Studies in Galatians --Part 5

Studies in Galatians
Part 5

James Gunn

The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit
Part 2

When the royal standard of Britain flutters in the breeze over a palace, a castle, or in fact, any building, it indicates that the Queen is there in residence. That her Majesty is there presupposes that she has reason to be there, and that the building, its facilities and furnishings are all suitable for the entertainment and convenience of royalty.

In our doctrinal studies, we have deliberated upon the Holy Spirit in His relationship to the individual believer. We have considered Him as the Regenerator and the Inaugurator; we are now to view Him as the Resident in the believer’s heart, the Director over his life, and the Husbandman during his life. Furthermore, we are to learn that it is proper and necessary that He be in the heart of the Christian for from that heart He may make His voice heard.

The Resident

Before we study the importance of this divine indwelling, we must examine the residence in which He is to abide.

The residence: Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Cor. 6:19). Here a human personality becomes the temple of God, the sanctuary of the Holy Spirit. What dignity there is in this concept! What holiness it demands! Through complete sanctification at conversion, men and women are made appropriate residences for the Divine Spirit. The believer’s body is likened to an earthen vessel (2 Cor. 4:7), a tabernacle dwelling (2 Cor. 5:1), and is called lowly (“Our body of humiliation” J.N.D. Phil. 3:21). It is earthen, taken from the earth to return to the earth should the Lord tarry. It is a tabernacle dwelling because occupancy here is temporary, and it is lowly in contrast to the resurrection body. How wonderful that such a body becomes a member of Christ (1 Cor. 6:15): How exceedingly wonderful that a human body becomes a divine sanctuary, and that God in the person of the Holy Spirit take up residence there!

The Resident: “God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts” (Gal. 4:6), and the reason for this residency and the result of this residency are both mentioned: “Because ye are sons, … crying, Abba, Father.”

It is through the Resident One, the Holy Spirit, that we speak the same language as used by the Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:32-42). The appellation “Father” suggests relationship, and the appellation “Abba” indicates love and intimacy.

The logic of the Apostle in writing to the Galatians is clear. They were redeemed from the law; furthermore, that work of redemption had brought them into the closest possible relationship to God; they were His sons and joint heirs with His unique Son, the Lord Jesus. They, moreover, were on intimate speaking terms with God; all because of the continuous abiding of the Holy Spirit.

The ministry of the Holy Spirit in the individual believer makes Him the Director over the believer’s life.

The Director

In this paragraph (Gal. 5:16-25) certain operations of the Holy Spirit are mentioned: “Walk in the Spirit” (V. 16), “Be led of the Spirit” (V. 18), and “Let us also walk in the Spirit” (V. 25).

These three reveal the importance of allowing the Holy Spirit to direct in every detail of life. The Galatians by relying upon self and by legalism were attempting to control their own affairs. This is fatal in the experience of a Christian.

An examination of these three clauses suggests the scope, power, and purpose of the believer’s walk.

The scope: “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh” (V. 16). Here, since there is no definite article in the original it means to walk about in a spiritual manner. This, of course, is produced only by the Spirit of God; this is evident from the context. The picture is that of the believer in his ordinary occupations and activities. It is an exhortation to be spiritually actuated in the common routines of life.

To walk in the Spirit implies that one not only has life by the Spirit, but that in a practical manner he must live that life through the influence and strength of the Holy Spirit. In this our blessed Lord is the perfect example. “Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness” (Luke 4:1).

The power: “If ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law” (V. 18). The law reveals the worst in man, the lusts of the flesh. If man is actuated by the Holy Spirit, he produces the fruit of the Spirit, and is thus free from the condemnation of the law. A Spirit directed life is free from the accusations of conscience and of the law. There is a holy liberty from lusts and selfishness where the life is yielded to the Divine Spirit.

The manner: “If ye live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (V. 25). The word “walk” in this verse is different from the word “walk” in verse 16; here it means to walk precisely on a line suggested by the Holy Spirit. There is an element of control here. The Christian life is to be submitted to the standards of the Holy Spirit; it is to be characterized by rectitude; by adherence to the principles of the Word of God.

In this word “walk” there could also be the intimation of unity. As soldiers in a precision drill act as one man, so will they do who yield their wills to the dictates of the Spirit of God.

Let us now examine the closing reference to the ministry of the Spirit in this Epistle, His ministry as Husbandman during life.

The Husbandman

In Galatians chapters five and six, we have Paul’s parable of the sower. Matthew records Christ’s parable of the Sower (Matt. 13:1-23). In Christ’s parable, He Himself is the Sower: the seed is the Word of God, and the soil, the human heart in its several different conditions.

Paul’s parable of the sower teaches that man is the sower, his present life the soil, that the sower has a purpose, and that the harvest may be in time or Eternity, in accord with the law of retribution.

The sower: “He that soweth.” As a man sows he is not to be deceived, God cannot be cheated; He is omniscient: “All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Heb. 4:13).

The purpose: “He that soweth to his flesh; … he that soweth to the Spirit.” Certain men in this life may sow fleshly acts; they may indulge themselves. Other men may sow according to the standards and qualities of the Holy Spirit.

In chapter five some of the high quality seeds which meet the approval of the Divine Spirit are mentioned; in fact, they are seeds which are produced by Him: “Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

The harvest: “He shall also reap.” To sow lust in act is to reap lust in consequence; to sow love is to harvest love.

The end: To sow to the flesh and to reap a corresponding harvest, is to live a life directed toward final corruption. To sow to the Spirit is to live a life directed toward the glorious realization of eternal life.

This brief survey of the influence and power of the Holy Spirit as these are seen in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, emphasizes the necessity on the part of the individual Christian to submit to God the Spirit. Negligence to His promptings and to His guidance may prove to be spiritually fatal. A life for service to God that would be a blessing to the Church and a benefit in the world must be wholly yielded to the Lord.

O Thou to whom, without reserve,
My all I would resign,
I ask for grace and faith to say,
“Thy will, O Lord, not mine!”
In joy or grief, in bliss or pain,
This prayer shall rise to thee,
“Thy will, not mine, O blessed Lord,
Thy will be done in me!”

Fanny Crosby.