Summary: The Holy Spirit: Learn, Unlearn, Relearn Freed to Love Galatians 5:1-6
The Holy Spirit: Learn, Unlearn, Relearn
Freed to Love
February 26, 2017
We are in the midst of our series, The Holy Spirit: Learn, Unlearn, and Relearn. My goal is for us to gain a better understanding of life in the Spirit and our need for the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. So far we have seen that the Spirit is the source of all spiritual life in John 7; the Spirit gives us new birth in John 3; the Spirit adopts us as children of God in Romans 8:14-17; the Spirit making a definitive break with sin in Romans 8:1-11; the work of the Spirit in overcoming sin in Galatians 5:16-18; and today the work of the Spirit in love in Galatians 5:1-6.
We have been looking at the work of the Spirit in us personally and now we are moving to the work of the Spirit through and among us corporately. Today I want to look at one specific fruit of the Spirit that we looked at briefly last week, love. Love is an anchor to the church and our relationships. Jesus tells us that loving others imitates his love (John 15:12-13) and displays to the world that we are his disciples (John 13:34-35) and the glue that holds his church together (Eph 4:16) and is a constant theme in the New Testament letters.
In Galatians five Paul builds his argument on the fact that Christ has set us free and our need to stand firm in that freedom by not taking back on the yoke of slavery, obeying the law in an effort to be acceptable to God (5:1). If you do that, the work of Christ on the cross to pay for your sin is of no value to you and you must obey the whole law perfectly which puts you back under slavery (5:2-3), the condemning burden of never being good enough and you sever yourself from Christ and grace (5:4). Then he gives the reason for his statement. We wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. We are justified by faith now but in the future Christ will declare publicly that we are justified. We now wait in the hope of this by faith through the Spirit. The Spirit is the one empowering, energizing our faith. Notice faith in the future is what empowers us in the present. Faith is forward looking. Faith is turning away from my own effort, toward Christ and his work on my behalf to justify me. Why is faith so important? Why does God love to respond to faith?
Faith highlights my inability and God’s ability. Faith looks away from human effort, human will power and looks toward God’s power and his ability. We see this in Romans 4. “In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised (4:18-21).” Abraham recognized his own inability and looked to God’s ability to do what he could not, and this faith in God glorified God as the great promise keeper who would do what he could not. Faith glorifies God because it recognizes my inability and God’s ability. But how did Abraham grow strong in faith? We are not told, but I think as God reminded him of his word of promise, his faith grew and he glorified God as the God of the impossible. His faith came by hearing the word of promise. This is confirmed in Galatians 3:1-5. “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith.” Paul asks, “did you receive the Spirit because of your own efforts (the flesh) or by faith?” The obvious answer is by faith and faith comes with hearing. But hearing what? The gospel, the word of promise. If we attempt to be reconciled to God by our own efforts or stay reconciled by our own efforts, we become enslaved again, are cut off from the work of Christ on our behalf, fall away from grace. That is why Paul says that neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, what I do or don’t to be accepted, but only faith working through love (5:6). The Christian life is not about my attempting to get in or stay in but is by faith, faith that comes with hearing. My part is to hear the word which brings faith and strengthens faith.