Key Text: “Let the Holy Spirit guide your lives.” (Galatians 5:16 NLT)

16-18 My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?

Reflection: (Galatians 5:16-18)

If your desire is to have the qualities listed in Galatians 5:22-23, then you know that the Holy Spirit is leading you. 

At the same time, be careful not to confuse your subjective feelings with the Spirit’s leading. Being led by the Holy Spirit involves:

  1. The desire to hear.
  2. The readiness to obey God’s Word.
  3. The sensitivity to discern between your feelings and His promptings. 

Live each day controlled and guided by the Holy Spirit. Then the words of Christ will be in your mind, the love of Christ will be behind your actions, and the power of Christ will help you control your selfish desires. 

Reflection: (Galatians 5:17)

Paul describes the two forces fighting within us – 1) the Holy Spirit and 2) the sinful nature (our evil desires or inclinations that stem from our body; (see also Galatians 5:16,19,24).

Paul is not saying that these forces are equal: 

  1. The Holy Spirit is infinitely stronger. But if we rely on our own wisdom, we will make wrong choices. 
  2. If we try to follow the Spirit by our own human effort, we will fail. 

Our only way to freedom from our evil desires is through the empowering of the Holy Spirit (see Romans 8:9; Ephesians 4:23-24; Colossians 3:3-8).

19-21 It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.

This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom.

Reflection: (Galatians 5:19-21)

We all have evil desires, and we can’t ignore them. In order for us to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we must deal with them decisively (crucify them; Galatians 5:24).

These desires include obvious sins, such as sexual immorality and demonic activities. 

They also include less obvious sins, such as hostility, jealousy, and selfish ambition. 

Those who ignore such sins or refuse to deal with them reveal that they have not received the gift of the Spirit that leads to a transformed life. 

22-23 But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

Reflection: (Galatians 5:22-23)

The fruit of the Spirit is the spontaneous work of the Holy Spirit in us. 

The Spirit produces these character traits that are found in the nature of Christ. 

They are the by-products of Christ’s control – we can’t obtain them by trying to get them without His help. 

If we want the fruit of the Spirit to grow in us, we must join our life to His (see John 15:4-5). 

We must know Him, love Him, remember Him, and imitate Him. 

As a result, we will fulfill the intended purposes of the law – to love God and our neighbors. 

Which of these qualities do you want the Spirit to product in you? 

Reflection: (Galatians 5:23)

Because the God who sent the law also sent the Spirit, the by-products of the Spirit-filled life are in perfect harmony with the intent of God’s law

A person who exhibits the fruit of the Spirit fulfills the law far better than a person who observes the rituals but exhibits little love from the heart.

23-24 Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified.

Reflection: (Galatians 5:24)

In order to accept Christ as Savior, we need to turn from our sins and willingly nail our sinful nature to the cross. 

This doesn’t mean that we will never see traces of its evil desires again. 

As Christians we still have the capacity to sin, but we have been set free from sin’s power over us and no longer have to give in to it.

We must daily commit our sinful tendencies to God’s control, daily crucify them, and moment by moment draw on the Spirit’s power to overcome them (see Galatians 2:20; 6:14).

25-26 Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.

Reflection: (Galatians 5:25)

God is interested in every part of our life, not just the spiritual part. 

As we live by the Holy Spirit’s power, we need to submit every aspect of our life to God; emotional, physical, social, intellectual, vocational. 

Paul says that because we’re saved, we should live like it! 

The Holy Spirit is the source of your new life, so keep in step with His leading. 

Don’t let anything or anyone else determine your values and standards in any area of your life. 

Reflection: (Galatians 5:26)

Everyone needs a certain amount of approval from others. But those who go out of their way to secure honors or to win popularity become conceited and show the are not following the Holy Spirit’s leading. 

Those who look to God for approval won’t need to envy others. Because we are God’s sons and daughters, we have His Holy Spirit as the loving guarantee of His approval. 

Seek to please God, and the approval of others won’t seem so important.