“Live in the Spirit, Walk in the Spirit” (Gal 5:25)

One of the most significant lessons to learn in the first flush of our rebirth is that though we possess the Spirit of God we will not be readily equipped with the necessary knowledge to receive mature direction from Him until there is an ample amount of time in Word-study. One can possess knowledge of the Scriptures without God’s assistance—but not understanding and application—which comes only by His Spirit (1Cor 2:13; Gal 5:17). It was by the written Word of God that we became knowledgeable concerning the Father’s “drawing” to His Son (John 6:44; 14:6), thus it will be by His Word through the Spirit that we will progress unto maturity regarding “the image of His Son.”

The prior (live in the Spirit) is established at the redemption of our spirit (Rom 8:9); the latter is progressively learned until the redemption of our body (Rom 8:23). The one and all important thing to remember is that saints will traverse and conclude their journey according to the like manner in which it began—by the Spirit of God (John 3:5; Rom 8:16)! Thus the reason for Paul’s question to the immature Galatians, “Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh” (Gal 3:3)?

Gill (1697–1771) comments that, “Whereas they began their Christian race depending upon the Spirit and grace of God, now they seemed to be taking a step as if they thought to finish it in the mere strength of nature; and whereas they set out with the clear Gospel of Christ, and sought for justification only by His righteousness, they were now verging to the law, and seeking to make their justifying righteousness perfect, by joining the works of the law unto it, which needed them not, but was perfect without them.”

I believe one of the greatest oppositions Christianity has ever encountered since its inception until today is Pharisee-ism, which is “legalism”, e.g. man attempting to be right with God under his own power. The modern concept of “Judeo-Christian” (originating only in America circa 1950s) only adds distraction to one desiring to understand Paul’s most frequent conflicts during his missionary work, which was teaching the differences between the two dispensations (Col 1:25).

Initially the term intended to define one who was converting to Christianity from Judaism, but the concept soon came to be understood as the attempt in unification of Judaism and Christianity, which is an impossibility when considering that Judaism will always be defined as “the monotheistic religion of the Jews, having its ethical, ceremonial, and legal foundation in the precepts of the Old Testament and in the teachings and commentaries of the rabbis as found chiefly in the Talmud” (Dictionary.com). This concept (Judeo-Christian) evinces not only the misunderstanding within contemporary Christendom concerning the present and prior dispensations, but the ramifications of such (if we possible) would obviously detract from both. Presently, one would be hard-pressed to find an orthodox Jew who would even conceive of such an admixture.

Ever since the fall, man has attempted to correct his mistake by self-effort (i.e. Gen 3:7). Most if not all, if we were to own up to it, have discovered this same scenario in the outset of our conversion. It is thought that the way to retain a right standing (stay saved) with God after coming to His Son is to do all we can to obey Him, which is commendable in the proper understanding (obedience evinces but not effects salvation), but nonetheless falls short of being totally God-dependent.

Remember, what we do must be in the proper accordance to how we are doing it, otherwise we will not move forward; maybe upward, downward, sideward or backward but not forward. The more we are taught to make our dependence upon God in everything, the more “fruit” we will “bear” that is of His produce and not our own, thus “glorifying” Him in ever increasing abundance (John 15:8).

Let us remember what the visiting angel said to Zerubbabel concerning the construction of the temple: “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (Zec 4:6): “That is, that as the candlestick was supplied with oil, from the two olive trees by the side of it, without the help of any man, to pour in the oil, and trim the lamps, so the temple should be built by Zerubbabel, not through the multitude and strength of men, but through the Spirit of God, animating, exciting, encouraging, and strengthening them to go through the work.” Gill