Lesson 63: "If Ye Be Led of the Spirit, Ye Are Not Under the Law." (Galatians 5:18)
Paul's Missionary Journey Epistles. Welcome again! This is lesson #63. In our last lesson we read down through v.,15 in Gal. Ch. 5. But, the old clock caught us short in discussing all 15 verses. We touched on the first six verses, 1 believe; so, tune in Gal. 5:7 and we'll start there. "Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?" hi Paul's eyes the Galatian Christians had made good spiritual progress up until they were charmed and bewitched by the Judiazers. Notice that Paul does not in this verse place the blame directly upon his converts. He said they were hindered, i.e. in Paul's footrace illustration; obstacles had been placed in their path. Back in Gal. 3:1, the apostle asked: "O foolish Galatians, WHO hath bewitched you...?" Here in 5:7 he said: "WHO hath hindered you...?" Several times in the book, Paul expressed surprise and similar disappointment, hi the first chapter the apostle said: "I marvel that you are so soon removed from him that called you!" In 3.3 he asked: "Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh." With reference to their observance of holidays; Paul said:"I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain." (4:11). Then in 4:17, he said: "they zealously affect you, but not well..." Three verses later (4:20), he said: "I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you." Then, here in 5:8, he said: 'this persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you." In other words; they had not learned (this doctrine they were about to espouse) from God or from the Holy spirit. They were listening to alien and strange voices. Today in this old world, we find a lot more strange doctrines that do not come from God's holy word. Here in v.9, he gave warning by a common proverb: "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump." Jesus gave a parable once about leaven, do you remember Matt. 13:33? Several other places in scripture, leaven and fermentation are used to show how little things can quickly take over. Little acorns make big oak trees. Some times the idea of leaven is positive, i.e. beneficial; other times leaven is used in the bible in a negative way; i.e. causing decay and digression, as in the case at hand. It is quite clear, it was Paul's feeling some person (or group of persons) were responsible for impeding their spiritual progress. And it's interesting, the apostle never referred to these false teachers by name. He approached the difficulty by an insight stirring inquiry. "Who hath bewitched you?" and "Who did hinder you?" If he could cause the Galatians to wake up and realize they were off track; perhaps they would realize WHO had impeded their progress and WHO had bewitched them and WHO had hindered them. However, in the final analysis it was up to the Galatian disciples in the Galatian churches to recognize this error and to take the necessary corrective action of repentance and disfellowshipping the perpetrators, hi v.10, Paul expressed confidence that the Galatian brethren wOould accomplish this. He said: "I have confidence that the Galatian brethren would accomplish this. He said: "I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be." hi v.12; Paul expresses the wish that these trouble making false teachers were simply isolated. However, the apostle realized the task was not that easy. It was not going to dry up and blow away. Those churches had to recognize this error and initiate some faithful teaching.
V. 11 poses some difficulty. It would appear some among the false teachers had accused Paul of being inconsistent, i.e. teaching, or at least condoning circumcision in some instances and preaching against circumcision on other occasions. In the Phillips translation, v. 11 reads like this: "As for me, by brothers, if I were still advocation circumcision (as some apparently allege!) Why am I still suffering persecution? I suppose; if I would only recommend this little rite, all the hostility which the preaching of the cross provokes would disappear." In other words, the Judiazers were ready to accept Christianity, if you defined it as a new patch on an old garment. However, that old garment was circumcision and keeping the law of Moses.
Now, this may be a wild guess; but, the inconsistency bit the Judiazers were claiming against Paul, if that were the case; could conceivably have been associated with the distinctions we discussed before, i.e. Paul, apparently did not object to Jewish families circumcising their children as a racial and national symbol. It was only when they insisted it had something to do with salvation, that Paul objected. Do you remember the case of Timothy in Acts 16:3? It says Timothy's mother was a Jewess (Act 16:1. It says plainly there "Paul—took and circumcised him..." (V.3) AND, this comes right on the heels of Acts ch. 15; where Paul and Barnabas traveled 300 miles and objected very vigorously to circumcising Titus, who has a Greek, you will remember Paul emphasized back in Gal. 2:3. Now, I'm jumping ahead of the time here in the Galatian letter; but, do you remember in Acts ch. 21: when Paul and the other men (named in Acts 20:4) finally got to Jerusalem with their "bounty" (as Paul called it in II Cor. 9:5)? In other words the collection or contribution for the poor saints at Jerusalem (as it is termed in Rom. 15:26)? When they took this bounty in to James and the other elders of the Jerusalem church, do you remember the little discussion that took place there? I think you should turn back and re-read that right now. It begins in Acts 21:17 and you want to read the discussion down through v.25 at least. The elders were concerned about Paul's safety and rightly so; because, it was on that occasion Paul was arrested that ultimately culminated in four years of imprisonment. Now, I don't have time here to go back and analyze all that with you again. However, you need to re-read that and read it critically. You see what happened there on that occasion was an outgrowth of Paul's stern stand taken here in the Galatian letter and all the animosity that came out of this and other places. Paul said here in Gal. 5:6, "in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision." Paul repeated that statement again, verbatim, over 6:15. If you'll think about this a moment; I think you can see possibly where and how this inconsistency charge was concocted. It's a little like the use of instrumental music in worship today. There's nothing wrong with playing a musical instrument for your personal entertainment in the home, etc. It's only when you try to substitute instrumental music as worship to God, not authorized in the New Testament; that it's wrong. Some see this as a great inconsistency in our teaching; but, it's not. As I said, it's very similar to Paul's statement here in v. 15 of our text: "if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another." Sounds to me like a few big religious "arguments" might have transpired, a debate or two. Those were real people like you and 1 know. It gets back to the old attitude factor; am I trying to get my way? Or am I trying to learn the truth? There's a world of difference. That idea is the basis of v.l 3-14, "brethren, ye have been called unto liberty." So, "love (and) serve one another." (End of v. 13). Don't use that freedom and liberty as a license to get around obeying the truth and as occasion to hide your sins. "Love your neighbor as thyself (v. 14). This was a summary statement of the Mosaic law going back to Lev. 19:18 that Jesus quoted .in Matt. 19:19 and otherplaces.
Let's read the rest of the chapter. Beginning in Gal. 5:16, have you got a bead on it? Let's read! "This I say then, Walk in the spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these, adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is not law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vainglory, provoking one another, envying one another." As perhaps you have already noticed, this is a continuation of the same discussion that began back at the first of this chapter, hi v.16, when Paul said: "this I say then," I get the impression that the statement that follows is a summation of the foregoing discussion. That statement is made u of two parts: [#1] "Walk in the Spirit, and [#2] ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh." First, to walk in the Spirit means simply to be led by God's Holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead. And, Paul points out, one more time in v.18, that "if ye be led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law." How does one walk in the Spirit? That's the same as if one should say: be led by the teachings of inspired men; i.e. apostles and the prophets of God. At that time, the teachings of the Holy spirit were revealed through inspired men. When inspired men wrote those things down for general use; we call THAT scripture. At the time of Paul, the Holy Spirit worked directly through the apostles and prophets, i.e. inspired teachers. But, when the scriptures were sufficiently complete (II Tim. 3:16= 17) then the use of prophets ceased (I Cor. 13:10). So far as the second part of v.16 is concerned, we recognize there are two distinct elements or natural forces within a man. One force or element is what we might call the heart or inner man that can through thought and reason, connect us to God. The other element we might call fleshly inclinations, impulses or urges that connects us to the animal instincts within us. The latter force, or the lower nature of man that manifests itself in the flesh; Paul said "ye shall not fulfil the lust" thereof. In v. 17, the apostle further explains and describes these forces like this: "the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would." That pretty well sums it up; if you'll force yourself, (that higher force within you), to mull that over and test its truthfulness. We fight this all the time. As I sit here and try to wring and twist out a few thoughts from these passages (dishrag style, with the tooth pulling effort); my body is saying relax Horsley! Go do something else you enjoy more; go eat drink and be merry, life is to be enjoyed. But my better judgment, from that higher force, is telling me: Horsley your time upon this old earth is limited. You need to encourage every one you can to read God's word; i.e. imbibe and learn the message of the spirit that leads to things eternal and get our the simple message that may serve as light to some poor sailor that in a lack of perception and in the darkness of the world's influence is right now being tempest tossed, as the hymn goes. That did Paul say? "So that ye cannot do the thins that ye would." (V.I 7) In the book of Romans (7:23); Paul said: "I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bring me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members." There is a doctrine or an ideology in the world that says: do whatever feels good. You have probably seen those bumper stickers that say: If it feels good do it! Well, Paul is saying that is dumb. At the beginning of ch. 4, in the book of James; that writer ask: "From whence come wars and fightings among you?" That's a pretty good question. Have you thought about that? Now listen to James' next question: "come they not hence, even your lusts that war in your members?: Wars are started because somebody wants something, (some material thing), that somebody else has and won't share with them. Thus, the one is willing to kill the other so he can enjoy the bootie. James said: "Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain..." You know! There's a better way; isn't there? We'll not find that better way in fulfilling the lusts of the flesh. Now, what all does that involve? Look at v. 19! "Now the works of the flesh are manifest [i.e. made known, which are these, adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness: etc. It seems that almost every translator chose different words in this section. In stead of adultery, fornication, uncleanness (or homosexuality, we would say) others use: sexual vice, impurity, sensuality, unchastity, impurity, indecency, and on and on. Some translations go the big words like: licentiousness. But, one doesn't have to be very smart, really, to get the idea, does he? I'm not going to take the time to go over every word here with a fine tooth comb. Your dictionary is as big as mine. And, you may even think up a few more words that fit into this section. So, Paul left a few blanks to be filled in - it's down in v.21, "and such like", do you see that? For a word to fit in this section, (you may have already figured out); it must appeal to the lower, base and fleshly inclinations, impulses and urges that connects one to that animal instinct we talked about. Check it out! And there are some real goodies in this list. For example, where the KJV has: "hatred...strife, seditions, heresies" (v.20); some translations say: quarrels, selfishness, dissension and other party spirit. Would you take the time to write down those three words: quarrels, dissension and party spirit". Can you make any word association here with the different religions in your community? I hope not; but, I'm afraid you might. Now, what's the bottom line? Tune n the end of v.21: here's Paul's conclusion: "they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." What that means is, they're not going to heaven, it's just that simple. Then, v.22 starts with that contrasting conjunction: "But"; where Paul began to explain the other side of the coin. The praise "fruit of the Spirit" in v.22 is not the same as "spiritual gifts" like Paul discussed back in I Cor. Ch. 12, 14. In that seed, called the word of God (Luke 8:11); when it germinates, there is hi every human being (capable of understanding the truth), there is the potential for this fruit of the Spirit as listed here: "love, joy, peace long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." Have you ever of any one being arrested for meekness, =gentleness of goodness? "They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts." (V.24) Does that sound like: do your own Thing? "Crucified" here, means put to death, i.e. Christ's servants control their passions, affections and lusts. "If we live in the spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." Until our next lesson, this is saying: have a good day!