Most of us would admit we rarely feel God’s grace at work in us. That’s why we are prone to doubt that His presence abides in us. Paul addresses this dilemma for us in Galatians when he writes, “I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16, ESV).
It sounds simple enough but we tend to take Paul’s counsel here as a hard command to be obeyed. We grit our teeth and say, “I will walk in the Spirit today.” Then once we stumble, we think we are not “being spiritual” so we try even harder. Suddenly we are under the law again because we have turned to our fleshly ability, rather than trusting that we are already in the Spirit.
Paul says, “If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” (5:18). In other words, the Spirit of God abides in you, giving you access at all times to His grace, which empowers you. When Paul says, “Walk in the Spirit,” he means, “Walk under grace, not the law.”
Paul then shows us the result of a walk in the Spirit: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (5:22-23). Take note: These things do not come about because of what we do. They are the fruit of the righteousness God has put in us—the result of His work in us.
You may not feel very loving at times, but love is in you because God put it there. You may not feel joy and peace, but God has implanted both deep within you. His Spirit is at work in you every hour of every day, to His great glory and to your deep blessing.
In one of the most amazing passages in Scripture, Paul gives us God’s response to the human condition: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. . . . There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (Romans 7:25, 8:1-2).