Bible Study Notes:

Galatians 5:13-22


These notes are from a transcript of the postings during Bible Study on Thursday Nights at 9 PM Eastern Time US at Bible Study Chat at You are welcome to join us!

  Praise the Lord! Thank you Jesus for this time we have together to learn of Your Word and draw closer to you! We are grateful for a free land, and free airways where we can meet together without fear to praise and worship you.

Father God, we lift up this study to You and ask You to bless us with Your presence. Reveal to us Your wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus. We invite the Holy Spirit to be our teacher. Guide us into truth everlasting. Transform us by the renewing of our minds.

Father, open our hearts as we open Your word, give us light and understanding. Help us to be doers of the Word and not hearers only. Help us apply it to our everyday lives.

satan we come against you in the Name of Jesus, we bind you and rebuke you and command you to leave this room in Jesus Name!

Father, we ask that a spirit of peace and harmony come into this place, and let us be in agreement over Your Word.

Father God, give us a vision of life in the Spirit, of walking in the Spirit, of living to please You and not ourselves. Produce in us the fruit of Your Spirit, we pray, in Jesus Name AMEN.

In the book of Galatians so far Paul has been telling us that we are saved by grace through faith alone - not by following the works of the law. The Galatians believed this at first, but some troublemakers, "legalists", came into the church and started making them doubt their salvation.

Paul was trying to get them to see that if we could be saved by works of law, then why did Jesus come and die for our sins? But, some were taking the liberty to the extreme - and were going back into sin.

Galatians 5:13 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.

We are FREE in Jesus. "He whom the Son makes free is free indeed!" But freedom without responsibility = LICENSE. Freedom is not license to sin - someone once said that "true freedom is having the ability to do what you ought to do".

"Serve one another in love" - if we Christians (and this includes yours truly) could only grasp this part of the verse and put it into action, 95% of our conflicts would cease!! Serving one another in love - what do you think this means?

v. 14 The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."

I have a question. How can you love your neighbor if you don't love yourself? And how do you learn to love yourself?

A lot of people have problems loving themselves because of their childhood or other rejections. It's especially hard for those who have not had a good relationship with their fathers to love themselves or to believe that God the Father loves them.

Lack of self respect can be a real problem in ministering to others - when they haven't known real love. And it can be a problem in our relationships with others if we don't love ourselves.

If we could just grasp how much God loves us and how precious we are in His sight, we would have to love ourselves AND others. Apparently, the Galatians were having a difficult time loving themselves and their neighbors due to the legalists.

v. 15 If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

You know if you have to follow a list of rules to be accepted and be acceptable, then that causes a lot of apprehension. It also can lead to a judgmental attitude towards others. You see, when you feel that you have to obey a set of rules to be saved, there's always comparisons and differences of opinions and guilt.... on an on. It causes enormous conflicts. The fear of not being accepted, of not measuring up causes us to feel unworthy. All of this suffocates a loving spirit.

Some Christians believe that a "critical spirit" is a sign of righteousness! They think that they have to see who measures up and who doesn't! Verse 15 shows what a critical spirit can do for the Church - cause us to be DESTROYED. And I believe it's also one of the main reasons that people leave the Church - or don't get saved in the first place!

Someone called the believers in v. 15 "cannibalistic Christians". Instead of winning the lost or helping each other, they were scratching and biting and eating each other up! Paul said if they kept on they would completely destroy each other. I really hate Christian "cat fights". Nothing is accomplished and a lot of unbelievers are turned off by it.

What is Paul's answer for the problem of license and quarreling?

v.16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

What is living by the Spirit? "Live by" is in the present tense - "go on living", to keep on living by the prompting and power of the Holy Spirit. There are several "voices" that try to speak to us besides the Holy Spirit - the world, the flesh, the devil, and our own minds. How can we tell who's speaking to us?

By reading the Word and prayer and by testing what is said by the Word. Test all things by the Word! As we walk with the Lord, His voice becomes more and more familiar, and even though gentle and quiet, it will drown out all the other voices assaulting us!

v. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.

There is a battle going on inside of the believer between what the flesh wants and what the Spirit is leading us to do. In Romans chapter 7, Paul describes this struggle in more detail - and he finally declares, "Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" In Roman times, a gruesome death sentence was to have a corpse strapped to your back until the decay killed you both. This is what Paul compared the sinful nature to.

What delivers us from the sinful nature? Thanks be to God - Jesus Christ our Lord! A lot of people try to be holy all by themselves - this is back to following a set of rules to be saved. But that only brings frustration and failure. We have to be delivered by Jesus!

All of our life in Jesus comes from faith. The Bible says "looking unto Jesus, the Author (beginning) and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2). And "faith comes by hearing the Word of God" (Romans 10:17).

v.18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.

The Holy Spirit will not lead us back into following a list of rules and regulations. But the Holy Spirit will lead us into following Jesus.

From the next verse to the end of the chapter, Paul tells us the negative and the positive - what we are saved FROM, and what we are saved TO. Notice that verses 19-20 speak of the ACTS or WORKS of the sinful nature. These are things that we (or the sinner) chose to do. We decide to whether to participate in them or not.

By contrast we have the FRUIT of the Spirit - fruit is produced naturally through maturity - it becomes part of us in the Spirit. If we are led by the Spirit, we don't have to strive for the fruit, it is produced naturally in us. In Ephesians 2:10, Paul expresses it this way "We are God's workmanship created in Christ Jesus".

vs.19-21 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 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.

ACTs are something we make a conscious decision to do or not to do - but FRUIT is part of a natural process. When we walk in the Spirit, we produce His fruit. We don't have to strive and try and feel guilt. How many apple trees have you seen that are sweating it out - not sure if they'll make apples or not? None of them! They just bud and flower and make apples, happy as they can be!

Our fretting impedes the process, I think, by taking up room in our minds and hearts. Paul said not to be anxious for anything (Philippians 4:6) - and I think this is included too. The way our minds work, the more you think about a negative thing, the more likely you are to do it! Paul said to think on good, righteous, holy things (Philippians 4:8). If you are having a lot of trouble with the acts of the flesh, maybe you are concentrating on THEM instead of the Word. If we fill our minds with negative things, then we will reap negative acts. If we fill our minds with God's Word, we will produce the fruit of the Spirit. Therefore, we need to read God's Word.

There is the law, which is now not our concern. There is sin we commit, which IS our concern. When we sin we need to ask for forgiveness (repent) and believe that our sin is forgiven. The only function of guilt is to bring us to repentance. When we ask God for forgiveness, we receive it. We then need to rid ourselves of guilt and go on. If we concentrate on our failures (old guilt) which have been forgiven instead of on what Christ is currently doing in us, we get in the Holy Spirit's way.

Acts of the flesh are something we choose to do, the Fruit is something the SPIRIT does through us.

The acts of the sinful nature are (Greek word):

sexual immorality (moicheia) = adultery, immorality, unlawful relations

impurity (porneia) = fornication, pornography, impurity, other unlawful relations

debauchery (akatharsia) = uncleanness, indecency, impurity and perversion

idolatry (eidololatreia) = worshipping idols, exalting anything above God

witchcraft (pharmakeia) = sorcery by means of drugs, spells and potions

hatred (echthra) = enmity, bitter dislike, holding grudges

discord (eris) = variance, strife, quarreling, debating and disputes

jealousy (zeloi) = emulations, envy, uncurbed rivalry

fits of rage (thumos) = ill-temper, wrath, indignation, fierceness

selfish ambition (eritheia) = selfishness, strife about words, contests for superiority

dissensions (dichostasia) = seditions, divisions, parts and factions

factions (hairesis) = party spirit, sects with peculiar opinions, heresies

envy (phthonoi) = pain and jealousy at the blessings of another

drunkenness (methai) = constant inebriation, alcoholism

orgies (komoi) = carousing, well you know!

and the like... (other lists of vices: I Corinthians 6:9-10; Ephesians 5:5; Revelation 22:15)

These are things that the flesh left in its natural state wants to do. Notice that the sins of being ambitious without regard for the needs of others and creating division are right up there with witchcraft, drunkenness and immorality. Anger, too. People who live like this will NOT inherit the kindgom of God. And these are things we are NOT permitted to do, even though we are free in Christ from the bondage to the Law.

One of the common works of the flesh I encounter frequently among Christians is fits of rage, or an ill temper. They say, "I have a bad temper. I can't help it." But the Word says these are works of the flesh. We need to deal with them.

BUT - when this preoposition is used, it indicates a change is coming. Paul is comparing the works of the flesh, which we should NOT do, with the fruit of the Spirit.

vs. 22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Fruit is the work that the presence of the Holy Spirit within us accomplishes:

Love is agape - God's unconditional love for us.

Joy (chara) the emotional excitement, gladness, delight over blessings received or expected.

Peace (eirene) the state of quietness, rest, repose, harmony, and security in the midst of turmoil, strife and temptation.

Patience (makrothumia) long-suffering, endurance, to bear long with the frailties, offenses, injuries and provocation of others, without murmuring, repining or resentment.

Gentleness (chrestotes) a disposition to be gentle, soft-spoken, kind, even-tempered, and God-like in life and conduct.

Faith (pistis) the living, divinely implanted, acquired and created, principle of inward and wholehearted confidence, assurance, trust and reliance in God and all that He says.

Meekness (praotes) the disposition to be gentle, kind, indulgent, even balanced in tempers and passions, and patient in suffering injuries without feeling a spirit of revenge.

Temperance (enkrateia) self-control, a moderation in the indulgence of the appetites and passions.

(Definitions from Dakes annotated reference Bible, pp.206-207)

The Bible teaches that we bear fruit through living by the Spirit, walking in the Spirit and by allowing the Spirit to lead us. The Christian doesn't produce the fruit by anything he does, it is a product of walking in the Spirit. The Spirit leads us into the will of God. As we allow Him to become our companion and walk with us, we become more like Him - and the fruits are manifested in our lives.

The fruit doesn't come by our striving to follow a set of rules (Against such things there is no law). It comes from walking with the Spirit and allowing HIM to bear fruit in us. It doesn't say "OldTimer's fruit"; it says the fruit OF THE SPIRIT. Big difference.

Dear blessed Father in Heaven we thank you for being with us tonight. Thank you for your holy word, Bless all who participated tonight. In Jesus' holy name.

Father God, thank you O Holy One for the Word you have given us tonight! May it take root, bud, bloom and bear fruit in our lives we pray! We leave it in your capable hands, Almighty God! In Jesus Name, AMEN

Remember, whenever God gives us a revelation, the devil tries to steal it from us. Guard your hearts and meditate on what you've learned!


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