Your hunting for the perfect gift…for yourself. It’s been something you’ve wanted for a long time. Right before you click purchase, you are taken to a page where you can completely customize your purchase. You can make it fit you! If you like zig-zags or bright colors or camouflage or flowers, you can make it your own. Your gift for yourself becomes a tool of self-expression. Pretty cool, right?
Except when it comes to following Christ. It’s irresponsible to overlay the same approach of self-expression upon the work of the Spirit. To be brutally honest, the truths of liberty in Galatians have been some of the most misinterpreted passages in Scripture. Many rush to these verses and select their style, flavor, color, and variation of what following Christ means for them. What they have actually done is abused the Spirit as a tool of self-expression! They have held the Spirit hostage as a mute sychophant who capitulates to their personal lusts.
Walking in the Spirit enables us to do the will of God. The will of God is one coin with two sides—fleeing and fulfilling. “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication” (1 Thessalonians 4:3). The application is general enough for us to understand fornication as being anything which violates the nature of God. Anything we do which is unfaithful to God. This eliminates all blatant sin but also worldliness. Would you go without that music, that style, that attitude, that whatever for a month? No? You have an idol of self-expression which strangles the Spirit’s leading to a whimper. You’ve simply dragged the Holy Spirit against His will into your life to placate your sinful desires.
The other side of the coin is fulfilling the law. Right now, you are probably thinking, “Paul said we are liberated from the law by the Spirit.” When you walk in the Spirit you do not fulfill the lust of the flesh, but you fulfill the law of Christ which is to love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself. The truth is many Christians are more in love with themselves and their self-expression than living a life of absolute denial in order to flee fornication and fulfill the law of Christ.
Nowhere in Galatians (nor the Bible for that matter) does it say the Spirit liberates you to live as you deem honorable. Your will has been crucified and it is dead. Your preferences don’t matter. Your arguments for what you think is right and best are moot. When you walk in the Spirit you actually do what He deems honorable. When you walk in the Spirit you are not focused on self-expression, rather on God-expression which is displaying the holiness/unworldliness of God.
For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself…This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh…And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts…Let us not be desirous of vain glory…(Galatians 5:13–14, 16, 24, 26)