is greater than the Word of God. God will not judge anyone based on their experience. He will judge each person by the Word of God.
Those who are led by the Spirit are directed and enabled to obey God as His child. They do not begrudge that blessing. No true child of God complains of having to read their Bible. They do not complain of having to go to church. They are led to live a separated life. They are separated unto God and thus turn away from the love of the world. The true child of God wants to read their Bible. They also want to attend a true church.
God directed Paul to list the works of the flesh and contrast them by the fruit of the Spirit. As we look at them we will see the difference and we can examine ourselves to see which we are fulfilling. Our attitude toward what God says will indicate whether we are His child or not.