The Good Life Wk 1 // Life in the Spirit
What did freedom mean to you when you were 18 years old? What does it mean to you today? What has changed over time to affect your view?
Recall a time when you felt “imprisoned” by an unfulfilling job, a bad habit, an illness, or financial debt. How did you become free from that situation? How would you describe the sense of freedom you experienced at that time?
"Jesus came so that you can have a better life than you ever dreamed of."
Some people mistakenly believe Christians are free to do whatever they want to do—and only what they want to do. Yet they need to understand Christian freedom really about the freedom we have to obey Christ and reflect His character. Others assume they must perform good works to solidify their relationship with God. In his Letter to the Galatians, Paul emphasized that God had called them to freedom, not to legalism. They were free to follow the Holy Spirit’s leadership. When we follow God closely, we live by faith through hope and love.
Much of this lesson is about the "freedom" we have to follow Christ with our lives. Be cautious of allowing the conversation to drift to a discussion on political freedoms. These discussions would detract from the true intention of the scriptures you are about to explore.
"Every moment of every day you are either in the flesh or in the spirit."
Have a volunteer read Galatians 5:13-15.
What dangerous opportunities does freedom provide? What was Paul afraid that freedom would give the Galatians an opportunity to do?
What does the abuse of freedom commonly look like in our community?
Why do you think Paul emphasized service to one another through love? How does service protect from the dangers of freedom?
Up to this point in his Letter to the Galatians, Paul had referred to the Old Testament law in negative terms. In this verse, however, he referred to it positively. Even the Old Testament law encouraged the Galatians to serve others rather than to serve themselves. The true spirit of the Old Testament law is summarized in the single command that we love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
"In order to choose the good life, you have to choose to live in the spirit every day."
Have a volunteer read Galatians 5:16-18.
How would you define the term “sinful nature” in your own words (v. 16)?
In contrast, what does walking (or living) by the Spirit mean?
What characterizes a life guided by the sinful nature or by the Spirit?
The Holy Spirit leads us to do what God wants, not what our sinful nature wants. The word “walk” in these verses is a Hebrew expression that means “live.” These verses are pointing at our conduct or lifestyle. To keep on living in the Spirit is to continually live by His power—to go where He goes.
- If we are made alive by the Spirit, why do we still struggle with sin?
At the moment we place our trust in Christ, our sinful nature no longer has control over us. Control now belongs to God and His Spirit. However, we live in a fallen world and remain in a battle against sin even after we become Christians. As long as we live, we will continue in this battle. Yet because we are in Christ, sin no longer dominates us, meaning, we are not compelled to sin. Instead, we have the Holy Spirit inside of us who changes our desires and helps us resist sin. In Galatians 5:19-21, Paul presents a catalog of “the works of the flesh” (v. 19) so these believers could be forewarned. The sins listed in these verses are the result of twisting God’s gifts into ungodly behaviors and not following the Spirit.
"We have to train to learn to be in the spirit every day."
Have a volunteer read Galatians 5:19-21.
- Why do you think Paul mentioned these specific sins? Do you see any commonalities among the sins?
- What makes these sins “obvious” (v. 19)? How are they “contrary to the Spirit” (v. 17)?
- How would our world be different if Christians let the Spirit lead in all their actions?
- What is the significance of Paul’s warning in verse 21?
People with lifestyles characterized by the works of the flesh will not inherit God’s kingdom. Inherit means “to share in.” People who live in the flesh are not following the Spirit. Conversely, the Spirit’s activity in Christians produces a cluster of virtues that gives evidence believers belong to Christ (see v. 22-26). Good works don’t create Christians; Christians create good works.
"We have to learn to walk ourselves off the cliff."
Have a volunteer read Galatians 5:22-26.
How does the fruit of the Spirit in verses 22-26 compare to the works of the flesh mentioned in verses 19-21?
What do each of the fruits of the Spirit have in common with each other? Where do you see the Holy Spirit bringing out these characteristics in your life?
If verse 26 describes the attitude of someone not in tune with the Spirit, what’s the attitude of someone who is?
Paul called for the Galatian believers to follow the Spirit’s leadership and to avoid destructive attitudes and behavior (see 5:25-26). The Spirit’s presence in our lives gives us the power we need to live out our faith. He replaces those sinful works with His fruit, and as a result we are able to love and serve others rather than ourselves.
"Every situation is an opportunity to let the world see the Spirit of God in you."
Is there an area in your life where you are following the flesh instead of the Spirit? What step can you take today to follow the direction of the Holy Spirit?
In what ways have you recently been reminded of the Spirit’s presence and power in your life? How can you be more aware of and sensitive to the Spirit’s presence and power?
When have you experienced a fellow believer encouraging you to live by the Spirit and not the flesh? Is there someone you can encourage this week?
Thank God for sending the Holy Spirit so that we can have a guide and an advocate to help us live lives that glorify God. Pray that God would encourage people in your group and at our church to listen and heed the God's instructions in their lives so that we would all live in the Spirit and not in the flesh.