What I Know, Not What I Feel (Galatians 5)

4 minutes with Pastor Alistair Begg

When we read not to follow the “desires of the flesh” in Galatians 5:16-26, it’s incredibly necessary to understand that Paul is not blaming the physical body. We were made human, by God, as a body and soul (Genesis 1). Both are important!

To quote Christian Apologist, Francis Schaeffer, from his book “Escape from Reason:”

“The soul is not more important than the body. God made the whole man & the whole man is important. The doctrine of bodily resurrection of the dead is not an old fashion thing. It tells us that God loves the whole man & the whole man is important.”

Francis Schaeffer

Paul isn’t blaming our bodies as the source of our sinful nature, but instead points out that our bodies and thoughts either follow the direction of the Holy Spirit, or we choose the old sinful nature by which we, as Believers and new creations in Jesus, are no longer controlled. With this in view, the flesh in this chapter most often refers to “sinful desires,” not the body. Please check this out for yourself.

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine powerto demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

Friends, God wants to renew our minds, not bypass them. This is critical! Our feelings shouldn’t lead our thinking, but should rather follow right thinking about God and relation to Him. We are not to lean upon our own understanding (Proverbs 3), nor are we to follow our hearts (Jeremiah 17:9). We are to walk by the guidance of God through His Holy Spirit. And friends, the Holy Spirit will never contradict God’s Word (Scriptures). If you have a vision or experience which is emotionally significant…Check it alongside the Scriptures (1 John 1:4; 1 Thes 5:21). Emotions are fickle and the heart is a deep, deep well. Please don’t build your life upon the shifting sands of fickle,…following every whim, and appeasing every desire. Slow down. Pray. And bathe your mind in Truth (Scripture). What you know to be true is the One Who is True (John 14:6). Follow Him… His Word points to Him, and is all about Him (Luke 24:44-47).

Galatians 5

 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 10 I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. 11 But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. 12 I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!

13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

Keep in Step with the Spirit

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 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, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.