walk in the Spirit
Scheduled for study September 23-29, 2019. What does it mean to “walk in the Spirit?” How does the law of Christ make me free? From what does it free me? How universally known has the gospel of Christ been? These are some of this week’s topics.

Day 1

Galatians – Turning back on spiritual progress

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. Doing so will help you remember and ponder them in the future.

Read and think about the introduction to this week’s lessons. The Saints in Galatia had a great thing in their hands in that they held the gospel of Christ. But Paul had to write to them and ask them why they were throwing it all away to return to the lives they once knew before they were baptized.

Have you ever had a good thing going, but for whatever reason threw it away?

Sometimes we sabotage our own success or happiness. What is at least one reason you can think of that makes us do that?

When we throw away something that makes us happier and gives us more purpose in life, are we ever better off going back to how things were before?

Paul talks to the Saints in Galatia in terms of bondage and freedom. This concept will be covered in tomorrow’s lesson.

Can you think of reasons why someone might be experience freedom, but after a short time flee their freedom to re-embrace their life of bondage?

People are complicated. There is rarely a time when a pat answer is the only answer to a human situation. Think back on your own life. Have you always given up something less desirable for something more desirable and never returned to your old ways? This could include dieting, exercising, the formation of new habits, scripture study, prayer, temple attendance, writing in your journal/diary, or treating someone better than you treated them before. The list of possibilities is endless.

I bring this point up in the hopes of helping each of us have more empathy for the Saints in Galatia. We may not feel they had cause to go back to their old ways, but isn’t that what we do all the time? There is a difference between embracing something new and holding on to something new. The fact that it may be head and shoulders above our old habits in terms of virtue, grace, and opportunities presented doesn’t always mean that us fickle humans will grab hold of it and keep it close to our heart. Sometimes even really great things require lots of hard work to not only obtain, but to hold on to. There is truth in the statement that sometimes we are our own worst enemy.

Day 2

Galatians 1-5 – The law of Christ makes me free.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. Doing so will help you remember and ponder them in the future.

The major theme in Galatians is spiritual bondage versus spiritual freedom. In chapter 4 Paul is blunt about the relationship between the law of Moses and the law of Christ. The law of Christ brings spiritual freedom from the bondage represented by law of Moses.

We should not mistake. The law of Moses was not a bad thing in and of itself. But remember why it was given. The children of Israel refused to obey even the most basic commandments, so when Moses came down from Sinai with the fulness of the gospel and found the Israelites engaging in full-blown idolatry and fornication, he smashed the tablets he had just received from the Lord and had to go back up the mountain to receive a lesser law they would be able to live until the Savior came into mortality. The law of Moses was given because of transgression and was a taskmaster to help remind them of their obligations to God for the protection and blessings they received from Him every day. The law of Moses was meant to be temporary. It was never meant to be the law by which salvation comes to the human family.

By comparison, the law of Moses took a severely spiritually crippled people and gave them legs upon which to walk. The law of Christ was meant to give them spiritual wings by which they could mount up to the heavens and return to God. The problem with the Jews was the pride they developed in their possession of the law of Moses. They acted like, and came to believe that it was the ultimate gift from God, and the only way for anyone to receive salvation.

It is because the law of Moses cannot, nor ever could, bring salvation/exaltation that Paul refers to it as a bondage. Those who insisted on living by that law remain trapped here in mortality with the desires of the flesh. The law of Moses focused on physical performances and actions, while the law of Christ elevates our attitudes and behaviors, enabling us to become holy and acceptable to God.

In chapter 4 Paul compares the relationship of Abraham to his two eldest sons to demonstrate the difference between the two laws. His eldest son, Ishmael, born of a slave, the bondwoman Hagar, represents the Mosaic covenant. It was a covenant of the flesh and all things earthly. But his second son, Isaac, born of his covenant wife, Sarah, was the son of promise, through whom the covenant of eternal life, eternal offspring, and eternal progression would flow. This covenant with Sarah represents the power of the law of Christ.

This difference between the two laws, which is so clear to Paul, makes him sad that the Saints, after having accepted the higher law would accept the preachings of those false teachers that would bring them back down into relative spiritual bondage by requiring of them to live parts of the law of Moses. This was not the fault of the gentile converts, but a result of the Jewish converts asserting their presumed privileged connection with Abraham over the gentile converts, and insisting that they honor the millennia old covenant given them by Moses. What they had forgotten was that Abraham didn’t have the law of Moses either. Abraham was living the fulness of the gospel because of his faith in Christ. He lived the law of sacrifice, as commanded by God, but he looked forward to the coming of the Savior of the world and exercised his faith in the future Jesus of Nazareth.

What is the freedom referred to by Paul?

The whole point of the law of Christ is to enable us to overcome the nature of the carnal man, the nature of the flesh, and replace it with the desires, attitudes, and behaviors of those who are worthy and fitted for living a celestial law. This is the ultimate purpose of the atoning sacrifice the Savior made. The atonement was put into the plan of salvation by our Father in Heaven specifically as the only way for us to make the changes necessary to enable us to return home to live with Him and Christ again. Our Father created no other path home. Salvation is only in and through Jesus and the payment for our sins he made.

If we want to be free from the lusts of the flesh that cause us to continue to sin, going to Christ and using his atonement on our behalf, is the only way to have the Spirit make the changes within our hearts we must make in order to become worthy of a celestial glory. This is the freedom Jesus offers us, to be free of the carnal man and the bondage to sin that comes with living in the flesh in mortality. Our freedom comes because of repentance. This is why repentance is not a punishment, but a supreme privilege. Repentance makes it possible for us to overcome our carnal desires and to become like Christ, worthy of living in God’s presence.

Day 3

Galatians 3 – I am an heir to the blessings promised to Abraham.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. Doing so will help you remember and ponder them in the future.

As mentioned in yesterday’s lesson, the Jews took ownership of their relationship to Abraham and declared themselves to have a special and sacred position before God because Abraham was their father. This special relationship was witnessed to all the world through the law of Moses they lived. What Paul pointed out to them was that Abraham didn’t have the law of Moses. Abraham was saved through his faith in the Christ who should come.

In this chapter Paul asks the Galatians “Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” The gift of the Holy Ghost was not widely available to those who lived the law of Moses, for the bestowal of the gift is only through the Melchizedek priesthood. The Jews lived an Aaronic priesthood law. Their ordinary men did not have the Melchizedek priesthood. Only the prophets held that priesthood. So the gift of the Spirit, that which is responsible for changing us and making us more holy, was not commonly available to the house of Israel. Why? Because of their transgressions. They refused God’s first choice of a law for them, so He gave them the lesser law known as the law of Moses.

The Jews who were exerting pressure on the Galatian Saints to live parts of the law of Moses were destroying the gentile converts’ faith by claiming they needed to live the law of Moses in order to gain access to their privileged status as descendents of Abraham. They didn’t understand that the covenant given to Abraham was based on faith, not blood relationship. The promise to Abraham was that through the covenant he was given by God, his family would bless all the nations of the earth. How? As missionaries. His family’s responsibility was, and still is, to take the covenant to all the world and to preach faith in Christ so others can receive the covenant as well.

This is why Israel was scattered and not destroyed. By scattering them among the nations of the earth they mixed their lineage with that of all other bloodlines. This enables them to spiritually recognize the call and appeal of the gospel when they hear us preach it today. This, in and of itself, is a miracle. But it isn’t just the bloodline of Abraham that is privileged to accept the covenant. The Lord told Abraham that anyone who was willing to accept the covenant would be adopted into his family and become his heir, receiving all the blessings the covenant offers. This is why when we receive our patriarchal blessings we are all pronounced as either being a blood descendent or adopted into the family of Abraham, for we are all equal heirs under the covenant his faith in Christ brought him. The Lord makes no distinction in the blessings received. Anyone who is willing to obey the laws of the covenant receive the blessings of the covenant. Both blood and adoption are equal in his eyes, for it is obedience that earns us the blessings.

Day 4

Galatians 3:6-25 – Did Abraham have the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. Doing so will help you remember and ponder them in the future.

The manual refers to Joseph Smith as saying that all those who have been saved, in any time period, were saved on the principles of the gospel or law of Christ, that is through faith in Christ. All the ancient prophets taught of Christ. And nowhere is that preaching of Christ more evident than in the Book of Mormon.

Look almost anywhere in the Book of Mormon from the first page to the last, and you will find the prophets preaching Christ and salvation through faith on his name. They still lived the law of Moses until the Savior came and did away with the law, but they saw the law of Moses for what it was, a necessity that had to be observed until the law of Christ replaced it.

So to answer the question for today’s lesson, we would have to say yes. Abraham certainly knew of Christ and placed his faith in him. It was his exceeding faith in the Christ that should come in the meridian of time that eventually earned him the covenant of eternal marriage and the promise of eternal progression and eternal posterity. He still lived the law of sacrifice, but he knew that salvation/exaltation could come only in and through Christ.

Day 5

Galatians 5:13-26; 6:7-10 – If I “walk in the Spirit,” I will receive the “fruit of the Spirit.”

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. Doing so will help you remember and ponder them in the future.

Have you ever thought about where the Christian world got the phrase “the Christian walk”? There are numerous uses of the word walk: “to walk the walk and talk the talk,” “our daily walk,” “our godly walk,” etc. We even have our own version of a walk introduced and made popular in the Church by President Russell M. Nelson. He has popularized the term, “the covenant path.” That is just another way of saying “the covenant walk.” It is this term “to walk” that we need to look at.

A walk is a process of traveling from one place to another. When we go for a walk, we leave where we are and choose a route and an intended destination. In scriptural terms when we enter on the covenant path, or enter the Christian path, if you will, we choose to live the life of a Christian, a covenant maker with God. That means we must live our lives each day according to the teachings of the scriptures and the covenants we make.

Walking in the Spirit means that we choose to use the Spirit to help guide us in our daily obedience to the covenants we have made with our Father in Heaven. We pray for the Spirit to be with us when we participate in the sacrament each Sunday. We ask for the influence of the Spirit when we pray over our home, family, and in our personal life. Walking in the Spirit means we include him in all our decisions. We seek to be guided in our choices and our actions by him throughout our days and nights.

The fruit of the Spirit

What is the fruit of anything we do? The fruit is the result of an effort. When we plant something, the fruit is what that plant bears for us to consume. When we complete a project, the success of that project is the fruit of our labor. Fruit is the end result of effort made. It is our reward. Sometimes that reward comes very quickly or soon, but sometimes the fruit of our labors doesn’t even come in this life, but in the next. But rest assured, there is no good you do that doesn’t, at some point in time or eternity, bear fruit, which is the reward of your effort.

How can you tell if your efforts, your life, is bearing the fruits of the Spirit? We can’t expect that what happens to us as we do good and seek to walk the covenant path, or walk in the Spirit will happen overnight. Spiritual effort usually produces results slowly, and over time. When I was younger and preparing for my mission, I confided to my mother that I had not had an overwhelming conversion that told me the Church was true and that the Book of Mormon was true. How could I possibly go out and tell the world it was when I hadn’t had a grand conversion experience? Her response was immediate and simple. “Could I ever convince you it was not true?”

It was in that moment that I realized that I had been receiving small, but consistent affirmations that the Church is true, that Joseph Smith was and is the prophet of the Restoration, and that the Book of Mormon is true. I hadn’t even realized that the fruit of my years of obedience and study were in my possession already. I already held the fruit of the Spirit, my testimony, and I didn’t even realize it.

The fruits of the Spirit come in all forms. As we live the gospel, which is to walk in the Spirit, we receive encouragement from the Godhead in the form of peace and a sense of love and belonging. We pray and receive answers to those prayers. We often have to remember to look for those answers, because sometimes they come so subtly that they disappear into the background of life unless we shine the light of enquiry on them. It is easy to lose sight of the fruit of our gospel walk. The good results, the fruit of our obedience to the teachings of the prophets and the directions we receive from the scriptures is always there. We just have to remain vigilant to be able to see those blessings come into our lives.

Counting our blessings in a deliberate and methodical way will help us identify the fruits of the Spirit. Much of the ability to recognize the Spirit working in our life will come from an attitude of being grateful for what blessings we do recognize. And the more blessings we identify and express gratitude for, the more blessings we will see flowing into our lives because of how we are living our life, or walking in the Spirit.

Scripture Study and Home Evening

Help your family liken the scriptures to themselves.

I am sometimes slow to catch on to things. This concept of likening the scriptures to my own life is one of those things I want to take literally. That is silly, and can’t always be done, since I am not leaving Jerusalem and traveling out into the desert like Lehi did with his family. It has taken years for me to learn the more subtle art of looking past many of the literal events and see how the lessons from those events can apply to me.

Why do you think Paul had such great success among the gentile nations around him? Why did they love Paul so much? The answer to these questions takes looking past Paul’s physical appearance, which I am lead to believe was nothing special, to how paul treated the people he served and taught. Look at all the times and ways he expressed his love for them? Do you think he was a hypocrite and only expressed his love in writing, because someone else would be reading it and it would make him look good on paper? I don’t think so.

Paul’s letters that comprise the bulk of the New Testament are filled with professions of his undying love and devotion to the people he had taught and especially to those who were continuing to seek to walk in the Spirit. He prayed for them, he suffered for them, he wept for them, collected contributions and traveled enormous distances to carry support to them. The list of what he was willing to do for others to bless their lives, almost always at cost to himself in terms of convenience and effort, is a plain and simple picture of someone who truly loved and was willing to do anything for those he loved.

It is easy to get lost in the text of the New Testament. But when we look at Paul’s personal walk in the Christian path, there are many lessons we can pull out and liken to our own efforts to travel down that same path. Is our Christian walk, our walk in the Spirit fraught with self interest or are we striving to learn self sacrifice for the welfare of others? Are we seeking to build a name for ourselves or seeking to build others even if it means they eclipse us publicly? These are just a few of the many hundreds of lessons we can pull from just Paul’s life as we liken his experiences in the gospel of Christ with our own. Was Paul perfect? No, but then neither are we. I’d say that puts us on an even playing field.

Here is a PDF of this week’s study material.
Print it out for greater convenience in your studies.

New Testament 39