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Galatians 5:16-25 1
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

 

Psalm 55:22
22 Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.

Background

Galatians

Galatians was written by the Apostle Paul about 49 A.D. prior to the Jerusalem Council which had taken place in 50 A.D. This quite possibly could have been Paul’s very first letter. He starts off with a very profound statement. The person who is guided by love for God has no need for a commandment against serving other gods. This person who is guided by love for their neighbors has no need for a commandment not to steal or murder. However, Paul is seeking to avoid a pendulum swing here to anarchy. Freedom as opposed to the law does not mean freedom with disregard to the law. He claims that to live in freedom in this Spirit-led way is to fulfill the whole law.  This is not for the faint of heart. Instead of a destructive fleshly focus, Paul advises a Spirit-focused life. The two are mutually exclusive. The flesh has its desires and the Spirit has other ones. Interestingly it is not a contrast between passion and no passion, but different kinds of passion. These kinds of passion are set against one another. The sad result of the human condition is that one’s will and one’s actions are often opposed.

Paul is calling us to act under the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit, even though we may not be free from the corrupt nature which remains in each of us. We are asked not to let that “corrupt nature” ever have dominion over us. As believers we are engaged in a conflict. Paul wishes for each of us to have a full and a speedy victory. Paul asks us to give ourselves up to the leadership of the Holy Spirit, not to men, not to groups. To be part of the salvation story in the gospel, we are to exhibit a hatred of sin, and seek after holiness. The works of the flesh are many and  and these sins will shut people out of heaven. Many call themselves Christians, live in the world and only hope for heaven! The fruits of the Spirit, or of the renewed nature which we are to do are then named here. Paul chiefly named works of the flesh, not only hurtful to men themselves, but tending to make them hurtful to one another. Several of these words have to do with sexual immorality of one sort or another:

  • Adultery, sexual immorality (porneia) has to do with any kind of sexual sin.
  • Uncleanness (akatharsia) is uncleanness, to include moral impurity.
  • Lustfulness (aselgeia) is debauchery, lustfulness, or perversion.
  • Jealousies (zelos) is zeal or jealousy or anger, and is sometimes related to romance or sex.
  • Orgies (komos) has to do with drunken revelry, which often leads to sexual immorality.
  • Idolatry (eidololatria). Worshiping an idol would violate the commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol…. You shall not bow down to them or worship them (Exodus 20:3-5).
  • Sorcery (pharmakeia) Using drugs in support of the occult, sorcery, or witchcraft.
  • Hatred (echthra) Hatred or hostility.
  • Strife (eris) Strife or contentious behavior.
  • Outbursts of anger (thymos) Anger or strife.
  • Rivalries (eritheia) Scheming to serve one’s own selfish interests.
  • Divisions (dichostasiai) Divisions or factions (See John 17:20-23)
  • Heresies (hairesis) Those who promote beliefs contrary to scripture.
  • Envyings (phthonos) Experiencing pain at another person’s good fortune.
  • Murders (I checked two Greek texts and didn’t find this word in this verse.)
  • Drunkenness (methe) Overindulgence in alcohol or other drugs.
  • Things like these (ho homoia) literally “similar passions.”

These vices are destroyers—destroyers of self and destroyers of relationships and organizations. In this context, they have to do with attitudes and actions that have the potential to destroy the church—the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:7).

The fruits of the Spirit show that we are led by the Spirit. By describing the works of the flesh and fruits of the Spirit, we are told what to avoid and oppose sin, and what we are to cherish and cultivate as this is should be the  sincere goal of all real Christians. Sin should not reign in their mortal bodies, so that they obey it, Romans 6:12. For these Christians, they seek to destroy. Christ never will own those who yield themselves up to be the servants of sin. And it is not enough that we cease to do evil, but we must also learn to do well. Our conversation will always be answerable to the principle which guides and governs us, Romans 8:5. We must set ourselves in earnest to control the deeds of the body, and to walk in newness of life. Not being desirous of vanity or glory, or unduly wishing for the esteem and applause of men. Paul even calls us not to provoke or envy one another, but seek to bring forth good fruits, which are, found through Jesus Christ, praise and glorify of God.

Palm 55:22

David  thought everyone was against him, but now in Psalm 55, he sees there were many with him, more than he realized. David gives the full glory for this revelation to God. Why? Because it was God who raises us up friends, and made them faithful to him. Here we are reminded that In every trial, we are to call upon the Lord, and He will save us. He hears us, does not blame us for coming too often, and in fact, the more often the better. David’s misconception of being alone, the only one the “world was picking on,” was incorrect. The same holds true in our times now. We are not the only Church, the only family, the only country that is undergoing Satan’s brute force. God loves us all!

Items for Discussion

  • Look at the list of sinful acts that Paul has listed. There is no doubt that the world is full of these now. However, can you name times that the world was full of them before?
  • How did these “troubled times” turn out for the world?
  • Could you see God in the corrective steps being taken to fix the world? What might some of them be?
  • How do you personally separate the Holy Spirit’s influence from the evil in the world? In other words, how do you tell the “good” from the “bad?”
  • What list would you create for the “fruits of the Spirit?”
  • What would keep God from helping the world in our current events?
  • Why is the current destruction of the “family unit” so dangerous to our country?
    • Note: The United States has been ranked among the worst countries in several categories that make up the Raising a Family Index created by research travel site Asher & Lyric, which based its study on six criteria: safety, happiness, cost, health, education and time. 2
  • How can we first as citizens and then as Christians help families in the U.S.?

Discussion Challenge

  • With Christianity under such heavy attack, what do you think we should do to help our churches?
    • You can read and print the “Footprints in the Sand” poem by clicking here.
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