We are reading and studying the letter to the Galatians and we are in the heart of Chapter 5.
One of the things we have read in Chapter 5 is how Paul refers to "love". Now, there was not much mention of this in the early passages where Paul has some strong things to say these brothers in Christ.
We remind ourselves of what he has been writing remembering that recapitulation is an important part of teaching.
Verse 6 – Paul writes that the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. It is difficult to move away from that sentence. We also read a similar word in 1 Timothy 1 verse 5. This has to be our aim - our goal - wherever we go. It is not easy at times to score goals.
There are times when have to ask the question about activity within the Church. Is this producing love? Will this - could this - produce the love of Jesus Christ?
Verse 13 - Serve one another in love. That will mean - you will not become involved in violent arguments. It will mean you will not biting or devouring someone at a meeting, or someone who is NOT at a meeting.
A church fight is a terrible thing. Someone told me about them.
Dear Bob Mumford was say amusingly, "I used to have wings, but the backbiters ate them off!" I'm sure you know what he means.
Paul is teaching these brothers - Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful flesh. The sinful nature or the flesh is difficult to control - perhaps impossible - and that is why God has ways of dealing with it.
When the flesh comes against the Spirit, there is a conflict - a battle. One of the most dangerous areas in the life of some churches is the choir - in more than one place it is called ‘the war department’.
Paul's advice to those people who were being sorely tempted to take a wrong turning was clear - be led by the Holy Spirit - aim to produce love - make that your desire - your goal.
But we have to add something to this. If you are in Christ and if you are aware of someone who has been in an argument or fight - be part of the spiritual emergency crew to pick up the pieces and to bathe the wounds. They may not want you, but be available and around.
Paul raises this problem of the sinful nature - the flesh.
When a man is born again what is he to do with his temper - his moods - his tantrums - his bad emotions - his desire to fight? God has only one answer. It is a very clear answer to which very few people pay any attention. It is EXECUTION. God doesn't send him to church. God doesn't ask a fleshly person to pray or read the Bible. His only remedy is execution.
Something raises its ugly head on a regular basis. It happened a month ago - six months ago - a year ago. Or, it has been happening for 20 years or more. It needs to be executed - crucified - and then buried in baptism. It is all there in Romans Chapter 6.
But even after we are born again something somehow keeps rising within our lives. That may be something from which a man may need to be delivered - and have that thing rooted out.
You cannot crucify what needs to be delivered - and there is no use praying for deliverance for a person who needs to crucify the flesh, and die to that thing - that connection - that affiliation - that friendship - that membership.
Yes, this appears in more than one letter. It is repeated in various New Testament churches. Why? Because fallen humanity experiences the same weaknesses and sin no matter where you and that is why God repeats various fundamental truths throughout His Holy Word.
“Loving Father, help me to appreciate and enjoy the freedom I have through Christ, and in Christ. Release me from any bondages. Set me free from chains that I cannot release and break. If I failed the lesson first time round give the desire and grace to re-sit it.” Amen
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