Galatians 5. This chapter starts with the words ‘For freedom Christ has set us free’ (*). As believers we are set free. We are free from the bondage of sin. We are free from the demands of the law. We are free to serve God and worship Him. It seems some of the Galatians felt that because they were Christians they were now free to do anything they wished. Paul addressed a similar thing in his letters to the Romans when in chapter 6:1 he asks, ‘What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?’ It seems people there were saying the more we sin, the greater God’s grace is displayed. Paul’s answer in Romans is an emphatic NO (‘by no means’ – Romans 6:2) and again in Romans 6:12 ‘Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body’.
In Galatians 5:16 Paul says a similar thing when he says, ‘walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh’. The answer is the same as what he said to the Romans. Freedom from sin does not give you a license to do as you wish. You are now free to ‘walk by the Spirit’. And if we are wondering what that looks like in our lives, Paul goes on to lay out firstly what it doesn’t look like and then secondly what it does look like.
What we ought not to be doing are works of the flesh – sexual immorality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkness, orgies etc (verse 19-21). That is a list that covers how we live and how we behave towards others. It covers what we often consider ‘bad’ or ‘big’ sins (sexual sins) but it also covers items that, if you’re anything like me, we do as well – jealously, anger, fighting, dividing, being envious of others etc. It is a reminder that in God’s eyes, sin is sin – there is no grading scale.
Paul ends the chapter telling us how we ought to be living by showing the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (verse 22-23). If we are believers then these are the things that should be evident in our lives for all to see. They are contradictory to the works of the flesh. Are they evident in your life?
Prayer: Lord, help me to display the fruit of the Spirit in my life especially as I deal with other people. Help me to put off the works of the flesh and to fight against my sinful nature. I know I can only do this with the help of the Spirit. AMEN.
*All quotations are from the ESV