Pastor Barry Bruce The Gathering Galatians/ Study 9: Living in Liberty Series Conclusion
Flesh & Spirit Galatians 5:16-26, Romans 3:10-20
In regards to this blessed FREEDOM that we have been studying for the past eight lessons Paul tells us to “walk in the Spirit” so that we will “not gratify the desires of the flesh”. The flesh (our desires) is contrary (opposite in nature) to what the Spirit of God desires for our lives. We are not to do whatever we want, but we are to do what God wants…That is of course if we want His blessings in our life. There is a simple but humiliating fact at work here. Whenever a human does what he or she wants we are acting in the opposite of God’s nature. We are such sinful beings that we can’t do anything right without the direction of God’s Spirit. Paul’s letter to the Romans lays out the bitter facts for us. None is righteous not one! God’s law declares that because no man can keep it; therefore, anyone who tries to live under God’s law will ultimately be eternally damned under it. That is why Jesus paid for our sin and the Father sends the Holy Spirit in His name (John 14:26-27) to guide us and teach us in all things. Without Jesus we will die under the law. Without the Holy Spirit we cannot walk in a way that pleases God. Flesh is flesh and Spirit is Spirit…we must be born again (John 3:6-7) said Jesus.
IF YOU WANT GOD’S BLESSINGS IN YOUR LIFE THEN YOU MUST DO WHAT HE WANTS.
Just to make sure that it is clear to the Galatians (and us) that the things our flesh desires are wrong, Paul lays them out. Do you see any of your desires in this list in Galatians 5:19-21? Sexual immorality (fornication: Sex outside of marriage) also includes any forbidden sexual act in scripture: Impurity (sin) and debauchery (Lasciviousness: lust); idolatry (idol worship: anything that separates you from the worship of God) and witchcraft: The literal Greek word which is used here ( φαρμακεία pharmakeia) is where our word “pharmacy” comes from. This is the use of drugs for thrill or enchantment, a common practice in witchcraft. Hatred, discord, ( stirring up arguments or fights) jealousy (covetousness: intensely desiring what another person has or is), fits of rage (outburst of extreme anger), selfish ambition (putting self over others), dissensions (disagreement that leads to hostility), factions (forming of a group to stir up trouble), and envy (discontentment because of someone else’s good fortune) drunkenness, orgies (unbridled indulgence of passions: excessive drinking and sex) and the like (other such actions and attitudes). Paul makes it clear that those who choose to live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. Do you want God’s blessings? If you do then you must not seek to live according to the flesh.
When we come to Christ by faith he forgives us of our fleshly desires and sin and frees us from the bondage to these things. To remain free we simply follow the Spirit’s leading that God put within us when we came to know Christ. As we follow Him in our life we develop the “fruit of the Spirit” or the characteristics of God. We begin to change as we “hang out” with God. Paul gives us the list of these things too. Do you need any of them? Love, joy, peace, forbearance (patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Those who belong to Christ “crucify”, so to say, their flesh every time they walk in step with God’s Spirit. Paul encourages us to “keep in step with the Spirit” and to avoid drifting in to our old ways of the flesh. Jesus said we would be known by the fruit of our lives (Matthew 7:16), which should give evidence of the faith within us.
Prone to Sin Galatians 6:1-6, Romans 12:2-3
We must never forget that we were made from dirt and are dirty by nature. Without God we have no breath of life in us (Genesis 2:7). Another way to say this is that we were born in sin and without God we are dead! Paul reminds the Galatians to rescue their brothers and sisters caught in sin but to watch themselves or they too may fall. If we ever think we are no longer dirty by nature then we are in trouble. We must stay sober in our thinking if we are to remain free. We must continue in the process of being transformed by the renewing of our mind by Christ. When we think we are better than others we are not far from a fall. Receive your instruction from the word of God…be transformed continually and share all the good things you learn with your instructor (teacher) because this helps him/her to stay in that process as well.
IF YOU WANT GOD’S BLESSINGS (FREEDOM) IN YOUR LIFE THEN YOU MUST STAY SOBER.
Do Not Be Deceived Galatians 6:7-10, Proverbs 3:5-6
Paul’s warning to the Galatians and to us is straight up! We will all reap what we sow! In other words, we will get out of our life what is planted into it. Our blessing in this life has everything to do with our relationship to God. If we live to please our sin nature (flesh) then we will be destroyed. If we live to please God (do what He wants) then we will have His blessing and reap eternal life. Don’t give up keeping in step with the Spirit Christian. Don’t ever lean on your own understanding. Trust in Him with all your heart, especially in those most difficult times. Keeping the faith is the best good that you can do to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. Your faith draws people to Christ, brings light to a dark world and inspires the next generation of believers.
Boast in the Cross Galatians 6:11-18
Paul wrote this letter to the Galatians with his own hand rather than through a scribe which he often used. The letters were likely large because of his poor eye sight. In the conclusion of his letter he reiterates that the issue is not whether a person is circumcised (outwardly) but whether he is a “new creation” (inwardly) in Christ Jesus (Galatians 6:15 ).
Lastly, in verse 17 the apostle employs irony, poking fun at his enemies’ point that bodily marks (circumcision) show true commitment to God. Paul says that his bodily marks are the scars of persecution that he suffered for the gospel of Christ. May we never boast of anything except for what Christ has done as we remain free and keep in step with His Spirit.
IF YOU WANT GOD’S BLESSINGS IN YOUR LIFE THEN BOAST ONLY IN HIM.