#DailyDevotion The Free Gift of Forgiveness Bears The Good Fruit
Gal 5:17-25 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. (18) But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. (19) Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, (20) idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, (21) envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (23) gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (24) And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (25) If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
So Christians being compose of both–the flesh, i.e. the sinful nature, and the Spirit, i.e. the new man in Christ Jesus, are constantly in war within themselves. Even though we have been regenerated by the Spirit and have been born from above by God through baptism, we still retain our sinful flesh. The sinful flesh rebels against God’s law. It hears it and wants to do the opposite. Not only will our sinful flesh not obey and conform to God’s law it cannot. It is without a doubt why Christians cry out with St. Paul, Rom 7:24 “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” The Spirit, and therefore the new man, only wants to do good, to take delight in the law of God, to fear, love and trust in him above all things and to love your neighbor as yourself.
Not it is not totally clear when St. Paul says, “for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do” which one is being kept from doing what ‘you’ want to do. But since what follows is “if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law” and he is speaking to Christians, then the ‘you’ here is the new you, the child of God. The flesh often keeps us from doing want we want to do. As St. Paul also says, Rom 7:25 “…So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.” Never the less the Spirit of God constrains the sinful flesh from having mastery over the Christian.
What is it to be led by the Spirit then and not be under the law? It is to focus on the Good News of Jesus Christ. Being led by the Spirit is to focus on God forgives you your sin for the sake of Jesus’ death on the cross. It is to trust that indeed we have been given a new life in Christ and are children of God through baptism. To be led by the Spirit is to focus on the great love God has for us in Christ Jesus. When your mind in focused on such things the law and the flesh have no control over you.
Paul lists the works of flesh and reminds us that those who live such lives will not inherit the kingdom of God. Such works of the flesh are incited by the law. It is a life of measuring scales. You try to make sure your good works outweigh your bad. But such living is deceptive. However Paul also lists the fruits of the Spirit. These are actions we take and do that are born of the mind focused on the Gospel, the forgiveness of sins. There is no law against such things. You may keep the flesh from doing what it wants by the threats of the law but to crucify it you need the Spirit, i.e. the Gospel, the forgiveness of sins, the love of God, the righteousness of faith. Having our minds on the promises of God is living by the Spirit and keeping up with the Spirit. You want to crucify the flesh, then confess your sins and evil desires to another Christian and hear the good news—you are forgiven for the sake of Jesus.
Merciful God and Father, you gave your son Jesus Christ unto death that we may be no longer slaves to sin and the fear of death. Always keep our minds focused on the things of Spirit that the desires of our sinful flesh may have no hold on us but rather we crucify its desires and bear the fruit of the Spirit in our daily lives. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.