Wrest, Pervert, Torture Scripture,

2 Peter 3:15

Galatians Five

The problem in Galatians was the false teachers telling these new Christians that they had to add works to free grace in order to the heirs to God's promise to Abraham. That promise consisted primarily of salvation by the grace of God, apart from any works.

Galatians 5:1-12 is the next section.

This section is probably one of the strongest sections in Galatians as Paul sums up his rebuke of both the teachers for teaching the false gospel and the people for yielding to the teaching. Paul gets right to the point.

Paul's reference to the law in Galatians is referring to the Jewish rites, rituals and ceremonies that were in effect up until Christ came, and were done away with in Christ. However, as we look at this section, we will apply law to any good work.

V. 1 actually closes chapter four, as Paul urges the Galatians to not yield to the influence of the false teachers and become entangled in the Jews religion which claimed natural heirship back to Abraham. To do so would place themselves into the bondage from which Christ has set them free. Paul continues to contrast natural heirship with spiritual heirship.

Paul tells them that Christ has made them free from the bondage to rites and rituals, as well as the bondage that questions if one had done enough good works for heaven. Because of what Christ has done, it is our duty to stand fast in him.

In v. 3, Paul is not preaching against good works. Rather, he is preaching against any hope that good works will benefit anyone when it comes to justification. When anyone places any hope in any good work they might be able to do for salvation or justification, the work of Christ is useless to them.

These people had started well in the Christian faith, having placed their complete faith and trust in Christ – until recently. Paul asks, Who did hinder you... He expresses his disappointment in the people for forsaking the liberty found in the Christian faith for the bondage of the Jews religious practices.

V. 8, the word persuasion [3988] is found only in v. 8, meaning treacherous or deceptive persuasion. Thus Paul s statement is quite straight-forward — teachers who try to add works, even good works, to the work of Christ for justification were treacherous, deceptive, perverters and corruptors of the gospel of Christ. Paul opened this letter to the Galatians by saying that they offer another gospel, which was not the gospel.

Paul was being falsely accused of supporting good works for salvation, circumcision. However, Paul points out that if such were true, then why was he being persecuted for being a "free grace" preacher. "Free Grace," meaning we can do nothing to merit God's salvation. It is his sovereign will that calls one to Christ for salvation.

The false accusations against Paul have not stopped today. Among many other things, he is accused of being against women. As has always been the case, the false teachers seeking a following are not above putting lying words in the mouths of Paul or any other writer of Scripture, or, for that matter, any person who will stand for the truth.

As we have pointed out, the context is Paul speaking against at least two modern classes of people: those who seeks to claim heirship for a literal people through a supposed physical relationship to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob/Israel. And those who seek justification by adding good works, such as baptism, to faith in Christ.

What is in this section for us?

1) V. 1. The whole book of Galatians is about freedom from the bondage of religious rites, rituals and ordinances. Beware of those who place more emphasis on rituals and rites than they do on the true gospel of Christ.

Also, it is about freedom from having to "work" our way to heaven. Beware of those who add good works of any kind to the gospel of free grace. However, grace will result in good works.

Christ has called us to be free:

John 8:36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed

As free people, and we are exhorted to stand firm in that principle of freedom.


Free from the eternal penalty of sin, eternal torment.
Free from the power of sin over us in this life.
Free from the fear we have not done enough good works or religious activity to merit heaven.
Free from the fear of what men can do to us for standing for righteousness. Righteousness, right living according to God's word.

Why would people choose slavery to the world, flesh and the devil, even slavery to a religious system, over the freedom in Christ.

Slavery: Remember, Israel wanted to return to the bondage of Egypt. Why? Because in slavery they were assured of food to eat, and a place to sleep. But free people give up the security of slavery for the freedom to take responsibility for their own actions.

Egypt reminds us that the natural man wants cradle to grave security. In our nation today, people are asking for cradle to grave security, and the result is terrible bondage. People are willing to trade freedom for security.

There are those who desire to be under strong leadership, both religious and social. That leadership offers security in exchange for freedom. Freedom requires self-control and responsibility. There are many people who remain in the military because they like the freedom from responsibility, yet they must yield their personal freedom for that security.

We are reminded of the bondage represented by the Church of Rome. Paul warned the Corinthians not to be in bondage to abusive spiritual leaders:

2 Corinthians 11:19 For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise. 20 For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face

We are at liberty to decide for ourselves from his Word what we are to do in order to please God.

But liberty cannot be license, and Paul will define liberty in the second half of this chapter.

People are drawn to churches ruled by dictatorial men, probably because they do not want the responsibility to study God's word for themselves. They are then easily led astray by those strong and persuasive teachers.

2) V. 2. Though Christ Jesus is able to save to the uttermost, there are multitudes of professed Christians for whom Christ will do no good. They have added something to the finished work of Christ.

3) There are a great many temptations for us to return to the old manner of life from which we were delivered. The allure of the world and fleshly pleasures are strong, drawing us back to the "good old days," which were not good.

A distressing number of Christians go back to their old manner of life, after the new wears off.

4) V. 3. When one is persuaded that any activity other than Christ is necessary for salvation, whether it be baptism or any other good work, he becomes bound to the whole law, and now has the impossible task of obeying all of the Mosaic code.

That is to say: When one depends the slightest upon any good work for his justification, then he or she must keep all the law perfectly, which is impossible. It must be all or none at all. Christ is the only one who kept it all, and he was God.

There are no external works nor professions that will cause God to accept us without total trust in what Christ did for us.

It is impossible to mix grace and works. One either has salvation by free grace or by perfect works. The two cannot mix:

Romans 11:6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

Adding anything to the work of Christ denies Christ and denies God s grace.

In Christ, religious practices, family, race, social standing nor nationality has no meaning. One is either in Christ, or he is not.

In v. 4, Paul talks about falling from grace. If one has any hope of their good works helping them see heaven, they have forfeited grace. Grace and law cannot mix.

Mankind's hope of heaven is not found in any activity one might be able to do. All hope of righteousness is in faith in Christ apart from any works.

5) V. 6: worketh by love... The external works of the Commandments must be works motivated by our love for Christ and what he has done for us. If those external works are motivated by anything else, they will be totally ignored by the One we are to please.

6) V. 7. Run well. We are in a race.

1 Corinthians 9:24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.

Many new Christians have started off well, running the race within the bounds appointed by Scripture, yet something turns them aside.

7) V. 7. We are in a race, and some would call it a rat race. The race we are in requires obedience to the truth. Certainly, we must know God's truth, and believe that truth. But mere knowledge of God's truth does us no good. We are required to obey.

James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves
James 4:17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

There is no way around the fact that those who do not do the truth do not believe the truth.

The context is speaking of beginning zeal for the truth of God's Word that salvation is by grace alone. The hindrance is that someone persuaded them to turn aside from the truth — that something needed to be added to grace alone.

Application: It is far too common for new Christians to start off on an emotional high which results in zeal for the Lord and his work. However, the newness of Christianity wares off, and they become easy prey for false doctrines of persuasive men.

Also, loss of zeal can easily lead to unthankfulness, loss of love for the preached word of God, loss of the love of giving, loss of the desire for the public assembly and loss of love for the word of God and prayer.

We must beware of loss of zeal, for the list is endless of what can happen when zeal is lost.

Paul asks, "You started off with a bang. What happened? Who discouraged and hindered you?

Remember the zeal you had when you first started the Christian journey? What happened to it?

8) V. 7. There are always discouraging people around. Many times, they do not even know how they discourage us. It takes a good amount of character and "sticktoitiveness" to remain faithful to our Christian duties once the new zeal is gone, and around those who would discourage us.

Example: "We don't go to church, and nothing bad has happened to us." It is a shame that people want something bad to happen to them to motivate them to serve the Lord.

9) V. 8. The persuasive teachers are not from God. If they are not from God, then what is their source?

Listening to persuasive, treacherous, deceptive teachers who add to the gospel of free grace is dangerous for your health..Paul told the Galatians in 3:1, that persuasive teachers can place their hearers under their bewitching spell. They can cause their hearers to yield the freedom found by faith in Christ for the bondage that works bring.

The spirit that tries to add any kind of good work to the gospel of free grace is not God's spirit. Those preachers and teachers who seek to add good works of any kind to the gospel of free grace are messengers of the enemy himself, no matter how good they sound. There is no salvation outside of complete faith in Christ.

It seems that there are far more persuasive preachers and teachers around than there are true gospel preachers. Paul is clear: such teachers are not from the One who called us to faith in Christ. Sadly, those who are not really familiar with Scripture or do not have the time nor desire to get to know Scripture can be easily led astray.

Matthew 13:1-22, the sower and the seed.

10) V. 9. We are all familiar with leaven. It only takes a little leaven to leaven the whole of what it is put into. It only takes the slightest corruption of the gospel to change the gospel into something that will not save. That is why it is so important that we search the Scriptures to see if the things we are being told are true.

Furthermore, it takes very little to discourage us, or to corrupt the whole of the church.

11) V. 10. Paul closes this section by expressing his confidence that his words of truth from God would bring them back to the truth of faith alone in Christ alone. He was also confident that the one troubling them with false doctrine would be justly judged by God.

12) V. 12. The teacher was saying that Paul himself had preached the necessity of circumcision. They lied about Paul in order to persuade the people to follow them. Paul asks, "If I preach what they say I do, then why am I being persecuted by the Jews?"

People are not above lying to us to get us to go they way they want us to go. Lying in order to sway the voter has been a favorite political trick since the beginning of politics.

NPR had an interview on Friday about the lies told by Nixon against two Democrats. There were three candidates running for the Democratic nomination against Nixon, one being George McGovern. Nixon considered the other two candidates more of a challenge against him than was McGovern, so he spread many lies about the other two in order to turn the public against them. The result was what he planed: McGovern was the Democratic nominee, which he easily defeated.

But Nixon is not the only one who knew how to work the system. The one being interviewed told of the lies and deceits of many presidents, including Roosevelt who lied us into WWII. Bush's lies about 9-11 and Iraq are also well know, as he spread lies and rumors to get us into his never-ending war.

Then we have the Ron Paul incidents, showing us that the practice is alive and well. Bad men spread lies against good men, in order to beat the good men in the court of public opinion.

It is so tempting even for us to spread "little white lies" about those we may disagree with, in order to get the opinions of our friends on our side.

13) V. 12. Paul ends his strong words to the Galatians with harsh words against those who tried to add something to Faith Alone. He calls them troublers, and calls for their removal from among the true believers, cut off... There has been much discussion about what Paul meant here, but he probably means removing them from the congregation.

Those who add works to Faith Alone in Christ Alone, are to be avoided if they try to persuade us to follow them in their unbelief.

Vv. 13-26 seems to be the next section.

Wrest, Pervert, Torture Scripture

5:11 shows us that people will believe what they want to believe, and will find something in Paul's words, in this case, to justify their belief.

Peter warned us:

2 Peter 3:15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. 17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. 18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

Peter is the only author to use the word wrest, and only this one time:

1) to twist, turn awry
2) to torture, put to the rack
3) metaph. to pervert, of one who wrests or tortures language in a false sense

Barnes' puts it this way:

Wrest. Pervert—Greek. The word here used occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It is derived from a word meaning a windlass, winch, instrument of torture, (Greek,) and means to roll or wind on a windlass; then to wrench, or turn away, as by the force of a windlass; and then to wrest or pervert. It implies a turning out of the way by the application of force, here the meaning is, that they apply those portions of the Bible to a purpose for which they were never intended...

I cannot say that all who wrest scripture do it on purpose. They may simply be repeating what they have been taught, and doing it out of a sincere heart. But at one point or another, someone wanted to justify what they FELT was right or what would give them their sought-for power over people. They found passages to support their ideas, and wrested those passage from their contexts. Doing so, they were able to give meanings to those passages that were never intended.

Peter tells us that wresting of scripture has been common from the first. We see from 5:11, that the wresting and lying started while Paul was still alive. Of course, they wrested Christ's words also, in order to bring false charges against him. The false teachers have only increased in number and skill since then.

With very little effort, Paul's words to 5:13 can be wrested to make him an antinomian preacher.

So now we come to the second half of Galatians 5.

Paul up until v. 13, has spent his time arguing for liberty from those Jewish religious laws.

Now to prevent his being misunderstood, his argument turns against any attitude of antinomianism, or lawlessness. He has been dealing with the Jewish religious laws, not the Commandments. So he now exalts the desire to obey the commandments and condemns any desire to depart from them.

He urges us to Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. The law, whether the commandments or the mediation, could not provide genuine liberty, freedom from bondage. The true heirs to Abraham s promise will not live in bondage to the power of sin, for they have been set free by the gospel of Christ.

Paul has been speaking hard for the liberty found in Christ. A term we commonly hear is "Christian Liberty." However, Paul points out that "Christian Liberty" is not at all what we understand as "Christian Liberty" today.

Paul opens this section with strong words: "Christian Liberty" does not mean that one has the liberty in Christ to follow the desires of the flesh, as many seem to assume today.

London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, chapter 21.

The Confession defines "Christian Liberty" in the first two points, and the third point seems to be Paul's words of 5:13:

3. They who upon pretence of Christian liberty do practice any sin, or cherish any sinful lust, as they do thereby pervert the main design of the grace of the gospel to their own destruction, {#Ro 6:1-2} so they wholly destroy the end of Christian liberty, which is, that being delivered out of the hands of all our enemies, we might serve the Lord without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our lives. {#Ga 5:13 2Pe 2:18,21}

Paul is very clear, and his message can only be ignored by lying about him, as the false teachers were doing, in order to make him say something he does not say.

A quick glance at this section gives the Biblical definition of true "Christian Liberty":

First, it is liberty to love one another with a pure heart, (1 Timothy 1:5) for, as Paul says in both v. 14 and in Romans 13:10, Love is the fulfilling of the law.

Second, v. 16, liberty is freedom from the power of the works of the flesh from over us, and freedom to walk after the Spirit.

Quoting the law as found in Leviticus 19:18, Christ tells us in Matthew 22:39, that the entire second table of the law is fulfilled in Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. James repeats Christ's words in 2:8.

Far from being antinomian, Paul clearly tells us that faith in Christ requires applying the Ten Commandments to God and to our fellow men. He was and is a preacher of the law of God, but is very much against using the law for justification.

Vv. 19-26.

In this section, Paul calls attention to the continuing warfare between the Flesh and the Spirit.

Accordingly, Paul gives two weapons with which to stand against the snares of the devil, as presented by false teachers.

The first weapon is love for one another, but this Christian love is without corrupt affections and practices. This love serves one another. What does our neighbor need that we can help with, particularly those of the household of faith. Denomination has nothing to do with this love. It is centered around Christ.

John 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

Paul tells the Galatians that Christian charity will solve a lot of the problems brought about by the false teachers.

On the other hand, if Christians bite and devour one another with the words that come from a heart in bondage to the flesh and to self, then they can fully expect God to deny his keeping grace from them.

Hebrews 12:14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; 16 Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. 17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

Without God's grace, any Christian is open to what ever wind of false doctrine is blowing the strongest. There will be all kinds of works of the flesh come into an area where the grace of God has failed. The battle is hot between the flesh and the Spirit, and we need every bit of the grace of God that we can get, so we will not fall victim to the flesh.

A Christian church cannot be ruined except by their own hands, and the ruin starts when we do not love one another as commanded by Christ.

Vv. 19-21, our warfare is against sin, not against one another. That war and victory must start in our own hearts.

Note Hebrews 12:

4 ¶ Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. 5 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

In the Old Testament, the chastening of the Lord involved letting the people follow after false prophets. In doing so, the people destroyed themselves, and the Lord let the natural results of their departure from himself come to pass.

Here Paul tells us that there is a very strong struggle between the flesh and the spirit. Many things we blame on the Devil are actually our own flesh desiring to control us.

In Romans 7 & 8, Paul explains his struggle that so typified us all. Paul does not blame his sin on the Devil, but on himself.

God's grace in his people prevents them doing all the evil that the sinful nature (flesh) desires to do. On the other hand, the sin nature (flesh) prevents us from doing all the good we desire to do. The warfare will continue as long as we are in this world.

Far too often, the problems between people originate in the heart. If they would bring their inner spirit under control, the problems would be solved.

Peter tells us that we can grow in grace, so the Spirit can have dominion over the flesh:

2 Peter 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

The way we grow in grace is by growing in knowledge of God's word.

In v. 16, Paul gives the answer to combat the flesh — walk in the spirit. Read and study the word of God, and the Spirit will use that word to speak to our hearts as to the right way to walk, as well as cause us to grow in the grace needed to keep the flesh under control, so we can stand against sin.

In v. 18, Paul assures us that there will be a struggle between flesh and spirit as long as we live. But if we will bend our will and actions to the will of God as found in his word, we will be led by the Spirit.

18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

Paul is dealing with the Mosaic ceremonial law, not the moral law, as he shows these people the foolishness of going into bondage to those Jewish Religious laws.

NOTE: There is a insane and evil doctrine around today that the Christian is not bound by any outward law as found in the commandments. Rather, they are bound by the inward law of the indwelling Spirit. In other words, if the Christian's conscience does not forbid it, it is permitted.

That is not at all what Paul is saying here.

We see from Psalms chapter 2 that those, saved or unsaved, walking after the flesh see the Commandments as bondage. However, those walking after the Spirit love the law and delight in doing it. It does not represent bondage to us, but freedom.

Psalms 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
Psalms 119:97 MEM. O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.
Psalms 119:48 My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes.
Psalms 119:113 ¶ SAMECH. I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love.
Psalms 119:127 ¶ Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold.
Psalms 119:159 ¶ Consider how I love thy precepts: quicken me, O LORD, according to thy lovingkindness.
Psalms 119:163 I hate and abhor lying: but thy law do I love.
Psalms 119:165 ¶ Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.
Psalms 119:167 ¶ My soul hath kept thy testimonies; and I love them exceedingly.

A woman who loves her husband does not see her subjection to him as bondage, but freedom.

Paul repeats here in Galatians what he said in Romans 8:1-14. The passage is speaking to Christians. Certainly, the commandments cannot make one righteous; Christ alone can do that.

Paul says in v. 4,

4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

V. 4 tells us that a purpose of Christ's work for us is to equipt his people to fulfill the law—that is, to live right according to the commandments.

In Christ, we now have the desire and power to overcome the influence of the flesh and its corrupt desires, and to conform to the requirements of the Commandments. Obviously, we will not conform totally because of our sin nature, but we will work toward conformity.

Throughout all of his letters, Paul tells us that a Christian can walk after the flesh, when he should be walking after the Spirit.

In Galatians 5:91-21, Paul lists the works of the flesh. (This list corresponds with the list in Romans 1:29ff.) He implies here that these works can be done by Christians who are not walking after the Spirit.

Paul is preaching the law as found in the commandments. These are not in Paul's order:

** Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness (uncontrolled lust.) are violation of the seventh commandment, Thou shalt not commit adultery

** Idolatry, witchcraft are violation of the first and second commandment, Thou shalt have no other gods before me and Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth... Idolatry is any worship of God that is not according to Scripture. Witchcraft is the result of compacts with the devil to bring about events not according to the ordinary course and order of nature.

** heresies (following one's own ideas rather than God's) would also be a violation of the First Commandment.)

** Hatred, variance (quarrels, strife, contentions with little or no cause), emulations (zeal to get even, rivalry, jealousy), wrath, are violations of seventh commandment, Thou shalt not kill. Matthew 22:21.

** Envyings, murders would also be under the seventh commandment.

** Strife or contention, is in the New Testament, a courting distinction, a desire to put one's self forward, a partisan and fractious spirit... (self-seeking pursuit such as seeking political office by unfair means.) fits under the eighth and ninth commandment, Thou shalt no steal & Thou shalt not bear false witness.

** seditions. According to Romans 16:17, seditions are divisions caused by factions in the church. Proper authority in every area of life is based in the sixth commandment, Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

** drunk or drunkenness, as well as revellings (dunking partying, parades and music in honour of Bacchus, the Greek god of wind and intoxication, or some other deities) fall under the first (idolaters) seventh (fornicators) and the eighth (thieves),

Paul can be misunderstood up to v. 13 as giving a "free pass" to heaven. However, in v. 21, he could not be sharper, telling them, 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.

Paul is clear in all his letters: A Christian can walk after the flesh, when he should be walking after the Spirit.

But Scripture is equally clear: Those who can walk after the flesh without being chastised, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Hebrews 12:8

By placing vv. 15-21 in this section, it seems that the false teachers reduced the gospel of Christ to a profession of Christ and then keeping certain rites and rituals, as is done today by a great many people. The result in this church seems to have been a spirit of antinomianism, or anti-commandment spirit.

Referring back to Galatians 5:13, 14, the Biblical definition of love requires the keeping of the commandments. Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 19:39, 40, Romans 13:8, 9, James 2:8. So Paul urges them to Christian Love one for another.

In v. 18, Paul says that if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. The Galatians context is the Mosaic law that required following the Jewish religious laws.

However, by following v. 18 with the works of the flesh, the law referred to in v. 18 can also be the law that Paul complained about in Romans 7.23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

Those who are led by the Spirit are free from that law of death. As we walk close to the Lord, we have power over the law of sin that motivates us to do the tings listed in vv. 29-21.

Vv. 19-21, Paul defines the actions of a lack of Christian love.

Vv. 13, 14, Paul calls for love toward God and others as a means of standing against the false teachers who were troubling the people.

In vv. 22-26, he defines the outward actions of Christian love, telling the people that the Christian who is led of the Spirit will live above the works of the flesh, replacing them with the works of the Spirit.

Paul now lists what is produced by the Spirit in the Christian, and v. 21 tells us that if the fruit is not present, then neither is the Spirit.

22. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

Note: fruit of the Spirit, telling us that these things are not natural to human nature. As a fruit tree must be nurtured, cared for and protected, so must the Spirit if he will bear fruit in our lives.

The following list falls into three categories:

1. Christian state of mind: Love, Joy, Peace.
2. Christian relationship with his neighbor: Long-suffering, kindness, goodness.
3. Christian guiding principles of life: honesty, gentleness, temperance.

First Is love, love to God and to men. We see from the context, Paul is speaking of love toward our fellow men, particularly fellow Christians. 1 Corinthians 13.

Paul leads off the list with love. Scripture is clear that love is not some mystical, fuzzy feeling. Admittedly, there should be a warm feeling of strong attachment in our love for our spouse and families. Biblical love involves an intense desire to please God, and to do good to others.

Matthew 22:34 But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. 35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, 36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 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. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Paul defines love the Lord thy God, by telling us that love toward God will avoid Idolatry, witchcraft and heresies.

Paul defines Matthew 22:39, love thy neighbour as thyself in Romans 13:10 (Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.) as well as in Galatians 5:19-21.

Love toward our neighbor does not necessary involve a good feeling toward him or her, but it will avoid Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like.

Joy. Joy over pardon of sin, fellowship with the Redeemer, in his service, in our Christian duties, in trials, and in our hope of heaven.

Romans 5:2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

This joy is from within, produced by the Spirit within. Christ promised this joy in John 17.

Peace. We are reconciles to God.

Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

Long-suffering. In affliction and trial, and when injured by others.

1 Corinthians 13:4 Charity suffereth long, [and] is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

Gentleness, or kindness. It is opposite to harsh, crabby, or hot tempered. Gentleness means mildness and calmness of spirit, unruffled and polite.

Goodness. That is, inclined to do good to and for others. The Christian must be a good person.

Romans 15:14 And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.

Faith. This word can be used in two ways:

First, faith in Christ and his word. Second, fidelity or faithfulness.

The Christian will be a man of his word.

Psalms 15:4 In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the LORD. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.

Psalms 15:4 should described the Christian. He gives his word about something, and he sticks by it, even though it may cost him more than he planned. However, if the Lord's word shows him that his commitment is sin, then he must back out of it.

Illustration: My dad and uncle were working for one of the largest general contractors in Indiana when I got out of the service in 1965. Obviously, I had a job with the contractor as an equipment operator. I worked one season, and then shut down for the winter. I worked the next season, and when winter came, we shut down again. This time, I found a job with a land developer. He promised me that if I would work for him that summer instead of returning to the big contractor, he would keep me the next winter. Also, part of the deal was $10 an hour no matter how many hours we worked. (1967) I stayed with him that summer, working a lot of hours. Winter came, and he laid me off.

Some years later when I was on the staff of a church in MD, the Indiana fair labor board contacted me. One of the other men who had the same deal sued the developer over back pay for overtime. They offered me to be part of the suit.

I had given my word to the man, so based upon Psalms 15:4, I turned down the offer to join the suit. Him not keeping his word to me gave me no right to not keep my word.

Meekness. Gentleness, mildness.

Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Temperance. That is, self-control. We have reduced the word to mean not much more than abstaining from drunkenness. However, it includes power over one's evil passions of all kinds. It includes self-government and moderation in all things. The Holy Spirit teaches the heart to restrain its passions and to govern itself, as will as subdue its unruly and wrong passions. One's testimony can easily be destroyed by intemperance.

Obviously, uncontrolled anger and striking out in anger fits here. When was the last time we lost our temper, and had to go back and make it right? When was the last time the tongue got out of control?

However, temperance starts with:

2 Corinthians 10:1 ¶ Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you: 2 But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh. 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Yes, we are involved in a spiritual warfare that will not be over until we die. That warfare is basically for the control of our minds.

Intemperance starts in the mind, as does all sin. As the mind is brought under control of the Spirit, the works of the flesh will "fall away."

Anger and striking out either physically or with the tongue is a common problem with all of us. We may not say anything, but the heart may be boiling. The New Testament warnings apply to the heart as well as to the actions and words.

One of the hardest lessons to teach young children is self-control and self-government, from where all government comes. But it is a lesson that must be taught. It seemed we beat Jessica to death to get her to sit still when she was supposed to sit still, and to go to sleep when she was supposed to go to sleep. It paid off, though we blew it in later years by letting her go her own way.

Though it seems the State has outlawed many good things, and has legalized many bad things, there is no law of God nor of man against these things of vv. 22, 23. In fact, it was when the Christians of the first three centuries faithfully fulfilled these things regardless of the terrible moves against them, pagan Rome fell in 312 AD.

All true Christians will have the Spirit working in their hearts to subdue the works of the flesh, and to replace them with the works of the Spirit.

Though Paul did not make the chapter divisions, those who did use vv. 24-26 to give Paul's final thoughts on the preceding matter.

Part of the works of the flesh is desiring vain glory and provoking and envying one another, or exalting ourselves in our minds over others, seeing them as inferior. This evil attitude must be overcome, and it can be by love one toward another, as called for by Paul.

V. 26, the purpose of provoking one another is to exalt ourselves, vain glory, which is much different from Glorifying God in all we do.

One last point: There are those unsaved who might have the vv. 22, 23 natural temperaments. These things described my first wife, who did not get saved until after I did in 1977. Her personality convinced everyone she was saved, including herself.

We can only base our salvation upon our faith and trust in Christ, not on whether or not we have all the right actions of a Christian. Though the true Christian will have right actions.

Let me close this section with Paul's words found in,

2 Corinthians 6:1 We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. 2 (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.) 3 Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: 4 But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, 5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; 6 By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, 7 By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, 8 By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; 9 As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; 10 As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.

1. We prove ourselves ministers of God by patience, pureness, knowledge of God's word, longsuffering, kindness and genuine love toward one another.

What do we prove to those watching us by our words and actions??