Only One Gospel Part 13

by Mike Ratliff

12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— 13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. (Romans 8:12-14 NASB)

I worked for a short period of time in the late 1980’s in PC marketing. I’m really not cut out for sales, but most of the other sales people I worked with were in their natural element. Most of my “customers” were just normal people coming into the store looking for a computer. Others were businessmen looking for a solution for their office environment. For example, I sold computers to oilmen who bought high end PCs with a lot of RAM and very large monitors with very expensive graphics cards to handle the software they used. All of that I looked at as God’s sending me clients so I could earn a commission as part of his providing my daily bread (Matthew 6:11). The most heartrending experiences I had during that time though were people who would come in to the store and they would be passed to me for some reason. They would come to my little cubicle and we would talk. It was there that they would see my Bible on my desk or the little plaque my wife gave me with Isaiah 40:31 on it, and then they would say they were Christians too and then they would look for a “deal.” I could tell, as I am sure most of you could too, that most of these people were seeking to manipulate the fact that I was a Christian so they could “profit.” When I refused to be manipulated that way some became ugly and spiteful and some even threatened to call the management and tell all sorts of things about me if I didn’t give them what they wanted. That was always terrible, but I think it was also quite surprising to them when I told them to go ahead. The really sad thing was that most of those professing Christians I worked with probably would have done everything under the sun to “make a sale” even if it did mean doing things that no genuine Christian should ever do to his or her employer. 

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you could by no means perform the desire of the flesh.  17 For the flesh’s desires are against the Spirit and the Spirit’s are against the flesh; for these things oppose each other, so that you cannot do whatever you desire. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under law.  19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are fornication, impurity, licentiousness,  20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, divisions, sects,  21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, as I said before that the ones practicing such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faith,  23 meekness, self-control; against such things there is not a law.  24 But the ones of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and its desires.  25 If we live by the Spirit, we should also be in line with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. (Galatians 5:16-26 Possessing the Treasure New Testament v1)

All genuine believers have the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20). This indwelling gives the believer the personal power for living to please God. In v16 (above) the verb “walk” translates περιπατεῖτε (peripateite), “walk, behave,” the present, imperative, active case of περιπατέω (peripateō). The present, imperative, active case indicates continuous action, or a habitual lifestyle. Walking also implies progress or spiritual growth as the believer submits to the Spirit’s control. This submission is the believer’s responding in obedience to the simple commands of Scripture. The believer grows spiritually (Romans 8:13; Ephesians 5:18; Colossians 3:16). What is the flesh referring to in v16? This is not just the body, but includes the mind, will, and emotions, which are all subject to sin. This is reference to our humanness. When I read v17 I think of Romans 7, especially v24, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?

In v18, what does it mean to be “led by the Spirit”? This is a contrast. Either we are led by the Spirit or we are under law. To be led by the Spirit is the same as walking by the Spirit as we looked at in v16. Only those who walk by the Spirit are walking by the power of the Holy Spirit and this results in God manifesting righteous behavior in and through them with a spiritual attitude. On the other hand, those who do not walk by the Spirit are under law. Does this produce righteous behavior? No! It produces unrighteous behavior and attitudes. I have an example for you, which I have shared before. In the last church I served as a deacon and Bible teacher, which we left in 2006 because it went Purpose Driven, there was continued, growing hostility toward what I was teaching in my class. For about a year I had been tossing the SBC literature and developing my own lessons from the Bible passages that we were supposed to be covering, but that literature had no depth and challenged no one. It sidestepped every doctrinal point.

One Sunday we came to Ephesians and before I got started I was asked a question about election based on some passages from Ephesians 1. I simply read those passages. The class was a couple’s class and the one who asked the question was the young lady of one of those couples. When I started cross-referencing those passages with John 6:44; Ephesians 2:1-10, et cetera, her fiancé and a friend of theirs began heckling me. They would not let me finish reading those passages. I was not “teaching” anything, simply reading scripture. They would not even let me finish and so I stopped. I looked long and hard at them and asked what the problem was. I was accused of being a Calvinist. I simply smiled and said that I was simply teaching what the Bible said. If that made me a Calvinist, so be it. These two fellows got so argumentative and loud that people came from other classes to see what the problem was. I never got to the lesson, but I also never let them twist scripture. Now, who was exhibiting righteous behavior and who wasn’t? I went out in the parking lot afterwards and the one who asked those questions came up to me and asked me to forgive her. I told her that it was okay; there was nothing to forgive. I then went over to here fiancé and his friend and tried to shake hands with them. They turned their backs on me and stomped off. I never saw the friend again. I did attend the wedding of that couple and the fellow would not look at me all through the ceremony or during the reception.

I found out later that those two fellows came from a local Independent Baptist church in our area that advertised that it was “Fundamental, KJV, Traditional”. The reason they were at our church was that their memberships had been revoked there because they had a family member or friend who was “in sin” and they refused to “shun” them. Now, is that grace or law?

What are the deeds of the flesh? Paul gives us a pretty good list in vv19-21. The key to understanding this is in the last part of v21. The ones practicing such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. We all still sin, but if we are truly the Lord’s then we will not practice these things as a way of life. Those who try to say that Christians can live any way they choose should do a word study of these sins in these three verses and then understand that if one’s lifestyle is marked by these things, any of these things, as a way of life, then that person is not a Christian. Pay special attention to the word “fornication,” which translates πορνεία (porneia), “sexual immorality.” This word is the source of the English word “pornography.” It refers to all illicit sexual activity including adultery, premarital sex, homosexuality, bestiality, incest, and prostitution. In our day, taking a stand like this in this “Politically Correct” dumbed down; post-modern culture can cause the “sexual-orientation” activists to descend upon you. That’s okay; they are no match for God.

I really like how Paul makes his contrast in vv22-23 showing us the incredible difference between the works of the flesh in vv19-21 and the fruit of the Spirit. These are godly attitudes that characterize the lives of only those who belong to God by faith in Christ and possess the Spirit of God. These are not produced by our trying to produce them. They are not the product of works for that would make the subject to law and Paul makes it clear in v23 that they are not subject to any law. These attitudes are what we call Christlikeness. They are not natural for us in our humanness. They are only a growing fruit that comes as we are live by the Spirit lined up with him as per v25 and those who do that have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires as per v24. This is an ongoing process that is accomplished over time as we learn to walk by the Spirit.

Paul closes this section with v26 that speaks of the genuine believer walking in humility and meekness. It is when we realize that all we have in Christ as in the fruit of the Spirit is not our doing, but God’s, that we must seek to be humble with one another, loving one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. What I shared above in that debacle in my Bible Study class was not the product of that sort of behavior was it?

Soli Deo Gloria!

14 thoughts on “Only One Gospel Part 13

  1. Years ago, shortly after a “Gay Pride” week that my company celebrates, a fellow in a remote site was fired because he had put up a poster on the outside wall of his cube. The poster simply had Leviticus 20:13 written out on it – and the homosexual sensitive crowd was offended. The EOC agreed with the company, saying the Scripture used “contributed to a hostile work environment.”

    I had friends at my location come to me and bemoan the event, asking if it didn’t bother me. I told them it DID bother me – how could a Christian be so dull of thinking? Provoking a sinner in the exact area he celebrates will always be considered hostile – and not very Christ-like. When He confronted the woman at the well, He used the law – but He did not tell she should be stoned to death. We are to be wise as serpents and gentile as doves. Not ignorant and bull-headed; we did not learn Christ that way.

    It is the Holy Spirit Who saves, but the Lord bids us proclaim the Gospel He wrote, not an alternative that either our flesh or the flesh of the audience likes.

  2. I am stunned that you were treated that way in Church-Sunday school??/ Wow.

    We truly have to have a personal relationship with Jesus to have any of the fruit of the Spirit. It comes from the gentleness and humbleness of how Jesus treats us. Obviously if a person doesn’t have Jesus in their lives then it is impossible to know His gentleness and humility and share His Yoke with u.

    There IS a complete change when a person is saved. Before I was saved my mentality was Me, myself and I first, Me getting all the attention and when people treated me unfair I felt I had to get revenge.. Now that I’m saved I have the most joy that it’s the other person who I want to be first and I don’t want the attention anymore. If someone treats me unfair it’s okay because God will take care of them and I can learn to truly care and love them the way Jesus loves and treats me… It’s the most amazing true reality in my life to LEARN or put into practice– “walk by the Spirit”.. There are things I do now I’d never have done before I was saved. I find sharing and giving the other person the “bigger slice of the pie” so to speak a privilege and honor because I look to Christ and how he treats me. I’m so grateful that I want Christ in me the hope of glory to be shining in and through me to others. That they may know Jesus~

  3. I am not that smart, so I do appreciate that you often use examples in your sermons of the article in question.

    Keep up the good work!

  4. Manfred, I understand what you are saying. I’m tracking with you. At my company, a few years ago, there was a fellow working in our area that was a “Gay Rights Activist.” I simply ignored him. However, our company also is historically a Christian organization that still opens its meetings with prayer and devotions. I was asked to give one at a large meeting that this fellow was attending, but I didn’t know that. I didn’t prepare anything directed at him or at his cause. I simply prepared a short devotion on how each of us should do our jobs as if working for our Lord and work within the power of the Holy Spirit and pray often, et cetera. That was it. The fellow resigned the following week and I never saw him again. Did I create a hostile environment in the work place for a “Gay Right’s Activist” by doing that?

  5. Mike – What you did would be interpreted as hostile by some folk, but not by the hypothetical “reasonable person” that our courts like to assume :-) You were obedient to the Lord and NOT offensive in yourself. We must, as you well know, let the gospel offend and trust in the Lord.

  6. Thanks Manfred. Also, the company I work for is actually considered by the Government to be Religious since it is not-for-profit and is actually Church centered in everything. I never saw anyone do or say anything to that guy to make him feel threatened. However, back then I still worked in the office, not at home like I do now, and I stayed to myself in the techie area managing my servers. I barely knew of him and it wasn’t until after I gave that devotion that someone told me about him being there. I had seen him around the office and it was obvious that he was what he was, but as I said, I simply ignored him. Our jobs never overlapped. If they had then I would have worked with him giving him the same profession professional courtesy that I gave everyone else, no more, no less. However, it was well known around the office that I have this ministry, that was why I was asked to do that devotion so I am sure he knew who I was…

  7. I’ve often wondered why “Christians” try and take advantage of discounts. Mike I work at a pizza place and I used to be a manager.. I stepped down and not just drive…

    Anyways Churches always get huge discounts for big orders… Well the sad thing to me is some churches although they get these huge discounts do not tip… Now I know tipping is at one’s discretion but I would think a Church would want to display their living testimony of the Lord Jesus and be thankful… We’ve had poor people walk in the store paying full price for their pizzas and I’m thinking this is just not right.

    We had a woman from a Church who orders pizza from us every week. She failed to place an order with us one day and claimed that she did and that we were lying… My manager a young man was not saying a word back to her except that she did not place an order and all we could figure is she was thinking of the previous week.. Our fone never rang and she was belligerent. Mike I probably should have kept quiet but I cannot stand it when someone that I work with is falsely accused of lying (customer or not). I told her that we have not lied and if anyone was lying it was her. she wanted to talk to the supervisor and that was fine with me. I didn’t care if I were fired… Well, the young man called our boss instead of our supervisor and nothing ever transpired except that we lost their business..

    Fine with me.. But the thing I’ll never forget was how FAST she was to falsely accuse us of lying and her attitude and she was from a Church??…..

    @Joao our wisdom is not resting in man but in God… Keep growing in the fear of the Lord because you are closer to being a child than most of us Adults

  8. Linda M, auuggggh! How sad that that is all too familiar… Yes, I have experienced very similar stuff working with “Church” folks. When I was working at that store, I preferred selling computers to the Oklahoma City Police Department Detective Bureau, for instance, than a church or religious organization. Those police detectives were tough and straight-forward and waited until I installed the equipment to show me what they were using them for, which was to store graphical images of stuff that might make some of you guys want to go puke. I remember one they showed me as I tried to finish up of I guy I had seen on the news who died in a Police chase. He was a drug dealer and when the sting went down they had set up the guy hijacked a car, thew out the driver and sped away with the police in pursuit. He tried to ram the car through a road block after they blew out his tires. He ran head on into several Police cars at about 80 mph. The steering wheel was embedded in his chest. In any case, they thought that was funny to see if it would upset me, I garnered a lot of respect there when I told them I appreciated all they did and was glad to be of service. I ended up selling more computers to them, but also to other departments there. I think my military background helped me a lot there. :-)

  9. Exactly Joao, Wisdom is fearing the LORD and NOT in gaining a bunch of head knowledge. That is NOT to say that we are not to learn all we can.. To know is not wisdom. You can know all kinds of thing and how to do all kinds of things and have no wisdom at all. Knowledge without wisdom is a deadly friend when no one sets the rules. Wisdom is the right use of knowledge in the rightful owners hands just like a horse that is tamed by it’s owner. Only fearing the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. But fools dispise wisdom and so their knowledge destroys them. . knowledge in the wrong hands destroys. Wisdom is not obtained by man and is not within man apart from God. Wisdom is God controlling the reigns of knowledge of our lives and not us. Knowledge apart from wisdom is like a wild horse out of control. If the problems of this world could be solved by knowledge then it would have been solved long ago and Jesus would NOT have had to die on the cross.Jesus in the Bible is the wisdom of God. You wanna know God then look to Jesus by walking and talking with him like Enoch did…

    “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and humility comes before honor”-Pr.

    Mike that’s heartbreaking about that police man… Sometimes unbelievers can act better and more compassionate than believers can and sometimes those who call themselves Christians are simply not true Christians. I’ve talked to people I work with and they are more kind than many Christians. They know I’m a Christian and I’ve even shared the gospel with several co-workers. They did not become hostile but listened to me. There were some that didn’t agree with me but they remained civilized. The ones that CALL themselves Christians when you share with them the Gospel of grace are usually the ones who become so hostile and angry because they “think” they are Christians by WORKS….

  10. Pingback: Only One Gospel Part 14 « Possessing the Treasure

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