Faith is the Catalyst…
“For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness” Galatians 5:5
Recently I, with a small group of guys, have been going through the book of Galatians. In it Paul hits on three main components: gospel, promise, and Spirit. All three of these components are woven together with the common theme of grace. In the beginning of the book Paul encourages the Galatians to hold fast the gospel that was preached to them in the beginning and not fall prey to a false gospel (ch. 1-2). Then he encourages them by reiterating the promise that God made to Abraham and how they have become heirs of that promise through Jesus (ch. 3-4). Finally he encourages them, in light of those two things, to walk according to the Spirit and continue to put to death fleshly deeds (ch. 5-6). In chapter five especially, Paul really presses hard on walking by the Spirit. According to him that is how we can put to death the fleshly deeds that ultimately lead to destruction. In fact, Paul warns us that if we’re not putting to death those things then we are not walking by Spirit. That means we are sowing in the flesh which will only reap ultimate destruction.
So, it seems pretty important that we strive to walk by the Spirit. But how do we do that? It’s pretty apparent after reading chapter 5 that Paul sees this as an active process on our part. He doesn’t use any passive verbs to make us think this is something that just happens to us. So, how can we fight the good fight and walk by the Spirit when our flesh wants us to do just the opposite (v. 17)? I believe the answer is tucked in verse 5: “faith”. Paul says that we eagerly await the righteousness of Jesus through the Spirit, “by faith”. Faith is the activating agent, the catalyst, the spark that motivates our legs to walk in the Spirit. But faith in what? Faith in everything else Paul has shown us. Faith in the gospel. Faith in the promises of God. Faith that what God promised in the gospel is true and is indeed what He will do. If we have faith in those things we will put to death the works of the flesh and we will continually walk in the Spirit. Faith in God’s promises and in His gospel loosens the shackles of fleshly desires that keep our feet from being able to walk and free us to walk by the Spirit and enjoy the fruit promised: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithful, gentleness, and self-control.
So, when we our flesh tries to rise up and keep us from walking in obedience to God we remember His gospel and we remember His promises that He will never leave us nor forsake us and that He is far greater than any fleeting pleasure this world could offer and we kick off the shackles of worldly desire and we walk strongly in the freedom of his Spirit!
“For freedom Christ has set us free…” Galatians 5:1a