For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh ( ἡ γὰρ σὰρξ ἐπιθυμεῖ κατὰ τοῦ πνεύματος τὸ δὲ πνεῦμα κατὰ τῆς σαρκός ); for the flesh doth lust (or, hath desires ) against the Spirit ; but the Spirit likewise against the flesh. The first clause, "for the flesh hath desires against the Spirit," justifies the mention of "the desire of the flesh" in Galatians 5:16 , as being an experience which Christians in general have still to deal with; as if it were, " For the flesh really is present still, originating within you desires contrary to those prompted by the Spirit." Then the apostle adds, " but the Spirit likewise [or, ' hath desires ' ] against the flesh;" intimating that, although the flesh was still at work within, prompting desires tending away from holiness, that nevertheless was no reason for their giving way to such evil inclinations; for the Spirit was with them as well, originating desires after what was holy and good; and he would help them against those other inclinations towards evil, if only they would surrender themselves to his guidance. That this is the proper way of construing these two passages seems betokened by the δέ . If the apostle had just here meant to say, "There are two mutually opposing principles at work within you" for the purpose of justifying by explicit statement the tone of Galatians 5:16 which implies this fact, he would have written, ἥ τε γὰρ σὰρξ ἐπιθυμεῖ κατὰ τοῦ πνεύματος καὶ τὸ πσεῦμα κατὰ τῆς σαρκός : or, ἡ μὲν γὰρ σάρξ … τὸ δὲ πνεῦμα etc.; "For both hath the flesh desires against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh; or, "for on the one hand the flesh hath desires … and on the other," etc. But the adversative δὲ standing alone tends to disjoin the two clauses rather than to conjoin them so closely together as the Authorized Version leads us to suppose. We need supply no ether verb than ἐπιθυμεῖ , "hath desires," with the words, "but the Spirit;" for this verb is used in a good sense as well as in a bad; as e.g. Luke 22:15 , ἐπιθυμία ἐπίθυμησα , "with desire did I desire;" 1 Peter 1:12 , "the angels desire ( ἐπιθυμοῦσιν ) to look into;" Philippians 1:23 . "the desire ( ἐπιθυμίαν ) to depart." In fact, the verb properly implies a simply strong wish, not necessarily an ill-governed one. And these are contrary the one to the other ( ταῦτα γὰρ ἀλλήλοις ἀντίκειτει [Receptus, ταῦτα δὲ ἀντίκειται ἀλλήλοις ]; for these oppose themselves the one to the other. Taking the former two clauses as has been proposed above, we can discern the force of the "for" introducing this new clause. The apostle having been by two several turns of thought led to state, first that the flesh prompts desires or action in opposition to the Spirit, and then, as a distinct sentence, that the Spirit prompts desires or action in opposition to the flesh, he now conjoins the two several notions in the affirmation of the mutual antagonistic agency of these two principles; "For these oppose themselves the one to the other." The verb ἀντίκειμαι always denotes opposing action, and not mere contrariety of nature; being used as a participial noun for "adversaries" or "opponents' ' in Luke 13:17 ; Luke 21:15 ; 1 Corinthians 16:9 ; Philippians 1:28 ; 1 Timothy 5:1-25 . i4; and as a verb in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 and 1 Timothy 1:10 , to denote setting one's self in opposition to. This clause, therefore, describes the continual endeavour of the flesh and of the Spirit to thwart and defeat each other's action in the hearts of the persons spoken of. So that ye cannot do the things that ye would ( ἵνα μὴ ᾂἂν θέλητε ταῦτα ποιῆτε ); to the end that what things soever ye fain would do , those ye shall not do . This last clause describes the result aimed at by each of those conflicting principles, namely, to thwart each of them the volitions prompted by the other. The words remind us of Romans 7:15 , οὐ γὰρ ὂθίλω τοῦτο πράσσω , "For not, what thing I fain would,that do I practise;" ibid., 16, ὁ ου) θέλω τοῦτο ποιῶ , "What thing I fain would not, that I do;" ibid., 19, οὐ γὰρ ὃ θέλω ποιῶ ἀγαθόν ἀλλ ὂοὐ θέλω κακόν τοῦτο πράσσω , "For not what good thing I fain would, do I do; but what evil thing I fain would not, that I practise." The comparison of the indefinite relative, "what things soever ye fain would do ( ἂἂν θέλητε )," in the present passage, with the more definite "what thing I fain would do," or "fain would not do ( ὃ θέλω ὃ οὐ θέλω )," in the Romans, points to the conclusion that by the clause, "what things soever ye fain would do," is meant, "whichever be the kind of your volitions, whether they be those prompted by the flesh or those prompted by the Spirit." In comparing the two passages, it is important to notice that in the seventh chapter of the Romans the apostle is Concerned exclusively with the frustration of our good volitions, which, there, are not ascribed to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, but to the prompting of our own moral sense quickened by the voice of the Law's commandment. Such good volitions he represents as overpowered by the controlling influence ("law" ) of the evil principle, "the flesh;" a condition of miserable thraldom, out of which, the apostle (ibid., 25), with triumphant gratitude, alludes to believers in Christ being delivered—delivered by the coming in upon the scene of a new agent, "the Spirit of life:" whereas, in the passage before us, he is describing the condition of believers in Christ, to whom now has been imparted this new power for doing what is good. In these, "the mind" ( Romans 7:25 ), powerless before to overcome the law of sin, is succoured by the presence of a mighty Ally, through whom, he intimates elsewhere, the believer has it within his power to do all things ( Philippians 4:13 ). Many expositors, in-eluding Bishop Lightfoot, take ἵνα in the present clause us denoting simply the result actually brought about; thus the Authorized Version, "so that ye cannot do the things that ye would." Whether this sense, of result actually produced, can be shown ever to attach to ἵνα followed by the subjunctive, is a question which has been much debated. In 1 Thessalonians 5:4 , "Ye are not in darkness that ( ἵνα ) that day should overtake you as a thief," the particle "that" points to the ordering of Divine providence spoken of in the two preceding verses, that they who are in darkness should be taken by surprise by the coming of the day of the Lord. It is certainly possible so to understand the particle here; the mutually thwarting agency of the flesh and the Spirit may be understood as latently attributed to Divine providence ordering that thus it should be. But this view would hardly seem to harmonize, either with the almightiness of the Divine Agent engaged in the conflict or with the triumphant language of Romans 8:1-4 . In actual experience, it does indeed seem to be but too often almost a μαχὴ ἰσόρροπος a drawn battle; so greatly is the Spirit's agency dogged and hampered by the weakness of human faith and the inconstancy of human purpose. But it does not need to be so. In the case of St. Paul himself, as we may infer from all that he says of his own career subsequent to his conversion, and in perhaps not a few cases besides, the Spirit has been completely and persistently triumphant. It therefore appears inconvenient to suppose that the apostle means to ascribe such a result to the ordering of Divine providence making it inevitable. Certainly such a construction of the passage is not necessary. We escape from it altogether by ascribing the notion of purpose latent in this ἵνα , "to the end that," to the nisus severally of the two agents. Taken so, the passage affirms this: Will whatever you may, whether good or evil, you will be sure to meet with an adverse agency, striving to bar the complete accomplishment of your desire. There appears to be no good reason for limiting the application of this statement, as some propose our doing, to the case of immature Christians, in whom Christ is as yet imperfectly formed ( Galatians 4:19 ). With every Christian, to the very last, the life of holiness can only be a fruit of conflict ; a conflict on the whole, even perhaps persistently, successful; yet a conflict still, maintained by the help of the Spirit against an evil principle, which can never, as long as we live, cease to give occasion for care and watchfulness (see 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 ; 1 Timothy 6:12 ; 2 Timothy 4:7 ). Why, it may be asked, is the apostle concerned to refer to this conflict here? Apparently because the Galatians showed by their behaviour that they needed to be stirred up and put upon their guard. They were, as the apostle ( 1 Corinthians 3:3 ) told the Corinthian believers they were, "carnal, walking as men." They had foregone the sense of their adoption; they were worrying one another with contentions. The flesh was in their case manifestly thwarting and defeating the desires of the Spirit. Therefore the apostle here reminds them of the conditions of the Christian life; it is to stimulate them to that earnest endeavour to walk by the Spirit, without which (verse 24) they could not be Christ' s.
The life and warfare of the Spirit in the soul.
This important passage suggests a comprehensive view of the Spirit's work in the believer's life.
I. THE WORK Or THE SPIRIT IN THE BELIEVER .
1 . "Walk in the Spirit." Nothing could be more descriptive of the natural effect of the spiritual change produced in regeneration. The new-born child soon discovers symptoms of activity. The language of the passage reminds us:
2 . Led by the Spirit. This implies an entire surrender of ourselves to the authority and guidance of the Spirit. The traveller in a strange land must follow his guide. So the believer is led by the Spirit with the Word, which is the chart of his journey through life. The term implies, not an isolated act of the Spirit, but a continuous help provided through all parts of a believer's life.
II. THE REASONS BY WHICH WE ARE HERE URGED TO MAINTAIN OUR DEPENDENCE UPON THE SPIRIT .
1 . There wilt be no fulfilling the lusts of the flesh. This is self-evident. The Spirit's guidance will keep us apart from all sinful indulgences, from all earthliness, from all the sins and purposes of the merely natural man. The Spirit and the flesh exclude one another. We shall not trust in our own strength, and so we shall be kept; we shall consult his will supremely, and he will deliver us from the perversities and delusions of our own will.
2 . The warfare between the flesh and the Spirit demands extreme care on our part to be always in the Spirit 's complete disposal.
3 . The Spirit 's guidance exempts us from the Law. "If ye be led by the Spirit, ye are not under the Law." The Galatians were for putting themselves again in subjection to Law and forgetting the free rule of the Spirit. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." It was necessary to remind them that they were now "dead to that in which they were held" ( Romans 7:4 ). It was no longer to them "a Law of sin and death." "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus ' made them free from it. How, then, does the Spirit's guidance set them apart from the Law?
Christian progress realized through antagonism.
We must not suppose, however, that the love which God gives us as our liberty can work out its will without experiencing opposition. Opposition we know it will meet in the world of selfish men; but Paul here points out the antagonism it meets within our own personalities. The flesh antagonizes the Spirit. Love does not get its own sweet way as often as we would. Self becomes a battle-ground, and God contends with the flesh for the supremacy of the soul. So violent is the contention that the flesh is actually "crucified with its affections and lusts." We are introduced, therefore, to the law of Christian progress which, because of our sinful nature, has to be through antagonizing the sinful tendencies in the interest of love. Observe—
I. SIN LEADS MAN TO FALL OUT WITH HIMSELF . ( Galatians 5:17 .) As Ullmann has beautifully said, "Man forms a unity, which is, however, only the foundation of that higher unity which is to be brought about in him, as a being made in the Divine image, by means of communion with God. Now, sin does not merely obstruct this unity, but sets up in its place that which is its direct opposite. He who has fallen away from God by sin, does, as a necessary consequence, fall out both with himself and with all mankind. True unity in man is possible only when that which is Godlike in him—that is, the mind—acquiesces in the Divine order of life, and governs the whole being in conformity therewith. But when he has once severed himself from the true centre of his being, that is, from God, then also does that element of his being, his mind, which is akin to God, and which was intended to be the connecting and all-deciding centre of his personal life, lose its central and dominant position; he ceases to be lord of himself and of his own nature; the various powers which make up his complex nature begin to carry on, each for itself, an independent existence; the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit wages a fruitless war with the flesh ( Galatians 5:17 ); sinful desire becomes dominant, and while the man seems to be in the enjoyment of all imaginable liberty, he has lost the only true liberty and has become a slave to himself; for ' whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin' ( John 8:34 ; Romans 6:16-23 ). He is the dependent of self; and being thus the slave of self, he is also the slave of pleasure, and of all those objects which it requires for its satisfaction." Man becomes thus a distracted manifold, instead of a God-centred unity.
II. THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST ANTAGONIZES THE DISTRACTING TENDENCIES AND REDUCES MAN TO A UNITY AGAIN . The way in which we are united in heart and being is by having Jesus Christ pressed resistlessly upon our attention. Faith realizes in Christ not only a perfect personal Ideal, but also a Saviour on whom man may evermore depend. "The Christ of Christendom is not simply a Master to be loved and revered; he is a Saviour to be leaned upon. His followers are to have that profound sense of their own weakness and sinfulness which renders them sensitive to the purifying and reforming influences that radiate from the personality of Jesus. Without this, their love for the ideal would lead to no practical results; it would be merely an aesthetic sentiment, expending itself in a vague and fruitless admiration. But combine the two and you have the most effective reforming influence that the world has ever known." Christ is not only the unifying element in Church life, but in the individual life as well. He fuses all the distracted faculties into a glorious unity, and makes man his own master instead of his own slave. Hence, to quote the writer last referred to, "Christianity alone among all religions maintains a constant antagonism to the special tendency which controls the nature of its followers."
III. BUT POSITIVE FRUIT IS PRODUCED BY THE ANTAGONIZING SPIRIT AS A GLORIOUS SET - OFF TO THE WORKS OF THE FLESH WHICH HE DESTROYS . ( Galatians 5:19-24 .) Religion is not to be regarded as a negative thing, contenting itself with antagonisms, but has positive and most important fruits. It is not a system of severe repressions, but a system full of stimulus towards a better and fuller life. It does not merely forbid "fornication, uncleanness," etc., under the penalty of exclusion from the kingdom of God, but it produces "love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control. What a catalogue of virtues! What a contrast to the works of the flesh! Thus is man restored to something like his true and better self. The gospel of Christ is not a weary round of prohibitions, but is a glorious system of positive attainment, in a Divine life, which is loving, joyful, peaceful, and humane to its deepest depths.
IV. AGAINST SUCH SPIRITUALLY MINDED ONES THERE CAN BE NO LAW OF CONDEMNATION . ( Galatians 5:18-23 .) Law, when translated into love, becomes light. God's commandments are not grievous to the loving soul. In the keeping of them there is a great reward. Hence the Law presses heavily and hardly upon no loving spirit. "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" ( Romans 8:1 ). It is to such a blissful experience we arc asked to come.—R.M.E.
Freedom sustained by the Spirit.
I. USE OF CHRISTIAN FREEDOM . "For ye, brethren, were called for freedom." Paul, having wished the Judaizing teachers off Galatian soil, justifies the strength of his wish. They would have led the Galatians into bondage, but God had called them for freedom. He makes a distinction between the possession of freedom and the use of freedom. He had been under the necessity of making prominent their possession of freedom in contending against the Judaists; he would, however, remind them, as brethren, that there was responsibility connected with t heir use of freedom. It is thus that he slides into the more practical part of the Epistle.
1. Dangers of freedom. "Only use not your freedom for an occasion to the flesh." By the flesh, which here becomes a leading word with the apostle, we are not to understand our corporeal nature. Nor are we to understand by it depraved tendency in connection with our corporeal nature. But we are to understand by it depraved tendency as a whole, extending to our higher nature as well as to our lower nature. It is true that in this depraved tendency our lower nature has the preponderance. And that is the reason why the whole goes by the name of flesh. But the constant element in depravity is not sense, but it is self as opposed to God and to the good of others. The admonition of the apostle, then, is, not that we abstain from all bodily gratification, as though sin were seated in the body, nor simply that we abstain from all fleshly sin, but that we abstain from all selfish gratification. The Galatians had been called for freedom, i.e. for ultimate and complete freedom; they were not, with their first experiences of freed-m, or with their strong realization of it as against Judaistic error, to imagine that they were free to indulge the flesh. That is what, as free, we must be on our guard against, if we would not fall back into bondage, if we would come to the goal of our freedom in Christ. Let us not turn our liberty into licentiousness.
2 . The binding of freedom.
II. THE FLESH AND THE SPIRIT .
1 . The Christian rule is walking by the Spirit. "But I say, Walk by the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh." The apostle calls attention to a point to which he advances in the subject he has in hand. This is laying down the Christian rule as between the flesh and the Spirit. In the flesh, or our depraved nature, there is lust or desire for sinful gratification in some form or another. How are we to be delivered from this, so that it shall not be fulfilled? The way is positively to follow the leading of the Spirit. The idea is not that we are to follow the tendencies of our renewed nature. That is missing the personal aspect of the leading. The Spirit, indeed, renews the nature, and excites within it holy desires which seek for gratification. But the Spirit gives personal guiding, especially in and by the reason and conscience in connection with the Word. And as a Guide he is all-sufficient. He is an internal Guide. He throws all the light that we need upon the character of desires and actions, upon the path of duty. And he affords timeous guidance. For whenever we are disposed to turn from the straight path to the right hand or to the left, it is then that we hear his voice behind us, saying," This is the way, walk ye in it."
2 . The Christian rule is founded on a contrariety between the flesh and the Spirit. "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary the one to the other; that ye may not do the things that ye would." The lust excited within the flesh is against the desire excited by the Spirit; the desire excited by the Spirit is against the lust excited within the flesh. This conflict of desires is necessary. For the flesh and the Spirit are contraries. They represent depraved self and God. They are as far apart as light and darkness. What is true of the one, then, cannot be true of the other. What the one moves toward in desire, the other necessarily moves against. Of this conflict of desires we are conscious in our own experience. When the Spirit impels to good, the flesh opposes; when the flesh impels to evil, the Spirit opposes. Thus in two ways we cannot do the things that we would. And we have in this conflict of desires, as free beings, to determine whether the Spirit or the flesh shall have the dominion of our hearts.
3 . The Christian rule excludes regulation by the Law. "But if ye are led by the Spirit, ye are not under the Law." The Spirit is an nil-sufficient Guide. His regulation renders unnecessary all other regulation. He regulates within, and that is better than outward regulation. He regulates in connection with all circumstances that arise, and that is better than having the rule to apply for ourselves. He is a timeous monitor, warning when the danger arises, and that is better than being dependent on memory.
4 . There is contrast in the manifestations of the flesh and the Spirit.
(a) What they are. " Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these." Before enumerating them the apostle describes them as manifest , i.e. easily distinguishable or glaring. It may be pointed to as a proof of depravity that vocabularies have more words descriptive of forms of sin than words descriptive of forms of holiness. Under the fruit of the Spirit he gives a list of nine. But under the works of the flesh his list extends to fifteen, properly sixteen. And the word translated "which" implies that he did not profess to give an exhaustive list—it would have been easy for him to have added other instances. This comparison is confirmed by the relative number of words for sins and graces employed in Scripture.
( α ) Sins of uncleanness. "Fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness." The second is the generic word; the first describes a special form; the third describes a special aggravation, namely, open disregard of propriety. There is a sad prevalence of these sins still; it can only be said that they have been made more to hide their head.
( β ) Illicit intercourse with the unseen world. "Idolatry, sorcery." What is illicit in idolatry is the use of images to represent the unseen powers. What is illicit in sorcery (literally, "pharmacy" ) is the use of drugs, potions, and other things, with the idea that they can influence the unseen powers to produce love or hatred, prosperity or adversity. It can be said that this class of sins has almost disappeared with the diffusion of Christianity.
( γ ) Breaches of charity. "Enmities." This is the generic word; including not only the graver, but all breaches of charity. "Strife, jealousies." In strife the variance may be slight; in acts of jealousy there is more deep-seated variance. "Wraths, factions." The former describes outbursts of anger. The latter describes deliberate and concerted compassings of selfish ends, especially by means of intrigue. "Caballings" some translate it, "cabal" being made up of the initials of an English ministry in the reign of Charles II ., who were credited with sacrificing principle to place. "Divisions, heresies." The former may only be of a temporary nature. Heresies, by which we are to understand not heretical opinions, but rather their embodiments in heretical sects, are divisions of a decisive nature. There is conveyed the idea of complete separation from the Church of Christ. Hence what is said of the heretic that he is condemned of himself, i.e. in cutting himself off he has carried out the extreme sentence on himself. "Envyings, murders." The latter is omitted in the Revised translation, against the manuscripts, and against the form of classification followed by the apostle under this head. The former is want of love to our neighbour in his property; the latter is want of love in that which is most precious to him.
( δ ) Sins of intemperance. "Drunkenness, revellings." The first is the generic word; the second brings in a special association, viz. joviality. The special point of view is to be noticed here. There are some who lay the blame of intemperance on the manufacture of drink, on facilities for its sale, on the customs of society. And it does bear a relation to these things. But the apostle goes to the root of the matter, in tracing it to the depravity of the human heart. Drunkenness and revellings are works of the flesh, manifestations of alienation from God. The advantage of this point of view is that it points to what can be the only effective remedy, viz. a change of heart through the operation of the Spirit. "And such like." He could have mentioned others. We may suppose that those are named which it was important for the Galatians to note. We can see that some of them would be connected with their temperament, which was neither melancholic nor phlegmatic, and also with their surroundings. We are not all inclined to sin in the same form or forms. That has a dependence on idiosyncrasies and surroundings. But we have all the same depraved heart for which to be humbled before God, and against which to pray.
(b) What they entail. "Of the which I forewarn you, even as I did forewarn you, that they which practise such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." He is very emphatic in his warning of the Galatians. He had forewarned them when with them. Again he forewarns them. He acted on the principles enunciated in Ezekiel: "Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore, hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life: the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity, but thou hast delivered thy soul." What the apostle, in the spirit of these words, says, is that they which are in the habit of doing such things shall certainly be punished. Their very characters unfit them for the kingdom of God. Moreover, they are rebels against the government of God; and as such they must be dealt with. Their punishment is represented as exclusion from the inheritance which otherwise they would have gained.
(a) What it is. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love." This stands at the head of the list as comprehending or carrying with it all the rest. This is a characteristic result of the Spirit's working. The apostle beseeches by the love of the Spirit. And we are told of the love of God, i.e. apparently the love which constitutes the very essence of God, being shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Ghost given unto us. Therefore we need not be surprised at the apostle connecting the Spirit, first, with the imbuing, dyeing deep of our nature with love. "Joy, peace." These two go together, not as good dispositions, but as feelings which always accompany good dispositions. With the former we associate movements, thrills; with the latter we associate repose. God is infinite Love, and therefore he is infinite Joy and Peace. And our being, through the Spirit, pulsating with his, now he sends a thrill of joy through us, and now he introduces his own calm. Oh what a joy in what God is! What a height of ecstasy does it admit of! And what a calm too in what God is! It takes away all the feverishness of sins and quiets us to the very depths of our being. And ever, as love animates us as it animates God, does the thrill pass through us, and the calm come into us, expelling doubt and fear and all restlessness of spirit. "Long-suffering, kindness, goodness." These three go together. The first is bearing with others for their good. It is that which marks the outgoing of the Divine love toward us as sinners. And therefore it is fitting that it should be reflected in us. Love (not only in God, but in all beings) , suffereth long," and, it is added, "is kind." The word translated "kindness" seems to point to delight in men as our fellow-beings. God delights in us as beings whom he has made. He feels kindly disposed toward us, as a father does toward his children. And so are we to delight in others for what they are, especially as having come from God, wearing a noble nature. And we are to feel kindly disposed toward them, wishing especially that, as they have a noble nature, they may not fail of having a noble character. The word translated "goodness" seems to point to a disposition to benefit others, extending to all forms in which they can be benefited. The highest form of goodness is when we are impelled to help others to live well. "Faithfulness, meekness, temperance." The first is having such a love for our neighbour that we would not injure him by breaking our promise to him. God is a Rock, while infinite tenderness, and there should be something of the rock in us, that dependence may be placed on us in the various relations of life. Meekness is required when wrong has been inflicted on us. It especially points to us having the command of our feelings under wrong. Temperance is self-command. It has come to have a special reference to our having the command of our appetites. When temperance is born of worldly prudence or of self-reliance it is not what it should be. It is only real and beautiful and everlasting when it is produced by the Spirit, when it is the outcome of a changed heart.
(b) What it does not entail. "Against such there is no Law." The apostle might have extended his list. He would have us think not of these only, but of all such, and think this regarding all such, that against them there is no Law. If these things are in us, then the Law can never be adverse to us. We shall be removed beyond the condemnation of all Law. That is his way of saying that we shall be blessed. We shall be blessed in the very possession of these dispositions and feelings. We shall be blessed in our enjoying the smile of God.
5 . Christians are being delivered from the flesh. "And they that are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts thereof." At a past period, in idea, they crucified the flesh. That idea is now being carried out into fact. There is a deadening, a slow and painful crucifying going on in the flesh. Its passions are being depleted of their heat; its lusts are being depleted of their force. The conflict is still going on; but the Spirit is gaining triumphs over the flesh, and there is promise of the Spirit gaining a complete triumph, of the flesh with all its inclinations to sin being annihilated.
6 . The Christian rule re-enforced. "If we live by the Spirit, by the Spirit let us also walk." If the life of the Galatians had depended on the Law, then their first and imperative duty would have been to have submitted to circumcision; and their duty after that would have been to have subjected themselves to the whole discipline of the Mosaic ordinances. But, as they were in the better position of depending entirely for their life on the Spirit, it was their duty to take the rule of their life simply from him.
7 . The Christian rule is applied to vain-glory. "Let us not be vainglorious, provoking one another, envying one another." Vain-glory is glorying in what we do not have, or in what we have in a way that is not real or according to a false standard. The spirit of the practice is sufficiently brought out in the language hero. There is a provoking, literally a calling forth, to the field of contest. As the result of the trial, some are filled with a sense of their importance as superior in strength or in agility, in birth or in wealth, in culture or in honour. And others are filled with envy of those who are thus superior. ]Jut as we are not to glory in fancied possessions, so we are not to glory in possessions as though we had bestowed them on ourselves, or with an exaggerated idea of their importance. That would be glorying in what had not foundation in reality. "But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord." Let us glory in what God is, and let us glory also in what God has bestowed upon us. Let us glory especially in having a covenant standing before God, and in covenant grace which has passed into our characters. That is having a foundation of reality for our glorying.—R.F.
The two selves.
I. EVERY MAN HAS TWO SELVES —A HIGHER SELF AND A LOWER SELF .
1 . A bad man has his better self. When temptation is away, in calm thoughtful moments, or when he is stricken by mortal illness or bowed with a great sorrow, or perhaps when the beauty of a sunset or the strains of sweet music call up memories of childhood, the true self will rise in the heart of a wicked man with pain and unutterable regrets.
2 . A good man has his lower self. The human saint is far removed from the heavenly angel. The body and its appetites are with him; the soul has its meaner powers, its earthly passions, its self-regarding interests. There are times when the spiritual life is dull and feeble; then some sudden temptation, or even without that the depressing atmosphere of the world, will reveal to a man his worse side.
II. THE TWO SELVES ARE IN CONFLICT . They are not content to lie at peace each in its own domain. Both are ambitious to rule the whole man. While the flesh brooks any restraint, the Spirit strives to bring the body into subjection. Thus it comes to pass that life is a warfare and the Christian a soldier. The battle of life is not mainly a fighting against adverse circumstances and external concrete evils of the world. " A man's foes are they of his own household," nay, of his own heart. The great conflict is internal. It is civil war—rebellion and the effort to quell it; of all wars the most fierce.
III. THE CONFLICT BETWEEN THE TWO SELVES IS SUCH THAT EACH IS HELD IN CHECK BY THE OTHER . "Ye cannot do the things that ye would." There is a dead-lock. Each army holds itself safe in its own entrenchments. Neither can turn the enemy's position. Not that there is perfect balance of power. In most of us one or other force gives a temporary advantage. In many the lower self has the upper hand; in many, let us thank God, the better self maintains the supremacy. But neither has the victory that will enable it to drive the other off the field. Bad men, now and again, see yawning before them deep, black pits of wickedness, from the brink of which they start back in horror, arrested by the invisible hand of conscience. No man is wholly bad, or he would cease to be a man—he would be a devil. On the other hand, it is clear to all of us that no good man is wholly good.
IV. IN THE STRENGTH OF THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST THE BETTER SELF OF THE CHRISTIAN WILL ULTIMATELY OBTAIN COMPLETE VICTORY . The stress and strain of the war is but for a time. In the end all enemies shall be subdued. Meanwhile the secret of success is with those who "walk by the Spirit." So great a hope should lighten "the burden of the mystery."
"The heavy and the weary weight
Of all this unintelligible world."
Now life is broken, confused, inconsistent, discordant. But this is but the time of passing conflict. With victory there will come true harmony of being and growth to the full stature of the soul.—W.F.A.