Study 5: Life in the Spirit - Galatians 5.1, 13-25

Life in the spiritWelcome

What is your favourite fruit?  OR   If you were a fruit which would you be?

If you are really well organised, ask everyone to bring their favourite fruit to the group, and then prepare them to eat as a fruit salad.


(FUN) Beginning of the study: go online and listen to the video of the Brentwood Kids, ‘The Fruit of the Spirit’ 

(More serious) End of the study a suggested list of songs and hymns are at the end of the page.

Word – Study 5 – Lighter Bite and Main Meal

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” Galatians 5:1

New International Version.

“Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand!
Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.”

Eugene Peterson (The Message Bible © 2002.Navpress, Colorado Springs)

  1. Freedom!

What have you learned together about Freedom so far this term? The group may have found new avenues for reflection, from the news, from pastoral care experiences, from working life or family life. If there are personal stories, please share them, and if possible tell Marion too.

Pray now that we all are able to enter the freedom that Jesus offers to us, and support each other to live in that freedom - and share it

  1. Read Galatians 5:13-14

Here Paul outlines two concepts of freedom. Describe, chat about them.

As leader seek to understand how this is true in practical ways. Have some examples ready to share.

Again, Eugene Peterson in ‘the Message’ writes for Galatians 5:13-15:

‘It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love, that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom.’


Look up the parallel teaching of verse 14 elsewhere in the Bible

(Old Testament: Leviticus 19:18. New Testament: Matthew 5:43; 22:31)

How do they apply in the setting of the Galatians churches described in 5:15?

  1. Read Galatians 5:16-18

FOR Main Meal use Question 7 instead

Describe the tensions in these verses. ‘Flesh’ can mean the body or human nature or selfishness; ‘Spirit’, the Spirit of God. Paul describes a battlefield. Flesh and spirit in opposition to each other. How does this match to our human experience?

The body is not inherently ‘evil’ in Jewish thinking because created by God, and good. However Greek thinking tended to see material things as evil, and a dichotomy/dualism with ‘spirit’ which was good. 

  1. The list of activities and emotions of the ‘sinful nature’ are described in Galatians 5:19-21.

Not a pleasant read. Divide them up into categories. Paul is clear and firm.

Compare with the Galatians’ situation in Galatians 2:15. How does this apply to us?

As group leader prepare for a deeper exploration of personal stories, and pray.

  1. The Fruit of the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23

This is a joyful study, and an offering of these fruit to us is a gracious gift of God.

Why is fruit such a good description of the work of God’s Holy Spirit in us? Discuss the meaning of the fruit at length, and examples of how you have been blessed by friends who have shared these with you. Discuss the meaning of the fruit at length. How can we help each other to grow fruit?

 Question 5 - additional questions for Main Meal

Take each of the 9 fruit in turn. Use a concordance or cross-references in the Bible margin, and reflect on the stories of Jesus of Nazareth, and how he demonstrates them in his life and relationships

(eg. joy: Luke 10:17-24; peace: John 20:24-29; gentleness: Matthew 11:28-29).

  1. Keep in step with the Spirit of God. Galatians 5:25-26

Aim to leave this study today inspired to live in the freedom of the Spirit.

All Christians are given spiritual life by the Holy Spirit, but we do not always travel at the same pace as God’s Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not a commodity (an ‘it’) that we have as our personal possession. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus (Gal 4:6) who lives in us, helps us become like Jesus and reveals God’s truth (1 John 4:13; John 14:15-17; John 16:5-15). He is also described as Comforter, Counsellor.

You may like to use a Bible Dictionary or Concordance to understand more.

How can we help each other follow the promptings and enabling of God’s Spirit? How do we receive these in our lives? If we compare with question 4, what signs and evidence will we see? Does anyone have experience of spiritual gifts of the Spirit?

Please be as specific and practical as possible, not an academic exercise but life-transforming real experience of the power of God’s Holy Spirit.

  1. Tensions in the Spiritual life – addition to Question 3. Galatians 5:16-18

Paul describes a battlefield. Flesh and spirit in opposition to each other.

Note that the Galatian church had begun with a powerful preaching of Christ and the Cross, followed by an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Galatians 3:1 with 3:.-5.

Read and discuss Romans 7:15-25 (more of St Paul) with 1 Peter 2:11 (St Peter)

Use as many of the notes below as help you explore Paul’s concern.

Cousar says: ‘While Spirit and flesh are presented as “two opposed orbs of power”, for Paul individuals are not simply trapped in a war over which they have no control. In one sense, humans and communities are the battlefield on which the contest rages (Galatians 2:17) and yet they are not merely innocent victims being moved about by cosmic forces. Individuals have decisions to make which determine the course of the conflict and for which they are accountable. …Paul confronts his readers to choose life in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16, 25; 6:7-8; Romans 8:6, 12-14). As Paul Meyer comments, the Spirit “does not destroy or displace the ordinary processes of human decision-making and existence but operates to enable their proper functioning.” … the two [flesh and spirit] are not equal forces. As the power of the new age, the Spirit has invaded the flesh’s turf to bring it into subjection at the day of Jesus Christ.’

Charles B. Cousar ‘The Letters of Paul’ Abingdon Press.1996. Page 154.

Tom Wright says: ‘what matters, though, is that your identity is that of a true child of God, indwelt with the spirit, without needing the Jewish law …  if you’re free of that, the spirit’s motivation and power mean that you will also remain free from the snares of paganism, and the behaviour that goes with it. Free from the law, free from paganism, one is then free FOR God, and free to love one’s neighbour.’

‘Paul for Everyone: Galatians and Thessalonians.’ SPCK. 2002. Page 70.


How will Freedom in God’s Spirit lead us out into God’s world …and where to?

In pairs, pick one of the fruit of the Spirit that you would really long to see more in your own life.  Chat and pray in pairs or whole group.

Worship – end of study – take time out together with God – enjoy!

Ancient and Modern (AM) is the red hymn book in Hook, Common Praise (CP) is the blue hymn book in HMR. If you would like to borrow a CD ask Marion.

‘Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me’ by Daniel Iverson (1890-1977) (AM no.263)
‘We are the free’ by Jonas Myrin & Matt Redman (2011; on ‘10,000 Reasons’ CD)
‘Come down, O love divine, seek thou this soul of mine’  Bianco da Siena (d.1434) (AM 238. CP 175)
‘Holy Spirit’ by Jesus Culture
‘O thou who camest from above’ by Charles Wesley (1707-88) (AM no. 258/ CP no.191)
‘We will not be shaken’ by Brian Johnson et al. (2014: Bethel Music Publishing)
‘Breathe on me, breath of God’ by Edwin Hatch (1835-1889) (AM no. 236/ CP no. 174)


Marion de Quidt, May 2016