When people ask me what it’s like living with my in-laws, I’ve given the same answer for the almost twenty years we’ve shared a roof. When we are all walking in the Spirit it’s great, when one of us isn’t, there are other, more applicable words than “great.” My point today isn’t to argue for generational living, my point is to remind myself, and all of us, to be walking in the Spirit.
The parts of our Lord’s Day liturgy are regularly woven together with some thread, and the color of the thread typically comes from the passage to be preached. Occasionally, though, I’ve done a short series of confession exhortations or communion meditations on another theme, and I’m starting another series again right now. I want to work through some important ideas in Galatians 5, mostly on the fruit of the Spirit, but it begins with the contrast: the works of the flesh.
The flesh has its wants. Paul refers to “the desires of the flesh” a few times, the flesh as contrasted with the desires of the Holy Spirit, and the flesh with its own set of characteristics. Those who are driven by natural desires give evidence of their fleshly esse in sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and “things like these” (Galatians 5:19-21).
The opposite is walking by the Spirit, letting the Spirit control our hearts and hands and voices. But even for Christians, where does the flesh go? It must be put to death. In Christ, we are dead to sin (Romans 6:11), and in Christ, we must kill sin.
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (verse 24)
As he told the Colossians, “put to death what is earthly in you…on account of these the wrath of God is coming” (Colossians 3:5-6). Because Jesus has died for your sin, spare not your sin. Be ruthless with the desires, the affections, the wants of your flesh.