Saturday, March 14, 2020

2020.03.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 5:19–21

Questions from the Scripture text: Which works are evident (Galatians 5:19)? What sixteen specific works do Galatians 5:19-21 mention? How does Galatians 5:21 end the list? When does the apostle say that he is telling the church? Before what—of what event is he speaking? Is this the first time that he tells them? About whom is he especially speaking at the end of verse 21? What will they not do? 
In the previous passage, we read about a great battle between the flesh (our remaining sin from our original nature in the first Adam) and the Spirit—and how we are to be led by the Spirit into battle against the flesh. Of course, that immediately presents the question of how we can tell which side we happen to be fighting on. This week’s passage gives us a list of things to be fighting against. Next week’s passage gives us a list of characteristics to expect to grow as we trust in the Spirit for His work.

One important thing to note is that there are some things in this list that people excuse by saying that’s their “personality.” That’s not what this Scripture calls them. The Scripture calls them “works of the flesh”—expressions of that guilty, wicked nature with which we came into this world.

Galatians 5:19 targets especially the 7th commandment. These are sins where one indulges earthly desires over against the self-control and purity to which we are called. A couple of the terms especially highlight purity in our thought life and a regard for helping others remain pure in their thought life.

Galatians 5:20 targets especially religious sins—sings against the first table of the law, the first four  verse 20 commandments. Any compromising of the holiness or truth of God; promotion of self or of personal preferences or ideas about God; or, manmade ways of increasing spiritual vitality (“sorcery” in the NKJV, but the Greek word from which we get pharmaceutics, and implying concoctions of man to achieve health or power)—things that result in harm to the purity of the church, and often by this harming the peace of the church.

Of course, there is overlap between harming the church generally and harming others individually, and Galatians 5:21 brings us full-circle: highlighting sins that immediately damage ourselves or others, physically or spiritually.

It is important to note that this Scripture invites us to other Scriptures that give us such lists (Romans 1:26-31, 2 Timothy 3:2-4, etc.), so that we can take an honest catalog of what behaviors we are nursing that are “harboring the enemy” in our spiritual battle.

It helps us rather little to go through such a list and focus upon those sins that are not issues for us. If we want more help, we need to focus especially upon those sins that are battles for us right now, and with the Scripture as an exposing mirror (Psalm 119:105, James 1:21-27, Hebrews 4:11-13), consider which side of the battle we have been fighting for.

Finally, there is a very serious warning. If those who are sons of God are led by the Spirit of God, and those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God, then our eternal destiny may be discerned by assessing which side of the battle we are on.

Because Jesus makes a true difference in every individual whom He redeems, this Scripture can say with 100% truthfulness and seriousness: “those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

God redeem us, and adopt us, and send forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, that we may be engaged on the right side of this battle!
Against which sins in this list have you been doing battle? Which, if any, have you been coddling? 
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH51C “God, Be Merciful to Me”

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