18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For each one shall bear his own load. 6 Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches. 7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
God frees us so that He may lead us. We are not set free from bondage to go find something else our flesh can find comfort in. We are set free to be led by the Spirit. We are born again to live in the Spirit.
Living in the flesh keeps us under the law and in danger of the wrath of God. The work of the flesh:
- adultery (sleeping with someone who is not your spouse or is the spouse of another)
- fornication (sleeping with someone without being married)
- uncleanness (impurity; morally or physical filthiness or dirtiness)
- lewdness (unrestrained in conduct; excessive indulgence in sensual pleasures)
- idolatry (the worship of or service to images and idols)
- contentions (strife, quarrels, discord, bitter conflict, rivalry)
- jealousies (to be hot, fervent)
- outbursts of wrath (fits of anger, fierceness, indignation)
- selfish ambitions
- dissensions (division, discord, strong disagreements)
- heresies (faction, sect, going against established doctrine)
- revelries (feasting, indulgence in rowdy festivities)
- and the like
Do you practice any of these? Do you see how the work of the flesh is evident?
We live in the flesh, by taking pleasure in any other thing we can but God, the lust of our eyes, the lust of our flesh, and the pride of life. Whenever we desire and worship things over God, we are living in the flesh and these list of things (or something like them) will become evident in our life.
The flesh is at opposition to God and the things of God. It lusts against the Spirit of God (5:17) . It has strong desires and sets our human hearts for things that are against the Spirit of God. It wars against the Spirit of God, so that we do not do what we wish. Whenever we go to do good evil is always present. (Romans 7) We do the things we don’t want to do and the the things we want to do, we don’t do. It is a constant fight. It is slavery. “Oh what wretched (people) we are!” (Romans 7). And it leaves us living with these things (adultery, sorcery, hatred, murders…) and guilty of breaking God’s law.
When God delivers us, He sets us free from this slavery and tells us to crucify these passions and lusts of the flesh. He tells us to walk in the Spirit. When we walk in the Spirit, we do the things that are of God and produce a much better result:
- love (noun of agape- Love, a love-feast)
- joy (cheerfulness, calm delight, gladness, a rejoicing)
- peace (the opposite of war, harmony; tranquility)
- long-suffering (patience)
- kindness (useful, profitable, grace which pervades the whole nature, mellowing all that would be harsh and austere. Describes demeanor and disposition and not necessarily the acts of goodness like goodness does.)
- goodness (benevolent, active goodness)
- gentleness (meekness)
Compare and contrast to the work of the flesh. Are these not better? Are these not what we truly want? But we must walk in step with the Spirit to produce these things. Step by step. Not contrary to. Not opposite of. Not half stepping or overstepping. We must be in step with the Spirit. Step by step. Keeping the Spirit’s pace. Keeping the Spirit’s stride. Allowing our steps to be ordered by the Spirit. Doing well! Moving along right with Him. Arms locked with the Spirit. Or marching with him like a group of soldiers. “Left, left, left, right, left!”
It is not just I and Thou. It is also Thou and them. So life in the Spirit includes sowing into others. It includes doing good to others. Note that kindness, goodness, and love are all a part of the fruit of the Spirit. (Fruit is singular; this indicates that all nine of these things should be growing together at the same time. And fruit grows by being connected to the vine. It also grows gradually.) And God has not called as to a life in solace but to be a body. To be a church. The life of the Spirit requires us to sow into the lives of those around us. We ought to do good unto others as we have opportunity. We ought to bear one another’s burdens in love and gentleness, not thinking ourselves to be anything special. Recognizing that we too can easily be caught up in a fault if we too are not careful and are not in step with the Spirit.
The opposite of sowing to others is sowing to the flesh. There is no neutral ground. If you are not doing good to others, you are not walking in step with the Spirit. It is the work of the flesh that seeks out one’s own. And it is the work of the flesh that produces corruption. One cannot obtain the life of the Spirit by half-stepping and withholding good. One cannot obtain the life of the Spirit by sowing to their own flesh. To be in Christ, to live in the Spirit, means we must walk in the Spirit and crucify the flesh with its passions and lust.
It is for this reason we were saved. God wants a holy people. He wants a people to be like Him. Otherwise, He would have no reason to separate us and save us. Otherwise, we would not have an inheritance with Him. We were called to be holy. Even when the world expects us to live in the Flesh, we must recognize that we are no longer of the world. We are of the Spirit. And because we are of the Spirit, we walk in step with the Spirit at opposition to the flesh.