The Holy Spirit in Galatians 6

On March 28, 2021, I am scheduled to teach an adult elective Bible class at The Sanctuary UPC in Hazelwood, Missouri, where Mitchell Bland is pastor. We will finish our exploration of every reference to the Holy Spirit in Paul’s letter to the believers in Galatia. The lesson will be drawn from my newest book, The Holy Spirit: A Commentary (Weldon Spring, MO: WAP Academic, 2020). The book is available at,,, and as an Apple Book.

I plan to post the video of the class session here no later than Monday, March 29, 2021. The study guide for the session is posted below.

The Holy Spirit in Galatians 6

March 28, 2021

Daniel L. Segraves, Teacher

Twitter: @danielsegraves

[1] To be led by the Spirit and to be under the law reveal the opposite poles of human behavior. We must keep in mind, however, that the behavior that results from being led by the Spirit cannot be achieved by sheer willpower. It does not come from self-discipline. Anyone can choose to behave in a certain way, at least temporarily. But that is not necessarily the result of a life transformed by the Holy Spirit. Good behavior is no sure sign of regeneration. The fruit of the Spirit is just that; it is the Spirit’s work in one’s life.

[2] The behavior of those who chose not to be led by the Spirit but who attempt to relate to God on the basis of law is predictable. The fruit of the Spirit has precise counterparts in the realm of the flesh. Indeed, the ongoing context in Galatians suggests that where we see references to “flesh,” the undergirding problem is “law.” This begins at least in Galatians 3:2-3, where Paul posed the question, “Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law . . . are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” The statement “if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” suggests that if you are not led by the Spirit, you are under the law” (Galatians 5:18). There is no law, however, against the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).[1]

[3] The statement “If we live in the Spirit” in Galatians 5:25 is a first class condition, affirming the reality of the condition. Some translations render this “since we live in the Spirit.” This is an accurate translation. Since we have received the Spirit (Galatians 3:2), we should walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:25). The Spirit within us is sure to desire those virtues described as the fruit of the Spirit. As we yield to the desire to love, to be joyous, to be peaceable, to be longsuffering, to be kind, to do good, to be people of faith (i.e., to trust God, regardless of the circumstances of life), to be gentle, to practice self-control, we will be led by the Spirit; we will be walking in the Spirit. If we have no desire for these things, but instead desire and continually yield to those negative impulses described as “works of the flesh,” we must, at the very least, seek to be transformed by the Holy Spirit, for “he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life” (Galatians 6:8).


The fruit of the Spirit contrasts with the works of the flesh, which are apparently the result of efforts to relate to God on the basis of law.

[1] For a shorter list of the fruit of the Spirit, see Ephesians 5:9.