Serve One Another in Love
Comments for Study 5
Memory Verse: 13
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I. Faith Expressing Itself Through Love (1-12)
>1. How should we maintain the freedom which Christ gave us? (1)
* Galatians 5:1 "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."
* Galatians 5:1 is a transitional verse. Paul is moving onto a new point. The new point starts in verse 2.
* "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free." -This sentence almost seems a round-about; that is, the logical falls back on itself. Yet, there are reasons that people are set free other then so that they may have freedom. Some are set free so that they may be used by those who set them free; not so with Christ. Some are set free so that someone else may exact justice on them; not so with Christ. Some are set free so that they may give something to their former prisoner; not so with Christ. Some are set free so that someone else may put them in jail; not so with Christ. We are set free so that we may enjoy our freedom and use it in anyway we want. Jesus does not want to make us to be a slave again; that is, a slave to the law. This phrase could also be translated, "with a view to enjoying freedom, Christ set us free."
* "freedom" -Emphasized by its position in the Greek sentence. The freedom spoken of here is freedom from the yoke of the law. (NIV Study Bible)
* How should we use this freedom? How do we use this freedom? These are very important questions to answer. The answer will have great impact not only in our present life, but especially the life to come. Jesus told a parable about a man that has an evil spirit cast out. He refers to him as a house that was swept clean and put in order. Later the evil spirit comes back and brings with him seven other spirits. This is how he warned the evil generation that would not accept him as the Messiah and would not repent of their sins. (Matthew 12:43-45) When Jesus comes to us we should not be like them. Also consider the ten lepers who were cleaned. Only one came back praising God in a loud voice. Only he threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him. (Luke 17:12) Look how Jesus responded.
* "Stand firm" -A term that had become common in the early church because of Jesus' parable about the house build on solid ground. Jesus said, "But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash." (Matthew 7:26-27)
* "burdened" -In classical Greek the verb meant "to be caught or entangled in."
* "burdened again by a yoke of slavery" -Paul is referring to the law. The law is a burden because of its many regulations that are hard to remember and impossible for fall man to keep 100% all of the time. Even with the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Galatian Christians and us cannot keep the law perfectly. Even with Paul's statement like this some even now teach that we can keep the law perfectly after receiving the Holy Spirit. We are encouraged to keep in step with the Spirit.
* "yoke" -A yoke is a crossbar with two U-shaped pieces that encircle the necks of a pair of oxen or other draft animals working together. See picture to the right.
* "yoke of slavery" -The burden of the rigorous demands of the law as the means for gaining God's favor - an intolerable burden for sinful man is portrayed as a yoke of slavery. (Acts 15:10-11) Jews of Paul's day an later would use the phrase, "take on the yoke of the law". Paul sees it as a yoke of slavery.
* Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)
* We are now free and able to do what was impossible before -to live unselfishly. Those who appeal to their freedom so that they can have their own way or indulge their own desires are falling back into sin. But it is also wrong to put a burden of law keeping on Christians. We must stand against those who would enslave us with rules, methods, or special conditions for being saved or growing in Christ. (Life Application Bible Studies -Galatians & Ephesians)
>2. What would be the Galatian Christians' relationship toward the law be if they subject themselves to circumcision? (2-3)
* Galatians 5:2-3 "Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law."
* "I, Paul, tell you" -Like a person in a court of law, Paul is making a declaration as if under oath. In other words he is saying, "I testify". He does this elsewhere in his letters showing he legal training in his youth.
* "circumcised" -As a condition for God's acceptance.
* "Christ will be of no value to you at all" -His act of setting us free from the law.
* "he is obligated to obey the whole law" -The Old Testament law as a whole unit; submission to it cannot be selective is one it to enter the old covenant. Today in growing numbers Christians, churches, and whole denominations are rejecting God and his words. His words are good. His law is good. But we must recognized that we cannot obey the whole law. Christ has given us a better way to live under a new covenant.
* The guidelines of the law has the ability to make a person feel comfortable about their life when it is combined with pride, the pride of keeping them. People want something to guide them, and the law does this. Children find comfort when their parents and/or guardians set clear and just laws (bed times, study times, game times, television time, etc). Adults are no different. The problem as any parent knows is that children don't keep the laws they set for their children's own good. For example: a parent of a toddler is amazed when they say, "Don't put one foot in the kitchen." Then the child looks at the threshold and puts one foots toes in the kitchen. The child finds comfort in the law, but can't resist the temptation to break the law. Augustine deals with this issue in his book City of God. He reflected on his youth. From time to time, he and his friends stole fruit from a old widow's tree in their hometown. He acknowledge that the fruit in his rich parent's orchard was much better. Yet he couldn't resist taking this widow's fruit. Most of the time he only took one bit and then through it away. He later realized that this was the sinful nature at work in his soul. So we find comfort in the law, but can't resist the appeal of breaking it.
* We can't package Christian life. We can't package a life of faith by establishing a set of laws, religious ceremonies, traditions, and regulations. We can't say, "Follow these steps and you will please God and live by his way." Some congregations, families, and individuals have done so.
* What is the better way? Living by faith expressing in love.
* A person can master laws, rules, and regulations with discipline and determination is a relatively short time. However, later they find that they are trapped and bored.
* We shouldn't ignore the law and we shouldn't depend on the law. Why? Because the law points to Christ and the law can't save us.
>Toward Christ? (4) (Think about the importance of the issue of circumcision in Paul's time and its modern application.)
* Galatians 5:4 "You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace."
* "You who are trying to be justified by law" -According to God's promise all who keep the law 100% would live and not die. Many have tried to do this. All have failed except Jesus.
* "have been alienated from Christ" -Not permanently alienated from Christ, meaning there is always a chance to change one's ways as long as we are in the flesh.
* Paul did not consider the law as evil. Rather, he considered Christians returning to salvation by keeping the law, and thus forfeiting the blessings of freedom in Christ.
* In Paul's time in order to be accepted into any aspect of Jewish society the first and most important issue was the man needed to be circumcised.
* Moses started and Jesus completed. Some Jewish-Christians were trying to reverse the order saying Jesus started and Moses completes.
* The illustration to the right is from "Galatians - A Self-Study Guide" by Irving L. Jensen.
>3. How can Christians have the hope of righteousness? (5)
* Galatians 5:5 "But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope."
* "by faith" -Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what is not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
* "we" -Paul included himself.
* "we eagerly await through the Spirit" -We do not have yet. We cannot wait without the Spirit. We are eager because we know the state we are in now is not complete.
* "await" -Jesus cleans us, but the day of completion has not yet come.
* Before Jesus, Israel awaited for the Messiah's cleansing work. Now we wait for man's redemption.
* "through the Spirit" -The Spirit is the key to waiting.
>What does "the righteousness for which we hope" refer to?
* "the righteousness for which we hope" -We hope for the righteousness to come. We do not have the righteousness now though if we believe by faith God acts in and through us as if is so. In other words, because of what Jesus did on the cross we are made righteous and that work is a continuing work. The work in us is not complete yet, but will be complete. As long as we are in this body we are not complete. As Paul wrote, "So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin." (Romans 7:21-25) We are in a body of death. One day we will rise from the dead. We will stand before the throne of God. He will declare us complete and righteous. He will say, "not guilty".
* "which we hope" -We hope for something better. Jesus said, "'You believe at last!' Jesus answered. 'But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.'" (John 16:31-33) Jesus' death and resurrection gives us hope. We are bombarded from the people of the world and we live in a body a death. Yet a better day is coming. There is hope for the future.
* What do people of the world hope in? They hope they will be rich. They hope their sports team wins. They hope they will have power and authority. They hope they can get whatever they want. They hope they will find the love of their life. They hope that people will admire them. The hope the weather will be good. They hope in a long healthy life. They hope their children will have it better than them. They hope they will be able to eat good food today. They hope in a planet full of virgins. What do people who go to a church or synagogue hope in? What do you hope in?
* 1 Corinthians 13:13 "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."
* Colossians 1:4-5 "because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints-- the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel"
* 1 Thessalonians 1:3 "We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ."
* Living by the law takes away hope in Jesus.
>What is truly valuable in Christ? (6)
* Galatians 5:6 "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love."
* "faith expressing itself through love"-Faith and love are linked. Religious activities only mean something if they are liked to faith, hope, and love. These three things are motives of the heart. The reasons we do things is what the Lord God looks at. If a persons heart is made right by God it expresses itself with faith, hope and love. These three express themselves is actions. Faith expresses itself in love.
* "expressing" -Expressing means to manifest or communicate, as by a gesture. Abraham dealing with Lot is faith expressing itself through love.
* Martin Luther in the early 1500s began teaching from the Bible that we are saved by faith, not by works. Faith is a expression of the heart. While this is true, some forget the words written here by Paul. Faith expresses itself through love. Love is also an expression of the heart. A pure heart will express faith, hope and love. Love is toward something and/or someone. Jesus taught, "The most important one (law) is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:29-31)
How do we love? Love is more than a feeling; more than an emotion. Today, to many love means little more than sex. God the father expressed his love by sending his one and only Son to the world as one of us. (John 3:16) Jesus expressed his love through the pain and suffering he endured while on the cross including his momentary separation from the Father when he accepted our sin into his body. (Matthew 27:46; and 1 John 3:16-20)
How can we express our love for God. Jesus said, "Love each other as I have loved you." (John 15:12) How can we love each other? Jesus taught how to love others not only in his life but with his words. He said, "But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you." (Luke 6:27-31)
The academics here is easier than the practice. What are some examples of love in the Bible? Abraham's intercession for Lot, who had slowly slipped into a city of sinful occupants. Moses intercession for Israel, who had often rejected his leadership. Samuel's intercession for Saul, who disobeyed him and ignored his spiritual advice and direction. David's refusal to kill Saul, while enduring exile because of Saul. Ruth's stubborn refusal to leave Naomi even though she had nothing to gain and only harship seemed to go along with her decision. Elijah ministry to Ahab even though Ahab and his wife had killed Elijah's fellow prophets. Jeremiah's continual preaching to kings even though he had been imprisoned many times by kings. Daniel's ministry to Nebuchadnezzar even though he had invaded and defeated his country, forcefully taken him from his homeland, and turned him into a eunuch slave. Ananias and Barnabas' going to Saul even though he had enthusiastically killed and enslaved many Christians.
Do you believe you have faith in Jesus? Monitor that faith through your love towards others.
* Hebrews 11:1-2 "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for."
* John 15:12-14 "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command."
* 1 John 3:1-3 "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure."
* 1 Corinthians 13:13
* Love towards God. Love towards others.
* 1 John 3:16-20 "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything."
* God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit have at the core of their very being and relationship faith, hope, and love.
* The love between the bride and the bridegroom in the Song of Solomon is an example us the love between Christ and his church.
* This is what God looks for in use because it is his image in us through the work of the Spirit.
>4. What are the sins of those who urged them to be circumcised? (7-9)
* Galatians 5:7-9 "You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. "A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough."
* "You were running a good race." -Elsewhere Paul used the common and popular sports events of the Greek-Roman world as illustrations of a life of faith, hope and love. (2:2; Philippians 2:16; and 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; and 1 Titus 1:18-19; and 2 Timothy 4:7) Jesus often used every day events and activities (farming, baking, fishing, etc.) to describe the kingdom of God. A good speaker and writer will use these things to help those they intend to reach further understand.
* "Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?" -Whether the race is with feet, wings, boats, or wheels; whether its in water, air, or in a computer game cutting in on someone is an unfair and vicious move. A race is suppose to be a match to determine who or what is fastest or simply run for the fun and health of it. Cutting in takes away from these. If someone cuts in on an opponent he or she will do all that can be done to keep his opponent from going around them and even from finishing the race. Such a race is no longer about who or what is the fastest and takes away from the fun and health of it.
* "kept you from obeying the truth?" -Jesus said those who love him obey his words. His words are truth. Jesus said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away." (Luke 21:33)
* "That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you." -The means do not justify the means. The Judaizers persuasion was not from Jesus.
* "A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough." -Yeast influences the flour and changes it into dough. Paul quotes a proverb to stress the pervasive effect of Judaism. When the word "yeast" in the Bible is used as a symbol, it indicates evil or false teaching, except Matthew 13:33.
* "little" -Those influencing the whole congregation were few.
* 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 "Your boasting is not good. Don't you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast--as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth."
>What is the nature and reason for Paul's confidence? (10)
* Galatians 5:10 "I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty, whoever he may be."
* "I am confident in the Lord" -Paul's confidence was not in his letter, even though the Holy Spirit inspired him. Nor was it in the Galatians. Rather, he knew the Lord God loved his children and would help them even though they were straying from the truth revealed through Christ.
* "I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view." -Paul wrote this letter to convince the Galatians that what some Jews (not all) were teaching was against the gospel of the kingdom of God. Yet, his confidence that they would recognize the true teaching was not in his eloquent letter. Rather his confidence was in the Lord. Without the word of the Holy Spirit a preacher's message, a singer's verse, a evangelist's presentation, or a web page author's efforts will have not lasting effect. When it comes to spiritual persuasion, only the Holy Spirit can make an impact that will last an eternity.
* "The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty" -Paul would not stick out personally to the accused. Rather, the Lord will judge the person. Often in this world there is no justice; the guilty go unpunished or get a weak punishment, and sometimes the innocent are declared guilty. But a judgment is coming that is eternal. "I lift my hand to heaven and declare: As surely as I live forever, when I sharpen my flashing sword and my hand grasps it in judgment, I will take vengeance on my adversaries and repay those who hate me." (Deuteronomy 32:40-41)
* "whoever he may be." -Paul did not know the person or persons directly. He had only received reports that someone had come to the congregation claiming to be an apostle greater than Paul, teaching them a false gospel wrapped in salvation from obeying the law and Jewish customs.
* When engaging in the work of the Lord Jesus we must always remember our place. Jesus taught, "So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.'" (Luke 17:10)
* If we are truly God's children then we will come back to him. Jesus said, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one." (John 10:27-30)
>5. To what extent did Paul hold onto the gospel of Jesus' cross? (11)
* Galatians 5:11 "Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished."
* "Brothers" -Paul uses "brother" to address the Christians twelve times in this letter.
* "preaching circumcision" -The Lord gave Abraham the right of circumcision. He said, "This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner--those who are not your offspring. Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant." (Genesis 17:10-14) The Lord Jesus came and established a new covenant based on his blood. The old covenant was based on the blood of men. The old is ended. The apostles recognized this and so wrote to the Gentile churches, "It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things." (Acts 15:28-29)
* "why am I still being persecuted" -Jesus said anyone united with him and doing his will will be persecuted and hated by all men. (Matthew 10:21-23) Paul experience this and used it to show others that his message was the correct one. People are persecuted for various reasons and we should be careful to say, "I am persecuted. Therefore, I am right."
* "In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished." -Perhaps you are asking, "How is the cross offensive?" To answer this question another question needs to be answered first, "Who is offended by the cross?" The obvious answer is anyone who is not in the family of God, anyone who does not accept Jesus as their Savior and Lord, and anyone who does not love Jesus. So then, "Why is it about the cross that offends them?" The cross is a symbol of man's utter sinfulness and helplessness, and its a symbol of God's grace and love." The proud do not accept they are utterly, completely, absolutely, and entirely corrupted. The proud do not accept that they need God's help. The proud think they are good enough to enter God's presence. The proud believe they have lived correctly and thus can enter into God's paradise and approach the throne of God. Jesus cross says to the proud, "You need me to save you from the death brought on by your sins. Without me you are not right. Without me you will never know and meet God. Paul preached this to those who believed they keep the law perfectly. So he was persecuted by the proud.
* Paul considered the gospel of Jesus' cross as first and foremost. That is what he preached. He did not preach customs and culture. He did not teach the old covenant; he taught the new covenant.
* We should preach the gospel of Jesus' cross no matter how they respond. A few will accept the message. However, most will reject it and even be offended by it. I have witnessed face-to-face to others since the mid 1980s on college campuses, at my workplace, house to house, and in the streets. I've shared the gospel to family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers. I've fished in North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. I've testified to Jesus and him crucified to old, young; white, black, red, yellow; male and female. And I can say for certain that many are offended and only a few accept. Only through His strength is a person able to continually preach the good news. It is not an easy race! It is not a quick fight!
* Circumcision was given to Abraham immediately after his sin with Hagar, his wife's slave. Everyday Abraham would be reminded of his sin and God's grace. That meaning was lost and replaced with pride of heritage.
* Paul held onto the gospel to the point of persecution.
>What was his attitude toward those who oppose the truth? (12)
* Galatians 5:12 "As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!"
* "agitators" -Agitator shakes and stirs things up. The picture is something at rest and then suddenly brought into confusion and distress.
* "I wish" -In Greek this is "ophelon". It's first person singular of a past tense and can also be translated, "I ought", "Oh that!", and "I would." Almost all of the English translations uses "I wish". The King James Version uses "I would".
* "they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!" The Greek word means "to cut off," or "to castrate." In Philippians 3:2 Paul uses a related word to describe the same sort of people as "mutilators of the flesh." His sarcasm is evident. (NIV Study Bible)
* Sometimes people are so zealous to prove to God and others that they are serious they mutilate themselves and/or others. God does not desire this. Paul may have been thinking of the rite of castration to which pagan priests submitted themselves in devotion to their gods. The Wycliffe Bible Commentary represents Paul's intention thus, "As an emasculated man has lost the power of propagation, so should these agitators be reduced to impotence in spreading their false doctrine."
* Paul had righteous indignation. Jesus similarly cleared the temple.
* Paul wasn't going to emasculate them, he hoped they would do it to themselves.
II. Love Does Not... (13-15)
>6. What is God's purpose in calling each of us? (13)
* Galatians 5:13 "You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love."
* "my brothers" -Again he calls them brothers.
* "were called to be free" -Paul repeats what he firmly established earlier in the letter. We are free from sin, not free to sin. Christian freedom is not to ignore or despise the law, but to fulfill the law with love.
* "do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature" -The sinful nature is still a part of us even though we believe in Jesus, been forgiven of sin, and the Holy Spirit dwells in our hearts.
* Some teach that a Christian can never sin and have verses to back up there statement. However, this verse makes it clear that we cannot only sin, but believers in Jesus can even indulge the sinful nature.
* "rather" -We have a choice, every day, every moment.
>How should we use our freedom?
* "serve one another in love" -Jesus said, "For even the son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom." (Mark 10:45)
* Who do you serve? Your self? Your desires? Your passions? Your dreams? Your will? Your flesh? Do we serve others for selfish gain? Serving others is not easy and much of the time there is no benefit to oneself. Consider a good parent and an infant. Such a parent serves and gets little return. What compels a parent to try to comfort a baby that will not stop crying? Why do they continually change stinky diapers? Why do they sacrifice their social life? Love.
>What is the point of the law? (14)
* Galatians 5:14 "The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."
* "The entire law" -In those days the law was the first five books of the Bible. The rest of the Old Testament was considered history, poetry, and the prophets. Today some say the whole Bible is the law.
* "summed up in a single command" -Jesus taught that the heart of word of God; including the law is love.
* "Love your neighbor as yourself." -Paul did not include, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul," probably because Jesus taught that in loving others we love him. Doing to others what we would have them do to us expresses the spirit and intention of "the Law and the Prophets". (Matthew 7:12; Mark 12:31)
* What is love? Is it a feeling? Is it an intangible emotion? Is it an electrical-chemical reaction in the brain? Is it the tie that binds? Is it chicken soup for the soul? Is it what happens when a man and woman come together? 1 John 4:8 and 16 says, "God is love." 1 John 5:3 says, "This is love for God; to obey his commands." 1 John 4:10, "This is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." 1 Corinthians 8:3 says, "But the man who loves God is known by God." 1 John 3:16 says, "This is how we know what love is; Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers."
* What to know love? Know God through his Son, Jesus. What to be loved? Know God through his Son, Jesus. What to experience love? Know God through his Son, Jesus. What to practice love? Follow God through his Son, Jesus.
>What is the truth of congregations that do not love each other? (15; John 13:35)
* Galatians 5:15 "If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other."
* John 13:35 "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
* "If you keep on" -This is not a one time occurrence. This is a continual unrepentant disobedience.
* "biting and devouring each other" -As wild dogs do.
* "watch out" -A common warning in the Bible. (Deuteronomy 4:15; Matthew 7:15, 24:4; Mark 8:15, 12:38, 13:5; Luke 12:15, 21:8; Romans 16:17; Philippians 3:2; and 2 John 1:8)
* "you will be destroyed by each other" -A dreadful thought that has happened in congregations.
III. Keep in Step with the Spirit (16-26)
* From this point in the letter there is going to be a contest between the sinful nature and the law verses living by the Spirit.
>7. How should Christians live? (16)
* Galatians 5:16 "So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature."
* "live by the Spirit" -What does it mean to live by the Spirit? I can't remember a message ever on the subject. I have had studies that discussed the Spirit and his work, but few where the Holy Spirit is the main subject. The Bible teaches about the Holy Spirit. Yet, not as much as it teaches of the Son, Jesus the Messiah. Often Bible studies and sermons do not deal with the teaching on the Holy Spirit. Why? There's a simple answer. The scriptures are inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit leads Bible teachers, Bible preachers, Bible evangelists, Bible book writers, and Bible web sit creators. With Holy Spirit doing all this work, why is so little presented about his work? Jesus told us the answer.
Jesus told his apostles about the Spirit and his work. He said, "When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me." (John 15:26) And he said "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." (John 14:26) John 16:13 records Jesus saying, "But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come." The answer is that the Holy Spirit does not focus us to him. Rather he focus' us to our Savior and Lord. The Holy Spirit's desire is the same as the Father's. They want us to be freed from sin and death and have fellowship with them forever. Since faith in the Son is how we can have a relationship with them. So he leads us to him in teachings and in our heart.
So how can we answer the question? What does it mean to live by the Spirit? Can we know? Yes, for Paul would not have instructed the congregation in Galatian and us "live by the Spirit". Go to last generation's Pentecostal church and you would hear several definitions on what it means to be lead by the Spirit. Some would include the false teaching that contains a lack of self control and order. Today Pentecostal congregations speak less on the subject of being lead by the Spirit and being filled by the Spirit because of false teachings that lead to problems in some congregations. At the same time many Pentecostal church's have sound teachings on the subject. They are not the only ones.
Tozer wrote, "Are you sure that you want your personality to be taken over by One who will expect obedience to the written and living Word? Are you sure that you want your personality to be taken over by One who will not tolerate the self sins? For instance, self-love. You can no more have the Holy Ghost and have self-love than you can have purity and impurity at the same moment in the same place... Self-love, self-confidence, self-righteousness, self-admiration, self-aggrandizement, and self-pity are under the interdiction of God Almighty, and He cannot send His mighty Spirit to possess the heart where these things are... [Do] you desire to have your personality taken over by One who stands in sharp opposition to the world's easy ways?... The Spirit of God, if He takes over, will bring you into opposition to the world... Are you sure, brother? (Tozer on the Holy Spirit.)
To live by the Spirit means to be taken over by the Holy Spirit. Yet he will never force himself on anyone. He has the very nature of the Son and the Father. Jesus said, "I am meek and humble in heart." He is gentle. He wants a loving relationship. A loving relationship is reciprocating love. It is full of trust and holiness.
* "you will not" -There doesn't seem to be a struggle. It is a natural outcome.
* "you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature" -The sinful nature is described as having desires that are not holy.
* "the sinful nature" -Sinful nature is used in the Bible (chronologically) in Romans 7:5, 18, 25, 8:3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14; 1 Corinthians 5:5, Ephesians 2:3; Colossians 2:11, 13 and 2 Peter 2:10, 18. However, since Galatians is older than all of these God revealed it first through this letter. (Galatians 5:13, 16, 17, 19, 24, 6:8)
* "the sinful nature" -Sins are actions by which humans rebel against God, miss His purpose for their life, and surrender to the power of evil rather than to God. Nature in theology is our natural state as distinguished from the state of grace. Join the two words together and the truth of fallen mankind is revealed; A root characteristic and quality of our very nature is to resist God.
* "the sinful nature" -Adam and Eve were not made with the sinful nature. They obtained it when they believed Satan and disobeyed God. God had warned, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." (Genesis 2:16-17) When they sinned he said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever." (Genesis 3:22-24) Adam and Eve did not have the knowledge of good and evil before they ate the fruit. They had a choice and had the ability to make the right choice. When fallen mankind is tempted they have a choice, but do not have the ability to make the right choice all the time. David wrote, "Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me." (Psalm 51:4-5)
* Romans 7:18 states, "I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out." Romans 7:25 says mankind is a slave to the sinful nature. Romans 7 also says that the law and the sinful nature are a working pair in fallen mankind's being.
* Is the sinful nature inherited? (Psalm 51:5;Ephesians 2:3) Or is it due to human choice? (Ezekiel 18:4, 19-20; Romans 1:18-20, 5:12) It's a combination of the two. We have to make a choice and we have no ability by ourselves to make the right choice all the time. Everyone born of Adam has this problem. Jesus, when he came in the flesh did not have a human father. Therefore, he did not inherit the sinful nature. That is why he is called, the second Adam (though the term is not directly in the Bible). (Romans 5; and 1 Corinthians 15)
* The sinful nature controls people. (Romans 7:5) Without the Holy Spirit we cannot overcome sinful passions.
>8. How does the sinful nature oppose the Spirit? (17-18)
* Galatians 5:17 "For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law."
* "For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature" -The spiritual battle is waged in our soul. The opponents are our inherited sinful nature and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Both have their desires, their wills.
* "They are in conflict with each other" -The conflict in definition is simple. The carnal verses the spiritual.
* "so that you do not do what you want" -Even if a person wants to do right, on his own he does not have the ability to overcome the powerful influence of the sinful nature.
* "But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law." -The law gives extra power to the sinful nature. The law defines what is right and wrong. The sinful nature is excited with a clear definition of right and wrong. The two working together causes us to sin. This is why even if a person goes to a Bible believing and teaching congregation can fall into such great sin when they do not turn every day to Jesus for help. This is also why addicts cannot escape their destructive habit on their own without God.
* Romans 8:5-8 "Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God."
* Sometimes the battle within between the sinful nature and the Spirit is intense. Living by the Spirit at times isn't easy; at times we fail, at times we win.
* We shouldn't be surprised at the battle; we should change and submit to the Spirit.
>What are the results of following the sinful nature? (19-21)
* Galatians 5:19-21 "The acts of the sinful nature 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."
* This warning it to the church. Its a warning to believers in Jesus. Its a warning to anyone who confesses the name of Jesus, calling him Savior and Lord.
* "The acts of the sinful nature" -Sinful nature has fruit in our actions. Jesus said, "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man 'unclean'; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him 'unclean.'" (Matthew 15:19-20)
* "sexual immorality" -First on the list. One of the few things the church was to obtain from. (Acts 15:29, 21:25) Sexual immorality is anything outside the marriage of one man and one woman. Even within the blessed sacrament of marriage there can be sexual immorality when sex is not mutual consent.
* "impurity and debauchery" -This is extreme indulgence in sensual pleasures.
* "idolatry and witchcraft" -Idolatry and witchcraft are linked together. In essence they are the same, rejecting the one true God. Idolatry is worshiping and trusting in false gods. Witchcraft can acknowledge God, yet accepts God's enemies as the place to put hope and trust. Those who practice witchcraft make themselves subjects to demons. Whether knowingly or unknowingly those who practice witchcraft join the very beings who rejected humans place in God and want all humans either subject to them in misery and pain or dead. Sorcery and magic performed with the aid of evil spirits were and still is common. The Greek word here is "pharmakia" (cf. the English "pharmacy") and appears in such New Testament verses as Revelation 9:21, 18:23. "In sorcery, the use of drugs, whether simple or potent, was generally accompanied by incantations and appeals to occult powers." (An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, W.E. Vine)
* "hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy" -This group is similar to each other because they include hatred toward other humans. They are opposite of love.
* "drunkenness" -Alcohol and many drugs make one lose self control. Those who get drunk and high make themselves susceptible to demon control and influence. An alcoholic and a drug addict can suddenly turn violent, especially toward a true Christian.
* "orgy" -Orgy is like drunkenness except that it is a willingness to lose control of one's self. An orgy was a secret rite in the cults of ancient Greek or Roman deities, typically involving frenzied singing, dancing, drinking, and sexual activity. When King Saul disobeyed God's command continually he eventually engaged in this type of religion. (1 Samuel 15:11, 16:14, 18:10-11) Some congregations who instruct people to "experience" the Holy Spirit are actually engaging in orgies, practicing one or several of these. If you are in a congregation that instructs you to "let go of yourself to spirit" and/or engages in any one of these; frenzied singing, dancing, drinking, and sexual activity get out now! God is a God of self-control. Yes, David danced before the Lord with all his might (2 Samuel 6:14-16), but he did not lose control of himself. He feared God and recognized his unworthiness because of Uzziah's irreverent act (1 Samuel 6:6-7) and his former lack of following the command of the Lord concerning the ark.
* Way back in 1984, around two years after Jesus became my Savior and Lord, I had made a decision to read a chapter of the New Testament everyday in sequential order staring from Matthew's Gospel. When I came to this verse I realized that I was still engaging in a few of these; especially drunkenness. Before that day's reading I had read about the fear of the Lord, but did not understand why and how anyone could fear a loving God. Then I read this and the Holy Spirit convicted me. I was not fighting the good fight. I was not resisting the desire of my sinful nature. And I was risking myself to not inheriting the kingdom of God.
>9. What are the fruits of the Holy Spirit? (22-23)
* Galatians 5:22-23 "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."
* "fruit" -Fruit here is singular. They all come together in and for every believer in Jesus. Someone does not have only love and another person only have faithfulness and self-control.
* "the fruit of the Spirit" -Just as a tree produces fruit, so the Spirit produces fruit. Fruit in the New Testament is often metaphorical, often used by Jesus as such, and almost always of good result.
* "love" -The first and premier benefit and gift of life in Christ. Love is not just an emotion. Love is not sex as modern day man precipitate its meaning. The Greek language has three words for the one word in English language. God's love is "agape" love in Greek and its the word used here. Agape love is unconditional sacrificial love.
* "joy" -Joy is the result of a love relationship with God through Jesus Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Joy here is deep in the heart. Laughing at a joke is joy on a more superficial level than the joy of the Spirit. Joy of the Spirit is not dependant on outward situations. Joy of the Spirit surpasses understanding. A person may be ill and in physical pain and will still have joy of the Spirit. A person may have had a love one die and still have joy of the Spirit. A person may have financial problems and still have joy of the Spirit. A person may be persecuted and hated and still have joy of the Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 1:6; Romans 5:2, 14:17, 15:13; and 2 Corinthians 6:10; Philippians 1:25, 4:4; and 1 Peter 1:8; and 1 John 1:4)
* People have claimed and continue to claim to be Christians and yet do not have a love relationship with God through Jesus, God's one and only Son. So they do not have his joy.
* "peace" -The peace of the Spirit is to not be at war with the Spirit. It's a state of tranquillity. The peace of God is freedom from commotion or disturbance in the soul. Jesus, the prince of peace brings freedom from anxiety, tension, and restlessness. The peace of God transcends all understanding and guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)
* "patience" -Patience is to wait on God to work. Saul was not patient and offered the sacrifice that only priests were allowed to do. David patiently waited to be king even though he was anointed in his youth and had a chance to kill for current king. Our sinful nature is not patient. The Holy Spirit gives us the strength to be quiet and wait for the Lord. (Psalm 37:7, 34, 130:5-6; Proverbs 20:22)
* "kindness" -Jesus teaches to be kind to everyone, even our enemies.
* "goodness" -The quality of doing good.
* "faithfulness" -Be a trustworthy person. Be a person that keeps his or her word.
* "gentleness" -Do not do harm to another. Jesus said he was gentle.
* "self-control" -When Jesus was on trial before the high priest he exhibited complete self-control.
* "Against such things there is no law" -The fruits of the Spirit are not part of the Law given through Moses. Therefore, they are not part of the old covenant. They are part of the new covenant.
* "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." (Colossians 3:12)
* This seems to be three sets of threes:
1) love, joy, peace;
2) patience, kindness, goodness;
3) faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
>10. What does it mean to be Christians? (24)
* Galatians 5:24 "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires."
* "Those who belong to Christ Jesus" -Jesus owns us. We are a part of Jesus. Jesus is in us.
* "have crucified the sinful nature" -Just as Jesus allowed himself to be crucified we have to crucify the sinful nature. We have to make this choice everyday and every moment.
* "with its passions and desires" -Paul again points out that attributes of the sinful nature.
>How should Christians live? (25-26)
* Galatians 5:25-26 "Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other."
* "let us keep in step with the Spirit" -Imagine an army or a marching band. I was in the marching band in high school. We were taught to keep in step with the person ahead of us. When the person in front of me moved his left leg, I was to move my left leg. When he moved the right leg, I was to move my right leg. When he turned to the left I was to turn to the left. I was to mimic the feet of the person in front of me. Paul saw how the Roman army moved and used this as an illustration as to how we are to live in the Spirit.
* "Let us not become conceited," -We should not think we are better than our brother or sister in Christ.
* "provoking and envying each other" -We are to control our actions and emotions. We are to not trouble the nerves or peace of mind of other Christians by constant vexations. Don't be annoying.
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