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Galatians 5

Flying with the Turkeys or Soaring with the Eagles

 

Preface

 

The three major divisions of Galatians are: Chapters 1-2, Personal life of Paul; Chapters 3-4, Doctrinal teachings about the gospel of salvation (or the gospel of Christ) and the two covenants, new and old; Chapters 5-6, Practical application for us believers.  Now we come to chapters 5 and 6, which give us the practical application of what we’ve learned so far.  Chapter 5 could be titled “Sanctification of the Spirit.”  First Scripture tells us that the Lord Jesus Christ has been made unto us sanctification, i.e. God sees us as complete in Christ.  His sacrifice totally covers us in the eyes of God.  This section deals with liberty verses bondage.  First, I want to say something I have kept in mind while composing this series on Galatians.  While I have used some of the ideas from a few commentaries written for the average layman, I have written this for the whole body of Christ, being careful not to attack any part of the body, which seems to be so common these days.  I have strived to make this study palatable to both the grace oriented Christians, and the Torah-observant Sabbatarian Church of God Christians, and attempted to do so in Christian love.  When looking over the notes for this chapter in the few commentaries I’ve been using, nothing seemed to explain to me clearly enough to help me understand Galatians 5, and so I asked the Lord for help (although the Lord was helping throughout this series, I was at a total loss for understanding how to clearly explain Galatians 5).  This website uses an analogy about a famous WWII B-17 bomber for it’s mission.  I have since learned a lot about B-17’s, I even have a flight training film showing how they fly, and how they don’t.  Also within the past 10 years, in the early spring, many (40 to 50) turkey vultures have been congregating in the tall pine trees behind my back yard for the first six to eight weeks of spring, before they fly off to scatter all over New England for the summer months (they winter in Virginia and places south of that wonderful state).  I have watched them for hours soaring effortlessly in the sky above, gaining altitude with hardly a flap of their wings.  I was searching for a good spiritual analogy I could use to apply to the verses in Galatians 5 that would not offend either the grace oriented Sunday/Christmas/Easter observing Christians or the Torah-observant Sabbatarian Church of God Christians, but instead would convey to each part of the body of Christ the precious truths that Paul was trying to convey to the believers in Jesus in Southern Galatia.  And in this study, for you Sabbatarian Church of God believers, do not think for a nano-second that I am attempting to tell you or teach to you that you should stop observing the 7th Day Sabbath or Holy Days of Leviticus 23, if so be that your Christian conscience tells you that they ought to be kept as your “days of worship.”  This study has nothing to do with that.  Romans 14:5-6, 22-23 actually forbids me from doing so.  So please read this with an open mind, and try to learn (along with me) how to soar with the eagles rather than flying just above the flightless turkeys. 

 

 

Galatians 5:1-26

 

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.  Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.  For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.  Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.  For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.  For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh with love.  Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?  This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you.  A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.  I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be.  And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offense of the cross ceased.  I would they were even cut off which trouble you.  For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.  For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.  But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.  This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh.  For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.  But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.  Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance:  against such there is no law.  And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.  Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.” 

 

Sanctification by the Spirit

 

Spirit verses flesh---Liberty verses bondage

 

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.  Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.  For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.  Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.  Any legal system puts you under bondage, in that you, the individual, have to follow it carefully, down to the last dotting of an i and crossing of a T.  “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (verse 1).  Paul starts out on the theme of liberty that we have in Christ.  Grace supplies the indwelling Holy Spirit which enables us to live on a far higher plane than the law demanded.  It’s this enablement that is the main subject of this chapter.  With Jesus dwelling in us, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit [cf. John chapters 14 & 16] we are flying high above the actual requirements of the Law of God.  A good example is found by comparing Matthew 5:20-44 with the listing of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:1-17.  Just look those two passages up and read them, and then come back to this study (sorry folks, a lot of typing in this, had to cut it down a little bit).  What this shows is that the Holy Spirit leads us toward this level of perfection, which is far, far above the old covenant 10 Commandment Law of God code.  Some people read Matthew 5 and try to use it as a code.  Use it as a mirror, yes.  And as this analogy will bring out, use it as an essential flight instrument, one you cannot really fly without.  But ask God for his Holy Spirit to do the cleaning, whatever changing you find you should do, asking Jesus to write his ‘royal law’ upon our hearts and in our minds.  “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord:  But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jeremiah 31:31-33).  Hebrews 8:6-13, “But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.  For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.  For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day which I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.  For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws in their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: and they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.  For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.  In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old.  Now that which decayeth waxeth old is ready to vanish away” (Hebrews 8:6-13).   And in 70AD, the legal ability to keep the Old Covenant, with the Temple system, did die away under the hands of generals Titus and Vespacian.  “For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.  Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace” (verses 3-4).  Circumcision originally was an outward sign to show the faith of Abraham, but it devolved to become a badge of the Mosaic Law, showing that you belonged to the group that kept the Law, the old covenant Mosaic Law of God.  God said he desired circumcision to be of the heart, not of the flesh, and he said this both in the Old Testament and the New.  What he desired circumcision to represent and what it ended up representing were two distinctly different things.  Do a study on circumcision and see if you can find it’s true meaning.  So water baptism by full immersion became the ‘badge’ of a new covenant Christian.  But be careful, even symbols can devolve into rituals.  The only two ordinances given to the Church, the body of Christ, is the ordinance of baptism and the New Testament Passover, which for most of the body of Christ, has over time, become the monthly or weekly taking of the bread and wine, called Communion, which represents the death of Jesus Christ on the cross and his broken body and shed blood.  “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace” (verse 4).  Now here’s where my new analogy kicks in folks.  Hang on, we’re going airborne!  What happens in reality is, if you seek to be justified by your own efforts to observe God’s law, you have fallen from grace, fallen down, lost altitude, and come down to the earthly level where the Law dwells.  (Don’t forget, when Paul was addressing the Galatians, when he says “law”, he means the Old Testament Mosaic Law that was being administered out of Jerusalem.  Let’s keep the historic context in view.)  Grace dwells up in the sky, spiritually, where the high altitude flying airliners, B-17s and eagles (and my vultures) fly.  The Law, like a railroad’s rail lines, is planted firmly on the ground, terra firma.  So how does God make someone he’s saved, a sinner, good?  He gives him a new nature.  Is he to keep the law?  No.  Why not?  [Hope I didn’t lose half my audience there.  Hang on folks, hear me out.]  Because he has been called (the new-believer) to live on a far higher plane (no pun intended) than the Law.  Go back to Matthew 5 to see what Jesus and Paul are talking about.  The old covenant Law of God said “Thou shalt not murder [the Hebrew says “murder”, not kill].  The actual law that God writes into our hearts and minds says that we won’t even hate an individual.  Matthew 5:21-22, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” Raca, Strongs #4469, Chaldean: rhaka, : “O empty one, worthless.  Dennis Leary used a phrase in a movie to one of his accomplices in crime “You worthless waste of life…”.  That’s pretty close to what Raca means.  Jesus is beckoning us through the Holy Spirit to fly above this spiritual level, high above the Old Testament written code.  What is the opposite of hate?  Love, and in this case, Agape love which comes through the Holy Spirit.  The spiritual ‘law of Christ’ as it’s called, described partially in Matthew 5:20-44 is far above the old covenant written code of the Ten Commandments.  Why aren’t we under law, as Paul says throughout Galatians and Romans?  Many theologians don’t seem to be able to put the answer in simple understandable terms.  Why, again aren’t we under law?  Because we as believers, empowered by the Holy Spirit, are supposed to fly high above the written requirements of the law, either one.  Some people read Mathew 5 and try use it as a code of law to try to observe all on their own.  It is a code of law, but let’s remember the mirror analogy I gave in Galatians 4, and put it into a slightly different analogy.  Mirrors show dirt, they don’t clean it.  Altimeters show altitude, and God’s intention is that we fly as high as possible over the law, but altimeters don’t give you lift.  So the altimeter, the law, shows us where we are.  If you look into the 10 Commandment code of laws, and see you’re actively breaking one of those, well, guy, you’re on the real ‘hard-deck’ as pilots call the ground, running with those flightless turkeys (the Jews under the old covenant 10 Commandments, and yes, with those mixed up Judaizers).  God’s ‘law of Christ’ in my analogy is about 10,000 feet up.  It’s the arbitrary hard-deck Jesus has set for us to stay above.  If you see you’re messing up in one of those laws (read all of Matthew 5 through verse 44), don’t try to overcome it yourself, you can’t.  Eagles and vultures don’t achieve altitude by flapping their wings, they do it be aiming into the wind and soaring aloft, using the wind going over their wings for lift. If an eagle or vulture flaps its wings too much, like a turkey it stays down with the turkeys.  God supplies the wind.  If you’re using the B-17 bomber analogy, same thing, you need to maintain level flight, and increase throttle so air, wind flows over your wings faster, and you start soaring upward, while flying level.  God’s Holy Spirit is the wind, in either analogy.  John 3:8, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is everyone born of the Spirit.”  We’re flying on the power of the wind.  Physically, God makes wind by the power of the sun, warming the earth, creating up and downdrafts and lateral wind.   But use his Holy Spirit to lead, teach and clean us up, to a level far above the law.  Let’s look at another one.  The Old Testament 7th Commandment said “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”  The Old Testament Israelite could walk around lusting at every good looking gal he saw (and women vice versa at every good looking guy she saw), and neither one would be breaking the Old Testament 10 Commandment code of law.  But if either one actually slept with another (or each other without being married to each other), they have broken the law.  What God desires to write on our hearts and in our minds is what’s called ‘the law of Christ’.  Now let’s see what the ‘law of Christ’ says about adultery (or sleeping around).  Matthew 5:27-28, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”  That’s the hard-deck we’re not supposed to fly below.  He goes on to point us to higher altitude spiritual flying.  Let’s read Matthew 5:38-42, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:  But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.  And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.  And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.  Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.”  Look also at Matthew 43-47, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy.  But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to shine on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.  For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans [tax collectors] the same?  And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?”  Grace, God’s Holy Spirit, inspires and helps us to soar with the eagles rather than flying just above those flightless turkeys.  The law of Christ is our new ‘hard-deck’ we’re supposed to fly above.  I love watching my ‘eagles’, those turkey vultures, soar.  I am a sailor, been sailing small sailboats since I was a teenager.  I just realized, watching the vultures soar, how they not only gain impressive altitude, but move forward against the wind.  They use the wind just like a sailor uses the sails on a sailboat, but in three dimensions, not two.  Just as there is no outboard motor on my sailboat, the vultures and eagles use almost no energy of their own to move great distances, and soar to great altitudes, all on wind-power.  B-17s or B52s us engine power, but in the analogy, the fuel, again, is God’s Holy Spirit.  They use their huge wings to produce lift, by increasing the speed of air moving over their wings.  We do that by asking God to fill us with his Holy Spirit, and by begging him to heal us of sin.  Consider the 10 Commandment Law of God the peg at the bottom of the altimeter.  When the needle rests on this peg, you’re on the ground, breaking one or more of the big 10.  You’re running (not flying) with the turkeys.  The law of Christ is the safety level we’re supposed to fly above.  We as believers will all stumble in our flights or walks with Christ.  Both mirrors of God’s law are useful and serve a purpose.  Say you’re a guy, and lusting after a girl, but haven’t done anything to follow through with that lust.  You’re not on the ground (yet), but you’re still flying below the desired altitude Christ has set for us as believers.  You’re losing altitude, not gaining it.  Do you physically pull back on the yoke to try to gain altitude (by your own physical efforts)?  Sorry, that won’t work with a B17 or B52.  You have to use God’s power, keep flying level and increase speed by increasing throttle.  That increases wind speed over your wing surfaces and you start gaining altitude.  We maintain trim, God provides the energy and inspiration.  Flying like walking, isn’t easy, and we will make a lot of mistakes, and each must learn for himself or herself.  But instruments are meant to be used.  Flying by the ‘seat of your pants’ doesn’t work with large aircraft or flying blind (through clouds or at night, or through nasty weather).  God’s laws and his entire word are like the altimeter, and also the turn-and-bank indicator.  Sometimes a pilot, not looking at his instruments can end up flying upside down, thinking he’s right-side up.  That’s called vertigo.  It happens.  But the instruments do not supply the power to run your engines.  Remember, God’s laws are our altimeter and show were we are, in respect to the ground and our altitude above it.  Often, when pilots first started flying the mail in the 1920s and 1930s, and had to fly over mountain ranges in bad weather and not sure of where they were, those who decided to go down for a look to see where they were, almost always crashed into mountains, those who decided to go up and gain altitude lived to tell of their adventures.  In the spiritual race, altitude is your friend.  The altimeter tells you where you are in relation to altitude, it doesn’t give you altitude.  Back to my eagles (vultures).  When they flap their wings too much, like turkeys, they stay down with the turkeys.  If they fly as designed, flap just enough to find an air-current, wind, and head into it, they start to soar to amazing altitudes, without flapping their wings at all.  They just set their trim, head into it, and lift, up they go.  They go forward into the wind the way a sailor tacks back and forth, but again, without flapping a wing.  Remember, we’re flying, not running along the ground using our own physical power or energy.  The energy is God’s, he provides it.  “For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith” (verse 5).  Will we will reach the high altitude where the righteousness of Christ by faith dwells?  No, not in our lifetimes.  You might say Jesus is up where the space-shuttle flies and above that.  Humans are just not designed to ever reach that altitude, having to fight spiritual gravity, and spiritual warfare and all.  Our ceiling at best is between 50,000 and 100,000 feet.  In the first resurrection to immortality, we are promised that we will get up to where Christ flies.  This verse is talking about the achievement of real righteousness, that of Christ, or near to it.  What about our throttles (bombers have four)?  “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love” (verse 6).  Our spiritual throttle which supplies the gasoline to our spiritual engines is “faith which worketh by love”.  This is the way to live the Christian life, by “faith which worketh by love”.  Our own love?  No, silly, God’s love through the Holy Spirit.  Again, we throttle up by asking God to do it for us, giving us more “faith that worketh by love.” 

 

Who made you lose altitude?

 

Paul asks a question of the Galatians.  “Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?  This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you” (verses 7-8).  Paul is essentially saying, using our analogy, ‘Who made you lose altitude, to come down to the level of those flightless turkeys running on the ground?  It wasn’t me.  It came from a different source.’ 

 

Analogy of leaven

 

“A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (verse 9).  In both the Old Testament and New Testament leaven is almost always used to symbolize sin.  Leaven mixed with bread dough makes it rise, filled with tiny pockets of carbon dioxide.  So what would have baked and become flat bread, hard and solid, is now soft and puffed up, more palatable.  Paul is referring to the leaven both changing the bread of life message of the gospel of Christ he delivered to them, making it more “palatable” to human reason---and for the physical quality for leaven to spread quickly through whatever it comes in contact with.  Leaven is a cellular structure of spores, the particular kind that rot fruit, and if left in bread dough long enough without baking it, will rot it too.  The Judaizers were adding a false message to the simple gospel of Christ, causing it to radically change from its original message, from faith alone in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ plus nothing, to faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ plus works of the law.  That was the “leaven” Paul was talking about, and Jesus did warn of this same leaven when he said “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees.”  These Judaizers were of that Pharisaic group, yet they had physically come to accept the fact that Jesus was the Messiah, they accepted the facts of the gospel, but added their own message to it.  Jesus was warning the disciples when he said that, even though they wouldn’t understand the warning yet, since they didn’t even know what the gospel of Christ was yet, Jesus hadn’t died, been buried or risen from the grave yet.  When the early saints kept the Days of Unleavened Bread, as I’m sure many of them did, I wonder if Paul and the 12 apostles taught this lesson and defined “the leaven of the Pharisees” for the believers assembled with them.  Now Messianic Jewish believers by the hundreds of thousands observe the Days of Unleavened Bread in their homes.  It’s a good spiritual message for them as well, to realize that leaven can also represent false teaching, not just sin.  “I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be” (verse 10).  Paul has confidence the Galatians will come out of this false teaching, and snap back, get back up where they belong, where the eagles soar, away from those flightless turkeys.

 

Offense of the Cross

 

“And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offense of the cross ceased.  I would they even were cut off which trouble you” (verses 11-12).  What is the “offense of the Cross”?  It offends man’s natural morality, the belief found in mankind, that he firmly believes he can be good enough all on his own, doesn’t need Christ’s sacrifice to “buy his salvation.”  Adding works of the law to faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ makes the simple gospel of Christ palatable to the human mind, especially the Pharisaic mind.  The pure gospel of Christ is offensive, and that’s why.  Faith and works of the law is more palatable to the human mind, and thus Paul says “then is the offense of the cross ceased.”  In verse 12, in the Greek, Paul is just about saying ‘I wish these Judaizers would be castrated.  Why stop with circumcision, go all the way, man!’. 

 

Three methods of trying to live the Christian life

 

“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another” (verse 13).  There are three methods of trying to live the Christian life.  One keeps the eagles flapping their wings just above the flightless turkeys (domestic variety, Jews under the Mosaic Law without Christ).  They can fly, but they find themselves wearing out easily, the spiritual life is a real chore.  That’s legalism.  The other method isn’t flying at all, except to fly yourself into a mountain or the ground.  That is the life of license.  You say, ‘Oh, Paul says we’re not under the law, the OT law, or any law, and so you dive into license, many if not all of them: free sex, drunken revellings, partying, you name it.  No, silly bird, we’re not under the law, because we’re over it, way over it by the power of God enabling us to fly over it, not crash under it like you just did.  You’re running around with the turkeys now, on the ground.  Remember, just because you’re spiritually flying now, and the rules and regulations of the ground don’t apply to you anymore doesn’t mean you can aim for the ground and not crash.  You start breaking the commandments, and keep it up, you’re not living the Christian life, you’re running with the flightless turkeys, on the ground.  I sincerely hope using some of the laws of aerodynamics to symbolize the laws of God has helped. The altimeter is a spiritual gauge, showing how high you are.  God has given you the gasoline, the fuel to fly, just as he gives the wind as fuel for the eagles and vultures.  Neither we nor they have to produce the energy for flight, it’s given to us and them.  But if you willingly break the spiritual laws of flight, you’re going down, brother, you’re going to end up on the hard-deck.  God’s law of Christ might be said, as I said before, to mark the 10,000 foot level of flight on your altimeter, above those poor eagles or ignorant B-17 pilots flying around just above those flightless turkeys.  If you practice license to the degree that you’re breaking the Old Testament 10 Commandment Law of God, you’ll hit the hard-deck, put a tomb-stone up, you’re no longer living a Christian life, you’re a C.I.N.O., Christian-in-name-only.  This would indicate you are not a believer, born-again at all, like I said, put a tombstone up, you’re dead, you didn’t enter into the sheepfold through the Door, Christ, you came in another way, shouldn’t have never gotten into the cockpit.  Go back to the Door of the sheepfold, and ask Jesus to come into your life.  The aerodynamics of a B-17 make it possible to gain incredible lift by flying straight and normal, on an even horizontal level flight, just by increasing their airspeed through throttle- up of rpm’s on their engines.  Trying to “aim” a B-17 upwards and applying throttle actually decreases lift.  God supplying his agape love through his Holy Spirit is the only way to run and rev up our spiritual engines.  Paul and Jesus both said “Love fulfills the law, love for God and love for mankind.”  That is the third method of flying, living the life of a Christian.  Setting the trim for level flight and revving up the rpm’s on those beautiful Wright Cyclones with God’s fuel, supplied by the Holy Spirit.  Don’t forget, God the Father through Jesus’ sacrifice and because of it has adopted us as sons.  We’ve already seen that in Galatians 4:7.  Our motives should not to be to serve God like a slave or servant, out of dread to break a commandment, but because we are sons and daughters of God, and we love God (with his own love), he’s now our Abba, Daddy.  Again, grace doesn’t set us free to sin, it sets us free from sin.  The whole basis of obedience is a love relationship to God.  The law, either law, Old Testament Mosaic, or New Testament ‘law of Christ’, could not and cannot bring us to that place.  It produces a negative goodness.  It’s based on “I don’t do this, and I don’t do that.”  But what do I do?  Here’s an example.  Paul in one of his Epistles re-iterates the 8th Commandment, but brought it to it’s spiritual---law of Christ---level, intent.  He added the positive factor, added altitude to it, bringing it 10,000 feet above the literal 8th Commandment.  He stated, “He that stole, steal no more, but get a job and give to the poor.”  God’s love, agape’ love, through his Holy Spirit brings us, lifts us above even the law of Christ in Matthew 5.  We as believers, with God’s empowerment of love through the Holy Spirit ought to set our arbitrary ‘hard-deck’ at 10,000 feet and strive from there to never go below it, but to achieve greater altitude through Christ, who lives in us.  “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.  But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another” (verses 14-15).  Love provides the lift, love fulfills the law. 

 

Saved by faith and walking in the Spirit

 

“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (verse 16).  We’re saved by faith, and walking in the Spirit produces the fruit of the Spirit. Here Paul is about to contrast what it is to live in the desires of the flesh, and to be walking in the Spirit.  Again, I’m going to stick to my analogy of an eagle’s staying where air-currents are found, maintaining proper trim with your wings, so gravity won’t pull you down.  And down, below the hard-deck or to it is fulfilling the lusts of the flesh.  The word “to walk” in the Greek is peripateo, which means “to walk up and down”.  This Greek word was named after a school of philosophy in Athens, where the founder used to walk up and down as he taught.  Watching my vultures fly, they gain altitude, and then soar back and forth, utilizing the higher speed winds aloft.  “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would” (verse 17).  Gravity!  Gravity is one force we haven’t looked at yet.  It pulls all that fly downward, it acts against all that fly, birds and aircraft.  Gravity pulls us all down toward the ‘hard-deck’.  Spiritually, the downward pull is supplied by Satan, the god of this world, who broadcasts his evil attitudes into the world.  The works of the flesh Paul mentions a few verses further on are created by this evil force of Satan.  You might say the force of gravity wars against the force of lift.  The believer has both the new nature, exhibiting a spiritual lifting force, from the Spirit of God, and the nature of the world, a downward pull.  We in this lifetime will never break free from this “gravitational force”, and fly up beyond it where Jesus is.  We will never be free from this “gravitational force” as long as we’re alive physically.  1 John 1:8, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”  We will never break free of this sin-gravitational force as long was we are physically alive as humans.  Like eagles, or aircraft, they aren’t designed with the power or ability to break free from gravity. 

 

How can you know you’re walking in the Spirit?

 

How can you know whether you’re walking in the Spirit or the flesh?  Paul spelled it out easily for us.  All we have to do is look at our spiritual altimeters.  “But if you be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law” (verse 18).  No, we’re not under the law, we’re over it!  God brings us to a higher plane, altitude than the law.  I wish preachers would point that out.  Not being under the law doesn’t do away with the law.

 

The works of the flesh

 

Paul goes on to list the works of the flesh in verses 19-21, and these passages spell out the ground-level hard-deck, just like the 10 Commandment law of God does.  This list is like the peg on the altimeter that the needle rests on when the aircraft is on the runway, on the ground.  When we’re called of God, given his Spirit, we take off, never meant to land until we meet Christ in the air and come back down to the Mount of Olives with him.  Paul has crafted another spiritual mirror just like the law of God, but he groups sin into four categories.  If you see these things in your life, just like looking at God’s law written elsewhere (Old Testament), you ain’t flying, you’re firmly planted on the ground, maybe nose first, or planted under the ground, spiritually dead.  “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (verses 19-21). 

 

Four Divisions of sin listed by Paul:

 

Sensual sins

Adultery---omitted from the best manuscripts, included in fornication.

Fornication---prostitution, sex outside marriage

Uncleanness (akatharsia), impurity, sexual sins including pornography.

Lasciviousness—brutality, sadism (we see this abounding today)

 

Religious sins

Idolatry---worship of idols (this includes money and anything that takes the place of God)

Witchcraft---(pharmakeia) drugs (drugs are used in all heathen religions)

Hatred---enmity

Variances---eris (the Greek Eris was the goddess of strife), contentions, quarrels

 

Social sins

Emulations---(zelos) rivalry, jealousy,

Wrath---(thumos) a hot temper (wrath is a key attitude of Satan, broadcast around the world by Satan)

Strife---(factions, cliques, (little cliques in a church hurt the cause of Christ)

Seditions---divisions

Heresies---parties, sects (heretical doctrines too)

Envyings---(phthonos)

Murders---omitted from the best manuscripts probably because it is included in other sins mentioned here (the Lord said if you hate you are guilty of murder)

 

Personal sins

Drunkenness

Revellings, wantonness

 

Notice Paul concludes this list of the works of the flesh by writing “and such like,”  which means there are many others he could have written.  God’s law in the Old Testament lists some pretty specific ones.  He states flatly “they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (verse 21).  The words “which do” indicates continuous action.  Jesus gave the example of the Prodigal Son who got down into the pig pen.  But he didn’t stay there.  Only the pigs stay there.  If a son or daughter of God gets there, he will be very unhappy until he or she gets out.  If you continue to live in sin---below the hard-deck, that’s dangerous.  It means you are not a child of God, not born-again through the indwelling Holy Spirit.  You’re a flightless turkey, or worse yet, a pig.  And pigs don’t fly (even though there’s an expensive bread named “When Pigs Fly”).  We become eagles, ‘screaming eagles’ when we’re born-again.  My favorite verse is Isaiah 40:29-31, “He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.  Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint.” 

 

Top of the altimeter

 

Now what’s at the top of our altimeter?  Don’t forget the altimeter shows both positive and negative.  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (verses 22-23).  There’s the answer as to why there’s no law at the top of our flight ceiling, right in Scripture.  We’re way above the law.  I think I’ve demonstrated how we’re “above the law”, it’s not like we can parade around, breaking all the laws we can.  The Bible doesn’t teach that.    Jesus talked to the disciples in John 15 about the importance of staying tapped into the vine.  He told them that he was that vine.  It doesn’t mean staying tapped into any particular church, although we all ought to be a member of a congregation, for our own growth and betterment, and protection.  But Jesus is “the vine” that supplies the precious sap from the Holy Spirit.  Remember Jesus said he had to go to heaven, or else we would not receive the Holy Spirit?  There’s something there we don’t fully understand yet, but Jesus is that vital connection to the Holy Spirit.  He said ‘I am the door, whoever enters by me shall have eternal life.’  Or, to put it another way, Jesus supplies the fuel we need to fly, the power to run our spiritual engines.  Back to the fruit analogy, Jesus is the vine, and the Father owns the vineyard.  The Father wants spiritual fruit from us.  When you’re soaring, flying at our maximum ceiling altitude, seeing these fruits, it says at the end of verse 23, “…against such there is no law.”  i.e. we’re flying so far above the Law of God (either version, Old or New) it’s almost not visible below us.  The Ten Commandments were given to “control” the flesh.  But the Christian life is to produce the fruit of the Spirit.  Matthew 13:23, “But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”   Jesus wants to live his life through us.  You are never asked to live the Christian life---you are asked to let Jesus live it through you. 

 

Our walk

 

“And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (verse 24).  In the movie “12 O’Clock High” (based on a true story) General Frank Savage says to his squadron of B-17 pilots and crewmen, “Consider yourselves already dead, and it won’t be so hard.”  “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (verse 25).  This “walk” is a different Greek word for “walk” than the last one mentioned in Galatians 5, which meant to “walk up and down”.  This word “walk” is the Greek word stoichomen, which means “to proceed or step in order.”  It means to learn to walk, physically, by trial and error.  It’s a learning process.  Or in our spiritual analogy, learning to fly an aircraft during flight training is a trial and error process.  You don’t learn it all at once.  Pilots, good ones that survive, know that they are continually learning until they retire.  Some of the best pilots I’ve ever heard about are experienced airline pilots just about to retire.  They’re cool under fire, and don’t make mistakes.  But it took a lifetime of learning to get there.  Salvation is not a quick, you’re saved, that’s it deal, it’s a lifetime experience of learning to walk with the Lord.  Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, they all walked with the Lord over the period of their lifetimes.  And when you read about them, their walk wasn’t perfect until near the end of their lives.  One major piece of advice, one of the major rules of flying modern aircraft, especially 4 engine ones: Always trust your instruments.  The altimeter doesn’t lie. 

 

Paul’s final word of caution

 

“Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another” (verse 26).  Be careful.  Pride is a deadly sin, a bad one.  The minute you look and see the altimeter is reading above the 10,000 foot level (above the ‘law of Christ’) and you’re bearing fruits (verses 22-23), don’t get all puffed up.  That’s a way of ‘look down, go down.’  It’s a surefire way of loosing altitude fast, like giving the old B-17 too high a forward angle, lift destroyed, you start loosing altitude immediately, may even go into a stall and flat-spin.  That’s it for Galatians 5.  I sincerely hope I didn’t tear these verses to pieces with this analogy about bomber aircraft, eagles, vultures and turkeys. 

 

[Chapter 6 follows, where Paul gives some practical advice on how to apply God’s love in some specific areas of Christian living and service to others, our brethren, and to the world.  Copyright © UNITYINCHRIST.COM 2009]

 

To read an excellent article which makes the various covenants of God clear and easy to understand, log onto:
  http://www.unityinchrist.com/newcovenant/TheNEWCOVENANT.htm

 

 

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