NO CONDEMNATION UPON THOSE WALKING BY THE SPIRIT (Galatians 5:23-24)
After having set forth the great and blessed fruits of the Spirit in some detail, Paul makes the tremendous assertion, “against such there is no law.” This implies, without doubt, that Paul only set forth the representative “good fruits” of grace. The very inner nature of such fruits are such that they are all law-fulling, in the sense that the “law is fulfilled” in a perfect state up to the present moment by those “who love their ‘neighbor as themselves.” In all the wide world, whether in the heavens above, or on earth below, the judge of heaven and earth does not condemn any ofsuch fruits. God is well pleased with them; they are indeed acceptable to Him on the altar of consecration. The so-called good works of the unregenerate and wicked world are not acceptable on God’s altar at all. There is “law” against them, condemning them as unfit fruit of sin, which keeps the truth down in unrighteousness, so that they are inexcusable before God. The works of the wicked are never motivated by love for God and the neighbor, but are hatred for God and the neighbor (Rom. 2:14-16). Always the actions and deeds are such in the wicked, even as all the works of our sinful flesh, that a “law” condemns them. Yes, this is true also of all of the works of our flesh with the passions and lusts, which are under the weak and beggarly principles of the world. Yes, here we are under law, the law of sin and death. But in Christ, bearing fruits as branches in the true Vine, there is no condemning law at all. Here the law is fulfilled in every jot and tittle in Christ (Matt. 5:17-20; Rom. 8:3-4).
And the children of Sarah, “who are of Christ” (Gal. 5:24), can be certain that they are not any longer under condemnation. They have the infallible fruits of election in their life by faith through the Holy Spirit; they are good trees, the real planting of God in His garden. They can do nothing without Christ, but in Christ they bear much fruit (John 15:5). Yes, they keep Christ’s commandments and abide (a constant abiding) in His love, even as Christ keeps God’s commandments, and abides in God’s love. Such is the real proof and manifestation of true discipleship of Christ, that is, of being real sons of adoption (John 15:7-10; Gal. 4:4-7). The true brethren of Christ, the adopted sons of God, who have true and justifying-sanctifying faith, are those whom Paul has in mind when he says “And they that are Christ’s . . .” (Gal. 5:24). Such are the sons of Abraham, the true seed, who belong to Christ, as Paul writes in Gal. 3:29, “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
Now, why is there no law against such sons of God, joint-heirs with Christ? Why is this stated as an uncontrovertible fact, which is true in this time and in all eternity? We are dealing here with these redeemed by Christ as they are “new creatures”! (Gal. 6:15; II Cor. 5:17). They belong to “the one new man” which Christ has reconciled by His blood on the Cross, so making peace, in which the middle wall of partition is broken down forever, and where the church grows unto an holy habitation in the Lord. And such have passed from darkness into light, so that they will never come into condemnation. Legally and spiritually they are free from sin and death (Eph. 2:13-22; John 5:24). Now these are all fact statements of the Bible. They are Gospel-facts, glad-tidings facts, telling us of the new creature hood of the believers! Yes, they are facts which impel every man to search his heart, whether he with holy joy experience these infallible fruits and comforts of elective love, as this love reaches us in the eternal Son, Who is the propitiation for our sins. And thus we make our calling an election sure (II Pet. 1:5-10; I John 4:7-12). Such is the rock-like certainty of Christ’s completed work for us and in us who believe, that is, of all “who are Christ’s,” and who live by the Spirit.
What have such done according to Gal. 5:24? They havecrucified (estauroosan) the flesh with the affections (passions) and lusts thereof. This means that because of the relationship to the operation of the power of Christ’s accursed death on the Cross, those who are of Christ have received the gift of the Spirit, the promise of the Spirit. And this promise of the Spirit is ours by faith (Gal. 3:10-11). Henceforth, once and for all, we are crucified with Christ. As he died legally unto sin, so have we (Rom. 6:10). But His death also broke the power of sin, and is such that, through His death and resurrection, we serve another, namely, Him Who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God (Rom. 7:1-6). The Christian is no legalistic Pharisee, attempting to cease from sin, and to keep the law to be justified. Nor is he a moralistic do-gooder; all that endeavor he counts as so much loss and dung for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord (Phil. 3:7-8). No, he has died unto law and to sin, that he might live unto God. What he now lives, he lives by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved, loved him, even to the end, and gave Himself for him. (John 13:1; Gal. 2:20). And now he must keep God’s commandments, fight against sin and all the lusts of his sinful flesh, unto the end. He has passed from death unto life, and he has been crucified, legally and spiritually; a hater is he of sinful lusts, and he delights in the law of God after the inward man (Rom. 7:22). With his inner mind and affections he serves the law of God! (Rom. 7:25).
Against the works of such a crucified one there is no law! Rejoice, ye heavens, for the accuser of the brethren is cast out; those who are of Christ, have overcome in the blood of the Lamb. Hallelujah! (Rev. 12:10-12).
THE SPIRITUALLY CONSISTENT WALK OF THOSE LIVING BY THE SPIRIT (Gal. 5:25-26)
There must ever be a true consistency between our confession and our walk. It must always be very evident that our faith is not a dead faith, but that it is a living and true faith as is evident from the good works of thankfulness for the great redemption in Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection (James 2:14-18). Ours must not be a faith such as the devils in hell have; they believe that God is one, and they shudder with a fear which, to speak figuratively, puts their hair on end! Such is the meaning of the verb employed in the Greek:phrissousan. They shudder, these demons in hell, at the thought of God’s being a God Who is not divided against Himself! If we have a consistent walk in the Spirit and keep the law by a faith which works by love (Gal. 5:6), then all fear is cast out, once and for all (I John 4:17-18). For all fear is, at bottom, demonical in origin; it is the fear of death, being terrified by him who has the grip of death on our souls, the Devil (Heb. 2:14). And, therefore, those who love their brother, are such that all fear is cast out. They have truly passed from death to life, and shall not come into condemnation.
Paul singles out one aspect of love for the brother and sister in Christ here in verses 24,25. And, we may add, there is suggested here a very spiritual psychological connection between verse 24 and the verses 25,26 in this chapter. It is in our walking by the Spirit that we become manifest to “be of Christ,” to be His disciples, who truly follow Christ in the midst of this world, so that all the world of men take notice that we are indeed Christ’s disciples, the light of the world (John 13:34-35). It is true that they, who walk in the Spirit of Christ, do not at all fulfill the lusts of the flesh, such as jealousy, envy, and sinful contention. (See under our interpretation ofGal. 5:16, above.) Paul is driving this point home now to a congregation where, in legal combat, they are biting, eating, and devouring each other in personal feuds and vendetta. There must be spiritual consistency of sincerity and truth in our lives, as children of Sarah. We must walk at liberty as the freeborn sons of Sarah, born from above, from heaven. That is the keynote of this great chapter (Gal. 5:1).
Here the truth of the matter of Paul’s exhortation is put in a conditional sentence: “if ye live by the Spirit, then also walk by the Spirit.” The condition (protasis) is one which states the matter of the Galatians walk as being in reality “by the Spirit.” They have received the Spirit, and the Spirit of grace and glory rests upon them. They are indwelt (I Peter 4:14). Such is the assumed determined reality of these Galatians. Now they must also “walk” as those led by the Spirit. They must reveal what they are. All the admonitions come to the church on the basis of what the church is, a new creation, a redeemed people. That is a universal rule. We must be in life what we are in reality by virtue of new birth in Christ. Such an exhortation as we have here never is addressed to the reprobate wicked. The great address of Jehovah in Exodus 20:1 can only be spoken to Israel by her God, Who has delivered her. This should sink deeply into our hearts; it is the very marrow of the truth of the Gospel. It is assumed that these Galatians are living members of God’s church. They are gathered as many members in one body (Eph. 4:1-5). They are the body, which is fitly framed together and which must grow into an holy temple in the Lord, a dwelling-place of God in the Spirit (Eph. 2:18-22; E4:15-16). And if such be the case indeed with these bewitched Galatians, then they must walk in the Spirit. The term for “walk” here is rather striking and meaningful. The term is one which depicts orderly soldiers in their marching together. It is an orderly, prescribed march, which befits their station and calling. (See Acts 21:24; Rom 4:12; Phil. 3:16.) The verb here is in the present tense: keep on walking. Paul includes himself in this admonition. He knows the battle of this orderly walking, in the fight against the lusts of the flesh. He says not “you keep on walking” but “let us keep on walking” in this fierce struggle against the motions of sin (Rom. 7:18-25). Let every minister emulate Paul in this spiritual art of admonishing the church of God to this orderly walk, marching under the banner of the Cross and resurrection of Christ.
Paul comes to particulars in the text. He lays his finger upon the festering sore in this church. “Let us (he includes himself) not become desirous of vainglory”. The verb here is: let us not become, more and more,desirous of empty glory. Vain glory means: not to seek the glory of God in His church, and to set our puny aims and purposes as the end of our striving, instead of the glory of God’s grace magnified in us. Such is the vain-glory which sinful men, worldly men seek: the praise of men (John 12:42). The very opposite of seeking vain-glory we have in I Peter 2:9, where the end of our salvation is “to shew forth the praises (virtues) of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Away then with provoking each other, walking with our chips on our shoulder. Let us walk according the profession of our faith as God’s new creation in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:10).