Studies in Galatians – Wayne Barber/Part 34
By: John Ankerberg Show
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2004|
|God’s much more concerned about relationships than He is anything else. Everything else, in fact, is just a test to see how we’re going to relate to one another on the divine level He enables in our life.|
The Fruit of the Spirit – Part 3
Galatians 5:22, and we’re going to go all the way through 26, and you won’t believe it, we’re going to finish chapter 5. I want to start off this morning by just sharing with you all the things listed in verses 19-21 which the flesh produces, and all the things listed in verses 22-23, in contrast to that, that the Spirit produces. I don’t know if you’ve noticed it or not, they all have to do with relationships. Now, has that grabbed you yet? God’s much more concerned about relationships than He is anything else. Everything else, in fact, is just a test to see how we’re going to relate to one another on the divine level He enables in our life.
All through Galatians we have seen this very truth. God’s love is so desperately needed in our lives in these days. It’s the tie that binds. You say, “Well no, this or this will bind us together.” No, it won’t. Nothing will bind us except Him; and He is love and that love is what unites us together. There are some people who say, “Well, I don’t need that love. I can do it on my own.” Is that right? You get up on Monday morning, what’s it like at your house? You know, when I get up I have to go straight to the shower. Mornings are highly overrated. I go straight to the shower, the only thing that wakes me up. I absolutely feel like, I don’t know what I feel like, but it’s not good when I get up. Then you have your coffee and then whatever you do, your breakfast and then maybe you kissed your family goodbye and you go to work. Oh, that wonderful, glorious thing we all do, and when you’re there, somebody working out of the flesh blasts you with an attitude that just rips all that joy out of your life, and from then on its downhill. And you think you don’t need this love.
Do we understand today that in Him all things consists, the Lord Jesus, it says in Colossians? And do we realize He is love? And do you understand that love is what’s holding this world together right now? Do we understand that? Without Him it’d fly apart. The good thing is we’ve got believers who will walk by the Spirit, and when they do they become a catalyst and a facilitator for the unity of the Spirit to begin to work within the body of Christ. What a difference in our lives when we choose to walk by the Spirit, willingly led by the Spirit of God, the Word of God.
God’s love is actually produced in us. That’s incredible to me. God’s love, the very love of God Himself, is produced in our life when we choose to walk by the Spirit. It’s in this love that He gives us the discernment of our brother’s need. And I want to make sure we hear this. Unless I’m walking in the Spirit I don’t know my brother’s need. But when I walk by the Spirit, God in me opens my eyes and I don’t see the person, I see the problem, and I begin to see the need of this individual. With this discernment comes a divine resolve. That’s what this love is, agape. It’s a divine resolve to do whatever is necessary to meet that need no matter what it costs me. And in the midst of that there’s such an inner beauty that happens here. The joy and the peace begin to flood my soul. The joy of knowing that I’m cooperating with Him, and the peace, that inner being, sense of well-being to know that I’m being about God’s will, that I’m joining Him in what He’s doing in and through me. That’s that inward effectiveness of His love.
But there’s something else. There’s the outward example that we’ve already looked at in God’s love to this world. What do they see? There are three words that describe this outward example that we saw the last time, the words “patience,” “kindness” and “goodness.” Aren’t they beautiful words to be in the body of Christ? Patience tells us that people that we’re going to be dealing with are not going to be very loving. And so we’re going to have to constantly be faced and dealing with people that have a different mindset, and for that reason patience is there. It’s longsuffering. It’s the character of God. It’s the way He deals with all of us. It’s God’s longsuffering.
But with that longsuffering—and they’re all here together—is kindness. Now, kindness is the word describing the tenderness of a person’s heart who experiences God’s love working within him. This is what we’re so desperately in need of. When you get in the midst of God’s love it’s no longer a matter of you loving somebody else, it’s a matter of God loving me loving you. I mean, it’s overwhelming when you realize how sinful we are and how the flesh is so wicked, and yet we realize God loves us and He melts us in His presence and He tenderizes our hearts towards everybody in the body of Christ. God is kind and His love is kind. There’s nothing brash about it. When one is walking by the Spirit there’s never an excuse for this kindness not to be there. There are many people who say that they’re filled with the Spirit of God because they’ve had this experience or that experience and that. I don’t buy any of that. It’s whether or not this love is there and whether or not there’s a spirit of kindness in the individual.
This kindness towards the unlovable brother is manifested in the acts of goodness. And that’s the only time you see it begin to work itself out. The word “goodness” is talking about those deeds that you do for somebody that have no self in it. I mean, there’s no way that you can be rewarded for it on this earth. You’ll be rewarded in heaven, but it’s not for your own benefit, it’s for theirs. It’s a benevolent goodness. It’s the way God deals with all of us. You see, God’s love cannot be hidden. It cannot be in any way contained. When you’re walking in the presence of God’s love, it has to be released or it’s not God’s love. I mean, it would drive a person crazy if he couldn’t release that love to the people that are around him. Everyone is blessed by it. It crosses every language barrier. It crosses every ethnic or cultural barrier. Everybody understands this when they see it or when they experience it.
Well, today we look at the last three words in a cluster of nine words in verses 22-23 that describe the upward excellence of God’s love. Now, the love that the Holy Spirit produces in us for others speaks only of God. It’s not this love that the world calls love. It’s something so divine it’s of Him that He produces. For us to love people that are unlovable is a supernatural thing. And there are three characteristics of that love, one found in verse 22 and the other two found in verse 23 that we’re going to look at. Now remember, it’s a cluster. The word “fruit” in verse 22 is singular, which means if you have love all of these other eight things are there to characterize that word “love.” The definite article is not used before the word “love” which means it’s to characterize it. It’s to qualify it. And these eight words qualify what that love is. And remember also, it’s His love. It’s not just love. It’s His love. It’s Christ living His life in and through us, the upward excellence of God’s word.
We briefly looked at the word “faithfulness” the last time we were together. It’s in verse 22. He adds that word “faithfulness.” However, the King James picks up on something. And I can understand why the New American Standard has rendered it “faithfulness,” but it’s really not that word. There are two words that you need to understand the difference between. Pistos is faithful, pistis is faith. The word pistis is used in verse 22. It refers to that which is yielding to the control of something. It’s either the word or the Lord. That’s why you cannot separate this word from obedience. It’s the word that means to trust, to believe. It captivates your life. When loving someone who is abusive and unresponsive, then Christ becomes the source of faith, the source of being able to believe. We desperately need this when they’re being abusive back to us and unresponsive to our love.
This faith he’s talking about, I believe is what gives us the ability to trust that an eternal thing is happening whether I can see the results or not. And this is so needed when you’re dealing with unlovable people. They don’t always love you back. They don’t always appreciate what you’re doing, and so for that reason you’re believing that when you’re saying yes to God and this love is being manifested, that an eternal work is taking place. It is this faith that causes us to be faithful, to be dependable, to be trustworthy, to continue to follow that pattern to letting Jesus be Jesus in us, because if we didn’t have it then we’d give up on an individual and God never gives up on anybody.
We’ve already seen that righteousness is the hope of faith. I hope you’re grabbing this. In Galatians 5:5 he says, “For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness.” What is the hope of righteousness? The certainty of righteousness. The ultimate fulfillment is that one day when we stand before God we’ll be rewarded for saying yes to Him. But the temporary and immediate contextual fulfillment of this is that when you’re saying yes to God, He’s working, and you don’t have to see the results. I don’t have to see anything—and I’m saying this to myself—when you’re doing what God tells you to do, you just believe that an eternal work is taking place whether you can see the results or not. And how helpful that truth really is. I’ve seen it over the years.
But, you know, over the years of being in ministry I’ve seen this truth worked out in ways that I didn’t understand it until I studied Galatians. I’ve seen people with a divine resolve no matter what the results to continue to love an individual with absolutely standing fast with all the characteristics that we’ve studied here in Galatians 5:22-23, and it’s just overwhelmed me. But I’ll tell you, one of the places that I’ve seen it that has probably caught my attention the quickest has been in a family situation where a wife has the love of Jesus flowing in her life, filled with the Spirit of God and she has a husband that couldn’t give a rip. And the sorry rascal treats her abusively, verbally and everything else, but she just stands in there and loves him. And the sweetness of Jesus is all over her and the kindness of the Lord Jesus is there and the gentleness and the patience and all that.
And I’ve seen it over and over again how they just continue. I’ve stepped back and I think, how in the world could she love a rascal like him? And then it dawned on me, that’s not her. That’s Jesus being Jesus in her. And I want to tell you something, when you’re allowing this love to work through you, there is nobody that is not a candidate for it. And there’s nobody that can treat you in such a way that can pour cold water on it, if you’re continuing to look at Jesus and not at them, just keep saying yes to Him, just keep saying yes to Him and that’s going to have an eternal effect on the people that you’re loving.
Well, then Paul takes and adds the word “gentleness” to that, beautiful word. Listen to the characteristics of his words. The word “gentleness” is the word prautes. It’s the word that describes the inward grace of the soul. It’s the humble spirit of a person who has been broken of his own strong will. As a matter of fact, in secular terminology this is used of a wild horse that has been broken to the will of his master. You see, the English word “brokenness” is not in the New Testament in most translations. And for some reason some people think that because it’s not in there that it’s not a biblical truth. Oh no, we speak English. I wish we could remember that the Bible was not written in English. It was written in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic, and the language and the culture of those people have the concepts that are there. We just simply pull the word “brokenness” out because it communicates quicker in our minds.
You see, that word prautes it’s not translated weakness, it’s translated meekness in many places. Now what he’s talking about is strength under control. He’s not talking about a weak lily kind of person. He’s talking about a person that has the power but it’s been put under the control of the Lord Jesus in his life. He’s been broken, his will has been broken, to the lordship of Christ. It’s the inner attitude of a believer who is submissive to God no matter what God allows in his life and no matter who God puts into his life. It is not a weak characteristic. It is a powerful characteristic. It’s Christ in a person.
It is used to describe the character of Christ who was totally submitted to His Father’s will. In 2 Corinthians 10:1 Paul uses this. “Now I Paul, myself, urge you,” look what he says, “by the meekness and the gentleness of Christ.” That’s it right there. That’s who He is. And Paul said that’s the way I come to you. It’s used in Galatians 6, of the attitude we must have when we deal with a brother who is in sin. We’re going to see this next time. He says in 6:1, “Brother, even if anyone is caught in any trespass you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, each one looking to yourself so that you too will not be tempted.” This is the way we approach a brother who’s been caught in a sin with the meekness and the gentleness of Christ.
It is how we are to be when we correct those who might be in error. In 2 Timothy 2:25 it says, “with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition and perhaps God may grant them repentance, leading to the knowledge of the truth.” It’s a characteristic we are to pursue to desire in our life. It says in 1 Timothy 6:11, “But flee from these things, you men of God, and pursue,” and he gives you the things we are to be pursuing in this life, “righteousness” and all of it is Jesus being Jesus in us, because He’s the one who produces every bit of it. “Righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance,” and then he says, “and gentleness.” Now the word “pursue” there is interesting, and we need to understand it. It’s the word dioko. Dioko means to pursue something until it’s obtained.
We had the experience of cougar hunting this year and I’ve mentioned it a couple of times. They gave us horses. My horse’s name was Chihuahua. Does that tell you where it came from? My horse did not speak English. And I want you to know it did not obey English because it only spoke Spanish. But we went out after those cougars, those mountain lions. It was four of us on horseback. We pursued those things for seven hours. We had to learn how to walk all over again when we got back home. I’ve never ridden a horse that long in my entire life, I don’t think. So it’s just a real interesting day.
But that word “pursue” means to get on a trail and to pursue something until you have captured what it is that you’re pursuing. It doesn’t mean just every now and then do something. When those dogs started out, you ought to hear those dogs. Son, they had an agenda. They’re going after this big time. Those dogs running out on that trail, I mean, it was just awesome. And I tell you what, when you started off on horseback behind them you’re committed, because you’re pursuing something and you’re pursing it to the point that you want to capture it.
That’s exactly the word Paul uses here. Don’t ever back off until this is a part of your life, gentleness. Because it’s part of the fruit of the Spirit. It’s part of the package. It’s part of the cluster. Oh, my friend, it’s an oxymoron when a believer treats another believer as if they’re enemies, when this gentleness is not there. I’m hearing all this stuff about “this is the time to stand up and be a man.” and be this and be that. You tell me from Scripture where you see that truth other than the greatest man that ever lived lives in us. And He, through us produces His own character and His character is that He’s gentle, He’s gentle. Gentleness is the characteristic we’re to have when we relate to others no matter who they are, if we’re in the restaurant, if we’re in the gas station, wherever we are.
Titus 3:1, “Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed” and verse 2, “to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle.” Isn’t that precious? “Showing every consideration,” now listen to this, “for all men.” Plato said of this word an interesting thing. Plato, one of the people back in those times in this pagan world, secular world. He said that this word stands between two extremes. It’s not a person who cannot be angry, but it’s a person who can be angry—now listen—at the right time, at the right thing with the right measure. That’s what it is. It’s a virtue and it’s only produced by the Holy Spirit of God. It demonstrates gentleness in the midst of power. It’s a balance borne in strength and character.
It is associated with kindness and compassion and humility and patience in Colossians 3:12. Now look, think how those interlock together. Colossians 3:12 says, “So those who have been chosen of God holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” And they all fit together in that cluster. It is the difference of using the rod to beat somebody into submission or treating them with kindness and letting that be your tool. Paul says to the Corinthian church that needed quite a bit of chastising, he said 1 Corinthians 4:21, “What do you desire? Shall I come to you with a rod?” Is that what you want? “Or would rather have me come with love and a spirit of gentleness?” This speaks so much of who God is. The way we treat one another, whether it be on the job or in the ordinary highways and byways of life, when we’re allowing Christ to live in and through us, this gentleness will be part of the demeanor in which they will walk away remembering about us, dependably faithful to keep on keeping on. I think that’s what that faith is all about. And then with the gentleness of Christ Himself.
The final characteristics that describe Christ’s love is His self-control. Verse 22: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,” 23: “gentleness,” and then he says “self-control.” The word “self-control” is the word egkrateia. It is inward strength that always displays itself in outward control over one’s self, outward control. The opposite of the word self-control would be someone who was without restraint. Now, this is a reckless individual. Someone who is so reckless in what he says and what he does that he breaks people’s spirit rather than breaking their will. There’s a huge difference. It’s awesome when a parent is filled with the Spirit of God so they don’t break the spirit of their child. They simply are there to break the will, but they do it with gentleness and kindness and patience and all the fruit that God speaks of here.
It sums up the control Christ has in the believer’s life who is walking by the Spirit. And when one is under control, then and only then can he be in control, and that self-control be seen in his life. It is pictured for us in a beautiful way of a disciplined athlete. In 1 Corinthians 9:25 he says, “Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things,” and he speaks of those secular runners. Then he says, “They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we do the same thing to receive an imperishable wreath.” And so it’s a picture of a honed, trained athlete. This kind of self-control is what the lost cannot have. Anyone can will himself to do anything. He can get on a self-improvement program, grit his teeth and with determination come up with something. But this is a divine restraint, far beyond anything that the flesh can ever produce. It is different than simple discipline and apparent self-control.
Luke uses the word as an example of that as a confrontation’s going on with some secular folks. And it says in Acts 24:25, “But as he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened and said, ‘Go away for the present; when I find time I will summon you.’” See, what’s happening here is that Felix and Drusilla, neither one of them were believers. And what they were being talked to about was the things they didn’t possess. They didn’t possess righteousness, so therefore they didn’t exhibit self-control. Until Jesus, who is the essence of righteousness, lives in us, then there can be no self-control, and judgment would overtake them all. And they got under deep conviction. He says, “You go away. I’ll summon you when I want to talk to you again,” because it brought deep conviction in their life.
A person without Christ cannot have this. This is Christ’s lordship expressed in our lives. It is His divine control. He was the perfect Man, totally in control, and now He lives in us to be the perfect Man through us. It’s not us; it’s Christ living His life in us.
Paul finishes the list of the characteristics of Christ with these words. He says, “Against such things there is no law.” Now, that’s the most fascinating statement to me. It’s a powerful statement. All of this fruit in the cluster that he just mentioned—actually it’s love and all the characteristics of that love for our fellow man, the people that are unlovable to us—he says, this kind of character, there is no law against it. Now there are two meanings there. First of all, God has no law against it. He’s not going to judge you of these things that are seen because that means you’re living, He’s living in your life. Galatians 5:14 says, “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” And so what is the word then that fulfills the law? It’s love and only the Holy Spirit can produce it and God has no law against that. Relationships are always the litmus test of whether or not we’re walking by the Spirit.
But not only that, not only does God not have a law against it, people don’t make laws against this. A dear lady came to me and she said, “I’ve been trying to reach a neighbor of mine that has just absolutely been mean to me.” And she said, “I walk and I come in in the mornings, and when they take the garbage out they always leave their garbage can out most of the day.” And she says, “You know, I got to thinking about that,” and she said, “I could help that.” And she said, “I’ve been listening to the message. I’ve been listening to what God’s been saying to my heart through this love.” So you know what she’s been doing? She started getting their garbage can on Mondays when they leave it out too long and pushing it up next to the house. Well, she said, “I’ve been doing that for several days and says you know what? They called me up and asked me to come over for dinner.”
I want to tell you something, folks, there’s no law against this love. People don’t react to it, they respond to it. They reward it. It is the character of Jesus in to our life, and it covers every language. Another dear brother was telling me he’s witnessing to a family that speaks another language, and he’s just sought to love them, asking God to love these people through him. And the other day he was with them in a very difficult time and the man who spoke another language from another country took his hand and licked his hand. And his daughter or his wife said to him, said, “You know what that means, don’t you? He so responded to the love that you’ve shown to him he’s made you his brother.”
Folks, what’s wrong with us? When we act as if we don’t even know Christ, there is a law against that. In fact, it tells us we’re not walking by the Spirit, and that’s when people get broken down. This is when people get beat up. This is when people’s spirits are crushed. We have no right to live that way. We have the privilege to live with Christ living His life through us, and there’s no law against the character He produces. There’s no law against it all.
I went in to get my glasses fixed one day. I’d broken them again. I took them in and the lady looked at me and I had one piece in one hand and one piece in the other hand. And I said, “Yeah, I’m a klutz. I did it. No excuse.” She said, “You know what? I think we can figure out how to work that into your warranty.” It’d been over a year. And I said, “Really? I mean, I hadn’t even thought about that.” Sure enough she came back and she says, “I’m going to put that in your warranty.” I said, “How can you do that?” She said, “I’ll tell you why. Because you were nice to me, and because you didn’t try to lie about it.”
That’s what we’re talking about. The contention and division and factions in the church come from people who don’t seem to understand this. And it’s not the issue they think it is. Oh, it’s deeper than that. The symptoms is what we’re dealing with all the time, and we’re wrong. We should deal with the problem. And the problem is we’re not walking filled with the Spirit of God. If we were, God has no law against it. And man has no law against it. And people respond when God loves through His people. That’s what he’s talking about. Man, if we could just get our act straight. When we look at Him instead of looking at the situation, the obvious is never the actual, and only God can turn the light on and show you what the actual is. That’s where it is.
So the inward effectiveness of this love is awesome. Joy and peace like you’ve never known before because you’re experiencing God. You have no animosity towards anybody. But then the outward example of God’s love, you’re able to put up with people that are just so unloving and mean and cruel. And then the upward excellence of that love manifests itself in that faith to believe that God’s doing it and the beautiful aspects of His character in your life.
Now to conclude the chapter Paul does something. He takes us right back to where he started. And I love that about Paul. He’s not losing track of the context here. The context started back with verses 16 and 18, walk by the Spirit and you’ll not fulfill the desires of the flesh. Why? Cause the flesh wars against the Spirit. Verse 18, if you’re led by the Spirit willingly led by the Spirit, then you’re not under law. You can’t be judged by what you’re doing. Law has no condemnation over you. Now he comes finally to the last point. The onward experience of God’s love. He brings us to the point of understanding we can experience this at any time, no matter what our circumstances are.
Paul wants them to realize that they can experience God’s love in them daily. The way they received that love was by faith. They received Christ who is love, so they received it by faith. The way you walk in it is by faith. That’s what he’s going to remind them of. It’s very powerful. The act of faith—and I want you to hang on to this—the act of faith, saying yes to God, being controlled by His Spirit and His Word, crucifies the power of the flesh. Now it crucified it in Galatians 2:20 back when we got saved. But it also continues to keep it lying dormant when we continue to say yes to Him.
He says in verse 24, “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus.” Now, the first thing he does is to remind them. He takes them back to their salvation experience, “those who belong to Christ Jesus.” He identifies the believer. There’s only one way you can belong to Christ Jesus and that’s through faith. That’s the only one way you can be a part of His family. It says that in Galatians 3:26, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” That’s the only way you can belong to Christ Jesus. So he’s already talking to believers here. And then he adds, “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh.”
Now, “have crucified” is the same word used in 2:20 when Paul said, “I am crucified with Christ,” except he puts it in a different voice there. When Paul said, “I am crucified with Christ,” he was speaking of his salvation experience. The same thing here, but to crucify is to put to death. It’s the aorist active indicative verb; not aorist passive. If it was passive, I had been put to death. But this doesn’t say that. It says, “I was crucified.” I had something to do with it, active voice. Aorist means it’s a done deal. It happened at salvation. It’s already taken place. But the active voice means that the believer has actually participated in the action by some kind of choice. He had some will in it. He had a choice in it.
Now in the Jewish mindset he has chosen, he has made a choice, to turn from the law to turn and to Christ. But in the Gentile mindset, he’s turned away from his idols to turn to Christ. It says in 1 Thessalonians 1:9, “For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God.” The fact is, every believer has made a choice. Now you say, Wayne, that’s a work. No, no, no, no. If He lives with faith, it instigates a choice; we’re just cooperating with Him, but there is a choice involved here. When we choose to turn to Christ we choose immediately, now listen, to turn away from the flesh.
Now listen carefully, that choice to say yes to Him at salvation, to say “Oh yes, Lord Jesus, will You come live in my life,” that choice of faith crucified the flesh. That’s what he’s saying. The flesh has no control, it had no control at that moment in that situation. It was put to death through the choice of faith. What does that tell you? It’s so easy. If we’ll continue to exercise faith, flesh has to remain dormant. It has no power. It’s disengaged. That’s what he’s trying to say. And Paul adds in verse 24, “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh.” He wants to make sure we understand the intensity of the flesh “with its passions and with its desires.”
The word “passions,” pathema, means strong passionate emotions. The word “desires,” epithumia, means intense desires. He took two phrases there and summed up verses 19-21 which is the deeds of the flesh. And what he’s telling me today, and what he’s telling you today, is that when you got saved your flesh had been disengaged, the act of faith put it in its place. It rendered it powerless and if you’ll continue to walk that way, say yes to God and to His Word, walk by the Spirit, be led by the Spirit, it lies dormant, it cannot bother you at all. It cannot come back to haunt you. Your relationships are going to be divine, on a divine level, because God in you will unite you together. But when you choose not to live that way you have just resurrected that power, and that’s what happened to the Galatian people as he summarizes the whole of chapter 5. All of the passionate intense desires of the flesh lie dormant when we say yes to Christ. So Paul reminds them of what’s already taken place. It’s kind of like, well listen, if He’s already defeated it why do you let it defeat you now? Why, you’ve already learned how to defeat it by saying yes to Christ. Now why do you bring it back?
The second thing Paul does, then he makes a request. It’s a very simply request, verse 25. “If we live by the Spirit,” he says, “let us also walk by the Spirit.” Now he states the possibility that is ours because of the choice that is made. It’s like he is saying, “Because you have already made the choice, enabled by faith, then what’s the problem?” I mean, we know the answer. The answer is to get on your face before God and let God in you be what He wants to be and stop trying to help Him out. Let Him be who He wants to be in your life. It’s like He is saying because you’ve already made it, then you’re messing up because you’re not living out of that which saved you. Colossians 2:6 says, “As you therefore have received Him, so walk you in Him.” That’s what he’s saying. Why aren’t you walking in Him? You can, you’ve already done it. You can; enabled by the Spirit of God you can say yes to Him.
When he says “If we live by the Spirit,” that’s a first class condition “if.” It means since we do. That’s the only way we can live. The only we experience the essence and fullness of life is by the Spirit as we say yes to Him. Since Christ has made it possible to live this way then he says “let’s also walk by the Spirit.” That’s verse 16, “walk by the Spirit and you’ll not fulfill the desires of the flesh.” He just comes right back to where he started and he’s trying to show us it’s so simple, it’s so simple.
The word “walk” here is the word stoicheo. It’s in the present active subjunctive. Present means it’s a lifestyle. Subjunctive means, well, you may and you may not. He’s talking to a group of people that have already chosen not to once. And he says there’s really no guarantee you’re going to choose to do it again. But he said, “I don’t understand the problem here. When you received Jesus your flesh had been disengaged. And remember the sense of blessing you once had?” Remember that verse we studied. He said, “Where’s that sense of blessing you once had? You were running well; who has hindered you from running the way you were running?”
Now, don’t let me lose you here, but Paul is simply making a request. We’ve already been enabled to say yes, why don’t we go on and continue to say yes? You say, Wayne, that’s a work. Are you kidding me? Philippians says He lives within me to will—give me the desire—and to work. So when I say yes to Him it’s not a work; it’s cooperating with a desire He’s already put within me, and that’s what Paul is trying to say. This is the simplest thing in the world. He’s made it so easy for you if you’ll just walk by faith. But evidently you found something you think is a better way, he tells the Galatians.
So the third thing he does, then, is relate to them what will immediately change if they will walk this way. He says in verse 26, “Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.” Let us not become boastful,” he says. “Let us not become,” is present middle passive. Let me explain that to you. The present tense means “don’t continue to become;” they’re already in the process. Middle passive is a deponent verb, which means part of it depends on the other part of it. Middle voice means this is your own choosing. But passive voice means it’s because of something that has happened to you. Why are you making these choices? It’s because of something that’s gone on around here. And what was it? We know the context. The context is the Galatian heresy. The people came in and sold them a bill of goods, religious goods, and because of that, now they’re making choices not to obey the Spirit but to obey their flesh, and he says this is why you’re becoming boastful.
That’s interesting; he throws that word in there. Do you realize that religious people have to boast? They have to boast of what they’ve done. They have to boast of everything. Why? Because they have to measure it, and if you can’t measure it, you’re not there; the law demands a standard and you’ve got to rise to that standard. He says, oh yeah, you’ve become boastful. But he says it’s “empty boasting.” And that word “empty,” kenos, there is the word meaning exactly that—there’s nothing in it; and then doxos is glory. You get empty glory out of this. The word is kenodoxos. You think, why in the world would he even say that? Oh, if you know the context, the context rules here. He’s dealing with a group of people that have bought a religious bill of goods. And as a result of it they’ve become boastful about what they have done, and it’s empty boasting.
I wish people could understand in 1 Corinthians 3 it says our word, “our works are going to be judged by fire.” And it says in verse 13, “Each man’s work will become evident, it will be recognized.” Oh, yeah, there’s going to be some recognition, “for the day will show it because it’s to be revealed with fire and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.” All this religious stuff that the Galatians were doing was empty, because one day it’s going to burn at the judgment seat of Christ. And he says, why in the world are you becoming boastful? And the reason goes back to the false doctrine you’ve bought into, he says. And then he says, “challenging one another,” prokaleomai. Two words, pro, before, kaleo, to call. And this is what the word means, it means to call each other into combat.
You know, when I read this, that’s an oxymoron to the body of Christ, isn’t it; when people fight in the body of Christ, call each other to combat. That’s what he says you’re doing. He says you stop doing that. You stop it. And you’re doing it because of the false doctrine you bought into. You’re running your life. Jesus is not Lord of your life. And then he says “one another,” and that’s allolon. That’s the word that means of the same kind. He says these believers are doing this together. You see, the law mentality, flesh-minded person always has to win, and they’ll do whatever it is to win. They’ll tear down somebody else to make themselves look good. They’ll do whatever they do, whatever they do they have to do. They’re driven, they’re driven because they have to win. But a believer has already been defeated by the Lord Jesus and he walks in the victory He’s given to him. He doesn’t have to win. God wins.
“Envying one another” is the last words he says. I think Paul sums it up as beautifully in his epistle to Timothy as any place else. When a person buys into a religious flesh-minded work, he’s automatically bought the whole package, as we’ve been studying. And he sums it up in 1 Timothy 6:3, “If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words,” Paul says, “those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness,” which, by the way, “is a mystery which is Christ in us,” it says in Colossians, “then he is conceited and understands nothing, but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise,” and he gives a list, and envy’s the first one, “envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.”
And I guess what he’s saying as we finish up chapter 5 is that religious people are always, always contentious. There is a driving spirit of them, they have to win. They have to get their case across. They have something to prove. And as a result of it, we saw earlier, that they bite and devour one another. People who live under law have to be recognized. They have to embarrass. They have to boast in what they have done because that’s flesh. But we can say yes to Christ and avoid all that contention. Didn’t he make it simple? I’ve got a choice. I mean, God respects me a whole lot more than I respect Him. He gave me a choice. I can say yes to Him, which is what faith is. And, by the way, He already has the desire within me to do that. All I’ve got to do is cooperate with it. And then the work is His life lived out through me and through you.
The same faith that saved us is the same faith that sustains us. It’s Christ who saved us. It’s Christ who sanctifies us. If we go the religious route we’ve bought the message of the flesh. And let me ask you a question. What’s the middle letter of the word sin? What’s the middle letter? What’s the middle letter of the word pride? Now, you take those two things out—which by the way, the cross does—then you don’t even have a word. When you say yes to Him, you’ve just crucified the “I,” the flesh.
By the way, this whole life that we have, we didn’t come up with. No committee gets the credit for it. This is God’s plan in eternity that He come live in us and not renew our flesh, but to replace it. And when He replaces it, everybody knows the difference because the character that He produces, there’s no law against. And people don’t react to being loved. People don’t react to be shown kindness and goodness and the things that are there. No, they don’t react to that. They respond and that’s what it’s all about.
How are you doing today? How are you doing today? Are you walking in the Spirit? If you are, and I hope we are, then the unity of this place is going to come together in such a way it’s going to be supernatural. But if we’re not, it’ll be contention after contention after contention. But then he said it would be that way, didn’t he? That’s where it goes right back to having to walk in the Spirit of God cause the people you’re dealing with are not ready yet to say yes to Christ.
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