LIVING IN SPIRIT AND WALKING BY THE SPIRIT
Galatians 5 tells us that since Christ has set us free from the law and has made us one with Him, we should not go back to the law (v. 1). If we return to the law, then Christ will profit us nothing, and we will be brought to nought, separated from Christ (vv. 2, 4). Rather, we must now live by the Spirit and walk by the Spirit (vv. 16, 25). When we live and walk by the Spirit, the flesh and the self are put away. Although the self and the flesh have been dealt with already on the cross of Christ, this has to be applied and experienced by us. When we live and walk by the Spirit, our self and flesh are put away in our practical experience.
In this chapter the phrase by the Spirit is a problem to the readers because there is no definite article in the Greek (vv. 5, 16, 18, 25). It is difficult for translators to decide whether these portions refer to the Holy Spirit or to our human spirit. Galatians 5:16 says, “Walk by the Spirit,” but the Greek text may be simply rendered, “Walk by spirit.” Verse 17 says, “The flesh lusts against the Spirit,” and verse 22 speaks of “the fruit of the Spirit,” both using the definite article. Although these verses contain the same grammatical construction, some versions render spirit in the former and Spirit in the latter. Moreover, verse 25 does not have the definite article, yet many versions render the word as Spirit. With or without the definite article, the same word may be rendered as spirit or Spirit.
In addition, the term Holy Spirit is not used in this chapter; in each case it is only a form of the word pneuma. This simply shows us that the Spirit of God is one with our human spirit, and to live in our spirit is to live in the Spirit. We are one spirit with the Lord; the Spirit and our spirit mingle as one spirit. To walk in the Spirit or to walk in spirit means the same thing; it means that we live and walk in our human spirit mingled with the Spirit, or we may say, in the Spirit who mingles Himself with our spirit.
Now we can realize that the Christian walk is a matter of living and walking by the Spirit. Therefore, we must learn how to exercise our spirit; this is the key and the secret. As we have seen, God’s intention is that Christ be everything to us, and Christ is in us, that is, in our spirit. What we must do now is live and walk by the Spirit. Hence, we must know how to exercise our spirit. Then we will have the practical experience of Christ in our daily walk.
THE WORLD CRUCIFIED TO US AND WE TO THE WORLD
Chapter six is simple. It reveals mainly that the world has been crucified to us and we to the world (v. 14). We have been crucified, and we are on the cross. Therefore, the cross of Christ is our ground. Moreover, because of the cross the whole world, including the law and Judaism, has been crucified. The world in verse 14 includes everything on the earth involving the human race, but in the thought of the writer, the world especially includes Judaism with the law. We know this because 1:4 contains the same thought, saying, “Who gave Himself for our sins that He might rescue us out of the present evil age.” The Greek word here is not kosmos, meaning world, but aionos, meaning age. The world as a whole is composed of many ages, and each age is the part of the world which we contact at the present. The present evil age at the apostle’s time was mainly Judaism. Therefore, to be delivered from the present age at the apostle’s time means to be delivered from Judaism, although in principle the age includes everything of the world.
As far as we are concerned, because of the cross the whole world, including Judaism and the law, is crucified. On the other hand, as far as the world is concerned, we are crucified. Therefore, we and the world have nothing to do with one another because between us two there is the cross. Our position is the cross. Therefore, in our life, living, and daily walk, we know nothing of circumcision or uncircumcision; we only know one thing—to be a new creation (6:15). Circumcision and uncircumcision are matters belonging to the old creation, but now we are a new creation. Paul knew nothing of these matters. He did not want to bear the signs of the law upon him. Instead, he bore in his body the brands of Jesus (v. 17).
THE GRACE OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST WITH OUR SPIRIT
The last verse in chapter six says, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen” (v. 18). The closing word, the conclusion, of Galatians is that we must know two things—grace and our spirit. How regrettable today that Christians know nearly nothing about grace and our spirit. In today’s Christianity it is difficult to hear any messages on these two matters. Grace in our spirit is nothing less than God in Christ as the Spirit. Any other definition of grace is meaningless. The grace in verse 18 is a grace that is in us, even in our spirit. What else can be in our spirit? We may say that grace is something of the Holy Spirit, that the Holy Spirit strengthens, tempers, enlightens, guides, leads, and teaches us in our spirit, but this is too shallow. Eventually we have to say that this guiding, leading, enlightening, strengthening, helping, and speaking Spirit is the grace Himself. Grace in our spirit is nothing less than the Triune God—God Himself in Christ as the Spirit—enjoyed by us daily, hourly, and moment by moment. It is the gracious God in His Son by the Spirit to be enjoyed by us as our comfort, our strength, our peace, our might, and as everything to us. There is no better definition for grace than this.
We must know this grace, and we must know how to exercise our spirit because this wonderful grace is in our spirit. Therefore, we must learn how to discern our soul from our spirit (Heb. 4:12). If we do not know how to discern our spirit, we are like the children of Israel who wandered in the wilderness. The book of Hebrews speaks of the temple with its three parts—the outer court, the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies. Our body corresponds to the outer court, our soul to the Holy Place, and our spirit to the Holy of Holies. Similarly, Egypt, the wilderness, and the good land of Canaan correspond to our body, soul, and spirit respectively. To enjoy Christ as the Passover in Egypt was similar to enjoying the sin offerings on the altar in the outer court. Those who left Egypt and came into the wilderness typify people in the soul. Those who wandered in the wilderness enjoyed the manna and the living water from the cleft rock; that is, they enjoyed a certain amount of God’s presence, as the priests did in the Holy Place. This corresponds to the Christians today who are in the soul, the soulish Christians. Hebrews encourages us to press on to enter the good land. This is to enter into the Holy of Holies. We can enter into the Holy of Holies in a practical way by discerning our soul from our spirit. When we enter into our spirit, we enjoy the good land.
(General Sketch of the New Testament in the Light of Christ and the Church, A - Part 2: Romans through Philemon, Chapter 7, by Witness Lee)