Whole Life Whole Bible Day 43
Galatians 5:1 (NASB)
1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.
Galatians 5:16 (NASB)
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
Galatians 5:22-23 (NASB)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:25 (NASB)
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
42: The freedom of the Spirit
Guilty and condemned, awaiting sentence, the prisoner hears the judge say, ‘It is for freedom that Christ has set you free.’ Reconciled to God through the cross, we are free — free from the law, free from the power of sin, free from the fear of death, free to live and serve the Lord who has freed us, in the power of his Spirit.
Free, but not perfect! The Holy Spirit has made us new creations, already enjoying our inheritance in the new Jerusalem, already signed-up citizens of the kingdom of God; but the ‘sinful nature’, or ‘flesh’, is not completely vanquished and the world around us is still troubled and sometimes very dark.
So we live by the Spirit in this world between the ages, until, at last, we and all the saints will reign with God in the new creation. At our conversion, God begins through the Spirit to exercise his claim on every aspect of our lives. Here in Galatians, Paul outlines some of the ways the Spirit works in the individual believer.
Our freedom, our new life in Christ, is a free gift of grace — ‘not of ourselves’ in any way (compare Ephesians 2:8–9). But then Paul calls us to ‘keep in step’, to run the race, to be transformed. This is a calling to a lifelong cooperation with the Spirit’s work, transforming our personalities, growing the fruit of the Spirit and changing us into the likeness of Christ. But it’s not automatic: we can hinder the Spirit’s work in our lives and in our communities.
Beyond producing his fruit in us, the Spirit works through other people and through all the influences and experiences of life, in ordinary ways and, sometimes, in extraordinary ways — such as dreams, words of knowledge, discernment and wisdom for particular situations (1 Corinthians 12:4–13). He also works to bring the word of God alive to us (John 14:25–26), renewing our minds (Romans 12:2) so that we are better able to bring the transforming power of his love into the everyday worlds we inhabit.
For further reflection and action
‘Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt, but test them all,’ says Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:19–21. Looking back, are you aware of times when you have quenched the Spirit in some way? Have you ever failed to test an action or a change of course that seemed to be right at the time?
The fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5 are not, of course, the only virtues that Christians are encouraged to develop under the Holy Spirit’s leading. Paul and the other Bible writers mention others. Some people have commented that they might be characterized as more feminine than masculine virtues! Where are courage, decisiveness, strength and discipline? Where are our society’s current favorite virtues — such as flexibility, tolerance, celebrity and humor? (This could make an interesting discussion!)
In the process of assessing ourselves and repenting of our lack of love, joy and so on, how much does it help to have one or two very close friends who can pray with us and assist us in our cooperation with the Spirit?
Visit LICC to find out more or get an overview of the Biblical narrative and the ways it can shape us by reading the Introduction to Whole Life, Whole Bible from the Whole Life, Whole Bible book.