Studies in Galatians – Wayne Barber/Part 17
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2004|
|He’s contrasting what Christ does for us as opposed to what the law cannot do. The law is effective. The law had a purpose. It made us ready to receive the grace that only Christ could give to us.|
What Garment Are You Wearing?
Turn with me to Galatians 3. And we are going to camp out on some verses to make sure we understand what we looked at the last time together. We’re going to look very focused at verses 26-28, even though we’ve looked at it once. I think we need to look at it twice because it begs a question we must answer this morning. What an amazing truth we saw the last that we were together in our study of Galatians: that at the moment of receiving Jesus Christ into our hearts, at that very moment, whether we feel it or whether we don’t feel it, at that very moment we become sons of God. Now, that’s an exciting truth. No wonder we sing, “O come let us adore You,” for what He has done for us is salvation. He says in verse 26, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” When we trust Christ for our salvation, at that moment we become, as he calls us, sons of God.
Now, what he’s doing, he’s contrasting what Christ does for us as opposed to what the law cannot do. The law is effective. The law had a purpose. It made us ready to receive the grace that only Christ could give to us. Paul uses a term for sons that’s very unique, and we identified that the last time. There are four terms for a child or son, but he uses the term huios, that we looked at last time, a mature child, one who is a reflection of his father. It refers to one who lives in total harmony with his father. This is our position in Christ. If we are all honest, none of us have arrived at that point. But this is our position in Him.
It’s the word that refers to Christ. That’s who He is in us. He’s the Son of God. He’s always called huetos of God, always. You will never see Him any other way in Scripture because He is the perfect Son. He is the Son of God from heaven that came to earth to become the Son of man. When we are surrendered to His will and when we are surrendered to His way, His Word, then we can enjoy the full privileges of adult sonship. You don’t get to enjoy those unless you say yes to Him. The same way you are clothed in Him, as we will see in a moment, is the same way you walk in Him.
Now Paul shows us at the moment of salvation, not only do we become sons of God, but at that very moment we are baptized into Christ. We’re not only immersed into Him, but we are identified with Him. We used the illustration of a bowl of red dye. You take a white cloth, put it into the dye. It is immersed into that dye. It is baptized into that dye. But it is also identified with the dye. Not only is the cloth in the dye, the dye is in the cloth. And Paul says in verse 27, “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” And that’s a powerful statement he makes here. He connects being baptized into Christ with being clothed with Christ. This is a very vivid description of how we are now identified with His power, His presence, His character. We are saturated with it on the inside. Peter says we have everything that is necessary for life and for godliness.
And Paul is just rehearsing that truth right here in Galatians. We are totally identified with Him. It doesn’t matter what race you are. He says in verse 28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek.” It doesn’t matter whether you are rich or whether you are poor, whatever class in society you have. He says “There is neither slave nor free man.” And it doesn’t matter what gender you have. He says, “There is neither male nor female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” The garment that He gives for us to wear affects a behavior that can never point to us; it can only point to Christ who lives in us. We all wear the same uniform. It doesn’t matter if you are black or white or whatever you are, as far as your race, it doesn’t matter. When you say yes to God it’s all going to look the same, the character that flows from your life. Our behavior becomes His behavior as He lives His life through us.
Now this statement, this truth, begs to ask a question and to have it answered: If this is true, if we are clothed with His garment, if Christ lives in us, then why is it that so many believers worldwide live as if this truth isn’t even there? I have learned from being in the pastorate those many years and being many places there are some people that are meaner than a snake and they call themselves believers. Now, somehow there’s a problem here. How can you be clothed with Christ—and there is no such thing as a believer who is not fully clothed with Christ—how can we be clothed with the inward garment of Christ and our behavior be so different on the outside? How can some people treat other people as if they don’t even know the Lord Jesus? How can people be so mean to one another in the body of Christ? How can this be?
All of us have been there. I’ve struggled. You’ve struggled. We’ve all struggled in our Christian walk. How is it that one day, Paul says in Romans 7, “the things I want to do I don’t do. The things I wished I could say, I don’t say.” Where is this struggle coming from? What’s wrong with us if we are clothed with the garment of Christ, that many times we choose not to walk in that garment?
Well, I want to spend some time today clarifying that one truth. We had a lot of questions that came up last week. You see, believers are dressed inwardly with Christ, inwardly. But for that garment to be seen outwardly—a garment is what you wear; a garment is your behavior—for that garment to be seen on the outside, then we must live by faith, trusting Him. Now, when you can see something, that’s not faith. But faith is saying, “God, I trust You. I trust Your will and I trust Your Word.” And when we are in that position of saying yes only to Him, then He takes our life and manifests His character, His behavior, through us.
This is why in Romans 13:14 the apostle Paul says to believers who have already put on the garment, he says “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ,” and he tells them how, “by giving no provision to the flesh.” This is what he says in Ephesians 4. He says “in regards to your former manner of life, put on the new man.” He’s not refuting what was said in Colossians. You have already put Him on in salvation inwardly; now let Him be seen outwardly in your life by trusting Him. The same way we receive that garment is the same way we are dressed in that garment. That is why Colossians 2:6 says “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus, so walk you in Him.”
Now, Paul has already told us in Galatians how he lives, how he allows God’s life to live through him, how he allows God to be His garment, His character, His behavior. He has already told us how he does that. That is in 2:20. You see, he’s made a choice. In verse 20 it says, “I have been crucified with Christ.” At that moment he was made a son of God. He’s clarifying that even in chapter 3. At that moment he became baptized into Christ. At that moment he was clothed with Christ. “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.”
Now look what he says, “And the life which I now live.” In other words, now, on the other side of the cross, I’ve got a choice to make. And he says I’ve made that choice: “I live by faith.” Faith comes from hearing; hearing from the word of God. Faith is trusting God. “I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Faith is a choice. Every morning I get up I have a choice to make; you have a choice to make; Christians everywhere have a choice to make. That choice is this: either to say yes to God, lay down everything else and say yes to God, “God, I want to be a conduit. Will You just live Your life in and through me?” Or I have a choice to pamper my flesh. I have a choice to do what my flesh wants. I have a choice to yield to my flesh. We can choose that. If we do, we’re going to ruin our relationships. We are going to see this today.
What happens when you wear the wrong garment? Even though we are dressed inwardly with the garment of Christ, what happens when we don’t say yes to Christ? Why is it that we’re living such defeated lives from time to time? I’ve been there. Certainly you’ve been there. It’s because we just simply choose not to say yes to God. We’re not willing to trust God with what lies ahead in our lives. You say, “What does that wrong garment look like?” I don’t know how many people I’ve had say that to me, especially young people, they come and say, “I’m worried about this whole thing. If I’m clothed with Christ and I’m supposed to walk in the garment of Christ, what does my behavior look like when I’m not walking that way?”
Do you know one of the greatest ways to teach a truth is to show what it’s not, so that you can understand what it is? And so therefore I’m going to do something this morning, and I want to preempt chapter 5. We are going to see this in months to come. Who knows if I will live long enough to get to chapter 5. I’m kind of slow. Many of us will never make it to chapter 5, so I’m going to go ahead and do that this morning. And I think this will help us to see what the wrong garment looks like. It’s just so we can ask a question of ourselves, “What garment am I wearing?” By garment I mean my behavior. Does it reflect the One who lives within?
It’s so sad when we as believers—and I have done it—we as believers choose to pamper our flesh. We become immediately a detriment to the body of Christ. We become very divisive. It’s like a cancer in a physical body. It begins to eat away at the things that are seeking to be healthy. A person who seeks to go after that has no testimony at all. As a matter of fact, it completely disarms any testimony whatsoever, because people don’t see Christ anymore; they only see that individual.
I want to jump over, like I said, to chapter 5, verses 19-21. And what Paul does here is, he gives the believers there a vivid picture of what happens when we choose to walk the other way. Why is it that we are clothed with Christ inwardly, but people don’t see that outwardly? What does it look like when we don’t let Jesus be Jesus in us? Paul shows that all the flesh can offer—and this is so good for us and healthy—all the flesh ever offers is a counterfeit at best to what God, in Christ Jesus has already given to us. We have a choice daily now whether to walk in one or the other.
Verse 19 says, “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident.” That word “evident” means Paul says “I don’t even have to make this list, you already know what they are.” We have all been there. All of us have been there. He’s been there. He mentions that in Romans 7. He tells us in Philippians he hasn’t yet arrived. He says, man, we all know what the flesh does. We all know this by experience. “The deeds of the flesh are evident.” And then he says, “Which are,” and then he mentions them, “immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissentions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing and things like these, of which I forewarned you, just as I have forewarned, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Now, we need desperately to see what he’s talking about here in this passage. You say, “He’s talking about lost people.” Now, hang on to that thought. I will clarify that when we finish the message. What he’s saying is that the flesh is as wicked before we get saved as it is after we get saved. This may help answer some questions in your mind. Maybe you have come from other places, particularly from the south, and you have wondered how can churches be so divisive if they’re clothed with the body, with the garment of Christ? How can they treat each other this way? And he’s going to show you right here. You see, the flesh is never any different. Just like the characteristics of Christ are always the same when we say yes to Him, no matter what we are, Jew, Greek, or whatever. But the characteristics of the flesh are also always the same. They will never be any different. He didn’t even have to finish the list. He just gives a partial list to help us better understand.
Four things. First of all, we want to understand that all the flesh can do is offer us a counterfeit love-life. Now, I didn’t have any other way of putting this, because he deals here with the intimate physical relationships of people. He says, “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident.” He mentions three things. First of all is immorality, secondly impurity, and then thirdly, sensuality. Now, Paul describes a counterfeit love-life. What is called love is really lust, and he wants them to see it is a counterfeit to what God offers you and I.
It’s amazing how the flesh makes us think that lust is the same thing as love. The flesh makes us think that physical gratification for just an instant or a second is equal to the spiritual love that God will produce in us if we will just say yes to Him. Let me look at the words with you. First of all he mentions the word “immorality.” Actually, in this list the last word is the culprit, not the first one, but he mentions immorality. It is the big word for sexual sin no matter what that sexual sin is. It is the word porneia. We get the word in English, pornography comes from that word. This is the big house. This is the house that all sexual sins live in. As a matter of fact, the King James adds to this and puts adultery. Well, it didn’t really have to, because it is already covered with this word. Homosexuality, incest, promiscuous sex, adultery, all of these things are built into this word immorality.And so whenever you see it then you understand that it encompasses all sexual sin.
But then the next word is interesting because, you see, the Pharisees didn’t commit those external sexual sins that immorality would cover, but they had other problems. They had unclean minds, and so the apostle Paul says to them, he says, “impurity.” Remember when Jesus was with the Pharisees one day trying to show them that you can’t conquer your flesh and He says, “You shall not commit adultery.” And they said “Well, we aren’t committing adultery.” He says, “Well, wait a minute,” He says, “if you have lusted after a woman you have already committed adultery in your heart.” He was not condemning them, but what He was showing was the total inability for us to overcome this sin. That is why Jesus has to overcome us.
The word “impurity” is the word “akatharsia”. “A” without, katharsia is the word that refers to being clean, unclean. A man told me once, he came to me and he just saddened my heart. He had been committing adultery for years, and finally God was dealing with him. And he came to me and, as he was trying to be restored in the body of Christ, he told me, “I’m sad to tell you,” but he said “the place that I go to find somebody to sleep with is in the church.” And he said, “The way I do it is this,” he said, “I say something that is of a lewd type of slant to it, and I watch for the women that pick up on it, and I know immediately I have found my mark.” He said, “In many churches it’s just like a meat market and if you know what you are looking for you can find it.”
Now, you see, this is what I’m talking about. You say, how can a church be that way? My friend, when you choose the flesh, when I choose the flesh, immorality is absolutely going to happen. And if it doesn’t happen in the act, it will happen in the thought life. And it will be a person who tries to mask themselves and make everybody think they are spiritual, but on the inside their thoughts are unclean. And this is a sad thing. Everybody has been there at one time in their life. And it is a struggle that you have, but this is what Paul is trying to show. Do you want that counterfeit? Do you want that counterfeit, he says?
And then the third thing he says, which to me is the culprit of it all, and that’s the word “sensuality.” The word sensuality is the word aselgeia. It’s the word that means without any restraint. It’s license to do as you please. Many people think that grace is license. They really do. We’re living in a day that casual Christianity has really killed us in this understanding. They think that because I am under grace I can go out and do anything I want. I can drink; I can do whatever I want to do. And that attitude is produced right here. This is where it starts. Whenever you think that grace is a license, I can do whatever I want to do, in the sense that there is no consequence to it, in the sense that it doesn’t in any way offend my Father, that’s where it starts, that license.
Grace never gives you the license to do as you please, never ever. It’s the power to do as you should and that’s where people miss it right there. That’s the Antinomians of Romans. You see, you’ve got the legalist on one side, but you’ve got just as bad on the other side, the Antinomians. Aselgia, this idea of sensuality, “I can do what I please at any time,” begins to allow the mind to go the wrong way, and it will not be long until immorality will be produced in that life. You see, this is what Paul is trying to show them. Evidently it must be going on in Galatia, because they have bought into the fleshly mindset of religion, the performance mentality. Evidently some of them are falling right into this trap, and he has to remind them of this. All that flesh can ever do is to produce what we want, never what we need. And I want to say that again: all that the flesh can ever do is give you want you want, but never produce what we need. This is why people get into felt needs rather than real needs, the Word of God. God knows what we need. We don’t have a clue. We don’t even know what we want. So, a counterfeit love life.
But the second thing he mentions here is actually going to catch you by surprise, or it might not, but I think it will. And that second thing is a counterfeit worship. You’re going to say, where in the world do you see that in that list? Oh, it’s everywhere. It’s incredible how many believers don’t have a clue as to what worship is. I’m sad to say that. There are three words for worship in Scripture. One of the words means to fall prostrate before God because you don’t want anybody to see you; there’s nothing worthy about us to be seen. There’s the word latreia, which means to serve. There is the word seboma, which means to live a lifestyle Monday through Saturday that everybody knows you are under the Lordship of Christ. You go into the store and you treat the lady who’s behind the cash register, you treat her rudely; God stops you in the parking lot and makes you go back and ask that lady to forgive you because you are under the Lordship of Jesus. You’re not free to express your emotions like everybody else. You’re responsible to walk in the flow and the life of Christ.
The word for idolatry is the word “eidololatreia.” I know that excites you, but it should. It comes from two words. You can see it in the word. Eidolon is the word for idol, an idol. Latreia means to serve, so, to serve an idol. That’s what idolatry is, to serve it. Latreia is one of those words for worship, by the way. And, you see, the moment I start serving anything in my life other than Jesus, it becomes an idol and pulls me out of focus with my Lord.
We must begin with the fundamental understanding of what an idol is. An idol is anything that comes from man. It can be an agenda, it usually is. It always has an agenda with it. Habakkuk tells us it’s made by human hands. So therefore, when you serve an idol you are really serving, or I am really serving, my flesh. That’s all it is. When I choose not to say yes to God, I’m serving myself because what I have come up with has nothing to do with what God wants in my life.
We sing a song that Matt Redman wrote it, “I’m Coming Back to the Heart of Worship.” I told you the history of that several months ago, but maybe you were not here that day. Matt Redman was in a church in England and they began to realize that what they were worshiping had become an idol. They were worshiping their style. They were worshiping their tastes. The preacher realized he was even worshiping his outline material. And so they laid everything down, and for 12 weeks they got on their face before God and said, “God, we don’t want to do another thing. We’re not going to sing a song. We aren’t going to preach a verse until You become the focus of our worship. We have gotten off track. Even though good things went on and our flesh certainly felt better, we have gotten off track.”
Well, they went for 12 weeks or so and when they finally came back Matt Redman wrote that song. It has the same heart to it, the same depth to it, as some of the great hymns that we all love, and it says we’re coming back to the heart of worship. And if you understood the words, he says we don’t want a song anymore. It’s not the music, Lord. It’s You that’s the focus of our worship.
Idolatry is very subtle. You can be idolatrous and not even know it. You can be very sincere and call whatever it is that you are into, we can call it worship. It can be a preacher. And I guarantee you, I have had to deal with this in my walk. It can be a staff member who idolizes his ministry and becomes very territorial and doesn’t become a part of a ministerial team. It can be a congregation member. It can be anybody. An idol can be a style of music, and certainly we deal with that. It can be a ministry that you are attached to. An idol can be anything. It can be your family. It can be your house. It’s whatever grabs your emotion. It’s whatever draws you to it and that becomes your idol. Even though Christ’s name might be in the midst of it, it is not worshiping Christ. It is worshiping something that the flesh has come to expect or to want.
Well, in the context of Galatians what was it? It was the law. They had substituted the law for the Lord. The law became their master instead of Jesus becoming their master; and as a result of it, this is why Paul has to bring up what he brought up. When we get off track, when we foolishly choose to obey the whims and the felt needs of our flesh we enter into what we call idolatry. And with that idolatry comes an agenda. And we have to defend our agenda. In worshiping of Christ we defend Him. But in worshiping anything else we have to defend our agenda, whatever that is. We are definitely worshiping, oh yes, but the wrong kind of worship. It is idolatry, to serve an idol.
Now Paul adds another word that clarifies this. And this so interesting to me; he adds the word “sorcery.” You say, Wayne, that has nothing to do with worship. Oh, I beg your pardon. The word “sorcery” is the word pharmakeia. Pharmakeia is the word we get the word pharmacy from, but it also means drugs; it is the word for drugs. What I’m trying to show is that the flesh counterfeits worship to the point that it is like we are under a drug and we have to have it. Have you ever seen a person that’s been on drugs and you try to take them off of it? And they get the shakes, and they get scared to death. “I’ve got to have it. I’ve got to have it. I’ve got to have it.” And they actually have to go through a time of being deprogrammed so that they can understand what they need, not what they want. It’s the same thing. That’s how the term idolatry and sorcery comes together. It literally affects our behavior. It affects our talking to one another. It affects everything because we are defending an agenda that is other than Christ.
Idolatry is subtle. We can be of a certain age. We can be,… it does not matter. It does not matter if it’s your preacher. It does not matter if it’s you. Whatever agenda we attach ourselves to, that’s what we are going to defend and we’re going to defend it at the expense of worshiping the Lord Jesus. And it becomes like a fix. If we don’t have it our way, whatever it is, then whatever it is it becomes an idolatrous thing in our life. I wish we could understand in all of us, at every age, at every position in life, whatever it is we are focused upon, whatever is taking our emotions, whatever comes out our mouth that we’re defending, has everything to do with that which we are worshipping. And idolatry is any focus or agenda that is not Jesus Christ and trusting Him and Him alone.
I guess the question Paul would ask us all of us this morning is what are you addicted to? What is it, when it’s taken away from you, you feel like you’ve got the shakes and you’ve got to go have it, other than the Lord Jesus Christ? You say, Wayne, that hasn’t got anything to do with Galatians. You are using it. No, no! Didn’t you hear in Galatians 3:1, “Oh, foolish Galatians, who has [what?] bewitched you.” What’s the word bewitched? Put you under their spell like a drug that is now influencing even your behavior. That’s what Paul said. And that’s where the false and counterfeit worship comes from. It’s people that have something other than Christ in their focus.
Well, a counterfeit love life, a counterfeit worship, but really the next thing that he mentions, eight different things, to me are the most difficult and the hardest to swallow. It will affect a family; it will affect a church; it will affect whoever it is in the body of believers. The third area Paul brings up is counterfeit relationships. All believers want good relationships with others. I never wake up in the morning and want somebody to be mad at me. I want everybody to love me and I want to have good relationships with everybody. I want to have good relationships with my staff, with you, with my wife, with our children, my grandchildren, I want that. But when the flesh is obeyed, when we choose not to let that inner garment of Christ be manifest in our life instead of obeying God, then relationships are not built; they are ruined.
Flesh cannot relate to anything or anyone at any time. The times that I have chosen to walk after my flesh, even when I was preaching, I would go home and my wife and I had no fellowship whatsoever. And God said, what’s wrong here it is you, son. You have chosen to hang on to something. You’ve got an agenda somewhere in your flesh and it’s ruining your relationship with your wife. How many times I couldn’t preach because I had to go to my wife and ask her to forgive me? You see, that’s where we all are. I want us to see what it looks like when you wear the wrong garment.
There are eight things that Paul mentions here in Galatians 5. It talks about ruined relationships. And each one builds on the other. The first one he mentions, well, let’s just read the list, verses 20 and 21. He says, “enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, and envying.” Now, let’s just look at this list as quickly as we can.
First of all is enmities. The word “enmities” is the word echthra. Echthra means hostilities. You say, Wayne, there are no hostilities in the body of Christ, certainly not. People are clothed with the garment of Jesus. Well, wake up and smell the roses. It’s a hostile attitude. You see, when we’re defending whatever agenda it is—it doesn’t matter if it’s the preacher, whoever it is or in the family, the father, it does not matter who it is—when we’re defending the agenda that we worship and somebody isn’t doing the agenda that we worship, hostilities begin to develop within the flesh. That’s all the flesh can ever offer, a counterfeit relationship.
When we did a camp every year, we had rules. My goodness, we had rules. And we had people that came in that weren’t used to rules. They had no rules. Camp, that is a time to have fun; what do you mean rules? We had a guy that worked with us, and he just did not understand grace. I understand that. But you know what happened? The people that came to camp that weren’t used to rules reacted violently. They became hostile. Why? Because you have stepped on our little party; you have put accountability into this and we don’t want it. That’s hostility. Now they got very hostile that week.
Well, if you’re hostile, the second word develops. It’s the word “strife.” Once hostility is present, then quarreling begins to follow. The word for “strife” is eris. It’s the word that means contentious quarreling. Now, you and I can banter back and forth and we do on the staff all the time, and “What about this? Well, I don’t think that.” But it’s fun. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about contentious quarreling. In other words, it could be manifested in many ways.
I have noticed in the 21st century that rarely do people like to dialogue face to face. Their hostility and strife comes out in other ways. I wished we didn’t live in such a technological age, cause e-mails are like drive-by shootings and letters are anonymous. I mean, this is the way people express their strife and their hostilities in the day in which we live. But it’s nothing more than flesh. All of us have done it. We have all been there. You say, I don’t know how to use a computer. Well, you figure it out some other way. All of us have done it. Listen to me, flesh, we are all in this boat together, and the key is what garment are we wearing? What garment is Wayne wearing? What garment is our staff wearing? What garment are you wearing?
The third he mentions here is jealousies. And I will tell you what will happen. When you see a believer in the midst of a difficult situation walking in the joy of the Lord you’re very jealous of that. And see, flesh cannot stand a believer that walks in victory. And that word “jealousy” is zelos. It is to be uncomfortable with what you don’t have that your brother does. And so therefore all of a sudden you see how the contentious arguing and the hostilities even are fueled when somebody else is walking in victory and you’re not. And it’s amazing how this forces us even further into the process.
And then the next one is really clear, outbursts of anger. And that’s the word thumos. Now, thumos is cussing, screaming at someone. Have you ever been there? Have you ever had children? If you’ve been there, you maybe didn’t cuss, but you wrote it down and signed it. I mean, you’ve had days when you understand what an outburst of anger is all about. There are two words for anger in the Greek language, and I think it would be helpful at this point to understand it. The word he uses here is the outbursts. But there is another word, orge. You see, there are a lot of people that get away with being angry because they have not blown up yet. They blow within, they don’t blow out. And that’s the word orge. It’s building; it hasn’t exploded yet, but it’s building.
You are on a main street and the speed limit is 40 and there are two people in front of you are driving 21 and 22 miles an hour and they won’t let you around them. It’s building. It’s building. That’s orge. But when you started letting your horn do your talking for you—wouldn’t you like to have the gift of interpretation when people blow their horn? —that’s thumos. It has just exploded. I can stand it no longer. It’s that hostility. Remember, this is all tied back to the agenda a person has to that which he is worshiping.
Then he uses the word “disputes.” Now, the word disputes is even heavier. It’s the word eritheia. It’s a word for selfish ambition. It’s a competitive word. You see, what happens now is you begin to realize somebody else has a different view than you have, and therefore you’re going to dig in and, buddy, we’re going to win. Come on over here. Come on over here. Flesh only can react that way. You see, and these disputes, they can’t lose. They can’t lose. It’s like the church that said “We’re going to by a chandelier,” and somebody stood up and said, “We don’t need it, nobody can play it anyway.” You know, it’s that constant hostility and disputes. Incredible!
This leads to dissensions. The word “dissension” is the word dichostasia. It means to stand apart from somebody. Now, this is really sad. This is when one person will not fellowship with the other person. They will turn and go the other way. If they come to church, instead of sitting there, they will sit on the other side. If there is a service they can go to that those people are not in, they will go to that service. They will not fellowship with these other people. Now, you see what false worship can take you to. I’ve been there. And, see, it’s the idea that we will not even enter the service if those people are there, no sir, no sir, no sir. So anyway, that’s what happens in a church.
Now look, watch this, factions. This is all to the Galatian believers, the church in southern Galatia. That is why I am relating it that way. The word “factions” is used. The word faction is the word hairesis. It’s the word we get the word “heresy” from. Look at this. They have divided themselves to the point that now they are identified by their difference. Now, you see, in Jesus He unites us. But when we have an agenda other than Christ, we will become identified by whatever agenda we tie into, and that’s a heresy. That’s a faction in a church. It is now divided.
See, this leads to envying. Now that word “envying,” it’s like jealousy, but not only am I uncomfortable with what my brother has, I’m going to do everything I can do in my power to rob him of what he has. And you know what normally it is? It’s his joy. We just can’t stand it when we see a brother walking in joy in the midst of whatever is going on. We can’t stand it. And a person who is jealous will eventually become envious and will do whatever it takes, whether it’s a statement, whether it’s an attitude, we will rob that person of his joy because we can’t stand the fact that we don’t have it ourselves.
Boy, it is not a pretty scene, is it? Everybody has been there. If you haven’t been there then my friend, hang on, you will get there, because we have not arrived. And when you choose the flesh these are the things that begin to develop. They will develop in a family. They will develop in a church. It’s so helpful and wonderful to look at Scripture and see flesh for what it is, but also see the contrasts of that in the Spirit of what God produces.
Finally, Paul adds pleasures, counterfeit pleasures. Do you realize that the flesh only offers counterfeit pleasure? I don’t even know why they call it pleasure, but the flesh sometimes interprets it that way. He mentions drunkenness and carousing. He doesn’t finish the list, and I will tell you why in a minute. Drunkenness is exactly what it says, methe is the word. It means to be under the influence of wine or strong drink. Isn’t it funny how people that say they live under grace, but yet have contentious lives with everybody around them, are also the people that will defend drinking before they will defend anything else?
By the way, you can always know a person by what he defends. Don’t ever forget that. You can always know a person by what he spends his time defending. And if he’s defending drinking, he’s got a problem with his flesh. Because the Scripture also says, do not be stumbling block to your brother. But in the book of Romans it is associated with acting improperly, no control whatsoever. All of us have seen the devastating results of drinking. We also see that in Ephesians. He talks about do not be drunk with wine.
And then Paul adds carousing. “Carousing” is the word that means partying. It is the word komos. Let’s just have a party. You see how the flesh is tied to every bit of this? Do whatever you do to make me feel better. Somehow you minister to my felt needs. I want to party. I want to party. Sadly enough, that’s the world’s way of thinking; that’s what pleasure is and that’s what has drifted right into the church. Both of these words are simply counterfeits of what the Spirit of God offers to us.
But he goes on. He gives them a warning, but this is important to understand it. “Of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” You say, “Wait a minute. Everything that you’ve been talking about is a characteristic of a lost man.” Hang on, careful. There are two words, “those who practice these things.” “Practice” there is prasso. Prasso means as a habitual lifestyle. And I want to share with you, if this is your habitual lifestyle I would say to you, based on the authority of Scripture, you don’t know Jesus Christ.
However, there is another word poieo, and poieo means to fall into it from time to time. And that’s a believer right there. A believer can easily fall into the trap, but does not reside there. You see, there’s a difference. The Holy Spirit of God lives in him to convict him of a sin that is in his life.
Well, I’ve got to quit. This is so much fun to me, because every time I get up in the morning I look in the mirror and you know what I see? The biggest problem I’m going to have all day long. That’s the biggest problem I’m going to have. It’s not going to be the devil—the devil can’t be but at one place at one time—it’s going to be my flesh: whether I choose to walk after the flesh which means there’s going to be an agenda of a felt need; that’s my worship. That’s what I defend. Or I’m going to choose to just say “Lord, I can’t, You never said I could. You can, You always said You would. I want to walk in the garment You have already given to me. I want people to see the character of Jesus in my life.”
So my question this morning, and Paul’s question to the Galatians, would be: what garment are you wearing? Are you wearing the wrong garment? Wouldn’t it be great if somebody was to be contentious in this church and you could stop and say, excuse me, excuse me. I’m a little confused. What garment are you wearing?
The next time whatever comes out of your mouth is contentious or whatever—I don’t care how it manifests itself; we have seen how it manifests—just ask yourself, what garment am I wearing? How stupid do I look in the presence of God with the wrong garment on? Hey, what garment are you wearing? What garment are you wearing?
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Dr. Wayne Barber
Wayne has taught the message of “Living Grace” around the world. He is president, founder, and principal speaker of Living Grace Ministries and Senior Pastor of Woodland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He learned to exegete Scripture by studying for 10 years with Spiros Zodhiates, one of the leading Greek scholars.