Monday, February 23, 2015

WALKING THE WALK


Wow! Talk about two opposing forces - the lusts of the flesh and The Spirit of God. Paul speaks about these in Galatians 5:16-25, he says - 

"But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit."

There are plenty of Do's and Don't's lists in Scripture.  In fact we have a charge, the condition, a list of avoidances and consequences for indulging, a list for following and the way it should be with Christians, and finally the re-instating of the original charge - all right here in this passage.

A Charge
"But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.

The charge could be entitled - Walking by The Spirit, Not by the Flesh. The very first verse of this passage not only carries with it the title, but an awesome concept and promise - walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. This is the lifestyle I want to encourage, so that when temptation comes to fulfill the desire(s) of the flesh you will not carry it out.

The Condition
"For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please." 

This sentence emphasizes how much friction there is between these two natures (the lusts of the flesh and The Spirit of God). These natures cause such an uncomfortable rub that true believers should have a reaction - that you may not do the things that you please. Instead you should seek to please The Lord. Paul voiced this same concern to the Roman believers when he tried to describe his battle this way - 

  • I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do...." (Romans 7:15-20)
List of Avoidances
"Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these,..."

So along comes a list of don'ts first. This section in the passage describes the fruits/deeds of the flesh. Notice the list could have been longer but Paul graciously ended the list with the disclaimer - and things like these.

Consequences for Indulging
"...that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." 

The result of following the lusts of the flesh labels you a pretender, instead of a contender for inheriting the kingdom of God. 

List for Following
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."

Here we have the list of do's. In this final section I love Paul's wording. He says there is no law against producing any of these fruits of The Spirit (against such things there is no law.)

The Christian Status-Quo 
"Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."

Paul goes a step further and declares to believers how it should be with those who trust in Christ. Paul's statement here echoes what he said in an earlier chapter of Galatians -

  • I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20) 

Original Charge Re-issued
"If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit."

Then Paul makes the great zinger - if Christians truly have the life of Christ in them because of their faith in His sacrifice, then they should desire to seek out and practice those things that produce the Fruit of The Spirit [Pritchard Paraphrase of Galatians 5:25). 

As a song once said, "Let your light so be, that all the world may see, the joy of serving Jesus with a smile."