Gal. 5:16 ¶ But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
Today’s culture loves to make excuses for sin. As a matter of fact they won’t even call sin ‘sin’. Excuses are made, sin is covered up, and life goes on. The problem with that approach is two-fold. First, there is the problem of a guilty conscience. Unless you have gotten to the ‘seared
conscience’ level you are constantly trying to remove that guilty stain from your mind. The problem is that sin is real and conviction is real. What is the solution? Repentance and cleansing which brings us to freedom from guilt.
The second problem is right standing before God. Sin blocks our fellowship with God. Forgiveness brings restoration and brings us back into a sense of His presence.
Learning to walk in the Spirit is the only way to live free from the restraints of the flesh. Here are some thoughts from Luther on this verse.
“Christ alone can supply us with perfect righteousness. Therefore we must always believe and always hope in Christ. “Whosoever believeth shall not be ashamed.” (Rom. 9:33.) When I was a monk I thought I was lost forever whenever I felt an evil emotion, carnal lust, wrath, hatred, or envy. I tried to quiet my conscience in many ways, but it did not work, because lust would always come back and give me no rest. I told myself: “You have permitted this and that sin, envy, impatience, and the like. Your joining this holy order has been in vain, and all your good works are good for nothing.” If at that time I had understood this passage, “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh,” I could have spared myself many a day of self- torment. I would have said to myself: “Martin, you will never be without sin, for you have flesh. Despair not, but resist the flesh.”
According to Paul, there was a way to live our lives free from the lusts and bondages of the flesh. It is not in human will power that we overcome these bondages, it is through the power of the Spirit. Paul said we could put to death the deeds of the flesh by the Spirit. He was describing a lifestyle which he called walking by the Spirit. There are two ways to live our lives, depending on human will power and strength or leaning on the power of the Spirit.