Galatians 5:23-26

Sunday Evening Bible Study

August 18, 1996


Paul is writing to a group of churches which have been infected with a doctrine of legalism.

But after having taught them why it's important not to be living under the Law, trying to please God on their own, they are now faced with another situation, the danger that happens when you take the Law away from people:

Galatians 5:13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

And so Paul has begun teaching on the issue of how to handle the the flesh, with the main key being:

Ga 5:16  [This] I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

Paul has been describing what kinds of things are produced in our lives when we live according to the flesh, and what kinds of things are produced when we live according to the Spirit.

:22-23  the fruit of the Spirit is ...

:23  ... against such

toioutos - such as this, of this kind or sort

we might say, "against things like these there is no law"

Paul has been giving us a whole list of things that are descriptive of the fruit that the Holy Spirit produces in our lives.

But this isn't meant to be an exhaustive list.

This isn't all that the Spirit does in our lives.

This was only meant to be a sample of the things that the Holy Spirit does.

It's just like the list of the works of the flesh where Paul lists a whole bunch of things, then says:

"that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God"

The list Paul gave was just a sample.

Don't think that there are only nine qualities to the fruit of the Spirit.

There is much, much more ...

Eph 5:9  (For the fruit of the Spirit [is] in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) (AV)

How about righteousness, truth, wisdom, faith, holiness ...?

:23  there is no law

In contrast with the works of the flesh

The works of the flesh are all things that were contrary to the Law:

Galatians 5:19-21  Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20  Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21  Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.


But it also speaks of the fact that when you are letting the Holy Spirit do His work in your life, filling you and producing His fruit, He never leads you to be doing things that are contrary to the Law.

Romans 8:1-6  There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3  For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4  That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 5  For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6  For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

The righteousness of the Law is fulfilled in us as we walk after the Spirit in two ways:

1.  The legal requirements of taking care of our sins has been met by Jesus dying on the cross in our place.

2.  The living standards of the Law are automatically worked out in our lives because the Spirit does not work contrary to the Law.

When the Spirit is in control, he leads us in ways that are parallel to the Law.


The old hand in the glove illustration.

An old glove is unable to play a piano by itself.

But as soon as a hand fills the glove, the glove is able to do anything the hand can do because the hand fills the glove.

We are able to live "legal" lives because the Spirit always moves in ways that do not break God's laws.

Isn't it ironic, when you try to please God by making yourself keep the Law, you are operating in the flesh, and will end up producing the works of the flesh in your life, the things which are contrary to the Law.

Yet when you stop trying to focus on the Law, and instead allow the Holy Spirit to fill you and control you, you end up meeting the very requirements of the Law!

:24  they that are Christ's

If you belong to Jesus

:24  have crucified the flesh

The "flesh" is our old sin nature.

1.  This speaks of the mystical union we have with Jesus on the cross.

Somehow, when we accepted Jesus into our lives, we become "baptized into Jesus", or immersed into Jesus.

This immersion somehow involves being with Him in His death on the cross.

Ro 6:3-7  Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the

likeness of his resurrection:  6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7  For he that is dead is freed from sin. (AV)

Being a part of Jesus on His death on the cross is what frees us from the death grip that sin has had on our life.

Water baptism is a symbol of what has happened spiritually.

2.  This speaks of how we must daily learn to crucify our sin nature.

We need to learn to daily deny our sin nature, starving it to death.

Jesus said:

Mt 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (AV)

Our death on the cross with Jesus is very important, but we need to keep the old sin nature crucified.


I had a big bush in our front yard that that I didn't like, and so I cut it down, all the way to the ground.

But this plant is a very healthy plant, and apparently it had roots all through the front planter.

Even though I cut it down, every now and then little shoots appear, and if I let it go, a bush grows back.

I wish I could cut off the water supply to the area to totally kill the plant, but then all the other good plants would suffer.

So I have to just keep cutting it back, over and over again.

We need to understand that we've been crucified with Christ on the cross, but we also need to keep our old nature crucified.

When it crops up, we need to chop it down.

We don't need to be feeding it.

:24  with the affections and lusts

It's not just some invisible kind of thing called "the flesh", or the "sin nature" that we're supposed to be crucifying.

It's not a list of bad things that people do that we're supposed to be crucified to, though that's part of it.

affections - pathema - that which one suffers or has suffered; of an inward state, an affliction, passion

it comes from  pathos - a feeling which the mind suffers; an affliction of the mind, emotion, passion; passionate deed

lusts - epithumia - desire, craving, longing, desire for what is forbidden, lust

lusts speaks of an "evil" desire, while affections speaks of an "ungovernable desire".

We are to learn to lay our very emotions, passions, and evil cravings upon a cross and crucify them.


Half of victory comes through dying.

Victorious Christian living is not just about being "filled with the Holy Spirit".

There is a two-fold battle we must work on.

We must also work on crucifying our sin nature, right down to it's very desires and cravings.

How do I crucify these feelings?

1.  Don't feed it.

Death can be accomplished by starvation.

If I turn off the sprinklers on my lawn, the grass turns brown and dies.

If I turn off the things that stimulate my sinful desires, they may not actually completely absolutely die, but they'll get a LOT LESS STRONG!!!

What would you rather be faced with in a temptation, a great big ten foot tall 800 pound monster of temptation, or a little five pound chihuahua yipping at you?

2.  Don't give in to it.

We might hear our kids say, "But if I don't have that chocolate chip cookie, I'm just going to DIE!"


The problem is that death isn't a very pleasant thing, is it?

When I talk about having victory over sin, we can conjure up all kinds of images of guys riding through victory parades on white horses, ticker-tape, trophies, and cash prizes.

But that only comes after we learn to experience death.

:25  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit

If we live in the Spirit (or, "live by means of the Spirit"), if we are born again by the Spirit of God, and given spiritual life throught Spirit ...

Let us also walk in the Spirit (or, "walk by means of the Spirit")

We need to choose to learn to walk under the power and influence of the Holy Spirit.

Paul has already said:

Ga 5:16  [This] I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. (AV)


The other key to victory is walking in the Spirit.

We not only need to crucify the flesh and it's desires, but to walk in the Spirit.

We need to keep moving in the power and control of the Holy Spirit.



:26  Let us not be desirous of vain glory

This seems a little out of place.

It doesn't exactly go with what is before it, and doesn't seem to go with what goes after.

Perhaps this was an area of fleshliness that the Galatians were known for.

desirous of vain glory -  kenodoxos - glorying without reason, conceited, vain glorious, eager for empty glory

empty glory

Ga 5:26  Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. (NIVUS)

Ga 5:26  Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another. (NAS)


We sure like getting attention.

That's one of the things that was hit at us at this week's worship leaders' conference.

It's very easy to do things just so you get attention from others.


Whales really do communicate with each other.  One whale sounded the following caution to his dear mate:

"Better watch it; when you get to the top and start to blow, that's when you get harpooned!"



From Mongolian folklore comes this helpful little fable of the boastful frog.

Two geese were about to start southward on their annual autumn migration, when they were entreated by a frog to take him with them. On the geese expressing their willingness to do so if a means of conveyance could be devised, the frog produced a long stalk of grass, got the two geese to take it one by each end, while he clung to it by his mouth in the middle.  In this manner the three were making their journey when they were noticed from below by some men.

The men loudly expressed their admiration for the device and wondered who had been clever enough to discover it.  Whereupon the vainglorious frog opened his mouth to say, "It was I," lost his hold, fell to the earth, and was dashed to pieces.

Moral:  When you have a good thing going, keep your mouth shut!

The flesh likes to get attention.

The Spirit takes the place of humility, drawing attention to others.


:26  provoking one another,

provoking - prokaleomai - to call forth; esp. to challenge to a combat or contest with one; to provoke, to irritate

It's doing something to get a reaction from someone else.

A bad reaction.

Of course, there is a good way of provoking another person:

Heb 10:24  And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: (AV)


:26  envying one another

It's one of the works of the flesh:

Wanting what another person has.

Being bummed that someone has something nicer than you.


Discouragement comes when you try to start with what you wish you had but don't have.  And it intensifies when you insist on trying to be in a position you are not in and probably never will be in.

-- Stuart Briscoe, Bound For Joy, Regal Books 1975, 1984, p. 95

Love rejoices with those who rejoice.

Paul wrote:

Ro 12:15-16  Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. 16  [Be] of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. (AV)