Saturday, February 25, 2017

A Carnal vs. Spiritual Life

Paul writes to the church at Galacia concerning the dichotomy of a life lived in wasted pursuits with a carnal mindset opposed to one living a Christ centered life….
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do 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 prevent you from doing what you would. But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” 
(Galatians 5: 16 - 21) 

“But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law.” The law he is referring to is the law of sin and death epitomized by personal failures, self loathing and lack of self-worth which all who fail to acknowledge Christ and abide in Him suffer under. However those who do abide in Him are given the desire and the will to abstain from living a carnal existence and prefer instead to experience the continual joy of living a clean and upright life which in turn brings forth good characteristics that these verses refer to as spiritual fruit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us have no self-conceit, no provoking of one another, no envy of one another. (Galatians 5: 22 - 26)

Jesus uses the following analogy to make His point clearly understood alluding to how the vines in a grape vineyard respond to the tending of the viticulturist when He says…..

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15: 1 - 11)

Those who understand the word and pay mental assent to who Christ is and then just walk away reverting back to their old ways, they then are essentially spiritually dead, still-born lifeless stiffs who will in the end be cast out.

“Every branch that does bear fruit he prunes”  For those who continue to abide in Christ, He does away with the dead and useless works that have been produced, just as the viticulturist removes the dead pieces from otherwise healthy vines so that they can flourish and produce fruit more abundantly. This is an ongoing spiritual process and a beautiful picture of the relationship between God and His own as He helps them develop and mature until that great day when He receives them into His eternal realm.

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