Gospel character (Galatians 5 v 16-25)
In rules-based religion, the motivation for morality is rooted in fear: “I must do good things or God won't accept me”. In gospel Christianity, the motivation is a dynamic of love: “God has lovingly accepted me, so I'm free to do good out of love for
Him and for others”.
Now Paul spells out just how we grow in character through this new dynamic.
Read Galatians 5:16
• What two things are at work in every Christian (v 16-17)?
• Why does this produce a conflict in us (v 17)?
• What does a Christian naturally want to do?
• v 16
• v 17b
And so there's a great battle within us! In v 16 Paul talks of our “sinful nature”; in v 18 he describes the same thing as
being “under law”. And this shows us how the sinful nature operates.
When we look at God's law, our sinful nature sometimes uses it to encourage us to think about breaking it in some way (see Romans 7:7).
But other times, as we look at God's law, our sinful nature points out that we've kept His law, prompting in us pride and
self-righteousness. That's a more subtle work of our sinful nature: a self-righteousness produced by our good works.
Being led by the Spirit frees us from this. He enables us joyfully to repent of both our sinful law-breaking and our sinful law-keeping, and so to really change.
Read Galatians 5:24
• What’s happened to our sinful nature (v 24)?
It's already been defeated by God’s Son at the cross! And God’s Spirit applies Christ's victory there to our lives now, winning battle after battle over our defeated sinful natures.
Read Galatians 5:19
• What do you learn about the human heart from the list in v 19-21?
• In what ways are the outworkings of the Spirit's work in us (v 22-23) the opposite of the sinful nature's acts?
• Which of the attitudes and actions of verses 19-21 do you particularly recognise in yourself?
• In which areas of your life do you need to start “keeping in step with the Spirit” (v 25)?
Ask God’s Spirit to lead you in fighting your sinful nature and producing His fruit in those parts of your life.
This devotional is taken from Explore—a daily Bible-reading devotional from the good book company which enables you to engage with Scripture and which will encourage, equip and inspire you to live for Christ. Explore features contributions from pastors such as Dr Timothy Keller, Mike McKinley and Tim Chester.
Click here and enter the code bstexplore56 when you check out to get the current quarter’s Explore for $5.84, a 10% discount.
Click here and enter bstexploresub when you check out to buy a year’s worth at 25% off—just $16.
Keep a record of what God is teaching you with "my bible" at biblestudytools.com