“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, . .” (Galatians 5:16-17a)
The Apostle Paul had extremely harsh words for those legalists among the early Christians. They insisted that true believers must be circumcised and must keep the Mosaic Law. This was hurtful to those believers who had come to faith in Jesus out of paganism. Paul maintained that those who uphold the keeping Law as the means to salvation do not understand what they are getting themselves into. They are committing themselves to keeping it perfectly. This they cannot do. They are not made righteous or holy by the Law. No one is made holy by righteous deeds or by keeping rules, no matter how noble. Rather than living under the condemnation of the Law, believers are to live in the freedom of the Spirit. Righteous deeds of love spring forth from faith, they do not produce it.
But living in the Spirit does not give anyone license to indulge the flesh and engage in immorality. Those whom the Spirit indwells will shun immorality in all its forms. They will not seek it out or even praise it others or redefine it as godly. The Spirit of God will enable believers to flee selfish behaviors, to refrain from political infighting, racism, and all types of pride and rivalry. They will not only desire to live in righteousness, at peace with God and all men, but they will manifest the fruit of the Spirit in their lives. Thus true believers are not marked by external or physical markers or by the deeds of the Law, or by following rituals, but by a host of righteous attitudes and qualities that show that they are not living for self but for God and their brethren. This fruit will be manifest in concrete actions not mere words or sentiment. If the Lord were to inspect our spiritual fruit, what would He find?