One of the characteristics of the person who follows Jesus Christ is that he/she is led by the Spirit. A Spirit-led person lives differently from the rest of the world. The reason for that is because the world is led by the flesh.
If there is no difference between the way we live and the way the world live then we are not truly living a life that is guided by the Holy Spirit.
It is essential that we understand what motivates us. Are our desires from the flesh or from the Spirit? To determine the origin of our motivation we have to look at the results produced in our lives In Galatians the apostle Paul describes the results, or the “fruit,” of each type of life.
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 5:19-26; ESV)
As we are examining our motivations we have to consider:
1. The works of the flesh. (vv. 19-21)
The warning Paul gives to those who live by the flesh is that they “will not inherit the kingdom of God.” With that warning ringing in our ears we should take the time and make a close examination of our lives.
These works are, Paul says, are obvious. They are obvious because these deeds are opposite of the law of love that Jesus gives to his followers. Instead of looking out for the interest of others too often people are self-absorbed and thus only care about themselves.
When we are looking at our motivations we have to consider whether we are motivated to serve ourselves or to help other people. The flesh will always lead us to take care of ourselves rather than to sacrifice and serve those around us.
2. The wealth of the Spirit (vv. 22-23)
Paul says that when we live lives guided by the Spirit that there is no law that can stand against us. The Spirit guides us to live the way God created us to live. The “fruit of the Spirit” is a life that pleases God. Paul uses these words to describe what the life should look like (in other words these are not the “fruits of the the Spirit” but rather the description of what that fruit looks like).
When love fills our lives then we can know that we are being led by Spirit, just as when peace fills our heart is an indication of being led by the Spirit, and our kindness towards other people is another indication of being led by the Spirit.
Can you describe your life in such terms? Are you motivated by love for others? Does joy fill your heart? A Spirit-led life looks very different from the self-absorbed life of the person led by the flesh.
3. The walk of the Spirit (vss. 24-26)
The disciple of Jesus, Paul says, has crucified the passions of the flesh. In other words the sinful passions of our lives have been put to death by Christ as we surrender our lives to Him.
Though the reality is that if we are not surrendering to Jesus then we will not have the strength to resist the passions of our flesh and the voice of the Spirit will be drowned out. The walk of the Spirit begins with our surrender to Jesus Christ.
Have you surrendered to Jesus? Are you seeking to do God’s will more than your will? Will you clear your life of distractions in order to hear the Spirit’s voice?
There should be a stark contrast between the way we live and the way the rest of the world lives. The reason is not because of our discipline or strength, but because we have committed ourselves to being led by the Spirit. The Spirit will led us away from the passions of our flesh to the great desire God has for our lives.