Do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.
Most of us understand Venn diagrams. Where one circle overlaps another, then the overlapping area is what the two domains have in common. If one circle is entirely inside another, then one domain is entirely subsumed within the other. If two circles do not overlap at all, then the two domains share nothing in common.
Paul taught that the domains of “flesh” and “Spirit” are like non-overlapping circles in a Venn diagram. They have absolutely nothing in common (vv. 16–18). They are exact opposites and are in fact hostile to one another. The domain of the flesh is the domain of sin, slavery, works, and legalism. The domain of the Holy Spirit is the domain of righteousness, freedom, faith, and grace. His domain is where and how we live out the gospel, which is not just a message but a way of life. After all, freedom is not an excuse to indulge the flesh or sin as we please (Rom. 6:1–2). Doing whatever we want isn’t freedom but just another kind of slavery.
To live in freedom and express our faith through love can only be done in God’s strength (v. 6). From this perspective, love is a significant Christian virtue. “Love your neighbor” is a key command in the Law, with the opposite being contentiousness and competitiveness (vv. 13–15). The Law spoke truly, but it couldn’t enable us to obey it, so it couldn’t save us. The Law’s precepts thus remain true, and now in Christ and by the Spirit we have the power to actually obey them. How tragic if we don’t, because that would mean we’re living in the wrong domain and denying the gospel. We’re called to be “led by the Spirit” down other paths to other goals, for God’s glory!
Apply the Word
“Walk by the Spirit” (v. 16) is a present continuous verb and could also be translated “go on walking” or “keep on walking by the Spirit.” Walking by the Spirit is a daily, habitual, ongoing choice. The daily practices of studying God’s Word and prayer help us to keep on walking by the Spirit. Thank Him for His presence with you today!