Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Walking with the Spirit (Considering Galatians), Pt. 6


On to part six, which is really the latter part of chapter 5...not to be too confusing. :-) When people think of the letter to the Galatians, I am certain that...nine times out of ten...this is the section that comes to mind -- the fruit of the flesh vs. the fruit of the Spirit (5:16-26).  Paul continues with this second theme that is prominent in relationship to the Galatian believers, that is, the struggle some of them were having with the flesh.  He has already addressed their struggle concerning keeping regulations, but the struggle against the flesh appears to be just as important an is one that he needs to address (just as it is for believers today).

Paul is plainly speaking about the fact that believers can live in only one of two worlds...the world of the Spirit or the world of the flesh.  Paul is, in a sense, sharing what John shares in the first portion of his first letter, but with more detail -- "This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.  If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.  If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:5-9, NIV)  There is no fence-riding on this...we will be in one camp or the other.  Christians may be able to fool themselves and others, but not the Lord.  As Paul shares with the Roman believers (6:1), people can't live in sin and expect that the Lord is going to shower them with grace...there will be a recompense, but it will be His justice.  Paul says that believers who seek to live according to the Spirit are not going to chase after the offerings of the flesh, but the converse is also true -- believers who chase after the flesh are not going to be able to comprehend, appreciate and appropriate the things of the Spirit.  Paul insists that we "walk according to the Spirit."  This means that we should focus on the matters of the Spirit, as these are truly what should "matter" to us.  Concerning the fruit of the Spirit (and notice it says "fruit" and not "fruits"), all of these elements are part of one "fruit" being born out in the lives of God's people (sort of like a spiritual blended fruit smoothie, I guess :-).  When we are living according to God's Spirit, then the unity of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control is going to be working itself out in our lives.

If there is a message where there is nothing new under the sun, it is this one.  The greatest human spiritual problem, hands down, according to the word of God is "immorality" -- it has been this way virtually since the creation of man and woman.  As I have shared, our greatest struggle is not against what we may have perceived at one time was "doctrinal impurity"...but much more so, "personal, moral and spiritual impurity."  As much as I liked to believe that Paul's major focus was the former issue at one time, as I have read and reread his letters, I have come to understand that he is more so concerned with the latter, as evidenced in this letter.  I will say this -- if we do not continue to fight the fight against the sensual and sexual demons of this world, the church is going to suffer for it...and in some places, it already is.  Once again, as I shared in my last message, we who are in Christ must not give in to the evil one and his schemes, but fight the good fight of faith.  There are a lot of spiritual resources in order to help Christians overcome the filth of the flesh and its nature.  I do believe that the greatest threat in this time is not going to come from any external force, but it truly is internal...the struggle against the flesh and the battle for the souls of men and women.  It was a struggle with Christians then...and it is also a struggle today.  But, it is a struggle that we have all of the spiritual riches in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and of His Spirit, to overcome...and to prosper (1 John 4:4).

Blessings, Don

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