“September 23–29. Galatians: ‘Walk in the Spirit’” Come, Follow Me—For Sunday School: New Testament 2019 (2019)
“September 23–29. Galatians,” Come, Follow Me—For Sunday School: 2019
Record Your Impressions
Scripture study often leads to meaningful gospel discussions with family or friends. Did this happen for members of your class this week? Invite them to share their experiences.
Studying any book of scripture is easier when we know why it was written. For this reason, it might be good to begin your discussion about Galatians with a question like “What do you think Paul’s purpose was in writing this epistle?” or “What problem was Paul trying to solve?” Invite class members to look for clues in Galatians 1:6–7; 3:1–5; 4:8–21. How is Paul’s message relevant to us today?
Some Galatian Saints thought they needed to continue living the law of Moses. To Paul, this was like living with a “yoke of bondage” compared to the liberty offered in the law of Christ (Galatians 5:1). While we do not commonly face this problem today, we all face a similar choice between spiritual bondage and liberty through Jesus Christ. To help members of your class explore Paul’s teachings about freedom and bondage, you could ask them to name attitudes and actions that might lead to spiritual bondage (such as cultural practices, bad habits, false beliefs, or focusing on outward actions rather than inward conversion). According to Galatians 5:1, 13–14, how do we find freedom from spiritual bondage? How have class members experienced the liberty promised in the gospel of Christ? You could also invite class members to share how they might respond to someone who feels that living the gospel limits personal freedom.
Many people struggle to recognize the influence of the Spirit. Galatians 5 can help members of your class recognize the fruit of the Spirit. Maybe you could start by asking them to search Galatians 5:22–25 to find the words Paul used to describe the fruit of the Spirit. Why is fruit a good metaphor for the way the Spirit influences us? Perhaps class members could share how this fruit has been evident in their lives or the lives of people they know. Some other resources to explore include Matthew 7:16–18; John 14:26–27; Moroni 7:13–17; Doctrine and Covenants 11:12–13; and the statements by President Gordon B. Hinckley in “Additional Resources.”
Sometimes we can learn about a principle by learning about its opposite. For example, in Galatians 5:16–26, Paul contrasted “the works of the flesh” with “the fruit of the Spirit.” To help class members ponder to what degree they “walk in the Spirit,” you might suggest that they read Galatians 5:16–26 and then create a personal assessment similar to the Attribute Activity on page 126 of Preach My Gospel. For example, for each item listed in verses 19–23, they could write a question such as “Do I envy my peers?” or “Do I feel love every day?” Class members’ answers to their self-assessments should not be shared, but you could invite them to share ideas or thoughts to help each other “walk in the Spirit.” If you don’t have time to finish this activity in class, you could suggest that class members complete it at home.
Studying Galatians 6:7–10 could help class members think more deeply about the long-term consequences of their choices. To help them, you could bring seeds of various kinds, along with plants, fruits, or vegetables that grow from each of these seeds (or you could bring pictures of these things). Class members could work together to match each seed with the thing it produces. Then they could read verses 7–10 and talk about what it means to sow “to [the] flesh” and “to the Spirit.” (The message from Elder Ulisses Soares in “Additional Resources” might help.) What do we reap when we sow to the flesh? What do we reap when we sow to the Spirit? (see Galatians 5:22–23). Consider inviting class members to ponder the spiritual blessings they hope to receive. What “sowing” can they do now to be prepared to receive those blessings? You might even invite them to write down their thoughts and, if they feel comfortable, to share them.
Some class members may feel “weary in well doing” (Galatians 6:9)—perhaps because they aren’t sure their efforts are bearing fruit. A discussion of Galatians 6:7–10 might be helpful. To introduce these verses, you could invite someone in the class to talk briefly about a time when he or she needed patience when trying to grow something. What could this person’s experience, along with Galatians 6:7–10, teach us about our efforts to “walk in the Spirit”? (Galatians 5:25).
To encourage your class members to read the Epistle to the Ephesians, you could tell them that in this epistle they will learn how they can “stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).
President Gordon B. Hinckley taught: “How do we know the things of the Spirit? How do we know that it is from God? By the fruits of it. If it leads to growth and development, if it leads to faith and testimony, if it leads to a better way of doing things, if it leads to godliness, then it is of God. If it tears us down, if it brings us into darkness, if it confuses us and worries us, if it leads to faithlessness, then it is of the devil.”
On another occasion, President Hinckley said: “You recognize the promptings of the Spirit by the fruits of the Spirit—that which enlighteneth, that which buildeth up, that which is positive and affirmative and uplifting and leads us to better thoughts and better words and better deeds is of the Spirit of God. That which tears down, which leads us into forbidden paths—that is of the adversary. I think it is just that plain, just that simple” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Gordon B. Hinckley , 121).
Elder Ulisses Soares explained: “To sow in the Spirit means that all our thoughts, words, and actions must elevate us to the level of the divinity of our heavenly parents. However, the scriptures refer to the flesh as the physical or carnal nature of the natural man, which allows people to be influenced by passion, desires, appetites, and drives of the flesh instead of looking for inspiration from the Holy Ghost. If we are not careful, those influences together with the pressure of the evil in the world may conduct us to adopt vulgar and reckless behavior which may become part of our character” (“Abide in the Lord’s Territory!” Ensign or Liahona, May 2012, 39).