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Galatians 5 - BIBLE STUDY WITH ME



Welcome back to our Bible study series through Galatians! We're nearing the end, and today we're going to be diving into chapter 5 of 6 of Galatians. I know that the Lord has been working through this series and study so much, and I'm so grateful for what He's teaching me. The main, core lesson through this entire book is grace, and I think that's something a lot of us need to be reminded of. Jesus shed His blood on our behalf, to free us from the chains that sin had once shackled us and pay the price of all of our past.


This message is a clear theme, and Paul starts off chapter 5 talking about the freedom we have in Jesus, but how it's something we have to be intentional about holding onto. Christ has set us free, released us from all of the weight of sin and shame and the enemy, but Paul reminds us that we have to stand firm in that freedom so that we don't fall back into the same patterns. Later on in the book of Galatians Paul will give us some more specifics of how we can do this.

Paul tells these Christians that if they get circumcised, they are giving up Jesus and are obligated to obey the whole law. Circumcision was such a legalistic decision, and it was made to do the "right" thing, not out of love or in relationship with Christ. My commentary said this: "When we embrace the law as our rule of walking with God, we must let go of Jesus. He is no longer our righteousness; we attempt to earn it ourselves." For the Galatians, getting circumcised was the action that took them out of faith and into works, worried about what the overly religious thought and if they were doing good enough.


For us, this probably doesn't look like circumcision, but it can look like a million other things. Maybe it's serving at or attending church. Maybe it's wearing certain clothing or hanging out with a certain group. Maybe you've picked up habits solely to fit into the role of "good Christian". Whatever it is, your heart posture matters, and when we take those genuinely good things and try to use them to justify ourselves or earn grace, we too step out of faith and into works. To try and be justified by the law or good works is to alienate ourselves from Christ, and we miss the whole point of the cross. We miss the forgiveness that we only have to receive, and we remain captive to the same chains that have been holding us bondage for so long.


Verse 6 says that "the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love". This honestly transformed my heart and perspective towards obedience. Obedience is faith expressed through love, not checking off all the requirements of a list. We are called to have faith, to trust in Jesus with our whole heart and invest in a relationship with Him, and that faith needs to be expressed through love. Our actions and our lives should look like Jesus, choosing and noticing those everyone else ignored, being intentional with our people, extending mercy even to those who don't deserve it. We should embody love, and that's the only thing that counts. At the end of the day, our resume of good things won't matter if they weren't done in love.


Paul then calls out the Galatians for starting their race strong and then falling away. Using the analogy of yeast in dough, he reminds them that a little bit of false thinking can corrupt our entire life - including our relationship with God and other people. This simple concept is not new to me, but it's been striking me differently. It's so important that I take captive every thought, especially the anxious lies, and replace them with truth, or else the false thinking will only continue to grow and spiral within my brain. I'm learning just how much power my thoughts hold, and that I must be intentional with what I allow to take root, so that lies from the enemy doesn't jeopardize my faith.


Then Paul gets super practical. He reminds us that we are called to live in freedom, but not freedom to do whatever we want and indulge in our flesh, but to walk alongside the Spirit. The Holy Spirit - the same Spirit that resurrected Christ from the dead - lives in us and gives us the strength to deny our earthly desires and obey the Lord, which looks like love (as the entire law is fulfilled by loving one another, verse 14).


He illustrates what this Spirit-led life looks like by drawing a distinct comparison between the acts of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. In my personal Bible study notes, I created a little chart for my visual brain to really understand, and I'll do that here too.

Acts of the Flesh

Fruit of the Spirit

sexual immorality, debauchery

love

idolatry

joy

witchcraft

peace

hatred

patience

jealousy, envy

kindness

drunkenness

goodness

fits of rage

faithfulness

selfish ambitions

gentleness

arguing

self control

The contrast is extremely clear. The flesh is very "me" focused, harsh towards others, seeking only to satisfy myself. The fruit of the Spirit is much softer, much more loving and gentle. It seeks to be at peace with God, self, and others, not by satisfying our own desires but by being generous, intentional, and respectful. This isn't natural, and it's not our human inclination to be gentle instead of angry or have self control instead of arguing. But when we notice our lives beginning to shift towards that, it's evidence that the Holy Spirit is working and active in our lives.


At the end of the chapter, Paul reminds us to keep in step with the Spirit. I imagine a little kid learning to walk right beside their parents instead of running off or lagging behind to protect them from getting lost or hurt. We too have to learn to walk right by the Holy Spirit, staying close through Scripture and prayer, to protect us from falling into sin and temptation. It's a practice, a discipline, to train our minds and our hearts to stay on course with the Holy Spirit, but it leads to life, and life to the full.

 

This chapter really emphasizes the life that we can find in Jesus and the Holy Spirit. In Christ, we find freedom and life, but according to the flesh, we will find death and every selfish ambition. We must be intentional about continuing in this freedom and in grace, because it's all too easy to fall away. This means walking closely with the Spirit, allowing Him to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit within us, denying the desires of our flesh but instead choosing to love God and love people. I love this chapter because it gets really practical with what our lives will look like when we're in line with the Spirit, and it moves me to step back and reevaluate where I need to adjust.


What did you learn from this chapter? Is there anything else that the Lord really spoke to you? Let me know down in the comments below!

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