Paul assumes two things in these verses. First, he assumes that Christians like the Galatians (and like us) truly want to do right. We want to please God. We want to live holy lives which glorify Him and bless us and those around us. But he also assumes that we simply cannot live such lives on our own. We are desperately in need of the Holy Spirit's empowerment and in-filling. Though the Spirit indwells us in a permanent way when He regenerates our hearts and makes us Christians (I Cor. 12:13), in a practical sense we need to be daily - even hourly - filled up by the Spirit through our prayerful dependence on Him in our fight for holiness (Eph. 5:18). This is a daily battle requiring discipline and intentionality.
How much do we need to be filled up by the Spirit? How helpless are we without Him? As you've read the Bible, have you ever noticed how dependent upon the Spirit Jesus was? Consider the following which I noted today in my reading of Gospel Transformation (pp. 180-181):
- Jesus became a man by the Spirit (Lk. 1:35)
- Jesus was equipped for ministry by the Spirit (Lk. 3:21-22)
- Jesus was filled with supernatural joy by the Spirit (Lk. 10:21)
- Jesus resisted temptation by the Spirit (Lk. 4:1-14)
- Jesus taught others through the Spirit (Acts 1:2)
- Jesus lived every day in the power of the Spirit (Isaiah 11:2; 61:1, Lk. 4:1, 14, 18)
- Jesus overcame demons by the power of the Spirit (Mt. 12:28)
- Jesus performed miracles and did good by the power of the Spirit (Acts 10:38)
- Jesus was raised again by the power of the Spirit (Rom. 1:4, 8:11, I Pet. 3:18)
Why did Jesus Christ, the Lord of the universe, require the Spirit's power for the life He lived on earth? He did it to prove His submission to the Father in order to demonstrate that His life was completely in harmony with God's great, redemptive plan set in motion in Genesis 3:15 (John 4:34). But He also lived a Spirit-dependent life in order to model for those He would save (that's us) the kind of life we would need to live. Jesus could have operated in His own divine power to accomplish His ministry on earth, but in grace He chose to depend on the Spirit's power to show us how we would need to live in order to conquer sin and grow in sanctification.
Do you want to please God today? Do you want to win your battles with temptation today? How are you going to do that? It won't happen on your own. It will happen only as you follow Jesus' example and live each moment in humble, desperate, prayerful dependence upon the Holy Spirit. Living in confidence of Him, not us, will make the difference. It will give us the power we need to live holy lives.