“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:16-25)
As seen in verse 13 Paul is speaking to believers and exhorting them (us) to walk in the Spirit or walk (step by step) by the power of the Holy Spirit. This means dependence upon and submission to God and His Word. “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” (v. 16) This is a wonderful promise of victory over our sinful flesh.
Let’s first look at the deeds of the flesh in verses 19-21. Ongoing and continual practice of these sins without eventual life change should cause one to question their salvation. The flesh of a believer is as bad as that of an unbeliever. God will discipline believers for sins of the flesh and there is loss of rewards at the judgment seat of Christ. (Hebrews 12:5-11; 1 Cor. 3:10-15) Pastor Tim Keller divides these into the following categories: (Keller’s comments on the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit are taken from: Living in line with the truth of the gospel – Tim Keller | Redeemer Presbyterian Church | 2003)
Sexual immorality – fornication; sexual intercourse between unmarried people; adultery
Impurity – unnatural sexual practices and relationships
Debauchery – uncontrolled sexuality
Idolatry– – occult and pagan religious practices
Witchcraft– – counterfeiting the works of the Spirit in occult religious practices
8 RELATIONSHIP DESTROYERS
Hatred – hostility, an adversarial attitude
Discord – argumentative, “fight-picking” behavior
Jealously– the zeal and energy that comes from a hungry ego
Fits of rage – outbursts of anger
Selfish ambition – competitiveness, self-seeking
Dissensions – divisions between people
Factions – permanent parties and warring factions
Envy – coveting, a desire for what others have
Orgies – these are not sex-orgies but drinking orgies
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Vv. 22-23)
Love – to serve a person for their good and intrinsic (spiritual) value not for what the person brings you. The opposite is self-protection, fear or using and abusing a person. The counterfeit is selfish affection, rescuing someone but really rescuing self. (When helping is actually hurting the person – enabling)
Joy – delight in God and His salvation for the sheer beauty of Who He is. The opposite is hopelessness and despair. The counterfeit is happiness that comes with temporal blessings.
Peace – confidence and rest in the wisdom and sovereignty of God more than your own. The opposite is worry and anxiety. The counterfeit is indifference, apathy, “I don’t care” or as the teenagers say – “whatever.”
Patience – the ability to take trouble from life or others without getting angry with God or people. The opposite is resentment toward God and others. The counterfeit is cynicism, self-righteousness, i.e., “this is too small to worry about.”
Kindness – practical kindness with vulnerability out of a deep inner security. The opposite is the inability to rejoice with others in their joy; envy. The counterfeit is manipulative good deeds – the right hand knows what the left hand is doing.
Goodness – integrity, honesty, transparency. Being the same person in all situations. The opposite is phoniness and hypocrisy. The counterfeit is truth without love; blatantly honest but just to get it off your chest.
Faithfulness– loyalty, courage, to be principle-driven, committed, utterly reliable. True to one’s word. The opposite is a fair-weather friend, an opportunist. The counterfeit is love without truth; unwilling to confront or challenge. Jesus was constantly confronting people with the truth; even his family and disciples as well as the crowd and Jewish leaders.
Gentleness – humility, self-forgetfulness. The opposite is superiority, self-absorbed, self-aggrandizement. The counterfeit is self-denigration, self-consciousness, inferiority.
Self-control – the ability to choose the important over the urgent. (See Stephen Covey 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Quadrant II living) The opposite is a driven, impulsive, uncontrolled person. The counterfeit is willpower through pride.
Until He comes,
Len and Kristen