Book information

Life-Study of Galatiansby Witness Lee

ISBN: 0-7363-0961-6
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry

Currently in: Chapter 42 of 46 Section 1 of 2

LIFE-STUDY OF GALATIANS

MESSAGE FORTY-TWO

WALKING BY THE SPIRIT
ACCORDING TO THE ELEMENTARY RULE
TO LIVE A NEW CREATION
AND THE ISRAEL OF GOD

Scripture Reading: Gal. 5:25; 6:15-16

We have pointed out that the book of Galatians presents a comparison of God’s two economies: the economy in the Old Testament, which concerns the law, and the economy in the New Testament, which is centered on Christ Himself. According to His New Testament economy, God’s intention is to dispense Christ into us and to make Christ one with us and us one with Him. This is altogether different from our natural concept. For this reason, I am rather concerned that many of us still do not fully realize that as those who are saved and regenerated by the Spirit of God with the divine life and nature, we are now one spirit with God. Before we were saved, we and God were separate, far removed from each other. But when we were saved and regenerated, God was conceived in us and born into us. By the new birth we and God have become one spirit. How marvelous!

We may read the Bible again and again without being impressed with God’s intention as revealed in the Bible. Instead, we may pay our attention to such things as Paul’s commandment for husbands to love their wives, or for wives to submit to their husbands. Matters such as love and submission fit our natural concepts. But the mystery of God dispensing Himself into us to make us one with Him is contrary to our natural concept. This is the reason that even though this is revealed in the Scriptures, we do not have the ability to comprehend it. How we need the Lord’s mercy that we may know His intention!

TWO KINDS OF WALK BY THE SPIRIT

Recently I have begun to pay attention to the fact that in the book of Galatians Paul uses two different Greek words for walk. In 5:16 he says, “Walk by the Spirit and you shall by no means fulfill the lust of the flesh.” Here the Greek word is peripateo. In 5:25 Paul goes on to say, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” Here the Greek word is stoicheo, the verbal form of the Greek word for element used in 4:3 and 9, and Colossians 2:8. Galatians 4:3 speaks of “the elements of the world,” and 4:9, of “the weak and poor elements.” Colossians 2:8 also refers to “the elements of the world.” These elements denote basic, rudimentary, or elementary principles. For example, in mathematics there are the elementary principles of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Likewise, philosophy and ethical teachings are also composed of rudimentary elements. There are also elements, basic principles, elementary rules, in God’s economy.

As we have indicated, in Galatians 5:25 the Greek word for element is used as a verb. The same word is also used in 6:16, where Paul says, “And as many as shall walk by this rule, peace be upon them and mercy, even upon the Israel of God.” It is difficult for translators to find an English equivalent for this Greek verb. If we say, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also element by the Spirit,” no one will be able to understand what we mean. Thus, translators are forced to use the word “walk.” Yes, according to Greek usage, the word does convey the thought of walking. However, it is not to walk in a general way, in the sense of walking about, but to walk in a specific way according to a certain rule, principle, or lane.

This Greek word is used in Acts 21:24 with the meaning of walking orderly with respect to the teachings of the law. The expression “walk orderly” in this verse is the translation of the Greek word stoicheo. It is used to denote a walk that is in order or in line. For example, when soldiers march, they walk in order, keeping rank and walking in line. This is an illustration of what it means to walk orderly.

In our daily living as Christians, we need to have two kinds of walk by the Spirit. The first is a general walk, whereas the second is the walk according to a certain rule or principle for the fulfillment of God’s eternal purpose. In the first kind of walk, we need to display the fruit of the Spirit, the virtues listed in 5:22 and 23. However, we are not here simply to exhibit such virtues as love, joy, and peace. We are here for the fulfillment of God’s purpose. Thus, we need to walk according to certain rules or principles for the fulfillment of this purpose. For God’s purpose, we need to have a walk that is orderly, a walk that is according to certain elementary rules or basic principles. Loving and being joyful are not basic rules or principles. These are simply different aspects of our daily life as Christians, not the characteristics of the walk which leads to the fulfillment of God’s purpose. This walk, the second kind of walk by the Spirit, requires that we walk according to basic principles and elementary rules.

We may use the daily life of a young sister who is a student to illustrate the two kinds of walk by the Spirit. On the one hand, this sister lives with her family at home. If she truly lives Christ, she will show forth the virtues of Christ to the members of her family. On the other hand, she needs to be a proper student at school and fulfill all the requirements leading to graduation. At home she needs to walk as a daughter and sister, but at school she needs to walk as a proper student. She needs to have both the general walk at home with her family and the more specific walk at school according to basic rules and elementary principles.

In the first three chapters of Galatians, we see that Christ is revealed in us (1:15-16), that Christ lives in us (2:20), and that Christ has been put upon us (3:27). Christ is thus our inward content and also our outward expression. Furthermore, we are all “sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (3:26), and the Spirit of the Son of God has been sent into our hearts (4:6). Praise the Lord that we are now sons of God! As God’s sons, we need a walk by the Spirit to express Christ in all His virtues. We also need another kind of walk by the Spirit, the walk according to certain rules or principles, leading toward the goal for the fulfillment of God’s purpose. If we have the second kind of walk by the Spirit, we shall be not only sons of God, but also a new creation and the Israel of God. We need to live the new creation and as the new Israel of God. In order to live a new creation and live as the Israel of God, we need the second kind of walk. We need to walk orderly according to the elementary principles of God’s economy.

In chapter four we see that we are sons of God with the Spirit of the Son of God in our hearts. In chapter five we see that we need two kinds of walk by the Spirit, a general walk to express Christ and a purposeful walk toward the goal. The second kind of walk constitutes us those who live a new creation and who are the Israel of God. To live a new creation and to live as the Israel of God, we need to walk in such a way as to observe all the basic principles of God’s New Testament economy.


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