“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)
This promise in our text is followed in a later Pauline epistle by two nuanced commands in the letter to the church at Galatia.
“This I say then,” Paul says, “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). Then again, “if we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25).
Although they appear to be the same command in English, there is a significant distinction in the original Greek language in which Paul penned the letters.
Both the Romans 8:1 and the Galatians 5:16 passages use the word perepeto, which carries the connotation to “walk around” and to “be at liberty.”
The second iteration in Galatians 5:25 uses stoicheo, which means to “step precisely,” to “march,” or to “go in procession.” Same command but different emphasis.
The context of Galatians 5 stresses the difference between a lifestyle of fleshly behavior and a life controlled by the Holy Spirit. The “fruits” of the flesh and the “fruit” of the Spirit are diametrically opposed. They cannot exist together; they are not harmonious (Romans 8:5-8). We either “mind” the things of the flesh or the “things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:5).
The Christian walk has great liberty (Romans 8:21), but that liberty must “step precisely” in honesty (Romans 13:13), good works (Ephesians 2:10), and in truth (2 John 4-6). Our walk is expected to be by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7), and we are to conduct a spiritual warfare in the Holy Spirit’s power (2 Corinthians 10:3-5) protected by the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). HMM III