SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT FOR TODAY December 3, 2013
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another” Galatians 5:22-26.
“And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires…” Galatians 5:24
THOSE WHO BELONG TO CHRIST JESUS HAVE CRUCIFIED THE SINFUL NATURE WITH ITS PASSIONS DESIRES.
For nearly three weeks now, we have been looking at an eighteen part series of teachings on the Fruit of the Spirit. This followed the series on the Acts of the Sinful Nature. Several issues have come up during our studies on the Fruit Spirit which have challenged my personal life. I believe strongly that those of you who have thoughtfully and prayerfully followed these studies have equally been challenged. In this edition, we want to look at what Paul said immediately after the list of the components of the Fruit of the Spirit. It is my hope that we shall allow the Lord to teach us through his word and allow it to transform our lives for the better and for his glory.
After listing what comprises the FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, the Apostle Paul made a bold statement in the last part of Ephesians 5:23 as follows:
“….AGAINST SUCH THINGS, THERE IS NO LAW.”
What then did Paul mean by the above? What he simply meant is that those who exhibit the Fruit of the Spirit are not under the law therefore they cannot be condemned by any law. This is in line with what he has been teaching on grace and law. Those who seek to be justified by the law are under the law and they walk in the flesh. Those are the people who are involved in the acts of the sinful nature. But those who are in the Spirit are under the grace and walk in the Spirit and therefore bear the Fruit of the Spirit. For such people, there is no law against them to condemn and punish them. It is therefore apparent that those who demonstrate the Fruit of the Spirit in their daily walk with Christ cannot be found demonstrating the acts of the sinful nature in their lives. They are led by the Holy Spirit. This is what Christ is expecting from those of us who claim to be Christians. It is therefore important that those of us who do not want to be condemned by the law, draw nearer to God and receive more of his grace to bear the Fruit of the Spirit.
The Apostle Paul continued to describe people who are in the Spirit in verse 24 and said that:
“THOSE WHO BELONG TO CHRIST JESUS HAVE CRUCIFIED THE SINFUL NATURE WITH ITS PASSIONS AND DESIRES.”
This does not mean that Christians will not have any sinful passions and desires as human beings. I do not believe that is what Paul meant. For as long as we remain human, the struggle between the flesh and the Spirit will continue in our minds and hearts. What it means is that we put to death those desires by not allowing our sinful nature with its passions have control over our lives. People who are in the Spirit are dead to the things of the flesh. It does not mean that the physical body of the Christian should be punished by not paying attention to the physical needs of the body such as eating and drinking. Eating and drinking are not evil in the sight of the Lord. It is also not against the taking in of medicine when we are sick. These are false teachings which have existed in Christianity by which some people exercise excessive ascetic life just because they believe the physical body is sinful. Paul was not talking about the natural body of the believer, but rather about its corrupt inclinations, evil desires, and deceitful lusts; all which are “crucified” first “with Christ. This is supported by Romans 6:6:
“FOR WE KNOW THAT OUR OLD SELF WAS CRUCIFIED WITH HIM SO THAT THE BODY OF SIN MIGHT BE DONE AWAY WITH, THAT WE SHOULD NO LONGER BE SLAVES TO SIN” (NIV).
It is therefore unwise to maltreat the physical body because it is sinful. Don’t starve yourself thinking that will make you more righteous before the Lord. That is not what Paul was talking about in this context. This is not to say that Christians should not fast and pray. I am talking about the deliberate attempt of some people to stay away from eating and drinking for the greater part of their lives and even move to stay far from fellow human beings because they think all natural desires are sinful. The desire to eat and drink are not sinful, else Jesus would have sinned when he became thirsty and asked for something to drinking while on the cross. It means that by Christ’s sacrificial work on the cross, our sinful desires are destroyed and therefore do not have control over our lives. We are led by the Spirit not controlled by the desires of the physical nature.
The Apostle Paul painted a wonderful picture to aid our understanding of this verse by the use of the verb ‘crucified’. As we all know, people who are crucified may still be alive but are restricted in their movements. They cannot control themselves or do what they so desire to do. In fact people who are crucified could be alive for sometime depending upon the amount of blood they lose and how long they stay without food and water. Yet, they cannot do what they so wish to do. In the same manner, those who are in Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature and its passions. This implies that even though the sinful nature and its desires may still be alive in us, they shall not have control over us. Therefore Christians should not allow the sinful nature and its desires to reign in our lives.
Paul continued his exhortation to those in the Spirit to keep in step with the spirit in verse 25.
“SINCE WE LIVE BY THE SPIRIT, LET US KEEP IN STEP WITH THE SPIRIT.”
This is in line with what he has been teaching from the beginning of chapter five. Matthew Henry puts it rightly in his commentary as follows:
“If we profess to have received the Spirit of Christ, or that we are renewed in the Spirit of Christ, or that we are renewed in the spirit of our minds, and endued with a principle of spiritual life, let us make it appear by the proper fruits of the Spirit in our lives.” He had before told us that the Spirit of Christ is a privilege bestowed on all the children of God, chapter 4:6. “Now,’‘ says he, “if we profess to be of this number, and as such to have obtained this privilege, let us show it by a temper and behavior agreeable hereunto; let us evidence our good principles by good practices.” Our conversation will always be answerable to the principle which we are under the guidance and government of: as those that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh, so those that are after the Spirit do mind the things of the Spirit, Romans 8:5. If therefore we would have it appear that we are Christ’s, and that we are partakers of his Spirit, it must be by our walking not after the flesh, but after the spirit. We must set ourselves in good earnest both to mortify the deeds of the body, and to walk in newness of life.”
Beloved in Christ, we should never forget that we are of the Spirit not of the flesh and walk according to the leading of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. If we allow the Spirit to direct us and we obediently follow his leading we will be able avoid the sinful nature having any form of control over our lives. We shall also be able to avoid becoming conceited, provoking, and envying each other.
THE WORD OF THE LORD!
Pastor Nana Kobina Baisie
Teacher/Pastor at Nadrim Mission International School, Busan, Korea.