Galatians 5:16
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
Entire Consecration NecessaryS. Jones.Galatians 5:16
Flesh and SpiritDean Stanley.Galatians 5:16
Flesh Versus SpiritEmilius Bayley, B. D.Galatians 5:16
How May We be So Spiritual as to Check Sin in the First Risings of ItJohn Gibbon, B. D.Galatians 5:16
How to Overcome TemptationT. Guthrie, D. D.Galatians 5:16
How to Vanquish SinJohn Bunyan.Galatians 5:16
The Appeal to the Spiritual NatureA. Boyd Carpenter, M. A.Galatians 5:16
The Divine RuleBp. Huntington.Galatians 5:16
The Life and Warfare of the Spirit in the SoulJ. Morgan, D. D.Galatians 5:16
The Marks of a ChristianGalatians 5:16
The Non-Fulfilment of the Lust of the Flesh Without the SpiritH. Melvill, B. D.Galatians 5:16
The Pauline EthicsPaul of Tarsus.Galatians 5:16
The Positiveness of the Divine LifePhillips Brooks, D. D.Galatians 5:16
The Principles and Method of Christian LifeS. Pearson, M. A.Galatians 5:16
The Renewed ManH. Melvill, B. D.Galatians 5:16
The Spirit and the FleshC. Kingsley, M. A.Galatians 5:16
The Spiritual WalkT. Manton, D. D.Galatians 5:16
The Spiritual WalkJ. Hambleton.Galatians 5:16
Twofold Nature of ManA. Boyd Carpenter, M. A.Galatians 5:16
Value of Spirituality of MindS. J. Wright.Galatians 5:16
Walk in the Spirit'Alexander MaclarenGalatians 5:16
Walking by the SpiritW.F. Adeney Galatians 5:16
Walking in the SpiritJ. Venn, M. A.Galatians 5:16
Walking in the SpiritBishop F. D. Huntington.Galatians 5:16
Walking in the SpiritCanon Tristram.Galatians 5:16
Walking with GodH. J. Wilmot-BuxtonGalatians 5:16
Freedom Sustained by the SpiritR. Finlayson Galatians 5:13-26
Christian Progress Realized Through AntagonismR.M. Edgar Galatians 5:16-26

We must not suppose, however, that the love which God gives us as our liberty can work out its will without experiencing opposition. Opposition we know it will meet in the world of selfish men; but Paul here points out the antagonism it meets within our own personalities. The flesh antagonizes the Spirit. Love does not get its own sweet way as often as we would. Self becomes a battle-ground, and God contends with the flesh for the supremacy of the soul. So violent is the contention that the flesh is actually "crucified with its affections and lusts." We are introduced, therefore, to the law of Christian progress which, because of our sinful nature, has to be through antagonizing the sinful tendencies in the interest of love. Observe -

I. SIN LEADS MAN TO FALL OUT WITH HIMSELF. (Ver. 17.) As Ullmann has beautifully said, "Man forms a unity, which is, however, only the foundation of that higher unity which is to be brought about in him, as a being made in the Divine image, by means of communion with God. Now, sin does not merely obstruct this unity, but sets up in its place that which is its direct opposite. He who has fallen away from God by sin, does, as a necessary consequence, fall out both with himself and with all mankind. True unity in man is possible only when that which is Godlike in him - that is, the mind - acquiesces in the Divine order of life, and governs the whole being in conformity therewith. But when he has once severed himself from the true centre of his being, that is, from God, then also does that element of his being, his mind, which is akin to God, and which was intended to be the connecting and all-deciding centre of his personal life, lose its central and dominant position; he ceases to be lord of himself and of his own nature; the various powers which make up his complex nature begin to carry on, each for itself, an independent existence; the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit wages a fruitless war with the flesh (ver. 17); sinful desire becomes dominant, and while the man seems to be in the enjoyment of all imaginable liberty, he has lost the only true liberty and has become a slave to himself; for ' whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin' (John 8:34; Romans 6:16-23). He is the dependent of self; and being thus the slave of self, he is also the slave of pleasure, and of all those objects which it requires for its satisfaction." Man becomes thus a distracted manifold, instead of a God-centred unity.

II. THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST ANTAGONIZES THE DISTRACTING TENDENCIES AND REDUCES MAN TO A UNITY AGAIN. The way in which we are united in heart and being is by having Jesus Christ pressed resistlessly upon our attention. Faith realizes in Christ not only a perfect personal Ideal, but also a Saviour on whom man may evermore depend. "The Christ of Christendom is not simply a Master to be loved and revered; he is a Saviour to be leaned upon. His followers are to have that profound sense of their own weakness and sinfulness which renders them sensitive to the purifying and reforming influences that radiate from the personality of Jesus. Without this, their love for the ideal would lead to no practical results; it would be merely an aesthetic sentiment, expending itself in a vague and fruitless admiration. But combine the two and you have the most effective reforming influence that the world has ever known." Christ is not only the unifying element in Church life, but in the individual life as well. He fuses all the distracted faculties into a glorious unity, and makes man his own master instead of his own slave. Hence, to quote the writer last referred to, "Christianity alone among all religions maintains a constant antagonism to the special tendency which controls the nature of its followers."

III. BUT POSITIVE FRUIT IS PRODUCED BY THE ANTAGONIZING SPIRIT AS A GLORIOUS SET-OFF TO THE WORKS OF THE FLESH WHICH HE DESTROYS. (Vers. 19-24.) Religion is not to be regarded as a negative thing, contenting itself with antagonisms, but has positive and most important fruits. It is not a system of severe repressions, but a system full of stimulus towards a better and fuller life. It does not merely forbid "fornication, uncleanness," etc., under the penalty of exclusion from the kingdom of God, but it produces "love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control. What a catalogue of virtues! What a contrast to the works of the flesh! Thus is man restored to something like his true and better self. The gospel of Christ is not a weary round of prohibitions, but is a glorious system of positive attainment, in a Divine life, which is loving, joyful, peaceful, and humane to its deepest depths.

IV. AGAINST SUCH SPIRITUALLY MINDED ONES THERE CAN BE NO LAW OF CONDEMNATION. (Vers. 18-23.) Law, when translated into love, becomes light. God's commandments are not grievous to the loving soul. In the keeping of them there is a great reward. Hence the Law presses heavily and hardly upon no loving spirit. "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (Romans 8:1). It is to such a blissful experience we arc asked to come. - R.M.E.

Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
A Galatian Christian might argue that the religion of Christ had not wrought for him the deliverance which he had expected; that whereas he had been taught to believe in the Almighty power of Christ, and of Christ's grace, he found that there yet abode within him another power of a wholly different kind, a power antagonistic to the grace of Christ, a power constantly inclining him to evil. How was he to account for this state of things? was it that Christ's gospel was ineffectual; or that he had not rightly apprehended it?

I. THE ABIDING PRESENCE OF THE LAW OF SIN IN THE BELIEVER'S SOUL. Scripture everywhere assumes and asserts this (James 3:2; 1 John 1:8).

II. ITS HOSTILITY TO GOOD. Compromise is impossible. If sin be false to everything else, it must be true to its own nature; it must be hostile to that principle which aims at its destruction.


1. It is secret.

2. It is constant.

3. It is subtle.Seeks to discover the weakest parts in the soul's defences; to deceive and beguile the soul, and so lead it captive.


(1)The spirit acts upon the soul as the Revealer of spiritual truth; and

(2)as the Giver of spiritual power.

(3)There must be co-operation on our part. No tampering with evil. A circumspect walk.

(Emilius Bayley, B. D.)

Man's nature presents two sides. On the one hand the body, with all its physical needs, desires, impulses; on the other hand that spiritual nature which distinguishes him from the animal creation. These two sides are often found in collision, warring against each other; the question is, how shall they be adjusted, and which ought to rule? The two extremes of crushing out one or the other entirely, are both wrong. The Christian method does no violence to any true part of human nature. It respects all parts; but gives special emphasis to the highest, not by crushing out the lower, but by bringing it into proper subordination, so that there shall be harmony, due proportion, and complete unity.

I. THE SPIRITUAL NATURE MUST HAVE THE FIRST PLACE. It is the most noble, and therefore the most worthy of attention.

II. THE SPIRIT IS TO BE THE DIRECTING AND RULING ELEMENT. It is to sway the body, not the body to sway it.

III. THE PHYSICAL NATURE IS TO BE ALLOWED TO EXERCISE ITS NATURAL RIGHTS, BUT UNDER THE GUIDANCE AND CONTROL OF THE SPIRITUAL. How practical is all this! St. Paul does not content himself with taking up a merely negative attitude. To have simply forbidden this or that, or to have told his readers that they were to exercise a restraint upon their passions, would have been at best only a partial and an unsatisfactory way of dealing with their danger. He was far too true a master of the human heart to fall into the error that nothing more than prohibition was needed. If man is to be saved from evil thoughts, habits, passions, he must be given definite and positive duties to fulfil. This is true both of

(a)the body, and

(b)the mind, as well as

(c)the soul.Be up and doing. Don't be idle. Let your life have definite aims; your heart and mind definite impulses, desires, principles. In this way will you be better able not only to resist what is evil but to grow in what is best.

(A. Boyd Carpenter, M. A.)

Such is St. Paul's method, and it is the one which treats man with the greatest respect, and is calculated to effect the desired end most completely. Man is not a machine to be regulated only by external influences. He has reason, will, conscience, love; in a word, a spiritual nature. To appeal to this spiritual nature, to place it in its proper position of authority and rule, is to treat man as man, and to do so with the greatest hope of success. Law alone will not succeed unless there is a response from within. Self-restraint will not be sufficient. What is needed is the creation of an inward power of good; a self-acting principle that shall love and will and strive after what is highest and best, and from the innermost citadel of the spirit rule every thought, word, act. This is what St. Paul advocates when he says, "Walk in the Spirit." He contends for voluntary service as against enforced; for spiritual obedience as against the mere living by rule. It is the life of love and purity and wisdom that he advocates as the life, as against the impulses, desires, passions of the physical nature. And in doing this he not merely respects man as spiritual, he not merely points out the superiority of the spiritual, but he seeks to base thought and word and deed, and the whole tenor of the life, upon a heart loving what is good and hating what is evil. Service, with St. Paul, is spiritual, free, spontaneous, high-minded. The higher desires and spiritual forces for what is good not only check what is baser, but, influencing the whole manhood, lift up every faculty, power, impulse into a purer atmosphere.

(A. Boyd Carpenter, M. A.)

In these words observe —(1) A duty enforced;(2) The consequent and fruit of it.

1. The duty is to walk in the Spirit, which is the sum of all Christian piety.

2. The motive is taken from the consequent and fruit of it: "and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh." Let us fix the sense.

1. For the duty, "to walk in the Spirit." Walking implieth the tenor and course of our actions, in all which we should follow the direction and inclination of the Spirit. Therefore by flesh and spirit is meant the old man and the new, and so by spirit is meant the renewed part, or the new man of grace in the heart (John 3:6, "That which is born of the Spirit is spirit"); that is, there is a work of saving grace wrought in our hearts by the Spirit of God, which new nature hath its motions and inclinations which must be obeyed and followed by us. And by flesh, is meant inbred corruption, or the old man, which is "corrupt, with his deceivable lusts" (Ephesians 4:22). Now, then, you see what it is to walk after the Spirit, to direct and order our actions according to the inclinations of the new nature.

2. For the consequent fruit of it: "and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh." Here two things must be explained: —

(1)The lust of the flesh.


1. "The lust of the flesh." By it is meant the inordinate motions of corrupt nature. The flesh doth not consider what is right and good, but what is pleasing to the senses, and craveth their satisfaction with much importunity and earnestness, to the wrong of God and our own souls; especially in youth, when the senses are in vigour, and lust and appetite in their strength and fury.

2. Ye shall not fulfil; that is, accomplish and bring into complete act, especially with deliberation and consent. Mark, he cloth not say that the lusting of corrupt nature shall be totally suppressed, but it shall not be fulfilled. The best of God's children feel the motions of the flesh, but they do not cherish and obey them. The lusts of the flesh may be said to be fulfilled two ways —(1) When the outward act is accomplished, or "when lust hath conceived and brought forth (actual) sin" (James 1:15).(2) When for a continuance we obey the flesh, usually accomplish its motions without let and restraint, and with love, pleasure, and full consent of will; this is proper to the unregenerate. The flesh doth reign over them as its slaves; this is spoken of (Romans 6:12), "Let not sin reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof." Let it not have a power over you as slaves. The doctrine, then, is this: That the more Christians set themselves to obey the new nature, the more is the power of inbred corruption mortified and kept under.To understand this point, let me lay down these propositions.

1. That there is a diversity of principles in a Christian — flesh and spirit.

2. That there is a liberty in a Christian of walking according to each principle, either the spirit or the flesh.Application:

1. It showeth what necessity there is that we should look after conversion to God, or a work of grace wrought in us by the Holy Spirit, for the apostle supposeth they had the Spirit. There is no walking without living, for otherwise our motions are but the motions of puppets, not proceeding from internal life, but acted from springs and engines; no subduing the flesh without setting up an opposite principle.

2. Being renewed by the Holy Ghost, that is, having our minds enlightened and hearts inclined, we must obey this inclination; for life is not given us that we may have it, but that we may act by it, and do things suitable to that life which we have. Grace is not a sluggish, idle quality, but is always working and warring on the opposite principle.

3. Though at first we are pestered and encountered with the lusts of the flesh, which divert us from God and heavenly things, yet we should not be discouraged by every difficulty; for difficulties do but inflame a resolved spirit, as stirring doth the fire.

4. The carnal life is not of one sort. Some wallow in sensual pleasures, others have head and heart altogether taken up with the world and worldly things. Now if God hath put a new bias upon our wills and affections, we must show it forth by a heavenly conversation; for they that mind earthly things are carnal, and the great inclination of the new nature is to carry us unto God and the things of another world (2 Corinthians 5:5).

5. They are much to blame that complain of sin, and will not take the course to get rid of it by obeying the instincts of the Holy Ghost, or the motions of the new nature. The Lord's spirit is a "free spirit" (Psalm 51:12.), and His "truth maketh us free" (John 8:32).

6. How much we are concerned in all conflicts, especially in those which allow deliberation, to take part with the Spirit, and obey His motions rather than to fulfil the lusts of the flesh: otherwise, by consent and upon deliberation, you are unfaithful to Christ and your own souls. Your business is not to gratify the flesh, but to crucify it, to overrule sense and appetite, and cherish the life of grace (Galatians 5:24).

7. It is of great use and profit to us to observe which principle decayeth, the flesh or the Spirit; for thereby we judge of our condition, both in order to mortification and comfort.The increase of the flesh may be known —

1. By your backwardness to God. Grace is clogged when you cannot serve Him with sweetness and delight (Romans 7:18).

2. When the heart groweth careless of heaven, and your life and love is more taken up about things present than things to come.On the other hand, the prevalency and increase of the Spirit is known —

1. By a humble contentedness and indifference to plenty, pleasures, and honours.

2. When your delight in God, heaven, and holiness is still kept up.

3. When the heart is kept in a preparation for the duties of your heavenly calling.

(T. Manton, D. D.)

I. WE ARE TO INQUIRE WHAT IT IS TO WALK IN THE SPIRIT. I scarcely need to observe, that the Spirit of God is always represented in the New Testament as the Author of all holiness in the hearts of Christians; whence the Christian dispensation is eminently styled "the ministration of the Spirit."

1. And first I imagine, that a regard to all the great evangelical principles is implied in the words, "walk in the Spirit." In the Epistles to the Romans and the Galatians, in which the phrases of walking "in the Spirit" or "after the Spirit" are chiefly used, the apostle takes much pains to wean the Judaizing converts from a servile spirit of dependence upon the law, and to instil into them a spirit of liberty in Christ Jesus. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty.

2. By walking in the Spirit may be also implied habitual dependence upon His help. To walk in the Spirit, therefore, is to acknowledge with the heart our own weakness and inability to serve God; to expect victory over sin only by the gracious operation of His Spirit.

3. To walk in the Spirit implies also, that we use the means by which the Spirit has promised to convey His influence, in the humble hope of thus receiving it. Bible-reading, attendance on the preaching of the gospel, reception of the Holy Communion, and especially prayer.

4. I observe, further, that to walk in the Spirit implies the exercise of a holy fear of Him; which will manifest itself by avoiding those things which would grieve Him, and by complying with His holy motions.

II. If we thus walk in the Spirit, we shall NOT FULFIL THE LUSTS OF THE FLESH. This is the second point which I proposed to illustrate. There is a certain degree to which victory over the sinful desires of the flesh is obtained by every real Christian; and this degree is, perhaps, proportioned to that in which he walks in the Spirit.

(J. Venn, M. A.)

? —

I. The principle and root of sin and evil — the flesh with its lusts.

II. The opposite principle and root of life and righteousness — the Divine Spirit.

III. The terms and bounds of a Christian's conquest, how far he may hope for victory — "Ye shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh."

IV. The method and way of conquering — "Walk in the Spirit." The best expedient in the world not to fulfil the lusts of the flesh, is to walk in the Spirit; which what it imports, I come now to show.

1. "Walk in the Spirit;" that is, in obedience to God's commandments, which are the oracles of the Spirit (see Psalm 119:1-3).

2. "Walk in the Spirit;" that is, as becometh those in whom God's Spirit dwells. As if the apostle had said, "The part which ye are now to act, O ye Christian Galatians, it is that of new creatures — see that ye keep the decorum. Demean yourselves like the children of God who are led of the Spirit of God" (Romans 8:14).

3. "Walk in the Spirit;" that is, Fulfil the counsels and advices of the Spirit, and you shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh. But if these three rules are too general and remote, I shall now lay down some more particular and exact directions for checking the beginnings of sin.Rule

I. — Before the paroxysm cometh, prepare and antidote thy soul against these lusts of the flesh, by observing these advices.

1. That notable counsel of Eliphaz to Job: "Acquaint now thyself with God, and be at peace" (Job 22:21).

2. Stir up spiritual and holy lastings in thy soul after the love and favour, the grace and image, of thy God; and thou shalt not fulfil the lastings of the flesh.Rule

II. — Study thoroughly the unchangeable natures, the eternal laws and differences, of moral good and evil. The sum of this rule then is: Deeply possess and dye thy soul all over with the representation of that everlasting beauty and amiableness that are in holiness, and of' that horror, and ugliness, and deformity that eternally dwell on the forehead of all iniquity. Be under the awe and majesty of such clear convictions all day long, and "thou shalt not fulfil the lusts of the flesh."Rule

III. — Understand thyself; be no stranger to thy own breast; know the frame, and temper, and constitution of thy mind. See what grace is principally wanting in thee, which is weakest, in what instances thy greatest failure betrays itself, in which of thy passions and affections thou art most peccable, and what lastings of the flesh they are which give thee the frequentest alarms, and threaten the greatest dangers.Rule

IV. — Get and keep a tender, conscience. Be sensible of the least sin. The most tender-hearted Christian — he is the stoutest and most valiant Christian. "Happy is the man that feareth always: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief."Rule

V. — Keep an exact guard upon thy heart (Proverbs 4:23). Let the eyes of thy soul be open and awake, upon all the stirrings of thy thoughts and affections.Rule

VI. — Be daily training and exercising all thy graces. Have them always in battle-array.Rule

VII. — Be well-skilled in the clenchs of temptation. I mean, in unmasking the sophistry and mystery of iniquity, in defeating the wiles and stratagems of the tempter, and in detecting and frustrating the cheats and finesses of the flesh with its deceitful lusts (Ephesians 4:22; 2 Corinthians 2:11). No small part of spiritual wisdom lies in the blessed art of discovering and refuting sin's fallacies and impostures.Rule

VIII. — Withdraw thyself, if possible, from the occasions of sin. Be thou as the deaf adder to that great charmer: the best entertainment thou canst give him is, "Get thee behind me, Satan!"Rule

IX. — Bind thyself beforehand With the severest of thy resolutions, not to trust thy judgment, when the temptation begins to get within thee. "A man in passion is not himself."Rule

X. — Awe them with the authority of thy reason and understanding. It is infinitely unbeseeming a man, that his lower appetites should grow mutinous and untractable, that "the inferior and brutish faculties of our soul," should rebel against "that sovereign faculty of reason." How soon doth the presence of a grave magistrate allay a popular tumult, if he comes in soon enough, in the beginning of the riot? God hath made reason the magistrate of the little world; He hath given it a commission to keep the peace in our souls.Rule

XI. — If thy distempered affections and lusts slight the authority of thy reason, as thou art a man; bid thy conscience do its office, as thou art a Christian. Try to awe them with God's written Word. Bring out of the register of conscience the laws of Him that made thee; oppose some clear text of Holy Writ, that comes into thy mind against that very lust that is now rising.Rule

XII. — If all this effect nothing, then draw the curtain, take off the veil from before thy heart, and let it behold the God that searcheth it (Jeremiah 17:10; Hebrews 4:13). Show it the majesty of the Lord; see how that is described (Isaiah 6:1-3).Rule

XIII. — If these great real arguments be slighted, try whether an argument, ad hominem, drawn from sense, will prevail. Awe thy lusts with the bitterness of thine own experience. Consider how often thou hast rues their disorders; what dismal consequences have followed upon their transports, and how dearly thou hast paid heretofore for thy connivance at them.Rule

XIV. — Labour to cure thy justings and affections in the first beginning of their disorders, by revulsion, by drawing the stream and tide another way. As physicians stop an hemorrhage, or bleeding at the nose, by breathing the basilic vein in the arm, or opening the saphaena in the foot; so may we check our carnal affections, by turning them into spiritual ones: and those either —

1. Of the same nature. For example: catch thy worldly sorrow at the rise, and turn thy mourning into godly sorrow. If thou must needs weep, weep for something that deserves it.

2. Turn thy carnal affections into spiritual ones of a contrary nature. For example: allay thy worldly sorrow by spiritual joy. Try whether there be not enough in all-sufficiency itself to compensate the loss of any outward enjoyment; whether there will be any great miss or want of a broken cistern, when thou art at the fountain-head of living waters; whether the light of the sun cannot make amends for the expiring of a candle. Chastise thy carnal fears by hope in God. Set on work the grace contrary to the lust that is stilting; if it be pride and vain-glory in the applause of men, think how ridiculous it were for a criminal to please himself in the esteem and honour his fellow-prisoners render him, forgetting how guilty he is before his judge. If thou beginnest to be poured loosely out, and as it were dissolved in frolic, mirth, and joviality, correct that vainness and gaiety of spirit by the grave and sober thoughts of death, and judgment, and eternity.Rule

XV. — If this avail not, fall instantly to prayer.Rule

XVI. — When thou hast done this, rise up, and buckle on the shield of faith (Ephesians 6:16). Go forth in the name and strength of the Lord, to do battle with thy lusts. Conclusion: Let me now persuade the practice of these holy rules. Let us resolve, in the strength of Christ, to resist these lustings of the flesh. Let me press this with a few considerations.

1. The more thou yieldest, the more thou mayest. Sin is insatiable; it will never say"enough." Give it an inch, it will take an ell.

2. It is the quarrel of the Lord of hosts in which thou tightest. A cowardly soldier is the reproach of his commanders. Thou hast a noble General, O Christian, that hath done and finished perfectly whatever con. terns thy redemption from the powers of darkness.

3. The lusts of the flesh are thy greatest enemies, as well as God's. "They war against thy soul" (1 Peter 2:11). To resist them feebly, is to do not only the work of the Lord, but of thy soul, negligently.

4. It is easy vanquishing at first in comparison. A fire newly-kindled is soon quenched, and a young thorn or bramble easily pulled up.

5. If thou resistest the victory is thine (James 4:7). Temptation puts on its strength, as the will is. Cease but to love the sin, and the temptation is answered.

6. Consider what thou doest. If thou fulfillest the lusts of the flesh, thou provokest thy heavenly Father, rebellest against Him (and "rebellion is as witchcraft, and stubbornness as idolatry"), thou "crucifiest Jesus Christ afresh, and puttest Him to an open shame." Is this thy love and thanks to thy Lord, to whom thou art so infinitely beholden? Canst thou find in thy heart to put thy spear again in His side? Hath He not suffered yet enough? Is His bloody passion nothing? Must He bleed again? Ah, monster of ingratitude! Ah, perfidious traitor as thou art, thus to requite thy Master! Again, thou grievest thy Comforter: and is that wisely clone? Who shall comfort thee, ii He depart?

(John Gibbon, B. D.)

If, therefore, you would judge of the life in the soul by the command which is exercised over the body, you must bring into account the agency employed, as well as the result effected. You must calculate whether the non-fulfilment of the lust of the flesh be in consequence of a radical change of the heart, or nothing more than the proud device of a weak, and self-sufficient nature.

1. It is not necessary that a man should be what Scripture calls a renewed man in order to his effecting a vast reformation in his ordinary conduct. Reformation, indeed, will unavoidably follow on renewal; and when thus produced, will be far more vigorous and decided than when traced to any other origin. But Satan, yea, oven Satan, can busy himself with the reforming of a man; for has the devil nothing to do with self-righteousness? has he nothing to do with the substitution of morality for faith? There will, indeed, have been all this outward change if an individual has been renewed by God's Spirit; but, alas! it is not true, that because there is a change there must have been renewal! For you should remember that there follows, in the chapter from which our text is taken, a catalogue of the works of the body; and this catalogue contains "emulations, wrath, strife" — though these may have seemed to be mental rather than bodily actions. We are bound, therefore, to set down as works of the body many works which are not wrought by the agency of our corporeal members. Pride, for example, is classed as a work of the flesh, though it passes ordinarily as a disease of the mind. We argue, therefore, that since a man may gratify his pride by the higher discipline which he exercises over appetite and passion, he may be fulfilling, in one sense, "the lust of the flesh," whilst to others he may seem to be mortifying that lust. Pride is emphatically a sin of the devil, and, therefore, to trace the action of pride is to trace it to the devil. Thus, we think our first proposition sufficiently established. There may be a struggle with "the lust of the flesh" where there is no "walking in the Spirit," and, therefore, well might the apostle fix our thoughts on the agency as well as on the result. — "This I say, then" — oh! be not content with the appearance of resistance to the corruption of nature without searching into the origin of that resistances "this I say, then, Walk in the Spirit," then, and then only, shall you really and actually "not fulfil the lust of the flesh."

2. We proceed to set more definitely before you our second position, that there can be no effectual non-fulfilment of the lust of the flesh — none such as shall prove spiritual — unless there be "walking in the Spirit." It is unquestionable, as we have already admitted, that a man may mortify many deeds of the body. He may climb the mountains, and there, far away from all companionship with his fellows, the rock for his couch, and the wild fruits for his sustenance, he may live down the fierceness of passion, and win over carnal desires so effective a sovereignty, that though they have heretofore been most imperious in their cravings, they shall ever after yield obedience to the severer calls of the Divine law. We know of nothing that may more confound those who have embraced true religion — who prefer deliverance through the satisfaction of Christ — than the ready submission to every kind of toil and privation which is presented by the votaries of false systems of theology. But, whatever the appearance, there is no thorough mortification of "the lust of the flesh" unless it be with the heart that the mortification begins. Yes, when the flesh is covered with the ashes and torn with the stripes, may pride be abroad in its strength, and man be regarded by the Holy Spirit of God as cherishing that self-sufficiency which it is the first object of the gospel to eject, and which must be subdued ere there can be admission to the kingdom of heaven. And if it be thus true that "the lust of the flesh Scannel be thoroughly unfulfilled unless the heart be overcome and brought into subjection, then no withstanding of the lusts can be that which proves a man quickened from the death of "trespasses and sins," unless effected by the Spirit of God. As to outward conduct, a man may change it for himself, and, even as we have shown you, be assisted by Satan; but an internal change, the bringing order and harmony out of confusion and discord in the human soul, the crucifixion of the flesh, the renewal of the heart, can only be brought about by the Holy Ghost. See, then, whither you must turn for instruction and strength if you would live and not die. "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His." Oh I not to be Christ's, after Christ has taken flesh, and sorrowed, and suffered, and died in order to make us His! Oh! not to be Christ's, though redeemed by Christ at the untold cost of His agony and His blood! And what is wanting to make us Christ's? Just that we have His Spirit, that Spirit which is freely promised to all by whom it is earnestly sought.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

As having a steady forward movement, as requiring not only an action of the will, but purpose, strength, and circumspection, the Christian life is very well conceived in figure as walking. Now, there are two ways or roads on either of which we may be walking — a way of life and a way or death. And the way of life is not easy to find. It is full of questions. The paths divide and diverge at all angles. We do not travel by trains. The apostle uses the more accurate word. It is a "walk" — step by step — an individual, personal thing, with free choice, continual effort, and an onward movement. If it is to be worth anything, if it is to come to anything noble here, or immortal hereafter, life is costly. We must pay; we must think; we must watch and work, and perhaps suffer. We are equal to it, not in our own strength, but by a Power given us from above. What is the Power? Where is the Guide? To have the life that is glorious and eternal — all its failures forgiven, and its end perfect — perfect victory and perfect peace — we must "walk" — in that way? We come back to St. Paul He answers, "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit." He is positive and peremptory. "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit." There is one way to take and follow. There is a guide for this life. Walking is living; it is our life's movement forward in this world. But how that shall be "in the Spirit" is what we want to know more perfectly. And here, as often happens, we are helped by contrasts. Throughout all this writing to the Galatians, and through all his preaching of the gospel of Christ, we find this grand expounder of it pointing out two opposite forces in the nature of every man. He has various names for them — "the law of the members and the law of the mind" — "the old man and the new man" — but oftenest "the flesh and the spirit." It is popular language: we all know well enough what he means, not because the terms are precise, but because we are all conscious of having in ourselves the two things — if not always at work or at war, yet always there, ready to start up at any time and renew their battle. Take notice, the New Testament never says that the worse force of the two is wholly evil, or the better one wholly good. The gospel does teach everywhere that the spirit in man is the natural organ of what is highest and best in him, while the flesh is the natural organ of what is lower — the one connecting with the spiritual world above us, the other with the world below. St. Paul does preach, plainly and with all his might, that there is a struggle of each of these two forces for the mastery, and that it is a desperate fight till the right one gets the upper hand and rules. There are only two ways anywhere. It is one thing or the other. If we are not living in the spirit, we are living as part and parcel of a material world, which then overgrows and stifles the spirit, absorbs all interests into its outside show and passional comforts, then runs down, perishes, and has no immortality but the lingering one of the second death. If it is inquired then, What is our spiritual life? it is that within us which feels God to be a Father, which seeks and follows what is good in itself, which chooses what is lovely in conduct and generous in judgment, which tests friendships by their purity, and pursuits by their righteousness, which has faith in the unseen, which worships, which is touched and sometimes enraptured by the beauty of holiness. The spirit is that in us which would rather suffer than do wrong, and rather be crucified than mistake Caesar for the Saviour or Mammon for its maker. It would choose truth before falsehood: no matter what bribe is put into the balance with the lie. It is that by which we forgive injuries, and confess our own sins, and are willing to be made poorer for the kingdom of heaven's sake, and take in the glorious sense of the encomium on charity in 1 Corinthians 13. There is another contrast still. St. Paul, through all this passage, has in mind not only a comparison of the spiritual mind with the sensual and selfish mind, but of the life lived in the spirit and a life which looks somewhat like it, but at heart, under the surface, is a very different thing: — i.e., a life lived under a set of rules formed by external regulations, fashioned, pieced together, cut and dried by the law. You know how determined his assaults were always, in every sermon and every epistle, from his conversion at Damascus up to his martyrdom at Rome, on the system which sees nothing in religion but rule. The reason is that in a character shaped by outside rules you will never have anything deeper than an outside piety. It will not be character at all, but only the shell of it. The heart of love has not begun to beat, the Spirit of Christ has not begun to breathe in them. Whoever would be a Christian must be one heartily and cheerfully, not grudgingly or of necessity. The Christian life must spring and bubble up from within, not be fitted on from without.

(Bishop F. D. Huntington.)

There are two ways of dealing with every vice that troubles us, in either ourselves or others. One is to set to work directly to destroy the vice; that is the negative way. The other is to bring in as overwhelmingly as possible the opposite virtue, and so to crowd and stifle and drown out the vice; that is the positive way. Now there can be no doubt about St. Paul. Here comes his poor Gatatian fighting with his lust of the flesh. How shall he kill it? St. Paul says not, "Do as few fleshly things as you can," setting him out on a course of repression; but, "Do just as may spiritual things as you can, opening before him the broad gates of a life of positive endeavour. And when we have thoroughly comprehended the difference of these two methods, and seen how distinctly St. Paul chose one instead of the other, we have laid hold on one of the noblest characteristics of his treatment of humanity, one that he had gained most directly from his Lord. I should despair of making any one see the distinction who did not know it in his own experience. Everywhere the negative and the positive methods of treatment stand over against each other, and men choose between them. Here is a man who is beset by doubts, perhaps, about the very fundamental truths of Christianity. He may attack all the objections in turn, and at last succeed in proving that Christianity is not false. That is negative. Or he may gather about him the assurance of all that his religion has done, and sweep away all his doubts with the complete conviction that Christianity is true. That is positive, and that is better. We see the same principle, the superiority of the positive to the negative, constantly illustrated in matters of opinion. How is it that people change their opinions, give up what they have steadfastly believed, and come to believe something very different, perhaps its very opposite? I think we all have been surprised, if we have thought about it, by the very small number of cases in which men deliberately abandon positions because those positions have been disproved and seem to them no longer tenable. And even when such cases do occur, the effect is apt to be not good, but bad. The man abandons his disproved idea, but takes no other in its stead; until, in spite of their better judgment, many good men have been brought to feel that, rather than use the power of mere negation, and turn the believer in an error into a believer in nothing, they would let their friend go on believing his falsehood, since it was better to believe something, however stupidly, than to disbelieve everything, however shrewdly. But what then? How do men change their opinions? Have you not seen? Holding still their old belief, they come somehow into the atmosphere of a clearer and a richer faith. That better faith surrounds them, fills them, presses off them with its own convincingness. They learn to love it, long to receive it, try to open their hands and hearts just enough to take it in and hold it along with the old doctrine which they have no idea of giving up. They think that they are holding both. They persuade themselves that they have found a way of reconciling the old and the new, which have been thought unreconcilable. Perhaps they go on thinking so all their lives. But perhaps some day something startles them, and they awake to find that the old is gone, and that the new opinion has become their opinion by its own positive convincing power. There has been no violence in the process, nor any melancholy gap of infidelity between. It seems to me that there is something so sublimely positive in Nature. She never kills for the mere sake of killing, but every death is but one step in the vast weaving of the web of life. She has no process of destruction which, as you turn it to the other side and took at it in what you know to be its truer light, you do not see to be a process of construction. She gets rid of her wastes by ever new plans of nutrition. This is what gives her such a courageous, hopeful, and enthusiastic look, and makes men love her as a mother and not fear her as a tyrant. They see by small signs, and dimly feel, this positiveness of her workings which it is the glory of natural science to reveal more and more. We find the same thing in the New Testament. The God there revealed to us is not a God of repression, or restraint, but a God whose symbols should be the sun, the light, the wind, the fire — everything that is stimulating, everything that fosters and encourages and helps. Such is the God whose glory we see in the face of Jesus Christ. The distinction is everywhere. Not by merely trying not to sin, but by entering farther and farther into the new life, in which, when it is completed, sin becomes impossible; not' by merely weeding out wickedness, but by a new and supernatural culture of holiness, does the saint of the New Testament walk on the ever-ascending pathway of growing Christliness, and come at last perfectly to Christ. This is the true difference between law and grace, add the New Testament is the book of grace. And this character of the New Testament must be at the bottom in conformity with human nature. The Bible and its Christianity are not in contradiction against the nature of the man they try to save. Let us never believe they are. They are at war with all his corruptions, and, in his own interest, though against his stubborn will, they are for ever labouring to assert and re-establish his true self. And in this fundamental character of the New Testament, by which it is a book not of prohibitions but of eager inspirations, there comes out a deep harmony between it and the heart of man. For man's heart is always rebelling against repression as a continuous and regular thing. Man is willing to make self-sacrifices for a certain temporary purpose. The merchant will give up his home, the student shut his books, the mother leave her household for a time, to do some certain work. The world is full of self-sacrifice, of the suppression of desires, the forcing of natural inclinations; but all the while under this crust the fire is burning; all the time, under this self-sacrifice, there is a restless, hungry sense that it is not right, that it cannot be final; there is a crying out for self-indulgence. All the time there is a great human sense that not suppression but expression is the true life. And what has Christ to say to one, who, acting on this prompting of his nature, gives up restraint and tries indulgence? My brother, I can hear him say, you are not wholly wrong. Nay, at the bottom, you are right. Self-mortification, self-sacrifice, is not the first or final law of life. You are right when you think that these appetites and passions were not put into you merely to be killed, and that the virtue which only comes by their restraint is a poor, colour-less, and feeble thing. You are right in thinking that not to restrain yourself and to refrain from doing, but to utter yourself, to act, to do, is the purpose of your being in the world. Only, my brother, this is not the self you are to utter, these are not the acts you are to do. There is a part in you made to think deeply, made to feel nobly, made to be charitable and chivalric, made to worship, to pity, and to love. You are not uttering yourself while you keep that better self in chains, and only let these lower passions free. Let me renew those nobler powers, and then believe with all your heart and might that to send out those powers into the intensest exercise is the one worthy purpose of your life. Then these passions, which you are indulging because you cannot believe that you were meant to give your whole life up to bridling them, will need no forcible bridling, and yet, owning their masters in the higher powers which come out to act, they will be content to serve them. You will not fulfil your passions any longer, but the reason will not be that you have resumed the weary guard over your passions which you tried to keep of old. It will be that you have given yourself up so utterly to the seeking after holiness, that these lower passions have lost their hold upon you. You will not so much have crushed the carnal as embraced the spiritual. I shall have made you free. You will be walking in the Spirit, and so will not fulfil the lusts of the flesh. Is not this Christ's method? Is not this the tone of His encouraging voice? "Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin," but "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." It is the positive attainment and not the negative surrender. It is the self-indulgence of the highest, and not the self-surrender of the lowest, that is the great end of the gospel.

(Phillips Brooks, D. D.)

I. THE POINT FROM WHICH WE HAVE TO START — "Walk in the Spirit." In every walk there is a place from which we first proceed. The starting-point for every man in the spiritual walk is a state of unrenewed nature, an unconverted, unregenerated condition.

II. Let us now proceed to our second part: "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh." We have seen the point from which, we now consider THE COURSE BY WHICH WE ARE TO WALK — "Walk in the Spirit." But here there must first of all be life in order to our obeying this exhortation. A dead man walks not, moves not, from whence he is. But to walk not only requires life, there must be strength, and willingness to exert strength. The sick man often cannot walk, the slothful man often will not; the spiritually diseased and slothful walk not in the Spirit; but the Holy Ghost infuses an energy into the soul of man. But in walking beside life, strength, and willingness, there must likewise be a constraining motive to induce man to walk in the road marked out for his path. The constraining motive in the spiritual walk is the love of the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour and Redeemer. But still there must be a road marked out for walking. There is one marked out for each of you by the Holy Spirit; there is a way, little trodden indeed by the multitude, but well known to all who have gone, and who are going to heaven. It is a straight and a narrow way; it has its difficulties.

III. Our third part yet waits. A walk, we have seen, has a point whence, a way by which, and now A PLACE WHITHER MEN ARE WALKING. The point to which the spiritual walk is intended to lead is perfect holiness, meetness for heaven, yea, heaven itself.

(J. Hambleton.)

When St. Paul talks of man's flesh, he means by it man's body, man's heart and brain, and all his bodily appetites and powers — what we call a man's constitution; in a word, the animal part of man, just what a man has in common with the beasts who perish. To understand what I mean, consider any animal — a dog, for instance — how much every animal has in it what men have, — a body, and brain, and heart; it hungers and thirsts as we do; it can feel pleasure and pain, anger and loneliness, and fear and madness: it likes freedom, company, and exercise, praise and petting, play and ease; it uses a great deal of cunning, and thought, and courage, to get itself food and shelter, just as human beings do; in short, it has a fleshly nature, just as we have, and yet, after all, it is but an animal, and so, in one sense, we are all animals, only more delicately made than the other animals; but we are something more — we have a spirit as well as a flesh, an immortal soul. If any one asks, what is a man? the true answer is, an animal with an immortal spirit in it; and this spirit can feel more than pleasure and pain, which are mere carnal, that is, fleshly things; it can feel trust, and hope, and peace, and love, and purity, and nobleness, and independence, and, above all, it can feel right and wrong. There is the infinite difference between an animal and a ,,nan, between our flesh and our spirit; aa animal has no sense of right and wrong; a dog who has done wrong is often terrified, but not because he feels it wrong and wicked, but because he knows from experience that he will be punished for doing it: just so with a man's fleshly nature; — a carnal, fleshly man, a man whose spirit is dead within him, whose spiritual sense of right and wrong, and honour and purity, is gone, when he has done a wrong thing is often enough afraid; but why? Not for any spiritual reason, not because he feels it a wicked and abominable thing, a sin, hut because he is afraid of being punished for it. Now, in every man, the flesh and the spirit, the body and the soul, are at war. We stand between heaven and earth. Above us, I say, is God's Spirit speaking to our spirits; below us is this world speaking to our flesh, as it spoke to Eve's, saying to us, "This thing is pleasant to the eyes — this thing is good for food — that thing is to be desired to make you wise, and to flatter your vanity and self-conceit." And where man's flesh gets the upper hand, and takes possession of him, 1t can do nothing but evil — not that it is evil in itself, but that it has no rule, no law to go by; it does not know right from wrong; and therefore it does simply what it likes, as a dumb beast or an idiot might; and therefore the works of the flesh are — adulteries, drunkenness, murders, fornications, envyings, backbitings, strife. When a man's body, which God intended to be the servant of his spirit, has become the tyrant of his spirit, it is like an idiot on a king's throne, doing all manner of harm and folly without knowing that it is harm and folly. This is not its fault. Whose fault is is it, then? Our fault, — the fault of our wills and our souls.

(C. Kingsley, M. A.)



1. Not simply by natural conscience.

2. By the effect of the Spirit on the Christian life.

3. By a life that has an uniform God-ward tendency.


1. The Spirit comes to young and old.

2. The Spirit influences in different ways.

3. His operation is necessary.

4. His operation must be deep and permanent.

(Canon Tristram.)


1. We live in the Spirit.

(1)He begins the new life.

(2)Sustains it.

2. We walk in the Spirit. Activity the first symptom of life. This

(1)reminds us of our dependence on the Spirit.

(2)Implies our consistency. Deportment must harmonize with character.

(3)Is significant of progress.

3. We are led by the Spirit.

(1)An entire surrender to His authority.

(2)Following Him in the path of duty, we find the truest happiness and perfect safety.


1. We shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh.

(1)We shall be kept from sin.

(2)We shall grow in grace.

2. We are not under law. Freedom from

(1)the law of sin;

(2)the law of death.

3. We shall be victorious in the great battle between the flesh and the Spirit.

(1)Indwelling sin is strong.

(2)The Spirit makes us conquerors.

(J. Morgan, D. D.)

I. HE "WALKS IN" AND IS "LED BY THE SPIRIT," i.e., he has —

1. A heart always open to Divine influence.

2. A life subordinate to Divine rule.


1. In the inward strife described here, and in Romans 7., the Christian is not under the law of the flesh, but subdues the corrupt nature and brings it into subjection to the Spirit.

2. He does this daily.

III. HE BRINGS FORTH THE FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT. Examine yourself by the list (vers. 22, 23).


1. The virtues which are God-derived and God-ward.

(1)Love, the tie which binds us to God as a Father.

(2)Joy, the glad emotion which makes music in the renewed soul.

(3)Peace, the summer calm which settles upon the conscience.

2. Those which refer to our fellow-men — "longsuffering meekness."

(1)They are the counterpart of the Divine virtues.

(2)Are derived from the same spring.

3. These belonging to the general disposition and habit of the soul, "Faith temperance."


1. Negatively: the apostle does not

(1)throw us back on our own will;

(2)hold up minute regulations and restrictions.

2. Positively: he tells us to "walk in the Spirit."

(1)Not simply after a spiritual manner,

(2)by a mere Divine influence; but

(3)by personal power of the Holy Spirit.


1. The bad is not overcome by mere abstinence from evil.

2. Be filled with the Spirit and evil will be overcome.

(S. Pearson, M. A.)

I. When man trusts in anything he has done it cannot be God's Spirit who leads to the doing of it.

II. No non-fulfilment of the lust of the flesh, which is not the result of walking in the Spirit, affords any proof of life in the soul.

III. The operations of grace may be closely imitated, though no change may have passed over the heart.

IV. In his endeavour to destroy men the devil may employ morality as well as villainy.

V. It is not enough for the mortification of the deeds of the body that the lusts of the flesh should appear unfulfilled.

VI. If, therefore, you would judge of the life in the soul by the command which is exercised over the body, you must bring into account the agency employed as well as the result effected.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

Thou hast a double nature. Choose between the worst and the better that is within thee. Thou hast it in thy power to become the slave of passion, the slave of luxury, the slave of sensual power, the slave of corruption. Thou hast it also in thy power to become the free master of thyself, to become the everlasting benefactor of thy country, and the unfailing champion of thy God.

(Dean Stanley.)

Keep the spiritual nature uppermost. Give the spiritual man the advantage. Settle every account in the Spirit's favour. It will not make everything convenient, or merry, or prosperous. There may be mistakes of judgment; life may seem like a strain of bad music pitched to a minor key; your ideals may not be attained. Never mind that. The voice rings out over all the contradictions and ruins, "This I say then, walk in the Spirit." "To be spiritually minded is life and peace" — life now and peace at last.

(Bp. Huntington.)

are as stern and strict as those of any system which has ever been promulgated. The liberty on which he insisted was no cover, no apology, no defence for licence, for those wild and profligate excesses which the fanatics' faith has sometimes permitted. The extravagances of the Adamites, of the Cathari, of the Anabaptists, have been quoted as a reproach on the genius of Christianity. In reality they are a homage to it. The claim of Christianity on the allegiance of men has been so strong that they who have repudiated its spirit have affected to call themselves by its name. The Israelites often fell into that idolatry which the law donounced, condemned, chastised. But there is no reason to think that they forgot their nationality in their sin.

(Paul of Tarsus.)

A beautiful flower — the wood sorrel — grows among the trees in some parts of England. It has shining green leaves, and transparent bells with white veins. When it is gathered roughly, or the evening dew falls, or the clouds begin to rain, the flower closes and droops; but when the air is bright and calm, it unfolds all its loveliness. Like this sensitive flower, spirituality of mind, when touched by the rough hand of sin, or the cold dews of worldliness, or the noisy rain of strife, hides itself in the quietude of devout meditation; but when it feels the influence of sunny and serene piety, it expands in the beauty of holiness, the moral image of God.

(S. J. Wright.)

Suppose you were to buy a ouse and lot and an elegant residence, pay the money and get the deeds, and the day you were to go in the gentleman said, "Here's the key to eight rooms, I have reserved two rooms." "Didn't I buy the house?" "Yes" "Well, what do you mean?" "I want to keep four tigers in one room, and the other I want to fill with reptiles. I want them to stay here." You say, "Well, my friend, if you mean what you say I would not have your house as a gracious gift. You want me to move my family into a house where one room is full of tigers and the other full of snakes." Many a time we turn over our whole heart to God, and when He comes in we have reserved some rooms for the wild beasts of pride and the hissing serpents of iniquity. Let me tell you, brethren, I won't ask God to come and live in a house that I won't let my family live in. Empty every room in the house, and then the heart is the centre of gravity to Jesus Christ, and He will come in and live with you.

(S. Jones.)

"Flee youthful lusts." Fight not, but flee; or if fight you must, copy the old Parthians, who, seated on fleet coursers and armed with bow and arrows, shot from the saddle, flying as they fought. If you cannot flee, then in Christ's name and strength face round on the foe, and make a bold stand for God; and the virtues of youth shall rebuke the vices of age, and hoary sin shall go down before you armed with God's word, as did the Philistine before the young shepherd and his sling.

(T. Guthrie, D. D.)

Prudence: "Can you remember by what means you find your annoyances at times as if they were vanquished? "Christian: "Yes, when I think what I saw at the cross, that will do it; and when I look upon my broidered coat, that will do it; also when I look into the roll that I carry in my bosom, that. will do it; and when my thoughts wax warm about whither I am going, that will do it."

(John Bunyan.)

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