Pastor Josh led us this morning to understand Galatians 5:16-26 and what Paul was teaching the people regarding character and how to love others through the power of the Holy Spirit. Too often we know "what" to do, but it is too hard for us to actually do it because we rely on our flesh.
What is character?
Christian character is the fruit of the Spirit (5:22). This fruit is singular. These attributes listed are part of the overall character. These are not things that we "have", but instead define what we "are". These are also relational. They are for us to use as we interact with others.
Unfortunately, we are NOT a people of Christian character because character is elusive (v17,19).
Why is is elusive?
We want ourselves to be the center of the world. Character is outward focused, but the flesh has an inward focus. The desires of the flesh are really good at counterfeit character. We do "good" things for our own gain. The doesn't mean that the law doesn't apply anymore (v18). Having character is not talking about what, but talking about how change happens in our lives.
Under the law, we are conscious of abstaining from sin and trying to be "good" using the motivation of the law. This will cause behavioral change for a season, but the underlying motivation doesn't change. We still bend towards the flesh. LAW NEVER CREATES LOVE. Rules have no power against the desires of the flesh. We need something stronger than the law!
How do we grow towards Christian character?
Paul says that we are to be "led by the Spirit" and "Keep in step with the Spirit". Romans 8:2-4 shows the work that Jesus did for us to be able to do this. We want to know what to do to be more like Jesus. "WE" are not the primary agent of change in our life. Someone else has to do the work. There is freedom to have the Spirit to grow us from the inside.
How to Walk in the Spirit
1. Cultivate habits of prayer. No Prayer = No Growth in the fruit of the Spirit
2. Root out the flesh. (V24)-Find the motivation to get rid of the sin. Find the root.
3. Reject law motivation. Don't use rules to put pressure on people's actions. It will only change them for a short time, but not at the root.
To discuss today:
1. What is an instance where rules have changed a behavior but not the heart? Why is this?
2. Where are you implementing law motivation? Why are you doing that?
3. Think of a particular place where you are acting in the flesh and not the Spirit. What is the underlying motivation to that action? (Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal that to you.)