Friday 6 January 2012

Galatians 5

A Christian should always be aware that he or she is a public figure, in that when people know you are a Christian they will watch you and any fall from grace will be noticed and commented upon.  As Paul viewed things, Jesus Christ was the most important part of one’s life and the Christian should devote oneself to act in such a way as to be worthy of Him.
This is largely the theme of Chapter 5 of Paul’s Letter to the Galatians.

This passage is full of the Holy Spirit, seven times by name, and presented as the One who can tell you what to do so that you won’t be doing the wrong things and following our natural desires which are just the opposite. We can read the Bible and other religious writings and know all the theory, but find it hard to put into practice. 

By nature and inheritance we all have a conflict within us which at times causes us to do things we know within we should not be doing, and it is only with the power of the Holy Spirit we can fight and resist, for we cannot fight on our own.  Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to help and give us the ability and the Bible states, ‘if anyone does not have the Spirit of Jesus Christ he does not belong to Christ’.  The Holy Spirit provides all the resources, and Paul is saying, be like Christ.

He points out that there are two Ways of living, one showing how a Christian should not live and the other the way we should aim for, and these two forces are constantly striving to win control over us.  If we are guided by the Holy Spirit we will follow the righteous way. 

There are two sides to all our natures and life is a struggle between the two.  Some people have a charming and friendly manner which gains admiration, but too often there is a darker side which only those very close are aware of.  In the Christian life the two forces competing against each other are those of the flesh and that of the Spirit

The Holy Spirit renews us to give us a new nature in total opposition to the flesh, which tries to push the urge of a sinful nature.  We come into the world by natural birth and when we find Jesus Christ and commit ourselves to Him, we are born anew in a spiritual birth. 

I wrote recently regarding baptism, and this is where infant baptism is amiss.  It is complete nonsense to say a new born baby is ‘born again’, even more so when the parents have no Christian commitment.  For baptism have any meaning, there must be a conscious decision by a person that they wish to follow Christ and turn away (repent) of anything wrong in their life.

The non Christian may face a moral conflict and never feel guilty, for they are doing what seems normal behaviour, but the Christian will feel an internal conflict quite strongly, for the Holy Spirit will not allow a Christian to feel at ease with improper behaviour. 

The works of the flesh are spelled out in verses 19/21 starting with sexual immorality.  When Paul wrote this he was referring to behaviour which preachers of today find the most sensitive of subjects.  If they preached it as it was meant when written, they would lose many of their congregations, for all sexual relationships outside of marriage were being condemned. 

The greater part of the population is living in ‘partnership,’ and, or, indulging in sexual conduct.  The psychotic devotees of political correctness now object to the terms husband/wife.  When I am asked about my partner, I reply firmly that I do not have a partner, but I do have a wife and am quite proud to be a husband. 

The press and television have fanned up the flames, giving the impression that free sex is not to be ashamed of and is quite acceptable and an essential part of life.  Almost every relationship portrayed on television programmes involves an immediate sexual encounter.  This had led young, and very young people to feel odd if not taking part, and led the United Kingdom to have the largest teenage pregnancy rate (and abortions) in Europe, in spite of the legal fact that under age sex is contrary to law.  Judges have made rulings which encourage free sexual expression. 

The list goes on to mention impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, hatred, malice, jealousy anger, rage drunkenness, wrong doctrine. 

Paul adds that any one who belongs to Christ will have nailed such evil desires to his cross and crucified them there, but we must accept there are plenty of people within the Church who have not done so.   There are far too many calling for sexual behaviour, which is totally contrary to Scripture, to be seen as acceptable. Last year we had the incredible statement of senior clergy, inviting couples to come and get married in Church and bring their children to be baptised at the same time, a sort of two for one offer.

We frequently find people who will not be friendly with other members, who get jealous when someone else gets asked to do something, and upset if they cannot have their own way.  This is a complete affront to Christian teaching and should be condemned when revealed.

Paul then turns to speak of the fruits of the Spirit which come when the Holy Spirit controls our lives. When we are Christian we must produce love, which is the opposite of selfishness and having a caring nature;-- joy being and making people feel cheerful;-- peace, not looking to make trouble; --patience, being long suffering and having endurance;-- kindness, always willing to be helpful and giving of oneself; --gentleness, a sensitive feeling to people;-- faithfulness, having dependability and reliability;-- and self control, not being ready to respond aggressively.

These are the fruits of the Spirit and fruit depends on the health of the tree.  Spiritual fruit means character and producing a quality of life.  If we follow Christ we shall produce abundant fruit.

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