Have you ever noticed that humans, as a group, tend to be extremely superficial and shallow? We expend enormous amounts of time, money, and energy making sure that we look a certain way – wear particular brands of clothes and shoes, dye our hair, even have surgery. We go to great lengths to change our outsides … but do almost nothing to change what really matters.
Image © Rolf Jansson from GoodSalt.com
Even back in Jesus’ day, folks gave more attention [...]
“I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world.” 1 Corinthians 5:9-10, NIV
The problem of how the church should relate to the world has existed from the beginning and has continuously struggled for resolution. Two conflicting viewpoints are illustrative regarding this tension. On the one hand, the [...]
“‘Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?’
The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’
Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise.’” Luke 10:36-37, NIV
In the popular media, most problems seem to be solved by some sort of violent act. More often than not some sort of a firearm is used to vanquish the bad guys who are unquestionably evil and therefore deserve to [...]
“So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.” 2 Thessalonians 2:15, NIV
I once had a 1963 Chevrolet Nova Super Sport convertible that I enjoyed restoring. It was a rare automobile that represented a meaningful tie to my teenage years. As a teenager, I viewed the world as fresh and wonderful and full of promise. No doubt some of that golden aura attached [...]
“…hold on to what is good,” 1 Thessalonians 5:21, NIV
While walking through Riverfront Park recently in downtown Spokane, I was approached by a young man and offered a one million dollar bill. Knowing that the United States does not issue one million dollar bills, I refused. I then discovered it was part of a marketing approach to attract people’s attention to a presentation.
Today’s image is also obviously not true currency of the United States. We have no three dollar bill [...]
“…for you welcomed the message…with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 1:6, NIV
One of the most beautiful sights is the smile on the face of someone who has just given their heart to Jesus. Their heart is so full of joy from the experience that the light of that joy bursts forth from every seam of their being. If you have experienced that change, you know what it means to feel that way, but even if you [...]
Friday’s section of “The God of Grace and Judgment” asks the question, “What’s the deadly spiritual trap of thinking that because we’re saved by grace, it doesn’t matter what we do? How can you protect yourself against falling into that deception?”
On the golf course we have another word for grace. It is called a “mulligan.” After you make a terrible shot, your partner may offer you a mulligan. You take another shot and the first shot does not count. It’s [...]
“The life of the Christian is not all smooth. He has stern conflicts to meet. Severe temptations assail him. ‘The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.’ The nearer we come to the close of this earth’s history, the more delusive and ensnaring will be the attacks of the enemy. His attacks will grow fiercer and more frequent. Those who resist light and truth will become more hardened and unimpressible, and more bitter against those who [...]
Key Thought: Living by the Spirit involves a daily walk with Christ. It requires choices that starve our sinful self.
[Teaching plan for "Living by the Spirit" December 14, 2011]
1. Have a volunteer read Galatians 5:1-16,17.
A. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
B. How does one walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh? Is it easy or hard?
C. Personal Application: Do you struggle with the Spirit and [...]
Although an inward conflict between the flesh and the Spirit always will rage in the heart of every believer, the Christian life does not have to be dominated by defeat, failure, and sin.
According to Galatians 5:16–26, what is the key to living a life where the Spirit reigns over the flesh?
Galatians 5:16–26 contains five key verbs that describe the type of life in which the Spirit reigns. First, the believer needs to “walk” in the Spirit (vs. 16). The Greek [...]
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Gal. 5:22, 23, ESV). In what ways does obedience to the Ten Commandments reflect the fruit of the Spirit as it is expressed in these verses? (See also Matt. 5:21, 22, 27, 28; 22:35–40.) 1
The Ten Commandments are not an alternative to love; they help guide us in how we are to show love, both to [...]
Having introduced the conflict that exists between the flesh and the Spirit, Paul in Galatians 5:18–26 elaborates on the nature of this contrast by means of a list of ethical vices and virtues. The catalog of vices or virtues was a well-established literary feature present in both Jewish and Greco-Roman literature. These lists identified behavior to be avoided and virtues to be emulated. 1
Carefully examine the vice and virtue lists in the passages below. In what ways are Paul’s lists [...]
“For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would” (Gal. 5:17; see also Rom. 7:14–24). How have you, in your own life as a believer, experienced the harsh and painful reality of these words? 1
The struggle that Paul describes is not the struggle of every human being; it refers specifically to the inward tug-of-war that exists in [...]
Read Galatians 5:16. What does the concept of “walking” have to do with a life of faith? Deut. 13:4, 5; Rom. 13:13; Eph. 4:1, 17; Col. 1:10.
“Walking” is a metaphor drawn from the Old Testament that refers to the way a person should behave. Paul, himself a Jew, makes use of this metaphor often in his letters to describe the type of conduct that should characterize the Christian life. His use of this metaphor is also likely connected to [...]