Monday, 8 September 2014
Galatians 5:16-18 Blocked!
This is our final month in Galatians. What a ride it has been! I want to invite you all to send me an email with something God has taught you from this wonderful book or from our fall study in Psalms. I would love to post as many as I can during the summer.
Send to: [email protected]
Happy Memorial Day to each of you. It’s sobering to have just walked the beaches of Normandy and seen the tombstones of those who died for our freedom. You want to thank them. The next best thing is to stand firm in the freedom they helped give us.
It seems like a simple task. Just stand. What could be so hard about that?
It’s hard because something is opposing us. It’s trying to push us over, trip us up, pull the rug out from under us. That something is inside us. It’s our flesh.
Just one more helping…I had begun to obsess over food in high school. Like so many teenaged girls, the gain of a few extra pounds sent me into a tizzy of dieting, interspersed with bouts of binging. Eating or not eating became a preoccupation. It seemed that every Sunday I started a new diet. My new found faith in Christ didn’t yet seemed relevant to this struggle.
Now off at college the variety of choices and the sheer quantity of food before me became a source of temptation. I vividly remember the day I had finished my lunch and was heading out for afternoon class. But the pasta bar was so good today. Just one more little bite.
Setting my book bag aside I scooped a little more fettuccine Alfredo onto my plate. I’ll just go over my notes for class while I finish eating this. I went back for some marinara sauce. I’m going to have to run now to make it on time. Just one more helping of the penne pesto. Class has already started. Forget it. I’ll just use this time to catch up on my reading. I headed for the salad bar.
Hand to hand combat. That day I lost the battle. In fact I didn’t even fight. Oh I felt guilty, yes. And sick to my stomach. And ashamed of my weakness. And troubled by the waste of tuition. I calculated that the class I had ditched for extra helpings had cost my parents about $400. Talk about not honoring your parents!
I needed the truth contained in today’s passage.
We’ve just learned that freedom looks like love. The law of love is a law of liberty! But that doesn’t make it any easier to obey. Especially when we face opposition from without and within. How are we going to live free?
This week’s questions. We’re going to pause over these three verses for a week before plunging ahead into the magnificent fruit of the Spirit section. That’s because the seeds for the fruit are right here.
1. Paul begins, “But I say…” What issue is he addressing from the previous section? (Connect his two phrases in this verse, “walk by the Spirit” and “the desires of the flesh” with their counterparts in the previous 3 verses.)
2. What do we learn about the flesh in these 3 verses? See also Galatians 5:19-21, Romans 7:14-20.
3.The flesh is not all there is in me. What else does this passage say about my inner nature? See also Romans 7:14-19, 22-23.
4. The conflict between these two natures is a daily experience for the Christian. How are we to fight, according to these verses? See also Romans 8:5-7
5. He walked by the Spirit. He sent the Spirit to us. Can you think of one incident in Jesus life when he walked by the Spirit in order not to give into the desires of the flesh? For starters see Matthew 4:1-4. Lay hold of his righteousness by faith, and then follow his example.
6. He prayed for us to be led away from temptation in Matthew 6:13. What does this have to do with being “led by the Spirit”? Does the Spirit’s leading refer to more than guidance in decisions?
7. Are you surprised by the inner conflicts in your Christian life? This passage encourages you that it is to be expected. See also Romans 7:15-19. Take some time to identify an area in your life where the flesh is opposing the Spirit.
8. God also wants you to pick up the weapons of spiritual warfare and fight. Don’t flee the battle! Ephesians 6:18 identifies prayer in the Spirit as a crucial weapon. Begin there and then walk in the Spirit through the mine field into safety!