“How does a person learn to walk by the Spirit?”
- Galatians 5:16-25 – The Christian life is a daily decision to live for God and not for self.
- Romans 7:14-24 – A life lived without the power of the Spirit results in slavery to self.
- Romans 5:5 – The love that defines the Christian life is a gift given to us by God.
Key Points and Questions:
1. Walking by the Spirit: Although the Old Testament frequently calls believers to “walk in the law” (Lev 18:4; Exe 16:4), Paul instructs Christians to “walk in the Spirit.” Why would Paul exchange the “law” for the “Spirit”? It was not that Paul was opposed to the law. Many Jews had mistakenly come to believe that by studying God’s law alone, sin could be overcome. Paul disagrees. The problem is not in studying Scripture, but in concluding that individual rules and guidelines are a sufficient deterrent for sin. While laws can tell us where we don’t measure up (Rom 7:7-12); they cannot make us into what we should be (Rom 7:13-24). It is only through the abiding presence of God’s Spirit that we can be empowered to follow God.
2. The Christian’s Conflict: Contrary to what some people have claimed, the Christian life is never free from conflict and struggle. On the contrary, Paul describes the Christian life as an ongoing struggle between listening to our selfish desires and the prompting of God’s Spirit. This does not mean, however, that we have to follow our sinful desires. It simply means we have to make a daily decision to follow God. As long as we have a sinful human body, we will have sinful desires.
A. Is the presence of conflict and struggle against sinful desire in our lives a positive or a negative sign?
B. What can we do on a daily basis to help our spiritual nature grow and flourish? Is there anything in your life that is serving to undermine your spiritual life?
C. What promise can we claim from Galatians 5:16 if we are willing to walk in the Spirit?
3. Works or Fruits: Paul associates our sinful desires with “works,” indicating things “we” do, and the power of God’s Spirit in our lives with “fruit,” indicating what God produces in us.
A. The works of the flesh fall into four basic categories of sex, religion, society, and intemperance. Why are humans so susceptible to corruption in these areas?
Which fruit of the Spirit is most absent from your life? If it is love, how can that be remedied (Rom 5:5)? If it is one of the other eight virtues, in what way can love make that virtue more of a reality in your life”?