Holy Spirit Manifestation (Part 5)

In his letter to the church in Galatia, Paul provided some important insight with regard to the operation of the Holy Spirit in the church; specifically as it relates to the faith as opposed to the law. We must keep in mind that the context of Paul’s letters relates to a time when the early church was struggling with the tension of spiritual liberty having been steeped in lifelong legalism. At times it must have seemed that this new freedom was a contradiction to the law they had obeyed for so long. But, instead, the liberty in the Spirit was God’s completion of His purpose to enable His children to live in a more personal relationship with Him.

However, not so unlike us, the tension between the law and the Spirit often caused these early believers to drift back into the legalism with which they were so familiar. After all, it’s easier to keep a law than it is to apply a principle. The law spells things out in black and white while the principle requires us to rely on our relationship with God through His Holy Spirit and to exercise judgment and wisdom. Is it any wonder, then, that having someone spell out what we need to do in order to be righteous might be preferable to having to walk in faith and spiritual discretion?

So Paul reminded the believers in Galatia that legalism and spiritual liberty are incompatible.

Galatians 3:1-14
1 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?
2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.
5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.
7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.
8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.
9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.
13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

Basically, Paul is saying that Christ’s sacrifice fulfilled what the law could only attempt to accomplish and that by sending His Holy Spirit to abide in and with us Jesus ushered in a new way for us to relate to God. He warned that returning to the letter of the law would necessarily impede spiritual liberty and that this is not the will of God. We can either have spiritual liberty or abide by the law; but not both.

Then in the following chapter, Paul addressed how being God’s child (enjoying spiritual liberty) is superior to being a servant (living according to the law).

Galatians 4:1-7
1 Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;
2 But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.
3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:
4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

By the indwelling of His Holy Spirit, Christ made it possible for us to be adopted into God’s family. Paul points out that it’s far better to be a son or daughter than it is to be a servant. The intimacy of a family is better than taking orders and following rules like a servant.

So here’s how this relates to us. It seems our natural inclination is to prefer that someone tell us what to do, how to behave, what is right, what is wrong, and so on. But when we simply follow the rules we forfeit our liberty and, in the process, stifle the potential for enjoying our relationship with our Heavenly Father. As a result, following Jesus eventually becomes dull and lifeless and that is not God’s desire for us.

Rather, God wants us to thrive in knowing that His Holy Spirit is always with us to help and guide us when there isn’t a rule to apply to our specific situation or circumstance. When we avail ourselves of spiritual liberty we find joy and peace in the presence of God.

When we choose the law over faith; when we choose servanthood over relationship; we live below God’s prefect design for our lives. Paul reminds us that a loving Father is far better than a kind taskmaster.

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