Galatians 5:13-15 ESV
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
John the Baptist, Jesus Christ (God the Son) and his New Testament apostles all taught the true gospel of grace. They all taught true freedom in Jesus Christ, our Lord. For, they all taught that we must die to sin and live to Christ and to his righteousness if we want to have eternal life with God. They all taught that the way to heaven is straight and narrow, not crooked (meandering) and broad (wide). And, scripture teaches that few find the narrow way, but that many follow the broad way which leads to destruction.
Yet, the modern way has changed the mind (thinking, believing and behaviors) of this true gospel of grace, and it has reduced the gospel’s mind to that of the immature, and to the mind void (empty) of God’s true grace. For, it now has the mind of the childish, demanding its own way, rather than having the mind of Christ, submitting to his way. But, God’s grace, which brings salvation, instructs us to say “No” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return.
Yet, the majority have altered (misinterpreted) God’s grace to give free license to continue in slavery (addiction) to sin. For, they are teaching a grace which merely forgives sin and promises heaven as our eternal destiny, but which does not put sin to death in the lives of the believers. Rather, it coddles them in their sin, and it gives them a false hope (safety/security), and it gives them a false sense of value and acceptance in Christ Jesus.
But, true freedom in Jesus Christ, our Lord, does not give opportunity for the flesh, but opportunity for the life of the Spirit within us. True freedom in Christ is set free of the chains (bonds, addiction) of sin, not just merely forgives our sins. And, true freedom in Christ does not make a practice of willfully committing sins against one another, but it makes a practice, instead, of loving one another as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.
Galatians 5:16-18 ESV
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
The way of the flesh is the way of selfishness. It is the way of self-gratification and self-pleasure. It is all based on human wants and desires rather than on what God wants and what he desires. It is all about “me” and not about God. It is all about what brings “me” pleasure, and it is not about pleasing God. And, it is definitely not about loving others and meeting their legitimate God-given needs.
The way of the flesh is also secretive, hidden from sight, lying continuously in order to cover-up sinful practices. The way of the flesh is fakery, too, i.e. pretending to be one thing while you live just the opposite. Or, it is keeping everything on a very surface level, always keeping things light and jokey, talking about fluff, things meaningless, and even things opposed to the gospel.
Rather than Christians gathering together for deep, meaningful spiritual fellowship, they will often talk about what is trivial, such as movies or games or Facebook memes. But, they will avoid deep spiritual conversations that open up their hearts and reveal honest dialogue about where they are in reality. For, if they do, they risk being rejected and ostracized, and so, in order to be accepted, they make compromises, and they embrace what is opposed to the Spirit of God to “make nice” with the world.
Galatians 5:19-21 ESV
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
There are many people today leading double lives. They pretend to be followers of Jesus Christ, and they may even pretend to have repented of their sins and that they are walking in holiness and purity. But, they are secretly engaged in sinful practices behind closed doors while they are lying and are faking their Christian walks as a means of covering their tracks, hoping they will not be found out and the truth revealed about them.
They may pretend to believe in the true gospel of grace, too, but by their lifestyles they deny that truth and instead they support the cheap grace gospel, which is void (empty) of God’s true grace. They may, as well, blend in with whatever groups of people with whom they are experiencing friendship or fellowship. In other words, they may appear to follow the true gospel when with people who do, but then vocalize support of the cheap grace gospel when with those who are promoting it in place of the truth.
One of the biggest areas where this is taking place now in people’s lives, especially within the gatherings of the church, is in the area of sexual immorality, or more specifically with regard to pornography addiction. Porn addiction is something that is usually kept hidden, and that is covered up with lies and fakery in order to throw people off their scent hoping that no one will suspect them of porn addiction but will believe they are living rightly.
Some people who are addicted to sin, and especially to sexual sin, will make many excuses for their sin, even denying that they are addicted, because they may be able to go weeks at a time without failure. But, addiction is cyclical, like from sunrise to sunset to sunrise to sunset, etc. They may be able to give the appearance of righteousness, or even to be able to walk in some small amount of freedom from their sinful practices only to keep repeating the same cycle over and over again, which shows addiction.
But, since they are able to have short periods of victory, or so they believe, they convince themselves that they don’t fall into this category of those who practice such things as this, and so they are also able to convince themselves that they have the promise of heaven.
But, the scriptures are real clear that those who make a practice of such things, meaning it is regular, cyclical, habitual, and a way of life for them in that they willfully and with full intent continue to go back to the same sins over and over again, that they do not have eternal life with God.
And, full intent also involves an unwillingness to cut out of one’s life those things leading one into sin, too, for it means leaving that door open wide to go back to those same sins because deep down inside one really does not want to give those sins up. And, that is why one never closes that door.
Galatians 5:22-26 ESV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
The scriptures teach here that if we walk by the Spirit, we will not gratify the desires of the flesh. But, we can only walk by the Spirit if truly we have the Spirit living within us. And, we can only have the Spirit living within us if truly we have been crucified with Christ in death to sin and we have been raised with Christ to newness of life in him, free from the control of sin and now under the control of righteousness, instead (Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Tit. 2:11-14).
In other words, we can’t muster up this fruit of the Spirit in our own flesh, and try to pass ourselves off as Christians while we still walk in darkness, i.e. while we still make sin our practice, our lifestyle (addiction). So, to walk by the Spirit, we have to be in the Spirit, and then to walk by the Spirit means that the Spirit of God has control over our lives, and that the flesh is no longer our master, but Christ is. He has to be Lord (master) of our lives.
Then, in lifestyle we can live by the Spirit, and if we are living by the Spirit, dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus, then we will not live to gratify the desires of the flesh. This is not saying we will be perfect, or that we will never sin again, but sin will no longer be our master, and sin will no longer be our practice, our routine, and our habit. But holiness, righteousness and the fruit of the Spirit will be what we practice, instead.
Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken
Hymn lyrics by Henry F. Lyte, 1833
Music attr. to Mozart, 1831/ Arr. Hubert P. Main, 1872
Jesus, I my cross have taken, all to leave and follow Thee;
Destitute, despised, forsaken, Thou from hence my all shall be.
Perish every fond ambition, all I’ve sought or hoped or known;
Yet how rich is my condition! God and heav’n are still mine own.
Let the world despise and leave me, they have left my Savior, too;
Human hearts and looks deceive me; Thou art not, like them, untrue.
And while Thou shalt smile upon me, God of wisdom, love and might,
Foes may hate and friends disown me, show Thy face and all is bright.
Haste then on from grace to glory, armed by faith, and winged by prayer,
Heav’n’s eternal day’s before thee, God’s own hand shall guide thee there.
Soon shall close thy earthly mission, swift shall pass thy pilgrim days;
Hope soon change to glad fruition, faith to sight, and prayer to praise.
*Copyright status is Public Domain
Tuesday, March 19, 2019