Life by the Spirit An Exposition of Galatians 5:13–26 -- By: S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.

Journal: Emmaus Journal
Volume: EMJ 16:1 (Summer 2007)
Article: Life by the Spirit An Exposition of Galatians 5:13–26
Author: S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.

Life by the Spirit
An Exposition of Galatians 5:13–261

S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.

Lewis Johnson regularly ministered the Word at Believers Chapel in Dallas for more than thirty years. During his academic career he held professorships in New Testament and Systematic Theology at Dallas Theological Seminary and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. At the time of his death in January 2004 he was Professor Emeritus of New Testament Studies at Dallas Seminary. Both MP3 files and printed notes of Dr. Johnson’s sermons and theological lectures may be downloaded from the web site of the SLJ Institute «».


The Christian life—now that we have it, how shall we live it? Unfortunately, although delivered by the grace of God from the guilt of sin, for many believers the alternatives are a return to a life of bondage under the law of Moses as a means of gaining the favor of God or a life of freedom from any moral restraint. The latter, of course, is simply license.2

Historically the Antinomians3 and the Puritans fought over the place of the law in the life of a believer. The former castigated the latter for resorting to “the whippings of the law” to control believers in their daily lives. Bunyan replied to

them by putting in the mouth of Christian in his allegorical book, The Pilgrims Progress, “I walk by the Rule of my Master, you walk by the rude working of your fancies.”4 It is easy to see that the struggle was a rather bitter one, and one not without its misunderstandings on both sides. The Puritan position generally prevailed among the Calvinists. Their fundamental position is accurately expressed by Kevan, “The Puritans held that Christian liberty freed the believer, not from the Law, but for the Law; so that although he is no longer ‘under’ the Law, he is, nevertheless, still ‘in’ the Law. This, they taught, was freedom itself.”5 Compare 1 Corinthians 9:21.

The apostle Paul, taking a position quite similar to this, proposed to the Galatians a third alternative to life by the Mosaic law or life by license. He proposed a life in the liberty of the Holy Spirit, a life in which was fulfilled “the requirement of the law” (cf. Rom. 8:4). Against such a life as that ...

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