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Dear Partner,

Gal 5:18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

The King James Version of the bible has capitalized the word "Spirit" in that verse, implying that Paul is speaking of being led by the Holy Spirit. As you most likely know, the Greek word used in the New Testament for "spirit" is "pneuma." The only way you can know if the writer is speaking of the Holy Spirit or the reborn human spirit is to see how the word is used in context.

By reading the entire fifth chapter of Galatians, we soon find out that Paul is speaking of the reborn human spirit here, not the Holy Spirit. He is explaining the warfare that every believer encounters when he tries to live righteously to be "led of the reborn spirit" that God has placed within him at the new birth. We have received a righteous nature in our spirit, but sadly, our bodies have not yet been glorified. That's why Paul explains further:

Gal 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
Gal 5:17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
Gal 5:18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

The warfare Paul is describing here could not be between the Holy Spirit and man's fallen flesh. All of the members of the triune Godhead are God! We speak of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost! If the puny, fallen flesh of man was to wage war against God the Holy Spirit the flesh would be "toast" in an instant! No, the warfare is going on between our fallen flesh and the reborn human spirit we received within us from the Lord Jesus Christ.

It would be safe, then, to paraphrase Gal 5:18 by saying, "If you are led by the new nature Christ put within you, you are no longer subject to the Law." Then Paul begins listing the works of the flesh.

Gal 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Here is the critical question for the Christian: Are you involved in any of these works of the flesh? If so, then the first order of repentance is to acknowledge the fact that it most certainly was not the "new nature" that led you into any of them. The new nature will not lead anybody into adultery or fornication, for example. Some might say, "Well, Gary, thank God I am not involved in any vile sins such as those." But what about the more deeply imbedded works of the flesh like envy, wrath and strife? They are in the same list the list of the works of the flesh! If you are in strife with other people, do you think it was the new nature that led you into that situation? Obviously the answer is no! In another letter Paul admonished us:

2 Cor 13:5a Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.

It is good for all of us to examine ourselves once in awhile. To take inventory, so to speak, of whether or not we are being led by the new nature or by the fallen emotions of the soul. Sometimes, without really meaning to, we tend to simply fall back into "natural" thinking instead of always thinking with eternity in mind. We begin justifying our actions according to the wisdom of the world rather than allowing the new nature to be our guide in life. We are to be led by the new nature Christ has placed within us, not by the wisdom of this fallen world.

What causes us to succumb to the ways of the world rather than the wisdom of God? Well, if our flesh is winning over the new nature within us, then it only stands to reason that we have been starving the inner man. Jesus continually compared the development of the new nature within us to the growth of a tree from a tiny seed. For any seed to grow, it must receive the proper nutrients. What is the number one nutrient that feeds the new nature?

John 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

It should be noted that the Greek word translated "words" in that verse is "rhema," not "logos." What's the difference? We normally associate the word logos with the entire counsel of God, such as the entire bible. Also, Jesus Himself is called the logos:

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word [Logos], and the Word [Logos] was with God, and the Word [Logos] was God.

In John 14:9, Jesus said that if you have seen Him, you have seen the Father. That's because Jesus is the will of the Father in action! Jesus is the express image of the Father.

So why did Jesus choose to use the word "rhema" in John 6:63, making the analogy that these words are spiritual food for us? It is because the word "rhema" depicts the "present hour speaking" of the Lord to us. He has placed within the born again person a new nature, the seed of the very nature and character of Christ Himself.

Through that new nature, Christ speaks to us, giving us direction moment by moment. We often call it our conscience, or the inner witness. It is often described as a "still, small voice." But if we allow ourselves to be continually subjected to the noise and din of the world, it becomes very difficult for us to hear that "life giving, present hour speaking" of the Lord to us. Our spirit becomes malnourished and weak because we are spending the majority of our time in fellowship with the world rather than in fellowship with the Lord Jesus.

Thank you for your gift to GCM. Sue and I love you and appreciate you. We thank God for your generous and giving heart. God bless you!

Your friend and co-laborer,

Gary Carpenter


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