Galatians 5:24-26 (KJV)
24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
After telling his readers about the fruit of the spirit, and how they are necessary to our walking in the spirit instead of in the flesh, Paul goes one step further. He says we who follow Christ have crucified the flesh and the affections and lusts that go with it. To really get a grip on what Paul is saying here, we have to understand what crucifixion does to a person. It’s easy for is to say we need to just die to those things. It is an altogether different thing to say we must crucify them.
All of us most likely have a picture of what crucifixion looks like. A cross is the typical method by which this torture is carried out. Make no mistake – this is torture. A person is attached to the cross by nails through their wrists and upper ankle. The position of the spike is important because the bone structure around it must be abled to withstand the weight of the person and also provide the strength for the person to pull or push with those extremities. A very small step is usually under the feet of the victim so they can push themselves up on that perch to breath once in a while. The cross is then raised up and dropped into a whole, causing the victim to feel the pressure of the restraints all over his body.
Now it is a matter of time. The position of the victim is that he must push up with his feet to breath, but he can only maintain that for a short period of time before he mustfall down. His arms then have to hold his weight. Eventually, the shoulders give out and come out of the socket. This makes pulling himself up even harder and more painful, so he droops down, conflicting his chest so he can barely breath. Usually the cause of death is suffocation – the victim just cannot breath anymore. The pain is unbearable all the time and it is most likely a welcome relief when death finally comes.
Anyone who says it is easy to get rid of our desire to fulfill our fleshly desires is fooling themselves. First of all, we cannot do it ourselves – we need Christ as our strength to rid ourselves of these things. If we try to do it in our own strength, we will most likely fail. Some things God takes away – I believe that. God took away my filthy tongue when I got saved. He has since taken away my alcoholism and my drug abuse. I am so glad He took those things. Those were easy for me to get rid of. But there are other things that keep haunting me, keep coming back up in my thought life. These will take more – these will take crucifixion!
Crucifying those things mean that I deny them air. I deny them sight. I deny them hearing. I deny them through all my senses. It takes a complete effort throughout my entire being to overcome these things. Things like pornography, lascivious thoughts, enjoying inappropriate jokes, making rude comments – all of these take a concerted effort on our part to be gone. This is why Paul uses the term “affections and lusts” when telling us we must crucify the flesh. Other actions and mannerisms go easy compared to these. Believe me, I am a living example of that truth. If you have any experience with pornography you will know exactly what I am talking about. If you do not, it will be hard for you to understand how this insidious sin gets inside those of us who have fallen into it’s clutches. If you know someone who has, be gentle and loving. It is a lifelong battle. Crucifying that flesh is not a pleasant thing, and they need all the support they can get.
Once we have arrived at the point that we can live in the Spirit, we must also walk in the Spirit. It is not enough for us to just live our own life in the Spirit, separate from the world. We must walk in the Spirit day in and day out. This is how we plant those seeds we talked about so frequently when discussing the Fruit of the Spirit. It is our duty to go out and be fruitful! The world needs to see the fruit on display often, because the world is sorely lacking in these wonderful things God gives us. They will only see it if we walk in the Spirit all the time. Put aside your wicked tongue and walk in the gentleness and goodness of a tamed tongue. Throw out your need to be recognized and treat others with the patience and meekness God has instilled within you. And by all means show Love, peace and joy wherever you go!
Last but not least, in his urging us to walk in the Spirit, Paul tells us to put down our pride. He tells us to stop seeking man’s approval and to stop envying each other. He tells us to not be someone who provokes others. The Fruit of the Spirit has nothing to do with those things. We are to be peacemakers, lifting up others ahead of ourselves. There is no room for pride in someone who Walks in the Spirit. We will quickly find ourselves following after our own gain if pride is left to unchecked. I beseech you to ask God to search your heart, and to remove every bit of pride that rises up against the Spirit and it’s Fruit. Only God can reveal this to you.