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. ESV
OK so it’s been a few weeks. I’m excited to get back to digging into our memory verses. Galatians 5:22-23 is quoted a lot but I’m not sure we’ve plumbed the depths of its significance. Let’s dive in.
First off, let us establish the context-context-context. Paul established the southern churches in Galatia (Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe see Acts 13:14-14:23). These churches had evidently been established prior to the Jerusalem Council (Gal 2:5) on Paul’s first missionary journey. Paul wrote to the Galatians to address Judaizing false teaches who crept in to undermine the doctrine of justification by faith alone established by the Jerusalem Council. The confusion in Galatia is a confusion that still exists today. How do we view the Law in light of being saved by grace alone? Paul developed a proper understanding in his epistle to the Romans. In Romans 3:31 Paul states “Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.” His intention was not to minimize the law but establish its true importance:”1)by providing a payment for penalty of death, which the law required for failing to keep it; 2) by fulfilling utter inability to obey God’s righteous demands and to drive people to Christ (Gal 3:24); and 3 by giving believers the capacity to obey it (Rom 8:3-4)” Paul further establishes this in Romans 7:6 by stating “we are released from the law” not at all doubling back on his claim in 3:31 but further establishing we are saved by grace alone. Paul clarifies the use of the law in Galatians 3:24-25 by explaining “24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.” To bring it in to clear view in light of the present memory verse Paul has given us a history lesson in Galatians 1:11-2:14 and has developed being saved by faith alone in 2:1-4:7 regardless of your ancestors, your freedom or lack thereof or your gender. Paul is very concerned for the Galatians falling back under the law so he even gives the example of Hagar and Sarah and establishes that Christ has set us free and if they were going to go back under the law they were going to be obligated (literally a slave) to keep the whole law (5:3). This would in fact sever them from Christ. This severing would be evident in whether or not they walked in the Spirit or walked in the flesh. This is where we want to bring in many other Scriptures. One of the most substantial litmus tests the Scripture gives about being saved is bearing fruit (John 15:1-17; Rom 6:21-22; Col 1:6; Eph 2:10; Phil 1:11). If you study through these verses there seems to be an internal fruit and an external fruit. The internal fruit seems best expressed in our memory verse today as in the fruits of the Spirit evidenced in the life of the believer. The external fruits would be similar to Ephesians 2:10 and Colossians 1:6 that is increasing externally in the growth of the gospel evidenced the lives of more believers.
Back to our memory verse, notice in the transition of Paul’s contrast between walking in the flesh and walking in the Spirit. Paul explains starting in 5:16 ff the actual manifest difference between walking in the flesh and walking in the Spirit. In verse 21 he explains that those who walk in the flesh will not inherit the kingdom of God. That’s code for going to hell. This is much like the language John uses in John 15 about bearing fruit. Those who do not bear fruit are cut off and thrown in the fire (again that’s code for going to hell). Evidently bearing fruit, in this case (Gal 5) the fruit of the Spirit is revealed in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is not law.” So are we bearing fruit? Our memorizing Galatians 5:22-23 will give us a quick litmus test to define our direction. Again we are not looking at perfection but direction. Jesus took care of the perfection part.