Friday, September 23, 2022

Galatians Words ~ Word 12: Spirit


Galatians Words ~ Word 12: Spirit

We have seen so far in chapter 5 of Galatians that in Christ we are free from the bonds of the law and the guilt of sin through faith in Christ. Paul showed us that our faith is best expressed through loving service to others, and our love is motivated by the love of God who gave His Son for us and by the love of Christ who gave his life for us.

Paul says that the entire law is summed up in one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (5:14) The question then arises; how do we serve one another in love?  Paul’s answer to fulfilling the law and living out the gospel is:

Through the Spirit. Paul says we are to:

Walk by the Spirit” 5:16

Be led by the Spirit” 5:18

Live by character produced by the “fruit of the Spirit” 5:22-23

Live by the Spirit” 5:25

Keep in step with the Spirit” 5:25

Paul told us earlier that part of our redemption from the curse of the law and sin is the blessing of the promised Spirit.

“He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.” Galatians 3:14

Just as the key to receiving the grace of God is through faith, so is the gift of the Spirit. We received the promised Spirit when we believed the good news we heard in the gospel of grace through faith in Jesus Christ. His Spirit now resides in everyone who has put their faith in Christ.

“But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” Galatians 4:4-6

Christ’s Spirit in us reminds us that we are a child of God. Like Jesus, we can call on God as our Father, our Abba.  G. Walter Hansen says, “We call God Abba through the Son and in the power of the Spirit”. The Spirit in us will always remind us of our identity as children of God who walk in the freedom of Christ. He is our teacher, our counselor, our guide, our mediator.

Paul reminds us that though we are free from slavery to the law and sin, there is still a power struggle that goes on within us.

“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 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 you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 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.Galatians 5:16-22

My former pastor, Doug Rumschlag, used to say that “the tension – the battle of the flesh and the Spirit within us – is proof of the Spirit within you. We struggle against pockets of resistance within us.” 

Our role in this spiritual battle is not to try harder to eliminate the acts of the flesh. Nor are we to try harder to love and serve others. Trying harder is simply reverting to using our own power. Our role is to grow in the Spirit. To quote pastor Doug again, “To be spirit-filled gives you the capacity to love”. Let me also add these words from John Piper:

“Love is the fruit(product) of the Holy Spirit. It is not the product of our hard work for God. It is the fruit.”

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

At times I have tried hard to love others well, especially those who rub me the wrong way. But, in my own strength it is impossible. But the more I connect with the Spirit and allow Him to enable me in growth towards Christlikeness, then amazingly I find that I am loving others without having realized that a change has taken place.

Our work is to “walk in the Spirit’. Life in the Spirit is both active and passive. We do the ‘walking’. That means we choose to take the time to grow in the knowledge of Christ, to turn to Him in prayer in all things, to depend on His Spirit as our guide and counselor through prayer and the Word, we surround ourselves with more mature Christ followers who will help us learn the ways of the Spirit.

But life in the Spirit is also passive. We are “led by the Spirt”. We surrender our will to the will of God. We pray for and submit to the desires that the Spirit produces in us rather than the desires of the flesh, by the power of the Spirit. We let the Spirit filter our thoughts and words and actions and behavior by God’s word and His ways.

John Stott said, “It is the Spirit who does the leading, but we who do the walking”. We must discern where the Spirit is leading and then follow. Over time walking in and being led by the Spirit results in evident fruit. Paul says that fruit is love. Faith produces love and love produces a multitude of virtues.

“Since we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25

Craig Keener says to keep in step with the Spirit is to “place our feet in the footsteps of the Spirit”. We walk where He guides us.

Over time when we walk with the Spirit and are led by Him, the Spirit’s desires will become stronger in us than the desires of the flesh, because the desires the Spirit produces in us align with the will of the Father.

In preparation for our final three words it would be good to read Galatians chapter 6. 

Share how you respond in the Words Challenge Facebook group. You can also share on social media using #galatianswords.



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