Over the past two months, the Sunday School classes at Southern Calvert Baptist Church have been studying through the Epistles of the New Testament. God has really blessed us to learn important life lessons from the early church. God’s Word is so applicable to daily life, no matter the Century or era in human history. We have looked at such subjects as:
- Our enduring identity in Christ (I Peter 2)
- Grow to maturity in your faith (I Corinthians)
- Justified by faith to be Sanctified by faith (Galatians 1)
- The daily impact of the resurrection (video: Romans 6)
- Agape love in Action (I John 3)
- A pastor’s calling (I Timothy and II Timothy)
- The Blueprint for Biblical Unity (Romans 12)
This lesson is going to return to Galatians. This time, we are going to take a look at Galatians 5. The Apostle Paul is going to present the fruit of a life surrendered to Jesus Christ versus the fruit of a life surrendered to sin nature. As I write this, I cannot help but think of Joshua’s final words to the children of Israel.
“If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15)
This lesson is going to challenge us to make a choice. Are we going to serve our sin nature or, are we going to serve the Lord? In order to help us make this choice, let’s discover what it is like to serve our sin nature and what it is like to serve the Lord.
I. Serving our sin nature
By default, we serve our sin nature because we are born enslaved to our sin nature. Once we become followers of Jesus Christ, only then do we have the ability to say “NO” to our sin nature. Before that, we have no choice. If we do not actively choose to serve the Lord, by default, we will serve our sin nature. What does serving our sin nature look like?
19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,
20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions,
21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5)
The first thing that we learn about our sin nature is that it produces deeds. The Greek word that is translated to English as “deeds” is “ergon”. It can be translated as “work”, or “occupation”. The job of our sin nature is to produce these actions. These actions are evident. They manifest themselves in daily life in all kinds of different circumstances and situations. The Apostle Paul teaches us that people who practice these things, that is, people who habitually do these things, are being controlled by their sin nature and that they are not children of God. In the text, the Apostle lists 15 manifestations of our sin nature but the list does not end with 15. The last one is “other things like these”. The list just keeps on going. Let’s examine these and see if they manifest themselves in our own lives.
- Immorality – any form of sexuality outside of marriage, including the thought life. This would also include pornography and masturbation
- Impurity – result of the previous sins. Sexual sin corrupts us
- Sensuality – unbridled lust, we are controlled by desire, instead of being in control, like a dog in heat
- Idolatry – devoting the majority our time, energy, efforts, and resources to serving anything other than God
- Sorcery – These people seek to use magic to manipulate others, even God. It also involved illicit drugs that alter the mind. When the mind is altered, we become more susceptible to the lies of the evil one. Other things that fall under the umbrella of this sin: witchcraft, horoscopes, wigi boards, tarot cards, etc.
- Enmities – hatred of others, leads to unfriendly attitude and actions toward others
- Strife – verbal arguments causing division. This is the manifestation of the above attitude
- Jealousy – an excited/agitated mind that leads to envious rivalry. Based on the above attitude and words that are exchanged because of that attitude. I have to one up you in everything
- Outburst of anger – boiling/overflowing passion, that leads to bodily harm. It is the result of jealous, strife, and enmity.
- Disputes – fights as a result of one blowing up at another, with the purpose of putting others down to raise yourself up.
- Dissensions – division, small groups forming against other small groups. I recruit other people to my side to fight against you.
- Factions – divisions over diversity of opinions, I believe this, well I believe that, neither one bothers to check what God has to say on the subject
- Envying – corrupted by wanting what is not ours. We are corrupted to the point that we will destroy what we cannot have to keep others from having it.
- Drunkenness – intoxicated leading to flawed judgment, can be with any substance, ex. drugs
- Carousing – nocturnal entertainment
- Other things like these it is a long list
This is a habitual way of life for those who have surrendered to their sin nature. This is what is looks like to serve our sin nature. When living like this, relationships will suffer. We will use others to get what we want. We will cut others down to build ourselves up. There will be constant “drama” in relationships with others. If you have been on Facebook for more than 5 minutes, you know that all of these are manifested daily. Are you serving your sin nature? Are you a “drama” junkie when it comes to relationships? Is there someone with whom you are at war and you try to get others to join you in the war so that you can win? If so, maybe you need to accept Christ and be born again. If you are born again but choosing to serve your sin nature, you need to repent and allow God to set you free from the strongholds that you have allowed to creep into your life.
II. Serving the Lord
When we choose to serve the Lord, God places His Holy Spirit within us and now there is a battle going on moment by moment, day by day.
For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another . . . (Galatians 5:17)
We choose to serve Lord the moment that we accept Christ as Lord and Savior and are born again. We continue to choose to serve the Lord moment by moment, day by day as we say “YES” to Him and “NO” to our sin nature.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5)
Serving Christ produces fruit. According to Galatians 5, the fruit of the Spirit is love. Once a person has been born again, He has the Holy Spirit. Now that the Holy Spirit is in that person, the Spirit begins to manifest the fruit of love, agape love, the love of God that only He can produce. What does love look like? How is it manifested?
- Joy – Instead of anger and hate, I know produce joy. I have the joy of the Lord and I am not longer looking for satisfaction in idols. I am not worried about circumstances that are in God’s hands so I stay away from sorcery.
- Peace – With the lack of anger and hatred that leads to conflicts, I am able to have peace in every circumstance of life. I am content with God and no longer need idols.
- Patience – Now that I have the Lord’s patience, I no longer lose my cool with the people around me, getting angry at them and lashing out causing fights and divisions.
- Kindness – I am now able to act kindly toward others, even when they do not deserve it. I become useful to others the same way that the Lord is useful to me.
- Goodness – I become useful to the people around me because I know longer live by my own selfish desires. I seek to love and serve those who are around me, for their good.
- Faithfulness – the root of this word is faith. I am trustworthy in all that I do and say.
- Gentleness – this is power under control. I am useful to God the way that a domesticated horse is useful to the rider. I also become useful to others.
- Self-control – this is the Greek word “egkrateia“. It means having the power to overcome one’s appetites. The root word is “egkrates“. It means the ability to master something powerful, robust, even possessed. Because of self-control, I am able to master my sin nature’s appetites.
It is obvious when we serve the Lord. This manifests in our relationships with others, in how we treat others. It all flows out of love, God’s love. How can this be practical to us?
III. Practical Advice
The question is, “what do we need to do based on the above information?” The Apostle Paul has some very specific advice for us.
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.
18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.
24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another. (Galatians 5)
The first piece of advice is in the form of a command. We need to choose to walk (live) by the Holy Spirit’s leading. The Holy Spirit leads us to obey the Word of God.
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. (John 14:26)
The next piece of advice is not a command but an exhortation. That means that it would be a good idea to do this. The exhortation is, “do not do the things that your sin nature wants you to do.” The next piece of advice is to do what the Holy Spirit nudges you to do. The fourth piece of advice is to remember that when you accepted Christ as Lord and Savior, you crucified your sin nature with its passions and desires. Keep that in mind moment by moment, day by day. The fifth piece of advice is, “do not become boastful” in your battle with your sin nature, even though it is defeated. The sixth piece of advice is to encourage one another in this battle against our sin nature. This is why it is impossible to follow the Lord on our own. We need the body of Christ (fellow Christians) to encourage us and help us in this battle against our sin nature. The final piece of advice is not to become envious of others, especially as they attain victories over their sin nature.
My dear friend, are you living a fruitful life for Christ moment by moment, day by day? Do you fellowship with other followers of Christ in the local church in order to receive encouragement in your battle against your sin nature? What are your relationships with others like? Are you a drama junkie when it comes to relationships? Do you manifest the fruit of your sin nature or the fruit of the Spirit on a daily basis? What changes in your life do you need to make based on this teaching? May the Lord help us live a fruitful life for Christ!