For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
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. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:13, 16-22
Some teach that Paul was so strong in his belief in the grace of God, that his teaching resulted in believers not taking sin seriously. To which I respond: Seriously?
Paul spent the first four chapters of Galatians decrying the legalism of religion, but he also recognized the danger of an unbalanced view of a grace-base gospel.
Paul warns that our freedom is not meant for us to wink at sin or pretend it is not there. Instead, we are called to serve one another through love. How? We are to walk in the Spirit.
To illustrate the point Paul reminds the Galatians (and us) first of what life is like without Christ for those who “walk in the flesh.” Second, he discusses the fruit of the Spirit as the result of someone who “walks by the Spirit.”
In the passage above, you can read the list of plain to see works of a life not surrendered to God in three primary categories:
- Sexual Sin – any and all sexuality outside of God’s definition of marriage.
- False Religion – any idol or activity that is our source outside of God.
- Ruined Relationships – what a list of destructive interpersonal behaviors!
What is the result of someone whose life is defined by any of these kinds of works? According to Paul’s words inspired by the Holy Spirit: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Paul was equally appalled by Legalism on one hand and abuse of Grace on the other. How balanced are we?