Summary: A holiness sermon from Galatians, preached at a men's retreat, encouraging the hearers to be filled with the Spirit.


Galatians 5:16-26

Sermon objective: A holiness sermon from Galatians, preached at a men's retreat, encouraging the hearers to be filled with the Spirit.


The book of Galatians is an exciting and multi-faceted book. There are many different angles or perspectives you can use to study it but eventually they all dovetail together and merge into a focused theme – the power of the Gospel and the Gospel alone to save.

The book shows us quite clearly that there is nothing – NO THING – that we can do to earn or even enrich our salvation.

• You cannot keep the Hebrew Law (religious works) well enough to please God. This is clear in the book.

• You cannot be good enough (simple moral works) to please God. This is clear in the book.

What we discover is that the work of Jesus Christ alone is adequate (even more than adequate) to satisfy (“fulfill”) God’s requirements for salvation. In this sense it is a book of grace. Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection provide everything necessary so that God can declare us righteous and be pleased with us. You are acceptable – fully acceptable to God – via the work of Jesus Christ.

I particularly find Galatians 3:14 to be significant. It reads (NIV) “14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.”

With this Paul turns a corner in the book. A subtle yet developing shift begins. This shift eventually mushrooms and becomes more and more important as the book moves onwards.

With this simple verse our focus is clarified and our faith is expanded. You see, until this verse “salvation” was a legal thing. Words like “covenant,” “law,” “regulations” are used. We see a series of arguments being offered that show how the Gospel is technically and legally superior (and essential) to any other proposition for salvation.

But with 3:14 a door is opened that we must walk through. As we do we discover that “salvation” is not simply a legal matter of satisfying God’s moral demands for holiness; it is also a relational / experiential encounter. The understanding of salvation shifts / deepens hereafter. We are called “sons” … relationship take precedence over merely satisfying a moral demand. Chapter 4 (verses 4-7) sets the tone for all that follows:

4 But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5 to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. 6 Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.

This, my friends, is a key difference of Wesleyan/Arminian theology and Calvinism / Reformed theology. The basis for reform theology is law. It is the satisfying a legal demand. No so Wesleyanism. Yes, we agree that this must be done, but it is not our starting point and we do not believe it is God’s either. The starting point is love. God loved us and so he sent His son. God wanted to restore relationship – not accomplish some legal requirement. The heart of salvation is God’s desire to have fellowship with us again … to remove the barriers to relationship.

Salvation becomes more than a matter of what God in Christ has done FOR us … it is a grace-full overture about what God has done TO us!

We, as humans, were incapable of pleasing God but as Christ-followers we are given everything we need positionally and practically to please God. And it is ALL made possible through the promise and dwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Think about this for a moment. The Holy Spirit indwells the believer! That means God himself takes up residence within us. What else could even come close to changing us like this!? With the filling of the Spirit we receive everything we need for life and godliness.

The power, necessity, and reality of the Spirit become very clear as the book reaches an apex with chapter 5. Specifically it reaches an apex in verses 16-26. Here we discover that the real litmus test of conversion and the Spirit’s control is nothing other than the relational evidence of the Spirit’s dwelling within.

16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 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. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.

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