Our passage from the Bible today is Galatians Chapter 5 verses 16 to 26, and contains some of the most well-known verses of the letter.
I started to write yesterday that the freedom that we have in Christ isn’t a permission to indulge our sinful nature and do what we want, but rather a call to live holy lives, to live how the Lord wants us to live.
So from the outside it might seem at times that the Christian saved by God’s grace through faith is living a similar life to the religious person who is working for their salvation. The key difference is the motivation and the power from within to do it.The religious works person is trying to do the right thing/to obey the law in order to earn their salvation/to put them right with God.The Christian saved by grace has been given salvation/made right with God through the Cross, but as a grateful response to all that the Lord has done for them seeks to honour Him and walk in His ways.In simple words the Christian doesn’t obey God because he or she has to, but because they want to.
The religious works person is desperately trying to do the right thing in terms of obedience, but often fails and falls short, and ultimately is either completely despondent and gives up, or is desperately hoping that the good in their life outweighs the bad and has no assurance.
The Christian saved by grace freely acknowledges they can’t obey the law fully, are conscious too even after coming to faith in Christ of the ongoing battle inside of them between good and evil, between God’s Spirit and their own fallen sinful human nature. And so the key to holy living is allowing God’s Spirit inside of them to guide them, change them, and make them more like Jesus, seeking to please the Father.In simple words, the Christian can now obey and please God, because His Spirit helps them to do so.
And this passage spells a lot of this out, speaking of the battle within (vs.17-18), and the 2 famous lists – a horrible list of the acts of the sinful nature (vs.19-21), which is sometimes too familiar to us, and then the lovely list of the Fruit of the Spirit (vs.22-23), which as Paul writes, ‘Against such things there is no law’. You can’t have too much kindness, goodness and gentleness in this world, no one is going to prosecute you for such qualities!And unlike the gifts of the Spirit (plural) which the New Testament clearly says that each individual Christian doesn’t possess all of them, I think we are meant to be allowing God’s Spirit to grow each and all of these different aspects of fruit in our hearts and souls.
So a final positive charge, ‘Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit (v.25).
From our extended church address list please remember in your prayers today,
– Beatrix and family- Lynn’s daughter Ellie, who sometimes joins us on Zoom. Also continue to pray for Bruce Furniss and Billy Duke as per special prayer requests given out earlier this week.