• Tony Birkhead

Culture Crash Week -3

My Freedom Should Always Keep Me In Step With The Holy Spirit!


How was drinking alcohol viewed in your home growing up? How were you taught to view its use?

Why do you think the bible has such strong warnings about the use of alcohol? See Proverbs 20:1, 23:29-35.


Ephesians 5:18-20

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Galatians 5:13-26

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. 16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.


These are the 3 categories talked about in today’s message. What are your thoughts on each?

· Prohibitionist – The Bible prohibits drinking alcohol altogether.

· Abstentionist- The Bible doesn’t condemn it, but one chooses to abstain.

· Moderationist- The Bible doesn’t condemn it, so drink in moderation.

Why did the religious leaders accuse Jesus of being a drunkard? Luke 7:33-34

Are there times to choose to abstain even if you have the freedom to drink? What does that look like?

What principles can we learn about eating and drinking from 1 Corinthians 10:23-33?

If you choose to drink in moderation and God has given you that freedom, what should be some of your guiding factors? Consider Ephesians 5:18-20 and Galatians 5:13-26


  • What “freedoms” do you have in Christ that you would give up to reach someone else?

  • Is there an area in your life where you are following the flesh instead of the Spirit? What step can you take today to follow the direction of the Holy Spirit?

  • When have you experienced a fellow believer encouraging you to live by the Spirit and not the flesh? How did that change your approach toward sin? Is there someone you can encourage this week?


Thank God for sending the Holy Spirit so that we can have a guide and an advocate to help us live lives that glorify God. Pray that God would encourage people in your group and at our church to listen and heed the instruction of the Spirit in their lives.


Galatians 5:13-26

5:13-14. In verse 1, Paul states that Christian freedom is the right and privilege of every believer. Then he points out six negative consequences of falling back into slavery. Now he warns them not to use this freedom as a license to sin. Rather than liberty being used for selfishness, the true objective of their newfound freedom is love. Quoting Leviticus 19:18, Paul summarizes the law as “love your neighbor as yourself.” Always remember that we are slaves commissioned to love one another (Matt. 22:39).

5:15. As a result of the legalists, this church was divided. They were biting and devouring each other. Their church and community of faith were on the verge of destruction. Legalism treats people harshly and often leads to divisions.

5:16. The phrase “so I say” alerts the Galatian readers that Paul was about to make an important point. His following instructions are designed to combat the selfish behaviors and abuses prominent in the Galatian fellowship (v. 15). The verb translated “live” literally means “walk.” It refers to journeying through life. Paul commonly used the term to designate daily conduct or lifestyle. Along the pathway of life, the Spirit’s guidance and power can help Christians avoid the self-destructive tendencies of the sinful nature. Paul followed his command with a promise: Ordering our lives according to the Spirit’s guidance will prevent believers from ever carrying out the desire of the “flesh.” In the context of Galatians 5:16, the term “flesh” refers to people’s lower nature. Coupled with the word for “flesh,” the term for “desire” conveys the sense of craving what is evil. Consistently living in the Spirit would enable believers to overcome sin’s pull, which the law could not do.

5:17. Every Christian is a walking civil war. Flesh and Spirit are in perpetual conflict; they are diametrically opposed to each other and vie for dominance in believers’ lives. What the flesh desires is antagonistic to what the Spirit desires for Christians. The language is that of unrelenting warfare for control of believers’ lives. The Spirit strives to prevent believers from giving in to evil; the flesh tries to thwart the Spirit’s work.

5:18. Paul emphasized that active cooperation with the Spirit and constant reliance on His power would enable the Galatian believers to experience freedom instead of bondage. If they consistently followed the Spirit’s leadership, they would not be under the law. Paul’s words indicate he was following up on his emphasis of not misusing Christian freedom and elaborating on how to use it properly (see vv. 13-15). The Judaizers contended that obeying the law enables people to overcome their base desires; yet Paul knew from experience that the law was powerless to suppress people’s lower nature (see Rom. 7:7-8,14-25). Paul maintained strongly that only following the Spirit’s guidance could enable people to overcome evil and experience the freedom of grace. The inner struggle between believers’ old nature and the Spirit would continue, but following the Spirit’s leading—walking behind Him—would empower them to be victorious.

5:19. Paul spelled out the results of acting on “the desires of the flesh” (v. 16). He cataloged the works of the flesh. The word “works” refers to what issues from living in the flesh—people’s lower natures. Paul stated these works are apparent. Paul used 15 Greek words and one catchall term to present characteristic activities of people who are outside God’s kingdom and devoid of the Spirit’s leadership. All the impulses or drives Paul included are potentially good, but the base nature seeks to distort and pervert them. Paul began listing what the flesh produces by naming three sexual sins. Sexual immorality was epidemic and commonly accepted in the Galatian believers’ environment. They were bombarded with temptations to revert to their former immoral lifestyles. Paul emphasized that sexual sins issue from our sinful nature’s aggression in its warfare with the Spirit.

5:20a. Paul next addressed works of the flesh in the religious realm. The word “idolatry” referred primarily to worshiping pagan gods—false gods that people fashioned. Such worship often included sexual immorality. Broadly defined, idols are anything or anyone (including themselves) that people put in God’s rightful place in their lives. Following the Spirit’s leadership inspires life-giving, life-sustaining worship of God. Following the lower nature’s impulses results in false, powerless religion.

5:20b-21. Paul’s third category of the flesh’s works related to people’s interactions. Significantly, he listed sinful attitudes, equating them with sinful acts. In so doing, he listed hatreds first. The Greek word means “hostilities” and has the idea of personal animosities. With the phrase and “anything similar,” Paul lumped other obvious works of the flesh with those he had listed. He again gave the Galatians advance warning: People with lifestyles characterized by the works of the flesh will not inherit God’s kingdom. Inherit means “to share in.” The kingdom of God is His rule, the sphere of His grace. The tense of the word practice conveys habitual performance. People who consistently perform the works of the flesh are not following the Spirit and indeed are not Christians.

5:22-23. Paul contrasted the fruit of the Spirit to the works of the flesh. The word “fruit” refers to virtues only the Spirit can cultivate and bring to full growth in believers’ lives. Human nature apart from God can perform works; only the Spirit can produce fruit. For purposes of study, we can place the virtues in three groups: Christian, social, and personal conduct. The first three virtues in the cluster of the fruit of the Spirit show that only God can generate and maintain His desired harvest in the lives of believers. The second group of virtues in the cluster of Spirit-produced fruit pertains to believers’ relationships with others—their social virtues. The third group of virtues is made up of qualities that believers exhibit in personal conduct. Where the fruit of the Spirit is present, no law is necessary. One purpose of the law was to prevent evil, but Spirit-empowered Christians not only fulfill the law in principle but go far beyond what it requires. The presence of the fruit of the Spirit removes the need for the law’s restraints.

5:24. At the time of conversion, genuine believers put to death (have crucified) the old nature by the Spirit’s power. Those who belong to Christ are people who have placed faith in Him. At conversion, the war with the flesh’s passions and desires—evil prompting and cravings—has been won. Skirmishes between the old nature and the Spirit’s leading continue, but believers’ ultimate victory is assured.

5:25. The phrase “if we live by the Spirit” does not express doubt. The Greek construction expresses certainty: “Because we live by the Spirit.” The Holy Spirit is the source of our new spiritual life, so we must also follow Him. The Greek word rendered “follow” means “to proceed in a row,” “to go in order,” thus “to walk” in another’s steps. It has the further sense of moving toward a goal. Paul exhorted the Galatian believers to order their lives by relying daily on the Spirit’s guidance. Doing so would result in a Christian lifestyle exhibiting exemplary attitudes and actions.

5:26. Paul ended this section of his letter with an exhortation. Literally, he called on the Galatian Christians to stop some destructive attitudes. These attitudes were products of the flesh; they were not evidences of living by the Spirit.

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