GALATIANS 5
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13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

Liberty is a tremendous responsibility. Like matured adults, we have been turned loose from the detailed and mechanical restraints of law. We have been told by God:

"This is what I desire. This is what will please me. If you love me, this is what you will work to do, and you will never feel that you have ever been able to do enough: you will always yearn to do more and better. You will have no interest in worldly rubbish."

The obligations of love are infinitely greater and deeper than the obligations of law. Just as the responsibilities and duties of adulthood are greater than those of childhood.

"For all the Law is fulfilled in one word: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" 

Who ever attains to this divine ideal of loving others as themselves? -- of taking on all the joys and burdens of others, and sharing everything we hope with them without restraint?

But this is the ideal to which we must constantly strive to bring ourselves. Anything short of this is ugly, fleshly smallness and selfishness of heart and mind.

Bro Growcott - By Love Serve One Another



Called unto liberty.

Some understood the Law to be the only restraining power of sin in their lives. They abused the liberties they thought they now had no longer being under the Law of Moses. In reality, they were brought out of one control into another - from the legalistic Law of Moses to submission to the Law of Christ!

The liberties in Christ are

1) Freedom from God's wrath

'Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.'(Rom 5:9).

2) Freedom from sin's mastery over us

'For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace'(Rom 6:14).

3) Freedom from Gentile darkness

'Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son' (Col 1:13);

'But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy' (1Pet 2:9-10)

'Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world' cf. (1 John 4:4).

4) Freedom from the curse of the Law

'Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us-for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree"(Gal 3:13)

5) Freedom from the condemnation of the Law

'There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit' (Rom 8:1).

6) Freedom from the Law as a means of justification

'Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified (Gal 2:16).

7) Freedom from fear in approaching the Son of God

'According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord. In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.(Eph 3:12)

'Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God (Yahoshua HaBen HaElohim)* let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need (Heb 4:14-16).

This is the kind of liberty Paul is talking about! This kind of liberty does not ignore our restraints to indulge in fleshly desires. It has nothing to do with serving self, or condoning the keeping pagan holidays by Christ's followers. The liberties we have in Christ have everything to do with love for God, love for one another, and love for neighbour.

Sister Valerie Mello [in isolation, TN, USA] Comment added in 2012



To find our life, we must lose it. To exalt ourselves, we must abase ourselves. To rule, we must serve. To conquer, we must yield. To attain our own welfare, we must seek that of others. Everything is the reverse of the flesh's way and the world's conceptions.

If we pursue happiness and pleasure and satisfaction directly and for their own sake, they mockingly flee from us, and, like the will-of-the-wisp, lead us at last to a bottomless bog. They can be found only where God's infinite wisdom and love has carefully and wonderfully placed them: in sacrifice and service and self-forgetfulness. Forget yourself in outgoing service and love, and you'll be happy. Dwell on yourself in in-turned, self-seeking and self-centeredness, and you'll be miserable.

Bro Growcott - By Love Serve One Another.



15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.

This in the Truth should be absolutely unthinkable. IS IT? We may be a long way from reaching the pinnacle of the ideal, but if we haven't gotten far beyond this, we haven't even begun.


16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

Man is a very strange contraption. He is like a pair of scales. One side or the other can very easily go up or down. And when it goes down It can very easily go very far down. But he can also attain very high.

It is the only way. We must give ourselves wholly to the Spirit of the Word. We can choose -- we can choose what we throw onto the scales. We can choose the guidance of the Spirit as revealed in the Word of Life, or we can choose the guidance of the thoughts and desires of the flesh.

No one can plead inability. We can do whatever we want to do, if we want it badly enough, and will seek the help and guidance in the right place.

We can "walk in the Spirit." If we couldn't, we would not be told to do so. God does not mock us, any more than He lets us mock Him. Of course we cannot reach perfection. Of course we shall repeatedly stumble, and have to try again. But the basic portion of our life can be purity and love and kindness and service and holiness and spiritual-mindedness, if we really want it to be.

Bro Growcott - By Love Serve One Another



17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.


THE CONSTANT BATTLE

There are some who believe that innate goodness dwells within us, and that if we allow it free development it will ultimately find expression in our lives. But if this were true why then did Paul speak of "fighting to keep his body under and bring it into subjection" (1 Cor. 9:26-27)? And why did Jeremiah, speaking by the Holy Spirit, say-

"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. "

Is it not because of the indwelling principle of evil which induces us to obey the flesh rather than God's commands?

Studying carefully Rom. 7:17-23 (where Paul speaks of the "law of sin within his members" that inclined him toward evil), we cannot deny that this innate principle leading to sin is within everyone of us.

Hence there MUST be continual warfare in order that the "New Man," or mind of the Spirit, may conquer the "Old Man," or mind of the flesh.

Bro HA Sommerville




The flesh is always there, and always strong. We shall never accomplish fully what we desire in love to do for God. But in interpreting these words, let us remember that Paul falls within their description. He could say "Be ye followers of me, even as I am of Christ." He could say "God is witness how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you" (1 Thess. 2:10). But still he would be the first to recognize that, having done his utmost, he himself came under this description:

"Ye cannot do the things that ye would,"

Bro Growcott - By Love Serve One Another


WE must be constantly aware of flesh and spirit, and of the death and life distinction between them. Whatever we do naturally and thoughtlessly is of the flesh, and is not pleasing to God, even though it may be "good" in itself - for it is not of faith, nor done unto Him. All we do must be done unto Him, for spiritual purposes, and in some way contributing to His glory, and His people's eternal welfare.

Bro Growcott - Search Me O God


19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,


Man in Society - Law or Liberty

Now, by comparing the savage and social conditions of man, it will be perceived that, in his transition from the savage to the social state, he sacrifices, as he ascends the scale of being, more and more of what the natural man calls "his liberty." The nearer his approximation to primeval excellence, the more is the liberty of the flesh restrained, and reduced to a minimum. Between society divinely constituted, and the purely savage state, there are many intermediate social conditions.

Greek, Mohammedan, Papal, and Protestant Socialisms, are sin, or the flesh, variously displayed-incorporations, in other words, of "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life," in which the works of the flesh are manifested with little rebuke. It is for this cause that they are glorified by the multitude which is religiously tolerant only of that which condemns "what they have no mind to." Still we see in these barbarisms the liberty, or rather licentiousness of the savage state considerably retrenched. Law and legal administration are recognized and obeyed; for experience has proved that without these human society cannot exist.

The practices tolerated in the ecclesiastical organizations of the world, cannot be permitted in a society constituted of God. Variance, jealousies, strifes, envyings, and so forth, must be abstained from. No member of such a society is at liberty to indulge in these, or in any thing tending to them. The law of love that proceeds forth of Zion positively and absolutely forbids them.

The savage, the barbarian, the Papist, the Protestant, are free to serve sin; but not so the Christian; he is free only to serve righteousness, as a humble and faithful servant to God, who esteems that man most highly who is the least subservient to the lusts, passions, and instincts of the flesh.

Therefore it is written: "Mortify [or put to death] your members which are upon the earth;" "present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service". "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice; and be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another." "Walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil." "Be ready to every good work; speak evil of no man; be no brawlers, but gentle, showing all meekness with all men;" and "Let all things be done unto edifying."

Absolute liberty, which is licentiousness, does not belong to God's society. The members of it surrender some of their individuality for the benefit of the whole, of which each person is a very small part. This is a first principle, and there can be no society without it. Now, that portion of individuality which each foregoes, he transfers from himself to the functionaries of society in assenting to their appointment, or in applying for admission, and in being received, into a community where they exist; so that he consents that he has no right to do individually what pertains to them officially. Functionaries, then, are the acting members of the body, administering to its social requirements-its eyes, ears, mouth, hands, and feet; while the body in which they are placed itself is constituted of the generality of its constituents.

The Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Oct 1854




20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Among the works of the flesh are some terrible things that hopefully none of us would ever dream of. But also there are some other terrible things that, sadly we do not always realize are so terrible in God's sight, but to Him they may be the most terrible, because they violate and profane and tread underfoot the very essence of love for one another, which is the basic principle of the law of life:

"Variance, hatred, wrath, strife, envying, and such like."

"They which do such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God" (vs. 20-21).

Bro Growcott - By Love Serve One Another




‭"‬They which do such things‭" ‬are those who go on doing them.‭ ‬Certainly such shall not inherit the Kingdom.‭ ‬Paul cannot mean that single acts repented of will not be forgiven:‭ ‬for,‭ ‬in‭ ‬2‭ ‬Cor.‭ ii. ‬7,‭ ‬also‭ xii. ‬21,‭ ‬he distinctly recognises the possibility of forgiveness in the most flagrant of the offences enumerated.

The Christadelphian, Oct 1894. p391-393.



22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

'...every enlightened man's conscience,‭ ‬that with all his attainments,‭ ‬the clog of this corruptible nature,‭ "‬in which we groan,‭ ‬being burdened,‭" ‬lies heavily upon him,‭ ‬and prevents that uniform and steady faith which he admires and desires in his heart,‭ ‬and that fulness and fervency of divine communion after which he longs,‭ ‬and that constant conformity in all particulars with the beautiful law that requires continual meekness to man,‭ ‬and continual worship to God in that‭ "‬love,‭ ‬joy,‭ ‬peace,‭ ‬and long-suffering,‭" ‬which are the indispensable‭ "‬fruits of the spirit‭?"

‭Exhort No ‬280 TC 10/1896



Joy and peace follow Love here, even as they always do. Without Love, Joy is fleeting and peace precarious. Any "Joy" that is not the result of true spiritual Love is at best a vain and transitory pleasure. Temporary Joy, the effect of some present occurrence or circumstance of this present life is of no value, for soon it is over and its impression, if any, is negative upon our permanent peace of mind. It leaves a void, a longing, an empty, sad retrospect.

Conversely, the Joy that is a state of mind resulting from true divine Love fully pursued, and the knowledge of effectual service lovingly performed, is ever fruitful, for it can be enjoyed whenever a few quiet moments afford opportunity for meditation. Time does not dim it but rather enhances it, because it is related to glorious futurity and eternity.

And peace, too, that is not the fruit of Love, is valueless and vain. The peace we are taught to seek, disregarding and even avoiding any other, is that which follows the unvarying service of God -- the peaceful and comforting assurance that there is, if we are faithful--

"Laid up for us a crown of life."

Present peace we are not to Hope for. It is insidiously disarming, and weakens our Hope and prayer for Christ's early return. There is an ever-present danger in snug security, and present satisfaction and gratification, for it robs the glorious promised Peace of that attraction which should spur us on along the weary path to the goal of eventual perfection.

Future peace must be our goal, as must also be future Joy. For the Joy that was set before him, Christ endured all things, and unless we in our lesser degree do the same, we shall be cast aside and forgotten in that day when "peace on earth" is at last an accomplished fact.

There is but one way to assure for ourselves that strengthening peace of mind which elevates our vision above this life's temporary ills -- the peace that Paul must have known when he said--

"I have fought a good fight, I have kept the Faith."

"Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness."

What a wonderful way to end this life! All his sufferings and sacrifices and losses and disappointments were now seen in their true and beautiful light as jewels in his crown. This crown of life, we are told by James, the Lord has promised to them that Love him.

Bro Growcott - The Fruit Of The Spirit



23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

WITH all his meekness and gentleness, Christ could address his pious and pompous antagonists as "whited sepulchres", "hypocrites", " fools", "blind guides", "blind leaders", "children of hell", "serpents", "vipers", and so on.

He could describe Herod as "that fox"; and Peter, and James, and Jude, in perfect imitation of Christ's " style", could speak of the false teachers of their time as "natural brute beasts", "wandering stars", "clouds without water", " lovers of the wages of iniquity", "evil beasts and slow bellies ", and a good many other terse things.

We, therefore, do not sympathise with the squeamish objections of popular "Christianity " on the subject of style.

Honesty of utterance, even if erring on the side of severity, so far from being incompatible with true Christian character, is a distinguishing feature of it.

Bro Roberts - Christadelphian Facts


24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

To find our life, we must lose it. To exalt ourselves, we must abase ourselves. To rule, we must serve. To conquer, we must yield. To attain our own welfare, we must seek that of others. Everything is the reverse of the flesh's way and the world's conceptions.

If we pursue happiness and pleasure and satisfaction directly and for their own sake, they mockingly flee from us, and, like the will-of-the-wisp, lead us at last to a bottomless bog. They can be found only where God's infinite wisdom and love has carefully and wonderfully placed them: in sacrifice and service and self-forgetfulness. Forget yourself in outgoing service and love, and you'll be happy. Dwell on yourself in in-turned, self-seeking and self-centeredness, and you'll be miserable.

Bro Growcott - By Love Serve One Another.



Paul gives two lists of characteristics which are in direct contrast to each other - the "works of the flesh," and the "fruits of the Spirit."

We need not dwell on the first list. They are the negative, natural aspect. They do not come under the description of "whatsoever things are lovely, pure, of good report," etc., which we are exhorted to meditate upon - to feed our minds upon. If we concentrate on absorbing and developing the beautiful fruits of the Spirit, the works of the flesh will be choked out and put to death.

Let us then, briefly, once again consider the fruits of the Spirit, one by one, remembering that the apostle is here spelling out the "living according to the Spirit" which is essential to obtaining salvation.

Let us constantly remember that these are not just beautiful and desirable and pleasant-to-think-about things. The Scriptures warn us repeatedly that they are vital and essential things -not just hazy ideals but definite requirements - that there is no hope of life without this spiritual character. Let us call to memory the very striking and searching expression of the Spirit to Ezekiel, concerning those who crowded to hear him -

"They sit before thee as My people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them, for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness.

"Lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear Thy words, but they do them not" (Eze. 33:31-32).

They got so much satisfaction and enjoyment and relief from sitting piously before Ezekiel and listening to all his teachings and warnings that they could go out for another whole week and live according to the flesh before they need to come back and ease their conscience by dutifully sitting and listening to him again.

They would have been terribly hurt and offended to hear the Spirit's evaluation of them. They would say, as so many of the flesh say when presented with the true facts, "How discouraging!"

James gives the same picture when he speaks of a man looking at himself in the searching mirror of God's perfect law, and then going right out and forgetting what he saw. Forgetting is our great problem. We see everything so clearly and beautifully when we sit listening to an exhortation, and then we go and straightway forget and act like the rest of the natural, fleshly human animals of the world.

We need helps to our memory. We need systematic daily, even hourly, reminding. At the turn of each hour we should stop for a quiet moment and get our spiritual bearings, check up on where our minds and interests and attitude have strayed.

There are nine of these fruits of the Spirit that Paul lists in Galatians 5:22-23-three threes. That's a simple, easy pattern to remember-

Love Longsuffering Faith

Joy Gentleness Meekness

Peace Goodness Temperance

The last should be, more properly, not "Temperance" but "Self-Control." We should memorize this list (as we should many important lists in God's inspired Book of Life) - go over it often in our mind - check our characters and actions repeatedly on each item in order. This is a matter of life and death, like finding the way out of a burning building while precious seconds remain.

Aid the memory by some phrase using the initials, as-

"Let Joy Prevail: Let God's Grace Fill My Thoughts."

When Jesus came to the fig tree and found no fruit when there should have been fruit, he cursed it, and it shriveled to the roots, as a terrible and impressive lesson to all his professed servants.

When the divine husbandman in the parable came seeking fruit on his tree, and found none, he said (Lk. 13:7)-

"Cut it down! Why cumbereth it the ground?"

And when the vine-dresser examined the vine and found branches not bearing fruit, he cut them off, and had them gathered and cast into the fire and burned.

All will depend in the end upon whether or not we are found bearing fruit: these Fruits of the Spirit.

Let us then, with sober earnestness, realizing the dreadful issues involved, constantly check ourselves against this list of spiritual fruits on which our destinies depend. Peter says that if these things be in you and abound they make you that ye shall be "neither barren nor unfruitful." If these spiritual qualities do not "abound" in us - that is, not just be present, but overflow and dominate our whole being and course of life - then we are guaranteeing our own rejection as surely as if we were writing our death-warrant.

Let us then, with sober earnestness, realizing the dreadful issues involved, constantly check ourselves against this list of spiritual fruits on which our destinies depend. Peter says that if these things be in you and abound they make you that ye shall be "neither barren nor unfruitful." If these spiritual qualities do not "abound" in us - that is, not just be present, but overflow and dominate our whole being and course of life - then we are guaranteeing our own rejection as surely as if we were writing our death-warrant.

Bro Growcott - Mortify the deeds of the body


25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Writing to the Galatians, chapter 5, Paul gives two lists of characteristics which are in direct contrast to each other - the "works of the flesh," and the "fruits of the Spirit."

We need not dwell on the first list. They are the negative, natural aspect. They do not come under the description of "whatsoever things are lovely, pure, of good report," etc., which we are exhorted to meditate upon - to feed our minds upon. If we concentrate on absorbing and developing the beautiful fruits of the Spirit, the works of the flesh will be choked out and put to death.

Let us then, briefly, once again consider the fruits of the Spirit, one by one, remembering that the apostle is here spelling out the "living according to the Spirit" which is essential to obtaining salvation.

Let us constantly remember that these are not just beautiful and desirable and pleasant-to-think-about things. The Scriptures warn us repeatedly that they are vital and essential things -not just hazy ideals but definite requirements - that there is no hope of life without this spiritual character. Let us call to memory the very striking and searching expression of the Spirit to Ezekiel, concerning those who crowded to hear him -

"They sit before thee as My people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them, for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness.

"Lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear Thy words, but they do them not" (Eze. 33:31-32).

They got so much satisfaction and enjoyment and relief from sitting piously before Ezekiel and listening to all his teachings and warnings that they could go out for another whole week and live according to the flesh before they need to come back and ease their conscience by dutifully sitting and listening to him again.

They would have been terribly hurt and offended to hear the Spirit's evaluation of them. They would say, as so many of the flesh say when presented with the true facts, "How discouraging!"

James gives the same picture when he speaks of a man looking at himself in the searching mirror of God's perfect law, and then going right out and forgetting what he saw. Forgetting is our great problem. We see everything so clearly and beautifully when we sit listening to an exhortation, and then we go and straightway forget and act like the rest of the natural, fleshly human animals of the world.

We need helps to our memory. We need systematic daily, even hourly, reminding. At the turn of each hour we should stop for a quiet moment and get our spiritual bearings, check up on where our minds and interests and attitude have strayed.

There are nine of these fruits of the Spirit that Paul lists in Galatians 5:22-23-three threes. That's a simple, easy pattern to remember-

Love Longsuffering Faith

Joy Gentleness Meekness

Peace Goodness Temperance

The last should be, more properly, not "Temperance" but "Self-Control." We should memorize this list (as we should many important lists in God's inspired Book of Life) - go over it often in our mind - check our characters and actions repeatedly on each item in order. This is a matter of life and death, like finding the way out of a burning building while precious seconds remain.

Aid the memory by some phrase using the initials, as-

"Let Joy Prevail: Let God's Grace Fill My Thoughts."

When Jesus came to the fig tree and found no fruit when there should have been fruit, he cursed it, and it shriveled to the roots, as a terrible and impressive lesson to all his professed servants.

When the divine husbandman in the parable came seeking fruit on his tree, and found none, he said (Lk. 13:7)-

"Cut it down! Why cumbereth it the ground?"

And when the vine-dresser examined the vine and found branches not bearing fruit, he cut them off, and had them gathered and cast into the fire and burned.

All will depend in the end upon whether or not we are found bearing fruit: these Fruits of the Spirit.

Bro Growcott - Mortify the deeds of the body