Series: Maintaining this hope
Message – Paul to the Galatians…I warn you
Paul to the Galatians…I warn you
Last week we learned about the Governess of the Law and how it both WAS and IS a tutor to bring us to the knowledge, trust and surrender to Christ Jesus. Or rather to the Father THROUGH Christ Jesus our Lord.
We learned that so long as we operate by “doing” through any self effort FOR God or FOR righteousness – we are placing ourselves (even if in ignorance and temporarily) back under the law again.
Of course the sin the Galatians were being enticed to was much more egregious. They were considering placing their faith for righteousness back in the Old Covenant act of circumcision and therefore out of Jesus. That is a once and done sin if done with knowledge and willful intent.
Also, throughout this letter Paul strategically pitts the law against the Spirit. This is profound in the extreme!
The Law was given because Israel did NOT want an encounter with God directly. It was byu their request that a written account of what God wanted and required be given. They did not want to directly interact with God at all.
Now, under the New Covenant God has left the mountain and moved within us. The nature of Jesus has been placed within us and we are New Creations in Him. NOW, we have left one governess for another. The law brought us TO Christ, but the Spirit makes Him alive IN US.
The Law taught about…it was the handshake before the embrace.
Now that we are in Christ, the Spirit has come within us and has been given to us as a guide, tutor, teacher, corrector, instructor, communicator of God’s words and will, an inward witness and a companion until the fulfillment of our Faith!
So Paul sets forth this relationship as primary…because it is!
We wrapped up last week with a proclamation from Paul that we have been invited into FREEDOM. We are no longer under any oppressive yoke of performance FOR, but rather to a living relationship with our Lord where we do life WITH Him and are therefore changed into His image naturally through relational trust!
The final words of Paul last week were in chapter 5:13-15…
Gal 5:13-15, “(13) For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity to indulge your flesh, but through love serve one another. (14) For the whole law can be summed up in a single commandment, namely, “You must love your neighbor as yourself.” (15) However, if you continually bite and devour one another, beware that you are not consumed by one another.”
Now all that Paul is about to say is bookended with this encouragement to stop any strife among them as brothers and sisters in Christ.
In this last verse He said essentially said, ‘You may be called to freedom, but that doesn’t mean you are free to verbally beat up on one another, be childish, touchy, easily offended and live in strife…and if you do, you need to beware not to be consumed by this.’
As we continue to the end of this chapter we see Paul wraps it up with this statement, “(25) If we live by the Spirit, let us also behave in accordance with the Spirit. (26) Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, being jealous of one another.”
So Paul begins and ends his thoughts here with – grow up. Stop being childish, easily offended and prone to outbursts of anger and strife.
So bear that in mind as we go forward. Paul is in fact addressing behavior in Christ… verses our former behavior in the flesh, but it is within the greater context of the harmony among the brethren.
“(16) But I say, live by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh. (17) For the flesh has desires that are opposed to the Spirit, and the Spirit has desires that are opposed to the flesh, for these are in opposition to each other, so that you cannot do what you want. (18) But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”
Live and Led
These words have a specific, but almost obvious meaning.
- Live means – HOW one conducts their life.
- Led means – To be lead, induced, incited or guided (Word Jesus used of the Holy Spirit He would send found in John 14-16)
Words Jesus used of the Spirit:
- Spirit of Truth (guide into truth)
- In you
- Testifier of Jesus
- Show things to come
- Glorify Jesus
- Declare the things of Christ to us
- The One Who gives us eyes to see and hearts to understand
- He will generate Joy in our hearts due to our union with the Father through Jesus
Paul charges us to live BY the Spirit.
He again states that the Spirit and the Law (flesh effort) are contrary to one another…you CANNOT rely upon both! It is an either/or prospect!
Then He essentially says, “If you live by a rulebook you are NOT living by grace (influence) of the Spirit within your heart.
You are setting up another “Moses” between you and God and this DOES NOT PLEASE HIM!”
Guzik essentially says the same thing regarding not being under the law IF you are led by the Spirit. He says, “You don’t need to be, because you fulfill the will of God through the inner influence of the Holy Spirit, instead of the outer influence of the law of God.”
He ends with a statement many theologies would struggle with IF they truly read it for what it says. “IF you are led by the Spirit you are not under the Law”!
What does that mean? Well, consider the opposite…
If you do not live by grace, you ARE back under the law!
Can you see why Paul said, “I do NOT set aside the grace of God, because if righteousness could come through the law, then Christ died for nothing!”
Now Paul offers a very insightful, yet not all inclusive list of actions born of our flesh and those which are the fruit of our union with the Spirit of God.
“(19) Now the works of the flesh are obvious:
- sexual immorality – porneía ANY seuxal sin – incest, rape, harmful sex, same sex, group sex, animal sex, sex outside of marriage, adultery, selling oneself for sex…etc.
- Impurity – unnatural pollution
- Depravity – filthy and reckless freedom from inhibition.
- William Barclay said, “The great characteristic of this word is this – the bad man usually tries to hide his sin; but the man who acts with Depravity in his soul does not care how much he shocks public opinion so long as he can gratify his desires….In many ways Depravity is the ugliest word in the list of New Testament sins.”
- Guzik says, “We live in an incredibly lewd culture, yet the Holy Spirit never led anyone into lewdness.”
- (20) idolatry, – Worship or service to ANYTHING or ANYONE but God
- Sorcery (witchcraft), – This quite literally meant the use of drugs. In the ancient world it included the worship of occult powers and spirits while under the influence – usually of hallucinogens. It is the word pharmakeia from which we get our word pharmaceuticals. The root of this sin is to be under the influence of any substance which induces you to behave ungodly, but especially to seek or worship occult powers and spirits while under and due to its influence.
- In the modern world it can also take on the form of reliance upon anything substance IN PLACE of God.
- hostilities, – inner considerations which lead to outward expressions of enmity.
- strife, – contentions and wrangling. Engagement in a long, complicated disputes or arguments.
- jealousy, – Hot, fervent zealous desire for something another has – or for something given to another.
- outbursts of anger, – a sudden flash of anger. This is not the settled state of anger people can often live in, but rather it means to lose your temper, being unable to control your anger.
- selfish rivalries, – this word illustrates the morphology of words. It used to mean “to work for pay”, but over the years it digressed into meaning to life for self interest.
- dissensions, – literally it means to stand apart…only not in a good way. We are called to stand apart from the world, but this is in reference to your brothers and sisters in the Christian community. It is to have a disposition or create an environment where “members fly apart instead of coming together.” It is interesting that Paul used the same idea in 1 Cor. 3:1-3 when he said, “(1) So, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but instead as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. (2) I fed you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready. In fact, you are still not ready, (3) for you are still influenced by the flesh. For since there is still jealousy and dissension among you, are you not influenced by the flesh and behaving like unregenerate people?”
- factions, – Heresy – which was what Paul was addressing. In fact, heresies are often the cause of the aforementioned dissensions.
- (21) envying, – It is jealousy turned inside out. It doesn’t so much want what someone else has, but it is bitter just because someone else has something and we don’t. In many ways this is a much more depraved and childish sin.
- murder, – This does not appear in all of the ancient copies of this verse, but it certainly IS a work of the flesh.
- drunkenness, – The scriptures are somewhat vague on this since the term used is itself vague. However, we can infer several things from it. It clearly has to do with the intoxicating effects of alcohol. God clearly is the Creator of the process of fermentation and its effects so it is illogical to assume it is all wrong..especially when Jesus made a veritable ton of it at the wedding feast as His first miracle. He knew people were going to drink it and it would have an intoxicating effect and yet, He not only made it, but He made more than they could reasonably drink. What are we to conclude from this…that Jesus is Pro-drunkenness? Absolutely not! God also makes an abundance of fruit and grains at harvest time – are we to assume then that He is Pro-gluttoness? Of course not! The scriptures have not left us entirely without instruction regarding its proper use so let’s look at a few.
- God made wine to make glad the heart of man.
- Prov. 31:4-7 says, “(4) It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to crave strong drink, (5) lest they drink and forget what is decreed, and remove from all the poor their legal rights. (6) Give strong drink to the one who is perishing, and wine to those who are bitterly distressed; (7) let them drink and forget their poverty, and remember their misery no more.”
- So I believe the middle road here is drink enough to gladden your heart, but not enough to blur the line between right and wrong or lower your inhibitions towards sin. We should treat wine and strong drink with a light hand and always err on the side of caution.
- carousing, – drinking parties usually at feasts which include impure, obscene behavior and encourages loud, disruptive behavior.
- and similar things.
I AM WARNING YOU… as I had warned you before:
Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God!”
I almost feel like the devil’s advocate in explaining this word, since in a sense, if you are inclined to push the envelope, you may take liberties which are not consistent with Jesus being formed in you and therefore that you should not take. I like what Brother Hagin once said to a question I asked him. I said, “can you sin away your grace”. He said, “The trick is to not find out”. He did not mean this sardonically, it was only a light-hearted answer that addressed the real question behind the question…and I knew it!
I later discovered that he knew and taught that you cannot simply “lose” your salvation like one looses their keys, but a person can continue on in sin long enough to harden their hearts where they could deny God out of an embittered heart of animosity towards Him.
The notion behind these words is this – Those who continue on in any sin, ignoring the voice of the Holy Spirit telling them to “stop.”
“This verb is in the present tense which indicates a habitual continuation in fleshly sins rather than isolated lapses. It carries the implication that they do them constantly.”
It only makes sense. If one lives their whole life not conforming to the Lord of the Kingdom, cannot expect to reap the benefits of the kingdom either NOW nor in the inheritance to come. What is our inheritance in the Kingdom? The Godhead Themselves of Whom we already have received the Holy Spirit as a downpayment. Where will we enjoy our inheritance – in Their presence forever in Heaven. ALL of this is what we disqualify ourselves for if we live our lives as if Jesus is not our Lord – because then – He truly isn’t.
Titus helps us here when he says, “All is pure to those who are pure. But to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their minds and consciences are corrupted. (16) They profess to know God but with their deeds they deny him, since they are detestable, disobedient, and unfit for any good deed. For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people. (12) It trains us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, (13) as we wait for the happy fulfillment of our hope in the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. (14) He gave himself for us to set us free from every kind of lawlessness and to purify for himself a people who are truly his, who are eager to do good. (15) So communicate these things with the sort of exhortation or rebuke that carries full authority. Don’t let anyone look down on you.” ~ Titus 1:15-16; 2:11-15
So this warning from Paul is very serious. It is clearly to Christians since the letter was addressed to Christians. It is also clear that it was addressed to Christians because the disqualifier for having an inheritance in the Kingdom was NOT failing to believe in Jesus, but rather a failing in your allegiance to Christ to produce good works. This disqualification was due to ongoing, constant and unrepentant sin being the lifestyle of the believer.
We will begin with the proofs or fruits of our union with God by being led by the Spirit next week.