LIFE IN THE SPIRIT
Scripture: Acts 14:5–20, Galatians 5:13–26
Memory verse: Galatians 5:25
"Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit."
Bring to class seeds of several kinds of fruit. Display the seeds beside the fruit or a picture of the fruit the seed will produce. Include instructions for growing the fruit to inform students of the particular needs of each plant. Before the Bible lesson, give the students a few moments to look at all the items. Encourage them to read about the plants and touch the seeds. They can also taste the fruit if you brought samples.
While the students look at the items on display, discuss various things that are necessary for plants and fruit to develop. Good rich soil, sunshine, water, and pruning are just a few examples. Emphasise how amazing it is that healthy, growing plants and hearty fruit and flowers can come from small, insignificant-looking seeds. Tell the students that God desires to grow fruit in our lives. However, the fruit He wants to grow in us is different from those displayed; it is spiritual fruit that they will learn about during the lesson.
Hearing God’s Word
Ask: Have you been to a fruit farm? What does the farm worker do to help produce a good crop? Does a farmer plant trees one day and expect a bumper crop of fruit the next? (Allow discussion.)
It takes a lot of time and effort to grow good fruit trees. Trees must be planted in a suitable kind of soil. They also need healthy doses of sunshine and rain. Dead limbs occasionally need to be cut away, and the trees must be sprayed regularly for insects and diseases.
Paul and the Galatians
Paul wrote about the importance of bearing fruit in our lives. Of course Paul was not talking about mangoes or bananas in this case. He was speaking of spiritual fruit. Paul’s instructions are included in a letter to the churches of Galatia (Guh–LAY–shuh), a region containing several cities including Iconium, Lystra and Derbe.
During the first missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas had to flee from Iconium to avoid being stoned. In Lystra, a crippled man was healed and the people thought Paul and Barnabas were Roman gods. The people there wanted to offer sacrifices to Paul and Barnabas but later changed their attitudes. Paul was stoned and thought to be dead. However, the Lord gave him strength, and Paul and Barnabas moved on to preach in Derbe and establish a church there.
Later, Paul wrote to these new churches to help them correct some problems they were experiencing. He wrote one letter that all the churches were to share with each other.
False Teachers in Galatia
It seems strange to some people that Christian churches could have trouble. Yet the Galatian churches did have some problems, just as the Corinthian church had. (Briefly review Lessons 2 and 3.) False teachers were telling some of the Galatian Christians that to be accepted by God they needed to observe all the Law of Moses. They taught that a person could not be saved unless he kept all those rules.
Paul was disturbed when he learned of these false teachers. He had taught people that salvation comes through faith in Jesus, not by keeping a list of rules. He wrote a letter to the Galatians hoping to straighten out some of the confusion in that church. He wanted the people to understand that only Jesus’ death and resurrection could bring salvation. Laws and ceremonies could never give us eternal life.
Paul knew salvation through Jesus freed us from sin and spiritual death, introducing us to a new way of life. This life is not weighed down by a long list of do’s and don’ts. It is a life guided by the Holy Spirit, bringing glory to God.
(Instruct the students to find Galatians 5:13–26 in their Bibles. Let each student who wishes to read a verse.)
Liberty to Serve Others
Ask: Since Christians have liberty, does that mean we can do anything we want? (Allow responses.)
The Bible is clear about what is right and wrong. God is never pleased with sin. Jesus did not die on the cross so we could continue living a sinful lifestyle that is not in agreement with God’s teachings.
Paul told the Galatians to use the liberty they had to serve one another in love. If Christians did anything they wanted, the Holy Spirit could not flow through their lives to reach others for Jesus. We talked about love in Lesson 2 when we studied 1 Corinthians. Paul mentions it again in Galatians. He said that love is the key to successful Christian life. If we love others as God loves us, we will never have to wonder if we are pleasing God or doing His will.
Paul went on to say that a constant battle is going on between our old sinful nature and our new lives controlled by the Holy Spirit. The old nature inside us likes to have things its own way. When we are selfish and lazy and angry and deceitful, the old nature, the “flesh,” is controlling us. Paul warned that unhappiness comes from letting the old nature be in charge of our lives.
The Fruit of the Spirit
Notice what happens when the Holy Spirit is in control of our daily lives. (Read or have a student read Galatians 5:22, 23.)
When we live under the Holy Spirit’s control, the fruit of the Spirit can be seen in our lives. For example, which fruit of the Spirit could be shown in the following situations?
You are standing in line to buy food at the market and someone pushes in front of you. What fruit should be seen in your life at this time? (Love, self-control, patience, gentleness)
You planned a trip with friends, but it rains and you have to stay home. What fruit do you need? (Joy, peace)
You are trying to study and your younger sister keeps asking you to play with her. What fruit is needed? (Peace, patience, gentleness)
You asked your parents for a new bicycle, but they told you it would be a while before they could buy one for you. What do you need? (Patience)
As you can see, the fruit of the Spirit does not come naturally when things are going wrong. If our lives are running smoothly we may feel loving, glad, and peaceful. But it is much harder to show the fruit of the Spirit when bad things keep happening. Everyone, whether he is a Christian or not, feels good when things are going his way. But a Christian has the Holy Spirit living inside him. He can rely on the Holy Spirit’s power whether times are good or bad. This kind of freedom makes life worthwhile, even in trying situations.
There are Christians who have never given the Holy Spirit a chance to develop fruit in their lives. When things do not go their way, they respond with hatefulness, gloom, resentment, impatience, and the other works of the “flesh” or old nature. (Ask a student to read Galatians 5:19–21.)
How can we be under the control of the Holy Spirit and let His fruit develop in our lives? Galatians 5:24 tells us we must make a decision. We must decide to “crucify” or put to death the old sinful nature and allow the Holy Spirit to develop fruit in our lives.
Growth Takes Time
Growing fruit takes time. A person is saved in a moment, just by believing in Jesus and confessing his sin. But it takes a lifetime to make a mature Christian. None of us ever arrives at perfection.
God knows us thoroughly. He knows our strong points and our weaknesses. God does not try to rush our spiritual growth. He encourages us to “walk” in the Spirit. (Introduce Galatians 5:25, the memory verse, to the students. Review it together.)
When some people first become Christians, they are excited about living for God, and they serve Him faithfully for a while. But soon they get tired and forget about God. Maybe later they will decide to serve God again. Once more they will read their Bibles, pray, tell their friends about Jesus and attend church. But later they quit again, just as before.
Such a life does not produce the fruit of the Spirit. To produce such fruit requires a steady, day–by–day walk. This way of life may not always seem exciting. But a life of daily talking to and listening to God is the kind of life God can work through to reach others for Him.
Maybe your fellowship with God has not been consistent. No matter how many times you have failed, God will forgive you. He wants you to be victorious. He sent the Holy Spirit to help you. Let the Holy Spirit develop His fruit in your life by being obedient to God.
Accepting God’s Word
A fruit tree will never begin to grow if a seed is not planted. The same principle is true of the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit will never grow in a person’s life until he has accepted Jesus as their Saviour. Take time to explain people’s separation from God because of sin and their need of salvation. Stress that we must first repent of our sin and then believe on Jesus as our Saviour. Ask if any of the students would like to receive Jesus as their Saviour. Pray with any who respond.
Present the information about the Zarma and Burusa Tribes given below.
Meet the Zarma
REMEMBER TO PRAY!
Pray for Zarma and Burusa Tribes
1. Zarma of Ghana to be blest with a messenger of the gospel,
2. Burusa of Benin to seek out a believer to come and preach to them,
3. New churches to be planted among the Zarma and Burusa.
"In that day the Root of Jesse (Jesus) will stand as a banner for the peoples (tribes), the nations will rally to him" (Isaiah 11:10).
MORE INFORMATION: www.joshuaproject.net
Remember: LIFE IN THE SPIRIT
Memory verse: Galatians 5:25
"Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit."
1. Jesus is my Saviour and source of spiritual strength.
2. Jesus enables me to bear the fruits of the Spirit.
3. I will live as Jesus wants me to live so I will bear fruit that pleases Him.
Pray for Zarma and Burusa Tribes.
Study 5 | Give to God / Paul Writes | africaatts.org/go-teach