The works of the flesh; the fruit of the Spirit (5.13-26) (2/4)
"I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. ().
The primary lesson in this text has to do with the Law of Moses and the fact that it had ceased to exist as an authoritative system of religion; its purpose had been fulfilled and a better system had supplanted it. The Law had not failed! In point of fact, the Law had achieved exactly the purpose for which God had given it; it had allowed Israel to maintain her national identity until such time as the Jesus could assume His rightful place in the hearts of men made righteous by the promised Messiah.
However, there is an overarching principle stated here that cannot be missed. Two words are used which depict two opposite and diametrically opposed world views; these words are flesh and spirit. Flesh as used here simply stands for any and all acts of man that place humanity in the center of the spiritual universe and hence relegate God to a position of lesser importance. The basis for the beliefs and practices of the flesh are derived from man and not from God. Flesh is a worldview that exalts man's ability to care for himself and diminishes the role of God from that of Sovereign Creator to a role defined by mankind.
Spirit represents a worldview that holds that man is totally hopeless and helpless without Divine guidance. Spirit holds that man is unable to find God through his own searchings. Spirit acknowledges that the only means by which man can know God is through God's own revelation of Himself. Spirit sees God as the absolute Sovereign of the universe without whom we would not have existed. Further to that point, Spirit knows that man continues to exist only because God has so willed it; it is by and for His pleasure that we occupy time and space!
These two world views are at enmity one with another; they CANNOT peacefully coexist any more than a wolf can be employed as the shepherd of the flock. They are opposed to one another and are irreconcilable in their differences. No amount of dressing up of the two systems can change their inherently opposite views. Hence, they are presented as being in perpetual battle against one another. The Law of Moses was given by God and had a rightful place in the economy of the Old Testament. However, that place was designed to become obsolete when Messiah came. Like scaffolding around a building under construction, it was essential to the building process. However, once complete, the scaffolding was completely out of place. The Law was that scaffolding. It was appropriate; it was even essential. However, once Messiah came, its purpose and man's perspective of it was to change entirely.
To cling to the Law was to cling to the flesh. By definition, when one clings to the flesh, he/she rejects the Spirit. They cannot coexist! Paul's affirmations in paint a graphic picture of man without God. Read it and chose the only viable alternative to Flesh that exists!
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