It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.. You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh.They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want.But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. [NSRV]
Love is KEY
Paul’s “if you only hear one thing I say” phrase piggybacks Jesus answer to the question about the greatest commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Some people don’t love themselves, don’t respect themselves, don’t value their life so are they excused treating others the way they view and treat themselves? No. For all the easy to remember, foundation principles, core sound-bites are an oxymoron. Therefore Paul follow that with an example: If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
A clearer explanation is to:
- Love others first
- Love others the way you would want to be loved
- Love others first, the way you want to be loved and you will Love as God loves.
- Even with this clarification, the advice is given to walk by the Spirit.
Walk By the Spirit.
Admonition: Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
In a culture that prefers shades-of-grey rather than black-and-white, yes-or-no, we have more trouble with Paul’s teaching than we dare admit.
For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh.They are in conflict with each other so that you are not to do whatever you want.
Walk where every you want to walk, as slow or fast, jumping or crawling, BUT
stay on the path.
Follow the leader.
Walk by the Spirit.
When what I want is lined up with what God wants there is no problem. But what about when:
I have such a good idea.
Such a simple deviation?
When everyone else is taking that road not taken that diverges into a yellow wood, who wants to follow the Spirit then?
One of Frances’s teacher was giving them instructions on social media, she said, if it would make your grandmother happy AND proud, then it’s probably ok to post your words and pictures.
Paul states: It should be clear, it ought to be obvious, BUT it is difficult to see the obvious when our hearts and minds are set on ourselves, our fears, our brokeness and that of others.
Paul offers himself as a role model on many occasions, but most of us are not too quick to travel the known world to support others, reject family and traditions that were misinformed and misguided, and to be run out of town, ridiculed and imprisoned for our faith and trust in the Spirit.
Therefore: He gives us a sample list:
“And the like”
- sexual and physical immorality
- Impurity –
- debauchery -allegiance to corruption
- selfish ambition
- emotional immorality
- hatred, jealousy, fits of rage
- Community/Social immorality
- and the like.
- This list is not prioritized
- While we might be clear about sexual and emotional immoralities, what about Social immorality? When we step off the path to the “Left”, we are not spiritual progressive. When we step off the path to the “Right”, we are not spiritual conservative.
- The List is not exclusive
- The catch-all is “and the like.”
- There are others, so don’t be legalistic and thing these are our only temptations and points of sin
- The List is NOT a Check List to try either,
- These let us know when we are out of bounds. It is grace that gives us a way back on the path, on the wagon, and in the heart of God. The Spirit will give us power and guidance if we trust and follow.
FRUITS of the Spirit.
- Relationship with God
- Relationship with Others
- “And the like”
Like the obvious OFF-THE-PATH, these are the obvious “On-the-Path” fruits.
- This list is not prioritized
- Those that relate to our relationship with God and Others are equally important.
- The List is not exclusive
- Too many over time have tried to make this an exclusive list, when there are as many ways to be fruitful in the spirit as their are ways to not.
- Don’t be legalistic and thing these are our only points of evidence.
- The List IS a Check List to try,
- It is grace that gives us a way back on the path, on the wagon, and in the heart of God.. The Spirit wil give us power and guidance if we will trust and follow.
So WHAT? Paul’s advice is to “Keep in Step”
In step with the spirit, not our neighbor.
Hiking at Glisson is “point” and “tail” most experienced hikers setting the pace and keeping the group together.
Bookends of protect accountability and ???
Stay on the path Bilbo Baggins.
Luke shared with us that the graduates practices marching out of the tunnel and into their seats at graduation for four hours to make smooth turns the 812 graduates to enter and be seated in less than five minutes, as compared to the 60 faculty entering single file over 8 minutes)
When you get out of step or off the path there is uncertainty.
Freedom comes on the path of the Spirit.
Stepping out is dangerous. Slippery and obviously out of bounds of the spirit and the law
Love us the freedom to be in the heart of God
(MissionInsite: Demographic Report: Baptist and Methodist in a ten mile radius are down 1-2 percent and people who report spiritual but not church are up 2-3 percent.) Who is leading whom, where?
Hear the Good News: God loves us even though we get out of step. God’s spirit is in direct connection with our spirit. Paul’s advice is to trust God, find our purpose and freedom in God. Trust the Spirit and walk in God’s direction.
Still not sure which direction? Join us every Sunday, find a class, study or small group, open your bible, read-study-share-question-grow; ask for direction and support in praying, serving, sharing…