Self Sacrifice in the Spirit

girl sitting in the sunset

In Galatians 5:16, Paul calls on us to walk by the Spirit. Then, in verse 25, he reiterates, saying to live by the Spirit. Over the next several lessons, we’re going to take a close look at what it means to live by the Spirit, and Paul outlines the spiritual attributes we should be adopting in Galatians 5:22–23. We call these the fruit of the Spirit.

But  the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

This type of living begins with the very next verse — that we who belong to Christ have crucified self, along with our passions and desires. When we put those things away, we can live more spiritually.

Dead to Self; Alive in the Spirit

Romans 6 talks about baptism as a burial like Christ’s. Paul says we are united with Jesus in a death like His, so we may be raised to a life like His. This frees us from slavery to sin by crucifying our former selves that were chained by our sins. We must now consider ourselves dead to sin, and alive to Christ. In Galatians 2:19-20, Paul reiterates this by saying he has been crucified with Christ, living now for Him rather than for self.

When we’re baptized into Christ, we lose self and gain His Spirit.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and  hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

– Romans 5:1-5

We now live in and by the Spirit, and this is a very purposeful way of living. Romans 8:1-8 tells us we live, walk, and set our minds on things of the Spirit. This creates a life of peace and a walk centered on pleasing God. Paul goes on to say that the Spirit then takes an active role in our lives, helping work things together for good, helping us in our weakening, and taking our prayers to the Father.

Spirit Unity Without Self

Living in the Spirit gives us unity in the Spirit. Ephesians 4 instructs us to strive for unity, walking worthily of our calling. Paul tells us to be humble, patient, and gentle to accomplish this, and those qualities require self-sacrifice and self-denial. Maintaining unity and peace in the Spirit is a part of Spirit living. To accomplish this unity, He gives us all work to do to build up Christ’s body to unity of faith and knowledge in God.

Back in John 14, Jesus promised to give His disciples a Spirit of truth to help them in their work. This Spirit works with us to grow and mature in Christ, to mold our lives into what our God and Father wants us to be. This growth in the Spirit builds upon sacrificing self, denying self, and letting Him live in us. Galatians 1:10 asks a simple questions: am I seeking God’s approval or man’s? Serving one necessitates denying the other, and serving self takes us away from our Father. When we crucify self and live to Christ, then we open ourselves to the Spirit of adoption, the Spirit of unity, the Spirit our God has promised us.

lesson by Dawson Guyer