Spirit of the Living God
5/28 – Led By the Spirit (Romans 8:1-26; Galatians 5:1-26)
Introduction — Here Paul relates what it means for a follower of Christ to be led by the Spirit. In each letter he gives both clear words about God’s Spirit and clear ways to live by God’s Spirit. In Romans, Paul shows that the Spirit of life sets the believer free from the law of sin and death. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to God. However, all people led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God. The Sprit testifies that these folks belong to God. And the Spirit helps them in their weakness. He intercedes for them. In Galatians, Paul again discusses freedom in Christ by the Spirit. Those who are in Christ will walk by the Spirit. They will not serve the flesh, but they will serve one another in love. They will not exhibit the works of the flesh, but they will exhibit the fruit of the Spirit, such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Obviously, those who belong to Christ Jesus continually forsake their fleshly desires. Those who belong to Christ live by the Spirit. They walk by the Spirit, led by the Spirit. How about us? Do we follow the Spirit? Do we yield to our earthly passions, or do we follow the godly passions of the Spirit? Do we show rotten, dying works or vibrant, living fruit? Do people know us as those who are in Christ or in the world? Who is leading us? Who is shaping us? Who leads us? Do we live by the Spirit?
As people who belong to Christ, we are free. Christ has set us free, so let’s stand firm in the faith. Let’s live by the grace of God through the Spirit of God for the glory of God. Let’s be wrapped up in Him. As people led by the Spirit . . .
Let’s serve one another through love. (5:13-15)
Comment: Here Paul clearly directs the church to use their freedom in Christ as an opportunity to serve one another. They are free to love one another. In vivid language, Paul shows that they are free to be bondservants, or slaves to one another. They should do nothing from selfishness. They should consider others more important than themselves (Phil. 2:3). Paul seems to be saying, “If you want a law to follow, then follow this one law: you shall love your neighbor as yourself (14). In other words, they are free to esteem one another and to serve one another in love. Doing so means they guard against biting, devouring words spoken against one another. Question: Do we keep in step with the Spirit here? Do we use our freedom to serve one another? Do we serve one another in love? Do we esteem one another? Do we like one another? Do we work at our service to one another? Do we guard against using words that bite one another? Application: Let’s serve one another. Let’s love one another. Let’s watch what we say to one another. How? Let’s keep in step with the Spirit. Let’s follow Him.
Let’s say “no” to our fleshly desires. (5:16-21, 25, 26)
Comment: Here Paul insists that the church starve their fleshly desires. He wants them to turn away from their fleshly deeds which marked their lives before Christ. He portrays the serious conflict between the Spirit and the flesh, but he also tells the church to walk by the Spirit, and “you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” This is a promise. And as Tony Merida notes, “Either we are submitting to the Spirit’s leadership, or we are gratifying the flesh. You cannot pray and look at pornography at the same time. The way you deal with your sin is not simply saying “no” to the flesh, but by also saying “yes” to the Spirit’s work.” (Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary: Exalting Jesus in Galatians. Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, p. 109.) Question: Are we saying “no” to our fleshly desires? Are we saying “yes” to the Spirit’s work? Do we yield to His leading? Do we see the intensity of the battle? Do we try to go it alone? Application: Let’s stop doing only as we please. Let’s live to please God. Let’s say “no” to our flesh. Let’s say “yes” to the Spirit. How? Let’s keep in step with the Spirit. Let’s follow Him.
Let’s show the glory of Christ. (5:22-24)
Comment: Here Paul contrasts the deeds of the flesh with the fruit of the Spirit. Paul gives a picture of Christ in the nine parts of the Spirit’s fruit. Christ is love. Christ gives joy. Christ brings peace. And those who walk by the Spirit look more and more like Christ. The Holy Spirit conforms every believer in the church to the image of Christ. The Holy Spirit unites us to Christ. The Holy Spirit gives us new life in Christ. The Spirit empowers us to honor Christ with our lives, because “the Spirit is a living person, who glories in and magnifies the work of Jesus.” (Timothy Keller, Galatians for You. Purcellville: The Good Book Co., p. 157) Those who walk by the Spirit are those who belong to Christ, who show the glory of Christ. They look like Christ in word and deed. Question: Do we look like Christ in word and deed? Do we look like we belong to Christ? Do we honor Christ with our lives? Do we live by the Spirit? Do we keep in step with the Spirit? Do we show the fruit of the Spirit? Application: Let’s honor Christ with our lives. Let’s show forth His glory. Let’s want to look like Jesus. Let’s show the love of Christ. Let’s live the joy of Christ. Let’s extend the peace of Christ. Let’s be patient and kind and good people. Let’s be faithful and gentle and under control people. Let’s remember we belong to Christ. Let’s honor Christ. How? Let’s keep in step with the Spirit. Let’s follow Him.
Word Study for Galatians 5:1-26
1 freedom (eleutheria—freedom; liberty)
1 standing (steko—stand; continue to be; stand firm; be steadfast; to persevere)
1 subject (enecho—bear a grudge against; be hostile toward; be under control; be loaded down)
4 fallen (ekpipto—fall from; run aground; forsake; worsen)
13 called (kaleo—call; summon; name; call to a task; invite)
14 love (agapao—love; show love; take pleasure in; prize)
16 walk (peripateo—walk about; walk up and down; behave; conduct oneself; lead; follow; live)
19 deeds (ergon—work; workmanship; occupation; act; behavior)
19 evident (phaneros—visible; widely know; clearly seen; manifest)
21 practice (prasso—do; habitual practice; achieve; accomplish)
22 fruit (karpos—produce; harvest; deed; crops; grain; return)
22 Spirit (pneuma—wind; breathing out air; breath; Holy Spirit)
22 patience (makrothymia—longsuffering; forbearance; steadfastness; endurance)
25 live (zao—to live; to live again; behave; to quicken; to give life)
25 walk (stoicheo—hold to; behave; imitate; adhere one’s life to a standard; be in rows)
26 boastful (kenodoxos—conceited; falsely proud; vainglorious; desiring vain glory)
Application for Galatians 5:1-26
Let’s keep standing firm in the faith.
Let’s avoid the entangling snares of religiosity.
Let’s keep waiting for the hope of righteousness through Christ.
Let’s keep alert in the faith.
Let’s view our freedom in Christ as an opportunity to serve one another in love.
Let’s avoid biting and devouring words toward one another.
Let’s walk by the Spirit.
Gospel Connections for Galatians 5:1-26
Christ lived a perfect life. He kept every facet of the law completely. Though tempted, He never sinned. Christ died for sinners who never keep the law. Christ sets sinners free. Through the Spirit, by faith, all believers in Christ wait for the hope of righteousness through Christ. For those in Christ, faith working through love is a primary aim. Christ calls His followers to freedom—a freedom to serve one another rather than the flesh. Each follower of Christ, each member within the body of Christ, walks by the Spirit. Those led by the Spirit are becoming people who look much different now. They want to live for Christ. They want to point others to Christ. They have died to their old life. They are people who live by the Spirit. They are people who walk by the Spirit. They are people led by the Spirit.
Thoughts and Quotes for Galatians 5:1-26
Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another. ~ John C. Maxwell
If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea. ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Always try to associate yourself with and learn as much as you can from those who know more than you do, who do better than you, who see more clearly than you. ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower
She had not known the weight until she felt the freedom. ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter
Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth. ~ George Washington
I had crossed the line. I was free; but there was no one to welcome me to the land of freedom. I was a stranger in a strange land. ~ Harriet Tubman
Commentary for Galatians 5:22-26
5:22–23. There is a pointed contrast here. As verse 16 indicated, there is no need for a believer to display the works of the flesh. Rather, by the Spirit’s power he can manifest the nine graces that are now listed. It is important to observe that the fruit here described is not produced by a believer, but by the Holy Spirit working through a Christian who is in vital union with Christ (cf. John 15:1–8). The word “fruit” is singular, indicating that these qualities constitute a unity, all of which should be found in a believer who lives under the control of the Spirit. In an ultimate sense this “fruit” is simply the life of Christ lived out in a Christian. It also points to the method whereby Christ is formed in a believer (cf. 2 Cor. 3:18; Phil. 1:21).
The first three virtues are habits of mind which find their source in God. Love (agapē) is listed first because it is the foundation of the other graces. God is love and loves the world (cf. 1 John 4:8; John 3:16). Such self-sacrificing love that sent Christ to die for sinners is the kind of love that believers who are Spirit-controlled manifest. Joy (chara) is a deep and abiding inner rejoicing which was promised to those who abide in Christ (cf. John 15:11). It does not depend on circumstances because it rests in God’s sovereign control of all things (cf. Rom. 8:28). Peace (eirēnē) is again a gift of Christ (cf. John 14:27). It is an inner repose and quietness, even in the face of adverse circumstances; it defies human understanding (cf. Phil. 4:7).
The second triad reaches out to others, fortified by love, joy, and peace. Patience (makrothymia) is the quality of forbearance under provocation (cf. 2 Cor. 6:6; Col. 1:11; 3:12). It entertains no thoughts of retaliation even when wrongfully treated. Kindness (chrēstotēs) is benevolence in action such as God demonstrated toward men. Since God is kind toward sinners (cf. Rom. 2:4; Eph. 2:7) a Christian should display the same virtue (cf. 2 Cor. 6:6; Col. 3:12). Goodness (agathōsynē) may be thought of both as an uprightness of soul and as an action reaching out to others to do good even when it is not deserved.
The final three graces guide the general conduct of a believer who is led by the Spirit. Faithfulness (pistis) is the quality which renders a person trustworthy or reliable, like the faithful servant in Luke 16:10–12. Gentleness (prautēs) marks a person who is submissive to God’s Word (cf. James 1:21) and who is considerate of others when discipline is needed (cf. “gently” in Gal. 6:1; 2 Tim. 2:25; “gentle” in 1 Cor. 4:21; Eph. 4:2; “gentleness” in Col. 3:12; 1 Peter 3:16). Self-control (enkrateia; this noun is used in the NT only here and in Acts 24:25; 2 Peter 1:6) denotes self-mastery and no doubt primarily relates to curbing the fleshly impulses just described. Such a quality is impossible to attain apart from the power of God’s Spirit (cf. Gal. 5:16). As a final summary statement Paul affirmed that there are no prohibitions (lit., there is not a law) against such virtues. In a litotes (understatement) he asserted that obviously no one would make laws against people who practice such things.
5:24. Paul next explained that believers (lit., “those who are of Christ Jesus”) need not be responsive to the sinful nature because they have crucified it. This does not refer to self-crucifixion or self-mortification. Rather, it refers to the fact that by means of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, Christians were identified with Christ in His death and resurrection. Paul declared that this had been his experience (cf. 2:20) and that of all believers (cf. Rom. 6:1–6; Col. 2:11; 3:9). While co-crucifixion took place potentially at the cross, it becomes effective for believers when they are converted. This does not mean that their sin nature is then eradicated or even rendered inactive but that it has been judged, a fact believers should reckon to be true (cf. Rom. 6:11–12). So victory over the sinful nature’s passions and desires has been provided by Christ in His death. Faith must continually lay hold of this truth or a believer will be tempted to try to secure victory by self-effort.
5:25–26. Again Paul reminded the Galatians that in addition to a divine judgment of the sinful nature there is a divine enablement in the person of the Holy Spirit. He made the believer alive by regeneration (cf. John 3:5–6), so each believer is exhorted to keep in step (stoichōmen, trans. “follow” in Gal. 6:16) with the Spirit. Step by step one’s Christian walk should conform to the Spirit’s direction and enablement, lest believers become conceited, provoking and envying each other. The latter traits would be true of a walk in the flesh (cf. 5:19–21) and may point to divisions in the Galatian churches occasioned by the Judaizing error (cf. v. 15).
Paul says the works of the flesh are clear to see: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. Just as he taught them previously, Paul now reminds them again: those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. In other words, those who keep on doing the deeds of the flesh, with no intent of turning from those deeds, do not belong to Christ. They are not part of God’s family. They will not inherit His kingdom.
 Campbell, D. K. (1985). Galatians. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, pp. 608–609). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.