Thursday, October 06, 2016

Sow to the Spirit?

Galatians 6v8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
What does this mean?

In the final paragraphs of Paul's letter to his friends in Galatia what is he saying?
(a) Eternal life comes from good works?
(b) Or, something else.
Everything in Galatians says that option (a) can't be the case. You can't write for 5.5 chapters about how it's not what we contribute and then say it is. Context kills that, though sooo many commentators play that dischordant note.

Throughout the book two categories are established...
Faith / Spirit / Sonship vs. Flesh / Law / Slavery.
In chapter 5 those under the law will not inherit as they are slaves - their life will be marked by the works of the flesh. The works are an inevitable consequence not disqualifying acts. Likewise, those who live by the Spirit crucify the flesh and the Spirit produces fruit. But fleshly acts aren't disqualifying, and neither is there to be assurance in Spirit-fruit.

In Galatians what we do isn't where assurance is found. The whole book is designed to get the Galatians looking outside themselves to Christ as the way they get righteous, he who gives the only true ethnic marker of God's people - The Spirit.

Surely then, sowing to the flesh is to put yourself under law, whereas to sow to the Spirit is to believe the gospel. Fruit, to some degree, will follow but the believer's boast is the cross not the self and what we have or have not done - none of these things are anything, only new creation counts - what God has done by his gospel word.

The life I now live, isn't my life - it's only faith in the Son.

Which means...

  • The Christian faith is gospel not just ABC but A-Z (Galatians 3:1-5) - the Christian life is our union with Christ, hearing the gospel word with faith.
  • The Christian community can be honest about sin (Galatians 6:1-3) - the presence of sin isn't disqualifying, only the absence of the gospel, and our absenting ourselves from the Father who revealed his loving Son (1:6-9, 1:16) who gave himself for us (2:20). We are more sinful than we even know, but the gospel is sweeter than we can imagine. Imagine the freedom to stop striving, to stop faking and hiding, that's sonship.
  • Don't worry - not saying sinning is ok. Set your eyes on the cross and you're looking at the place where flesh is put to death and life in Christ is offered - no better place to convict of sin, no richer place to have your heart changed - to enter the battle between the old habits of the flesh, and the your new life as an adopted son in God's family.
We reap what we so, or much more: we reap what he sowed, watered and grew for us. No person is too good for that, no person too bad, no one has the wrong ethnicity or history. The gospel really does say, in Jesus' name: you are always welcome.

Image - Creative Commons - .martin.

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