Sermon – April 29, 2018
We are caught in a time between the times. Paul has encouraged us to know that we are free from the law, a thought that he will come back to in Galatians 5:16-24, because the law was from a former time, dominated by the flesh. Yet, Paul has also pushed us to see that our struggle against the flesh is not over. Being justified in Christ, cleared before the courtroom of God through his sacrifice, does not mean that our flesh has given up. No, our real fight has only just begun.
1. Commence the Fight
Many times Christians are told that, when it comes to sanctification, they are just to “let go and let God.” For some reason, they suspect that the indwelling of the Spirit ought to mean that the victory over all sin in your life now is currently over, and that they have arrived, fully formed and holy. Yet, that is not how Paul views the Christian life. Christian, you need to fight for your holiness, to be led by the Spirit. And this is not done by listening to some inner monologue, but rather to the very words of the Spirit in Scripture.
2. Crucify the Flesh
Paul lists many sins and vices that all God’s people should move away from. These can be grouped into three categories, although all of them overlap in some form or fashion. Whether sins related to sex, idolatry, or community, Paul needs us to understand that continually walking in such sins, without repentance and earnest fight, would disqualify one from the Kingdom of God. Let us not be so disqualified; nor shall we allow others to be comfortable in their sin.
3. Cultivate the Fruit
Rather than walk in the works of the flesh, we are to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit, love. Love should mark our lives, and be our defining characteristic. Paul here further defines our love as joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. If these are in your life, than the works will come. Strive for these things.
Our heavenly Father was always a farmer and a gardener; first creating plants and then making even us from the dust of the ground. While the nation of Israel, plagued with sin, was never able to be the vineyard he desired, now that we have life in Christ we can truly be the good fruit God desires. Let us, then, strive to be so, not out of a desire to earn our salvation with God, but because of the great salvation we have earned in Christ.