Have you ever been upset with yourself for giving into temptation … again? Have you ever assumed that if you were just more disciplined, you could be victorious? Feel you need to try harder or be more regimented to keep your routines? How many times have you heard it said that if you want to be more spiritual, just read your Bible and pray more, as though that was the solution for everything?
Now, discipline is valued in the Bible. Routines and to-do lists can be helpful. Reading your Bible and praying are definitely good. But NONE of these four, in themselves, is the key to growing in your love-relationship with God. The New Testament book of Galatians was written to clarify this.
Some people like to live by rules and lists. They do better when they can check off items they have accomplished. I’m not saying this is bad. It’s just not the way to live the Christian life. On the other hand, some people just “wing it.” They are undisciplined and could use a few more lists of things to guide their life. Whether you like lists and routines or not is not the issue.
The New Testament letter of Galatians was written to tell us of a better way, the way of the Holy Spirit. Remember, God is Trinity, three in one – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. When you invited Jesus to come into your life and be Boss of your life, it was God the Holy Spirit who swooped in and took up residence. In your life, does the Spirit only make a cameo appearance like a well-known actor in a movie, or does He play an essential role in God’s redemptive work inside you? That’s the subject of the book of Galatians.
As you work your way through the book, the Apostle Paul is dealing with the Good News, the gospel, the message that God has gone to extreme measures to make eternal life available to people. When some Jewish teachers began spreading the heresy that people are to live the Christian life by strict adherence to the Mosaic Law, Paul met their error head on.
Here is the key verse of the entire book of Galatians. “Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?” (Galatians 3:3) The Spirit of God is the One who initially convicts us of sin when we ask Jesus to forgive us and indwell us. “When He [Holy Spirit] comes, He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.” (John 16:8) But the new birth is not the end of the Spirit’s work. The Bible informs us that He is the One who helps Christ-followers to understand the Bible. He is the One who makes it clear in our understanding of the centrality of Jesus Christ is to our faith.
In short, the Christian life is not to be an exercise in working hard to change our lives. It is a life-long challenge to submit ourselves to the Spirit’s leadership, and allow Him to change us from the inside out. In the fifth chapter of Galatians, the apostle describes what a person’s life looks like who has learned to rely on the Holy Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22–23)
A good prayer for today is, “Help me, Lord, to keep in step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25)