Shall we turn now to Galatians chapter five. The whole concept is: how do I establish a righteous standing before God? Can I be righteous by keeping the law? Or am I righteous by my simple faith in Jesus Christ? Now, Paul taught righteousness through faith. There followed Paul teachers, Judaizers who brought another gospel, which was not really a gospel. For they were saying that was it was necessary to be circumcised and to keep the law of Moses in order to be righteous before God, to be saved. And so Paul is standing against this teaching in his letter to the Galatians, and in chapter five, he said,
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage (5:1).
Now, in the fifteenth chapter of the book of Acts, when this same issue had arisen in the church in Antioch, when certain of the brethren came down from Jerusalem and were hassling the Gentile saints in Antioch and said, "You can’t be saved unless you are circumcised and keep the law of Moses," Paul and Barnabas and others from Antioch took these brothers right back to Jerusalem, because they came unto the pretense of, "We have the authority of the Jerusalem church to declare these things." So, they went right up to settle the issue, and the church had one of the first church councils gathered to settle a dispute, a problem within the church.
And in the fifteenth chapter of Acts, we read how that Peter stood up and told the brethren how that the Lord had called him to go to the Gentiles to the house of Cornelius. And how the Holy Spirit had come upon those of the house of Cornelius who had known nothing really of obedience to the law. And Peter said, "I suggest that we not place a yoke of bondage on them which neither we, nor our fathers were able to bear” (Acts 15:10). So, Peter uses this same phrase to describe the law as a yoke of bondage. He said, "We haven’t been able to keep the law, why should we put them under it?" And so, Paul is picking up, now, the same phrase. No doubt he heard Peter use it there in Acts 15, and he said, “Stand fast in the liberty wherein Christ has set you free.”
Now, let us not believe or think that this liberty that we have is the liberty to do anything we might want to do in the flesh. That is not the liberty that we have as Christians. The liberty that we have is not to do the things of the flesh. Thank God Jesus Christ has set me free from my bondage to my flesh. I once was in horrible bondage to my flesh. But now I have liberty in Christ Jesus, for I don’t have to follow after the flesh anymore. So “stand fast in that liberty wherein Christ has made you free.” He has set you free from the power of the flesh. Don’t be entangled again with rules, regulations, a yoke of bondage.
Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing (5:2).
That is, if you are circumcised ritually for the purpose of having a righteous standing before God. If that is the purpose, you’re thinking that it’s going to make you righteous before God, you think it’s going to make you acceptable before God, Paul said, “Christ will profit you nothing,” if that’s your mental attitude towards your circumcision.
For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law (5:3).
In other words, if you’re going to take this as an act of righteousness to make you righteous before God, as being a part of the law, then it will be necessary for you to keep the entire law in order to be righteous before God. For if a man “keeps the whole law, yet he offends in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10). So “cursed is the man that continues not in the whole law to do that which is written therein” (Galatians 3:10).
Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you who are justified [or seeking to be justified] by the law; ye are fallen from grace (5:4).
Very powerful words for those who would seek justification through the law, through rules, through keeping rules, through keeping ordinances. If you’re looking to that as a righteous standing before God, then you are not experiencing the grace of God in your life. Now, the whole idea is to be righteous before God in order that I might have fellowship with God. “What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14) How can I really fellowship with God if I’m unrighteous? So I must be righteous in order to have fellowship with God.
Now, there are two ways that I can be righteous. I can say, "Well, this, these are the rules of righteous living. You’ve got to do this, and this, and this, and this, and this. And you can’t do this, and this, and this, and this, and this." And I can set up these rules, and I can get out my little gold stars. And at the end of each day, I can paste my gold stars on those that I’ve kept. But if I have a whole page of gold stars but yet there’s one little point over here where I blew it and I can’t put a gold star, then I’m unrighteous. I violated. “If you keep the whole law yet offended in one point, you’re guilty of all.”
Now, the other way to be righteous is through faith in Jesus Christ, receiving that grace of God through Him, where God accounts me, as He did Abraham, righteous because I believe. Now, that righteousness depends upon the work of Jesus Christ as my sacrifice, as my substitute. It is predicated upon the work of God. Therefore, that righteousness is perfect. It will stand. And it is given to me through my faith in Jesus Christ. That’s what God accounts, the righteousness of Christ accounted to my account through my faith in Jesus Christ.
Now, because I can’t keep the first, I have opted for the second. Because I can’t and haven’t kept the whole law, I’m thankful that God accounts me righteous and I can have fellowship with the righteous God because of Jesus Christ and my faith in Jesus Christ. Now, if you’re trying to be justified before God or being made righteous before God by the keeping of the law, then Christ is of no effect to you. You can’t be both.
For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith (5:5).
That’s the position where we stand. By the Spirit of God, we’re waiting for that hope of righteousness through faith.
For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision avails any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love (5:6).
So, I think Paul could also have included here baptism or no baptism as far as the physical immersion in water. He’s talking about rituals and the power of rituals to make you righteous before God, and the issue is, they can’t. What makes you righteous before God is your faith, which works in love within your heart and life.
Now, it is interesting to me how that those who opt for rules, those who opt for laws, those who want to lay down the laws upon the people, or those who want to live under the laws that are laid down upon them, always seem to be striving. We have those that come around here. They’re wanting to strive, they’re wanting to argue; they’re wanting to prove their points how that baptism is essential for salvation. And they want to get on our case because we don’t run down every night and baptize people the moment they’re saved. Because we wait to have our baptisms ‘til the water gets warmer.
It’s because baptism doesn’t save. It’s faith in Jesus Christ that saves. It‘s the operation of God’s Spirit within our heart that works through love. Not contention. Not striving. But it works through love. And any kind of a relationship with God that causes me to strive with my brother, causes me to become contentious, is really something that I’m not interested in. Causes me to become judgmental. It’s faith which works by love.
Now Paul said,
Ye did run well (5:7);
Again, you remember he said, "You did start well. What did hinder you? Ye did run well.” Having begun in the spirit, you did all right in the beginning, but
who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you (5:7-8).
In other words, you did not get this from God. I really like to say that to the Jehovah Witnesses that come to my door. “This persuasion didn’t come from Him who called you.” You couldn’t believe the things the Jehovah Witnesses believe, unless you read their screwy attitudes and ideas in their books. I mean, you never get it from reading the Bible and waiting upon God. Your mind has to be bent in that direction through their writings. And so with the Mormons. You never come to believe in what the Mormons believe through reading the Bible. It comes by reading the book of Mormon. “This persuasion, this ideas that you have, they don’t really come from God, from the One who called you. They are ideas that have been planted in your mind by men."
Now, a lot of times when people come to me with some weird concept, I’ll say, "Where in the world did you get that idea?" And sometimes they’ll lie to me. And they say, "Oh, well, I was just waiting upon the Lord and reading the Scriptures, and the Lord showed this to me." I said, "That’s a lie." "Here, I’ll show it to you in this book." "Have you been reading this book?" "Well, yeah, I read that book but, you know, God showed it to me." No, this persuasion doesn’t come from Him who called you. You weren’t persuaded to be circumcised because God was speaking to your heart and convicting you of this. These concepts, these heresies that develop within the church are passed on by men. They don’t come to man from God.
And the Jehovah Witnesses, just the Arian heresy of the early church. The prosperity doctrines of the gnostic heresy of the early church. They’re just warmed over, put in a new coat, and declared by a fresh voice, or sometimes the voices aren’t so fresh, but they’re things, concepts that… And you find that these people espousing them are plagiarizing from other people who have espoused them, and it goes back and back and back. But not from God. That is why I encourage you just to read the Bible. I am not at all worried about anything you will come to believe by just simply reading your Bible. I don’t think you need anything more than the Bible to really know the truth of God. And I encourage you to just read your Bible.
Now, why is it that Jehovah Witness can’t tell you that? Because you’ll never come to their beliefs just by reading the Bible. Why can’t the Mormons tell you that? Because you’ll never come to their beliefs by just reading the Bible. So the minute I start peddling books and saying, "Now, to really understand the Bible, you better read my books, because you’ll just, you know, read the Bible, you’ll be in darkness. It’s just, you know, too difficult. Just let our books explain for you." “This persuasion didn’t come from God.”
A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump (5:9).
You open the door for a little error, and it will soon magnify because you see, as you’ve opened the door for this error, then as you are challenged on the flaws of the error, you’re going to have to develop further doctrines to cover or further concepts to cover, and pretty soon, you’re going to be way out in left field.
There is a group called Jesus Only, and they believe that Jesus is the Father, He is the Son, He is the Holy Spirit. It’s Jesus only. Unitarians. And they are quite zealous in their beliefs, very fervent in the proclamations of their beliefs. And I had some who were determined that they were going to convert me to their way of thinking.
And I would listen to them and listen to them and listen to them; I don’t really make a practice of arguing Scriptures. And so, I would listen to these fellows, and I listened, you know, and just said, "Well, you know, that’s what the Scripture says, you know," when they would quote Scriptures. Well, they thought that they had me convinced to their way of thinking. And so, they started telling people, "Well, Chuck believes this." And so then I had to go out to them and say, "Hey, you haven’t convinced me of the truth of what you’re declaring. I don’t believe that." And then they started to rail on me and prophesy my death and things of this nature.
And so I said, "All right, tell me, when Jesus was baptized, who spoke and said, 'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17)? Is He a ventriloquist? When in the garden, or when on the cross, Jesus cried, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46) Who was He crying to? "Oh, well, He laid down His divinity before He died." I said, "Oh oh oh oh oh," you see, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” Now you’re, you know, chopping Jesus up, and said, "Well, He is God here, and but, for a while He wasn’t God and the universe was without God for a little bit here, or whatever. And, you know, I mean, you’re having now go to…you’ve taken a position Jesus is the only One. Now you’ve got to defend it against the challenges and so you’ve got to start making up or taking positions that are thoroughly unscriptural in order to defend your position." And a little leaven soon leavens the whole lump.
Even though it might be a minor departure from the truth, be careful. Try and stay right on course. If, when I got on board a 747 at LAX heading for Honolulu, the captain would say, "Now, folks, we’re having a little problem here with our navigation instruments. We’re about one degree off, but we hope to correct this in flight or something." I’d say, "Open the doors and let me off." If your navigational instruments are one degree off, and you take your heading and you start for Hawaii, by the time you’ve gone that distance, you’ll miss Hawaii by two hundred and forty miles.
Oh, by the time you get to Santa Barbara, you won’t even notice anything. You know, you can look down and see the Channel Islands. You can see the Santa Rosa and San Miguel and San Nicolas and say, "Hey, hey, all right, we’re right on course." One degree, and you’ve only gone hundred miles, you don’t even notice. But you continue one degree off on out over the Pacific, and you can miss your destination completely. “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” Now Paul said,
I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded (5:10):
Now Paul is now saying, "Oh, who did hinder you, you know, and this teach and all. But I have confidence in you that you’re not going to be persuaded by this. That you’re not going to be otherwise minded."
but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be. And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offense of the cross ceased (5:10-11).
Now, evidently these Paul people were saying, "Well, Paul was circumcised and he’s preaching circumcision. You ought to be circumcised, you know." And Paul said, "Hey, wait a minute. I have not. If I preach circumcision, then why would they keep persecuting me? The offense of the cross would cease." Paul was preaching that Jesus paid the complete price for your redemption on the cross. There’s nothing that you can add to what Jesus paid. That it is His sacrifice for your sins that brings you redemption and the forgiveness of sins. No effort, no work on your part. You can’t do anything to buy redemption. You can’t do anything to buy forgiveness. The forgiveness of your sins and your redemption is totally predicated upon the finished work of Jesus Christ upon the cross.
These people were adding to it. "The death of Christ for you isn’t sufficient. You got to walk the tight rope. You got to keep the law. You got to be circumcised." The message of redemption through the cross was offensive. People were trying to add to it. And that’s why Paul was persecuted by the Jews, because he was saying, "The law of Moses is not necessary for righteousness or for salvation. You are saved through the finished work of Jesus on the cross. The cross paid it all."
Paul closes this little section on the idea of circumcision and all and he gets a little testy with those. He said,
I would [wish that] they were even cut off which trouble you (5:12).
Or literally, "I wish they were castrated who trouble you. They’re trying to cause you to be circumcised, I wish they were castrated." Naughty Paul. We find that offensive in our society today, but in those days, the area of Galatia was the center of the worship of Sybil, and the priests of Sybil would castrate themselves. And so, it was something that was quite familiar the castration. And of the priest of this pagan god. And so, the people of Galatia understood exactly what Paul was talking about. And let’s go on. I could quickly get in trouble.
For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another (5:13).
Again, it is not a liberty to do anything I please. It isn’t a liberty to live after my flesh. That is not what Christian liberty is about. And if you have interpreted it that way, you have completely missed the message of the Scripture. “You’ve been called unto liberty.” That is, liberty in Jesus Christ. Liberty from the law and from the bondage of the law, because that cannot make you righteous. But the liberty is not a liberty to indulge my flesh in anything that I may desire to do after the flesh. It is the liberty not to do those things which the flesh once forced me to do. So, "do not use your liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love," the real key is love, "serve one another."
For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself (5:14).
So, love is the fulfilling of the law. One of the lawyers one day challenged Jesus as to the greatest commandment. And Jesus said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy mind and with all thy strength; and thy neighbor as thyself. And in these are all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40). Love is the fulfilling of the law. If I am walking in the Spirit, if I am walking in love, then there can be no law to regulate my life. You see, laws are for unprincipled people.
If a person is living by right principles, he doesn’t need any laws. He is governed by principles by which he lives. Laws are necessary to restrain unprincipled people. Now, if you’re walking in love, supreme love for God and supreme love for your fellow man, then there is no law. All of the law is fulfilled. For what the law is actually saying to you is that you should love God supremely and love your neighbor as yourself. That’s all the law is saying to you.
But if ye bite and devour one another, [you better] take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust [desires] of the flesh (5:15-16).
So, Paul here exhorts us to walk in the Spirit and to live after the Spirit or on the spirit side of our lives. Now, man was created and by God as a living spirit. Created by God, in fellowship with God. God is a superior Trinity; man is an inferior trinity. The superior Trinity is made up of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The inferior trinity is spirit, soul and body of man. And it is in the realm of the spirit where man meets God. That’s where I come in touch with God. That’s where God touches me. In my spirit, in the realm of the Spirit. His Spirit bears witness with my spirit that I am a child of God.
“God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). Now when Adam sinned, his spirit died just as God had warned, “In the day that you eat, you will surely die” (Genesis 2:17). His spirit died, and Adam broke fellowship with God. For God would not fellowship with man dominated by his flesh. And of course, that’s exactly what the temptation led Adam to is fleshly domination. He saw that the tree was pleasant to look upon, it was tasty to eat and it would make him wise as God. “The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16). And they ate, giving over to their fleshly appetites and in so doing, the flesh dominated. The flesh began to rule, and man’s consciousness was now filled and absorbed with the body needs and the body appetites.
God did not intend man to live that way, because man living that way is alienated from God who is a Spirit. When the emphasis of man became on the physical fleshly side of him, he no longer was one with God, who is a Spirit and must be worshipped in spirit and in truth. And so in the fullness of time, God sent His Son to die for man’s sin, in order that through Him man might be born again by the Spirit of God. And become again a spiritual being.
And so, when Nicodemus came to Jesus, Jesus faced him immediately with this issue. He said, "You’ve got to be born again." He said, "What do you mean? I can’t go back to my mother’s womb and be born again. What are you talking about?" Jesus said, "I’m not talking about that. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, but that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Don’t marvel when I say, 'You’ve got to be born again.'" And Jesus talked to him about the spiritual rebirth, which takes place when a person by faith receives Christ as his Savior. There is a work of God’s Spirit within his heart, and he is born of the Spirit, and now again has a spirit that is alive and is conscious of God. And this is the thing that you try to describe to people, and they don’t understand.
The Bible says, “The natural man cannot understand the things of the Spirit: neither can he know them, they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). But he that is spiritual understands these things, though he is not understood. And to try to explain to people the things of the Spirit to the natural man, to try and explain the things of the Spirit has got to be one of the most frustrating things in the world. Because you have been born of the Spirit, you can see it, you can understand it; it’s as plain as can be. But because they are not born of the Spirit and have no understanding of the spiritual dimension of life, you’re talking riddles to them. You’re talking nonsense.
It’s amazing, isn’t it, what difference being born of the Spirit really makes. In my attitude towards life. In my understanding of the word of God. In so many things. Suddenly, I have been born of the Spirit; things suddenly are illuminated. Things which were once a mystery and I couldn’t understand are now very understandable. They’re just revealed by the Spirit. The truth of God to our hearts.
So, you has he made alive who were dead because of your trespasses and sins. Who in times past you walked according to the course of this world. According to the prince of the power of the air, among whom we all had our manner of living. As we lived to fulfill the desires of our flesh and of our mind, and we were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God has made you alive in Christ Jesus. And now your spirit is alive. And your spirit being alive, again you can experience fellowship with God, the joy, the blessing of fellowshipping with God.
So, "walk in the Spirit." That is, walk in fellowship with God. Walk on the spiritual side of your nature. And if you do, you will not be fulfilling the desires of your flesh. The flesh will not be ruling over you anymore. The fleshly desires will not be dominating your life, but your life will be dominated by the Spirit, and thus, by God.
For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would (5:17).
There is a warfare that goes on in the life of the believer. Once the spirit has come alive, now there comes this striving for the mastery of me. Will I be mastered by the Spirit or will I be mastered by the flesh? If I am mastered by the flesh, then I have the mind of the flesh. That is, my mind is constantly upon fleshly things. And the mind of the flesh is alienated from God; it cannot know God. The mind of the flesh is death.
But if my life is dominated by the Spirit, then I have the mind of the Spirit. And I’m thinking of God, and I’m thinking upon spiritual things, and the result of life and joy and peace in the holy Spirit. The mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and joy and peace. The warfare going on. Am I going to yield to my flesh, or am I going to yield to the Spirit? And this comes up every day in many situations, and I have actually the choice in this situation. I can yield to my flesh and I can blow off steam and I can get in and I can fight and I can get into the striving and the whole issue. Or I can walk after the Spirit and say, "Oh Lord, it doesn’t matter. Help me, Lord, to just keep the right attitude." And I can just go and pass it by.
And so, another issue arises in five minutes. Uh-huh, you did that five minutes. All right, you know. And I can choose whether or not to walk in the flesh, or then again, to commit it and walk after the Spirit. You see, it isn’t a once-in-forever kind of a thing. It is once that I have reckoned myself to be crucified with Christ when I accepted Him. I was crucified with Christ, but now I have to reckon it in so many situations everyday.
"Hey, that old nature, that old Chuck is dead. Let him alone. Don’t revive him. Crucified with Christ. Reckon that to be. That’s just my old flesh that’s upset. That’s my old prideful nature. That’s the old nature that wants its way, that wants to insist on its own way and all. That’s the old nature, reckon that to be dead. That died with Christ. It doesn’t really matter, I’m going to walk after the Spirit and I’m going to please God in this. I’m going to walk in love." And so, I have to reckon the old man to be dead each day, and oftentimes, many times through the day.
The flesh is lusting against the Spirit. The Spirit against the flesh. They’re contrary, and I do not always walk after the Spirit. There are times when I lapse into the flesh. I get an attitude that is not of the Lord. I say something that is not of the Lord. Do you know what happens? Immediately the Spirit speaks to me and says, "That was wrong." "Yeah, but I had the right to do it." And I’ll argue with Him for a while. "You don’t know how long I’ve been taking it, Lord. I tried." And you keep dealing with me until I’ll finally say, "Oh, God, I’m sorry. I was wrong. Forgive me, Lord. Help me, Lord. Thank You, Jesus, for Your forgiveness and for Your love and for Your grace to me."
And I’m washed and I’m cleansed and I go on. You see, I don’t always do the things that I would. But when I do fail, the Spirit is right there, and that’s why I know I’m a child of God. You see, if I weren’t a child of God, He would just let me go. He wouldn’t bother correcting me. It’s sort of comforting, you know. David said, “Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4). The rod was the thing the shepherd used to hit the sheep on the flanks when they started getting out, you know, roaming out. All right, I’m still one of His sheep, you know. He’s just whacked me with the rod. Oh, I’m comforted by that. I’m still His child. Don’t despise the chastening of the Lord. “Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourges every son whom He receives” (Hebrews 12:6).
But if ye be led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these (5:18-19),
And he gives to us here a listing, incomplete to be sure, because he ends it by saying, “And do such things.” And so, such things leaves an unending list of things of the flesh. But he lists some of the works of the flesh. These works of the flesh, of course, are related to our body drives, so many of them.
Adultery, fornication, uncleanness [sexual impurities], [wantonness] lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft [drug abuse] (5:19-20),
The Greek word is pharmakeia, translated here witchcraft, because in the sorceries, they’re into witchcraft. They often use drugs, potions; the potions that you’d take, you know, and it’d have their drug related experiences.
hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies (5:20),
Interesting to me that heresies is here mentioned as a part of the works of the flesh. And I was challenged by that for a while. I began to think it through and I thought, "Yes, it is a work of the flesh, because usually a person gets into heresy to attract attention to himself." You know, you come up with some heretical teaching, you get everybody excited and everybody’s listening, everybody’s beginning to discuss what you’re teaching. And the old flesh likes to get people excited and stirred up like that. And people to follow after me, you know. Here I’ve got this new twist on the Scripture. No one’s ever seen this before but oh, bless God, He’s revealed it to us in these days. And you develop your own little following, which really appeals to your flesh. The works of the flesh.
Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like (5:21):
So, the such like covers a lot of things.
of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God (5:21).
This is indeed strong language for you who want to live after the flesh. As we go down these things here, these are the things that God will exclude from His kingdom. These things are not allowed in the kingdom of God. If you want to be a subject in God’s kingdom, then you cannot do these things. You cannot be ruled and dominated by your flesh.
Now, it is interesting, a list similar to this is given to us in Revelation the twenty-first chapter, as it tells us those who are going to be excluded from heaven and outside were those who were doing these things: "The fearful, the unbelieving, the abominable, the murderers, the whoremongers, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and the liars,” those who are outside. And so, Revelation 21:8 if you want the reference on that. And then there’s another reference also in Revelation, "but outside or the dogs and adulterers and so forth."
This is heavy. The works of the flesh. It’s a solemn warning to every one of us who would live after the flesh or would want to live after the flesh to know that you cannot do these things and inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit (5:22)
Now, “walk in the Spirit, you’ll not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” Be led by the Spirit, you’re not under the law. The law forbids these things, but the law of love also forbids them. “But the fruit of the Spirit”
is love (5:22),
Now notice, works of the flesh, works plural. So all of these things fall under the category of works of the flesh, but the “fruit of the Spirit,” fruit is singular. So there’s only one real fruit of the Spirit, that is love. These other words are defining what the agape love actually is. So, joy is love’s consciousness. You ever seen a person in love and all of the joy that they have?
You remember as Paul defined love for us in I Corinthians chapter thirteen, he uses longsuffering. “Love suffereth long and is kind.” This agape love is gentle; it is good. The word faith here is trusting. It is…it has a, perhaps, a naiveté about it in that it does trust.
You know I’ve been burned so many times by trusting men, but I pray, "God, never make me jaundiced." I’d rather trust and be burned than not to trust. True to the Spirit. This kind of love is a trusting love. Not to the place of being ridiculous. Some guy comes up and says, "Hey man, I got a watch, genuine made, you know. I need money to get home. Can you give me, you know, a hundred dollars for this watch?" I’m, you know, not stupid.
“Blessed are the meek” (Matthew 5:5).
Now, the word temperance is one we have a little difficulty with. We don’t understand that word too much. Let’s use an opposite word, intemperant. A person doesn’t lose his temper. He’s temperant. Now,
against such there is no law (5:23).
I mean, if you’re walking in love, what rules can you lay down? What can you say to a guy? You see, you don’t need any laws. All of the bases are covered. They’re covered by the fact that you’re walking in love.
And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh (5:24)
Paul had written in the earlier part, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). Romans chapter six, “Know ye that the old man was crucified with Christ? Therefore reckon ye yourselves to be dead with Christ, but alive unto God through Him” (Romans 6:6,11). So, they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh.
with the affections and lusts [with its desires]. [For] if we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vainglory (5:24-26),
Now, these men who were coming with this teaching were really out to get notches on their belts. The kind that were always talking about numbers. "We had ten thousand souls saved last week. Look at all the notches on my belt." Men that have followed after my perverse teachings. “Desirous of vainglory,”
provoking one another, envying one another (5:26).
Glory, the glory of man is indeed empty; it’s vain. Don’t seek after it. You’ll be disappointed. It will create a lot of enemies. It will create a lot of envy and a lot of provocation.
Bretheren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted (6:1).
The Bible does seem to make a distinction between sins and faults, though I think that the distinction is probably quite narrow. But James said that “if there’s any sick among you, let him call for the elders of the church and let them anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord and the prayer of faith will save the sick and the Lord shall raise them up. And if they have committed any sins, they shall be forgiven them” (James 5:14-15). And then he said, "Now confess your faults one to another” (James 5:16). Now, there is really no place in the Scripture where we’re told to confess our sins one to another. We’re to confess our sins unto God. And “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). But we can confess our faults to one another.
Now, a lot of people have gone into some real trouble over these confessional things, you know, where we’re all going to confess our sins to each other. And a lot of hurt has come from that. A lot of damage has come from that.
I heard of three ministers who got together and decided that they were going to purge them consciences by confessing their sins to each other. First minister said, "Well," he said, "I have a problem with drinking." He said, "Don’t anybody know this, but I keep a bottle at at at home all the time." He said, "I’m just a private drinker, not a social, but I’m a private drinker. And I just have to have my bottle, and every night before I go to bed I have a drink or two." Next minister said, "Well, my problem is women; I just can’t seem to get free from lust. And I just really have a strong lust after women and all. It’s just really terrible. I don’t know what I’m going to do." And he started telling of some of the women and all. Third minister said, "Well, my sin is gossip, and I just can’t wait to get out of here."
You got to be careful of these confession services. You don’t know who might have the sin of gossip. “Confess your faults one to another.” I’m at fault. I was wrong. It’s good to confess. It’s hard. I think those are probably the three hardest words to say, "I was wrong," especially if you’re talking to your wife. You don’t want to be wrong. Confess your faults. Be willing to confess when you are wrong. Be willing to confess when you’ve made a mistake. Confess your faults. "I was too hasty in my judgment. I spoke when I should have been silent. I was wrong when I said that."
Confess your faults to one another. Now “if a brother be overtaken in a fault,” and this, I believe, does refer to this business of the heresy, because it’s all in context. Someone has gone out and gotten circumcised in order that they might be righteous. He’s overtaken in his fault. Faulty teaching. “Ye which are spiritual restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.”
Now, I think that this can go beyond this, as far as the restoration of a brother. “If a brother be overtaken in a fault,” in a faulty relationship, “ye which are spiritual restore such a one.” Now, God’s desire is not to damn the sinner, but always to restore the sinner. And if I take the attitude of damning everybody that does wrong, then I’m not taking God’s attitude towards man. And it’s unfortunate that many people have that concept of God, that He’s wanting to damn everyone who has done something wrong. Not so. God wants to restore everyone who has done something wrong.
If you have sinned, it isn’t God’s desire to destroy you. It’s God’s desire to restore you. And if I am going to be a servant of God walking in love, then I must seek to help in that restoration process. Not to push you down further. Not to say, "Oh well, I knew that guy was a flake anyhow, you know." But to restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, not to come in a haughty spirit. Not to come in a spirit of judgment and condemnation and lay down the heavy hand of the law upon the guy and say, "How could you do that? How could you do that, man?" But to restore him in the spirit of meekness realizing, "Hey, I’m capable of doing the same thing. Were it not for the grace of God and the power of God’s Spirit, I could be guilty of the very same thing."
And so “restoring him in the spirit of meekness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” So,
Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ (6:2).
He bore our burdens for us. “Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). He’s willing to bear your burden, now we need to bear one another’s burdens. And thus, we fulfill the law of Christ. When one member suffers, they all suffer. And within the body, we need to have that kind of a sensitivity, whereby we can minister more effectively to each other when there is a need, when a brother is in need. When a brother is hurting, that we can stand with him and encourage them and support them, and that we bear one another’s burdens. That’s what the Lord would have us to do. So, “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself (6:3).
He’s not deceiving those around him. And there are so many people in this category who really think they are something when they are nothing. Have you ever met one of those persons? I have met so many. Self-deceived. Self-deluded.
But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another (6:4).
You know when God has revealed some special exciting truth to your heart, so exciting, so new, so novel, so different, and you feel that the whole body needs to share and know this truth that God has revealed to you, please do us the favor of allowing us to observe how this truth has transformed your life more into the image of Jesus Christ. Let us see what it has done in you to make you a better servant of God. And then, when we observe the fruit of this truth in your own life, we’ll come to you and ask you about it. But don’t come lay your trips on us. Prove, let every man prove himself. Then you’ll have something really to glory in. Let it be proved in your own life. Let us see the result as it is worked out in your life. And then you can rejoice in what God has done for you.
For every man shall bear his own burden (6:5).
Now he’s just told us to bear one another’s burdens, and that is important. But you can’t lay your burden on everybody else. You’ve got to bear your own burden, too. And there are a lot of people that are always trying to unburden themselves on everybody else so they don’t have to carry it. You know, they burden everybody they get around with their burden. And then they walk away and say, "All right, now I don’t have to worry about that anymore, you know. I’ve dumped it on somebody else." I have a lot of people dump burdens on me. My wife said, "Why do you think God gave you broad shoulders?" I was telling her about something that was dumped on me the other day and she…not much sympathy at home, just good exhortation. Poor baby.
Now, verse six is an interesting verse. And I don’t want to really expound upon it. But Paul is declaring that,
Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things (6:6).
The Bible says that “the laborer is worthy of his hire” (Luke 10:7). “Don’t muzzle the ox that treads out the corn” (Deuteronomy 25:4). “The husbandman is first partaker of the fruit” (2 Timothy 2:6). And let me say that God has abundantly blessed me, and has blessed me in every way possible. He has blessed me physically, good health. He has blessed me spiritually, in my walk and relationship with Him. He has blessed me financially. He has blessed me in every possible way. And I thank God for His blessings. So I am not going to poor mouth and say, "Oh, now you should communicate to your teacher in all good things, you know, and see he’s taken care of." God does take care of me. Takes care of me very well.
In fact, I love to be able to go out and minister God’s love and God’s truth to people without charge. I’ve sort of independent like Paul in that way, and in that respect, and I love to go out and and people say, "Well, how much do you charge to come?" I say, "I’d never charged anybody to go." And wherever I go and people ask about expenses, I always tell them, "Look, my Father is extremely wealthy and He takes care of all of my needs. So you don’t have to worry about taking care of me, my Father has given me a lavish expense account." God is good. And God has blessed me, for which I give Him thanks. And you have blessed me.
I’ll tell you, the rewards of the ministry are just fantastic. Every week I’m receiving such glorious letters from people whose lives have been blessed by the teaching of the word of God. And what a blessing that is to me when people share what God is doing in their lives through the Word and through the teaching of the Word. I’ll tell you, I just sit there and I just am blessed, am blessed, am blessed. So, communicate, the word literally in Greek means to, “in all good things,” it refers to finances and food and things of this nature. But there is communication also, just verbally, and by letters, and just a thank you many times is so rewarding. You know, you maybe have just gone through a hassle or something, you go to get the mail and then you start getting this. Of course, we also get the other kind of mail, too, but I don’t read that.
Now, we read a little bit ago about a person who thinks he’s really something when he is nothing. He is just deceived. Paul now again says,
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting (6:7-8).
I believe that man is sowing into the fertile field of his mind every day and you can be sowing to the flesh. It is difficult in this age not to sow to the flesh. There are so many magazines being published, the sole purpose is to feed the flesh, to excite the flesh, to excite the desires of the flesh, to incite and inflame the flesh. So many movies, so many TV programs—all designed to sow to the flesh, to get the flesh excited. Don’t be deceived. If you watch these movies, if you look at these magazines, if you feed your flesh, then you are going to reap of the flesh corruption. Don’t be deceived. You cannot feed the flesh and reap of the Spirit.
And many of you are having problems with your flesh simply because you’re sowing to the flesh. The eye gate is an important gate into the soul of man. And you are affected by what you see. You know, it’s such a horrible thing to plant garbage into the computer.
The other day as I was out in the yard working. I don’t know what juices went together to create the electric spark that went across my brain, but when I was a little kid about seven years old, some dirty guy sang a dirty song. And you know, here years later, that dirty song came back into my mind. And I thought, "Oh God, that’s horrible that that kind of rot was planted in my brain when I was just a little kid. And those big guys that sang that song when I was there as a little kid, polluting my mind, planting that garbage in there. And it’s still there. I can’t rid it out of my mind." Oh I don’t…that’s the first time, you know, and I haven’t… I can’t even remember what it was now. I just remember as a dirty song the other day that came into my mind that I heard when I was a kid. I thought, "Oh, garbage!" Of course, I immediately began to sing choruses and praised the Lord, and to put that stuff back into the garbage pit from which it came.
But you’re sowing. You’re sowing either to your flesh, or you’re sowing to your spirit. And what you sow you’re going to reap. That’s natural. That’s life. Don’t be deceived on that issue. Now, the beautiful thing is, is that we can sow to the Spirit. That’s what we’re doing tonight. “Thy word, O Lord, is life and it is Spirit” (John 6:63). “The word of God is alive, and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, and it’s able to cut between the bone and the marrow, and between the soul and the spirit” (Hebrews 4:12). And the word of God feeds our spirits and as we sow to the Spirit, then of the Spirit we’re going to reap life everlasting.
So what am I planting in, that is so vital, because what I’m planting in is what’s going to come out. And if I’m planting to my flesh, it’s going to come out of the flesh. If I’m planting to my spirit, it’s going to come out of the Spirit. How important that we do more sowing to the Spirit. God help us. We’re living in horrible days in many sense. We have all of these modern conveniences; all designed to take us a little further away from the Lord. To absorb our time. So easy to turn on the TV and get involved in the fantasies of TV. Some mystery, some story, some romance. What a waste of time. So easy, isn’t it? Sow to the flesh. So easy. But “don’t be deceived; whatsoever a man sows, that will he also reap.”
And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not (6:9).
Now, you start sowing to the Spirit and you want an immediate crop, you know. We sow to the flesh, we want God to stunt the growth, you know. "Don’t let it come up, God." But if we sow to the Spirit, then we want immediate results. "Hey, Lord, I prayed about this five minutes ago. Now when you going to do something?" You know. “Be not weary in well doing.” Don’t give up. Don’t get discouraged. “In due season, God’s timing, we will reap, if we faint not.” What if we faint? Well, we probably won’t reap.
As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith (6:10).
Let that be our rule of life. Let’s do good to all men. Now Paul writes a personal note. He said,
Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand (6:11).
Most of Paul’s letters were dictated, because that was just the usual way in those days. They’d have a stenographer who would write their letters for them. And most of Paul’s letters were dictated. This Galatian epistle, it is thought that he wrote in his own handwriting. And so the large letter could refer to the size of the letters, because he had bad eyesight. And so, it could be that he wrote very large so he could see what he was writing. Or it is possible he is referring to the length of the letter, because if he wrote the whole letter to the Galatians in his own hand, it was a long letter for a person to write himself. So, “you see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand.” Again, could be a hint or an indication towards Paul’s weakness of his flesh.
As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ (6:12).
They’re going along with the crowd. They don’t want to suffer the persecution for the cross of Christ, so they go ahead and preach the law of righteousness.
For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but [they] desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh (6:13).
That they may glory in their conquest, in their converts.
But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world (6:14).
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, save in the death of Christ my God. God forbid that I should glory in anything but the cross of Jesus Christ. Not glory in the work that God has done through me, not glory in anything that I have or I have done. But glory in the work of God for me in the cross of Jesus Christ, I glory. “By whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” That is, I am dead to the world but alive unto God through Jesus.
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature (6:15).
It has nothing to do with my relationship. What is important is that I am a new creature in Christ. So from now on,
And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. From henceforth let no man trouble me [don’t bug me]: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus (6:16-17).
Paul, one of the writers, I don’t know, Hebrew writers said, “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, as you were striving for the truth” (Hebrews 12:4). But Paul did. “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” Scarred.
Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen (6:18).
Father, we thank You now for the word of God and this opportunity tonight of studying again that we might sow to the Spirit. For Lord, we want to reap of the Spirit. God, we want to walk in the Spirit. We want to be led by the Spirit. We want to live in the Spirit. We want to be controlled by the Spirit. We want the fruit of the Spirit to be evidenced in our lives. We present our bodies as a temple that Your Holy Spirit might indwell us. In Jesus’ name. Amen. God bless, fill your hearts with His Spirit, and walk in the Spirit. Sow to the Spirit that you’re going to reap of the Spirit life abundant through Jesus. Hallelujah!