The degree to which we walk in the Spirit of God is the degree to which we overcome the flesh.
Scripture: Galatians 5:16-26
- Obedience to God’s law is not the source of life but the way of life for those redeemed by faith in Christ.
- The Gospel of freedom leads to Spirit-filled, righteous living and produces peace and joy.
- Under the law we are dead, “executed” for our sins; for our pardon we plead the death of our Substitute (cf. Romans 6:11).
- A spiritual life does not mean rejection of the physical world, marriage, food, and bodily desires.
- The flesh is man left to himself without the Spirit of God active in him; the works of the flesh are thoughts and actions originating in sin.
- The degree to which we walk in the Spirit of God is the degree to which we overcome the flesh.
- Paul categorizes the works of the flesh:
Sexual Sins: fornication is treason against God’s basic institution of the family and refers to any immoral sexual relationship; debauchery is open contempt for decency and God’s standards.
Religious Sins: idolatry is an offense against God that involves serving the created order; witchcraft involves altering the state of mind with drugs and occult tampering with evil.
Social sins: Hatred is a product of enmity against God. Strife and discord are a product of hatred. Jealousy and fits of rage are a result of alienation from God and sinful man’s insecurity. Rivalries and contentions result from sinful divisions. Hereses result when people pick and choose what parts of the Bible to believe. Envy is an ugly, murderous sin because it refuses to allow others to be in better circumstances than we are. You know you are in envy if you are pleased to hear bad news about others and displeased about good news. Drunkenness is the loss of control to anything that is intoxicating. We are no longer governed by God’s Spirit if we lose control of our faculties. Loss of control leads to lawless revelry and debauchery.
- True believers who have received the Spirit of God may temporarily fall into such sins, but they will repent.
- Those who habitually practice the works of the flesh will not inherit the kingdom of God.
- Cultivating the fruit of the Spirit involves habits of mind and heart; it takes time.
- The fruit of the Spirit are the attitudes and attributes of one who is governed by the Spirit of God.
- The Holy Spirit speaking through the Scriptures defines love and holiness.
- Love reflects God’s character in our lives. Love is foremost, and is to be given unmerited (cf. 1 Cor. 13). Joy is rejoicing in the certainty of God’s work for us securing our future. We are characterized by joy because our happiness is not dependent upon the circumstances of our lives, but on the harmony in our inner being, based on enjoying peace with God.
- When we receive love, joy, and peace by the Spirit of God, we are then able to exhibit patience and longsuffering (kindly putting up with others). There should be no mean-spirited Christian; we should behave toward others in the body of Christ with kindness, a reflection of God’s kindness to us.
- Faithfulness is to be trustworthy and reliable in our calling before God. Meekness or gentleness means to be tamed and broken under God’s control. A meek person will be angry only when appropriate and is able to receive correction. Self-control means to exercise power over our own thoughts and actions and to resist temptation.
- As we grow in grace we will repent of our sins daily.
- Our families, churches and communities need to be governed by the fruit of the Spirit.
- Define the works of the flesh and the fruit of the spirit.
- Evaluate your own willingness to grow in the habits of a holy life. How is the Spirit working His fruit within us?
- What role does the Word and Sacrament play in our Christian growth in Spirit-filled thinking and living?
- What characteristics are needed if we are to be useful and serviceable to the kingdom of God?
- What is envy and why is it so destructive?
- How would you answer one who says the Spirit of God is leading them to break the clear standards of God’s Word?