Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Holy Spirit... in Galatians

The Holy Spirit is all over Paul's letter to the Galatian churches. Grace and law might be the dominant issue but the answer is completely tied up with the Holy Spirit.
  • 3v2 - How did you receive the Holy Spirit? It wasn't by obeying the law it was by hearing with faith!
  • 3v3 - So you started in the way of the Holy Spirit (see v2) but you're now going a different way? What's with that?
  • 3v5 - How did the Holy Spirit's miracles happen among you? By hearing with faith not by law obeying!
Christianity that takes the Holy Spirit seriously is centred upon hearing God's word with faith. That means listening to it and believing what God says. No other doing of stuff has anything to do with it.

Then we find that this is the same way that Abraham was taught. Hear with faith and you get counted righteous by God. Hear with faith and you get blessed! And the big shocker - 3v14 - that promised blessing was "the promised Spirit". The great pay off of the gospel here and now is being counted righteous and receiving the Holy Spirit.

That didn't ought to be surprising because - 2v20 - Christian life is lived in the Son of God who loved us and gave himself up for us. How do you live in the Son? By the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a speaking Spirit and he's talking away in us.

What does the Holy Spirit say? 4v7 - THIS IS A SON OF GOD! Whatever we think or feel, what God is hearing from us is that we're son's with all the benefits and promises that belong to the Son of God. The Holy Spirit wont stop saying that. He wont change his tune. He can't say anything else because we've been clothed with Christ (3v27) and justified by Christ we're in him (3v24-26). His personal testimony based on all the evidence is that anyone from anywhere who hears the gospel with faith is a son of God.

How do you live this Spirit life? We eagerly wait by the Holy Spirit (5v5) for the righteousness we're promised in Christ. And moreover we walk by the Spirit (5v16), torn between the desires of the flesh and the Spirit (5v17) and inevitably going the wrong way at times. But the way to fight sin isn't to be sin-focussed but rather to walk by the Spirit. And - 5v18 - led by the Spirit we're not under law. So as we pursue the footsteps of the Spirit his fruit is grown in us (love, joy, peace...). We are those who live by the Spirit (5v27) and so we aqre to walk by the Spirit (5v27). It's a matter of being who we are! Keeping in step with our new identity as we live in the Son by the Spirit.

We sow to the Spirit (6v8) by choosing to love, be joyful, be peacemakers, be patient, be actively kind, seeking to do whatever is good, committing to faithfulness, holding our tongue to be gentle and controlling ourselves since we're no longer sin-slaves. As we sow, the Spirit grows life in us, eternal life (5v8) which will be the harvest we ultimately reap. Not reaped by our growth - all we do is hear with faith - but secured as the great inheritance that belongs to the Son of God, Jesus Christ, in whom we live.

"Now with His power in us we’ll reign in life
With eyes of faith we’ll move ahead
The Spirit helps and strengthens us each day
Confirming our eternal place
Our confidence is not our ability
Nor in the earthly strength that we hold
But in His grace He takes the fragile things
To show the greatness of His love"

Louise Fellingham, Treasure

Next: The Holy Spirit... in Ephesians

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