Full Text for Galatians- Volume 38 - What does it mean that the Galatians are not to let their flesh rule in their congregation? (Video)

No. 38. >> In Galatians Chapter 5 Verse 13, Paul introduces the idea of flesh. What does it mean that the Galatians are not to let their flesh become a military base of operations in their congregations? Oh, and I think Paul quotes Leviticus when he says: The whole law is summed up in one word: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. What is he saying about the law here? >>DR. ARTHUR A. JUST, JR.: There is a very slight shift here in the argument in Galatians. We've talked already about how Chapters 5 and 6 are the pastoral section. The first part, Verses 1 to 12, is mostly as we indicated things about the future. But now we see the section in which we really kind of intensely engage in pastoral guidance by means of a series of imperatives in which Paul is giving some admonitions to the congregation. Now, if you look with me at the text, you will see that in Verse 13 there is an implied imperative: Do not allow, you know, the flesh to become a military base of operations. There's in a sense an imperative there. It's implied. But we have to add it in the English. And then you can see: But become slaves. See that? Become servants to one another through love. And then love one another in Verse 14. And that's in the future. But you know that the future is the most intensive sort of imperative command. Then Verse 15: Look. You know, look -- or do not look out. And in Verse 16: Walk around in the Spirit. And then you can see following that in Verses 17 and following the imperatives end. But we begin to see this section of exhortation. In which Paul is commanding them to live like Christ. Now, it begins in Verse 13. And your question, Nick, is a very, very good one. Because he is introducing a new concept here. And that's a very important thing to see at the end of a letter when a new concept comes in. Because it obviously is something we should be alerted to. And the concept now is flesh. Now he's used the word flesh before. But it's always been kind of a synonym for circumcision. But now he's talking about flesh as a power. He's going to talk about being under the power of the flesh. And here he's talking about it as a super human power in which sin is at work in us. And this is in a sense when he's using the word flesh now, he's talking about the former life in paganism. And that expression that you have there, a military base of operations, is a brilliant one. Because that's exactly what that word means. And remember, we said the recipients of this letter are soldiers. So they are going to be in a context now where they understand this. And just think of that metaphor here. You know, don't create a camp now in your congregation where the flesh is going to run wild. Don't return now to what you were before. Now, it's interesting because he's going to explain this as this text unfolds. And again, it's one of those Pauline arguments that to a certain extent is somewhat subtle. But once you get underneath it, you can see how devastating it is going to be to his opponents. Because what Paul is going to be doing here is he's going to be equating the life of the flesh, namely, in sin with all its vices, to a life living under the law with all its righteousness as being equivalent. And I think when we get to the point where we see the catalog of virtues and vices, we'll be able to see how clearly Paul is contrasting the Christian way of life, the life in which the great fruits of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, et cetera, in a congregation where you can see Christ is formed in them. And they are at peace with one another. And in a sense at peace with God, even though they may be at odds with the world. That's going to be contrasted to a congregation that is marked by this flesh where they have actually allowed their congregation to be a place where the flesh runs wild. Now, look at how he starts. And you can see that this is so real. This is something that we can -- we can identify with. And remember, as we read these words now, that this is pastoral guidance. And what Paul is talking about is what is daily life like now in a world in which God in Christ is making right what has gone wrong. And he's also talking about it as daily life in wartime where there are these battles between flesh and Spirit. Between faith and the law. And this is -- what he's doing, let's put it this way -- and this is why it's pastoral. This is how I would define pastoral at least in this context. Paul is providing them a map of the world in which they really live. The real world. The real world where the real presence of Jesus Christ is there by the Spirit. A real world that God has made by sending Christ and his Spirit into the world. Remember, God sent his Son into the world. God send the Spirit of his Son. That's the real world Paul is talking about. And he's going to describe this real world as saw in the opening comments in 5 and 6 as the new creation from 6:15. That's what the real world it. It's the new creation. And so he begins. And this is a -- like I said, this is a turning point here. Although you can hear the echo back to Verse 1 of this chapter. He begins by saying. For you were called to freedom brethren. And that's that realm of freedom. Remember freedom, freedom in the Gospel. Freedom in Christ. Freedom from the law. But then he says and you can see when people are freed from the law, they can become, you know, kind of libertized I think is the word that's oftentimes used. But they can resort to sin in the flesh because they feel they have this freedom. So he says: For you were called to freedom, brethren. But do not allow this freedom to become a military base of operations for the flesh. Don't let the flesh now run wild just because you're free in the Gospel. And you can hear this echo in Romans. You know, Romans 6. Where you know shall we sin so that grace may abound. You can see the same sort of thing is going on there. And now he then gives I think the essence of what the life of Christ is like. But serve one another. And here is the word for servant. ***Duleo. Serve one another through love as Christ served us through the cross. Now, this is the language the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. This is the language of atonement. And we serve one another. And we're going to see how he's going to describe how that is. Love your neighbor as yourself. Bear each other's burdens and thus fulfill the law of Christ. This is how we serve one another. Now, this is the antidote for the flesh. Serving one another in love. Love is the antidote for the flesh. And you can see now that love is going to be the answer throughout. Let me just finish these next two verses and then I think we'll take another question. But we've already looked at Verse 14. But it's now time for us to focus in on it. Because here is I think perhaps the most important verse in this whole section. And I want to translate this carefully. For the whole law, ***nomas -- okay. This is the law that Paul has been talking about -- is brought to its perfect completion or fulfillment. Is brought to its end. To what it was intended to be in one word. And in one word. It's not one word. It's a saying. one saying from Scripture. And this is Leviticus 19:18: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Now this future indicative is the strongest kind of imperative. This is not an option. If you are in Christ, if you are baptized, you love your neighbor as yourself. Because Christ loved us, his neighbors, to the point of death, even death on the cross. Now, here you can see that the law is good. The law as it is fulfilled in Christ in love is what the law was intended to be from the beginning. It's only as we -- remember back when Paul said why then the law? It was only on account of transgression that the law becomes bad, shows us our sin, keeps us from sinning. But the law itself is a good thing. In Christ. In the cross. In love. In its fulfillment on the cross. Those of us who have been as Paul says co-crucified with Christ. Christ living in us. I'm just echoing Paul in Chapter 2. Christ living in us, we living in him. The life I now live in the flesh. It's Christ's life. And that's a life of love. So the law is not a burden now. It's not something that condemns me. The law shows me how I can love my neighbor as Christ loved my neighbor. How I can serve my neighbor in love. And then Paul can't help himself. Because he knows that there are other things going on. And here in Verse 15 right after this really kind of sublime theology in which you can see how justification and sanctification are together in Christ. Not separated. But joined together in Christ. Paul speaks in Verse 15 of what Pharisaical behavior, of what life under the law is like. And he says -- and this is very sharp. But if you bite and devour one another -- look at the language there. You can also -- it's very, very graphic. If you bite and devour one another, watch out. Look out lest you are not consumed by one another. And that's what happens in Pharisaical behavior when you're living according to the law. People are measuring themselves according to the law. And that causes this kind of disruption. And I think this idea of being consumed by one another, you can see in any kind of a culture where the law is the way of life that it creates this kind of enmity between people. I think we can all identify with this. Think of a classroom where people are extremely competitive. How that can create a tremendous amount of anxiety of people biting and consuming one another over the competition over standards like that. There's only one standard we're going to see. And that is the standard of love. This is perhaps the most important section for the last two chapters that really sets the tone for what's going to happen. We've anticipated it in the first 12 verses. But as Paul is want to do, he eases us into the argument. And then he gives us the punch. And here is the punch. So just to very briefly summarize here, we are freed from the cursing law. We are freed from sin. We are freed from the elements of the cosmos. And now Paul says we are free from the flesh. But in that freedom, don't let the flesh take over. Because the flesh destroys community life. Instead, serve one another in love as Christ served us by giving up his life for his neighbors on the cross.