The Spirit Transforms

Galatians 5:13-26

Life by the Spirit
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

Reflection

What does it mean to “live by” (16), or “keep in step with” (25) the Spirit? Charismatics instinctively think about knowing God’s voice or exercising spiritual gifts. In context though, Paul defines this as living a life of freedom (13).

“Being free to do anything I want” would probably stand as a good definition of freedom in our culture. Paul says we are now free not to indulge any desire that we have (13) but instead to serve and to love (14).

But those who believe are still “in the flesh”. Paul insists that the nature of the Spirit who lives within us is opposed to our fleshly nature (17). He lists obvious manifestations of life in the flesh (19-21), which are antithetical to Kingdom life. By contrast, he describes the wonderful characteristics of life in the Spirit (22).

How then do we live the preferred life and walk in the Spirit? Everything significantly true of Jesus is true of those who believe in him. He died, he rose and he is at the right hand of the Father. Those who believe in him have died to sin (24), live in his risen power by the Spirit and have direct access to the Father. Whenever we struggle with sin, we buy the lie that it still has power over us. In reality, the prison door is already open and we are called to walk out of darkness into the light – not in our own strength – but trusting in the presence and power of Jesus. In areas of real brokenness this is hard to believe – but it’s still true.

Visualisation
Imagine you are in a dark prison cell. See the door opening and Jesus, full of light, coming in to lead you out.
John Peters managed to get two devotionals this week just so that we could plug his book twice, seriously though, it’s quite good, you should read it.
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