Sunday, April 25, 2010


What's Your Indulgence? Galatians 5:13-16

Hello all:

I teach an Adult Bible Community at Thomas Road Baptist Church called the G.A.P. (for Graduates and Professionals), and each week I post the outlines and discussion questions from my lessons on the G.A.P. page on Facebook. A while back I started posting these notes on the blog too. So, here is the outline and questions for our meeting on April 25, 2010. The lesson is on Galatians 5:13-16 and discusses our freedom to indulge our flesh or to follow the Spirit. The contrast between fleshly living and Spirit-led living are given. If you have any questions or would like to add a comment or two, that would be great!

What’s Your Indulgence?
Galatians 5:13-16

When you think of the word “indulgence,” what comes to mind?
How do you define “indulgence”?

What is a favorite indulgence of yours?
A good cup of coffee, some rich dark chocolate, good conversation, and a good book are some of my favorite indulgences

We typically engage in indulgences when we have freedom

Indulgences spring from desire and opportunity

Today’s passage talks about freedom and indulgence
Some background: Gentiles, Jews, and Galatians!
Liberty is both freedom from and freedom to

Galatians 5:13-16

1. Called to Freedom
Galatians 5:13

“Called to freedom”: eklathate/kaleo, eleutheria—Paul indicates that all Christians have a call on their lives, a vocation to live in liberty

In verse 1, Paul reminds his Gentile readers that Jesus has “freed you unto freedom;” that is, Christ paid the price for our salvation/freedom so that we could live as free individuals

Now we are reminded that we are “called” to a vocation, to a ministry of freedom ( John 8:36; 2 Cor. 3:17; cf. 2 Cor. 3:4-6; 5:15)

Liberty gives freedom for us to “indulge” in luxuries or pleasures

“Indulgence” or “opportunity” here refers to a base of operations, a starting point, or an opportunity to pursue something

Paul reminds us that freedom heads toward two different indulgences:
a. A fleshly indulgence
b. A spiritual indulgence

2. Fleshly Indulgence
Galatians 5:13a, 15

Paul claims that we can use our freedom (the one we received from Christ) to indulge or to satisfy our fleshly desires

What is the flesh?
a. Sinful nature (Rom. 8:6-8)
b. That which opposes God (Rom. 7:18-23)
c. Flesh is the opposite of what Christ would want from us
d. Bottom line, Flesh is selfish

To engage the flesh, Paul says, is to “submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1b)

If God has called me to freedom and I use that freedom to indulge my flesh, I am essentially returning to bondage to sin (to which I am supposedly dead, cf. Rom. 6:6-9)

Paul commands us to avoid using our freedom to indulge the flesh

Since the flesh tends to selfishness, it also tends to divisive behavior

“Bite and devour”—refer to the actions of wild animals who hunt one another or prey on each other in an effort to find sustenance or to protect territory

Living in the flesh usually manifests itself in an attempt to build up myself by making others look bad (“biting and devouring”)

Living in the flesh means viewing my needs or my position as more important than others (cf. Phil. 2:3-4)

The warning is that if we live in the flesh, we will destroy ourselves; we will be consumed

2. Spiritual Indulgence
Galatians 5:13b-14, 16

Paul claims that we should use our new-found freedom in Christ as an opportunity for spiritual indulgence

Verse 16: “Walk in the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh”
a. “Walk in the Spirit”—allow the Spirit to guide your everyday behavior; learn to act in ways that are in keeping with the character of God
b. “Carry out the desires of the flesh”—fulfill or complete the desires of the flesh; the flesh is our sinful aspect that fights to keep us living opposite of God’s plans

Freedom should be used to serve one another in love

“Serve” (doulete/doulew)—to be a slave, to serve as a slave
“Serve one another.” But the language is really stronger—“be slaves to one another.” Christians are “not to be masters with a lot of slaves, but each should be one poor slave with a lot of masters.” (Stephen Neill)

No wonder some translations soften the phrase from “slaves” to “servants.” It’s hard enough to act like a “servant,” but “slave” sounds even more demanding.

The word “slave” is all about service
a. Slaves don’t consider themselves more important than the masters they serve. They don’t act superior!
b. Slaves serve whether they feel like it or not
c. Slaves do whatever job their Master gives them; no matter whether it’s hard or easy, dirty or clean
d. Slaves don’t expect recognition or reward or even a pat on the back for their service
e. Slaves serve because that’s what slaves do

Paul is calling us to be slaves in loving one another
Romans 12:9-13

Fulfill (complete) the law by loving each other (Rom. 13:9b-10)

How do we do this?
Being a servant begins with proper attitude.
a. Love is the foundation of a life of a servant
b. Humility is a necessity
c. Determination to do what needs to be done is a part of it

Being a servant requires sensitivity or discernment
a. We must be aware of opportunities around us
b. We need to learn to act, not react
c. We need to develop the habit of listening
To God
To others

As Nike reminds us, we need to “just do it.”

Now what?
We are left with a choice, we know we have freedom and that this freedom provides us the luxury of indulging desires
So, what desires will we choose?

Will we carry out or complete our selfish desires?
Will we walk by the Spirit?

If you desire to walk by the Spirit, here are some suggestions for this week:
a. When you are tempted this week to “put someone in their place” or to “speak the truth in love” by gossiping about someone, instead take a few minutes to make a list of the good things God has done in that person’s life. List the positives and then pray specifically for that person that God will give a blessing.
Look for a specific opportunity to “love your neighbor”

b. Go out of your way to serve someone this week and do it with no expectation of recognition or payment in exchange

c. Share the love of Christ by serving: make some cookies, clean a room, pick up some trash, volunteer to a charity, or simply tell someone how Jesus changed your life

Discussion Questions
a. Read Romans 13:8-10. How are all of these commandments from God summed up by Paul?

b. Jesus loved us enough that he died for us. Look at Philippians 2:5-11. How can we imitate Jesus’ love when we love others?

c. Read Jeremiah 31:31-33. How does this passage relate to Paul’s discussion about freedom and the law in Galatians 5?

d. Where do we get the power to live godly lives that include loving our neighbors? See 2 Peter 1:3-9

e. How can your life be characterized as “walking by the Spirit”? What will need to change?

f. How can you love your neighbors this week in such a way as to reveal God’s love to them?

Thanks for reading!

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Saturday, April 24, 2010


Symphony of Prayer: Corporate Time with God, April 18, 2010

Hello all:

I teach an Adult Bible Community at Thomas Road Baptist Church called the G.A.P. (for Graduates and Professionals), and each week I post the outlines and discussion questions from my lessons on the G.A.P. page on Facebook. A while back I started posting these notes on the blog too. This past week my wife and I decided to lead the class in a corporate time of prayer. So, here is the outline we used for that prayer meeting on April 18, 2010. If you have any questions or would like to add a comment or two, that would be great!

Symphony of Prayer
Corporate Time with God

1. Worship God for Who He Is
Isaiah 45:5-8

During this time, worship God for Who He is
Offer praise to Him for His character

Some names of God
El Elyon (God Most High)
El Roi (God Who Sees)
El Shaddai (God Almighty)
Immanuel (God with us)
Yahweh (“I am who I am”—refers to God’s self-disclosure and self definition—God is defined by himself alone!)
Yahweh-Yireh (Jehovah-Jireh: God who provides)
Yahweh-Rohi (God my shepherd)
Yahweh-Rapha (God who heals)
Yahweh-Shalom (God my peace)
Yahweh-Tsidkenu (God my righteousness)
Jesus (Jeshuah/Joshua: “Yahweh Saves”)

2. Praise God for What He Has Done
Psalm 64:1-9
Ephesians 2:4-7

During this time, praise God for the things He has done in your life

Some suggestions
Trials through which He has sanctified you
Hearing prayer

3. Confession
James 5:16
1 John 1:9-10

During this time make your conscience clean before God
Cry out to Him with your failures, your sins, and receive His promised forgiveness
Bring the secret things to the light
Repent, turn your back on these things
Share with one another as you feel led

4. Supplication
Psalm 20:1-5
1 John 5:13-15

During this time, make your requests known to the Father of life, and He will hear and respond

Pray for one another (Remember James 5)
Use the cards provided
Pray for this request every day this week

Do you have a need?
Do you desire direction?
Do you need a touch from God?
Do you need His Spirit of Wisdom?

5. Thanksgiving
Philippians 4:6-7
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Hebrews 13:15

During this time, offer thanks to God for His provision and answer to prayer
Show your gratitude to God by saying “Thank you” and living a grateful life

Let G.A.P. be known as a group of praying people
Let G.A.P. be known as a grateful people

Thanks for reading!

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