Galatians 5:16–26 (NKJV)
16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.Galatians 5:16-26
19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Paul moves from a discussion of the law versus grace into this passage that gives Christians not only a representative list of dos and don’ts, but also a road map of how to land on the right side of these actions. He says that the Christian must walk in the Spirit in order to avoid the actions that would fulfill the lust of the flesh. Our flesh wars against not only our spirit but the work of the Holy Spirit as well. They are at war, and the struggle is continuous and real. But Paul gives the strong assurance that if you are led by the Holy Spirit, you will live holy and will not need the law. The Spirit will guide you into truth and lead you to act accordingly.
Paul then jumps in to a lengthy list of works that exhibit the sinful nature and actions of man. The list is lengthy, so I will not elaborate on each one for now. However, they cover types of sins related to sexual issues, worship of false gods, wrong emotions in relationships, divisions of various kinds in the church, murder, and sins of excess. Paul states very directly that those who practice such sins will not inherit heaven. The fruit of the Spirit, however, are almost the anti-works of those listed previously. Paul lifts up things such as faithfulness in faith and relationships, Godly love, peace and joy instead of contention, and generally treating one another with respect and care. The key here is that the works of the flesh come from a dark place inside the psyche of men and women, their own human passions and selfishness, while the fruit of the Spirit comes from above, from the Holy Spirit who restores right passion and right action in the life of the believer. The summary statement gives instruction and hope: “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” This is the key to right living, to walk in the Spirit. Having a strong and holy guide will always take you on the right path and help you to live according to the ways of the Lord.