As we reach the last two chapters of Paul’s letter to the Galatians, the subject matter in the first half of chapter five is circumcision because that is one of the tenants of the doctrine that they have been deceived about. He then moves in verses 16-25 to “walking with the Spirit.” The contrast he gives is with the works of the flesh because, as he says, they are in opposition to the Spirit. He names some of the works of the flesh:
…the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Belonging to Christ, we have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. But what does that mean, really? Are we not tempted by such passions? And in giving in to those passions, do we not belong to Christ? WE shall be tempted, and we shall sin. We know that to be true because the Bible tells us that no one is without sin. With all good intentions, I will not go through the rest of my life without sinning. But by putting on Christ in baptism, I have renounced that way of life, and I will strive each day to walk with the Spirit.
Those nine “fruits” of the Spirit are characteristics that we must put to work consciously, so that they will most certainly choke out the works of the flesh from our lives.
Paul close the letter in chapter 6 with a final word about the law and circumcision. But before he does, he gives them other important admonishment. “Bear one another’s burdens,” he said. It is one of many reminders the Bible gives that everyone who thinks they can serve God without “going to church.” should heed. It is not about you. It is not even about just your relationship with the Lord. We are commanded to encourage one another in fellowship with the Lord, and bear each other’s burdens. Those things do not happen in the right way from one’s own living room.
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.