The New Testament uses the word nikao (G3528) and its derivatives, nike (G3529) and nikos (G3534) in order to show us how we gain victory in our walk with Christ. We overcome (nikao) the world through the blood of Christ (Revelation 12:11), because Christ has overcome the world, and has given us the victory through his death and resurrection. Moreover, although our victory is a gift (1Corinthians 15:57 – nikos), we come to it after many struggles, but we overcome them, because greater is he who is in us than he who is in the world (1John 4:4; Luke 11:22). Victory over the world is attained as we place our trust in Christ (1John 5:4-5 – nike). Finally, victory comes to us wholly when our mortality is swallowed up by eternal life (1Corinthians 15:54 – nikos), which is attained at our death (2Corinthians 5:1-4) or when Christ returns (1Corinthians 15:51-53).
Paul’s letter to the Galatians at chapter 5 mostly concerns the second (nike – G3529) of the three phases of victory mentioned above (i.e. victory over the penalty, power and presence of sin). He concerns himself with the struggle through which we demonstrate our faith in Christ. How is this attained—through law? If men were able to do that, why did Christ need to come in the first place? No! The truth is: victory is attained through the Spirit of Christ within us. He is both the Author and the Finisher of our salvation (Hebrews 12:2).
Paul tells us in Galatians 5:16 that, if we walk in the Spirit, we shall not give place to our fleshy lusts. How does he know this? Well he tells us what walking in the Spirit produces in Galatians 5:22-23. I believe there is some significance in the fact that Paul uses the plural for works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19) but the singular for fruit of the Spirit. Notice that earlier in his letter he claimed that faith works by love (Galatians 5:6) and then “by love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13). Finally, he says that the whole law is fulfilled in loving one’s neighbor as oneself (Galatians 5:14). Because of this, I believe that the fruit of the Spirit is love, and that “joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance” are the ‘aroma’ of our love in Christ.
There is no law against love, no law against demonstrating love through joy, peace, patience, endurance, kindness, goodness, trust, meekness or self-control (Galatians 5:23). Paul’s logic is that, if what we do or demonstrate in our faith in Christ is not forbidden by any law, then no law has authority over our walk in Christ. Simply put, the Law was not meant for a life lived in Christ (1Timothy 1:9). The fruit of the Spirit (love) is produced in our lives as we walk (trust) in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16), yield to or permit ourselves to be led by the Spirit (Galatians 5:18) and live in the Spirit i.e. demonstrate or practice what the Spirit leads us to do (Galatians 5:25). Only by abiding in the Vine (Christ—the Spirit) are we able to bear fruit to God (John 15:1-17). By keeping his commandments, we abide in his love (John 15:10) and his commandment is that we love one another as he has loved us (John 15:12, 17), and this glorifies God (John 5:8, 14).
Concluding his argument Paul tells us that we have crucified the flesh with its weaknesses and its desires (Galatians 5:24).
Paul is not saying the same thing in Galatians 5:24 that he says in Romans 6:6. In Galatians 5:24 **we** have crucified the flesh or the old man of Romans 7. In Romans 6:6 the old man has been crucified with Christ. That is, our old man was brought to death in Christ’s crucifixion. In Galatians 5:24 the picture is that we crucify our flesh each time we choose to walk in the Spirit. The flesh has no power over us, if it is dying on the cross. Its desires are waning, becoming weaker and weaker, until it is finally dealt with at the resurrection. Galatians 5:24 has more to do with our sanctification or living righteously, while Romans 6:6 has to do with our justification or being declared righteous.
In Galatians 5:25 Paul claims that, if our life’s source is truly from the Spirit of God, then we need to keep in step with the Spirit. The word for walk there is not the same as that found in Galatians 5:16. Galatians 5:25 has to do with keeping in step with the Spirit, and the image is more like the image Christ gives us in Matthew 11:28-30, and in doing so we shall not fulfill the works of the flesh described in Galatians 5:19-21. It is an either / or deal. Either we find our life’s source in the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:25), or we find it in the flesh (Galatians 5:26), and the fruit of our labor will appear accordingly.