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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" (v. 14).
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
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 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
19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
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.
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