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  • Ethos Church


March 27 - March 31, 2023

Galatians 5 Overview

Galatians 3 and 4 focused on theology. Galatians 5 and 6 now focus on how Christ-followers should live in response to those truths. In short:

  • We can do all this by the power of the Holy Spirit controlling our life from within

    • We resist being dragged away from the freedom we have in Christ

    • We resist wasting our freedom on serving our sinful desires

    • We instead have the desire to love and serve others

    • We see how wonderful this life of liberty is, so we want to glorify God

Paul writes this part of his letter because people misunderstood his teaching about grace. The Judaizers (and many people in churches today) are afraid to depend on God’s grace; they think the Christian who lives by faith (and not rules) will become a rebel. But Paul is arguing just the opposite ‒ that the person who lives by faith is going to experience the inner discipline of God that is far better than the outer discipline of man-made rules! He’s saying that no man could become a rebel who depends on God’s grace, yields to God’s Spirit, lives for others, and seeks to glorify God. On the other hand, the legalist is the one who eventually rebels, because he is living in bondage, depending on the flesh, living for himself, and seeking the praise of men and not the glory of God.

This is Paul’s big message: The Christian who depends on the power of the Spirit is not denying the law of God or rebelling against it. Rather, the law is being fulfilled in him through the Spirit (Romans 8:1-4). In fact, Paul sums up the law in one thing: love for others.

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:13-14

So how can we overcome our sinful desires and focus on serving others? We can only do it by the power of God's Spirit, given to us when we trusted in Christ’s finished work on the cross for our salvation. Through the Spirit, we have been freed from sin's power as well as its penalty.

Paul then offers a list of sinful lifestyles that happen when we shut down the Spirit and go our own way. And then he offers a second list. This one reveals what happens when we let the Spirit lead ‒ powerful, positive characteristics show up in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Contrary to what we often believe, it is this right understanding of salvation by grace that produces the proper kind of obedience to the law. Faith works itself out through love. The Spirit given to us in our redemption creates a heart that longs to obey God out of love for him and others.


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