Chapter 5:12-26 (ESV) - For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Question to consider: How does the world define freedom?
To the unbeliever, Christianity can look like slavery. They look at it as a religion that people practice which has a bunch of rules and restrictions. Denying personal desires or giving away our wealth and belongings does not appeal to them. If they were honest with themselves though, they would recognize that sin is slavery. People may start out indulging the flesh in the name of personal freedom, but eventually they lead to slavery and death. Anyone who has experienced an addiction like smoking can testify to the grip sin can have on us.
The Holy Spirit sets us free from the slavery of sin and death. When we walk by the Spirit as Paul says, we actually begin to bear spiritual fruit like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Our hearts are turned toward God, and we grow in our desire to do things that are pleasing to Him. We do not give money to ministries out of obligation, but out of a desire for the gospel to flourish.
As long as we live, we will still struggle with our flesh and be tempted by things of the world, but the more we fill our minds with spiritual things like hymns or scripture and the more time we spend with other believers, the easier it will be for us to keep from gratifying the desires of the flesh.
Dear Lord, thank you for giving us your Holy Spirit to convict us of sin and free us from its slavery. Help us to grow closer to you so that we can see the world through your eyes, putting aside those things that hinder our walk with you and holding on to what pleases you. Amen.