Tag Archives: Galatians 5
Today’s Challenge: All who have not yet trusted Christ are in the category of “the wicked.” What steps are you taking to reach “the wicked” that you know? Are they on your prayer list? Let one of them know that you are praying for them today!
The Forgotten Third: Developing a Relationship with God the Holy Spirit –The FRUIT of the Holy Spirit!
In our Christian lives we are so often like the drunk cowboy who gets on his horse and falls off on the right side, promptly remounts and falls off on the left side. When it comes to God the Holy Spirit, some believers overemphasize Him while others overlook Him. We want a balanced view of the Third Member of the Trinity.
We have suggested that because He is personal, we can speak to Him. And because He is divine, we can worship Him. Neither of these actions are at the expense of our first love, the Lord Jesus, the One the Spirit came to glorify.
The Holy Spirit is invisible, so how do we know that He is real and that He is working in our lives? While invisibility does not equal non-existence, the Spirit shows His presence by the works He does in and through believers. One of His primary works is to produce FRUIT in the Jesus-follower’s life. We read in Galatians 5 —
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
In this section Paul is contrasting the Spirit and the flesh. “The flesh” here refers to our sinful nature which desires what is contrary to the Spirit. The Spirit is not uninvolved — He desires what is contrary to the flesh (v. 17). This conflict between the Spirit and the flesh is “fleshed out” in verses 19-26.
The “acts of the flesh” are obvious and are listed as the Filthy Fifteen: sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, and orgies. And, as if that list isn’t enough, Paul adds, “and the like” (v. 21). Notice that these “acts” have to do with sexual purity, who or what we worship, dabbling with the demonic, internal attitudes like hatred and jealousy, the improper use of our temper, self-centered living, loss of self-control, and complete abandonment to immorality.
We then have an opposite list of the fruit of the Spirit. This list entails nine Spiritual Attitudes which inevitably manifest themselves in how we relate to others. The fruit include: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
The Challenge: Claim to be filled with the Spirit, led by Him? Check for fruit in your life!
We are making great progress as we think through the themes in this great epistle to the Galatians. I’m teaching this book to a group of students at the Word of Life Bible Institute on Jeju Island, Korea, June 11-15.
“The flesh” in the Bible often refers to our sinful nature, which is the case here. We were called to be free, but we are not to use our freedom to indulge our sinful natures. Instead we are to humbly serve one another (v. 13).
We must walk by the Spirit and such walking will keep us from gratifying “the flesh” (v. 16). “The flesh” and the Spirit are mortal enemies. Paul lists 15 “acts of the flesh” and counters those sins with nine fruit of the Spirit (vv. 19-23).
This is no small matter. If we “walk by the Spirit” we will commit ourselves to crucifying the flesh (v. 24)! Could Paul have said it any stronger?
May I ask you today — What fruit of the Spirit are you in most need of developing? Ask God to give you specific steps in that area.
Don’t you love the variety in the Scriptures? Here in chapter 5 Paul uses several analogies and metaphors to express his deep concern for the Galatian believers. Let’s continue our study of this great epistle by looking at verses 7-12. Here, I believe, the theme is misguided persuasion!
Paul commends these Christians for the good race they were running. But someone “cut in” on them (v. 7). Someone got in their way, cut them off from “obeying the truth”! And those who cut in on them used their persuasive powers to take them away from the simple gospel.
And their being persuaded infected others (“a little yeast,” v. 9). This person who misled them threw them into confusion (v. 10) and will be subject to God’s judgment (“will have to pay the penalty”).
Paul makes it clear that he is not preaching circumcision, for his being persecuted shows this to be true. He has not given up persecution for perversion. He has not relinquished “the offense of the cross” (v. 11).
He then, in an Old Testament imprecatory way, wishes that these false teachers would follow their own advice and emasculate themselves! Wow!
The perversion of the gospel is serious! And there are hidden and not-so-hidden persuaders out there seeking to confuse God’s people and to do way with the offense of the cross. Don’t let anyone cut in on you and your race for the Lord! And don’t just stand on the sidelines. Get in the race!
We are continuing our brief look at several major themes in the book of Galatians. We’re getting ready to take about a fifteen-hour flight to Jeju Island, Korea, to teach students at the Word of Life Bible Institute.
I’m certainly learning a lot about this book. And I hope you are as well. The next theme that comes in this great epistle is the theme of freedom! We see in verse 1 of chapter five that “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free”! Free from what? Free from trying to justify ourselves by our pathetic efforts to keep God’s law!
Note that the verse doesn’t say “It is for Himself that Christ has set us free.” It is for FREEDOM! What should be the experience of FREEDOM for the believer?
As servants of the Savior we are free from the yoke of slavery of keeping the whole law (v. 3). We seek to be obedient because we love the Lord, not because our obedience saves us! Putting ourselves under the law in a salvation-sense means: (1) we have been alienated from Christ!; and (2) we have fallen from grace (v. 4)! Those are certainly not two consequences that I want in my life! How about you?
In preparation (I’ve never taught the book of Galatians), we’re asking a bunch of questions about this amazing epistle. Let’s pose some queries (my Mom would have been proud of my use of that word) about chapter 5:
Eighteen Questions about Galatians chapter five:
1. Why has Christ set us free (v. 1)?
2. How should the Galatian believers respond to the slave-makers (v. 1)?
3. The big deal seems to be circumcision. Why would Paul say that if they let themselves be circumcised, “Christ will be of no value to you at all” (v. 2)? That’s pretty dramatic!
4. One would, therefore, be obligated to obey the whole law. But aren’t we obligated to obey God’s law anyway? How does verse 4 help us understand this issue?
5. To try to be justified “by the law” = being alienated from Christ! It means falling away from grace! What does “falling away from grace” mean (v. 4)?
6. What is it that really “counts” in Christ Jesus (v. 6)?
7. What is meant by “faith expressing itself through love” (v. 6)?
8. The analogy of a race: The Galatians were “running a good race.” But someone “cut in on [them].” What does that mean (v. 7).
9. How should we respond to the truth, according to verse 7?
10. There was a book years ago about advertising called The Hidden Persuaders. What is the persuasion Paul refers to here in verse 8?
11. What or whom is Paul quoting in verse 9? What’s the point of that aphorism?
12. The Apostle is engaged in a mental battle to persuade the Galatians not to put themselves back under the law. He is seeking to persuade. Is his confidence in his own reasoning powers (v. 10)?
13. This is no small matter that Paul is grappling with. There is one who is “throwing [the Galatians] into confusion.” What is the “penalty” they will have to pay (v. 10)?
14. How does the offense of the cross get abolished, according to verse 11?
15. Paul uses strong language in verse 12 (“those agitators . . . [should] emasculate themselves!”). Is this an example of an imprecatory prayer?
16. Verse 13 reiterates the fact that we were “called to be free.” How is that freedom to be shown, according to verses 13-15?
17. What, specifically, does it mean to “walk by the Spirit” (verses 16-26)?
18. Make a chart listing the 15 acts of the flesh and the 9 fruit of the Spirit (vv. 19-22). Pick one of the fruit of the Spirit to begin working on!
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live my life as a victim of my habits. As we think about the holy habits that we must work on, we’ve seen nine which I’m focusing on. Your list might be different than mine, but most of the ones I’ve mentioned, it seems to me, ought to mark every believer in Jesus.
Let me review the nine briefly before I talk about the tenth. I need to be into God’s Word on a daily basis and I need to give myself to a life of serious prayer! I need to work on an attitude of thankfulness and pursue the discipline of solitude with the Lord. I want to share Jesus with others and grow in my understanding of how to be a true friend. I want to be quick to forgive and be marked by a spirit of submission to the Lord. I know I need to be more willing to apologize when I’ve wronged someone.
The tenth habit that I’m working on is regularly taking stock of where I am in my Christian walk. This kind of self-diagnosis has its limits, but I need to ask myself if I’m making any progress in the set of habits we’ve discussed. The philosopher William James put it this way: “Could the young but realize how soon they will become mere walking bundles of habits, they would give more heed to their conduct while in the plastic state.” We are certainly much more than “mere walking bundles of habits,” but we are not less. Our habits show our hearts.
Asking myself how I’m doing is a step in the right direction. Asking others how I’m doing is risky and painful, but will give me issues to work on! We all know the fruit of the Spirit, right? Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” These are virtues which may be adopted into our lives — and worked on! Asking myself, how am I doing when it comes to, for example, self-control, is a habit that keeps me from acting like a victim and making a lot of excuses!