“Life by Law and Spirit”

Galatians 6:8
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.

            Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. You reap what you sow. If you act to please your flesh, forgetting your soul, from your flesh you will reap destruction. If you act to please the Holy Spirit, from Him you will reap eternal life. What is Paul saying? He is telling us what the Law of God teaches, what happens most everyday in this world; that drunkards sow to please their fleshly appetite and reap alcohol poisoning and death; that those who live according to God’s way receive blessings, like Elijah taken to heaven in chariots of fire, or like those who pray for small blessings that God grants like a parking spot. And yet this is still God’s Law, how you are to live and what will happen as a result: You reap what you sow.

            At the end of this wonderful letter to the Galatians, Paul returns to the Law of God, to how we are to live. He has said that the Law was our guardian, a harsh schoolmaster; He has said we are now free to live in Christ. He has told us of Christ’s victory over sin, death and the devil; of how Christ saves us, of the promise of salvation kept and guarded by God’s people from Adam to John the Baptist. That by trust, by faith in this promise Abraham was made right with God. That it is in trusting Jesus that we have a good and right relationship with Him, after all what is a relationship without trust? Yet now Paul points to your life, how this works out after Christ has started His work, after He has begun speaking with you and you with Him. What does God’s promise mean for your life?

            It means you live by the Holy Spirit. It means you do not live according to the flesh, your own selfish and bodily desires. It means you can live according to the Law of God given by Jesus and enlivened by the Holy Spirit. This is the third use of the Law. As a short refresher, we can talk about three ways we receive God’s Law, curb, mirror and guide. It is a curb in that God’s Law keeps us from sinning (you will not murder). It is a mirror in that God’s Law reveals to us our failings and sin, our need for Jesus. It is a guide in that it shows us, who live in Christ, the right way to live with God and other people. And it’s this third way, the guide, which Paul applies today. That when one lives against the Spirit, we are to restore them to God’s right way gently; to care for those who have known Christ and been a part of the Church, yet have fallen for a time, be that 10 minutes or 50 years. That we together do not weary in doing good. That, as often as we have opportunity, we do good to all people and especially to our brothers and sisters in Christ, those of the Family of God. To carry each others burdens, here in this congregation, amongst our members here, especially those struggling or unable to gather with us. Carry each others burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the Law of Christ. By this you live according to God’s Law, to let yourself be guided by these words given by the Holy Spirit who lives in you. To live by the Holy Spirit.

            Yet it is not your prayers that died for you. It is not the money and loving care you give that paid for your ransom. It is not your abstinence that stands victorious in the Highest Heavens. It is Christ Jesus our righteousness. He is the one who has made you right with Him, who has given you the Holy Spirit that you might live by the Spirit. It is His work that saves you and He is the New Creation, God and humanity at one, Creator and Creation reconciled. So, with Paul we may never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to you and you to the world. In Christ you are dead to the corruption in the world, you are a New Creation; therefore let the corruption in the world be as though it is dead to you, just as death is dead to Christ. For if anyone falls into sin and rejects the promise of God, they receive the wages of their sinful works. Death. But for those who fall into sin yet turn back to the promise of God, their sinful works are taken from them and they receive the wages of their life in the Spirit. The Life of Christ. So boast in the Cross of Christ, for it is His Work that forgives and reconciles; yet don’t be lazy in the faith for now you have life you are called to live it.

            And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, now unto life everlasting. Amen.

Pastor Joseph Graham.