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 GALATIANS 5:13-16

"For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh."

"BITING AND DEVOURING EACH OTHER!"

 

 A Preacher in his Study

 

 

 

 

 

 

LESSON 1, CALLED UNTO LIBERTY:

Paul carefully wrote these words, under the direct control of the Holy Spirit of God. "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh." Galatians 5:13-16

Sometimes the Apostle is so blunt it's shocking!

Biting and devouring each other?

Such things happened in Paul's day. And they are still occurring today in many places.

Let's begin with the first clause, "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty." Galatians 5:13

The noun "brethren," as many of you will remember, comes from a blended word that basically means "from the same womb!" Paul is writing his fellow-Christians in the Roman province of Galatia. See the ancient "Gauls" in that word Galatia. Spelled "adelphos," with the opening "a" being a "connective particle." The Greek word for "womb" is "delphus."

We are all, those of us who are saved, born of the womb of Grace! Washed in the Blood of Jesus! Fathered by the Holy Spirit Himself! Trusting the Saviour! Placed into the family of God!

The verb "called," technically "have been called," translates "kaleo" as an indicative aorist passive verb in the second person plural. This "calling" has already happened. It's a matter of history. That's when the Holy Spirit came to you, convicted you, arrested you, and drew you to Jesus! He called you! Praise the Lord!

And when He called us, He did not put us down in the middle of a bunch of Old Testament legislation, either!

We are not today, not since Calvary, living under the Law! The Law of Moses, with its 613 regulations and requirements!

We are under Grace!

Oh, we still do not murder or steal or bear false witness or any of the other major "commandments." But neither do we now worship on Saturday or religiously refrain from pork!

All saved men no longer have to go to Jerusalem three times a year! Or be circumcised when they get saved. Baptism has taken the place of the latter issue there, says Paul.

We are called unto "liberty," writes the Man of God. "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty." Galatians 5:13

Yet this God-given "liberty" is not a free-for-all where each man or woman does what he or she pleases. The "flesh" is not king here! It is rather a "liberty" dictated by the Holy Spirit Himself, under His control.

We do not slavishly follow Moses' Law!

But we do follow the Law of love, the direction of the Holy Spirit, the Commandments of Christ!

Christ Who succinctly but clearly said: "If ye love me, keep my commandments." John 14:15

The word Paul uses for "liberty" is "eleutheria," basically meaning "freedom!" It's parent, "eleutheros," means one who was "freeborn," not a slave! And even "eleutheros" is thought to come from "erchomai," a root verb meaning "to come" and, by implication, "to go." That is, to come and go at will, freely! Not under compulsion!

Thank God for the liberty we enjoy today!

But, as Paul is soon to warn us, let's not use that "liberty" as an excuse to slide into sin!

As an easy exit into some form of fleshly behavior.

Such would be wrong.

More about that tomorrow, Lord willing.

Paul is ever the Preacher of "balance."

"Free" we are, indeed, but not without constantly being under the watchful Eye of God the Holy Spirit!

And who could ever resent that?

Come, Holy Spirit!

                                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 2, AN OCCASION TO THE FLESH:

"Liberty," that's "liberty" in Christ Jesus our Lord. And it's the theme of the Book of Galatians.

The Christians in Galatia had been tricked into returning to the old Mosaic codes and lifestyles. Living under the law!

Of course, Paul of necessity sought to deliver them from such needless bondage.

That's why our Text begins with these words, words we studied yesterday. "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty." Galatians 5:13a

Now, today, he continues. "Only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another." Galatians 5:13, the rest of the verse.

Liberty from the Old Testament Law, the civil and ceremonial parts, was a good thing.

But such liberty, if abused, could be dangerous.

That's why Paul issues his great caution here. "Only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh."

The adverb "only" is "monon," perhaps derived from "meno," the verb meaning "to remain, to abide, to tarry." It occasionally means "but" too.

The prohibitive "not" translates "me," pronounced "may," and means "no!" It's called by grammarians "the particle of qualified negation."

And if you remember, "liberty" is "eleutheria," just "not being in slavery or servitude." Having been set free!

By "flesh" here, "sarx," Paul likely means that old carnally minded nature we Christians still have. That part of us that needs to be crucified daily. Base desires.

And then "occasion" becomes the key word in the whole clause. "Aphorme" blends "apo" and "hormao." The verb means "to stir up, to incite, to urge onward!" To rush, to run violently! The prefix merely intensifies the action.

Sounds like it means a long-sought "opportunity!" It's that "lust" part of James' classic statement in his great Epistle. "Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." James 1:15

In other words, using God-driven, legitimate "liberty" for the fulfillment of Satan-driven desires!

It's like a Christian today saying, "I'm not under the Law. I can eat shrimp if I choose." Which is correct, though Moses' statues certainly prohibited eating shrimp. Then it's like that same hungry Christian, free to eat any kind of seafood he pleases, saying "Pass me five dozen of those large shrimp, please. It's not a sin to eat them!"

Wait a second!

Eating shrimp may be fine, non-sinful. But eating five dozen of those big ones! That might be using your liberty as an occasion to overeat, to be gluttonous, to feed the flesh! Do no abuse your liberty in Christ!

Yes, we are free from Moses' Law.

But we are not free to do anything we choose!

We are still under the "law of the Spirit," the Holy Ghost of God! Paul wrote this, too. "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:2

Then, in today's Text, Paul quickly adds the antidote to "antinomianism," extreme, reckless opposition to law. "But by love serve one another."

To Paul "love" solves everything, Christian love, "agape" love! Why, in 1st Corinthians 13 it's even greater than faith! Or hope!

"But by love serve one another."

The verb "serve" is "douleuo," a basic verb meaning "to be a slave!" To do menial labor for someone else! To be in bondage!

Do not be a slave to the Old Testament Law!

Rather, be slaves to each other, your Believer friends. 

And do that in self-abasing love, unselfish concern, wild abandon for the needs of your spiritual brothers and sisters!

"But by love serve one another."

"Love," as you have no doubt assumed, is "agape."

And "one another" is "another of the same kind!" That's "allelon," which is opposed to "heteros," another of a different kind!

Your fellow saints are cut from the same cloth you are, like minded!

Sounds like the medicine of "serving each other in love" is the remedy for "using our liberty as an occasion to the flesh!"

Get wrapped up in meeting someone else's needs, ministering to them, and you will likely be more prone to forget your own desires! Or at least they should lessen in intensity.

Great advice, Paul!

Holy Spirit inspired counsel, really!

"For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another."

Amen!

                                                                        --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

Do not be slaves to your flesh!

Rather, be slaves to one another!

Helping that weaker brother or sister grow in Christ!

 

 

LESSON 3, LOVE THY NEIGHBOR AS THYSELF:

What Paul offers today, in the particular verse we're studying, is "commentary." Now of course, it is Holy Spirit inspired commentary, beautiful and pure. No doubt about that.

A bit of theology is blended into the grace of daily Christian living. And the goal of it all? To help us Christians be kinder to each other! To keep us, using Paul's words, from "biting and devouring one another!"

Here's how Paul began his thought. "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another." Galatians 5:13

Then, apparently, the Lord led the Apostle to expound on that last clause, "By love serve one another."

And here's the result: "For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." Galatians 5:14

In Hebrew the word for law usually is "torah." But in Greek it's "nomos." It often means "an established custom, law or command." But with Paul more is indicated, God's very statutes! The Mosaic legislation!

Paul is here about to reduce the 613, according to the old rabbis, laws of the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, into one single sentence!

"Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."

Wow!

But keep this in mind, Paul is merely agreeing with His Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets." Jesus said this in Matthew 7:12

One day the following event occurred to our Lord. "Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." Matthew 22:35-40

Micah had previously, vaguely, reduced Moses' legislation to three commands! "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" Micah 6:8

Of course none of this has anything to do with getting "saved!" We're talking about Christians loving one another. Serving one another. Getting along amicably, peacefully, gracefully.

The way to be saved is "by grace through faith in the shed Blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son!"

This has been too long an introduction to today's verse!

"For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." Again, Galatians 5:14

The verb "fulfilled" is "pleroo," sort of an "up to the brim and running over" kind of thing!

"Word" is "logos," a matter requiring some thought and preponderance, "logic" being implied. Paul is not just rattling off loose platitudes!

The verb "shall love" is "agapao," thought to be taken from "agan," a Greek adverb meaning "much!" The auxiliary verb, the "helping" verb "shall" is in place becuase "agapao" is here framed in the "future" tense.

Obviously, this is still just a goal for the Galatian Christians.

They had not "arrived" there yet!

The noun "neighbor" translates "plesion," a "friend" or just one "nearby." In Greek "pelas" literally means "near." A strict Jew would have limited his "neighbor" to being a fellow-member of his race. A Gentile in that day surely would have done the same. But Jesus even called the dreaded Samaritans "neighbors!"

His love was that vast!

That broad!

There's no doubting the fact that man loves himself. Usually a person is his or her own best friend!

Paul is simply asking that we elevate our friends and acquaintances to the very same level!

He later did that, used the same plan, in asking husbands to love their wives. "So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church." Ephesians 5:28-29

If I can ever get to the place that any Christian brother I meet, astounding, is "treasured" as much as I "treasure" myself, maturity just might have come to the Bagwell household!

Same with you, friend, also!

Loving others as we love ourselves.

But, know what?

I'm not so sure that Paul later, Galatians being one of his earlier Epistles we think, "upped" the standard again!

The "love one another" standard!

Watch.

"Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another." Preferring one another! That's not loving him as much as you love yourself. This is putting your brother ahead of yourself! Romans 12:10

And this one, too.

"Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves." That last clause, "esteem each other better than yourselves!" Philippians 2:3

Maybe Paul didn't want to put more on the Galatians they they could bear at that moment.

Maybe he too was still growing in his faith and in his concept of godly love! Paul was human.

Either way, Christianity certainly is the kindest, most loving, considerate, compassionate, most graceful movement the world has ever seen!

Ever!

And here's the proof!

The greatest example of love ever displayed.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

John 3:16, to that we all agree!

What love!

                                                                         --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 4, BITING AND DEVOURING EACH OTHER:

The two verbs are powerful, graphically so!

One is used only here in the whole Bible, the other just a few more times.

Let me underline them. And keep in mind that they were written to professing Christians!

"But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another." Galatians 5:15

Paul, what a preacher he is!

We're all aware of the contention the Corinthians suffered, just among themselves. Now the Galatians must be added to the list.

We are near Paul's great sermon about the "works" of the flesh, as he called them. "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness," and so forth. Galatians 5:19

These are then followed by the Apostle's glorious grouping of "love, joy, peace, longsuffering" and five more qualities, the "fruit" of the Spirit. Galatians 5:23

Into which of these two categories are the Galatians fitting at this moment, with their "biting" and "devouring" of each other?

No doubt!

The flesh!

Our verse today is so pivotal, so crucial, that we are going to spend some time on these key verbs, "bite" and "devour."

But first, the objects of this inhumanity, "one another." That is, the Galatian Believers themselves!

"If ye bite and devour one another."

These words are translated from "allelon," a pronoun indicating mutuality. Literally, "one another of the same kind!"

In other words, "saved" people.

If the Galatians are indeed that, born-again. Paul thought they were. They were his converts, although by now he is having some doubts it seems. Listen to him. Hear his worry. "I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain." Galatians 4:11

Christians hurting one another like that, consuming one another!

Shame!

That is not the Holy Spirit's doing!

Such is the work of the flesh!

Whatever happened to these commands?

"Love one another."

"Be ye kind one to another."

"Exhort one another."

And others like them?

Gone!

Now, to the verbs themselves, "bite" and "devour."

"Bite" is hapax, appearing only this once in Scripture.

It is spelled "dakno" and means "to cut or lash with the teeth!" To lacerate! Like dogs do to each other when fighting!

Thayer's Greek Lexicon adds, "to rend with reproaches," ripping each other to pieces verbally, with sharp and pointed words!

Viciousness!

This ought not to be named among us Christians, ever!

"Devour" is "katesthio," the main Greek verb for "eating," with an added intensifying prefix, "kata," thus meaning "to gobble down!"

In its various forms it occurs in the New Testament in fifteen different places. From Matthew, twice, to Revelation, five times.

Church folks have been known to so cannibalize one another, time and time again.

Warn us again, Paul! "If ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another."

Thank you.

It's permissible to bite that fresh piece of roast lamb. Or even pork, for the Galatians.

And to devour that fresh yogurt, make from the goat's milk, would have been a culinary delight!

But to "eat" each other?

Metaphorically!

Yes, we have done so, us Believers, time and time again!

We have shred each other to ribbons over doctrinal issues, too many of them non-essential.

We have gnawed each other half to death over separation issues, too! I know the girl the other night wore a bathing suit in the beauty pageant. And it probably was not very modest. But I also know she took a strong stand against homosexual marriage. I, for my part, will admire her courage and conviction and not "devour" her over the modesty issue.

After all, there will be other women in Heaven who wore bathing suits. Including some you know!

But there will not be any unrepentant homosexuals there!

The modesty issue will take care of itself, in time. When that young lady is fifty, having gained some weight and picked up some wrinkles, you will not see her in such skimpy clothing, not any more!

But homosexuality just might bring God's wrath on our Country, plunging us into oblivion! Ever heard of Sodom and Gomorrah?

I'm not defending worldliness. I am saying less "fighting" and more "standing" on the Word of God might be a pretty good idea. 

Mercy, I can hear the e-mails coming now!

Save your time.

If you don't like my illustration get one of your own.

This I do know. Too much "shooting our own soldiers" is happening! "But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another." Galatians 5:15

The rest of the verse tomorrow.

That is, if anybody comes back!

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

I can hear her now.

Sister Norma might would have said about that "bathing suit" thing, "Honey, be careful there."

"You don't want to offend anyone."

How I wish she were here.

By my side.

I want to say more, but discretion says, "That's enough!"

"Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding." Proverbs 17:28

 

 

LESSON 5, BE NOT CONSUMED ONE OF ANOTHER:

Paul spoke as plainly to the Galatians as he did to any of the Churches he pastored. Yet he did so for their own good, for their own spiritual growth.

For example, "But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another." Galatians 5:15

Let's notice that verb "consumed" today. Or better yet, the entire clause in which it is situated.

"Take heed that ye be not consumed one of another."

The opening verb is "take heed," It's the imperative form of "blepo," in the present tense. It basically means "to see." It's the most physical of the "seeing" verbs in the New Testament, not implying perception and understanding as much as "horao" or "skopeo."

Paul is almost saying "be careful!"

Then the word "consumed," fully translated "be consumed," means "to use up, to destroy!" It's "analisko," that is, "to expend" something. To extinguish it! As in one's "squandering" his money.

This is a strong word, used only two other times in the Bible. Let me underline those occasions.

"And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?" Luke 9:54

"And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming." 2nd Thessalonians 2:8, "that wicked one" being the anti-Christ.

Fire destroying its target!

The Lord Jesus vaporizing the enemy!

And Christians "consuming" one another, especially with their sharp, biting words!

Here's David's word picture of such devastation. "Hide me from the secret counsel of the wicked; from the insurrection of the workers of iniquity: Who whet their tongue like a sword, and bend their bows to shoot their arrows, even bitter words: that they may shoot in secret at the perfect: suddenly do they shoot at him, and fear not." Psalm 64:2-4

"Analisko" is here a passive voice verb, too. These are professing Believers being "devoured" one by another!

It's not right.

But, to Paul's credit, he frames the verb as a "subjunctive," in that "mood" the teachers say. This suggests that the biting and devouring and consuming had not yet begun, not quite. It's Paul's "fear" that such devastation is about to start, however!

It's the old "an ounce of prevention" strategy!

Paul is trying to prevent any further damage.

Though they are obviously "out of control," Paul still loves the Galatians and wants to "salvage" them for the Lord.

We had best hope somebody loves us that much!

Such Pastoral concern is becoming less and less common, especially in these "lukewarm" last days.

Instead of "consuming" one another, destroying each other's testimonies, Paul would have us doing the very opposite, "building up" one another, encouraging one another!

"Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another." Romans 14:19, where "edify" translates "oikodome," meaning "to build up!"

And Hebrews 3:13, "Exhort one another daily," where "exhort" is "parakaleo," the Holy Spirit's word! It means "to encourage, to strengthen," at times even "to pray."

I don't want to be on the demolition team!

I want to belong to the construction team!

Shifting from architecture to agriculture, Paul expressed it this way. "I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase." 1st Corinthians 3:6, nothing here about "rooting up, casting out or destroying!"

Help the saints of God you know!

Don't hurt them!

"But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another." Galatians 5:15

Well said, Paul.

But, truthfully, It's the Holy Spirit of God Who really said it!

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 6, WALK IN THE SPIRIT:

It's one of Paul's favorite word pictures, comparing the Christian life to a "trip." To a "pilgrimage." In the case of today's verse, to a "walk."

He wrote to the Galatian Christians: "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh." Galatians 5:16

The verb "to say" is "lego." It describes words Paul has used again and again in typifying proper behavior for the Believer. Present tense, continuous action, "durative" or "linear" the teachers used to say.

Then Paul switches to an imperative verb, issuing a command! "Walk" in the Spirit! "Peripateo" blends "pateo," meaning "to tread, trample or crush" something, and "peri," meaning "all around." Thus, one's "walk" is how he conducts himself in his "coming and going." During the "ins and outs" of daily life! His or her regular conduct, deportment, habits.

The phrase "in the Spirit" is locative, telling us where to walk. "Pneuma" is in the dative case, expressing "to" or "for" Whom we are to live! We live "unto" the Spirit of God!

Here are a few of Paul's "walk" statements, quoting from virtually all  his Epistles.

Walk honestly.

Walk to please God.

Walk worthy of God.

Walk in wisdom.

Walk ye in Him, Christ Jesus the Lord.

Walk so as ye have us for an ensample.

Walk circumspectly.

Walk as children of light.

Walk in love.

Walk not as the Gentiles walk.

Walk by faith, not by sight.

Walk in newness of life.

And, walk not after the flesh.

It's that last one that approximates what Paul next says in our Text, Galatians 5:16. "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh." 

See it carefully.

"And ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh." 

If I do part "A," that about walking in the Spirit, I will be much less likely to do part "B," fulfilling the lust of the flesh!

Period.

The verb "fulfil" translates "teleo," a surprise really. This word means "to reach the goal, to finish, to bring a race to its close, to perform." It's a subjunctive verb too, expressing Paul's strong desire for the Galatian saints.

The noun "lust" is "epithumia," strong "cravings." Deep longings! The word can be used positively or negatively. You can crave a piece of cake, no problem. You can crave someone's else's money, big problem.

Here Paul used the word in a bad sense, hungering for the base things of life, the things of the "flesh." The yearnings our old selves had, before we were saved.

The noun "flesh" is simply spelled "sarx." Literally it means the "tissue" that covers our bodies. Figuratively, at least with Paul, it often means the tendencies of our lower natures, twice being translated "carnal" in the King James Version of the Bible.

There it is!

"This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh."  

Paul's secret for victory!

How to stop biting and devouring one another!

How to grow and mature in every other area, too!

Let's take these great words today and live by them!

The Holy Spirit and you, the Holy Spirit and me, living and walking and fellowshipping hand in Hand! My "hand" is not capitalized, His certainly is, His great Hand!

Overcomers!

Through the Holy Spirit of God!

                                                                          --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 7, CONCLUSION:

Paul here does not seem to be hammering the sins of the flesh, not in the usual "sensual" meaning of "flesh" anyway.

He rather appears to be condemning our deviant "social" behaviour, one to another. Our daily interaction, our "fellowship," our horizontal attitudes, from saint to saint.

The whole paragraph we've been analyzing is short and well worth reading again. "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh." Galatians 5:13-16

It's true he uses words like "flesh" and "lust," but in their more tame sense. It's plain to see that the Galatians had not been living in harmony! Earlier in Galatians 5, back in verse six, Paul wrote about "faith which worketh by love." He's illustrating that kind of faith now.

So, when we Believers do not live in unison with each other, fussing and bickering among ourselves, we are living "in the flesh!" Maybe just as much as the prodigal did, "devouring" his inheritance and following an apparently wild and promiscuous lifestyle.

The antagonism at Galatia had become so bad Paul accused them of "biting" each other! "Consuming" each other! This surely includes what we often call gossip, maybe with some added slander, but more is involved too! Add a cupful each of envy, jealousy and vindictiveness!

Attacking each other!

Tearing reputations and testimonies and lives to shreds!

Christian cannibalism!

And these things are wrong.

The solution?

Love!

God's Love!

God's Love working in and through our lives!

Empowered by the Holy Spirit!

"By love serve one another," Paul wrote.

Big difference between "serving" one another and "devouring" one another!

There's more advice.

"Love thy neighbor as thyself."

Read "neighbor" as that person who sits "near" you at Church. Or that saved person you by nature least "like and appreciate." Or the choir member who stays "off tune" too much of the time.

Love overcomes animosity!

God's Love, always!

Peter promises us, "Charity shall cover the multitude of sins." That's from 1st Peter 4:8. "And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins."

Yet, stepping back a little further to view the whole Text, Galatians 5:13-16, we see two motivating forces at work.

One, the flesh.

And two, the Spirit, the Holy Spirit.

The flesh promotes this biting and devouring and consuming. Discord among the brethren!

The Spirit promotes love and joy and peace.

By which power shall we live?

We are now very near Paul's two "classic" statements about the "works" of the flesh and the "fruit" of the Spirit!

"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, revellings, 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." Galatians 5:19-21

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23

Strange "illustration" Paul has chosen to use! The "works" of the flesh depicted by internal Church rivalry! And, conversely, the "fruit" of the Spirit portrayed by our loving one another, Believer toward Believer!

My "liberty" in Christ Jesus does not include the areas of criticizing and attacking my Brothers or Sisters in Christ!

I am not "free" to say anything I want!

Not when those words are razor-sharp and fired like piercing arrows aimed at some Brother's or Sister's heart!

No!

Let's allow Paul to conclude the Series. "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh."

Right!

And, I might add, Preaching that still needs to be emphasized in our Churches today.

                                                                                --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

                                       Paul is such a practical Preacher!

                              

                                                                     

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