How the Holy Spirit Transforms Daily Life

August 8, 2017
Darrell L. Bock and Michael H. Burer

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Topic Time Codes

01:16
Introduction to the book of Galatians
02:45
Paul’s approach of the indwelling ministry of the Spirit
08:20
The presence of the Spirit and the faith of the believer
14:54
Similarities between Galatians and James
19:26
The believer is transformed and becomes an heir
22:47
The Spirit transforms the believer as a whole
24:05
Faith working through love
26:38
Living by the Spirit
29:30
The fruits of the Spirit
32:15
Cooperating with the Spirit’s work
36:43
Practical implications for the believer
39:54
The challenge to do good to all people

Transcript

Darrell Bock
Welcome to The Table. We discuss issues of God and culture. I’m Darrell Bock, Executive Director for Cultural Engagement at the Hendricks Center at Dallas Theological Seminary, as well as Senior Research Professor of New Testament Studies at the Seminary. My guest is Michael Burer.
Michael Burer
Hi, Darrell. How are you today?
Michael Burer
Really good. Associate Professor of New Testament Studies. We’ve worked together now for several years.
Michael Burer
Well, we need to be a little clearer. I was a student of yours. You were my doctoral advisor. You’re telling me what to do now. So it’s a little bit longer than just a few years.
Michael Burer
No, no. Anyway, so I’m trying to promote you to being an equal, but anyway –
Interviewee
Oh, thanks. I’ll take that.
Darrell Bock
But Mike and I have discussed issues in Galatians and Paul before on The Table and we’re coming back now to take a look at a new topic. This is a topic that’s near and dear to my heart. It has to do with the way in which the spirit of God is presented in the New Testament and highlights that particularly in the Book of Galatians. So Mike, why don’t you tell us about your walk with the Book of Galatians?
Interviewee
Sure. I’m actually in the middle of writing a commentary on the Book of Galatians. Please don’t ask me when it’s gonna be done. As you know, sometimes that’s not easy to answer. I’ll just say –
Darrell Bock
These words can and will be used against you in a court of law.
Michael Burer
If the Lord wills I’ll have it done before I die.
Darrell Bock
There ya’ go. That’s a theological way to answer.
Michael Burer
But I’ve been writing on the Book of Galatians and before I really dove into it, my thinking about the Book of Galatians was probably similar to a lot of people. It’s a defense of the gospel. That Paul is explaining his theology about who Christ was, what Christ did for us, how we’re justified, but one piece that was never really talked about in my understanding was the role of the spirit.

As I was diving into it and looking at particular passages I began to realize that there’s a lot more to the work of the spirit and what Paul is arguing than we like to give credit for.

So it made me ask a couple questions about myself, my theology, the way I’d organized my categories. So that was the genesis of me tapping you on the shoulder and saying, “Hey, why don’t we talk about this? I think this would be a good thing for us to wrestle with because Paul says some things that are pretty powerful about the spiritual work in ministry that I think would be really important for believers to understand.”
Darrell Bock
I think we tend to think the gospel is a two-way operation. It’s something between the Father and the Son and it involves us and we tend to cut the third person, the Trinity, out of the equation.

So I see there’s a note here that you’ve written to me. It says, “We ask how do I know I have the spirit and we answer because you believe the gospel.” Then you say, “Paul asks” – that means something’s going on, “How do you know the gospel is true.” He answers, “Because you have the spirit.” Flush out that difference for me –
Michael Burer
Sure. I often times think about it this way. How do I know that the spirit is working in my life. I have to almost times say it by faith. Maybe I’m showing my own immaturity as a believer, but it’s because I have believed in the gospel and there are promises that the spirit has given to me. The spirit seals me. I’m baptized. I’m being filled by him, et cetera.

But Paul’s dynamic or his question was really very, very different. He did not approach the spirit as a deduction, shall we say. Something that we can just believe by faith that we’ve got.

He actually approached it on the front end. It was actually the proof that he used to show that his gospel that he had put to –
Darrell Bock
It’s the dynamic of salvation in some ways –
Michael Burer
Exactly. So that was what began to change in my mind about the role of the spirit. The spirit was not just a, shall we say, an afterthought or a theological deduction, the checkbox I can say –
Darrell Bock
Or a footnote.
Michael Burer
Yeah. It was the beginning in some ways of the spiritual journey that Paul is taking in Galatians –
Darrell Bock
In fact, it’s the purpose of the exercise in some ways, isn’t it? Be Jewish for a second. Bear with me, but you’ll appreciate this. Put on your yamaka. It fits nicely right here. I’ve got a good space for it and think Jewishly for a second.

If you’re in the Old Testament and you’re unclean you can’t go to the Temple and fellowship with God. So you engage in a sacrifice or washing that restores that relationship, but the point isn’t just simply to say, “Oh, I’m clean now. I can go on with my life.” No. The point of being declared clean is you’re now put in the position of being able to fellowship directly with God again in the context of the Temple.

The salvation’s very much the same picture. You’re unclean. Forgiveness of sins cleanses you or washes you. Now that you’re a clean vessel, the spirit of God can come in and dwell you and enable you to walk with God from that point forward.
Michael Burer
Sometimes I think we almost think of it in the sense of we get from negative ten to zero or we get into neutral. I’m going in reverse. But the picture I think is all together different. It’s we’re now moving in the right direction by the power of the spirit. We’re not just qualified. We are, in fact, given everything that we need –
Darrell Bock
We’re enabled.
Michael Burer
We’re enabled. Exactly right. Not just qualified, but we’re enabled.
Darrell Bock
Ephesians says at the very beginning we’ve been given every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. There is nothing that we lack. It’s like the question the disciples ask of Jesus at one point, “Give us more faith.” Jesus responds, “Wait a minute. This is not how much. You just have” – I’m gonna put the Texan twang on this – “Just put a pinch of faith between your cheek and gum, okay. Just have a little bit of faith” –
Michael Burer
That’s all it takes –
Darrell Bock
And you can do amazing things. So the issue is not how much. The issue is presence and utilizing what’s there.
Michael Burer
Exactly. So I guess when I came to Galatians I expected Paul to think of it kinda’ the way I did. That the spirit was a wonderful blessing, but not to focus his attention on it, but what he argues is really very different. That the spirit is the defining proof in the life of the Galatians that they, in fact, were on the right path.

So what I wanted to talk about was unpacking that. Why does he make that argument? What is the end result? How are we to think about that even today in terms of our own walk with the spirit and in the lives of those to whom we minister.
Darrell Bock
So my sense is is that this is one of the aha’s of working in Galatians.
Michael Burer
Yeah, very much so. I’ve had several of those, but this is one I think that to me had a real practical result.

You and I both teach here at the seminary. We desire to both form our students academically, but also spiritually. It really made me reflect on the question how can I tell that I’m having a spiritual affect, positively forming my students in the image of Christ.

So a lot of what Paul addresses I think hits right on that particular question. It sort of gives us a way to diagnose our ministries and ourselves. How do we know that we are, in fact, all on the right path. It’s going to be because of the work of the spirit. Paul gives us some ways to unpack that and think that through and to actually apply it.
Darrell Bock
What we’re talking about here when we talk about the work of the spirit, the phrase I like to use is enabling the spirit, it’s the indwelling ministry of the spirit that empowers us or enables us to walk with God.

Part of the issue that’s happened in our time is is that our discussions about how the spirit of God works has launched out into different other areas, areas of controversy and I think in part we miss this most fundamental part of what the spirit is all about and why the spirit is important to Paul.
Michael Burer
I agree. I hesitate to use a term like secret sauce, but it’s something that’s applied equally to every believer. So it has to be foundational and fundamental. I hope by this discussion we can discuss those contours and realize and, in fact, as a result, live more in accordance with what the spirit wants to do in our lives.
Darrell Bock
Well let’s go for this. Walk us through your aha moment.
Michael Burer
When you think about the Book of Galatians, you’re thinking about Paul’s defense of the gospel, as I said. So for the first couple of chapters, that’s largely what he does. We’ve read this many times. He appears to be, on the one hand, defending his apostleship. He has several statements, for example, in the very beginning in Chapter 1, he says that he is an apostle, “not from man nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and by God the Father.”
Darrell Bock
Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
Michael Burer
Yeah, there’s no clue who punches his union card. So he goes off on this defense of who he is and the message that he preached. So for the first couple of chapters it appears to be very much what we would expect.

In fact, one place that we really love to go to is Galatians 2:15 through the end of the chapter ‘cause that is sort of the quintessential statement about justification by faith alone and not by works.

So if I could say it this way, just thinking it through and reading the text, in Chapter 1 and Chapter 2, I’m in great shape. Paul’s matching what I think. He’s saying exactly what I would expect him to say, but when I get to Chapter 3 starting in Verse 1, he does something that really brings me up short.

Working through this particular passage was where I had my aha moment. So let me walk through it and I’ll point out some things.

He starts off by saying, “You foolish Galatians.” How’s that for being friendly to your congregation?

His point being is that they were being pulled away from the gospel by some opponents in their midst. It’s a little unclear if they’re Jewish missionaries or if they’re Christian Jewish missionaries, but somebody was pulling them away from the gospel message that Paul had preached to them.

Then he gets even worse. You thought the first statement was bad. He says, “Who has cast a spell on you?”
Darrell Bock
Oh man.
Darrell Bock
That’s most likely metaphorical language about the power of their message and the fact that they were so quickly turned away –
Darrell Bock
And it’s spiritually dangerous for the territory that we’re in.
Michael Burer
Exactly. So that metaphor brings up all of those negative images. “Before your eyes Jesus Christ was vividly portrayed as crucified.” In other words, you’ve had the original message proclaimed to you vividly. How could you then turn away from it.

“The only thing I want to learn from you is this.” Here’s where it gets interesting. “Did you receive the spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard?” Paul basically sets up the spirit, the presence of the spirit in their lives as a proof.
Darrell Bock
And the reception of the spirit is this indwelling that we’re talking about. It’s an illusion to the new covenant idea of God –
Michael Burer
Exactly –
Darrell Bock
-- putting the spirit inside of you. It’s the point of forgiveness of sins. You’ve been cleansed so now your vessel’s clean and now God can enter in and empower you to walk with him.
Michael Burer
Exactly and they had experienced it. That was the thing. There was no doubt that they had experienced it. It’d be like him saying, “We were together at that moment and we all saw it.” This is the proof. This is the incontrovertible evidence that we’re gonna look to.

What’s the deduction that we draw from it. His deduction that he basically asked them the question to force it, is that they received the spirit by believing what they had heard. So in other words, the presence of the spirit in their lives enabling them, granting them power to live in a holy way that God would be pleased with, that was the evidence that he was pointing to. To me that was really the aha moment because he didn’t go back and say, “Let me show you the historical proofs. Let me talk you about the apologetics of the cross and the empty tomb.”

He pointed to something that they had in their very lives at that moment, the work of the spirt, the enabling of the spirit –
Darrell Bock
2 Corinthians goes to the same place when it talks about you being the letters of the spirit being written on the heart. It’s a very similar idea that the spirit and the presence of the spirit is the indication that God has done something. That you’ve been born again.
Michael Burer
Exactly. The tone of this is that it’s undeniable. There’s no way that anybody could be confused about it.
Darrell Bock
And the way you got it was by faith.
Michael Burer
That’s right. Apparently the other people that had come in after Paul were preaching works. They were saying, “You’ve got to do something.” Again, there’s a little bit of a debate as to exactly the contours of that –
Darrell Bock
You gotta get salvation the old fashion way --
Michael Burer
Yeah. You got to earn it. So he’s driving home the fact that you have the spirit. Therefore, that confirms my gospel that I preach to you.

Let me go a few more verses ‘cause he reiterates this in a number of ways –
Darrell Bock
Go ahead. Go for it –
Michael Burer
“Are you so foolish? Although you began with the spirit” – I’m in Verse 3 now. “Are you now trying to finish by human effort?” So he knew and they knew that they had begun their new life with God in the spirit by the work of the spirit, through the enabling of the spirit.

The argument that he’s saying is are you now trying to finish off and the idea would be completion, perfection, ending our maturity in Christ by doing works. No. His point is you’ve got to finish on the same path that you began in.

So he continues on a few more lines. “Have you suffered so many things for nothing if it indeed was for nothing.”

This next verse just blows me away. “Does God then give you the spirit and work miracles among you by doing the works of the law or by your believing what you heard?” God was doing something in their midst. That’s, again, incontrovertible proof. They could all say, “Yes, we agree God is doing something. He’s given us the spirit and he’s at work.”

He was forcing them to realize that was not from being obedient to the law or by doing. It was from believing in the gospel message.
Darrell Bock
So the point here is they didn’t come along and say, “Well, if I fast for two weeks, then I can expect a miracle payoff on the other end.”
Michael Burer
No. God was graciously doing it already. They were experiencing the wonderful benefits of having the spirit in their lives and in their community.

The paradigm shift to me was recognizing that Paul was pointing to undeniably the work of the spirit as proof that they were on the right track. We – I won’t say we. I’m not gonna pull you into this, but maybe I was thinking it’s all a matter of what we confess and what we believe, but this was a rhetorical tact. He could point to something about what they had experienced. The power of the spirit, the undeniable power of the spirit to change them and make them more like the Lord Jesus Christ.
Darrell Bock
Now I’m listening to you and irony is popping in my head I’d like to get your reaction to. The irony is that almost sounds like James Chapter 2.
Michael Burer
I think what we would say there is is that James, you know in that famous passage about having good works and being justified. He’s looking at it almost from a different angle. He’s thinking about a different perspective on the problem.

Paul is trying to wrestle with how do people get in and become children of God. James is saying, “If you’re confessing that, what do I expect to see?” Interestingly they both end up in the same place. We’ll talk in a little bit about the last two chapters of Galatians, but they both say that the one who is truly saved is going to be producing things that bring honor and glory to the Lord.
Darrell Bock
In fact, the way I like to say it is when you get to what James is talking about, he’s basically saying, “Look, if you have faith and you trust God and you’re drawing on the resources that he has and if the presence of the spirit is present and the presence of the spirit is fruitful, look at what you’ve got. You’ve got a product on the other end.”
Michael Burer
Exactly right.
Darrell Bock
Or think about another metaphor that’s common in scripture that I don’t think we think enough about. The idea of the word of God being the word of the gospel that’s a seed that’s planted that eventually bears fruit.
Michael Burer
And it cannot not bear fruit.
Darrell Bock
That’s right. I like to say, again, using another metaphor, God doesn’t have us be born again to give birth to an abortion. So the whole point here is is that we have the spirit. When we have faith it’s working and that working inevitably produces a product.

Now that product isn’t a requirement for salvation. It’s actually a proof that salvation has taken place.
Michael Burer
Exactly. See, I think what we tend to do is we tend to ask ourselves maybe a different kind of diagnostic question. This is not a wrong thing to ask, but it just is not complete based upon what Paul is saying here. We tend to say, “How do I know that I’m saved?” Well, what did you believe? What was your confession, shall we say it.

That’s definitely part of our Christian faith, but that’s not the sum total. What Paul is saying how do we know that we believe properly there’s the work of the spirit in our midst.
Darrell Bock
There’s a changed life.
Michael Burer
Yeah, there’s a changed life. There are definite things that we can point to that show that I have the spirit working in me.

As I was thinking this through I began to expand it out even to my own ministry. Like I said, you asked the same question. How do I know that I am having a proper effect on the lives of my students?

We get a great privilege of working with students sometimes for two or three years as they take our classes. The question that Paul would have us ask is not what are they knowing, but what are they experiencing.
Darrell Bock
What are they becoming.
Michael Burer
Exactly. What’s the type of person that they are. If they aren’t changed in a certain direction, a spirit-led direction when they’re done with my classes, I’m doing something wrong and I need to step back and think about what I’m focusing on.
Darrell Bock
If their exposure to their time in the scripture here hasn’t changed even the way they think about where they’ve been, the way in which they interact, then the chances are we haven’t done our job because it’s the nature of scripture to challenge the way people live in terms of the extinct that they’ve come out of and things like that. It’s designed to change us.

One of the remarks that I like to make is that Christianity is actually all about change and yet change sometimes is a four-letter word in the church. I go, wait a minute that doesn’t work. The whole point of the spirit coming into my life is to renew me, to transform me.
Michael Burer
Right. It has to be holistic.
Darrell Bock
That’s right.
Michael Burer
My aha moment was Paul was not pointing to their transition of mind. He doesn’t use the word repentance or anything like that. He’s pointing to their transformation of life and that was equally valid as a proof that the gospel that they had believed was the right one. That to me was the aha moment.

It’s not that it’s a matter of right or wrong in terms of which you focus on. It’s a matter of both and.
Darrell Bock
That’s right.
Michael Burer
We have to have the confession. He would not tolerate – and there’s several verses that ______ --
Darrell Bock
Well he laid that groundwork in Chapter 2.
Michael Burer
Exactly. There is a content to this message, a person and events and the resurrection of our Lord that cannot be denied, but there’s also this change of life that cannot be denied. So that in many ways was the sit up and take notice moment as I was wrestling through this.
Darrell Bock
You said you had some other passages for us. Let’s go there.
Michael Burer
We’ve talked a little bit before and the last time we were together about Chapters 3 and 4. He says several things here that I think are really pretty potent to wrestle with.

It’s a couple of passages that we’ve already looked at, but the point is is that there is a wonderful transformation that is guaranteed by those who respond to the gospel.

We talked before about Galatians 3:14. “In order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham would come to the gentiles so that we could receive the promise by the spirit of faith.” That word blessing is very powerful.

It’s referring to the work of the spirit. So the spirit that he’s pointing to, the spirit that he is referencing and saying, “We all know that the spirit is at work”, this is a powerful blessing from God that he designed from the very beginning for us to receive. It’s part of his overall plan of salvation that we receive the spirit and that we have a changed life.

A little bit further down towards the end of this chapter, he brings up another term. He talks about being an heir. So in Verse 29 at the very end of this Chapter 3, he says, “If you belong to Christ then you are Abraham’s descendants. Heirs according to the promise.”

Now he’s gonna flesh this out, but we have to start here with this idea of heir. He’s setting up this metaphor of a person who is an heir to a father or a parent –
Darrell Bock
A child of Abraham.
Michael Burer
Yeah, exactly.
Darrell Bock
Abraham’s seed is the term here.
Michael Burer
Exactly. But my point is that the metaphor’s setting up that the heir is someone who’s going to receive something, but they’re also going to act a certain way.

So in Chapter 4 he begins with this metaphor, pretty familiar metaphor about when we were children, when we were immature, when we were minors, we were under guardians and managers, but something has changed. The spirit has now been given and so, therefore, we’re now going to, shall we say, grow up into a new behavior.

So he’s playing with this metaphor of this new behavior, this new life in a lot of different ways.

So the point is there’s something that’s radically different that’s new that’s changed and that’s a proof that the gospel is true. What he’s wrestling with is these Galatians are thinking about turning away.

So he’s drawing them back to the fact that God had worked in them and that’s the proof that they don’t need to leave. They don’t need to leave his gospel. There’s nothing new outside of what’s been proclaimed that’s gonna bring them any type of benefit. In fact, it’s gonna be a negative if they turn away and go a different direction.
Darrell Bock
Another important verse it seems to me is Verse 6, “Because you are sons, God sent the spirit of his son into our hearts who calls Abba Father.” The presence of the spirit builds the sense of relationship within the family that also drives at something else that Romans 8 talks about.
Michael Burer
Exactly. It’s a spirit of kinship because the spirit is crying out to our Father. So that’s something tangible that the Galatians would have felt and known and enjoyed and exalted in.

So it’s, again, part of Paul’s proof. It’s not what they believed. It’s but what they’ve experienced that is powerful for them.
Darrell Bock
So this engagement with the whole of life, this idea that what I believe shapes and forms me in such a way that I respond in a certain way is a kind of holistic reading of what it is that Galatians is talking about as it talks about salvation.
Michael Burer
In Chapters 3 and 4, what Paul did is set a theological stage. As he is wanting to do, he’s gonna lay out the theology and then really apply it to the lives of the people.

His basic point to the Galatians is you have the spirit. The spirit has been at work in you. There is change that we can all point to and recognize. So, therefore, the gospel that you believed is right. Don’t turn away from it, but the danger is somebody could take that and say, “Oh. I am supposed to do something to make the spirit do his work.”

But Paul wants to set the stage a little bit differently. The spirit is going to do his work because God has given it and the spirit is completing God’s plan for our salvation. Our responsibility is to live in a way that’s yielded to the spirit. That cooperates with the spirit in a way.

So what Paul says is basically you’ve got the spirit. Now you need to participate with him in maturity and in living in a way that pleases the Lord.
Darrell Bock
Well, let’s dive in and take a look. Where do we start?
Michael Burer
The central section where he begins to talk about this is in Chapter 5, Verse 13. I bet most of us, if we were to say, “Where does Paul talk about the spirit in the Book of Galatians.” We go to the fruit of the spirit, but he lays some groundwork ahead of time in front of that.

So in Verse 13 he kind of rewinds a little bit and talks to the Galatians about the ultimate goal of why they were saved. He says, “For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity to indulge your flesh, but through love serve one another.”

His point is is that we’ve got a choice now to make. If the spirit is at work in our lives and we are now free and not bound by sin anymore and automatically doing what sin requires of us, we’ve got a choice to make. Are we going to do what God desires or are we gonna do our natural desires which are only gonna pull us in the wrong direction.

So he gives some admonitions about loving one another. That’s pretty important. We’re gonna talk about that in a little bit about in Verse 14 the whole law can be summed up in a single commandment. Namely, you must love your neighbor as yourself.
Darrell Bock
Before we get too far into that let me back up because I do think that Verse 6 also sets this up. One of the things you like to tell people is it’s important to keep the main thing the main thing. To not lose focus on what it is that are the most important things you’re supposed to be doing.

Verse 6 is really a nice clue into that because it says, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision carries any weight.” That’s where they were focused. That’s what was causing all the static in Galatia was the debate about circumcision.

Then he says this. “The only thing that matters is faith working through love.” So that’s like your target.
Michael Burer
Exactly. The question we’ll have here is, okay, is this our love for God or is this God’s love for us. I think the way to understand it is that it involves the spirit. The reason God gave us the spirit is because of ultimately his love for us. So it’s almost a cipher for what he’s gonna get to about how the spirit is at work and among us.
Darrell Bock
And when faith works through this love that’s been supplied as a result of God’s love. We love because he first loved us. I’m jumping around the Bible _______ cheat a little bit –
Michael Burer
We’re supposed to be in Galatians.
Darrell Bock
But if we’re doing those kinds of things, then you should be manifesting that which reflects the character of God. There are passages all through the New Testament that say when you do an act like God acts, you really do show yourself to be a son or daughter of God.
Michael Burer
Exactly. Can I go further down --?
Darrell Bock
Yep; go ahead. Sorry.
Michael Burer
So there’s these key admonitions that Paul has here really well known. We’ve heard them probably all our lives. I remember as a young man doing Bible memory verses and seeing some of these verses.

So in Chapter 5 Verse 16 he says, “But I say live by the spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh.” Now when I was a young man I always thought of this as the emphasis falling on live. I’m supposed to act and, as I can, get help from the spirit, but the emphasis is really different. It’s live by the spirit.
Darrell Bock
It’s the whole phrase that counts.
Michael Burer
Exactly. It’s not just an extra little piece of information. It’s the sum total of what Paul is getting at. The Galatians have been given the spirit and so now they can actually live by the spirit.
Darrell Bock
Actually, in fact, if you sit there and think about it, if you took by the spirit out of here you couldn’t live.
Michael Burer
Exactly.
Darrell Bock
That’s the point of the passage --
Michael Burer
Exactly right. Now it gets a little further down and he says in Verse 18, “but if you are led by the spirit you are not under the law.” So he’s getting them to think through again that problem they were wrestling with originally about desiring to be obedient to the Torah in order to be saved and how that was fundamentally wrong.

But then he gets into something that’s a real challenge. Academics like to talk about these vice lists and virtue lists ‘cause they show up in a lot of literature. Well these are some of the best examples within the biblical text.

So he starts off by talking in Verse 19 about the works of the flesh and these are bad stuff. He gives this laundry list, sexual immorality, impurity, depravity, idolatry, sorcery, et cetera, and similar things. He’s got this catch all in Verse 21 that shows even if I haven’t named it, there’s all kinds of things that fall into this category.
Darrell Bock
And before you leave this list, the thing that strikes me is that when we tend to talk about this, I think we tend to talk about it as a laundry list that we think of of bad things that people do, but when we do that we risk abstracting it.

What I mean by that is if you go through this list and you ask how many of these things are relational, how many of these things touch the way I interact with other people. It’s pretty obvious pretty quickly that almost every one of them does.
Michael Burer
Exactly right. Even sorcery, for example. We tend to think of Harry Potter and witchcraft and stuff like that, but sorcery in the ancient world was used to get an enemy –
Darrell Bock
That’s right –
Michael Burer
To cause someone a problem, to get back at someone for revenge. So even that shows there’s this relational dimension that’s in play.
Darrell Bock
So the contrast, obviously, I think you’re headed towards the fruit of the spirit. Hopefully. I don’t wanna stay here in this vice part of this list.
Michael Burer
Yeah, it’d be pretty depressing, but his point is is that left to our own devices, these are all the kinds of things we’re gonna go into and there is a punishment.

Verse 21 says, “Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” But here’s where he really hits home. In Verse 22 he says, “But the fruit of the spirit is love.” Now it’s very interesting that the word fruit is singular. The implication is is that this is the one thing that the spirit is going to produce, but it’s multifaceted in character.

The word fruit is also really critical. Just like you said about the image of the gospel being a seed that’s definitely going to produce, this means that if you’ve got the spirit, this will definitely be produced. There will be no doubt. The spirit will produce his fruit in you by producing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Darrell Bock
Again, as we asked with the vice list, these are all primarily relational qualities that we’re talking about.

It’s interesting and I’m gonna make this over dramatic and a little vivid, but it isn’t that the fruit of the spirit is the Nicene Creed or the Apostle’s Creed or something like that. The fruit of the spirit is expressed. It is demonstrated. It connects with people and engages.
Michael Burer
Exactly. I think it’s important to say we’re not presenting this as either/or. It’s not that you have to have the confession or you’ve got to have the life change. It’s both. It certainly is both, but what really struck me is that Paul is here focusing on that latter part of the equation.
Darrell Bock
‘Cause this is the landing point. The whole point of the exercise is to take you to this kind of place.
Michael Burer
Exactly. He wants the Galatians not only to be faithful to the gospel, but also to have a changed life. So he’s aiming for that latter thing mostly in the book.
Darrell Bock
Course the interesting thing is, particularly in the context of Galatians is is that when he goes through these relational virtues, which is what we’ve got here, and we’re thinking about if I’m relating in a virtuous way, who needs a law.
Michael Burer
Exactly. The law is meant to control. The law is meant to show where we are wrong, but if the spirit is guiding our actions, we know our actions are gonna be right. We know our character’s gonna be in keeping with what he desires.

Now what’s really interesting is that’s sort of the theology of the work of the spirit. In Chapter 6 he gets into the particulars and some of these particulars are very powerful.

So Chapter 6, Verse 1. “If a person is discovered in some sin, you who are spiritual restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness. The spirit is gonna produce restoration as we care for one another in the body.”
Darrell Bock
And a healthy kind of confrontation in some way.
Michael Burer
Exactly. ‘Cause you’ve gotta have the confrontation in order to bring the sin out to light and to deal with it.

Carry one another’s burdens, Verse 2.

In Verse 6, “Now the one who receives instruction must share all good things with the one who teaches it.”
Darrell Bock
Let’s back up. I know you’re moving fast –
Michael Burer
Oh, sorry about that.
Darrell Bock
No, that’s okay.
Michael Burer
Well I’ve already gotten my important stuff out.
Darrell Bock
Well, it says, “Carry one another’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Now wait a minute. I thought we left the law behind.
Michael Burer
There is a lot of debate about exactly what this means, but one of the verses that we looked at before in Verse 14 of Chapter 5 was you must love your neighbor as yourself. Well, who said that? Who said that, Darrell?
Darrell Bock
You must love your neighbor. Well, it goes way back.
Michael Burer
It does.
Darrell Bock
It goes back to Jesus and then it goes back into the Old Testament.
Michael Burer
It does, but my point is is that Jesus talked about it. That’s exactly what Jesus said. What was the greatest law? To love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength –
Darrell Bock
And then he illustrated it with the parable of the Good Samaritan.
Michael Burer
And then to love your neighbor as yourself. So the law of Christ is what Christ taught us to do. How our love for God affects those who are around us.
Darrell Bock
It’s important to go to that Jesus passage because in that exchange with the scribe, another question – I love this passage ‘cause the passage is a lawyer.

The lawyer asks one question. “What must I do to inherit eternal life.” Jesus asks him back, “Well what do you see?” The lawyer says, “Well, love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus says, “Well do this and you will live.”

Unfortunately the guy’s a lawyer so he doesn’t ask one question. He has to follow it up. When he follows it up he makes a mistake ‘cause he asks, “So who’s my neighbor?” The text says he’s trying to justify himself.

So I tell people, “When he’s asking this question he isn’t just asking the questions on the surface. He’s asking another question that’s underneath it.”

The way I like to illustrate it is when my wife says to me, “Honey”, and beware of any sentence that begins with honey, “Are you going to the store?”
Michael Burer
I bet she doesn’t really want to know your itinerary.
Darrell Bock
Exactly correct. Exactly right. I know the moment I say, “Yes, honey, I’m going to the store.” She’ll say, “Well can you go by and pick up X, Y and Z ‘cause that will save me a trip to the store.” And of course, “Anything you want, honey.” And it’s a moment of marital bliss. So that’s the way it goes.
Michael Burer
Few and far between, Darrell?
Darrell Bock
No, we’ll take them when we get them, right. So we’re in the midst of doing it. So when this lawyer’s asking, “Who’s my neighbor?” He’s really asking, “Aren’t there people who don’t count as neighbors? Aren’t there people I’m not responsible for?

Off of that, Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan. Then he turns around at the end and he says, “Now go be a neighbor.” So I’m not supposed to concern myself with who I’m interacting with. I’m supposed to be a certain kind of person.
Michael Burer
Exactly.
Darrell Bock
Galatians is gonna go to the same place.
Michael Burer
Exactly. That’s the whole point about him focusing on the fact that they’ve got the spirit. He can now say the spirit is going to produce these things. So it’s a matter not of doing them on our own. It’s a matter of, again, cooperating with the spirit’s work, as he said in the passages we already said, on being led by the spirit, on living by the spirit. The spirit is present in us and, therefore, the enablement is there and we have to be yielded to his work.
Darrell Bock
We skipped over something that’s probably worth going back to, which is the contrast in the passage in Chapter 5 is being drunk with wine versus being filled with the spirit.
Michael Burer
Oh yeah. The end of Ephesians.
Darrell Bock
Yeah. And a picture of Ephesians you’ve got this contrast that goes on when you’re talking about being filled with the spirit and the point here is that in the midst of that contrast, to follow the spirit is actually to be – I’m gonan use a gasoline term – be fueled by the spirit. It’s directing you. Just like wine directs the person who has had too much to drink. So the spirit is supposed to direct the person who is the child of God.
Michael Burer
Exactly. And the end result of the wine, of course, is bad things, but the end result of the spirit is only good things.
Darrell Bock
That’s right.
Michael Burer
So Paul’s point is to help the Galatians realize really that they’ve got the key to their understanding of the gospel, their spiritual life already. It’s there. They just need to recognize it, live in a way yielded to it and respond to his ministry and his prompting.
Darrell Bock
So we’ve exhausted the law of Christ. You actually don’t exhaust it. It’s just there and you live it out. So what’s next?
Michael Burer
Like I said, in this section in Chapter 6, he’s showing how that theology of the fruit of the spirit is gonna have real teeth to it, real shoe leather. So he talks about, for example, in Verse 3, having an attitude of humility towards ourselves. That is echoed in so many other places in Paul. I think, of course, in Philippians 2 about have this mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus, even though he was in the form of God, did not think a robber to be equal to God, but humbled himself –
Darrell Bock
Jesus may have humbled himself too.
Michael Burer
Yeah.
Darrell Bock
Just maybe.
Michael Burer
Well even the Book of James. We talked about that earlier. About humble yourself before God and he will lift you up. So there’s gonna be some very practical outworkings in keeping with the fruit of the spirit.

We’ve already mentioned Verse 6 about sharing good with those who teach with you. A good diagnostic question a pastor could ask about the work of the spirit in his congregation, is how are they responding to you as the minister. Are they sharing. Are they blessing and benefitting.

So the bulk of this section is just getting the details of life behind this theology of what the spirit is gonna do within the particular individual.
Darrell Bock
Then the last two verses I think are very, very interesting because sometimes we think that works is another four letter word in the church. The passage that immediately leaps to my mind before we go to the section in Galatians is Ephesians 2:10. “For we as workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works.”
Michael Burer
For good works.
Darrell Bock
So it’s like, okay, I think this is part of the package. You just gotta get it in the right place.
Michael Burer
Exactly. That’s a great way to say it. It’s a question of order. We always debate the ordo salutis. Part of that involves doing things that bring honor and glory to the Lord Jesus Christ by imitating his character, by having the spirit do his work in us.
Darrell Bock
So in that sense it’s a fabulous exhortation to say, “Look, the presence of the spirit is gonna have an impact.” This being a new creation means you’re gonna show yourself to be a new creation.
Michael Burer
Exactly. So he rounds out this section in Verses in 9 and 10 with a couple of admonitions. In Verse 9 he says, “So we must not grow weary in doing good for in due time we will reap if we do not give up.”

Now this doing good is not amorphous. It’s defined by the good of the spirit. What the spirit is creating in us. What the spirit is prompting us to do.
Darrell Bock
It’s the relational things he’s just described –
Michael Burer
Exactly –
Darrell Bock
-- starting from the list of the spirit and the virtues all the way through the exhortations he’s just given us.
Michael Burer
So there is a sense in which we’re cooperating. We can’t say that our goal in the Christian life is to just simply let go and let God. There is a cooperation that’s involved and especially when it comes to these works. We’ve got to be obedient, to seek opportunity, to have endurance and to pray for that. So there’s a promise of blessing that comes if we stay consistent and strong in those good things the spirit is producing.

I love the way he says it in Verse 10. “So then whenever we have an opportunity, let us do good to all people and especially those who belong to the family of faith.”
Darrell Bock
Oh man. There’s a technical term in there. You know what it is?
Michael Burer
All.
Darrell Bock
All.
Michael Burer
How many is in all, Darrell?
Darrell Bock
That’s right. I’d say look that one up in the dictionary. I think that means everybody. There are no exceptions.
Michael Burer
Exactly.
Darrell Bock
All means all. Don’t make it more difficult than it is.
Michael Burer
Exactly. We talked about this a little bit when we met last time, but the all has to include Jew and Gentile within this church. It has to include not only innies, but outies. It’s everybody.
Darrell Bock
It’s any –
Michael Burer
Anybody’s, yeah.
Darrell Bock
Enemybody.
Michael Burer
I’d be careful saying that, but yeah. So it’s all just Paul envisions. The fruit of the spirit is going to grow and expand and touch everything in the world because believers are growing and doing good to those around them and it just expands the ministry of the spirit. It enables evangelism. It enables church growth. It enables everything that we want if we are functioning and living in a way in keeping with what the spirit is doing.
Darrell Bock
So let me ask you to apply this today. Who’s the all today?
Michael Burer
Well, I think we’d have to say the all is immediately the person to our right and the person to our left at church. Paul does mention those who belong to the family of –
Darrell Bock
Especially those of the family faith.
Michael Burer
But then it’s anyone who’s outside. Anyone who is not a member of the church. Anybody we come in contact –
Darrell Bock
Do you really mean anybody?
Michael Burer
Yeah, anybody. All.
Darrell Bock
All?
Michael Burer
The question I think that we have to wrestle with is how am I gonna know that the spirit is at work. The spirit is at work by producing these things that then touch the lives of others around us.

So it becomes almost a diagnostic question. If my salvation has only been about me, myself and I, the unholy Trinity, then where’s the evidence. The evidence of the spirit is in me working and touching those lives, doing good to those around me in such a way that they see the patience, they see the gentleness, they see the kindness of the spirit that’s being produced in me.

So it becomes in some ways a diagnostic question. Again, it’s not that our confession is not important, but Paul here is not asking what’s your confession because that’s very clear. He established that from the very beginning. The question is what is the spirit producing in your life. What is tangibly the result of the spirit acting and working in your midst. Are you being led by the spirit. If so, you’ll see it. Are you living by the spirit. If so, you’ll see it.
Darrell Bock
I think one of the interesting things is we keep bringing up Jesus is teaching here, but one of the things that Jesus said and probably the most ethical portion of his own teaching, which would be the sermon on the mount would be if your love doesn’t look any different than the world, then what’s the big deal. Even sinners love like that.
Michael Burer
There’s this sense in which everybody’s gonna love. There’s this self-preservation. There’s this community tribalism that we’ve gotta wrestle with, but the love that’s generated by the spirit reaches out. It’s a missionary kind of love.
Darrell Bock
And it’s exceptional. It isn’t the type of thing you would normally see. It’s something that requires almost supernatural enablement to happen.
Michael Burer
Exactly. Because in our sinful nature we can’t produce that. Left to our own devices we’re gonna produce the works of the flesh.
Darrell Bock
So our instincts may be to strike back. Our instincts may be eye for eye and tooth for tooth, but in fact, our response oughta’ be one of love and to some degree, a little bit of vulnerability that comes with that.
Michael Burer
I agree. We talked about that issue of confrontation. Part of that is I’ve got to be willing to accept the confrontation from my brother or sister as a sign of love from them when I’ve done wrong and I’ve got to be willing to submit to that restoration.
Darrell Bock
So we’ve got this exhortation here that says, “So then whenever you have opportunity, let’s do good to all people, especially those who belong in the family of faith.” And that’s kinda’ the application of everything we’ve been talking about.
Michael Burer
Yeah. It’s a very general statement, but it really summarizes everything that Paul wants them to know.

Kinda’ to put a little bow on it, what Paul has done is he’s taken the Galatians not from a doctrine to conviction, but from experience to maturity in a lot of ways. He’s wanting them really to wrestle with the work of the spirit in their lives as the defining sum proof that they are, in fact, part of God’s family.

So that’s the paradigm he’s working with. So he’s using it as an opportunity to help them to go on towards that full maturity in Christ in the Holly Spirit and ultimately to produce these things that create a stronger congregation that show the love of Christ to those around and create an opportunity for the church to really be the church and to show the love of Christ.
Darrell Bock
So when we really do good to all people that’s the aha of the aha moment.
Michael Burer
Sure. I hadn’t thought about that, but I think that works pretty well.
Darrell Bock
It might be the oh my and aha.
Michael Burer
Well, it’s certainly stretching. It’s a commitment to reach outside of our own borders. The spirit is gonna be driving us to do things that we wouldn’t necessarily do in our own flesh, but that’s when we can look back and say, “Yeah, the spirit’s been at work. The spirit has had his work in my life and I can see it. It’s tangible.”

So that’s part of what the Lord intended to communicate through Paul is that part of our confirmation that we’re in the family is by the work of the spirit in our lives and the sign of maturity is participating fully with that work.
Darrell Bock
The challenge of living out this life in which we’ve got a distinct kind of process going on and the presence of a distinct kind of love is something that the spirit produces. The spirit produces a fruit that is highly relational and Mike, we just appreciate you coming in and talking to us about this and helping us see it. Maybe some people out there had an aha moment while we were talking.
Michael Burer
I hope so. I appreciate the opportunity.
Darrell Bock
We thank you for joining us on The Table and reflecting on the scriptures with us and we hope to hear or see you again soon.

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