Lesson 3 - The Manifestations of Obedience


Galatians 5:13-18 13 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 15 But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! 16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Your marching orders are given here. We have been called to liberty, not slavery; we have the power to choose. We are commanded to love one another, but we still have a choice to obey or rebel. Remember that the periphery or boundary of liberty is the law and bondage.

We also see the value of having a correct focus. We are given two choices—either a horizontal or a vertical focus. If we are focused on self or man and his doings, we will have a limited horizontal perspective, full of hopelessness. If we focus on Christ (vertical focus) as we are instructed to do by the scriptures, He will give us an unlimited perspective and a vision full of hope.

We are told that the whole law is summed up in one word—love. We should love our neighbor as much as we already love ourselves. How much do we love ourselves? Well, that is how much we are to love our neighbor. In verse 15 we see the graphic results of conflict if we don’t love. Tragedies result from broken relationships, and they prove that the scriptures don’t lie. They prove that anything brought about by our flesh will not last.

In verse 16, we see a change of focus and Paul begins to instruct us in the ministry and available power of the Holy Spirit. He tells us to walk in the Spirit. This means that we are to live, to be filled with, to move, to progress and mature, to regulate one's life, and to conduct and control one's self through the regulation and guidance of the Holy Spirit. At the moment we are regenerated and redeemed, we are able to lay aside the old man and his nature. We are told in the scriptures that our new life and faith in Christ gives us the ability to choose between which nature we will yield to—the flesh or the Spirit. We are now enabled to show our love through obedience to Christ and put aside our old man and his ways. Read Romans 6:6, 6:11-12; Ephesians 4:22-24; and Colossians 3:5-11.

In verse 17, there is an illustration of the mental struggle we all experience as we learn and practice putting off the old man and his patterned thought process. We are habitual in our thinking process. As a “born again” Christian, we now have to exercise and practice a new way of living. Because of the ability to choose now, we can leave behind the old man and his ways. (Galatians 5:24; Romans 13:14; Colossians 2:11)

Jesus desires to pour us into new wine skins and make us into new vessels. Paul tells us the flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh. This is the definition of the struggle that we all experience mentally and physically. This brings to light what he wrote in Romans 7:14-24. There is no possible way to mix the two and there is no rest that both can coexist in.