Galatians 5:19-26 From now on…

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I have great sympathy for our Legislators.  It’s tough to pass good laws.

I remember the day Rachel was supposed to share her brownie with David.  “That brownie is too big, I want you to give your brother half.”  She proceeded to cut it and pick up the bigger piece.  David yowled in protest.  The noise brought their dad in. “What’s wrong? Did someone get hurt?”  I briefed him.  He exchanged the pieces and then made his pronouncement:

“From now on, whoever cuts the dessert has to let the other person pick his piece first.”

Rule number 63 in the Lauterbach household took its place alongside such laws as:

  • You aren’t allowed to borrow your sister’s clothes without asking.
  • You aren’t allowed to even touch your sister’s clothes without asking.
  • No one gets to watch TV until all the chores are done.
  • You may not hit your sister, even if she hits you first.
  • Your sister will get into trouble if she hits you first.
  • If you are going to eat candy in front of your brother, you have to share. (This rule cause our oldest to squirrel away candy for thirteen years.)
  • The birthday child gets the front seat, otherwise everyone sits in back.
  • etc.

This was case law, of course.  Every law was prompted by a circumstance that demanded legislation.  Frankly it was hard to keep track of them all.  All we wanted was for them to love each other.  How many “from now on’s” did it take?

Power for change. Both families and nations know that you can’t legislate morality.  The law can set limits.  But that’s the limit of the law.  You can pass anti discrimination laws, but you can’t force ethnic groups to respect each other.  You can make rules about sharing, but you can’t force your children to love each other.  You can’t change the heart.  And the heart is the very thing that needs to change.

Paul has been demonstrating the weakness of the law all along.  It is powerless to save us.  Now we find it is also powerless to change us into the people we want to be.  We need an internal change at the core of our being that then works its way out into every part of our lives.  And that is what the gospel promises.  Organic change from within, not imposed change from without.  The Spirit’s fruit.

This week’s questions. How will we live free?  Paul doesn’t give us a list of rules.  He gives us descriptions, a warning, a promise, and an invitation.  Let’s look at it together.


1. Make a catalog of the works of the flesh in 5:19-21.  Can you group them into categories?  How is each one a sin against love?

2. How does Paul change his metaphor in 5: 22-23 (from the one he used in 5:19-21)?  Why do you think he did that?

3. Catalog the fruit of the Spirit in 5:22-23.  Why does he use the singular “fruit” and then give nine particulars?  Who produces this fruit?  Does this fruit show up best alone or in community?

4. What invitation does Paul give in verse 25?  Why does he go to a specific exhortation, instead of ending there?  What does this imply about the dynamic of walking by the Spirit?


5. The fruit of the Spirit is a portrait of Christ.  Take some time to think through his life and come up with an example of each trait.  Admire his beauty.  Worship is the first step in sanctification.

6. How is his death the first step in our continuing change?  See Galatians 5:24, Romans 6:6, 11.


7. Growth is mysterious and organic.  Given a seed and the right conditions, there will be fruit.  How does this image of the Spirit’s fruit encourage you today?

8. Was you conscience pricked by the list in 5:19-21 or by the description of Christ in 5:22-23?  Change is a process, like walking.  How can you enter into the process of change today in the power of the Spirit?

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