Free Living in Galatians 5

When I was young, I memorized Galatians 5:1, 13 & 22 by way of a song.  This chapter has been a part of my heart for years.  I never realized it was also the chapter where Paul blows his top.

“As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!” (vs. 12)

What is it about freedom in Christ that had Paul so hot and bothered?  What could adding a few rules hurt?

Let’s take a little walk, back to the evening before Jesus was arrested.  Jesus and the disciples were still sitting at the table.  Right after Judas left, Jesus gives them a new command:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34)  Then he goes on to give them three promises:

  1. That he is going to prepare a place for them, and that he will come back (our eternal hope)
  2. “Anyone who has faith in Him will do what he is doing, and even greater things.”  The Message translates the next part best: “From now on, whatever you request along the lines of who I am and what I am doing, I’ll do it. That’s how the Father will be seen for who he is in the Son. I mean it. Whatever you request in this way, I’ll do.” (John 14:14)
  3. That he will send the Holy Spirit.  Chapter 16 goes on to explain that the Holy Spirit convicts and guides into truth.  Elsewhere he comforts and endues Power.

Now.  If Jesus wants to give you all these things, and His only commandment is to love each other and to remain in Him, why would you want to go out on a tangent trying to obey other laws?  Listen to the results of this behavior:  “If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” (Galatians 5:15)

When I learned these verses as a teen, I thought it meant that I had to work hard to become that list of positive behaviors in verse 19.  That’s because I never learned verse 16.  Live by the Spirit and you won’t gratify the desires of the sinful nature.  It is a positive statement, not a negative one.  You can’t become Christlike by figuring out what not to be.  You can only become Christlike by getting to know Jesus – by letting the Holy Spirit do the work on the inside of you.

A dandelion doesn’t say I want to become a poof flower (whatever those things are), it just becomes one because it is part of it’s nature.  If you have the Holy Spirit on the inside of you, and you are listening to Him, you will become like Him.  If you are trying to figure out how to get it all right, you are going to lose.  The fruits of the Spirit grow from within – you can’t make them appear.

What about self discipline you ask?  For many of us, the real discipline is being quiet and letting the Spirit talk to us.  Listening to His voice and doing what He says instead of what seems like the right thing.

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One Response to “Free Living in Galatians 5”

  1. Jeanine Says:

    Very timely and right-on!

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