Verses 16-18: This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 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. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Paul’s solution was simple, liberty comes as a result of walking in the Spirit. Those who do so will not fulfil the lust of the flesh. In other words, the flesh will never lead us to do something spiritual, and the Spirit will never lead us to do something fleshly. So, when it comes to liberty, we need to first ask ourselves if what we are wanting to do is a work of the flesh or a work of the Spirit, and then obey what the Spirit.
Notice the last part of verse 17 which says, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. In other words, if we would spend our lives walking the Spirit, we will not have time to fulfil the needs of the flesh. I believe that is when we as believers begin to struggle, drop our spiritual swords, and start thinking of the flesh. Paul is basically saying, if you stay in the game, you will not have time to feed the flesh.
Now Paul lists the things that the flesh produces in our lives if we allow it to.
Verses 19-21: Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. His point is that these things should not be what a saved person is involved in because they should be walking in the Spirit and not have any time for it. Yes, these are the things that our flesh naturally wants to do, but if we stay in the Spirit, we will not be drawn to them.
Notice the end of verse 21 where he says that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Seems strange at first glance, but remember that throughout this letter, he has been speaking to both Kingdom Jews, particularly the Judaizers, and Gentiles. Again, it is a pronoun thing. He switches from ye (Galatian Gentiles) in verse 18 to they (Jews, particularly the Judaizers) in verse 19. In my opinion, he does so because the Kingdom was still a valid offer because this letter was written between 53 and 57AD. Again, there is a need to rightly divide even the Paulene epistles.
Verses 22-23: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Now Paul moves on to list the things that the Spirit produces in our lives. Again, his point is that if we would actively walk in these things, we would not be tempted to walk in the works of the flesh listed earlier. Why? - Because we can't do both at the same time.
Verses 24-25: And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Crucifying the flesh is a moment by moment, day by day, year by year action. It doesn't happen instantaneously at conversion. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:31, I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. All believers are to live in the Spirit, by yielding to the Holy Spirit in our lives, and letting Christ live through us daily. Paul also told the Philippians that for him to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21).
Also, the word walk in this verse is an action verb. In other words, it is present progressive and never stops.
Verse 26: Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another. He concludes this chapter by taking a shot at the Judaizers by saying that they should not desirous of vain glory which is applicable to all of us.
I believe that the vain glory that he is speaking of was the subject of circumcision specifically and the law generally which was causing them to provoke one another and creating envy. Remember what I said about verses 14:15 that the law has a tendency to lead to self-righteousness because it becomes all about us. That self-righteousness will lead to division and not love. Nothing but hatred and separation will result as we check our own boxes compared to other's boxes.
Now Paul turns to practical instruction and application.
Verse 1: Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. In this verse, Paul is encouraging them to be quick to restore a brother who has stumbled unwittingly. I say that because of the word overtaken. It seems to indicate that it was not on purpose.
Henry Morris says of the word, "it contains the idea of falling. It is not the deliberate, the planned, aspect of sin that is stressed here, but rather the unwitting element. Mistake rather than misdeed is the force of the word, though without absolution of responsibility.”
In context, he is most likely speaking of those who for a time did not walk in the spirit but heeded the flesh instead. He may also be specifically referring to those who had briefly heeded the teaching of the Judaizers and had attempted to place themselves under the law.
His point is that the ones who had should be restored, not ignored, excused, or destroyed. The word restore means to put back in order or to its former condition and it should be done in a spirit of meekness. I have to say that the church is not very good at this! We are much better at shooting our wounded.
Verse 2: Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. In other words, we are called to walk this thing together with each other's help. This walk was not meant to be a Lone Ranger lifestyle.