Galatians 5:22-25 Scriptures must lead us to emulate Christ, not to inhibit us by its laws and traditions
Galatians 5:22-25 Scriptures must lead us to emulate Christ, not to inhibit us by its laws and traditions
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
One who harbours the mentality of Christ manifests the fruit and gifts of the Spirit. But one who harbours the mentality of the law stumbles in the pursuit of Christ and the kingdom. However, if we are led by the Spirit, we are not under the Law (or be held bondage by mentality of the law). The role of scripture is primarily to lead us to emulate Christ. And believers must not be held bondage by its traditions, and its do’s and don’ts. For Christ has set us free by the Spirit to emulate His wisdom, virtues and the way He exercises divine authority. Today’s devotion teaches us: Scriptures must lead us to emulate Christ, not to inhibit us by its laws and traditions.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control
We have devoted the last three articles to the core characteristics of love, joy and peace. These are considered primary attributes of Christ and they manifest themselves in the secondary virtues of patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The primary and secondary characteristics of a Spirit-filled person can then be arranged in the following:
- Love gives rise to kindness, goodness
- Peace gives rise to patience, gentleness, self-control
- Joy gives rise to faithfulness
Kindness and goodness are both used to describe God whose fundamental attribute is love. Kindness and goodness translate into uprightness of character, the quality of being helpful and beneficial towards others.
To be patient is to be steadfast or long-suffering in the face of persecution or provocation. Gentleness means meekness and considerateness. It also connotes teachability and the willingness to listen. Self-control is the quality of being able to subject one’s actions and behaviour under the control of the Spirit. Thus, the fruit of self-control does not allow the cravings of one’s own lust and fleshly tendencies to dominate. These three virtues are characteristic of one who is complete and steadfast in God.
Faithfulness denotes one’s commitment to God and to obey His directives. Joy contributes to faithfulness in that it motivates and strengthens him to be faithful to God’s calling for him.
… against such things there is no law.
This can be understood in the light of verse 18, “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law”. Verse 22 unpacks verse 18 by listing the characteristics of one who is led by the Spirit. Indeed, one who is led by the Spirit does not live by the mentality of the law. Instead, he lives spontaneously, instinctively and passionately by the fragrance of the Spirit. In no way can the fruit of the Spirit be manufactured by following mechanically the stipulations of the law. Even though “against” (kata in Greek) is used in almost all English translations, kata can also mean “towards”. Therefore, it can be translated as: towards such things (the fruit of the Spirit) there is no law. In other words, the fruit of the Spirit is not the machinations of a religious or lawful mind. And we are not to use scripture to inhibit the manifestations of the Spirit in anyway. Indeed, the mentality of the law inhibits the emulation of Christ. But the mentality of Christ promotes the fruit of the Spirit.
Now 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.
“Now those who belong to Christ Jesus” refers to those who are committed to follow Jesus by carrying the cross. These must be differentiated from those who follow the requirements of religion or the law for the primary purpose of obtaining blessing and salvation. For such harp on religious standards, the do’s and the don’ts as opposed to virtues of love, peace and joy.
Now those who belong to Christ Jesus, who have committed themselves to follow Christ, will have in the same breath crucified their fleshly instincts and inclinations. It is important to understand that Jesus’s crucifixion has effectively broken the power of sin and has set humanity free to walk by the Spirit. Thus, Paul asserted that those who have committed to live by the Spirit, should follow through vigilantly to walk by the Spirit. In walking by the Spirit, believers fulfil their calling and inherit the kingdom of God.
Scriptures must lead us to emulate Christ, not to inhibit us by its laws and traditions
The issue of the Judaizers is their approach and mentality towards scriptures. When they read the scriptures, they perceive the laws in a rote and fleshly manner. The laws are meant to lead us to Christ and to emulate Him. Paul encouraged believers to emulate Christ by living out the fruit of the Spirit… they are not to mindlessly obey traditions and norms laid down by men. Indeed, towards these things, there is no law! Scriptures must be read with the purpose of knowing Christ (the resurrected Christ) and live out His attributes. Paul said,
For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. – Galatians 2:19-20a
When Paul said, “I died to the Law”, he meant dying to the mentality of the law while embracing the mentality of Christ. We are to employ the right mentality to understand scriptures so that we may live out the attributes of the resurrected Christ (it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me). In so doing, we may possess divine wisdom, and power to rule over the universe.
Many churches and their ministers suppose by agreeing with the effectual work of Christ have “died to the law”. But the ultimate purpose of the law or scripture does not pertain to doctrinal understanding alone, or conforming to do’s and don’ts of law. Scriptures must lead us to put on Christ’s virtues, wisdom and to emulate the way He exercise divine authority. Many churchgoers and ministers alike use the scriptures as a checklist to determine what is lawful and what is not. For example, they say in regards to exercising divine authority, “You cannot send the angels out to do this or that… because we did not see Jesus in the scriptures doing so.” I will say in response… We all know the resurrected Chris is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him – 1 Peter 3:22. If all things are subject to Christ, does it matter if it is actually recorded of Him sending out the angels? The mentality of the law has veiled their eyes from receiving the authority that Christ has bestowed on the sons of God! Indeed, divine authority is bestowed on us to rule when He made us alive together with Christ and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, – Ephesians 2:5-6.
In the days of Jesus, the Jews wanted to stone Jesus because He said, “I and the Father are one.” – John 10:32. They wanted to prosecute Him because He forgave the sins of many and healed their sicknesses on Sabbath Day. The Jews accused Jesus of doing many things that are not “approved” in the law of the scriptures. But Jesus responded,
“Has it not been written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?” – John 10:34-36.
Here, Jesus reminded them of Psalm 82:6 that they were considered gods but failed to live up to their calling. Jesus, by reminding the Jews of their divine calling as gods was in fact calling them to emulate Him.
Therefore, believers in the quest for truth must put on the mentality of the resurrected Christ when reading the scriptures. We must emulate His divine wisdom (the way He thinks), His virtues (the way He relates with others), and the way He uses power to establish justice and do God’s will. The mentality of the law causes men to stumble. But the mentality of Christ causes men to grow in the divine virtues, wisdom and power, bringing success to our endeavours.
Do you use scriptures to constrain yourself and others towards “lawful” behaviour? Scriptures should point people to emulate Christ’s wisdom, virtues and authority. Everything that we do must have its basis in Christ’s wisdom, virtues and authority. Suggest a list of attributes: fruit of the Spirit, and gifts of the Spirit that you wish to emulate:
The fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
The gifts of the Spirit:
- The mind of Christ: word of wisdom and knowledge, distinguishing of spirits, tongues and interpretation.
- The heart of Christ: gift of faith and prophecy.
- The power of Christ: gifts of healing and miracles.
Prioritise these characteristics. Work on them by holding yourself accountable to your Cell Group leaders and disciple makers.
Even as Paul prayed in Ephesians 1:17-23… pray with him…
Dear Lord, I pray… that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to us a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of our hearts may be enlightened, so that we will know what is the hope of our calling, what are the riches of the glory of our inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. And we as His church will receive Christ’s authority to rule with Him and establish all things under God. In Jesus’s name we pray. Amen.