As I have said many times in the past, I take a real beating sometimes with people, unsaved and unfortunatly those that profess Christ as well. Why? Well, some is perhaps justified as I too am human and goof up at times (don't forget, pastors are always required to be perfect!). But usually it is because I stand on God's Word and some people do not like to have their toes stepped on.
God's Word is a source of comfort to us, but it is also a means of correction and growth. Often it will tell you things that you just do not want to hear. The question is, do you want to trust your own heart or do you want to trust God's Word? Such is the case with the Epistle to the Galatians. Paul just flat laid it on the line:
But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.
As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.
For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ. Galatians 1:8-10 (NKJV)
The Koine Greek word translated as accursed is anathema, which is translated as "given up to the curse and destruction, accursed... The word does not denote punishment intended as discipline but being given over or devoted to divine condemnation. It denotes an indissoluble vow." (Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament). Ouch. That sounds pretty intolerant to me! (yes, that was sarcasm)
In short, when people add to or take away from the Gospel message, they are paving their way to destruction. This should make the man of God take the work that he is called to quite seriously. So, rather than to scratch itching ears (2 Timothy 4:3-4) I seek to show love to all by telling them the truth.
Such is the case with the next two messages. The first, starting today, is "Lost Is As Lost Does" shows the lifestyle of those that have no relationship with Jesus Christ at all. Do Christians from time to time do some of these things mentioned in the passage above? Yes. Is it their habit, their modus operandi? No. For those that confess Christ and make these works their habit, they need to do a head and heart check.
War Inside Of Me
Contemporary Christian music artist Todd Agnew, known for his wonderful song "Our Great God", has written another great song by the title of "War Inside". Here are some of the lyrics:
Do you feel the tension? Do you feel the grind? Do you see the battle 'tween this flesh and soul of mine? 'Cause there's a war inside of me, Between who I want to be
And who I am.
I love this song. For the Christian that does not have this struggle, spiritual "tug of war" or "spiritual duel" (A. T. Robertson, Robertson's Word Pictures) I would state that you are living in denial. If you think you have arrived, if you think you are living a perfect Christian life, then you are greatly mistaken. We all have our own "brand of sin" (James 1:14), that one area of sin that we just struggle and struggle within.
Even the Apostle Paul had issues with this. Paul suffers from "schizophrenic faith" in Romans 7:13-25; he states with frustration--like we all do--that those things he wants to do in Christ he does the opposite, and those things that he does not want to do (that are sinful) he still does. Exasperated, Paul exclaims,
O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God--through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:24-25a, NKJV).
Kind of kicks the idea of working your way to heaven in the head, doesn't it?
You and I, as Christians, are not under the law to save us but we are under the moral element of the law. In other words, we cannot be saved by keeping the law but keeping the moral law frees us from sin and it's effects. When we are lead by the Spirit of God, we win against the flesh. When we fail to do so, the flesh wins. It is a constant battle, and although there are some "salad days" when things go right for the most part, there are also those times we fall flat and fail miserably. Those "salad days" give us great hope and we should tuck those memories away for those days when we fall flat on our faces to remind us to Whom we belong.
How, then, do we, as seen in Galatians 5:16, "walk in the Spirit"? Walk means to live or pass one's life, always with an adjunct of manner or circumstances (Spiros Zodhiates); perhaps a more common thought today would be your lifestyle. It seems that today, in the minds of many that profess Jesus Christ that there is no change necessary. However, in the verses that follow you will see this is, without a doubt, not true.
License, Legalism and Liberty
We are prone to go to extremes. One believer interprets liberty as license and thinks he can do whatever he wants to do. Another believer, seeing this error, goes to an opposite extreme and imposes Law on everybody. Somewhere between license on the one hand and legalism on the other hand is true Christian liberty.--Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary
Wiersbe has a great point; I have seen both extremes and, in truth, both of them are dangerous. While it is true that we have great freedom in Jesus, we do not have license to just go and sin however we want. I have met many people that are quick to name the name of Jesus as their Savior but in the next sentance will act in a way contrary to the walk that they so claim.
On the other hand, you have some people that are so legalistic that they straitjacket themselves rules and regulations. Legalism, simply defined, is either
1) expecting to be saved by doing good works and/or
2) judging the conduct of others in terms of adherence to precise laws (Dictionary.com). People that are legalistic expect being good and keeping Biblical laws to save them or keep them saved, and they also expect others to line up with that belief. In this case, grace--unmerited favor--through Jesus Christ is only considered a starting point and not the ends by which we are saved (which it indeed is).
Liberty, as Wiersbe mentioned above, is found in the middle. Christians are free in Christ, and from the power of the law over us to condemn us; however we are still under the moral elements of the law as found in the New Testament. That law does not condemn us but instead it is the code we live by as a by-product of our salvation (which we will discuss more in depth next week).
The Galatians were being influenced by a group called the Judiazers. These men were trying to get the Galatians to believe that being saved was by Jesus and by grace, but that circumcision was required for salvation. They were mixing grace and works, making grace (unmerited favor of Jesus in salvation) not grace at all. These Judiazers were legalists. However, the Galatians had come out of a pagan background that was, in plain terms "sin to the max". It was a no-holds-barred sin filled religion.
Let's examine what a real faith in Jesus does not look like.
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21 (NKJV)
The word translated in the New King James Version above as evident is tranlated as manifest in the King James Version. While the term evident may be a bit better translation, we can also use the term manifest as an illustration. Ships that sail on the sea have what is called a ship's manifest; it is a listing of the contents of that ship. Likewise, the works of the flesh (the fallen nature of man) are like a ship's manifest in the life of the unsaved only put on display for all to see (evident).
This manifest would be broken down into three categories, which we will study today and tomorrow in brief: Sexual Sin, Spiritualist Sin and Social Sin. Keep in mind, that this list is not an "all inclusive" list; there are more sins than just these that add up to a debauched mind. We can see that Paul anticipated this by adding "and the like" at the end of this list.
Adultery: Adultery, simply stated, occurs when someone that is married has sex with someone else other than his or her spouse. This word is not included in some of the ancient manuscripts.
Fornication: Sexual sin of any type. This includes premarital sex, adultery, homosexuality, bestiality. It is, in short, the seeking and fulfillment of sexual gratification. The pagan religions of Bible times often made sex part of their beliefs; it is one area that Satan exerts great effort in. Sex within the bonds of marriage is a gift between a man and a woman; outside it is a perversion. Those that are active in sexual sin find themselves distanced from God.
Uncleanness: Uncleanness means just that: a filthiness of heart and mind that makes the person defiled. The unclean person sees dirt in everything. (Wiersbe). In common terms, being dirty minded. If you think that telling dirty jokes is fine and dandy, the Bible says otherwise. The Greek word is akatharsia, which is the negative form of katharsia, which means clean or to clean; from this word we get the word cathartic, which means "to cleanse" and catheter.
Lewdness: Lasciviousness (KJV), sensuality (ESV, NASB). This refers to a "unrestrained sexual indulgence, such as has become so common in the modern Western world. It refers to uninhibited sexual indulgence without shame and without concern for what others think or how they may be affected (or infected)." (John MacArthur, MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Galatians). It would seem that this sin pretty much sums up all other sexual sin.
For the unmarried, any sexual sin is adultery; it's cheating on your future spouse.
These are sins regarding religion. Most of the religions of Bible times involved not only idol worship, but sexual sin as well. For instance, those worshiping the goddess Cybele part of the worship was wanton sex. The religion of Bacchus, the god of wine, often involved drunken sex parties. There are two key references in this passage to religious sin, idolatry and sorcery.
Idolatry: This is, of course, a violation of the second commandment (Exodus 20:4-6). God tolerates no competition (Exodus 20:3, no other gods) and tolerates no imitation of whom He is. Idolatry is most commonly thought as bowing down to an idol, which it is, but also can be thinking of God (including Jesus) as other than whom He is. For instance, when we try to make God small by saying He is limited in his abilities, we create a false god out of God.
Sorceries: Also known as witchcraft in the KJV, sorceries is from the Greek term pharmakuos, the word from which we get pharmacy and pharmaceuticals. It was a common thing for drugs to be used to have a "religious experience"; as mentioned above, the worshipers of Bacchus used wine as an agent to warp the mind and the result was drunken orgies.
Again, remember that this total list is not all inclusive. There are many variations of idol worship. Today, the most pervasive are the quasi-Christian cults such as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) and the Jehovah's Witnesses. There is Islam, and their followers (Muslims) claim that Allah is God. No matter what the religion is, there are three common denominators to them:
1) They require you to do works for salvation
2) The founder or key figure is dead and is buried
3) They have a false view of Jesus; they view Him as either a good teacher, prophet or they deny Him being God.
False religion is rebellion against God, pure and simple; denying that Jesus is God is the same as well.-
I think it is a common observation among people of my generation to notice how much more rude and self centered people are today. However, this is a trend; my parents said the same thing about my generation 35 years ago! It does seem that things just keep getting worse and worse...from generation.
Let's take a look at these last "sins of the flesh", the Social Sins or Relational Sins.
Hatred, Contentions: Enmities (hatred, NKJV) is in the plural and refers to hateful attitudes, which result in strife (contentions, NKJV) among individuals, including bitter conflicts. Wrong attitudes invariably bring wrong actions (MacArthur New Testament Commentary, John MacArthur)
Jealousies: In a bad sense, meaning heart-burning, or jealousy, or perhaps inordinate ambition. The sense is, ardour or zeal in a bad cause, leading to strife, etc. (Barnes Notes)
Outbursts of wrath: Sudden fits of rage, with little provocation; often tied together with jealousy. Some people will try to shuffle the blame off on a bad temper, but that person should not blame their nature but instead look to put the blame upon himself.
Selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy: Disputes (selfish ambitions), dissensions, factions (heresies), and envyings are more particular and ongoing expressions of the general sins that precede them in this list. They represent animosities between individuals and groups that sometimes continue to fester and grow long after the original cause of conflict has passed. (MacArthur)
Murders, drunkenness, revelries: Murders is self explanatory; "drunkenness (methai) refers to excessive use of strong drink by individuals, and orgies (revelries, NKJV; Greek komoi) probably refers to the drunken carousings commonly associated with such things as the worship of Bacchus, the god of wine". (The Bible Knowledge Commentary)
...And the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. : Again, and the like proves that this is not an "all inclusive sin list".
Paul reiterated the fact that those that practice, or make their consistent habit, these sins would not inherit the kingdom of God. In other words, this is proof that they will not go to heaven.