We just ended a series on Jonah and the Season of Lent begins in 16 days, so today we are starting a 2 week series on the Critical Importance of a Spiritual Life. This week we are reading Galatians, a letter from Paul to one of the faith communities he started. Unlike most pastors, he never stayed in his faith community for a significant amount of time, because he was always move on to create another one in another town.
The greatest obstacle in his quick starts and distant communication was a consistent philosophy. The people he gathered were so different, their backgrounds, their faith, their place in society. He had limited time with them to convey important messages. Once he left, these leaders were then left to decide what was important, and what was not...who was included and who was not...whether to keep elements of the Jewish faith or no.
Because of that, his letters were often trying to refocus followers back to the original point.
His focus today is to get after people who have taken advantage of the freedom granted to them by the Christian faith to then do whatever they wanted.
Galatians 5:1, 13-25 Common English Bible (CEB)
1 For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
13 You were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only don’t let this freedom be an opportunity to indulge your selfish impulses, but serve each other through love. 14 All the Law has been fulfilled in a single statement: Love your neighbor as yourself. 15 But if you bite and devour each other, be careful that you don’t get eaten up by each other!
16 I say be guided by the Spirit and you won’t carry out your selfish desires. 17 A person’s selfish desires are set against the Spirit, and the Spirit is set against one’s selfish desires. They are opposed to each other, so you shouldn’t do whatever you want to do. 18 But if you are being led by the Spirit, you aren’t under the Law. 19 The actions that are produced by selfish motives are obvious, since they include sexual immorality, moral corruption, doing whatever feels good, 20 idolatry, drug use and casting spells, hate, fighting, obsession, losing your temper, competitive opposition, conflict, selfishness, group rivalry, 21 jealousy, drunkenness, partying, and other things like that. I warn you as I have already warned you, that those who do these kinds of things won’t inherit God’s kingdom.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against things like this. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the self with its passions and its desires.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let’s follow the Spirit.
Three Points of Discussion
Quote #1 - Paul’s extended argument in a nutshell is this: God has acted dramatically and decisively to free all people from the enslaving powers of Sin and Death through the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and the entry point into this liberation is nothing other than the faithfulness and grace of Jesus. Grace serves as the invitation, the proper credentials, the doorway itself, and the entire structure into which one enters—the new creation is the world itself, marked and defined not by competition, qualification or exclusion, but by grace—pure gift. Ryan Leif Hansen | Lead Pastor, Blakemore Church of the Nazarene, Nashville, TN
Quote #2 - For Paul it was never a matter of saying “Become what you are not by behaving better.” It was always a matter of “Be who in baptism you already are.” It was never “Behave so God will save you.” It was always, “God already saved you so act like it.” There is a tight linkage between the grace that saves and the gracious lives we lead as a result” - Scott Hoezee - the first Director of the Center for Excellence in Preaching
Quote #3 - Life in the Spirit is not about learning a new set of rules but about being set free for a journey into the dangerous and rewarding task of loving God and others. The Spirit is the freedom and empowerment to live as Christ lives, and to let Christ’s love live through you. Ryan Leif Hansen | Lead Pastor, Blakemore Church of the Nazarene, Nashville, TN
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