Each week on Thursdays we highlight a trustworthy discipleship resource that can help you in your mission to make disciples. This week’s post is from Explore the Bible: Galatians—Experiencing True Freedom in Christ by James Merritt. Fill out the form at the bottom of this post by 11:59pm on Friday for a chance to win 10 Bible Study Books and a Leader Kit for this resource!
Explore the Bible: Galations
Walking with the Spirit
People who are transformed by God’s grace give evidence of godly character. After conversion the Holy Spirit immediately goes to work in the life of a believer to transform him or her into the image of Christ. In Galatians 5 Paul described what it means to walk with the Spirit and not in the flesh.
Love Your Neighbor as Yourself
Paul emphasized that the Galatians were called to be free from the law. This freedom could have led to immoral living. However, they weren’t to use their freedom “as an opportunity for the flesh” (v. 13). If they were truly brothers and sisters in Christ, the Galatians would use their freedom to serve one another through love. The opposite of living in the flesh is a life of godly love. Life in the flesh is selfish, but freedom allows us to put others’ needs ahead of our own needs (see v. 14).
Yield to the Holy Spirit on a Daily Basis
Paul encouraged people who had genuinely met Christ to “walk by the Spirit” (v. 16). The desire of the flesh is strong. The word desire can mean “lust, longing, or craving.” Although unbelievers are dominated by the flesh, Christians can also be susceptible to the flesh if they yield to its mastery. Trusting Christ for salvation doesn’t mean the flesh is once and for all eradicated. Sanctification is a process of spiritual growth as we yield to the power of the Holy Spirit on a daily basis.
The Works of the Flesh Lead Us Away from God
The works of the flesh Paul listed include sexual sins (see v. 19), religious perversion (see v. 20), and societal sins (see vv. 20-21). Those who habitually practice the works of the flesh “will not inherit the kingdom of God” (v. 21).
The Holy Spirit Produces Fruit in the Lives of Believers
Not surprisingly, love is the first fruit Paul listed as produced by the Spirit. God Himself is love (see 1 John 4:8), so only the Holy Spirit can produce this quality. The Spirit also produces joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Paul proclaimed that the law isn’t against the fruit of the Spirit. Legalism might oppose these qualities but not the law. The law can encourage these qualities, but it can’t create them in a person. Only the presence and power of the Spirit can produce this fruit.
Believers Keep in Step with the Spirit
People who live by the Spirit should also keep in step with the Spirit. The term “keep in step” (v. 25) means “to get in line with someone or something.” Legalism breeds pride because it trusts in our own ability. The Galatians who were pursuing God through legalism wouldn’t admit their need for the Holy Spirit’s enablement. In addition, a legalistic spirit promotes selfish motives that advance a person at the expense of relationships with the Lord and others. Therefore, following the Spirit prevents believers from provoking one another like the legalists who had caused division in the Galatian church. Finally, following the Spirit doesn’t lead us to envy one another. People who live by the Spirit have no reason to constantly compare themselves to others.
Editor’s note: This article is an excerpt from the Bible study, Explore the Bible: Galatians—Experiencing True Freedom in Christ by James Merritt. Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers®. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.