Dr. Mark Scott wrote this treatment of the International Sunday School Lesson. Scott teachesÂ preaching and New Testament at Ozark Christian College, Joplin, Missouri. This lesson treatment is published in the February 19, 2017,Â issue ofÂ The LookoutÂ magazine, and is also available online atÂ www.lookoutmag.com.
By Mark ScottÂ
Jesus taught that good trees bear good fruit and bad trees bear bad fruit (Matthew 7:18). Christian freedom allows believers to bear fruit like healthy bushes and trees. Christians are to live in moral excellence. But this is not so we can look at others with moral smugness, but rather so we can serve others in love.
When we areÂ led by the SpiritÂ (Galatians 5:18), living by the Spirit (v. 25; 6:1), and keeping in step with the Spirit (5:25), we live in holiness. This is because the Holy Spirit has more of us with which to work. Boyce Mouton said it well: “The Holy Spirit will not manifest himself until we deny ourselves.”
Holy Living Produces Good Fruit |Â Galatians 5:19-26
Paul was a list maker. Today”s two lists stand in stark contrast. The first is called theÂ actsÂ (works)Â of the fleshÂ (whileÂ fleshÂ can mean “human,” here it means fleshly, earthly, or worldly). The list is composed of 19 ugly vices. They cover the range of human depravity.
Sexual sins (sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery), worship and spirit world sins (idolatry and witchcraft), emotional sins (hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy) and self-destructive sins (drunkenness,Â orgies) are all addressed. Then, as a catchall category, Paul includedÂ and the like. People who spiral downward with these ugly vices in a habitual way will not be able to inherit the ultimate kingdom of God.
In contrast to the works of the flesh is theÂ fruit of the Spirit. How much we should make out of the fact that Paul lists nine of them but calls them singularlyÂ fruitÂ is hard to say. Technically they are not “fruits” plural. The qualities are viewed collectively and may be the fullest expression of the Christian experience in a virtue list. They have vertical and horizontal dimensions to them””expressed to God and to others. Maybe the key is to notice the first and last quality of this fruit””loveÂ andÂ self-control. Typically to Jewish lists, if the accent falls on the first and last qualities, then the qualities in the middle will follow naturally.
One thing is for sure””there is no lawÂ (no definite article withÂ lawÂ here) anywhere that could stand opposed to those great qualities. People who have embraced the cruciform life have put to death the works of the flesh (passions and desires) and are staying in sync with the Spirit. The people who produce this fruit willÂ notÂ become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
Holy Living Cares for Others |Â Galatians 6:1-10
Before Paul gave his final warnings and benediction (Galatians 6:11-18) he gave several practical imperatives in machine-gun style. There are at least seven major ways Christians care for others. First weÂ restoreÂ (“mend” or “put back together”) believers who have beenÂ caught in a sin. This is so delicate of a task that it must be done with great humility and introspection. Secondly,Â we carry each other”s burdens. When we do this we demonstrate that we understandÂ the law of ChristÂ (a very interesting phrase in light of the use ofÂ lawÂ in this epistle).
Thirdly, we humble ourselves andÂ testÂ ourselves (“put to the test and become approved”). When believers use themselves to measure themselves (2 Corinthians 10:12), they will always come up short of God”s intention. Fourthly, we actually help others when weÂ carry our own load. This is not a contradiction of verse 2. A burden of sin is different than a load of personal responsibility.
Fifthly, we share physically (money) with those whoÂ have taught us spiritually (instructor). This is only rightÂ (1 Corinthians 9:14). Sixthly, we do not dupe ourselves. We cannot contradict the law of harvest. WeÂ reapÂ what weÂ sow. Finally, we keep doing well toÂ all people. We take care of the church and take care of the world. Such a free person in Christ realizes that holy living is a high calling.
*Lesson based on International Sunday School Lesson, Â© 2013, by the Lesson Committee.Â Scripture quotations are from theÂ New International VersionÂ Â©2011, unless otherwise indicated.
|HOME DAILY BIBLE READINGS|
|February 20: Romans 6:1-11|
|February 21: Luke 8:4-15|
|February 22: 1 Peter 1:3-9|
|February 23: James 5:13-20|
|February 24: Matthew 18:15-20|
|February 25: 1 Corinthians 9:3-12|
|February 26: Galatians 5:18″“6:10|