Center Point Bible Study is currently meeting in homes according to the CDC guidelines until the ‘Safer at Home’ order is lifted.
The notes for the Center Point Study will be posted every Wednesday below with a link to the archived notes here, Center Point Archive.
We encourage everyone to dig into God’s Word together and share what the Lord is teaching them.
We endeavor to journey chronologically through the Book of Acts and read Paul’s Epistles as they fit into the narrative. We are currently going through the Letter to the Galatians.
A link to the Bible Projects website on Galatians is posted below and is a great resource to help with this study. GALATIANS – The Bible Project [Click Here]
This study is open to anyone who would like to take part! We love you all dearly and look forward to the time when we can be together again!
Pastor Colin, Buck Mills, and Jim Conaway facilitate this Life Group.
NOTES FOR CENTER POINT BIBLE STUDY
August 05, 2020
Buck Mills, Teaching Team
Overcome by the Spirit
Overcome by the Spirit
Paul has just written about the battle between the flesh and the Spirit in every believer. Though it is an interior, invisible battle, the results are outwardly evident. It’s almost as if Paul apologizes for having to make this list, because the works of the flesh are evident. Yet, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he knows it is important to be specific, because we must know specifically how we walk in the flesh. We can’t see the flesh, but we can see what it does. Likewise, we cannot see the Spirit, but we can see His fruit produced in the lives of all the saints. If we believe in Spirit and in truth, we are given power from on high to walk out our faith and to live in harmony with one another as we share the mind of Christ.
Galatians 5:19-26 (ESV)
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy,[d] drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do[e] such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Observations / Notes
Lists of good and bad behavior would be a familiar form to many of Paul’s readers. Many cultures, including Jewish, had lists that outlined how one ought to act. We can see this in the Old Testament through the ten commandments and through the purification of the temple.
Some have sought to organize this list in four categories: sensual sins, religious sins, interpersonal sins, and social sins. We shouldn’t regard this as an exhaustive list, but it adequately gives the idea of what the person who walks in the flesh does.
- Sexual immorality takes the form of adultery or fornication. Adultery is violating the marriage covenant by sexual immorality. Fornication is the ancient Greek word porneia, and it speaks of sexual immorality in a broad sense.
- Impurity is another broad word, referring to sexual impropriety in general. If it is not pure before God, then it is uncleanness. It covers many sexual sins that are not actual intercourse or even interaction with another person (such as pornography). This also covers impure speech, or suggestive speaking filled with double meanings.
- Sensuality or lewdness (sometimes translated licentiousness) has the idea of “ready to sin at any time.” It speaks of someone who flaunts their immorality, throwing off all restraint and having no sense of shame, propriety, or embarrassment.
- Idolatry is the worship of any god except the LORD God revealed to us by the Bible and in the person of Jesus Christ.
- Sorcery (translated witchcraft in the NIV) is the service and worship of occult and spiritual powers apart from the true God. It also has another dimension, revealed by the word for sorcery in the original language Paul uses: pharmakeia, from which we get our word for “pharmacy.”
- Enmity or hatred (ekthra) is an attitude of heart, and it somehow expresses itself in actions such as strife, fits of anger, or many other works of the flesh. But hatred is the inner motivation for the ill treatment of others.
- Strife translates the ancient Greek word (eris) and simply speaks of a combative and argumentative spirit.
- Jealousy translates an ancient Greek word (zelos) that is sometimes used in a positive sense – as for being zealous for something good. But here, clearly, the connotation is to desire what someone else has.
- Fits of anger translates an ancient Greek word (thumos) that speaks of a sudden flash of anger, not a settled state of anger. It means to lose your temper, being unable to control your anger.
- Selfish ambition translates the ancient Greek word eritheia. It started out as a perfectly respectable word meaning “to work for pay.” Over time, it began to mean the kind of work that is done for money and for no other reason, but only for their own glory and benefit.
- Dissensions translates the ancient Greek word dichostasia, and it literally means “standing apart.”
- Divisions translates an ancient Greek word (hairesis) which originally simply meant “to choose.” Over time, it came to mean someone who divisively expressed their “choices” or opinions. We think today of divisions, or heresies, in terms of wrong ideas and teachings; but the emphasis in the word is actually the wrongful dividing over opinions.
- Envy is the ancient Greek word phthonos. It doesn’t so much want what someone else has, but it is bitter just because someone else has something and we don’t.
- Drunkenness refers to being impaired in any way by drink, as well as drinking with the intention of becoming impaired. While Christians may differ as to if a Christian can drink alcohol, the Scriptures precisely forbid drunkenness.
- Orgies translates the ancient Greek word komos, it doesn’t mean simply having a party or a good time or necessarily sexual. It means unrestrained partying.
Why is it important to know the areas where you are most susceptible to fleshly desires?
What should our reaction be when we see ourselves doing any of these works of the flesh?
The use of the phrase ‘and the like’ demonstrates that Paul understands that his list is not exhaustive. These are not the only works of the flesh. It isn’t as if one could find a work of the flesh that is not described in this list, then one would be free to do it.
Paul knew that we are saved by God’s grace and Jesus’ work alone, not by what we have done, are doing, or promise to do. But he also knew that those who are saved by God’s grace have a high moral obligation to fulfill – not to earn salvation, but in gratitude for salvation, and in simple consistency with who we are in Jesus.
To walk in these works of the flesh s to be in plain rebellion against God, and those in plain rebellion against God will not inherit the kingdom of God.
What is at stake here?
Who are the people in danger?
“The tense of the verb (present) indicates a habitual continuation in fleshly sins rather than an isolated lapse, and the point is that those who continually practice such sins give evidence of having never received God’s Spirit.” (Boice)
The strength and certainty of Paul in this verse is striking. Paul may sound rigid or even harsh here, but he is consistent with the Biblical idea of conversion. When we come to Jesus to have our sins forgiven and our soul saved, He also changes our life. It doesn’t happen all at once, and the work will never be perfected on this side of eternity, but there will be a real change none the less (1 John 3:5-9).
The works of the flesh seem overwhelming – both in us and around us. God is good enough and big enough to change everything with the fruit of the Spirit. In the big picture, the Spirit has one work to do in all of us, to conform us to the image of Christ. The desires the Spirit will always conquer the desires of the flesh when one seeks the Spirit with all their heart. God is holy because He is separate from sin. As we are conformed to the image of Christ, sin will naturally be expelled from our life, in Christ.
Significantly here, it is the fruit of the Spirit set across from the works of the flesh.
- Love translates the ancient Greek word agape. Agape describes a different kind of love, the love of the Spirit. It is a love more of decision than of the spontaneous heart; as much a matter of the mind than the heart, because it chooses to love the undeserving. It is fitting that love be the first mentioned, because it encompasses all of the following. It may even be said that the following eight terms are just describing what love in action looks like.
- Joy translates the ancient Greek word chara. We could say that this is joy of the Spirit, because it is a higher joy than just the thrill of an exciting experience or a wonderful set of circumstances. It is a joy that can abide and remain, even when circumstances seem terrible. Paul knew this joy personally; he could sing when manacled in a dark prison dungeon (Acts 16:25).
- The ancient Greek word used here for peace is Eirene. We could say that this peace is a peace of the Spirit, because it is a higher peace than just what comes when everything is calm and settled. This is a peace of God, which surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7).
- Patience is also translated longsuffering. Patience means that one can have love, joy, and peace even over a period of time when people and events annoy them. God is not quickly irritated with us (Romans 2:4, 9:22), so we should not be quickly irritated with others.
- Kindness and goodness are closely connected. They show a heart that has been softened and embody compassion and generosity.
- Faithfulness usually means following through with what you say your going to do. Here, the idea is that the Spirit of God works faithfulness in us, both to Himself and to others. How would we know what faithfulness entails if He has not shown us firsthand?
- Gentleness, here, has more of a spiritual connotation. The word has the idea of being teachable, not having a superior attitude, not demanding one’s rights, it isn’t the physical attributes normally associated like timidity or passiveness. The idea of meekness comes to mind.
- Self-control is almost always thought of for a selfish reason. It knows the self-disciple and denial someone will go through for themselves, but the self-control of the Spirit will also work on behalf of others.
Paul wrote with both irony and understatement. There is certainly no law against the fruit of the Spirit. But more so, if a person has this fruit of the Spirit, he doesn’t need the Law. He already fulfills it.
Which qualities do look for in the body of believers, qualities of the flesh or qualities of the Spirit?
Why should we seek out the fruit of the Spirit in other’s lives and encourage them with it?
God has a place for our flesh, with all its passions and desires. He wants us to nail it to His cross, so that it may be under control and under the sentence of death.
How does the word ‘crucified’ exemplify the believer’s stance toward sin and fleshly desires?
The more we understand that everything, even our individual breathes, come from the Lord and give Him honor and glory for it, the more we can be in step with His desires and be overcome by His Spirit. The Spirit of God is the source of life, physical and spiritual.
John 1:3 (ESV)
All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
Paul concluded this section of walking in the Spirit with this warning “Let us not become conceited…”, knowing that some will become conceited in their own walk in the Spirit. This can be a masterful stroke of Satan. We can think of a child of God finally walking in the Spirit – then Satan tempts him to be conceited about it. Soon, he is sure that he is almost always right and everyone else is wrong. It often happens gradually but will eventually show itself through provoking and envying one another.
What happens when we think all our problems are outside ourselves and come from others?
In which areas of your life is the Spirit calling you to yield or surrender to Him?