Sunday School Lesson

February 26

Lesson 13

Christ Creates Holy Living

Devotional Reading: Romans 6:1-11

Background Scripture: Galatians 5:18-6:10

Galatians 5:18-26

18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

Galatians 6:1-10

1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.

4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.

5 For every man shall bear his own burden.

6 Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.

7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

Key Verses

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.—Galatians 5:22, 23

Lesson Aims

After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:

1. Recite the key verses from memory.

2. Contrast the life reflecting God’s grace with the life centered on serving self.

3. Identify the element of the fruit of the Spirit he or she models least and make a plan for change.

Lesson Outline

Introduction

A. The Portrait of God’s Person

B. Lesson Background

I. Charter of Life in the Spirit (Galatians 5:18)

Not the Letter, But …

II. Details of the Self-Ruled Life (Galatians 5:19-21)

A. Sexual Sin (v. 19)

B. Occult Practices and Selfishness (v. 20)

C. Self-Destruction (v. 21)

III. Details of the Spirit-Led Life (Galatians 5:22-24)

A. Foundational Characteristics (v. 22a)

B. Relational Characteristics (v. 22b)

C. Devotional Characteristics (vv. 22c, 23)

D. Victory in Life’s Struggle (v. 24)

IV. Practicing the Spirit-Led Life (Galatians 5:25-6:10)

A. In Community (5:25-6:6)

Forgiveness to Restoration

B. With Persistence (vv. 7-10)

Conclusion

A. Grace and Power

B. Prayer

C. Thought to Remember

Introduction

 

A. The Portrait of God’s Person

If you happen to see a finely executed oil painting, not just a reproduction but the handiwork of an artist with a brush, look at it closely. From a distance, we see a singular image. But up close, we can see the many-layered colors that create the vivid image. The unity of a fine painting is the result of thousands of details.

So it is with lives transformed by the saving work of God. Such lives make a singular impression on us. They reflect how God saves undeserving sinners through faith in His Son. But that singular impression is the result of many fine details. God’s grace reshapes every aspect of a saved sinner’s life.

Our text provides an experience like close examination of a fine oil painting. In it Paul paints a word portrait of God’s person. Closely examined, its details reveal a singular image of divine transformation.

B. Lesson Background

This is the final lesson of this unit’s consideration of Paul’s letter to the Galatians. At the risk of oversimplifying, freedom could be a one-word summary of Paul’s emphasis up to the beginning of today’s lesson. For former pagans, this meant freedom from slavery to falsehood. For those who came to faith in Christ from Judaism, it meant freedom from repeated failures to keep God’s law.

But freedom can be a dangerous thing. Can we trust ourselves to do what is right if we are free from law or threat? That’s the fundamental question Paul addressed as today’s lesson picks up where the text of last week’s concluded.

I. Charter of Life in the Spirit

                                                                 (Galatians 5:18)

18. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

The Law of Moses marked Israel as God’s people. But in Christ, we are marked as God’s people in that we are led of the Spirit. The Spirit’s power transforms us to reflect God’s own character, displaying in our lives the grace by which God brought us into His family.

This has important implications. Not being under the law sounds to some like a license to do as one pleases, as if “anything goes.” But in this law-free life, God’s Spirit leads people to become like God, not to become more entangled in their own selfishness. In fact, it is by being led by God’s Spirit that we actually fulfill the teaching found in God’s law.

Not the Letter, But …

In Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, Antonio makes a deal with moneylender Shylock. If Antonio does not repay the debt, he will have to pay a literal “pound of flesh.” When Antonio cannot repay, Shylock is ready to exact the punishment. But Portia, a wealthy heiress, appeals to Shylock to show mercy when she says, “The quality of mercy is not strain’d. … It is twice blest: It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.”

Shylock is not moved by this appeal. So Portia quibbles with him about the precise wording of the agreement. Exacting a pound of flesh will cost Antonio blood as well as flesh. Since Shylock’s threat did not mention blood, the “letter of the law” means he cannot get his pound of flesh.

Paul’s appeal to be led by the Spirit rather than the law has the force of directing us to what God intends to happen as we follow Him. Paul’s opponents were interested first and foremost in a strict obedience to the Law of Moses. Paul challenged them to see, here and elsewhere, that “as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Romans 8:14).—C. R. B.

What Do You Think?

What are some ways to help new Christians make the transition from life “under the law” to living the Spirit-led life?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

In speech patterns

In behavioral habits

In relationships

In attitude

Other

II. Details of the Self-Ruled Life

                                                              (Galatians 5:19-21)

A. Sexual Sin (v. 19)

19. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness.

For purposes of contrast, Paul reminds readers what life in the flesh, the self-ruled life, is like. His list of vices falls into four groupings across three verses. The verse before us has the first group: terms for sexual sin.

Adultery and fornication encompass all forms of sexual activity other than that between one woman and one man who are married to each other. Uncleanness suggests both sexual acts outside the marriage context and the effect that such acts have on those engaged in them. Sexual sin affects deeply. It involves physical dangers, but even more it endangers heart and mind.

Lasciviousness shows the extent to which sexual sin takes a person. This term refers to behavior that is shocking to public decency. Even cultures far from godly standards uphold some standards of sexual propriety (1 Corinthians 5:1), but a life of selfishness will find a way to shock any society.

What Do You Think?

What steps can we take to demonstrate that a life faithful to God’s design for sex is superior to any other?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

In marriage

In singleness

In conversation

Other

B. Occult Practices and Selfishness (v. 20)

20. Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies.

The two words at the beginning of this verse comprise the second group in Paul’s list. Idolatry involves making gods in images chosen by humans (Isaiah 2:8; etc.). Witchcraft is the attempt to use substances to manipulate the spirit world (compare 2 Chronicles 33:6).

The seven words that follow the first two constitute Paul’s third group. Hatred is the opposite of God’s gracious love and the sure result of a selfish perspective. Variance translates a term meaning dissention among people. Emulations are strong passions that resent others’ success. Wrath is the strong expression of anger and conflict. Strife is the forming of mutually hostile groups to advance one’s own interests. Seditions take that party spirit to higher conflict. Heresies suggest not just false belief but persistent, destructive division.

C. Self-Destruction (v. 21)

21. Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Envyings and murders continue the previous grouping of selfishness. They refer to the desire to deprive others of what they have—even life itself!

Paul concludes with two terms that represent public displays of the self-destructiveness produced by sinful selfishness. Drunkenness (intoxication from alcohol) suggests individual self-destruction. Drunkenness is part of the wild-party atmosphere of revellings, which includes unrestrained immorality (contrast Romans 13:13; 1 Peter 4:3). Since those who persist on this path live outside God’s kingdom in the present, they can hardly claim to belong to it in the future.

III. Details of the Spirit-Led Life

                                                                (Galatians 5:22-24)

A. Foundational Characteristics (v. 22a)

22a. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace.

The list of works of the flesh serves as a contrast to Paul’s point: what the life controlled by the Holy Spirit produces. All the Spirit’s work reflects God’s character and actions. A hundred terms would not capture everything, but the short list that begins here provides a sketch that is more than adequate.

As with the previous list, this one groups similar characteristics. It begins with three foundational aspects of the Christ-follower’s character: love, joy, and peace.

The kind of love Paul has in mind is not conditioned on how deserving of love the object is. Rather, the kind of love in view flows from grace that blesses the undeserving. It is the kind of love God demonstrates toward us (John 3:16). When God’s Spirit creates the same kind of love in the heart of the Christian, we are impelled to love those who do not deserve it and can give nothing in return.

Joy is the outlook of celebration that flows from knowing what God has done. God’s Spirit reminds us that God has triumphed through the work of Christ. This gives us reason to rejoice regardless of circumstances (Philippians 4:4).

Peace reminds us of Old Testament statements about the peace that God grants His people (Numbers 6:26; Psalm 29:11; Isaiah 9:6, 7; 55:12; etc.). More than the end of hostility, such peace means positive goodwill and fellowship (Luke 2:14). As God has made whole our relationship with Him, His Spirit empowers us to make relationships whole with others.

B. Relational Characteristics (v. 22b)

22b. Longsuffering, gentleness, goodness.

The second grouping consists of characteristics that undergird relationships. Longsuffering is patience regarding the failings of others. As God is patient with us, his Spirit empowers our patience toward others (compare Romans 2:4; 3:25).

Gentleness names the attitude that seeks to do positive good to others in all circumstances. Again, because God treats His people in this way, His Spirit enables them to treat others likewise (Colossians 3:12).

Goodness further develops the idea of gentleness, putting the attitude into action. Those empowered by the Spirit do not simply want the good; they actually do good things for others (Ephesians 5:9).

C. Devotional Characteristics (vv. 22c, 23)

22c, 23. Faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

The list concludes with three general characteristics that undergird all the believer’s actions. Faith in this context in this context communicates a willingness to practice without fail what one believes. As God has been devoted and persistent to fulfill the promises He has made, so also His Spirit empowers us to be persistently devoted. We conduct ourselves just as faithfully as God has. We are dependably loyal to our Lord and to our fellow believers. We even dependably love our enemies.

A second general feature undergirding Spirit-filled action is meekness. The meek do not seek to assert rights or privileges. As Christ emptied himself of privilege in becoming human, so do those empowered by His Spirit (compare Ephesians 4:2).

Temperance is self-control, the ability to keep one’s desires in check. This was a characteristic widely admired in Paul’s time, but not widely practiced any more then than now. Coming at the end of Paul’s list, this term reminds us that with the Spirit’s many positive impulses, our desires no longer become the basis for selfish, destructive thoughts and actions (compare 2 Peter 1:5-7).

Those who exhibit the kinds of characteristics listed can be trusted to fulfill God’s purpose, as expressed in His Word, in any situation. The Spirit-led require no threats of punishment. We serve God with a joyous freedom that wants nothing more than for His salvation to transform their lives.

What Do You Think?

How far along are you in each area of fruit production? How will you speed the process?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Areas in the germination phase: just sprouting

Areas maturing: taking in nutrients

Areas in the pollination phase: your fruit is an example to others

D. Victory in Life’s Struggle (v. 24)

24. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

The fruit of the Spirit grows as the works of the flesh recede. That process has its decisive start at the beginning of the Christian life. Uniting with Christ in His death by faith at the time of baptism (Colossians 2:12), believers put to death the old, selfish life. What that life found attractive becomes repugnant in the new life. This does not imply instantaneous, complete victory over the old life. The struggle continues (Galatians 5:17), but Christ’s victory at the cross assures our victory.

Visual for Lesson 13. Point to this visual as you ask how the fruit of the Spirit relates to the need to be a fruit inspector (Matthew 7:20).

IV. Practicing the Spirit-Led Life

                                                           (Galatians 5:25-6:10)

A. In Community (5:25-6:6)

5:25. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

The Christian follows the Spirit’s empowerment and lives by the reality of the cross. To walk in the Spirit is to put into routine practice the fruit of the Spirit. It means really living what we confess to be true about God’s saving grace.

26. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

Walking in the Spirit means seeking God’s glory, not our own. We encourage and support one another in this. Since Christ died for our brothers and sisters, His Spirit does not permit us to act in rivalry with them.

6:1. Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

A person genuinely empowered by the Spirit cannot have a superior attitude toward one who sins. The empowered person can only act in meekness, a fruit of the Spirit, not asserting one’s own prestige. Spirit-led meekness seeks what Christ sought: the restoration of the fallen, with constant awareness of one’s own need for God’s grace.

Forgiveness to Restoration

Mary’s 20-year-old son, Laramiun, was shot and killed in a fight at a party in 1993. The 16-year-old who pulled the trigger, Oshea Israel, was tried and convicted as an adult.

At the time, Mary called Oshea “an animal” that “deserved to be caged.” But as a Christian, Mary finally decided that she had to forgive Oshea. She visited him in prison, and when he was released after 17 years, she asked her landlord to invite Oshea to live next door to her. She says, “Unforgiveness is like cancer; it will eat you from the inside out.” In the attempt to restore Oshea, one result was that Mary herself was restored!

We may never be called on to exercise the kind of forgiveness-to-restoration Mary demonstrated. But don’t we like to think we could?—C. R. B.

2. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

By helping to restore one another, we are fellow laborers who share one another’s loads. Sometimes the only burden to be lifted is as simple as one of quenching thirst (Matthew 10:42). Restoring the fallen is, well, more burdensome. But Christ empowers us to do so. As we do, we join with Christ in fulfilling the purpose of the cross: forgiveness of sin.

What Do You Think?

What would a “mutual burden-bearing ministry” look like in a church? How will you help get one started?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

In terms of establishing connections

In terms of developing empathy

In terms of cultivating openness

Other

3. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.

The opposite of the Spirit-led life that helps the fallen is the flesh-led life that builds up self. Pursuing personal glory denies the most essential truth of our salvation: the grace of God. In that denial we deceive no one but ourselves.

4. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.

Life in the Spirit produces not self-promotion but self-testing. The cross-oriented person asks, “Does my life reflect the grace of God?” That is not a question of comparing ourselves with others. Compared with others, we realize merely that we are all sinners in need of grace. Seeing the work of grace in our lives, we rejoice in the Lord who is at work within us.

5. For every man shall bear his own burden.

Paul speaks paradoxically. We bear one another’s burdens, he says, when we seek to restore those fallen in sin (v. 2). But others’ failures or successes form no basis for one’s perspective on one’s own life. That question belongs only to the individual. By the Spirit’s empowerment we both help one another and accept full responsibility for self.

What Do You Think?

What steps can we take to help people bear their own burdens?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Concerning financial issues

Concerning relationship issues

Concerning personalities that are chronically “needy”

Other

6. Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.

In standing fully responsible before God, we do not think of ourselves as self-made people. We rely on Christ, and we rely on those who have taught us the gospel. To communicate with such a person is to share tangibly from God’s good gifts with those who have shared God’s greatest gift with us.

B. With Persistence (vv. 7-10)

7. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

The Galatian Christians have already discovered how easy it is to forsake the gospel for old-life distortion when they added circumcision to faith in Jesus (Galatians 1:6-9). The same could happen again, should they again follow something rooted in the old life rather than in the grace God shows in Christ. God does not allow those who sow abandonment of grace to harvest grace. He will not allow His grace to be treated with hypocritical contempt.

8. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

Following the old life yields a death-like result: corruption is the decay of death. But the life led by the Spirit means the opposite: life everlasting. Christians are to persist in the good news of Christ as heard in its pure truth. Doing so will enable us to put into practice (sow to the Spirit) the grace of God that makes us His people forever.

9. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

The grace-based, Spirit-empowered life is a life of constant challenge. As Christ endured the cross to bring God’s grace, His people endure hardships as they live by God’s grace, looking forward to the victory of God yet to come.

What Do You Think?

How do you defeat weariness personally? How can you help others do so as well?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

In understanding the relationship between physical and spiritual weariness

In terms of overcoming “compassion fatigue”

Considering the role of the Holy Spirit

Other

10. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

The grace-based life expresses God’s grace by doing all kinds of good to all kinds of people. Our deepest kinship is with those who have received God’s grace, our fellow Christians. To them we have first duty to express God’s grace with our generous actions. But we need never ask whether the call of grace stops at the doors of the church. Since Christ died for all and calls all to belong to Him, then His people do good for all as well.

Conclusion

A. Grace and Power

Today’s text sets forth key ideas. One is that God has a purpose for our existence. We are to be like him in his goodness, grace, and love. We find true satisfaction only when we fulfill that purpose.

A second key idea is that we fail to fulfill God’s purpose when we pursue something that supplants God’s grace. We too often prefer a life centered on selfishness instead of God’s gracious love. Paul uses a single word to stand for this dark, universal tendency: flesh. By that he does not mean that our physical bodies or their desires are evil in and of themselves. Rather, he means that as a person lives by selfishness instead of God’s grace, that person lives as if God were not in the picture. That person lives as if flesh is all that matters.

But there is an antidote to the life of the flesh: God’s Holy Spirit. He empowers a person to overcome the old life that ignores God, adopting attitudes and behaviors that reflect what God has done. The Spirit’s power is sure, but it requires our cooperation so that we fulfill God’s purpose and reflect his grace.

Today’s text gives us a huge task. But it gives us just as big a reason: the grace of God that grants eternal life by faith in Christ. And it gives us just as great a power: God’s Holy Spirit, who enables us to overcome the old life to reflect God’s grace.

B. Prayer

O God, may we always express Your grace in who we are and what we do! We pray this in the name of the one who died for us. Amen.

C. Thought to Remember

Life in Christ is more than change of behavior. It is a change in citizenship.

How to Say It

heresies hair-uh-seez.

lasciviousness luh-sih-vee-us-nuss.


March 5

Lesson 1

Perfect Love

Devotional Reading: Psalm 40:1-10

Background Scripture: 1 John 4:7-19

1 John 4:7-19

7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.

14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.

15 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.

16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.

18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

19 We love him, because he first loved us.

Key Verse

Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.—1 John 4:11

Lesson Aims

After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:

1. Tell why the author (John) is known as “the apostle of love.”

2. Explain why the fact that God is love does not exclude His also being wrathful.

3. Make a plan to participate in a ministry of his or her church that shows God’s love in tangible ways.

Lesson Outline

Introduction

A. First Love

B. Lesson Background

I. Goal (1 John 4:7-12)

A. Source of Love (vv. 7, 8)

Visible Love

B. Demonstrator of Love (vv. 9, 10)

God’s Anguish, and Ours

C. Perfecter of Love (vv. 11, 12)

II. Results (1 John 4:13-19)

A. Gift (v. 13)

B. Testimony (v. 14)

C. Refuge (vv. 15, 16)

D. Fearlessness (vv. 17, 18)

E. Love (v. 19)

Conclusion

A. Hard Love

B. Prayer

C. Thought to Remember


Standard Lesson Commentary 2016-2017 (KJV): StandardLessonCmy2016KJV.

"Suggestions for families are taken from Standardlesson.com,

Standard Publishing Group, LLC. Used with permission. More resources for families are available at Standardpub.com.


God Bless