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Ephesians 5:18 & Galatians 5:14-24 by Robert Dean
Series:Hebrews (2005)
Duration:1 hr 1 mins 6 secs

Hebrews Lesson 69  September 29, 2006 

 

NKJ Matthew 11:28 "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

 

We started off in Hebrews 6:7-8 with an illustration that is really a warning that relates to Hebrews 6:4-6 dealing with the dangers of falling away as a believer and beginning to turn from a passion for studying the Word, knowing the Word, and applying the Word. Hebrews 6:7 gives the illustration.

 

NKJ Hebrews 6:7 For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God;

 

NKJ Hebrews 6:8 but if it bears thorns and briars, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.

 

We have gone through the details here. What I've done the last three or four weeks is take the concepts that we find in this verse which has to do with production – how the fruit is produced from the soil as by-product of the nutrients that go into it through the soil itself and the rain. You have two kinds of production that come out of the Christian life – that which is positive (which receives blessing) and that which is negative (which judged or disciplined.) 

 

I started a study in which I was answering the question, how do we grow? How do we produce fruit? What is fruit? One of the points that I made as we got into John 15:7 which is where Jesus uses the vine (the grape vine) as an analogy of spiritual growth is to emphasize the fact that fruit (when we look at how fruit is defined fruit in the New Testament) is not evangelism. It is not defined in terms of Christian service. Fruit is not defined in terms of giving. It is not defined in terms of how many people you witnessed to this week. It is not defined in those categories because those categories have to do with Christian service or our responsibilities in either our priesthood or our ambassadorship. So we have these priorities, these responsibilities that are ours because of who and what we are in Jesus Christ at the instant we become priests to God and royal ambassadors. Now at that stage when you are a baby priest or baby ambassador, there is not a whole lot you can do in terms of working out those responsibilities. You have to learn and you have to grow. You have to learn what is involved in growth. You have to grow to become mature before you can effectively function in those areas. I want to make sure that you understand that I inserted the adverb there – effectively function or fully function in those areas. We can all begin to function in different areas of our priesthood and ambassadorship when we are young believers, but as you grow and mature then what happens is that you become more effective in your service in those areas of priesthood and ambassadorship. 

 

Some people get the idea that "I am going to wait until I am more mature before I start serving."

 

No, that is not how it works. You start serving as you grow, but in different areas related to your particular spiritual age. That has to do with service. Fruit on the other hand has to do with character. Character is related to the integrity of the Lord Jesus Christ. The character that is being produced in us is the character of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have seen this in a couple of passages that we have looked at.

 

So we went from Hebrews 6. The first area to illustrate by comparing Scripture with Scripture was the vine analogy in John 15. A conclusion that we came to in John 15 was that in Jesus' terminology "abiding in Him" was the sole and necessary requirement to produce fruit. If you are not abiding in Christ, you are not producing fruit. You have to abide in Christ to produce fruit. So believers are either abiding in Christ or they are not abiding in Christ. When you are abiding in Christ there is first growth that takes place and then there is fruit production. You have these different stages of growth. You see that in these agricultural analogies that are used over and over again throughout Scripture. Psalm 1 is another one. We touched on that on Tuesday night. You have them in Matthew 13, Luke 8. We went to those passages and we saw that there are different degrees of growth in different believers. Some have just a little more growth. They are just a seed that falls on the rocky soil. It germinates. It sprouts. It puts forth a little bit of growth and that is it. Then there are those with a little bit more growth. They fall on the thorny soil. There is more growth and then it gets choked out. Then finally there is the plant that grows to fruit production maturity. Even that produces different levels some produce 100 fold, some 50 fold, and some 20 fold. There are different levels. So everybody is different. So we have gone through those passages already. 

 

At the end of our study last time I started looking at the mechanics. How is this fruit produced? What is our responsibility? What is God's responsibility?  Both are involved in this. We have certain responsibilities where our volition is engaged. The Holy Spirit who is the primary agent in sanctification is also engaged. So where do we see these things separate? How do they fit together? So we begin to look at some passages in Ephesians 5 where it ends with a verse that is familiar to many of us.

 

NKJ Ephesians 5:18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,

 

I connected this verse with Colossians 3:16. Now just as a point of background. I am not sure if I covered this last time. Paul was in prison (under house arrest) in Rome and he wrote four prison epistles. That is what they are called because they were written when he was in prison. He wrote one of those to Ephesus and one to the church at Colosse. These were letters that were to be passed around. They say that within the letters. They were to be passed around not just within those churches but also to Laodicea and other churches that were in the area. So he expected not just the Ephesian church and not just the Collosian church to read these epistles, but for them to make copies and to share them with the other congregations. He wrote them at the same time. They are parallel to one another. Ephesians and Colossians are parallel to one another so that if you are reading in Ephesians and it touches on one subject, you can flip over and look at Colossians and a lot of times Colossians emphasizes it a little more. Sometimes you will notice that in Ephesians some topic or some doctrine is developed a little more or a little bit more is said. When you look at the parallel in Colossians, there is only one verse where Ephesians had two or three verses on it. They balance each other. They blend together and complement one another. So when we look at Ephesians 5:18 and its surrounding context, we see that the context of Ephesians 5:18 is very similar to the context of Colossians 3:16. What differs is the command. The command in Ephesians 5:18 is to be filled by means of the Spirit. I will come back and talk about the details of that in just a minute.

 

NKJ Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

 

So what we have with this series of participles after the command "to let the Word of Christ dwell", these participles indicate the results of the indwelling of the Word in the mentality of the soul as it has its impact on the way you live. Notice one of the first consequences mentioned in both passages is admonishing or speaking.

 

Ephesians says, "Speaking to one another in psalms, in hymns, and spiritual songs. Singing is a part of the spiritual life. Singing praises to God is part of the spiritual life. In too many churches singing is like something that we kind of tack on on Sunday morning. 

 

"Let's get through that and get to the real stuff (which is the teaching)."

 

I have heard people say that.

 

"Why do we even sing?"

 

It is part of what the Scripture says. It is vital. On the other hand you have people who think that it is the Word of God - the teaching that has become peripheral. Real praise and worship is the singing. Let's go do that for 45 minutes and tack on a little sermonette at the end. That is much worse because it is the Word of God that is powerful. 

 

"It is the Word of God," Jesus said, "that is the instrument of sanctification in the life of the believer." 

 

If you don't learn to think like God thinks, if you don't learn to understand what God has written to you as an individual; then how are you even going to live the Christian life or learn to think. It's less of a problem to reduce the singing and more of a problem to emphasize it. But singing is not some sort of appendix that you stick on the beginning of a Sunday morning worship service because that is the way things have been done.

 

Okay, let's look at a little chart that I put together.

 

You have two different commands put two different places, but the consequences that you read in the following verses are the same. For example both Ephesians and Colossians have the result of teaching and admonishing one another or teaching one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. That is in Colossians 3:16b and Ephesians 5:19.

 

Second there is an emphasis on gratitude in both passages – to be thankful for all things. In Eph 5:20 we read…

 

NKJ Ephesians 5:20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

 

So there is gratitude that characterizes the believer. That is part of grace orientation. We are grateful for what God gave us. The words grace and gratitude are related to one another. They both come from the same roots in Latin. The English words do. There is a relationship. If you understand grace, it produces gratitude. If you don't understand grace, it doesn't produce gratitude. 

 

Third, it affects relationships. Ephesians 5:21 summarizes it by saying…

 

NKJ Ephesians 5:21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.

 

The fear of God governs everything.  We talked about that Tuesday night – the importance of the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. It is more than just respect for God. 

 

I can liken it to when I would disobey my mother. Some of you knew my mother. I would disobey my mother when I was a little boy.

 

She would say, "This is pretty serious. Your father is going to deal with this when he comes home."

 

 Then I just went to my room and decided that my life was probably going to end that day. That is comparable to the fear of the Lord. There is a recognition of and respect for that authority. Also there is a certain dread or terror that is hanging there because one realizes the principle of ultimate accountability. God can lower the boom. That is part of this idea of fear of the Lord. So there is an overriding command of submitting to one another in fear of the Lord because that is related to the whole principle of love in the Christian life. 

 

But then Paul begins to demonstrate how that affects different relationships. First of all, wives are to be submissive to their husbands. That is Colossians 3:18 and Ephesians 5:22. I pointed out on Tuesday night (We got into this coming from a different direction,) that the command for wives to submit to their husbands is the Greek verb hupotasso and the other words that are used in this context for obedience. Even in English translations they use different words.  You have wives submit to your husbands, but children are to obey their parents and slaves are to obey their masters. There is a difference there. Wives are to be submissive – hupotasso. Children and employees are to be obedient – hupachuo. There is a difference. 

 

Husbands, your wife is not to be obedient to you like a child or like an employee. She is a partner in the divine team that is going forth to fulfill the responsibilities that God has given a marriage. There is one leader and one follower. But the leader and follower relationship is not the relationship of a drill sergeant to an inductee. It is the relation of two people who are going somewhere. 

 

Years ago I developed the doctrine of dance to describe this because it is like dancing. I don't have time to go through that. Year ago I took dance lessons.  I learned a lot of principles. It was in a class setting where you would switch partners all the time. I was in a class where everybody got to know each other we would go out afterwards to some of the country and western places. We would dance frequently and everybody would switch partners. 

 

Some of the ladies would tell me, "You are really a good dancer, but I don't like to dance with this guy or that guy because either this guy leads too strongly and he is going to break something or this guy leads too weakly I am not sure what he wants me to do and I am going to run into somebody."

 

It is this leadership thing. 

 

I would talk to some of the ladies and they would say, "I don't like to say anything to anybody because some of these men just can't take it."

 

What husbands have to learn sometimes is that the only one who can tell how you are leading your wife is your wife. She is the only one who can give you honest feedback on how you are doing. The process in a young marriage is that you have to work out these details of how the husband leads in relationship to the wife in following. You have to learn to reach that balance where the husband's leadership is not overpowering the wife, but on the other hand he is not so weak that she is not sure where you are leading. 

 

So wives are to be submissive to their husbands. Husbands are to be loving their wives as Christ loves the church. There is that qualification on both of them that is convicting. Wives are to be submissive to the husbands as unto the Lord. This means, ladies, your relationship to your husband in terms of submission to his leadership is a barometer of how well you are following the Lord.

 

Let's move on to husbands now. Husbands, how you love your wives indicates something about how you understand what Jesus Christ did for you on the cross. There is a correlation there. Now that is probably enough for everybody to chew on for a while. That gets terribly convicting after awhile because many of us have sin natures that get in the way. 

 

Fourth, children obey your parents. Children are to be obedient to their parents. 

 

NKJ Colossians 3:20 Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.

 

NKJ Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.

 

The fathers are responsible for the spiritual welfare of the home. Fathers, you men are catching it tonight. The fathers are responsible. They are not responsible to delegate that spiritual training to the wife. Let me say that again. It goes right passed a lot of men. 

 

This passage doesn't say, "Fathers delegate the spiritual training in the home to your wife." 

 

It is your responsibility. There needs to be male leadership in spiritual things in the home. Otherwise you are going to end up producing children like one child that was in my church some 25 years ago. 

 

He said to his mother, "Well, I don't want to go to church today. I realized that church is for women."

 

His father never went to church. It was his mother that always took him. So you are setting an example. So men have to be the ones who are teaching doctrine in the home to the kids. Don't delegate that to your wives. 

 

The corollary to that is that men should be the ones who are teaching doctrine to the kids at church. In an ideal situation we would not have women teaching any kids in prep school. From the youngest age up, we would have a man in every classroom. A lot of times it is good to have team teaching in there. Kids respond well to a man. To have men in there at the earliest stage says something about the fact that this is important to men, especially to these young boys that need to have a good male example. 

 

Then the last thing that is listed in these passages is the relationship between masters and slaves and that slaves are to be obedient to their masters. Paul says in Ephesians 6:9…

 

NKJ Ephesians 6:9 And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.

 

So we have a model of Jesus Christ who is a pattern for most every one of these relationships. Notice. All 7 of these consequences flow out of these commands, but we have two different commands. In Ephesians it is "be filled by means of the Spirit" and in Colossians it is "let the Word of Christ dwell richly within you." Then we can say that those two commands are equivalent to one another. They are a little different. One emphasizes the role of the Spirit.  The other emphasizes the role of the Word of God. They work in tandem. They work together. God uses both. It is not one without the other. People who teach that it is all the Spirit end up being mystical or they end up being charismatic Pentecostal. They minimize the significance of the revelation of God because they are always looking for some new revelation. Those who emphasize the knowledge of the Word to the exclusion of the role of the Spirit end up always teaching some form of formalism, some sort of theology (just a theological approach to the spiritual life), or they end up with just morality – just do it, do it, do it. They don't understand that the real dynamic, the real power in the Christian life is the Holy Spirit. You can't have one without the other. They have to work together. 

 

NKJ Ephesians 5:18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,

 

Both of these words "do not be drunk" and "be filled with" are present passive imperatives. Now a present imperative simply means that this is supposed to be a continuous behavior – a continuous habit pattern, a continuous lifestyle pattern. 

 

Now wine and Spirit are both in the dative case and they are both instrumental datives. That means that the noun is viewed grammatically as the instrument used to accomplish the mandate. So wine was used in the festivals of Dionysius or Bacchus to promote a pagan spirituality. You go out and you are worshipping the god of wine so you would go out and drink a lot of wine and get drunk. The spirit of the god would enter into you and so the means to rapport and fellowship with the god was through wine. So Paul is contrasting that methodology which was very prevalent in the ancient world with the biblical pattern, which is to be filled by means of the Spirit. It is not that you are getting more of the Spirit. You got all of the Spirit you are going to get the instant you were saved. You were indwelt by God the Holy Spirit. You are not going to get anymore of Him. Some people get that idea – "I get more and more of the Spirit and the Spirit is the content of the filling". The Spirit is not the content of the Spirit. The Spirit is the means by which the content is put into the believer. That is the idea of pleroo. It is to fill up. It is to fill up our thinking. It is to fill up our lives with the Word of God. So we compare that with Colossians 3:16.

 

NKJ Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

 

The command there is a present active imperative. To dwell in you is enoikeo. Oikeo is the verb to live. Oikos is the word for house. The preposition en that is in the prefix there means to live in something or to dwell within something. So it is the same word that is used for indwelling of the Holy Spirit. But here it is not the Holy Spirit. It is the Word of Christ. It is the content of Scripture. We have to know the principles, the promises of the Word of God. We have to understand the doctrine that is there. We have to learn to think about these things. This is why God gave us the Word. It is to force us to think about things. 

 

Think about the book of Job. Look at the book of Job. Job is just walking through life one day and wham - he loses everything. He loses his children. He loses his possessions. He loses everything that he has. He is not clued in like you and I are in the first part of the first chapter that Satan has been up in heaven and that God has been pointing out Job.

 

  "Have you taken a look at Job yet? He is the prime candidate. He is the most spiritual believer on the planet right now. Have you really looked at him and what a tremendous testimony he is?"

 

Job isn't aware of anything that is going on. He is not privy to any special revelation. All he knows is that he is going through life one day just like every other day and out of the blue he loses everything. In fact God doesn't start speaking to him to give him any kind of a clue until the 38th chapter - nothing. He is silent. Why is God silent? That is one of the things that people are often puzzled and confused about in Job. Why is it that he goes through all of this and God doesn't speak to him? He is pleading with God, but there is this long silence. God answers. Many people want God to answer right away. We are so self-absorbed that we think that if I stub my toe God has got to tell my why immediately. He is somehow answerable to me. But you see what God wants us to do when we go through life and we face conflicts, adversity, problems or decisions; He wants us to wrestle with the issue. Think about it. Pray about it.  To go to the Scriptures and find patterns in the Scriptures that relate to our own lives so that we can think through what is happening in the Scriptures and pull out those principles and apply them to our lives; not in a superficial manner but in an accurate manner. That is why it is so important for pastors to be training congregations to think - to think critically - to be able to work their way through things not just to come and have a superficial feel good time with Jesus. This is what happens in most churches and most Christians can't think their way out of a wet paper sack. Most of us don't want to even if we can.  That is just the trend of our old sin natures. So it is the Word of God that is so important. We have to learn it and study it. We have to think in terms of the Word of God. That is how we let the Word dwell richly in us with all wisdom. 

 

Wisdom is practical application of the Word. We always have a tendency to think of wisdom in the Bible in terms of our own western civilization Greek philosophical background. We think of abstract wisdom being able to think philosophically, being able to think in terms of logic. I am not demeaning logic, but we think in terms of intellectual process when we think of wisdom. We think of somebody that is wise like Aristotle or Plato or someone who is well-educated. But that is not the biblical concept of wisdom at all. The biblical concept of wisdom is grounded in the Old Testament concept of wisdom. You have your wisdom books like Job, some of the Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Solomon, and Ecclesiastes. The Old Testament concept of wisdom has the idea of skillfulness – doing something with tremendous skill to produce something of beauty, something that is artistic, and something that has value. It is the Hebrew word chokmah. Chokmah is translated wisdom. If you go back to some of its earliest uses you find that in Exodus after the Jews have come out of from slavery at Mt. Sinai and God is giving them the blueprint for the tabernacle that the Spirit of God comes upon two craftsmen Bezalel and Aholiab and gives them chokmah so that they can produce the articles of furniture and clothes for the priest. They can create all of these things so that they are works of art. They are not just things that are pragmatically valuable. They were beautiful. They were artistic. They had skill in working with gold and silver, precious stones and the wood and in weaving the fabric. 

 

That word for skill there is the Hebrew word for wisdom. So wisdom takes you to a new level. It is being able to take the Word of God and the principles of doctrine and then to apply them in all the areas of our lives so that the product is that which has beauty and that which is of eternal value that which glorifies God. So the Word of God dwells in you richly in all wisdom. That takes us through what we were doing last week. 

 

I hit Ephesians 5:18 and Colossians 3:16 very quickly at the end so I wanted to flush it out a little more to make sure we understand this. This is something while you heard it a lot; it is not always clear – the concept of being filled by means of the Holy Spirit. 

 

Another example I could use is a coffee cup. It is full of coffee right now because I had some before class. That is the content. Too many people think of the filling of the Spirit as getting more content, more Spirit. But that grammatically would have to use a genitive. It uses a dative. So that indicates it is talking about how the cup gets filled with something. So we put those two things together. 

 

All right, now let's back up a minute because what we see here is a mandate back in Ephesians 5:7 that sets this up. You might say that Ephesians 5:7-9 is like the center point or the hub of a wheel and we are going to have three spokes come out from the wheel. The main spoke is the spoke that drives down through Ephesians 5:7-18 which is what we just talked about. Then the next spoke is (we are going to go off two different directions) taking principles in Ephesians 5:7-9 and seeing how they are played out in parallel passages in the New Testament. So we look at these verses briefly.

 

NKJ Ephesians 5:7 Therefore do not be partakers with them.

 

NKJ Ephesians 5:8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light

 

NKJ Ephesians 5:9 (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth),

 

Verse 8 points out two things. You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. That is positional. At the instant of salvation we positionally become light. Colossians tells us that at the instant of salvation we are transferred from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of His Beloved Son, the kingdom of light. That is positional. You may still be living like you did two days earlier and you probably did because you haven't learned anything yet.  You have been positionally transferred and your citizenship is now in heaven. You are in the kingdom of His beloved Son, the kingdom of light. So now the issue is - are you going to walk as the children of light? You are not living in heaven, but you live as a citizen of heaven. 

 

One of the things I have noticed as I travel internationally is that you can be walking down the streets of Paris or the streets of Almaty or the streets of Moscow and you can always spot an American - always. You can do it for two reasons. Number one they are fatter than anyone else. And number two is the way they carry themselves. Americans carry themselves as if they own the world. Nobody is down on Americans. We have a sense of pride and freedom and independence that no one else in the world has. It comes out in our very carriage. You and I may not always be as attuned to that, but if you get out of the culture for a while and you are surrounded by a lot of non-Americans; you can spot another American in an instant. It is how they carry themselves, even if you are an American in Europe and you don't think that you dress any different. It used to amaze me.  '

 

I would go to Kiev and I would have clothes that were made there and shoes that were made there and a coat that was made there and a hat that was made there and I would walk in some place and they would say, "You are an American." 

 

They can spot you in an instant. You have no idea, but people spot you that way. You are a believer in Christ. That is your position. You may try to disguise yourself as somebody who lives in the world. You can dress like 'em and talk like 'em and act like 'em and everything else; but you can't get away from your identity in Jesus Christ. That is who we are. 

 

That is what Paul is talking about here. We are light in the Lord, but we have to learn how to walk as children of light. Then there is a parenthetical statement that the fruit of the Spirit is in goodness, righteousness, and truth. That is the character that is produced in the child of light. Now where we are going to go from here is the concept of fruitfulness. 

 

I pointed out last time for those of you who weren't here that there is a textual variant in Ephesians 5:9. Some of the older manuscripts – three of the uncials they call them - (they are 4th century or so manuscripts) that have fruit of the light there. Light seems to make sense in the passage. One of the canons of textual criticism is that sometimes the more difficult reading is the correct reading. But the majority of documents including one of the older uncials also does not have light there. It reads pneuma. So I think that is the preferable reading. It fits I think into the context a little better. But either way we are getting to the same principle, which is character. 

 

Now this takes us over to an important passage in Galatians. So turn over to Galatians 5. Galatians 5 is one of the most significant passages in all of the New Testament for understanding the spiritual life. We are going to jump into the middle of it and then back out because I think we have to understand what Paul is writing about to the Galatians if we are really going to comprehend the significance of what he says in Galatians 5:16. So we will just start at verse 14 to pick up the context.

 

NKJ Galatians 5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

 

This is a quote from one of the commandments in the Old Testament, Leviticus 19:18. Jesus repeats this in Matthew 7:12, 22:39-40. 

 

NKJ Matthew 22:36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?"

 

NKJ Matthew 22:37 Jesus said to him, " 'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'

 

NKJ Matthew 22:39 "And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'

 

Now I pointed out a couple of weeks ago when we were in the Upper Room Discourse in John 15 that John 15 where he begins the vine analogy ends with the repetition of the governing command related to the whole discourse there which is to love one another. The mandate that Jesus gave in John13:34-5 for Church Age believers is "to love one another as I have loved you and by this that is by the love for one another all will know that you are my disciples."  Now Jesus upped the ante there. In the Old Testament the mandate was to love your neighbor as yourself. Your neighbor may be a believer or an unbeliever.  The standard was like you love yourself. 

 

As Paul says to illustrate the importance of men loving their wives he said, "But no man hated his own flesh, but everyone loves it and cherishes it." 

 

That is a universal principle. Everyone loves himself despite the fact that modern psychology says about people having a low self-image and they hate themselves. Well, they are wrong. The Bible says that every person is born with an overdose of self-love. Self is number one. We are all self-absorbed and we have to learn to transfer that to other people. So that becomes a standard under the Mosaic Law because that is the best you can do without the Holy Spirit. The reason Paul quotes that here is because – what is the issue in Galatia? The issue with these Galatian believers is that after Paul went to south Galatia and taught them the free grace gospel and told them that the law was ended, a bunch of Judaizers came along behind him. These were Jews that taught that it is great to trust in Christ as your savior - but not enough. You have to have the full gospel. You have to have the Mosaic Law. There has to be an entering into Judaism and the application of the Mosaic Law so that you get all the benefits of being a Christian. So it was grace plus the law. So Paul has to deal with the issue of the Law all the way through this epistle. That is why he quotes from the Law. 

 

NKJ Galatians 5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

 

NKJ Galatians 5:15 But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!

 

See there is a problem in the church at Galatia. That is interpersonal conflicts that are going on. They are not loving one another. He is pointing out the fact that you failed to fulfill the Mosaic Law commandment that you are saying it is the key to spirituality. Now he is going to tell them how to get there. That is in the next verse. 

 

NKJ Galatians 5:16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

 

The implication is a contrast. 

 

The lust of the flesh is what is happening in verse 15. You bite and devour one another. Beware lest you be consumed by one another.

 

Just so you see where Paul is driving here when he said, "Walk by means of the Spirit." He then has to develop out the contrast between the flesh and the Spirit in verses 17–18. Then in 19-21 it gives you the manifestation of the characteristics of sin nature controlled people. Then in verse 22-23 he gives the manifestation of the production of people who are walking by means of the Spirit. What is the first thing he says? The fruit of the Spirit is love. What is he talking about in this context? He is talking about love. They are not fulfilling a Mosaic Law mandate to love one another- to love your neighbor as yourself.  They are not fulfilling that. 

 

What he is pointing out is that you can't fulfill God's requirements on your own. You can produce spirituality by morality, Remember the sin nature is all an unbeliever has. It is hard for us to remember that. Sometimes I get really aggravated at the world around me and then I have to remember. 

 

"Well, why am I mad that the world is acting like the world? Why am I mad that these pagan unbelievers are acting like pagan unbelievers? They can only operate according to the one nature that they have and that's the sin nature." 

 

That sin nature is a source of everything that comes out of their lives. That produces morality and that produces immorality. There are some cultures in the world that are incredibly moral. There are some religious systems that have a very strict moral code. All of that comes out of the sin nature. We forget that the sin nature produces a lot of morality and religion as well as immorality and disillusion. But what we have here is Paul emphasizing that their morality hasn't cut it yet. Even though they are saying that you have to obey the law in order to grow as a believer, the end result is that they are eating each other up.  Paul can spot this pretty well because in Romans 7 he describes how he was trying to live the Christian life on the basis of the law. When he finally dealt with the 10th commandment, he realized he hadn't gotten anywhere on his own efforts. The flesh just can't produce spirituality. You can't have a pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps approach to the spiritual life. It is a supernatural way of life that can only be produced supernaturally. God the Holy Spirit is the one who has to do it. You can't do it on your own.

 

You can't just get up in the morning and say, "Here I am going to do these 10 things today and that is gong to make me a better Christian." 

 

But on the other had you don't just say, "Well I am going to confess my sins and I am in fellowship and it is just going to happen." 

 

There is that balance between the Holy Spirit. You have to be in right relationship to the Holy Spirit. Our responsibility is that we have to be applying doctrine and then the Holy Spirit uses that to produce spiritual growth in our life.

 

Now to understand this passage in 5:16 we have to understand the vocabulary here. We go through Galatians 1 and 2 (that is the first part of the book) and 3 and 4 and now we are in 5. Galatians 5:16 is picking up a thought that he left in Galatians 3:3. Galatians 3:3–5:16 is a rabbit trail. But it is a rabbit trail to set them up so that they can understand and appreciate Galatians 5:16. Now let's look at the vocabulary here real quick before we go back to Galatians 3:2.

 

The verb there is a present active imperative of peripateo and it emphasizes to walk step-by-step, to go forward step-by-step. We are to walk. The Spirit is in the instrumental dative indicating that we walk by means of the Spirit. 

 

Then he says that you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. It uses a double negative. In English a double negative means that they cancel each other and you end up with a positive. But in Greek if you want to state that something is impossible, you do it grammatically. You use a double negative – both the ou and me. Both of those are words for no or not. You use a subjunctive mood verb.

 

So he says, "You shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh." 

 

That basically means when you are walking by the Spirit you can't sin. It won't happen. You just can't do it. 

 

So you say, "Well wait a minute. How do I sin then?"

 

Because, you stop walking by the Spirit. Then you have sinned. It naturally falls out. It is like water flowing downhill. Walking by the Spirit demands a conscious moment-by-moment dependence on the Spirit. It is like Peter walking on the water. When his eyes are on the Lord he does just great. As soon as he took his eyes off the Lord he sunk. That is a great illustration for this.  As long as we are consciously dependent on the Holy Spirit we can't sin. But as soon as we take our eyes off of Him, we sink right into the cesspool of the sin nature. It is automatic. Taking your eyes off the Spirit isn't sin.  It's sinking.  Then we fulfill the lusts of the flesh. 

 

Now we go back to Galatians 3:2. This is where you tie a whole book together. I just love doing this kind of stuff because most of us are so used to pinpoint exegesis and microscopic analysis on each leaf in the forest that we don't know what the forest looks like any more. Some times you have to stand back and take that big picture. In Galatians 1 and 2 Paul deals with the problem of legalism and the gospel. He has that famous statement in Galatians 1:5-7

 

NKJ Galatians 1:5 to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. 6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ

 

If you add anything to grace (grace and law, grace and works) you nullify grace and there is no gospel. There is no salvation. He ends up bringing his point home. He goes straight to Galatians 2:16 saying….

 

NKJ Galatians 2:16 "knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.

 

Notice the vocabulary there - not by the works of the law, but by faith in Christ. 

 

One and two deal with the problem of legalism at salvation. But chapters 3 through 5 deal with legalism in the spiritual life – legalism in progressive sanctification if you will. 

 

So he starts off in Galatians 3:2 and he says, "Okay, now I want you to answer a question. 

 

NKJ Galatians 3:2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

 

Which was it?  What we expect in the answer is for them to say the hearing of faith.  He just got through developing this in chapter 1 and chapter 2. 

 

He says, "Do you receive the Spirit by works of the law?"

 

The law here refers to the Mosaic Law and the teaching of the Judaizers that if you really want to have the full blessings of the spiritual life, you have to enter into the blessings of the Mosaic Covenant by virtue of circumcision. Remember circumcision is the sign of the Abrahamic Covenant. So if you are really going to benefit from the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant, then you have to get circumcised. Then you have to do all of the other rituals related to the Mosaic Law. We see this contrast between the law and faith and works and the Spirit so that throughout the book. We are going to see this contrast between law vs. grace, works vs. faith, slavery vs. freedom and flesh vs. the Spirit.

 

These are the contrasts. The left column indicates how you try to live your life under religion - law, works, you are enslaved to the flesh. The other side is by grace through faith we have freedom in the Spirit. It all connects - freedom to grow and freedom to fail. 

 

Galatians 3:3 drives the point home.

 

NKJ Galatians 3:3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?

 

There is that instrumental dative again. There are about 6 of these instrumental datives –datives with the Spirit in the book of Galatians. Every time it has this emphasis on instrumentality. Here is how you see it. 

 

It says, "Having begun by means of the Spirit."

 

How did you begin the Christian life? Regeneration. Who produced regeneration? The Spirit. So the means of regeneration is the Holy Spirit. 

 

NKJ Titus 3:5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,

 

Hear that word "by".  That is instrumentality. 

 

So Paul says in Galatians 3:3…

 

NKJ Galatians 3:3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?

 

That is how he got regenerated – by faith alone.

 

The word there for perfect is the word epiteleo which means to perform or establish, to finish or to bring something to completion. That is a form of the same word that we have in Galatians 5:16 where we read…

 

NKJ Galatians 5:16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

 

That is teleo. This is an intensified form of the verb epiteleo. So it is the same thing. What do we have here? Spirit, epiteleo (being made perfect or fulfilling) and flesh. Those are the three key words you have over in Galatians 5:16. Of the four key words you have in Galatians 5:16, three of them come out of Galatians 3:3. He doesn't explain how to continue in the Spirit until you get to Galatians 5:16. He raises the question here in this rhetorical question to bring home the point that they got saved by the Spirit. They are no longer trying to live by the Spirit. They are trying to do it all on their own. So then he has to go off and go through all the intricate doctrinal development so they can understand why you have to walk by means of the Spirit. That is how the book of Galatians develops. 

 

So he comes to the end and he says, "If you want to fulfill the Christian life then you have to walk by means of the Spirit..."

 

The in verses 17-18 he talks about the warfare that takes place - the flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh. There are two things here that are conflicting. Sometimes if you are a Christian you think that you have a multiple personality syndrome. On the one hand you have this sin nature that when you let it go, it really rips. 

 

You think, "Who is that person? I thought I had dealt with this." 

 

It can really surprise you sometimes. If your husband or wife is around, it can really shock them too. We just don't want to let that go. There is this warfare.  On the other hand there is this new person that is being matured and developed by God the Holy Spirit as we walk by the Holy Spirit. There is this internal struggle. This is the essence of spiritual warfare. Spiritual warfare isn't going out and fighting the demons and casting out demons, which is how most people want to understand it today. It is the warfare that goes on between your ears. The center point of that is your volition. Are you going to chose to apply doctrine and walk by means of the Spirit or are you going to try to live life on your own. That is the conflict. They war against one another. 

 

Then in verse 18 we have our second key phrase.

 

NKJ Galatians 5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

 

To be led by something, what do you have to do? You have to follow it. Leading presupposes a follower. To follow something you have to have a clear objective path out in front of you. The clear objective path that is placed in front of us is the Word of God. The Holy Spirit leads us by the Word of God. If we are led by the Spirit, we are not under what? The law. 

 

That is the problem in Galatia. They are trying to do it by the law; but the law produces bickering, devouring one another, infighting, schisms and division.  Everybody is trying to stake out their own territory by doing their own thing. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law and the Spirit can conquer that. 

 

Now how do we tell how we are walking by the flesh? Some times people don't do what they say. They talk about how much they love you and how important doctrine is, but you look at their life and that tells you what dominates. If the works of the flesh are present - adultery, fornication, lewdness (these all have to do with sexual sins), idolatry (which has to do with worshipping anything other than the Lord). We don't go out and have primitive idols of stone today. We have sophisticated idols of the mind. In Colossians 2 Paul talks about greed or materialism which is idolatry. You think that things and money are going to give you what only God can give you. That is idolatry. Sorcery is the Greek word pharmakeia. This has to do with hallucinogenic drugs in order to solve the problems in life rather than being dependent upon God. Hatred is a mental attitude sin that produces overt sins of contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissentions, heresies, envy, murder, drunkenness revelries and the like. All of these are characteristic of somebody walking in the sin nature. Those who practice such things on an ongoing continuous basis will not inherit the kingdom of God. That doesn't mean they won't be saved. It means they won't have an inheritance in heaven. That is the message of Hebrews – you have to stick with it or you will lose your inheritance but not your salvation. 

 

NKJ Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

 

NKJ Galatians 5:23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

 

Now one last thing before we finish. What we see here is one of the most important principles that you find in all of the New Testament. Too many people today overlook this. That is that you are doing one of two things. You are either walking by the flesh or you are walking by the Spirit - one or the other.  There is no little bit of this. If you have mixed motives, you are walking by the flesh.

 

I remember a seminary professor saying, "I do a lot of things. Part of it is to glorify God and part of it is selfish motives there."

 

Then it is all garbage. It is either one or the other. That is clear from the grammar. If you are walking by the Spirit, it is impossible to walk by the flesh.  These are mutually exclusive. It is either one or it's the other. It's not both. It isn't a little bit of one and a little bit of the other. You are either in fellowship or out of fellowship. We have people walking around today. There are some guys on the radio that say that these aren't absolutes. That falls against the grammar. We see the same kind of thing when we went through Ephesians 5. You are either foolish or you are wise. You are either walking in the light or you are walking in darkness. You are either walking by the Holy Spirit or you are not. You are either redeeming the time or you are not redeeming the time. You are either walking by the Spirit or you not being led by the Spirit. They are mutually exclusive. 

 

So we have to understand how we walk by the Spirit once we are walking by the flesh. That is where I John 1:9 comes in. Whenever we get out of fellowship, whenever we start walking by the sin nature, the way to recover is through confession of sin. The key there is cleansing. Confession of sin cleanses. You see cleansing all the way through the Bible from the Old Testament to the future millennial temple. If you are going to come into the presence of God, there has to be cleansing. In the Old Testament under the Mosaic Law and in the Millennial Kingdom in the future there are sacrifices for cleansing.  In the millennial temple you are going to have a fallen priesthood operating. They have to be ceremonially clean before they can go into the temple. In the Church Age we have confession. John calls it confession in I John 1:9. Paul calls it self-examination.

 

NKJ 1 Corinthians 11:28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.

 

James 4 says,

 

NKJ James 4:8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

 

It is all the same principle of cleansing. It is important because it restores us to a position where growth can take place and we can go forward. So we will come back and in the next lesson we are going to cover that. 

 

Illustrations