Text: Galatians 5:16-26 7/5/2009
Intro: Tonight I want to fill in a few blanks from the sermon this morning as well as give you an opportunity to ask questions. So you are warned; in a few moments I will ask for questions. As much as possible please keep them on track and we’ll do our best to figure it out together.
Read: Galatians 5:13-26
1. Walking by the Spirit should be viewed as the opposite of biting, devouring, and being consumed by one another.
1.A. When we are Spirit-led we live for the good of others.
When we follow the flesh we live for the benefit only of ourselves at the expense of others. So it is true that we respond to others with biting sarcasm and we tear into people because we are gratifying the desires of the flesh. A sinful response is not excusable because of the sin of another that we think caused it. Connect verses 15&16 together. Do you see the cause of our sinful responses? We are not walking by the Spirit and are instead feeding the selfish desires of the flesh. Guys, if you are living for your glory spending your 40 work hours plus overtime plus time commuting feeding a selfish desire then you will go home and expect everything to work out for your glory. But guess what? You have not been given that job to spend it on yourself. You have not been given that family so that they will serve you giving you what you want when you want it. You exist to bear Holy Spirit fruit for the glory of God and the good of others. The freedom that is ours is the freedom to live every moment of life exactly as God intended it; enjoying God and joyfully serving others. So, the first gap I wanted to fill is the gap between verses 15&16. That sinful person is not the cause of our sinful response. Our own sinful desires are the cause of our sinful responses. Stop blaming others for your sin and start investigating exactly who it is that you are following.
2. Being led by the Spirit is simultaneously freedom from the law and a fulfillment of the law.
2.A. Let’s read Galatians 5:14, 18, 22, & 23 side by side
Loving someone, not to get something from them, but loving someone for their good and for the glory of God is at the same time a free action and an action that fulfills the law. The point of it all is your motive. If you are loving someone to get something from them then you are still under bondage. You may be loving them and serving them because you feel guilty about something you did. This happens when we put ourselves or force those who love us into a debtor’s mindset. Someone hurts us, even a most grievous sin, and we ‘forgive them but won’t let them forget it’. Or we do something to hurt someone and we refuse to forgive ourselves always feeling guilty never sure that we have done enough to make it right. Both of these mean loving someone else for our own good. Under both of these Christ is not enough. The law remains in effect. You’ve got to work for my forgiveness. I’ve got to work for their forgiveness. But when we rest in the righteousness of Christ and bear the fruit of the Spirit we will not serve in order to win their good favor we will serve through love. The law is fulfilled at this point. Christ’s righteousness is the foundation. The Spirit is our guide. God is glorified and good is done. Not because the law says we have to in order to be forgiven but because Christ is sufficient, the Spirit is leading, and our desires are in the right place. It was freedom that caused our actions not the law’s demands; you are not under the law. When you do good to others resting in the righteousness of Christ, diligently following the Spirit, and out of desire to glorify God there is no law against the good you do. So unintentionally and without selfish desire the law is fulfilled. Here’s a big issue in my mind
3. Does a Christian learn to follow the Spirit by studying the law?
3.A. My answer is a tentative “yes”.
A Christian learns to follow the Spirit by studying the law. Let me try and explain where this is coming from. First, the law is spiritual, so says Romans 7:14. The law is not the problem. The law is not of the flesh. My flesh is the problem. When I approach the law from the side of the flesh there is a big problem. Second, also in Romans 7, the Apostle Paul says, “I delight in the law of God in my inner being.” The law in and of its self is not the problem. As we saw in Galatians 3, the law is not a curse. Galatians 3:10 says, “For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed by everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.’” The purpose of the law is to reveal what God requires. Since we have the problem of the flesh, or the inability of the sinful flesh, we are not able to fulfill what God requires. We love ourselves. We do not love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. We do not love our neighbors as ourselves. The law commands this love but we take the law and use it as a means of justifying our self love. When study the law in order to find ways to justify ourselves before God or secure his forgiveness then we use the law wrongly. But when we study the law in order to discover the righteousness of Christ that is ours by faith we use the law correctly. When we study the law in order to discover God’s principles for worshiping him and serving one another we use the law correctly. We are freed by Christ through the Holy Spirit to do good works to bring Ephesians 2:10 into play. There is no guilt in our good works but a zealous desire to see the God glorified by those who once hated him to bring Matthew 5:16 and Titus 2:14 into play. Working out of a motive of securing your own salvation is sinful and a misuse of the law but working out of a motive of exalting God in the eyes of men for their salvation is a correct use of the law.
3.B. Is our freedom a freedom from the law in its entirety?
No, we learn many things concerning righteousness, what it means to worship God, and what it means to serve others. What we are free from is the bondage of obedience in order to gain righteousness. We are now free to follow the Spirit as he leads us to glorify God and do good to others. The Spirit will never lead us down a path that contradicts the principles laid down in the law.
3.C. Does that then mean we are bound by the 10 commandments, should not wear clothes made of mixed materials, or cut the edges of our beards?
No, that is legalism and bondage. What is means is that there are principles laid down in these commands that the Spirit will use to glorify God and do good to others through us. So as the Spirit leads get some rest and don’t wear anything or do anything to your body that will distract others from seeing the glory of God shining through you.
4. And finally, being led by the Spirit never means using your freedom to beat down someone else.
4.A. Galatians 5:26 says, “Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”
One of the biggest temptations will be to use what the Spirit has led you to as a beating stick for others. I’m learning that Satan is all over my good intentions. I’m also learning that what I think are good intentions are often self-glorifying intentions. Do not become conceited. John Stott was right when he wrote, “This is a very instructive verse because it shows that our conduct to others is determined by our opinion of ourselves” (156). If you have an empty, vain, or false opinion concerning yourself then you are conceited. If your opinion is a prideful opinion then you will be tempted to provoke others. You will use your freedom to pick fights with people. It’s asking a question in order to pick a fight. You know that person disagrees with you and you’ve been doing your research and you want to blast them so you ask “an innocent question.” This is being conceited and provoking on another. Now it is also the conceited that envy one another. You think you deserve better. You don’t have what other people have and you should so you wish you had it and they didn’t. Possessions, power, opportunity, talent, or ability. You wish you had it and they had a sharp stick in the eye; that would teach them not to be so prideful. Asking loaded questions is not being led by the Spirit. It is being conceited and provoking one another. The devil doesn’t need your help so stop playing the devil’s advocate; instead let me suggest being led by the Spirit. Let’s dig a little deeper. How do you react when someone else gets what you want? You’re the only person in that line of 10 cars that gets a ticket for speeding. Someone else gets the promotion. You can’t afford those clothes, that vacation, that car, or that home. When people are being thanked publically everyone including people who didn’t do anything get thanked but you don’t. Let us not become conceited envying one another.
5. How do we live this way?
5.A. Live according to Romans 8:28
You know the verse that promises God is going to work all things for good. Do you approach what you don’t receive from the angle that God didn’t give it do you in order to give you something good? What is the good that God wants to give?
5.B. The good is your sanctification
1 Thessalonians 4:3 says, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification.” God did not give that to you so that you will look more like Christ. The question then comes down to what is most important to you, getting the stuff you want or looking more like Christ?
5.C. So ultimately we must understand why we are here and why we have been given the Holy Spirit
We are here to live for the glory of God and the good of others. We are not here to earn our way into heaven or pay people back for the harm we have done. And we have been given the Holy Spirit so that love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control will not depend on us or on our law keeping but on Christ.