The following is an exposition by Charles Spurgeon, delivered on May 17, 1903. In it, Sprugeon gives a very brief exposition on Gal 5:13-26, touching on walking in, and the fruit of, the Holy Spirit, and conversely, the Flesh. The source may be found: HERE.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON
Galatians 5:13. For, brethren, you have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love, serve one another.
Do not turn your liberty into license. The Apostle, in this Epistle, had began urging the Christians of Galatia to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ had made them free, and never to be, again, entangled with the yoke of legal bondage. He warned them against that error into which many have fallen. But you know that it is often our tendency, if we escape from one error, to rush into another. So the Apostle guards these Christian against that Antinomian spirit which teaches us that freedom from the law allows indulgence in sin—“Use not your 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—You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Oh, if that “one word” were so engraved on our hearts as to influence all our lives, what blessed lives of love to God and love to men we should lead!
15. But if you bite and devour one another, take heed that you be not consumed one of another.
When dogs and wolves bite one another, it is according to their nature, but it is indeed bad when sheep take to biting one another. If I must be bitten at all, let me be bitten by a dog rather than by a sheep. That is to say, the wounds inflicted by the godly are far more painful to bear and last much longer than those caused by wicked men. Besides, we can say with the Psalmist, “It was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it.” It is natural that the serpent’s seed should nibble at our heel and seek to do us injury, but when the bite comes from a Brother—from a child of God—then it is peculiarly painful. Well might the Apostle write, “If you bite and devour one another, take heed that you be not consumed one of another.” I have lived long enough to see churches absolutely destroyed, not by any external attacks, but by internal contention.
16. This I say then, walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
If your life is guided by the Spirit of God—if you are spiritual men and women, and your actions are worked in the power of the Spirit, “you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”
17. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh…
They will never agree—these two powers are always contrary, one to the other. If you think that you can help God by getting angry, you make a great mistake. You cannot fight God’s battles with the devil’s weapons. It is not possible that the power of the flesh should help the power of the Spirit!
17, 18. And these are contrary, the one to the other: so that you cannot do the things that you would. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
The Law of God is always to you the blessed rule by which you judge your conduct, but it is not a law of condemnation to you—neither are you seeking salvation by it.
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, envies, murders, drunkenness, revellings and such like…
The list is always too long to be completed! We are obliged to sum up with a kind of et cetera—“and such like.”
21. Of which I tell you beforehand, as I have also told you in times past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God.
A very solemn, searching, sweeping declaration! Let each man judge himself by this test! “The fruit of the Spirit” is equally manifest, as the Apostle goes on to say.
22, 23. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Neither human nor Divine! Good men make no law against these things, nor does God, for He approves of them. What a wonderful cluster of the grapes of Eshcol we have here! “The fruit of the Spirit”— as if all this were but one, after all—many luscious berries forming one great cluster. Oh, that all these things may be in us and abound, that we may be neither barren nor unfruitful!
24. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
It is not yet dead, but it is crucified. It hangs up on the cross, straining to break away from the iron hold, but it cannot, for it is doomed to die. Happy, indeed, shall that day be when it shall be wholly dead.
25, 26. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain-glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
Do Christian people need to be talked to like this? Yes, they do, for the best of men are but men at their best—and the godliest saint is liable to fall into the foulest sin unless the Grace of God prevents it. Oh, that we could expel from the Church of Christ all vain-glorying, all provoking of one another and all envying of one another! How often, if one Christian Brother does a little more than his fellow workers, they begin to find fault with him! And if one is blessed with greater success than others are, how frequently that success is disparaged and spoken of slightingly! This spirit of envy is, more or less, in all of us, and though, perhaps, we are not exhibiting it just now, it only needs a suitable opportunity for its display and it would be manifested. No man here has any idea of how bad he really is. You do not know how good the Grace of God can make you, nor how bad you are by nature, nor how bad you might become if that nature were left to itself!