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.”
I don’t know a more appropriate time than now to be reading this passage of scripture. The world right now is in a crisis situation. Emotions are flying high. People are afraid. They are angry. They are panicking. And, evidently some of them are also hoarding, out of fear, and thus they are depriving others of the necessities of life, it would seem.
So, this is a good time for us to spend some alone time with the Lord, reflecting on our present circumstances in prayer to him, seeking his guidance and counsel, so that we do the loving thing toward our neighbors, and so that we don’t use our freedom to buy what we want as an opportunity for the flesh.
Also, in times of crisis, it may be tempting to feed our flesh with “comfort food,” which may not be in the form of actual literal food, but it may refer to indulging in anything of the flesh to try to make ourselves feel better. For, it is human nature to want to console ourselves with what is of the flesh, rather than turning to the Lord to allow him to comfort us with his Spirit.
Also, if this does lead to or has led to self-isolation or forced containment, use this opportunity to grow in your walks with the Lord and to hear what he wants to teach you during this time, rather than look to how you can feed your flesh in order to entertain yourselves while in confinement. For, God has allowed this in our lives for a reason. So, let him speak to your hearts.
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.”
If we want to not give way to our flesh during this time of global crisis, then we need to be walking by the Spirit. We need to be conducting our lives and our behaviors in agreement with and in cooperation with the Spirit of God, and in obedience to our Lord’s commands for us, his church, his people.
We need to be people of prayer. We need to be studying the scriptures in context. And, we ought to be seeking God’s face and his counsel to know what is the right thing to do in this juncture of our lives. And, then we must listen to our Lord, hear what he has to say to us, and then we need to follow his lead wherever he would take us.
We are in a spiritual battle all the time, for our flesh wages war with the Spirit, and the Spirit with our flesh, for the two are opposed to each other.
And, this is why we can’t walk by the Spirit if we are living to fulfill the sinful pleasures of our flesh. But, it is also why we can walk by the Spirit and not by the flesh, because Jesus already won this battle for us on the cross, and because his Spirit is fighting for us, giving us all we need to say “NO!” to the flesh daily, and to daily say “YES!” to the Spirit (Titus 2:11-14).
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.”
What we need to understand here is that this warning is to the church, not to the ungodly world. The church is being warned against walking according to the flesh and not according to the Spirit, that if they do so, they will not inherit eternal life with God.
And, the church is not a building or an organization, or an institution of men or a church denomination. It is comprised of us who trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior. We are being warned here that if we walk according to the flesh, and if these behaviors listed here represent our lifestyles, our habits, and our regular consistent practices, then we are not guaranteed heaven as our eternal destiny, no matter what prayer we prayed.
So, if you believe you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior and yet he is not truly Lord of your life, but you are still living to please your flesh, then this warning is for you. You are on dangerous ground. And, this is not the only passage of scripture that says this. There are many (Lu. 9:23-26; Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Eph. 5:3-6; Gal. 6:7-8; Rom. 2:6-8).
Galatians 5:22-25 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.”
So, this is where we all need to be. God is giving us the opportunity right now, in this global crisis, to evaluate our own lives, and to repent of any known sinful practices. And, he is giving us this time to make our hearts right with him if we have at all fallen away from our pure devotion to him.
For, if we walk by the Spirit, we will not fulfill the sinful passions of our flesh. But the fruit of the Spirit, instead, will be what is evident in our lives, and in increasing measure, as we continue daily to resist Satan, to flee temptation, and to draw near to God in full assurance of faith.
This is not saying we will live in absolute sinless perfection. But, it is also not saying that lack of perfection is allowed as an excuse for continued, persistent, willful and often premeditated sins against God. As followers of Jesus, we are all called to holiness. So, we are to live our lives in the power of God – lives which are separate (unlike, different) from the world of sin, and separate unto God and for his purposes and glory.
For, if we truly belong to Christ, we have crucified (with Christ) the flesh with its passions and desires. But, this must continue daily. Daily, by the Spirit, we must be putting to death the deeds of our flesh, and daily, by the same Spirit, we must be living in the Spirit of God to please God.
For, Jesus Christ died on that cross to deliver us out of our bondage to sin and to free us and to empower us to walk righteously before him in all of our conduct, for the glory and praise of God.
And, He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. In fact, in shedding his blood for us on that cross, he bought us back for God that we might now honor God with our lives (1 Pet. 2:24; 1 Co. 6:20; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; Eph. 4:17-24; Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; 1 Jn. 2:3-6).
So, I am encouraging all of us today to reevaluate where we are in our walks of faith, and to follow in Jesus’ footsteps from this moment forward to eternity. If we truly belong to him, we must live like we do.
Footprints of Jesus
Lyrics by Mary B. Slade, pub. 1871
Music by Asa B. Everett
Sweetly, Lord, have we heard Thee calling,
Come, follow Me!
And we see where Thy footprints falling
Lead us to Thee.
Though they lead o’er the cold, dark mountains,
Seeking His sheep;
Or along by Siloam’s fountains,
Helping the weak.
If they lead through the temple holy,
Preaching the Word;
Or in homes of the poor and lowly,
Serving the Lord.
Though, dear Lord, in Thy pathway keeping,
We follow Thee;
Through the gloom of that place of weeping,
If Thy way and its sorrows bearing,
We go again,
Up the slope of the hillside, bearing
Our cross of pain.
By and by, through the shining portals,
Turning our feet,
We shall walk, with the glad immortals,
Heav’n’s golden street.
Then, at last, when on high He sees us,
Our journey done,
We will rest where the steps of Jesus
End at His throne.
Footprints of Jesus,
That make the pathway glow;
We will follow the steps of Jesus
Where’er they go.
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