Galatians 5:16-26

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These small group studies of Galatians contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

Galatians 5:16-26 Inductive Bible Study

Outline:

  1. The deeds of the flesh (16-21)
  2. The fruit of the Spirit (22-26)

I. The deeds of the flesh (16-21)

Discussion Questions

  • It seems that this passage is a large departure from Paul’s over-arching theme of the book. What is the main theme of this passage? Is it related? If so, how?
  • Why does Paul use the word “walk?”
  • How can one walk by the Spirit?
  • Who has the struggle which Paul describes in verse 17?
  • If we are led by the Spirit, then do we follow the law? Why or why not?
  • Why do you think Paul lists out deeds of the flesh? What is “the flesh?”
  • Is this an exhaustive list?
  • What is Paul’s purpose in telling them of these things?
  • If you look at this list and notice that you often fall into one or more of these sins, what should you do?
  • What will happen to the people who do these things?
  • How can we be more Spirit filled and therefore have the self-control we need to avoid these sins?

Cross-References

  • The Spirit indwells believers – Romans 8:9, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
  • The flesh – Romans 7:5, 8:23.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:56 – The power of sin is the law.
  • 1 Corinthians 6:9, Revelation 22:15 – These verses describe some people who are outside of the kingdom of God.
  • 1 John 3:4-10 – Describe the situation of those who practice sin.
  • Matthew 5:3-10 – The beattitudes describe the attitudes/qualities of those who belong to God.

Teaching Points

  1. At first glance it seems like this passage is not very related to the theme of the book (We are justified by faith, not by the law.) But it isn’t actually a random passage. You see most of those who were teaching people that they should follow the law had an argument supporting their side. They argued that if a person is not under the law then this would lead to sin. In other words, they argued that focusing on grace would lead people to sin. We see Paul address this argument in Romans 6:1-2. I believe he is also proactively addressing this potential argument in this passage. He is arguing that a Spirit-filled person will naturally do what is right. A person under the law is still relying on the flesh and in his flesh is not able to carry out the desire of the Spirit. In verse 18 Paul also mentions that there is a choice. We either are led by the Spirit or under the law, not both. And in the passage, he makes it clear that being Spirit led is far superior. In addition, we see that Galatians follows Paul’s general outline of his letters. Generally the first part of the letter is focused more on doctrine and the second part is focused more on application. One might ask how he could apply all of the doctrine about justification by faith from the first part of Galatians. The answer is be filled with the Spirit and allow the Spirit to lead us to a better and more fruitful God-centered life.
  2. Spirit or flesh – These are mutually exclusive. We have to choose. We must be filled with the Spirit by feeding on the things of the Spirit (Bible, prayer, fellowship.)
  3. You may not do the things that you please – Our flesh enjoys indulging itself in sin. This verse makes it clear that sin can be pleasurable. It pleases our flesh to vent off steam by complaining about difficult situations. It pleases our flesh to get revenge by shouting at someone we are angry with. Sexual sins are pleasurable during the moment. Lazily sleeping late instead of working is very enjoyable. These things give a temporary fun factor, but later comes the guilt and bad consequences which stream from a distant/broken relationship with God.
  4. If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law – We do not follow a list of rules out of a desire to earn our salvation. We know that rituals and following a checklist of do and don’t can’t save us. Our Christian life is not about following a rule book. Instead it is about God’s Spirit filling our hearts. When God’s Spirit fills and controls us, our life is truly transformed. This transformation starts from the inside and pours out of us. Our motivation will not be to merit God’s favor or build a bridge to God. Out motivation will instead be a sincere response of love to what God has done for us. We will want to love others. We will want to be patient. We will want to show kindness. We will want to do all of these things because God has changed us. He has changed our outlook. He has changed our thought processes.
  5. Immorality – The Greek word for immorality is porneia, from which the English word pornography comes. Sexual temptation has always existed, but in the modern world it is much more accessible than ever before. And it much more open and public than in most of history. The world teaches a free love. It teaches we are free to do whatever we like as long as both sides agree and you don’t hurt anyone. This is a lie from Satan. It is the same lie he told to Even in the Garden of Eden when he insinuated that God wanted to withhold something good from her. Sinning in these areas is very harmful and effects every part of life. God’s design permitting sex inside of a one-man, one woman marriage relationship is good and pure and holy. Everything else is a deed of the flesh.
  6. Discuss each deed of the flesh one by one. See 1 Peter 4:3. You have lived as a Gentile enough already. Don’t go back to it.

II. The fruit of the Spirit (22-26)

Discussion Questions

  • What contrast does the “but” in verse 22 introduce?
  • How can we be more fruitful in these areas?

Split up into groups. Each group take about 3 of the qualities. Find a key verse for each quality. Write out a definition for each quality. Write a Biblical example (either positive or negative) for each example. Give at least one everyday life example of a person you have seen who exhibited this characteristic and how they showed it. Then at least one person from the group give a specific application for how to improve in that character quality.

  • What does Paul mean that “against such there is no law?”
  • What does verse 24 mean?
  • How do we crucify the flesh with its passions?

Cross-References

  • Love – 1 Corinthians 16:14, 1 John 4:8
  • Joy – Proverbs 17:22, 1 Peter 1:8, Romans 15:13
  • Peace – John 16:33, Isaiah 26:3
  • Patience – Psalm 37:7-9, Ecclesiastes 7:9
  • Kindness – Proverbs 11:17, Ephesians 4:32
  • Goodness – Psalm 31:19, Romans 12:9
  • Faithfulness – Proverbs 28:20, Luke 16:10-12
  • Gentleness – Proverbs 15:1, Matthew 11:29
  • Self-control – Proverbs 25:8, 1 Corinthians 9:27, Proverbs 16:32
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