Governed by the Spirit

Posted: March 19, 2010 by Andrew McIntyre in Pneumatology, Theology
Tags: ,
Galatians 5:25 reads: εἰ ζῶμεν πνεύματι, πνεύματι καὶ στοιχῶμεν.  It is variously translated:

  • “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (NASB)
  • “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (NIV)
  • “If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.” (NRSV)
  • “Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” (NLT)

But my favorite rendering is by F. F. Bruce in his Expanded Paraphrase of the Epistles of Paul: “So then, if our principle of life is the Spirit, let our behavior also be governed by the Spirit.”

This is what makes Christianity unique.  The Christian life is not the exercise of a new religion, it is the outgrowth of being governed by the Holy Spirit.  The extent to which we experience the fullness of “Christ living in us” (Gal. 2:20) is determined by the extent to which we cooperate with the Holy Spirit’s ministry to us.  That’s why Jesus stressed the coming of the Holy Spirit to his disciples.  That’s why it is so important that the Church stress “life in the Spirit” from the moment that life in the Spirit begins – at conversion.  Note how F. F. Bruce translates Galatians 5:16:

“What I want to emphasize is this: live continually in the power of the Spirit, and you will not carry out the cravings of your old nature.”

That should be our consistent and constant focus – “Live continually in the power of the Spirit.”  Living continually in the power of the Spirit, being governed by the Spirit, is the Christian life.  And, if we stay in step with Him, he will lead us into all that life in Christ entails and equip us with every experience and gift that living that life “to the full” requires.

Remember, since the origin of your Christian life is the result of the working of the Holy Spirit, the continuation of your Christian life will be the result of the same.  Let Him govern your behavior.

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