Life by the Spirit

Today’s reading is Galatians 5:16-26Open Link in New Window

Here is today’s reflection by Jon.

Today we are continuing through the book of Galatians and this is the last sermon in this series before we move on to focus on Easter.

As we explore this passage today, I would like you to imagine that Jesus himself has come to your house to have a conversation with you. Perhaps he has invited you to go for your daily walk with him. I will elaborate on the content of the conversation as we walk through this passage together.

Last week—Jesus Christ has set us free, freedom in Christ is not a license to do what you like, it is a freedom to serve, serve God and each other. Richard said, ‘It is about living a holy life, not by rules, but by the power of the Holy Spirit.’

  1. God would like to have a conversation with you today. By the Holy Spirit, God would like to speak some truth into your life. Now, I encourage you to imagine yourselves on this walk with Jesus. Because that is who the Holy Spirit is, the very presence of God, the presence of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is the way in which Jesus is fulfilling his promise to always be with us.

    The first part of this conversation based on verses 19-21, goes something like this.

    Imagine Jesus saying something like this to you, ‘My child, I know everything about you. The secret sins of your heart and life are not hidden from me. I know the lust that you felt yesterday. I know the idols that you have placed above me in your life, I know the hatred burning in your heart, I have seen the selfish ambition that is present in you as you live and work. I know the manipulation that you use to get your own way and to put other people down. The truth of these things is not hidden from me.’

    Each of us, of course, need specific revelation from the Holy Spirit of where we are following our sinful nature rather than walking in step with the Spirit. Let me share one specific conviction that the Spirit revealed in my life recently. It may sound silly but I believe God revealed it with complete seriousness.

    He said something like, ‘Jon, you are idolising sport and specifically the English rugby team above me. Jon, can you honestly tell me that you can get to the end of the day in which England have lost, and still praise me for my goodness? Jon, the hatred that you feel towards referees and other teams does not come from me. Jon, you are looking forward to the weekend sport more than you are looking forward to spending time with me and with my people.’

    Lord, have mercy on me. I wonder how this part of God’s conversation with each one of you would go today.

  2. We now return in our minds eye to our walk with Jesus this morning. We see in verse 24 that Jesus says to you…

    ‘My child, I have set you free. I have taken all these sins onto myself, and they were crucified with me, they were nailed to my cross. I have dealt with them, they no longer have any power over you, they no longer represent the full truth of who you are. You now belong to me.’

    And, of course, it is this truth which is the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Gospel of Grace. Nothing is required of any of us to be made right before God. In Jesus, God has already accomplished our reconciliation with him. Death is defeated, sin is atoned for, life in the presence of our Holy God is on offer. What is our role? To recognise and accept this reconciliation, to say YES and Amen to God as he speaks this truth to us in our living rooms today. Thank you Lord God, Thank you Lord Jesus, Come Holy Spirit, make this real in our lives today.

  3. And once more let’s return in our mind’s eye to our walk, where Jesus is continuing his conversation with us. He has already told us the uncomfortable truth of our lives, he has proclaimed the Good News to us. He now calls us to live by the Spirit. And this call and the content of the call are repeated in different ways throughout our passage.

    Jesus now says something like ‘My child, Come and Follow me. I have set you free from your sinful nature, and now I will show you the way of true life by the Spirit. In fact, not only will I show you the way, I will also walk with you along it! I will give you myself, my Spirit, to guide you and teach you. If you let me, I will grow the fruit of my Spirit in your life today: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control.’

So here it is, a summary of the message of today’s passage, a summary of the message of Galatians, and a summary of the whole Gospel. The truth of the darkness of our way of life is no longer hidden but is brought to light by the Holy Spirit. But God has already fulfilled our reconciliation with God in Jesus Christ on the cross. The Holy Spirit now guides us on our walk of discipleship, leading us in our response to Jesus as he calls out to us ‘Come and Follow me.’ Therefore, since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

The final thing that I would like to highlight this morning from our passage is that this conversation with God is a continuous one. You need to go on this walk with Jesus every day, your daily exercise! As we read in verse 17, the sinful nature still desires what is contrary to the Spirit! While we are on this earth, the conflict between the sinful nature and the Spirit will continue. So while we have been set free from our sinful nature, in this era of the now and not yet of the Kingdom of God, we need to be continually set free from it! We are as much in need of the mercy and grace of God with each new day as the day before. As one theologian put it, the Christian life is one of daily repentance. So I encourage you to welcome this conversation with God with each new morning. Accept the truth and mercy and light and life that the Holy Spirit brings to you today and accept it again tomorrow. Say Yes once again to Jesus’ call as he says to you ‘Come and Follow Me.’

Lord God, we thank you for speaking to us today. Thank you for setting us free. We ask that you would grow the fruit of the Spirit in us today and guide us as we seek to follow you. Amen.

There will be a video version of the service.

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