We are all familiar with what it means for a train to switch tracks. A locomotive with its long line of cars headed in one direction; and coming to an intersection they may switch to another direction. If this takes place at night in the dark, or if there are passengers and they are sleeping; they may not even realize they have changed directions for some time.
In our walk with Jesus the Holy Spirit is the locomotive that gives the power so we can keep heading in the right direction and moving forward. We cannot live a godly live for even one hour without the power of the Holy Spirit. We may live a proper, consistent life of good works and service; but to live a life acceptable to God, with all the fulfillment of God's salvation an love; to live a new life in Jesus - this is an impossibility unless we are guided by the Holy Spirit every second of every day!
You see, there is a danger! The Galatians received the Holy Spirit, but what began by the Spirit they tried to perfect by their own effort. How did this happen? They listened to the Jewish teachers who told them they had to be circumcised. They began to seek their religion in what they did! Paul then says about these Jewish teachers, "they sought to glory in their flesh."
What does Paul mean when he says, "in the flesh?" Put simply, he is talking about our human nature. We can be very active in church work, and have our life wrapped up in our religion, and somehow get our direction
confused, and begin to try and serve God in our own strength. What a sobering thought that we as believers can, without realizing it, be switched from the line of the Holy Spirit onto the line of the flesh; that we can be very diligent and make great sacrifices, and yet it is still in the strength of our human will! We must ask ourselves the all important question: is our religious life in the power of our flesh, or in the power of the Holy Spirit? We may be Christian workers and people tell us we make great sacrifices for God, and yet still live our life for ourself. It is a sobering thought! If there is weakness in our lives and in our church it is because of this one word - flesh! Self! This is our greatest enemy!
And, the flesh may show itself in many different ways. We may talk about God's word and God's kingdom continually to feel good about ourselves, or to look good to others; and yet the power of the Holy Spirit be absent from our lives. We may wonder why we don't see more people in our community and in our families converted by the beautiful story of Calvary? Why is there so much work and effort and yet so little results for eternity? Why is there so little power to build us up as believers? And why don't we see Jesus shining from our lives as we did the early church? There can only be one answer: We are not filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. And why is this? We know so much; and we have so much opportunity, how can this be? There can only be one reason: the flesh and human effort have taken the place that the Holy Spirit ought to have.
This happened with the Galatians and Corinthians. We dare not allow ourselves to think that we are different; that there is no danger we would ever fall for this old trick of the enemy. Paul was very pointed when he said to them: "I cannot speak to you as spiritual men; you ought to be spiritual men, but you are carnal." Strong words for sure! Are they words that Paul would say to you and me if he came to visit our church?