Who’s Your Guide?
You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Galatians 3:1-3
When I think about the book of Galatians, two things come to mind: Paul’s exhortation beginning with “You foolish Galatians…” and the list of the fruit of the Spirit. As I study the book, I see how these two are connected.
Paul calls the Galatians foolish because they began the Christian life with the Spirit and then tried to live by human effort.
Paul uses two words in Galatians for walking in the Spirit. The first word peripateō (5:16) means “to walk, to make use of opportunities.” In 5:25 the word stoicheō is used. This means “to proceed in a row as the march of a soldier, to go in order.”* To walk in the Spirit, we must let Him go first; we must follow His lead and listen to His gentle voice within us.
As we follow the Spirit’s leading and listen to his voice, He produces fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
When I sit down to write, I hear many voices. My stomach growls and tells me it didn’t receive enough food at breakfast to last until lunch. The cake sitting on the counter downstairs calls me to come and satisfy my hunger. My eyes tell me they need a rest from staring at the computer screen.
One day when I got up and started down the stairs headed for a snack, I was aware of the Holy Spirit’s presence. We had a conversation as I came down each step. “You don’t need cake,” He whispered.
I sliced the cake, and put it on a dish. “But I do. It’ll help me keep writing.”
“It’ll break your concentration. You won’t be able to finish.”
Convicted, I stopped. I received the power of self-control. I put the cake back, returned upstairs and finished the writing I had to do.
The Holy Spirit’s voice is not like our conscience. And the fruit of the Spirit is not like our will power. His fruit is produced when we admit our helplessness in situations, when we recognize that no matter how hard we try we cannot exercise self-control or love; we cannot be kind or we cannot believe.
Are you trying to live the Christian life by your own effort? Have you received empowerment from the Spirit? Have you learned to listen to the gentle voice of the Spirit within you?
Read Galatians 5:16-18. Paul describes the Christian life as a battle. Who are the opponents? According to verse 17, what does the enemy hope to achieve? How can the Holy Spirit help us in this battle?
How did Jesus show the fruit of the Spirit (listed in Galatians 5:22-23) as described in the following verses: 1 Timothy 1:16, John 14:27, Matthew 11:29, Hebrews 2:17, Romans 8:39, 2 Peter 1:3, Luke 10:21? Can you think of examples of how Jesus showed kindness and self-control?
Read Galatians 5:19-25 and Romans 7:1-6. What is the fruit of the sinful nature and how are we able to overcome and serve in a new way?
Nancy J. Baker
* Blue Letter Bible. “Dictionary and Word Search for peripateō (Strong’s 4043) and stoicheō (Strong’s 4748)”. Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2012. 27 Jun 2012. < http:// www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?