A Video Supplement for
Come, Follow Me Lesson 38:
“Walk in the Spirit”
In the Book of Galatians, Paul argues passionately against those who are attempting to persuade the Galatian churches (those occupying a region probably including Iconium, Lystra and Derbe, that they should receive circumcision and follow the Law of Moses. This argument reaches its highest pitch in chapter 5, where Paul makes several very pointed comments. I will start with verses 1-4,
1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
2 Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.
3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.
4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
Some modern readers misunderstand this verse as meaning that if one has keeping the commandment as a priority, then one has fallen from grace, which is a severe misunderstanding. What Paul is instead arguing is that if Christians rely on observance of the Law of Moses with its sign of male circumcision for righteousness, then they will have missed the mark. Wayment’s renders the translation of Galatians 5:4 “You who would be made righteous by the Law are cut off from Christ; you have fallen from grace,” which brings out the continuation of the circumcision-thematic language in the passage by its use of “cut off.”
A little later in verse 12, Paul takes the argument just about as far as it can possibly go, when he says 12 “I would they were even cut off which trouble you.” This may seem like a nice tame suggestion that they be excommunicated, but as most modern translations make painfully clear, Paul is suggesting that the those advocating for circumcising Gentile Christians should take it a step farther and emasculate themselves in one of the most cringe-worthy moments in all of scripture. Fortunately, he pivots at about that point to something a bit more cheerful.
13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.
16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
So Paul has pivoted from talking about how Christians do not need to observe the requirements of the Law of Moses, to talking about how we should be led by the Spirit and avoiding the sinful tendencies of the flesh, which is also much of where the Law of Moses is trying to take them anyhow, so why not follow the Spirit, love one another and enjoy the blessings. He will go on to say that these works of the flesh are disqualifying
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.
18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
21 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.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
So Paul’s message here is that the Gentile Christians were not required to follow the Law of Moses. While they were not under that specific obligation, Paul’s message is not that what we do does not matter as some have suggested, but rather what we do matters deeply, that consequently we should take the Holy Spirit to be our guide, and that if we are led by that Spirit, we will do good and bring about good in the world.
I was thanking Hales and Louis the Mean, lol, but would love any info anyone has to share! I’m getting so much out of my study of Paul right now. His letters are such a precious resource and I am aided by faithful scholars to help me understand his life and teachings better. I love it. You can send any references to Jann.firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
N. T. (Tom) Wright, who is currently the leading evangelical biblical scholar has demonstrated in at least a dozen sometimes very detailed books that St. Augustine, and then both Martin Luther and John Calvin, and their various followers, have gotten the Apostle Paul all wrong. One does not become a disciple of Jesus Christ by merely confessing that Jesus is Lord and Savior. Instead, Wright demonstrates that becomes a disciple by making a covenant to take upon themselves the name of Jesus Christ and seek sanctification by allowing the Holy Spirit to purge, purify and transform one into a Saint. Then, in the final judgment, when one is just not by the words we use but by our deeds or works, one can be confident that they will receive both justice, understood as what they deserve, and mercy from a loving God.
This seems to me to be remarkably like what we find set out at least a dozen times in different ways in the Book of Mormon.
Thank you so much for this information and for these insights! I’m so blessed.
You’re welcome. I have much more information I could send if you would like. Just let me know.
Wondering if Jann was thanking Hales Swift. Then again, I myself often lose track in the lineage of comments, darn it. It can be a blur, sir.
As I’m sure you well know, in all past ages, prophets have never been well accepted by the people they are called to preach to. In fact, it is common to see them eventually killed or cast out leaving only a relative few followers and in Jesus’ case, a few followers who didn’t know what to do. So this is one measuring rod to identify a true prophet. If some preacher is well accepted or becomes popular with most of the people, that should be a sign of not being a true prophet according to written history and keeping objective to interpret written history.
If one accepts Joseph Smith as a true prophet who was eventually cast out and killed leaving only a relative few followers who struggled to know what to do, his teachings would also be accepted as true. Regarding his teachings about the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost, this can be answered by his answer to one question asked him that was recorded in church history. The question was, (I don’t know who it was that asked it), “What is the difference between the church you are restoring and the current Christian religions of the day (1830). I believe Joseph was trying to find a simple, but accurate answer to give. He answered, “We have the Gift of the Holy Ghost.” In other words, having the Gift of the Holy Ghost is what makes the Church of Jesus Christ of latter Day Saints different from other Christian religions today.
As one who does have this gift, I can tell anyone it something very strong in a person’s life and it is a life changer. It is more than anyone without this gift has ever experienced until they receive it to know what it is. The gift is received as part of baptism by someone with proper authority. After the actual baptism in water takes place then comes the baptism by fire which refers symbolically to the reception of the Gift of the Holy Ghost which is given by the laying on of hands by a Melchizedek priesthood holder and none else.
I can with all my heart proclaim this gift is a life changer because it changed mine and here I am at age 73 still proclaiming how the Holy Ghost made me feel when I was 20. You can’t deny the great strength and testimony it gives you to know for a certainty what is true. It’s marvelous. It accounts for such a great growth in church membership. The Devil, of course, hates it and does everything he can to attack the church disproportionate to other Christian churches. This is another sign of the true church. What more can I say.
Let me see if I can set this out more coherently, and fully.
Tom Wright has deeply disappointed conservative Protestants because he demonstrates that St. Augustine, and hence Martin Luther and John Calvin got the Apostle Paul all wrong. Wright demonstrates that, contrary to Luther and Calvin, one does not become a Christian by confessing that Jesus is Lord and Savior, but by making a covenant with God and keeping the commandments. Hence one is not saved–that is justified–by merely making a confession of faith at which time God imputes to the totally depraved sinner his own righteousness despite the fact that no repentance and change of heart and mind has taken place.
Making and then keeping the terms of the covenant as well as possible yields sanctification, and thereby makes one a genuine Saint–that is, a Holy One. This is accomplished by a rebirth which is a sometimes very painful process, which entails allowing the Holy Spirit to purge, purify, perfect us. Justification here and now is provisional, one might say that it is already but not yet. We are only fully justified at the final judgement where we need an Advocate who will defend us with his mercy as we are judged according to our deeds (works).
Wright has also recently challenged the Penal Substitution theory of the atonement advanced by both Martin Luther and John Calvin. Penal Substitution is the standard conservative Protestant theory of the atonement. In this theory, Jesus Christ takes our place as totally depraved sinners–hence substitution–by becoming fully and objectively guilty of every sin past, present and future. Then the God the Father in his wrath has God the Son murdered in the most terrible possible way. Much like the prophetic teachings in the Book of Mormon, Wright insists that the wholly innocent incarnate Son of God won a victory over death in all its forms by not resisting at all the injustice of the mock trials, and the beating, and so forth. Then, the incarnate Son of God–the very God of the Old Testament, by meekly submitting to a terrible death imposed by the demonic Roman Empire, and then rising from the dead, he thereby opened for all human beings a glorious resurrection, and, on condition of repentance and sanctification, a fullness of life for those fit for his Kingdom. Wright’s arguments seem to me to be fully consonant with what we find set out in detail at least a dozen times in the Book of Mormon.