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 Guide – Online Lesson With Questions
I. The deeds of the flesh (16-21)
II. The fruit of the Spirit (22-26)
I. The deeds of the flesh (16-21)
- 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?
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
Romans 7:5 – For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death.
Romans 8:23 – Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.
1 Corinthians 15:56 – The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
1 Corinthians 6:9 – Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men.
Revelation 22:15 – Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1. How is this passage related to the theme of Galatians? – 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.
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, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”
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 to 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 bring 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 is much more open and public than in most of history. Deviant lifestyles are no longer considered shameful. Instead they are promoted and celebrated. 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. Every other outlet for sex is a work of the flesh and displeases God.
6. The deeds of the flesh –
Many are mentioned here:
- Sexual immorality
- Fits of anger
- Things like these
Paul says that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
If you belong to God, He has freed you from the power of the above list of sins. The chains are off. This is not to say that you will never struggle with these or never sin. Your attitude toward them will change. You will begin to hate sin. And if you belong to Christ, you will experience victory more and more.
1 Peter 4:3 – For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.
If you are in Christ, the time is past to gain enjoyment from the above. You are a new creation. Depend on God’s strength and take the way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13), fleeing from the sin.
Application: Look at the above list. Consider which work of the flesh you still struggle with. Firstly, confess it to God. Then write a plan for how you will avoid that sin the next time you are tempted. A wise person once said that the definition of insanity is to repeat the same thing again and again and expect a different result. If you have failed again and again, your past methods don’t work. You need a new battle plan. Take for example, porn addiction. Telling yourself, “I won’t do it” again and again doesn’t help. Inevitably you will be on the computer alone and temptation will rear its ugly head. If you don’t have a battle plan, if you haven’t prepared ahead, you will lose and you will fall again.
One way to get help is accountability software. Read our review of two top accountability software programs which can help you win the fight for purity or go directly to Covenant Eyes to start fighting back.
II. The fruit of the Spirit (22-26)
- What contrast does the “but” in verse 22 introduce?
- How can we be more fruitful in these areas?
- 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?
Group Activity – 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 one person from the group give a specific application for how to improve in that character quality.
Individual Activity – Firstly, memorize Galatians 5:22-23. Then choose one area you are weak in. Write down three specific ways you can demonstrate that character quality this week.
On Love –
1 Corinthians 16:14 – Do everything in love.
1 John 4:8 – Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
On Joy –
Proverbs 17:22 – A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
1 Peter 1:8 – Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.
On Peace –
John 16:33 – I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
Isaiah 26:3 – You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.
On Patience –
Psalm 37:7-8 – Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil.
Ecclesiastes 7:9 – Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.
On Kindness –
Proverbs 11:17 – Those who are kind benefit themselves, but the cruel bring ruin on themselves.
Ephesians 4:32 – Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
On Goodness –
Psalm 31:19 – How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you,
that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you.
Romans 12:9 – Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
On Faithfulness –
Proverbs 28:20 – A faithful person will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.
Luke 16:10-12 – Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?
On Gentleness –
Proverbs 15:1 – A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Matthew 11:29 – Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
On Self-control –
Proverbs 25:8 – Do not bring hastily to court, for what will you do in the end if your neighbor puts you to shame?
Proverbs 16:32 – Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.
Galatians E-Book Bible Study – You can access the complete online study of Galatians by downloading our e-book here.
Galatians Paperback Study Guide – You can also order a paperback version of the study from Amazon.
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