S.R. Galatians 5:13-21  

  1. Introduction
    1. In Paul’s writings, man is composed of three distinct parts: (1 Thess.5:23) “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
      1. Body - (Gk.soma) perfectly neutral, value of the body depends on usage (Rom.1:24; 1 Cor.6:20).
      2. Soul - (Gk. psuche) is the principle of physical life. (Rom.16:4) Paul’s life
      3. Spirit - (Gk. pneuma) the ruling part of man which lives eternally, and distinguishes us from animals.
    2. The enemy of the Spirit:
      1. The flesh (Gk. sarx) is the deadly enemy of the spirit (pneuma). (Gal.5:17).
      2. 2(Gal.5:17) the flesh is “against,” and “in opposition to” the spirit.
        1. “lust of the flesh” is not limited to the sensual desires of the physical body (cf.Gal.5:20 – relates to attitudes of mind).
        2. Opportunities of Freedom (5:13-15): In Christ, we were called to freedom (5:13); set free from the bondage of sin and death and self-dependence. We must not abuse our freedom to think we can do what we want. Freedom in Christ is not license to sin; it is not license to give into our own sinful desires. That is turning freedom into an “opportunity for the flesh” (5:13). We were set free so that we could serve, not be served; so that we could serve others and not our own selfish desires. We were called to love and love finds its ultimate expression in our serving one another.
        3. Walk by the Spirit (5:16-18): Rather than turning freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, walk by the Spirit. “Walk”, describes the overall course of my life, not just a specific uncharacteristic action here or there. The challenge we’re given in these verses: Will I live for God’s will or will I live for my own will?
        4. “The Spirit” reveals the mind and will of God. He also reveals Jesus, who I am called to imitate. If I walk by the Spirit, I am following what He has revealed. I am committing to live my life for God’s will and purposes, seeking to let Christ rule in my life.
        5. “The flesh” here (and in the context of Galatians) is not “sinful nature” describing a corruption outside of my control. It is not simply describing my body or physical desires I experience in my body, because my body can be given to God for service. The flesh describes my will and sinful desires. “The flesh is what man has made himself in contrast with man as God meant him to be.” [Eph. 2:3; Titus 3:3f.] (Flesh and Spirit, William Barclay, p. 22)
        6. “These are in opposition to one another”. God’s will and my sinful desires are in opposition to one another. There is a conflict between the two; they have different aims, outcomes and desires. I must choose which I will allow to rule in my life. If I choose “the Spirit”, I “cannot do the things that I please” (5:17).
        7. Paul already described this process in his own life (2:19-20). His death to “law” was a death to the system of law that enslaved him – trying to be right on his own efforts. This “death” brought about freedom so that he could live to God. Beyond this death to his own efforts, he crucified his own will and sinful desires so that Christ could rule in his life. He put his sinful desires to a violent death, and now lives by faith with a constant view of grace – that is walking by the Spirit. (Gal. 2:20) Theme of our studies.
        8. Evidence of Your Walk (5:19-23): Am I living for God or for myself? That is evident by our works; “the works of the flesh are evident” (5:19). “Fruit” also is visible and obvious (5:22). Whether I am living for God’s will or my own will is obvious by my life – the words I say, the attitudes I express, and the actions I take. These all demonstrate whether I am living for myself or for God’s will. And so Paul presents works of the flesh and fruit of the Spirit to help us see which side we are on.
    3. There are certain thoughts and actions that should be on our “won’t list”.
      1. Participating in these thoughts and actions are killers.
      2. Consequences are eternal (Gal. 5:21) “those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
    4. Last summer we looked at a few of these:
      1. The works of the flesh (our nature when we give into sin) are obvious:
      2. Gal. 5:19 “sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, and envy were discussed from an etymological, cultural and spiritual level.
    5. The elders requested that we finish what we started. Next on the list is:
  2. Anger or Wrath - KJVwrath”; NKJV “outbursts of wrath” (anger – NASB) NIV “fits of rage”. Emotions are heated then result in explosions
    1. Etymology - (thumos) - anger - used in a good and bad sense.
      1. Good sense - righteously indignant at the sight of wrong.
        1. Mark 3:5 Jesus anger toward the Pharisees who wanted to trap him for healing on the Sabbath.
        2. “He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, "Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.”
      2. Bad sense - like an explosive that blasts a town away; a fit of rage.
      3. Derivation of (thumos) - “raging and boiling of the soul.”
    2. Thumos and Orge (Wrath) Contrasted:
      1. Orge (wrath) is used by Paul to refer to this characteristic of God which is longlasting. This is an appropriate response to rejecting God’s just love.
      2. Thumos - very violent, but very brief, temporary and momentary.
      3. Thumos is, therefore, not long cherished anger; it is the blaze of temper which flares into violent words and deeds, and just as quickly dies.
    3. New Testament Usage:
      1. Used of God’s wrath (orge) and indignation (thumos).
      2. 2 Cor. 12:20 “For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.”
      3. Ephesians 4:26 “"Be angry (gk. orge), and do not sin": do not let the sun go down on your wrath, (gk. orge).” (cf. Psalm 4:4)
      4. Eph. 4:31 “Get rid of all bitterness, rage (wrath, gk. thumos) and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” Cf. Col. 3:8
    4. The explosive temper is something which must be banished from the life of a Christian.
      1. Temper can be controlled. God requires it. If we practice this “shall not inherit the kingdom” (Gal. 5:21).
      2. Sometimes we do things in anger which inflicts pain in the hearts of those we love.
      3. We forget after the explosion, but the damage is done and the pain lingers.
      4. “Anger which is selfish, and which comes from pride and undue sensitiveness to one’s own feelings is always wrong.”
    5. Righteous Anger
      1. “Anger for the sake of others, anger which is based on the disregard for God’s ways, is useful and powerfully beneficial.”
      2. (John 2:13-17) – Jesus cleansing of the temple.
      3. Caution: “for the anger (wrath - orge) of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” (James 1:20)
  3. Selfish Ambition - KJV “strife”; NKJV; NIV “selfish ambition”; NASB “disputes”
    1. Definition: G2042; prop. intrigue, i.e. (by impl.) faction:--contention, strife.
      1. “wrong attitude in the doing of work or in the holding of office; contention, rivalry (ESV), divided loyalties; partisan spirit.” (Agenda driven)
      2. Also “selfish devotion to one’s own interests.” “My” “I feel” “I expect.”
      3. “I never neglected a command of yours” (Luke 15:25-29).
    2. Etymology: (Selfish Ambition)
      1. Eritheia – Originally meant working for hire; came to indicate working with no other motive than to see how much one could make.
      2. The word came to mean the election to office by means of hired partisans.
      3. Motive is either party or personal ambition, not the desire to serve.
    3. New Testament Usage:
      1. Romans 2:8 “But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.”
      2. 2 Corinthians 12:20 “I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.” (NIV)
      3. Philippians 1:16 or 17; 2:3 “1:17The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains….  “2:3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” (NIV)
        1. The problem then and now among Christians is a spirit of personal ambition, rivalry and loyalty to a person or a party rather than to Christ.
        2. The church belonging to Christ is not a political arena – not a popularity contest.
    4. When Christ is dethroned in my heart and as head of His church – selfish ambition will reign.
  4. Dissensions - KJV “Seditions”
    1. Dichostasia defined – “a standing apart, a state in which all fellowship and all togetherness are gone.”
      1. G4714; disunion, i.e. (fig.) dissension:--division, sedition.
      2. Gk. dicha stasis “splits in two”
    2. Different types of Division:
      1. Personal division – two people who refuse to get along; won’t speak to each other.
      2. Class division – acceptance based upon social status – cf. “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (Nathanael – John 1)
      3. Party division – do what is best for our party, not for the sake of truth
        1. Refused to state the obvious truth for fear of damage to party reputation (cf. Mt. 21:23-27)
        2. Pharisees and Saducees and Herodians (cf. Mt. 22:15-23)
        3. Hatred for Jesus brought groups together momentarily
      4. Racial division – Samaritans - “call down fire from heaven” (Luke 9:54)
    3. New Testament Usage:
      1. Romans 16:17-18 “17I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. 18For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.”
      2. Some men seek to divide Christians in order to make them slaves of themselves rather than of Christ.
      3. Examples: Gal. 5:7, 10, 12; 6:12
        1. “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty, whoever he may be….As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!... Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ.”
      4. It is a serious matter to be the cause of creating division in God’s family.
      5. It is easy to confuse prejudice with principle and preference with precept.
    4. Some are determined to “split apart” from all other family members except for a brief interaction on the Lord’s Day.
      1. This makes wayward children easy targets for Satan’s devouring.
      2. God has good reason for calling his family together for mutual encouragement. Our elders want us to feed on good pasture.
    5. The cure for dissension is seeking the “peace of God.”
      1. Colossians 3:12-15 “12Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”
  5. Conclusion:  Abandoning Anger, Selfish Ambition and Dissension is only fully possible by coming to Christ for forgiveness and healing
    1. Galatians 6:15-16 “15Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. 16Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God.”
    2. People of Galatia had come to Christ by means of faith in Christ Jesus.
      1. Gal. 3:26-27 “26You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
      2. Have you come to find peace and forgiveness in Jesus?