Life-Study of Galatiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we shall consider 5:24-26. Verse 24 says, “But they who are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts.” The word “but” in verse 22 contrasts the fruit of the Spirit in that verse with the works of the flesh in verse 19. In this verse, the word “but” contrasts the crucifixion of the flesh with the works of the flesh in verse 19.
In verse 24 Paul speaks of “they who are of Christ Jesus.” This refers to those who have believed into Christ and have been baptized into Him. Therefore, they belong to Christ and are of Christ. As saved ones, we are now of Christ.
According to Paul’s word here, they who are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh. The crucifixion of the old man in Romans 6:6 and the crucifixion of “I” in Galatians 2:20 were not accomplished by us. But here it says that we have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts. The old man and “I” are our being; the flesh is the expression of our being in our practical living. The crucifixion of our old man and “I” is a fact accomplished by Christ on the cross, whereas the crucifixion of our flesh with its passions and lusts is our practical experience of that fact. For this practical experience, it is necessary that we through the Spirit execute the crucifixion which Christ has accomplished. In this way we carry out what He has accomplished. This is to put to death by the Spirit the practices of our lustful body with its evil members (Rom. 8:13; Col. 3:5).
There are three aspects concerning the experience of the cross: the fact accomplished by Christ (Rom. 6:6; Gal. 2:20); our application of the accomplished fact (5:24); and our experience of what we have applied, bearing the cross daily (Matt. 16:24; Luke 9:23).
Notice that in speaking of the crucifixion of the flesh, Paul uses the perfect tense. Paul says not that we are crucifying the flesh, nor that we shall crucify it, but that we have crucified it. He speaks of this as if it were an accomplished fact. Concerning the crucifixion, there are two aspects. The first is that when Christ was crucified, He crucified our old man and the “I.” The other aspect is that we have crucified our flesh. Based upon the fact that Christ has crucified the old man and the “I,” we have crucified the flesh. Hence, the second fact, our crucifixion of the flesh, is the application of the first fact, Christ’s crucifixion of the old man and the “I.” In our experience we need to apply Christ’s crucifixion to our flesh. Paul’s use of the perfect tense to describe this indicates that such should be the normal experience of the believers. All believers should be those who have applied Christ’s crucifixion to their flesh. As those who belong to Christ, who have been put into Christ, we have done this. Here Paul is speaking according to the principle. If we have never crucified our flesh, our experience is abnormal. If our experience is normal, then we who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh.
The book of Galatians unveils both that the law misused is versus Christ (2:16) and that the flesh lusts against the Spirit (5:17). The cross has nullified the “I” which is trying to keep the law (2:20) and the flesh which lusts against the Spirit, that Christ may replace the law, and the Spirit may replace the flesh. God does not want us to keep the law by the flesh; He wants us to live Christ by the Spirit.
In 5:25 Paul goes on to say, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” To live by the Spirit is to have our life dependent upon the Spirit and regulated by the Spirit, not by the law. To walk by the Spirit is to have our practical living and acts in our daily life guided and ruled by the Spirit, not by the law. Concerning our Christian walk, Paul’s concept is that since our life is not by the law of letters, but by the Spirit of life, so our walk also should be not by the law of ordinances, but by the Spirit of Christ.
The Greek word rendered “we live” implies both to have life and to live. Initially we have life, but continually we live. If we have life by the Spirit, we should continue to live by the Spirit. A fuller rendering of the Greek here would be, “If we have life and live by the Spirit.” Paul uses a similar expression in Romans 1:17 and Hebrews 10:38. In Hebrews 10:38 it is not a matter of having life, but of continuing to live by the life we have received. In Romans 1:17 and Galatians 5:25 it is a matter of both having life initially and then living continually.
In 5:26 Paul says, “Let us not become vainglorious, provoking one another, envying one another.” To be without vainglory is the result of the walk by the Spirit in verse 25.
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