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Sunday School Lesson

February 26

Christ Creates Holy Living

Devotional Reading: Romans 6:1-11

Background Scripture: Galatians 5:18-6:10

 

Galatians 5:18-26

18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

Galatians 6:1-10

1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.

4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.

5 For every man shall bear his own burden.

6 Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.

7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

Key Verses

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.—Galatians 5:22, 23

 

Lesson Aims

After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:

1. Recite the key verses from memory.

2. Contrast the life reflecting God’s grace with the life centered on serving self.

3. Identify the element of the fruit of the Spirit he or she models least and make a plan for change.

Introduction

 

A. The Portrait of God’s Person

If you happen to see a finely executed oil painting, not just a reproduction but the handiwork of an artist with a brush, look at it closely. From a distance, we see a singular image. But up close, we can see the many-layered colors that create the vivid image. The unity of a fine painting is the result of thousands of details.

So it is with lives transformed by the saving work of God. Such lives make a singular impression on us. They reflect how God saves undeserving sinners through faith in His Son. But that singular impression is the result of many fine details. God’s grace reshapes every aspect of a saved sinner’s life.

Our text provides an experience like close examination of a fine oil painting. In it Paul paints a word portrait of God’s person. Closely examined, its details reveal a singular image of divine transformation.

B. Lesson Background

This is the final lesson of this unit’s consideration of Paul’s letter to the Galatians. At the risk of oversimplifying, freedom could be a one-word summary of Paul’s emphasis up to the beginning of today’s lesson. For former pagans, this meant freedom from slavery to falsehood. For those who came to faith in Christ from Judaism, it meant freedom from repeated failures to keep God’s law.

But freedom can be a dangerous thing. Can we trust ourselves to do what is right if we are free from law or threat? That’s the fundamental question Paul addressed as today’s lesson picks up where the text of last week’s concluded.

I. Charter of Life in the Spirit

                                                                 (Galatians 5:18)

18. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

The Law of Moses marked Israel as God’s people. But in Christ, we are marked as God’s people in that we are led of the Spirit. The Spirit’s power transforms us to reflect God’s own character, displaying in our lives the grace by which God brought us into His family.

This has important implications. Not being under the law sounds to some like a license to do as one pleases, as if “anything goes.” But in this law-free life, God’s Spirit leads people to become like God, not to become more entangled in their own selfishness. In fact, it is by being led by God’s Spirit that we actually fulfill the teaching found in God’s law.

Not the Letter, But …

In Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, Antonio makes a deal with moneylender Shylock. If Antonio does not repay the debt, he will have to pay a literal “pound of flesh.” When Antonio cannot repay, Shylock is ready to exact the punishment. But Portia, a wealthy heiress, appeals to Shylock to show mercy when she says, “The quality of mercy is not strain’d. … It is twice blest: It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.”

Shylock is not moved by this appeal. So Portia quibbles with him about the precise wording of the agreement. Exacting a pound of flesh will cost Antonio blood as well as flesh. Since Shylock’s threat did not mention blood, the “letter of the law” means he cannot get his pound of flesh.

Paul’s appeal to be led by the Spirit rather than the law has the force of directing us to what God intends to happen as we follow Him. Paul’s opponents were interested first and foremost in a strict obedience to the Law of Moses. Paul challenged them to see, here and elsewhere, that “as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Romans 8:14).—C. R. B.

What Do You Think?

What are some ways to help new Christians make the transition from life “under the law” to living the Spirit-led life?

Points for Your Discussion

In speech patterns

In behavioral habits

In relationships

In attitude

Other

II. Details of the Self-Ruled Life

                                                              (Galatians 5:19-21)

A. Sexual Sin (v. 19)

19. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness.

For purposes of contrast, Paul reminds readers what life in the flesh, the self-ruled life, is like. His list of vices falls into four groupings across three verses. The verse before us has the first group: terms for sexual sin.

Adultery and fornication encompass all forms of sexual activity other than that between one woman and one man who are married to each other. Uncleanness suggests both sexual acts outside the marriage context and the effect that such acts have on those engaged in them. Sexual sin affects deeply. It involves physical dangers, but even more it endangers heart and mind.

Lasciviousness shows the extent to which sexual sin takes a person. This term refers to behavior that is shocking to public decency. Even cultures far from godly standards uphold some standards of sexual propriety (1 Corinthians 5:1), but a life of selfishness will find a way to shock any society.

What Do You Think?

What steps can we take to demonstrate that a life faithful to God’s design for sex is superior to any other?

Points for Your Discussion

In marriage

In singleness

In conversation

Other

B. Occult Practices and Selfishness (v. 20)

20. Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies.

The two words at the beginning of this verse comprise the second group in Paul’s list. Idolatry involves making gods in images chosen by humans (Isaiah 2:8; etc.). Witchcraft is the attempt to use substances to manipulate the spirit world (compare 2 Chronicles 33:6).

The seven words that follow the first two constitute Paul’s third group. Hatred is the opposite of God’s gracious love and the sure result of a selfish perspective. Variance translates a term meaning dissention among people. Emulations are strong passions that resent others’ success. Wrath is the strong expression of anger and conflict. Strife is the forming of mutually hostile groups to advance one’s own interests. Seditions take that party spirit to higher conflict. Heresies suggest not just false belief but persistent, destructive division.

C. Self-Destruction (v. 21)

21. Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Envyings and murders continue the previous grouping of selfishness. They refer to the desire to deprive others of what they have—even life itself!

Paul concludes with two terms that represent public displays of the self-destructiveness produced by sinful selfishness. Drunkenness (intoxication from alcohol) suggests individual self-destruction. Drunkenness is part of the wild-party atmosphere of revellings, which includes unrestrained immorality (contrast Romans 13:131 Peter 4:3). Since those who persist on this path live outside God’s kingdom in the present, they can hardly claim to belong to it in the future.

III. Details of the Spirit-Led Life

                                                                (Galatians 5:22-24)

A. Foundational Characteristics (v. 22a)

22a. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace.

The list of works of the flesh serves as a contrast to Paul’s point: what the life controlled by the Holy Spirit produces. All the Spirit’s work reflects God’s character and actions. A hundred terms would not capture everything, but the short list that begins here provides a sketch that is more than adequate.

As with the previous list, this one groups similar characteristics. It begins with three foundational aspects of the Christ-follower’s character: love, joy, and peace.

The kind of love Paul has in mind is not conditioned on how deserving of love the object is. Rather, the kind of love in view flows from grace that blesses the undeserving. It is the kind of love God demonstrates toward us (John 3:16). When God’s Spirit creates the same kind of love in the heart of the Christian, we are impelled to love those who do not deserve it and can give nothing in return.

Joy is the outlook of celebration that flows from knowing what God has done. God’s Spirit reminds us that God has triumphed through the work of Christ. This gives us reason to rejoice regardless of circumstances (Philippians 4:4).

Peace reminds us of Old Testament statements about the peace that God grants His people (Numbers 6:26Psalm 29:11Isaiah 9:6, 755:12; etc.). More than the end of hostility, such peace means positive goodwill and fellowship (Luke 2:14). As God has made whole our relationship with Him, His Spirit empowers us to make relationships whole with others.

B. Relational Characteristics (v. 22b)

22b. Longsuffering, gentleness, goodness.

The second grouping consists of characteristics that undergird relationships. Longsuffering is patience regarding the failings of others. As God is patient with us, his Spirit empowers our patience toward others (compare Romans 2:43:25).

Gentleness names the attitude that seeks to do positive good to others in all circumstances. Again, because God treats His people in this way, His Spirit enables them to treat others likewise (Colossians 3:12).

Goodness further develops the idea of gentleness, putting the attitude into action. Those empowered by the Spirit do not simply want the good; they actually do good things for others (Ephesians 5:9).

C. Devotional Characteristics (vv. 22c, 23)

22c, 23. Faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

The list concludes with three general characteristics that undergird all the believer’s actions. Faith in this context in this context communicates a willingness to practice without fail what one believes. As God has been devoted and persistent to fulfill the promises He has made, so also His Spirit empowers us to be persistently devoted. We conduct ourselves just as faithfully as God has. We are dependably loyal to our Lord and to our fellow believers. We even dependably love our enemies.

A second general feature undergirding Spirit-filled action is meekness. The meek do not seek to assert rights or privileges. As Christ emptied himself of privilege in becoming human, so do those empowered by His Spirit (compare Ephesians 4:2).

Temperance is self-control, the ability to keep one’s desires in check. This was a characteristic widely admired in Paul’s time, but not widely practiced any more then than now. Coming at the end of Paul’s list, this term reminds us that with the Spirit’s many positive impulses, our desires no longer become the basis for selfish, destructive thoughts and actions (compare 2 Peter 1:5-7).

Those who exhibit the kinds of characteristics listed can be trusted to fulfill God’s purpose, as expressed in His Word, in any situation. The Spirit-led require no threats of punishment. We serve God with a joyous freedom that wants nothing more than for His salvation to transform their lives.

What Do You Think?

How far along are you in each area of fruit production? How will you speed the process?

Points for Your Discussion

Areas in the germination phase: just sprouting

Areas maturing: taking in nutrients

Areas in the pollination phase: your fruit is an example to others

D. Victory in Life’s Struggle (v. 24)

24. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

The fruit of the Spirit grows as the works of the flesh recede. That process has its decisive start at the beginning of the Christian life. Uniting with Christ in His death by faith at the time of baptism (Colossians 2:12), believers put to death the old, selfish life. What that life found attractive becomes repugnant in the new life. This does not imply instantaneous, complete victory over the old life. The struggle continues (Galatians 5:17), but Christ’s victory at the cross assures our victory.

 

IV. Practicing the Spirit-Led Life

                                                           (Galatians 5:25-6:10)

A. In Community (5:25-6:6)

5:25. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

The Christian follows the Spirit’s empowerment and lives by the reality of the cross. To walk in the Spirit is to put into routine practice the fruit of the Spirit. It means really living what we confess to be true about God’s saving grace.

26. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

Walking in the Spirit means seeking God’s glory, not our own. We encourage and support one another in this. Since Christ died for our brothers and sisters, His Spirit does not permit us to act in rivalry with them.

6:1. Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

A person genuinely empowered by the Spirit cannot have a superior attitude toward one who sins. The empowered person can only act in meekness, a fruit of the Spirit, not asserting one’s own prestige. Spirit-led meekness seeks what Christ sought: the restoration of the fallen, with constant awareness of one’s own need for God’s grace.

Forgiveness to Restoration

Mary’s 20-year-old son, Laramiun, was shot and killed in a fight at a party in 1993. The 16-year-old who pulled the trigger, Oshea Israel, was tried and convicted as an adult.

At the time, Mary called Oshea “an animal” that “deserved to be caged.” But as a Christian, Mary finally decided that she had to forgive Oshea. She visited him in prison, and when he was released after 17 years, she asked her landlord to invite Oshea to live next door to her. She says, “Unforgiveness is like cancer; it will eat you from the inside out.” In the attempt to restore Oshea, one result was that Mary herself was restored!

We may never be called on to exercise the kind of forgiveness-to-restoration Mary demonstrated. But don’t we like to think we could?—C. R. B.

2. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

By helping to restore one another, we are fellow laborers who share one another’s loads. Sometimes the only burden to be lifted is as simple as one of quenching thirst (Matthew 10:42). Restoring the fallen is, well, more burdensome. But Christ empowers us to do so. As we do, we join with Christ in fulfilling the purpose of the cross: forgiveness of sin.

What Do You Think?

What would a “mutual burden-bearing ministry” look like in a church? How will you help get one started?

Points for Your Discussion

In terms of establishing connections

In terms of developing empathy

In terms of cultivating openness

Other

3. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.

The opposite of the Spirit-led life that helps the fallen is the flesh-led life that builds up self. Pursuing personal glory denies the most essential truth of our salvation: the grace of God. In that denial we deceive no one but ourselves.

4. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.

Life in the Spirit produces not self-promotion but self-testing. The cross-oriented person asks, “Does my life reflect the grace of God?” That is not a question of comparing ourselves with others. Compared with others, we realize merely that we are all sinners in need of grace. Seeing the work of grace in our lives, we rejoice in the Lord who is at work within us.

5. For every man shall bear his own burden.

Paul speaks paradoxically. We bear one another’s burdens, he says, when we seek to restore those fallen in sin (v. 2). But others’ failures or successes form no basis for one’s perspective on one’s own life. That question belongs only to the individual. By the Spirit’s empowerment we both help one another and accept full responsibility for self.

What Do You Think?

What steps can we take to help people bear their own burdens?

Points for Your Discussion

Concerning financial issues

Concerning relationship issues

Concerning personalities that are chronically “needy”

Other

6. Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.

In standing fully responsible before God, we do not think of ourselves as self-made people. We rely on Christ, and we rely on those who have taught us the gospel. To communicate with such a person is to share tangibly from God’s good gifts with those who have shared God’s greatest gift with us.

B. With Persistence (vv. 7-10)

7. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

The Galatian Christians have already discovered how easy it is to forsake the gospel for old-life distortion when they added circumcision to faith in Jesus (Galatians 1:6-9). The same could happen again, should they again follow something rooted in the old life rather than in the grace God shows in Christ. God does not allow those who sow abandonment of grace to harvest grace. He will not allow His grace to be treated with hypocritical contempt.

8. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

Following the old life yields a death-like result: corruption is the decay of death. But the life led by the Spirit means the opposite: life everlasting. Christians are to persist in the good news of Christ as heard in its pure truth. Doing so will enable us to put into practice (sow to the Spirit) the grace of God that makes us His people forever.

9. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

The grace-based, Spirit-empowered life is a life of constant challenge. As Christ endured the cross to bring God’s grace, His people endure hardships as they live by God’s grace, looking forward to the victory of God yet to come.

What Do You Think?

How do you defeat weariness personally? How can you help others do so as well?

Points for Your Discussion

In understanding the relationship between physical and spiritual weariness

In terms of overcoming “compassion fatigue”

Considering the role of the Holy Spirit

Other

10. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

The grace-based life expresses God’s grace by doing all kinds of good to all kinds of people. Our deepest kinship is with those who have received God’s grace, our fellow Christians. To them we have first duty to express God’s grace with our generous actions. But we need never ask whether the call of grace stops at the doors of the church. Since Christ died for all and calls all to belong to Him, then His people do good for all as well.

Conclusion

A. Grace and Power

Today’s text sets forth key ideas. One is that God has a purpose for our existence. We are to be like him in his goodness, grace, and love. We find true satisfaction only when we fulfill that purpose.

A second key idea is that we fail to fulfill God’s purpose when we pursue something that supplants God’s grace. We too often prefer a life centered on selfishness instead of God’s gracious love. Paul uses a single word to stand for this dark, universal tendency: flesh. By that he does not mean that our physical bodies or their desires are evil in and of themselves. Rather, he means that as a person lives by selfishness instead of God’s grace, that person lives as if God were not in the picture. That person lives as if flesh is all that matters.

But there is an antidote to the life of the flesh: God’s Holy Spirit. He empowers a person to overcome the old life that ignores God, adopting attitudes and behaviors that reflect what God has done. The Spirit’s power is sure, but it requires our cooperation so that we fulfill God’s purpose and reflect his grace.

Today’s text gives us a huge task. But it gives us just as big a reason: the grace of God that grants eternal life by faith in Christ. And it gives us just as great a power: God’s Holy Spirit, who enables us to overcome the old life to reflect God’s grace.

B. Prayer

O God, may we always express Your grace in who we are and what we do! We pray this in the name of the one who died for us. Amen.

C. Thought to Remember

Life in Christ is more than change of behavior. It is a change in citizenship.

How to Say It

heresies hair-uh-seez.

lasciviousness luh-sih-vee-us-nuss.

 

 

 

 

Kid’s Corner

Keeping in Step with the Spirit

February 26, 2017

Galatians 5:18-6:10

 

 

Galatians 5:18-6:10

(Galatians 5:18) But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.

Paul warns Christians not to focus on laws or rules in an effort to be right with God; not to focus on measuring their performance and acceptability to God on the basis of religious requirements, including paganism and Judaism. Instead, Christians learn the Word of God and focus on being led by the Holy Spirit, Who will give them the right understanding of the Bible and the Bible’s application to their daily decisions.

(Galatians 5:19) Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,

From the Scriptures, Christians learn what not to do as Christians or even as human beings, for human beings were not designed by God to find happiness and health in certain types of behaviors; such as those listed in these verses that are obvious to a reasonable mind. When Christians feel unholy desires, or are tempted by the world in which we live or by evil powers that seek to stimulate them to do these things, they know these desires and feelings are contrary to being led by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will never lead anyone into any of these practices or variations of them. Our bodies are the temple of God, and we are not to use our bodies in these ways (see 1 Corinthians 3:16-17). The Holy Spirit will help us avoid destructive choices so we can live for God.

(Galatians 5:20) idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions,

In addition to sins committed through a person’s body with others, Paul lists sins of the mind and spirit. As the Bible reveals, enemy powers affiliated with idolatry and witchcraft can lead people to turn away from God and the truth. Paul also warns that wrong thinking, falsehoods, and deceptions of various kinds can lead to conflicts and the loss of self-control.

(Galatians 5:21) envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

To live in the ways Paul describes here is contrary to the will of God, the teaching of Jesus, the leadership of the Holy Spirit, the Bible, and commonsense. In Romans 14:17, Paul defined the Kingdom of God: “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” A sinful way of life is the very opposite of life in the Kingdom of God. Living in the sinful ways Paul describes in Galatians is the opposite of living in the righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit that the Bible promises as a way of life for the children of God. The children of God are the ones who will inherit the Kingdom of God by grace through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

(Galatians 5:22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

As believers look for guidance from and cooperate with the Holy Spirit, Who lives within them, they will begin to develop the pure moral character of God their Father and their Lord Jesus Christ. Under a variety of temptations and sufferings, Jesus Christ demonstrated all the fruits (or fruit) of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit will help believers show forth all of these character traits of Jesus (which Paul lists here) in all situations. As believers draw closer to God, they will ask the Holy Spirit to help them in every situation. They will live differently from the way those of this world live.

(Galatians 5:23) gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

The fruits (or fruit) of the Holy Spirit are not laws to follow, but good habits that the Spirit of God helps us develop for any situation as we trust in His leading and empowerment. The Holy Spirit will help believers in Jesus Christ take all of the godly, positive actions that God’s law of love requires no matter what the situation. He guides and empowers believers to love God and others without their needing a book of rules to cover every possible temptation or situation. People without the Holy Spirit usually look for ways to avoid obeying (without actually “breaking”) rules and laws that conflict with their selfish self-interests. For this reason, we see the ineffectiveness of governments enacting more and more laws to try to curb the lawless behavior of those who try to work around the laws by finding loopholes in every law that would restrict their selfish desires.

(Galatians 5:24) Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Crucifixion is painful and death does not immediately follow crucifixion. If we belong to Christ Jesus, we will begin the sometimes painful process of changing from destructive habits to living as Jesus Christ lived in the power of the Holy Spirit. Our emotions (formerly enslaved to the elemental spirits, the passions and desires that the world inflames in every way it can to mislead people) need to be controlled by the Holy Spirit as we consciously “nail” our former evil habits and temptations to the cross of Jesus Christ. While breaking bad habits in the power of the Holy Spirit, believers also pray for the Holy Spirit to help them follow and obey Jesus Christ under the most trying temptations.

(Galatians 5:25) If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

Having turned from living for the pleasures of sin and the world, having turned from the guilt and suffering that naturally follow sinning, believers have turned to Jesus Christ for salvation and to serving Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Salvation involves both turning from sin and turning to Jesus. When the Holy Spirit comes to live within believers, believers need to choose to live by following and being guided by the Holy Spirit in all of their choices. Bible study, prayerful Bible study, helps believers discern the leading of the Holy Spirit and distinguish His leading from the leading of deceptive spirits. “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will renounce the faith by paying attention to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1).

(Galatians 5:26) Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.

As a free gift, God has given us everything that we enjoy in the spiritual realm, along with many natural or physical blessings. All believers have been adopted into the family of God by God’s gracious gift through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Believers are not adopted into God’s family on the basis of any works they have performed; therefore, no believer should think he is spiritually superior to any other believer. Nor should believers use their natural or spiritual gifts or talents to compete spiritually with others who also have natural and spiritual gifts that God has given on purpose so they can serve Him and others. Believers should not envy those whose gifts differ from their gifts. Of course, Paul is not saying that believers cannot be involved in competitions, games, or competitive sports.

(Galatians 6:1) Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.

Having begun his letter with strong words toward the “foolish Galatians,” Paul still considered them his friends. He had detected them in a transgression. They had turned to a different gospel. His letter was his attempt to restore them in a spirit of gentleness. When they corrected others, he wanted them to do as he had done with them. Some who condemn or correct others harshly have been tempted and have fallen into doing what they have harshly condemned others for doing.

(Galatians 6:2) Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.

Some believers still carry the burdens of guilt from previous sins and other believers need to encourage them with the loving promises of Jesus Christ and the Bible, that God the Father and Jesus Christ have forgiven them through Christ’s death on the cross and their faith in Him. Some struggle with the burden of destructive habits and passions that they have nailed to the cross of Christ, but habits and passions that have not yet died. Other believers can encourage them as the Holy Spirit helps them with the right words, and as believers pray for one another and work together to find ways of escaping temptations when they come.

(Galatians 6:3) For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

Apart from the salvation we enjoy as a gift from God through faith in Jesus Christ, and apart from the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we are basically people created in the image of God who have sinned and deserve eternal punishment. If we think we are someone or something important apart from or beyond the work of Jesus Christ for us and in us, then we deceive ourselves.

(Galatians 6:4) But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another.

How well we follow the Bible’s teachings, how well we demonstrate the fruit of the Holy Spirit, how well we show forth the loving character of Jesus Christ, are the standards by which we can test ourselves in our daily walk. Praying for God to guide us and help us live according to His standards are sufficient challenges for us. As Christians, we should not compare our performance to our neighbors’ performance as a standard by which we can measure our performance in order to feel superior to others. As we grow spiritually according to God’s standards, we need to give thanks to God and the Holy Spirit at work within us.

(Galatians 6:5) For each one will bear his own load.

With respect to our living according to what Paul called the “law of Christ,” Who taught, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another” (John 13:34), we need to carry our own load of following the Holy Spirit and not depend on the Holy Spirit in others to lead them to forgive us or not be hurt if we sin against them. Every believer is responsible to develop the character of Christ within them, and not expect other believers to put up with their misbehavior. God expects every Christian to live responsibly and not take advantage of the good will of others.

(Galatians 6:6) The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him.

Bible teachers have a major responsibility to teach the Bible, the Word of God, accurately and truly, which involves prayer, intense study, and time. Many cannot also support their families (or themselves as Paul did) by also having enough time to work full time jobs. Therefore, Paul encouraged believers to care for their teachers by sharing “all good things” or money from the jobs that God had given them.

(Galatians 6:7) Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.

The Bible teaches that if we sow evil deeds we will reap evil. If we sow good deeds, we will reap good; if not from others, then from God, for God will not be mocked [treated with contempt or ridiculed]. We know that if we sow corn, we will reap corn and not beans. The same principle is true in the spiritual realm.

(Galatians 6:8) For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

If we follow our emotions, our passions, our unholy desires, instead of following the Holy Spirit and the Bible’s teachings [the Bible was inspired by the Holy Spirit: “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)] we will suffer the consequences in our own bodies [“He said, ‘If you will listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God, and do what is right in his sight, and give heed to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will not bring upon you any of the diseases that I brought upon the Egyptians; for I am the LORD who heals you’” (Exodus 15:26) and “If you do not diligently observe all the words of this law that are written in this book, fearing this glorious and awesome name, the LORD your God, then the LORD will overwhelm both you and your offspring with severe and lasting afflictions and grievous and lasting maladies. He will bring back upon you all the diseases of Egypt, of which you were in dread, and they shall cling to you” (Deuteronomy 28:58-60)]. If we seek to follow the Holy Spirit and the Bible’s teachings, we will bear the fruit of the Spirit and we will reap life eternal with God even if our bodies die before Christ comes again: not all of the diseases we suffer are a direct consequence of our sins. Paul is not teaching here or elsewhere that believers are saved by their works; rather, he is teaching that the behavior of believers has consequences, eternal consequences. True believers will sow to the Spirit and fight to overcome sin and temptations.

(Galatians 6:9) Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.

Paul preached against adding the works of the law as works we must do in order to be saved. He did not mean that we do not need to strive to do right and avoid doing wrong. Because the Holy Spirit lives within believers, believers need to pray for His strength when they grow weary of doing what is good and right, and then they need to keep on doing the right even when they grow tired or discouraged. God will bless believes in special ways when they do not give up.

(Galatians 6:10) So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

Doing right includes working for the good of all people. In our business dealings, we are never to cheat anyone or tell a lie to anyone, but do what is best and right for everyone (seller and buyer, employer and employee). Our job as believers is to try to promote what is good in our world. Our primary focus is to promote what is right and good for all of God’s children, all those in the family of faith.

 

Keeping in Step with the Spirit

February 26, 2017

Galatians 5:18-6:10

 

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

Those who say they believe in Jesus Christ as revealed in the Bible should manifest the Spirit of Jesus Christ. They may not do so perfectly, but others should see “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and selfcontrol” in their daily life (Galatians 5:22-23). Because of the grace of Jesus Christ, Paul wrote with confidence that true believers in Christ “live by the Spirit,” and that requires a conscious, intentional, mindful decision to “keep in step with the Spirit” moment-by-moment. The Spirit leads the followers of Christ into ways of service specifically suited to them. The Spirit will not lead every believer to become a preacher or teacher, but the Spirit will lead every believer to pray for their preachers and teachers. A person can be bedridden and keep in step with the Spirit through prayer. The Spirit of prayer will lead believers to pray for others in addition to themselves. The best work of every preacher and teacher depends not only on their own prayers but also on the prayers of others. Living by the Spirit may lead a believer to gently correct and restore someone caught in sin, with the realization that they themselves can also be tempted and fall into sin (Galatians 6:1). Keeping in step with the Spirit includes looking for ways to help others carry their burdens; supporting those who teach the Bible; looking for ways to please the Spirit within us; pressing on to serve Jesus Christ and others even when we are weary; not giving up but looking for opportunities to do good to all people, “especially those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:10).

 

 

Thinking Further

Keeping in Step with the Spirit

February 26, 2017

Galatians 5:18-6:10

Name _________________________

 

 1. Why do you think Paul lists “love” as the first fruit of the Spirit? How might love influence each fruit of the Spirit that Paul lists?

 

2. How can believers be guided by the Spirit and not deceived by evil spirits?

 

3. What are some thoughts and actions that can help believers restore “in a spirit of gentleness” one who has transgressed?

 

4. Explain what Paul means when he talks about sowing and reaping?

 

5. In these verses, what are some actions that Paul tells believers to take? From your observation or experience, which of these actions do people in the church most need to take today

 

Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further

 

1. Why do you think Paul lists “love” as the first fruit of the Spirit? How might love influence each fruit of the Spirit that Paul lists?In First Corinthians, chapter 13, Paul wrote that love is the greatest of three virtues: faith, hope, and love: “And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). Jesus also emphasized love; the love of God for us and the love we need to have for God and others. Love is first, and when we love as God intends, we will experience true joy in spite of our circumstances; we will seek and work for peace; we will strive to show patience; we will want to treat others with kindness; we will give generously of our time, talents, and treasure as the Lord leads us; we will demonstrate faithfulness to God and others; we will be gentle and helpful toward others in need, whether physically or spiritually or morally in need; we will seek to exercise self-control when provoked; we will not follow our flesh in our relationships with others.

2. How can believers be guided by the Spirit and not deceived by evil spirits? Believers will need to prayerfully study the Bible and seek good teachers who believe the Bible is truly the word of God. Believers will need to study the Bible knowing that the Bible is the absolutely reliable guide for life. Believers will need to remember that the Holy Spirit will never lead anyone to do what the Bible forbids, because the Holy Spirit, Who inspired the Bible writers, will never contradict himself: “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17-17). A believer must trust the Bible as the word of God and seek to bear the fruit of the Spirit, and in this way will be less likely to be misled by evil spirits. The Holy Spirit will never lead anyone to renounce God, or the truth of the Bible, or Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, or the moral law of love as expressed in the Ten Commandments and the New Testament.

3. What are some thoughts and actions that can help believers restore “in a spirit of gentleness” one who has transgressed?A believer can pray for God to fill them with humility and love for the transgressor when they speak to the transgressor. They can pray for the right words to speak and for the right timing to speak. Believers can pray for the heart and mind of the transgressor to be made ready by God to accept what they have to say as they speak in the spirit of gentleness using the words that God gives them.

4. Explain what Paul means when he talks about sowing and reaping? If we do evil or sow evil deeds, we will reap evil consequences or painful experiences. If we do good or sow good deeds prompted by the Holy Spirit and the Bible’s teachings, we will reap good consequences or good experiences. If we sow good, as Jesus sowed good, and if we are persecuted or crucified as Jesus was in this life, we will reap eternal life and eternal rewards and commendation from God.

5. In these verses, what are some actions that Paul tells believers to take?From your observation or experience, which of these actions do people in the church most need to take today? 1. We must crucify the flesh with its passions and desires. 2. We must live by and be guided by the Holy Spirit. 3. We must avoid being conceited or envious of others, especially of those who may be more spiritually advanced or more spiritually mature than we are. 4. We must not try to be spiritually better or superior to others, but seek to be like Christ, Who should serve as our standard of spiritual completeness. 5. We should prayerfully seek to restore transgressors when possible. 6. We must love and help others. 7. We must test our work according to God’s standards as revealed in the Bible. 8. We must do our share of the work with other believers. 9. We must share the good things we have with our teachers. 10. We must sow deeds that reflect the fruit of the Spirit and His leading. 11. We must keep doing right and never give up. 12. We must work for the good of all, especially fellow followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Word Search

Keeping in Step with the Spirit

February 26, 2017

Galatians 5:18-6:10

Name __________________________

 

P J M Y R T A L O D I C R K Z

D E I F I C U R C T K W I Y G

X H N O N T I R I P S N R W T

N W Y L I M A F A L D T A S M

C R L J K V O S O N K L E L K

G V Y O F W B I E V H V U I M

A O C W V L T S F S R F N T H

J P H G C E S B I A H G W A O

M K A I O E Z F H T D Q T L D

V W L T C O L Y I O J R E O C

N B G A I E D A M F E V T L M

T W E Z S E F N Y D G Y K D H

Z P K U G J N I E Z N A W R J

D R O C S I D C J S I R T M B

S S E N E L T N E G S H L P G

 

 

Spirit

Law

Idolatry

Hatred

Discord

Selfish

Kingdom

Love

Joy

Peace

Patience

Kindness

Goodness

Faithful

Gentleness

Crucified

Harvest

Family

 

 

True and False Test

Keeping in Step with the Spirit

February 26, 2017

Galatians 5:18-6:10

Name _____________________________

 

Circle the true or false answers. Correct the false statements by restating them.

 

1. Christ set us free from the law so we could do whatever we wanted. True or False

 

2. Christ’s yoke is lighter than the yoke of slavery. True or False

 

3. If you try to be justified by the law, you have been alienated from Christ. True or False

 

4. It is absolutely impossible to fall away from grace. True or False

 

5. What counts is faith expressing itself through love. True or False

 

6. Some of the Galatians had stopped obeying the truth. True or False

 

7. Christians need to beware of accepting even a small amount of false teaching. True or False

 

8. There is no penalty for trying to confuse Christians. True or False

 

9. No one in Paul’s day was offended by the preaching of the cross. True or False

 

10. If you walk by the Spirit, you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. True or False

 

 

 

Answers to the True and False Test

Galatians 5:1-17

Sunday, February 19, 2017

 

1.    False

2.    True

3.    True

4.    False

5.    True

6.    True

7.    True

8.    False

9.    False

10.True

 

Prayer

O God, may we always express Your grace in who we are and what we do! We pray this in the name of the one who died for us. Amen.