Recent Posts
Lowell Brueckner

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Works and Fruits


Galatians 5:13-26

13.  For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 

14.  For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 

15.  But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. 

16.  But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 

17.  For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 

18.  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 

The whole of the letter to the Galatians is a plea to return to freedom, into which they were born and which is characteristic of the true Christian life. God calls a people out of slavery into glorious liberty. The point is not only that spiritual slavery is dreadfully bad, but that life in the Spirit is joyously wonderful. In this section, Paul will show that the walk in the Spirit is synonymous with freedom. The only people on this planet, who are truly free, are those who have been born of the Spirit of God and whose practical, daily life is under the control of the Spirit.

“Do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh” is really a command to self-examination to see if your Christianity is genuine or not. The unregenerate church member will see liberty as an excuse to an unprincipled lifestyle, not very different from that of the world’s citizens. They will free themselves from high standards and restrictions that set the Christian apart. He will give in to the flesh, as much as possible, while still maintaining a fairly decent reputation as a card-carrying member of the Christian community. For a good number of decades, this has become the popular trend, and the Christian, who refuses to conform to it, is sneeringly judged old-fashioned, negative or worse.   

Loose-living and the rarity of a practical walk in the Spirit show me that true Christianity is scarce these days. A large percentage of professing Christians are not truly born again by the Spirit of God. A. W. Tozer alluded to this fact back in the mid-20th Century and a contemporary of his, Vance Havner, went so far as to say that perhaps 90% of the members of his evangelical denomination were unconverted. I assure you, the trend has not reversed in the last half century or so.

The genuine Christian will see the Spirit-filled life as the Promised Land that flows with milk and honey and will gladly cross the flooded Jordan River in order to experience it. The carnal ways are not among his goals and he has no intention to “gratify the desires of the flesh”. 

“Through love serve one another… the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’" The reader will probably know that “agape” is the Greek word that is used in the New Testament to especially denote the love of God. In the last article, we saw that the love of God is the motivational force behind all Christianity. There is absolutely no other force under which it is possible to love anyone else as yourself. We have also mentioned that humanitarian love is common among unconverted people and is highly honored by society. However, the exorbitant salaries that some officers of humanitarian organizations receive is one proof that they fall short of loving their neighbor as theirselves. Only God’s love will suffice to serve the Lord and others in the Kingdom of God. 

Contrary to the false teaching that comes straight from the realm of ungodly psychology (and has been adopted by the church), love of self is a given fact in the Bible; it is not a goal: “No one ever hated his own flesh (Eph.5:29; see also Ro.15:1-3; 2 Co.5:15: Php.2:21). Self-love doctrine is probably one of the most popular deceptions of our day. Somehow, many Bible students have totally ignored the warning of Paul to Timothy: “In the last days there will come times of difficulty (dangerous, extremely fierce, furious times; see the same Greek word in Mt.8:28, translated exceedingly fierce-KJV). For people will be lovers of self…” (2 Ti.3:1,2).

Does it shock you to learn that the church is teaching people, beginning with children, to be extremely dangerous? It is the logical consequence in the lives of those who have learned to put themselves first. They will stop at nothing for self-satisfaction, so the apostle must warn, “watch out that you are not consumed by one another”. Those, who “bite and devour one another” are living by the law of a different nature and any attempt to fulfill the law of God will end in failure. I again quote Warren Wiersbe: “Man needs to be free from himself and the tyranny of his sinful nature.”

The one, who loves his neighbor as himself, has the law of God written on his heart and will fulfill it naturally. Paul’s teaching in verses 16-18 makes my point very clear. He tells us that the secret to squelching the desires of the flesh is by walking in the Holy Spirit. You cannot do both. We will insert parallel passages in Romans 8:9 and 14 to show that this is only possible, when one is a genuine Christian and has the Holy Spirit living within him: “Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. When the Spirit dwells in someone, He will naturally lead him: For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 

The flesh and the Spirit are contrary to each other. It is impossible for those, who walk after the flesh, and those, who walk according to the Spirit, to peaceably co-exist. They will not understand each other. One will see things through the eyes of the Spirit and will walk in the ways of God; the other will think as men think, according to earthly ways. Those who walk after the flesh will promote projects similar to those that are successful in the world. The people who are led by the Spirit will get their direction from the Bible.

Those who walk in the Spirit are free from the law, because it is the law of their nature to walk in the ways of God. They are not under a tutor, who must continually hold them in check to keep them from wandering onto the paths of the world and constantly correct their wayward footsteps. They need not be confined within four walls to protect them from harmful desires.

David sums it up nicely in the first Psalm, verses 1 and 2: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” This is a man, who has been blessed with a godly nature, as Abraham, we learned previously. He has been reconciled to God, restored to the state in which he was created, and beyond that, he walks in all the advantages of the last Adam, Jesus Christ. He delights in the walk of the Spirit and therefore, as Paul teaches, he does not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

19.  Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 

20.  idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 

21.  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. 

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. 

24.  And 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 keep in step with the Spirit. 

26.  Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. 

Notice, first of all, that the products of the flesh are called works, and those of the Spirit are called fruits. That distinction goes a long way in explaining the two different functions. The flesh performs deeds and the Spirit of God promotes growth. The latter is alive and, given the right spiritual nutrients, will naturally blossom and produce. The former achieves through self-effort and abilities.

The works of the flesh are sinful, and even that, which seems to begin legitimately, will end up being unlawful and evil. Religious good deeds come from the flesh and always will prove to be sinful. Jesus gave the parable of the wheat and the tares, in which the two plants in their first stages are similar. The difference is seen, when the ears appear (Mt.13:26).

In the apostle’s list, we see physical sins and sins of the inner man. What outwardly appears moral, may be ruled by envy, rivalries, and strife. A seemingly religious person may be inwardly driven to do ‘good deeds’ because of jealousy. Physical sins are manifested through the body, while the inner ones are secret sins of the heart. We might classify sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, anger, drunkenness, and orgies as obviously visible sins. More deceptive are hidden sins, such as enmity, strife, jealousy, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, and envy. The sins, which are held within, are equally offensive to God and, because they are not seen openly, are more dangerous.

The whole realm of hypocritical religion exists because unregenerate people attempt to mechanically produce fruit, without having the proper roots. Jesus taught clearly on this subject. Each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush” (Lk.6:44-45). John Baptist put it this way: “The ax is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Lk.3:9). James adds: “From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so” (Jam.3:10). Paul concludes, “Those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

There are sins that are not listed here… “things like these”. The Bible does not have to specifically name every sin. A study of the list will give us a good idea of the things that fit into the sin category and every similar thing, which is pleasing to the natural man, offends God and/or does harm to our neighbor, is sin. When the Galatians yielded to Judaism and came under the law, they began to manifest the deeds of the flesh. In verse 15, Paul warned against biting and devouring one another, and he ends the chapter with another warning about becoming “conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” 

When a life is yielded to the Holy Spirit, holy fruit will result. The Spirit is at the root of the new nature and these characteristics, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control”, stem from Him and grow as fruit in the new man. These are then the ‘law of nature’ and require no kind of external law to enforce them. They function in total freedom. I need to remind you that they are not the best of human virtues, but are supernatural and heavenly, directly endowed by the Holy Spirit.

Let those who abuse liberty be served notice that gospel freedom only comes into play, after crucifixion. In chapter two, Paul said, “I am crucified with Christ.” Here he states that all “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires”. We will take up the subject of the crucifixion of the world in the next chapter: “Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”

God always deals with deep root problems, not with superficial symptoms. The fountain, from which the damning evil flows, the flesh, has been destroyed by the crucifixion of Christ. Its passions and desires have lost their power and the life comes under the governing force of Christ. He claims ownership and the individual surrenders his personal goals and ambitions. In the case of Paul, this Jewish leader became a missionary to the Gentiles; it was a total about-face. Christ also supplies the power to carry out His purposes in His servant.

What has been accomplished 2,000 years ago on the cross, must become a practical reality in the life of the believer today. The Spirit has given him life with all its heavenly potential and now he must learn to walk step-by-step in unison with the Spirit. It is entirely a new way of life and the old ways must be put aside. This is what Paul meant in Romans 12:1 and 2: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” 


Post a Comment