Click here to prepare for the study of God's word.

Galatians 5:16-23 teaches that at any moment we are either walking by the Holy Spirit or according to the sin nature. Walking by the Spirit, enjoying fellowship with God, walking in the light are virtually synonymous. During these times, the Holy Spirit is working in us to illuminate our minds to the truth of Scripture and to challenge us to apply what we learn. But when we sin, we begin to live based on the sin nature. Our works do not count for eternity. The only way to recover is to confess (admit, acknowledge) our sin to God the Father and we are instantly forgiven, cleansed, and recover our spiritual walk (1 John 1:9). Please make sure you are walking by the Spirit before you begin your Bible study, so it will be spiritually profitable.

Galatians 5:1 by Robert Dean
Duration:59 mins 13 secs

Freedom from the Sin Nature
Galatians 5:1


The doctrine of Christian liberty (Cont.)


3.  Our positional sanctification. We are eternally set apart. The root Greek word from which we translate the word "holiness" is hagios [a(gioj] and it means to be set apart. Unfortunately it has been

translated forever and ever as "holy," and holy is one of those religious words that often loses its real meaning over time. It is used so frequently that it no longer has its impact. The root word for holiness, going back to the Hebrew word, has to do with being set apart for the service of God. It doesn't have an inherently moral nuance to it. The root meaning doesn't have the idea of being morally pure, it has the idea of being set apart for the service of God. So when we use the word "sanctification" it simply means to be set apart to the service of God. When we talk about our positional sanctification we are talking about our position in Christ, that at the moment of salvation we are united with Christ and we are set apart for the service of God. The whole spiritual life of phase two is the idea of growing to spiritual maturity so that as we grow spiritually our lives become more and more set apart to the service of God through spiritual growth. The point is, our positional sanctification provides freedom from slavery to, the sin nature.


Romans 6:15 NASB  What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!" There are people who think that because we are under grace we can sin and get away with it; but nobody ever gets away with sin in the spiritual life. God will exercise the responsibility of disciplining every single believer under the law of divine discipline. God will continually do that to bring us back into line because God's plan is to bring us to spiritual maturity, and when we get out on our own living in carnality God will decide whatever is necessary to bring us back into obedience to Him. Just because we are not under the Mosaic law it doesn't mean there are no mandates for the spiritual life. The spiritual life still has absolutes. This is the plan of God for our life but it is under the umbrella of grace. Romans 6:16 NASB "Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone {as} slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?"

John 8:31 NASB "So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you continue in My word, {then} you are truly disciples of Mine; [32] and you will know the truth [Bible doctrine], and the truth will make you free." Later when Jesus is praying the high-priestly prayer in John 17 He prays: "Sanctify them [set them apart] in the truth; Your word is truth." The Word of God is the truth and we talk about that as the whole realm of Bible doctrine. So we have positional sanctification and then experiential sanctification and experiential freedom. The only basis for true freedom in life starts in the spiritual life, there is no true freedom anywhere else. As soon as Jesus said that [John 8:32] it immediately antagonised the Pharisees. [33] NASB "They answered Him, 'We are Abraham's descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone…" In fact they were enslaved four different ways: to the Mosaic law, to their own interpretation of the Mosaic Law and the rigid system of legalism that we know as Pharisaism, to the Roman empire, and they were all in bondage to the sin nature. [34] "Jesus answered them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin'." He is saying that when they choose to sin they are making the sin nature their master. That is the point Paul is making in Romans 6:16 NASB "Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone {as} slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?" But here Paul is talking to believers, so when he mentions death we have to define what kind of death this is.

Romans 6:17 NASB "But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin [as an unbeliever], you became obedient from the heart [mind] to that form of teaching to which you were committed…" That is, they believed in Jesus Christ and became positionally free. [18] "and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness." Positionally we are freed from the sain nature but we are positionally slaves of righteousness. The problem is that we want to go back under the old master experientially and make ourselves slaves to the sin nature, and that produces death—carnal death, when we are sepearated from God the Holy Spirit and the end result of this if we stay in extended carnality throughout our lives, then we go through intense suffering, intense divine discipline, we make ourselves miserable, have instability; and even of we have a measure of happiness in this life we ultimately will be miserable and will lose that marvellous inheritance that has been reserved for us in heaven that is related to our obedience to the Lord and joint suffering with Christ. We will forfeit that and will have shame at the judgment seat of Christ. [19] "I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh [sarx/ sarc = the sin nature]…" We still have a sin nature as believers and anything an unbeliever can do we can do as a believer, and we continually struggle with the fact that the sin nature wants to assert its authority over us and go back to that old system of slavery to the sin nature. "…For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in {further} lawlessness [as an unbeliever], so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification." This is a command. The implication is that we can choose to not do this; that we as believers can choose to live under the control of the sin nature and live a life of misery and temporal death. So the mandate is that as a believer we are to go on continuous action, continually presenting our members as slaves to righteousness. It is a moment by moment, step by step positional decision of submission to God the Holy Spirit, once we are restored to fellowship and filled with the Holy Spirit. It is a moment by moment forward movement of the spiritual life, not a one-shot decision. This is experiential sanctification; how we grow as a believer, to overcome the power of the sin nature in phase two.


Romans 6:20 NASB "For when you were slaves of sin [as an unbeliever], you were free in regard to righteousness." That is, you could not produce righteousness under the continuous control of the sin nature as an unbeliever. [21] "Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death." In other words, you are going to make yourself, eventually, absolutely miserable in this life as long as you continue under the control of the sin nature and refuse to face the fact that God has called you for a purpose, and that is sanctification to overcome the power of the sin nature in your life through the filling of the Spirit and the application of doctrine. That means the highest priority in your life should be learning doctrine. Death is the opposite of spiritual freedom because we are putting ourselves back under the sin nature, the opposite of the spiritual freedom we have in Galatians 5.


4.  The new life we have in Christ is uniquely alike in the sphere of the Holy Spirit, which is the sphere of freedom. This is something that is often lost today. We are living in an age that is uniquely characterised by the ministry of God the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. But the spiritual life is a life that is empowered and energised by God the Holy Spirit and not by man. We have confused morality with spirituality so that we are trying to be spiritual simply by following a moral code of conduct, and yet the bible says that we are to live this life in them power of the Spirit Romans 8:2 NASB "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death." This tells us that in this sphere, the filling of the Holy Spirit, is uniquely a life of freedom. Freedom is related to living in the power of the Holy Spirit under the filling of the Holy Spirit.

5.  This is further emphasised in 2 Corinthians 3:17, 18 NASB "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, {there} is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit." The basis for living in freedom is the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. In v. 17 the "Lord" is the Greek word kurios [kurioj] and it is the word that was used to translate the Hebrew word for God, Yahweh, and it indicates deity. Another meaning was that it related to sovereignty, and this is where the Lordship crowd get mixed up. When we read "Jesus is Lord" it is in the sense of identifying Jesus with Yahweh. In this verse 17 it is identifying the Holy Spirit with the traditional name of God, Yahweh or kurios, and is a claim that the Holy Spirit is full deity. Where is the Spirit of the Lord in the believer's life? It is when the believer is filled with the Holy Spirit. This sphere is the sphere of liberty. The Holy Spirit is the power of the spiritual life and that is why in Ephesians 5:18 we are commanded to be filled with God the Holy Spirit. Only when we have the filling of the Holy Spirit do we have spiritual freedom. The implication of v. 18 is that we have an unveiled face as we are confronted with the Shekinah glory in the Word of God. When we look into the completed canon of Scripture that is the mirror, and we behold the glory of the Lord. The word for "transformed into the same image" is metamorphoo [metamorfow] is the same word as used in Romans 12:2 NASB "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…" Transformed into what? Into the image and likeness of Jesus Christ. What is it that transforms the believer? Living in the sphere of freedom under God the Holy Spirit so that we are free from the power of the sin nature so that we can apply doctrine in our lives and advance to spiritual maturity. It is the filling of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God that are the power options in the spiritual life. So from this we learn that spiritual freedom is the environment of all believers under the filling of God the Holy Spirit and the believer can use this freedom to advance to spiritual maturity. This is the process of sanctification.

6.  The basis for this transformation is the completed canon of Scripture which is now called "the law of liberty" in James 1:25, in contrast to the Mosaic law which was characterised by bondage. The Word of God is called the law of liberty because it defines our freedom to serve God under the filling of God the Holy Spirit. See also James 2:12.

7.  The purpose for spiritual freedom is to advance spiritually as bond slaves to God and not to excuse, justify or rationalise our sin. 1 Peter 2:16 NASB "{Act} as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but {use it} as bondslaves of God." Galatians 5:13 NASB "For you were called to freedom, brethren; only {do} not {turn} your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh [sin nature], but through love serve one another." 

8.  The enemy of freedom and grace is legalism which promotes intrusion and superficial external codes of ethics and morality and focuses on failure—what you do wrong. Grace focuses on what you are doing right. What you have done wrong has already been paid for by Christ on the cross. Grace promotes freedom, privacy, internal transformation, and focuses on success.