Journal Gal 5 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
Now the works of the flesh are evident…as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God….The fruit of the Spirit is (see the list)…and those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires…(excerpts from Gal 5:16-24)
Observation: There are a lot of words being referenced here. What is Paul addressing? It is along the same theme as Chapter 1: moving away from the Gospel to something untrue…
Analysis: There are times where I want to relax away from the Gospel.
It is like Mike Tyson, advertising for Shark Week: “Shark Week is hard!!” At times, so is the Gospel. “The Gospel is hard!!” Yep, so it is…
But what makes the Gospel hard?
Paul is addressing it right here and throughout Galatians: it is the war against the flesh; the old man; my heart of stony sin; Adam’s seed; the thing that Jesus died for and that I repented of.
I am susceptible to the allures of sin. Doesn’t matter what particular sin is defined, I am drawn to it. I am just like the foolish youth described in Proverbs 8: “Come closer dear boy, the man is not home, and I am just the thing you want…”
Sin is like that. And the Gospel fights that. But I must engage in the battle against sin, and that through the Spirit. To clarify, I must actively and resolutely partner with the Spirit of God to resist Sin and to pursue Godliness.
And if I don’t? Well, there are parts of this doctrine that gets a wee bit murky for me.
Do I have faith in the Atonement for the forgiveness of Sin, and my sin in particular? Yes. But isn’t it true that there is an insinuation, an expectation that I am to repent from sin and pursue being a disciple? Yeeeesss. And what if I fail? I am to confess my failure, repent, and continue pursuit, to persevere (at being a disciple) to the End. And what if I fail again? Well, scripture says He is faithful and just to forgive me my sin.
But—what if I don’t repent? But still have a confession of faith? That’s the muck to wade through.
Paul identifies the works of the flesh and warns the Galatian church: “…those who do such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” Pretty clear.
Just like I cannot guarantee not to run over a nail and flattening a tire on my car, I cannot guarantee succumbing to sin from time to time. But, just like the remedy for the tire is pulling the nail out, patching the hole and re-inflating the tire, so it is with repenting from sin.
It is what I, as a disciple, am expected to do—persevere, persist, chasing after God to the END of DAYS.
Prayer: Father, the Gospel is hard. Well, not the Gospel as such but what it, in its life-giving through the Cross, expects me to do. Where I get lost in is imagining that I need to be perfect right now. There lies the way of check-off box Christianity and being a Pharisee.
I cannot help thinking of how I learned Baseball, one practice at a time, layering skill upon skill, correcting my play as I grew physically, mentally, and matured in knowing the Game. It is no different in growing as a disciple, I think.
Anyway, thanks for the analogy. Keeps me grounded. AMEN