Intro: In his letter to the Galatians, the Apostle Paul responds to false teachers in order to defend the authority of the gospel. The church in Galatia—occupied by law abiding Jews and Gentiles—is experiencing confusion and controversy. These Galatian believers are struggling to identify the difference between adherence to the religious law [legalism], being lead by their flesh, or being guided by the Holy Spirit into the liberating new life—faith in the gospel—made available by Jesus the Christ.
When Jesus broke through time and space to come to earth, the good news [gospel] announced the arrival of the kingdom of God. By the time the epistles were written, the gospel was revealed as faith in Jesus and what he came to accomplish with his life in order to grow God’s people for the kingdom. Jesus did not come to gather a group of polished religious performers; he came to take upon himself the judgment of God for the death penalty of sin, make believers right with God, and through faith set disciples free from sin through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Preceding our passage for today, the Apostle Paul has clarified the religious law cannot save anyone and that salvation comes through faith in Christ alone. Moving in faith by obeying the Word of God, as well as bringing a desire to please God and hear from the Holy Spirit is the right start to appropriating God’s power for overcoming sin. We need to walk with the Spirit and that requires continuous action as we obey the Word; this is how we live in the Spirit’s power.
As human beings with a fallen nature, we have conflicting forces working within us. We have the Holy Spirit who desires to help produce righteousness in our lives and it is in conflict with our flesh [human nature w/emotions] most of the time. These two forces are not equal in power. God’s power is supreme, but because God has given humanity free will, we can diminish the Spirit’s work in our lives when we give our demanding flesh authority. We can grieve the Holy Spirit when we do not desire his wisdom or hunger for righteous things. Living by the Spirit’s power is how we continue to crucify our flesh in this spiritual battle. Paul lets us know the kind of sin our flesh wants to produce in our lives. Overcoming sin is not something done to the believer but by the believer in the Spirit’s power—we choose to put to death the will of our sinful nature. We, too, have to make up our minds as to who will rule our lives. Praise God his grace is sufficient and his power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Cor 12:19).
Galatians 5:16-25 NLT Living by the Spirit’s Power
16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. 17 The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. 18 But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.
19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. 25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for giving believers the Helper for the spiritual battle we face each day with our flesh. Help me to pick up my cross and put to death any sinful desire that tries to take authority over your Word. I know each time I deny myself, I am closer to you and the life you have given me to live. In Jesus’ name. Amen.