Galatians 5 Continued

Posted by Dave Clayton on

After our time in Galatians Chapter 5 on Sunday, there have been some really great questions that have come to the surface that I would like to address in more depth here.

Context
In Galatians 5, Paul begins to give us some tangible examples of how a person can readily identify whether or not they are living under the power and the authority of the Holy Spirit. He does this by addressing two different ways in which we choose to deal with our sinful nature (1) By Gratifying our Sinful Nature ... verse 17 or by (2) Crucifying our sinful nature through the power of the Holy Spirit ... verse 24.

Gratification
As we discussed on Sunday, the person who is not living under the authority or control of the Holy Spirit is the person that gratifies, or quite literally makes peace with their sinful desires. Paul goes on to list several very raw examples of this in verses 19-21, when he says that the person who chooses to make peace with the sinful nature consistently make choices that don’t honor God. It becomes the rhythm of their life and existence. In fact, Paul says its obvious whether or not the Holy Spirit is driving your actions and decisions.

Crucifixion
He goes on to say, beginning in verse 22, that when the Holy Spirit is driving your life, the things that flow out of you are just as obvious to everyone as your sin once was. In other words, when the Spirit is controlling your actions, the things of God will naturally flow out of your lives.

He continues in verse 24, to make it clear that just because you are a Christian doesn’t mean that you never sin or never make a mistake. He says that those who belong to Christ have crucified their sinful nature, with its passions and desires. As we discussed on Sunday, crucifixion is often a very slow and painful process. Many times it takes years for the Spirit to fully crucify the things that once held us captive.

Does this mean that if you struggle with sin you do not have the Holy Spirit?
No not at all. In fact, in Romans 7, Paul paints a picture of his own struggle in dealing with Life in the Spirit and the tug of the sinful nature. In Galatians 5, Paul practically guarantees that there will always been a struggle because there are two sides going to war for your heart. He is merely addressing how the Christian is called to respond in the midst of that struggle by the power of the Holy Spirit.

How do I know I have the Holy Spirit?
Jesus is always good for keeping his word. If he says it -- it will happen. Jesus promises on several occasions that he will send the Holy Spirit to live inside of Christians forever. This was not just a promise for the people of scripture, but a promise for us as well (Acts 2:38-39). So if you have turned from your old way of life (repented), if you have been baptized into the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins--then you have received the Holy Spirit. It’s a promise (John 14).

But what if the Holy Spirit doesn’t seem to be working in my life?
It is quite possible you have simply ignored his voice or his promptings. This is what 1 Thessalonians 5:19 is talking about when it says ... “Do not quench the Spirit’s fire.” In other words, don’t stop the Holy Spirit’s work of refining your life. When we ignore the voice of the Spirit, it get’s harder for us to hear and see where and how he is working in our lives (Heb 3 and 4). When we do this, we do what Paul discusses in Galatians 5 ... we gratify our sinful nature and in the end produce bad fruit.

What should I do if I’ve been ignoring the Holy Spirit?
There is great news for you. Simply apologize to God. Ask for forgiveness. Ask him to help you put to death your sinful nature, and begin to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit through your time in the Word, through prayer, through his inner promptings and so forth. It won’t always be easy, and it won’t always be obvious, but when we ask God with a humble heart to lead us ... He always does.

Conclusion
Chances are this blog has not cleared up all of your questions. Christians for thousands of years have been wrestling with how this plays out in the every day arena of life. Don’t be discouraged. Be encouraged that God has given you a hunger to understand his ways deeper. That in and of itself is evidence that the Spirit of God is working in your life.

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