Freedom is such an important principle in life, but more important is what we do with the freedom that is granted to us. This is true whether we’re talking about societal freedom or the freedom which is found in Christ.
This Sunday we’ll be reading ch 5:13-26 in our study of the Galatian letter. In this section, Paul will be providing the qualifiers concerning Christian freedom. Freedom, he says, should not become a base of operations for selfish indulgence – which the NLT translates as “sinful nature”, but in the Greek, the word is “flesh”. Flesh means more than just our bodies – it is a word that is signifying entire personhood being lived outside of God’s will or the Spirit’s guidance.
In v14, Paul loosely quotes Jesus in establishing how our freedom is to be lived out. What is the “flesh” action that love is countering, according to v15?
Paul talks about the war that rages in our lives between impulses to do good and impulses to do what’s wrong. The Intruders were teaching the Galatians that the way to win over the yetzer hara, the sinful impulse, was to learn and obey the Torah. In v18, Paul declares a different way – what does he say?
Ancient writers and philosophers seemed to enjoy creating lists of virtues and vices, and Paul falls right in line with that practice through the rest of the chapter. Count how many works of the flesh that he lists. Do you think it’s a comprehensive list or just a few examples? How many of the works are addressing interpersonal relationships? What might that tell us about Paul’s emphasis?
While the flesh has a lot of works, Paul speaks of fruit (singular) of the Spirit. In what ways do the works and the fruit corollate (one countering the other)? What does v25 describe as our part in bearing the fruit of the Spirit? How might we do that in real life examples?
It will be an encouraging albeit challenging study. Hope you can join us, either in person or online via Facebook or YouTube!