Friday, February 24, 2017

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday February 26, 2017

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FRUITFUL LIVING
(Keep in step with the HOLY SPIRIT)
(Galatians 5:16-6:18)

   In the biblical Greek, the word used for “world” is “kosmos”, and it is from that word that we derive our English word “cosmos”. In the spiritual sense, it is that complex intertwining of sinful desires that shape our world of “lost humanity”.
    When we choose the “Christian Walk” we should automatically become strangers to worldly behavior. We are no longer permanent residents of this earth, but rather, we become citizens of Heaven, and therefore, the laws of GOD should become paramount to us. It is not until we fall in love with “goodness” that “wrong things” will no longer fascinate, and have power over us. Our relationship with GOD will then become our greatest asset, and by contrast, the person who loses his or her heart to the things of this world, becomes the person most vulnerable to satan.
    The end of all things earthly is near, for each of us, personally. For, that is the warning in the messages that the ancient prophets, and, the New Testament writers and thinkers, all leave us with. And those warnings are just as valid today as they ever were. In this day and age, both the HOLY SPIRIT of GOD, and the Bride (the true Christian Church) are beckoning us to come out of the world (Rev. 22:17), however, unfortunately, the lure of this world, and satan, are beckoning us to stay, and further indulge ourselves, with our own “sin nature”.
    The HOLY SPIRIT in us will always seek to compel us towards CHRIST, while the “sin nature” within us, will always try and tug us back toward the world. That battle that wages on inside of each of us, between “the reason to do right”, and “the passion to want to do wrong”, will continue to stay with us, long after we accept the gift of salvation. However, through our strength in CHRIST, we can ultimately overcome the “gravitational pull of this world”, just as CHRIST did, and find our place in “the ultimate happy ending” that has been prepared for us by GOD, since the foundation of this world.
    In Galatians 5, verses 16-21, the Apostle Paul advises Christians to choose to live their new lives in the HOLY SPIRIT, as opposed to returning to their old life of doing what their sinful nature dictates to the flesh. Here Paul gives us a “catalog of evil things” that we are to have “self-control” (“egkrateia”/eng-krat-i-ah) against, while yet living in this world. While certainly we have to exist in the world physically, we don’t have to participate in its Luciferic agenda.
    Contrary to the beliefs of most Christians, our call is not to try and “make the world a better place”, but rather, it is a call by GOD to, first, remove ourselves from the world spiritually, and then, help to extract others, leading them out of the darkness of this world and into the light of CHRIST. The world belongs to satan at this point, and this world, since the beginning has never improved from one generation to the next, not even during JESUS’ first advent.
    The earth is where GOD planted HIS “vineyard”, and HE entrusted mankind by giving him dominion over it. Man ceded it over to satan in the Garden of Eden, and caused sin and death to enter into the world. Since then, all throughout scripture, the analogy that GOD uses of the “vineyard”, is never mentioned apart from the idea of “degeneration”, which means, civilization has never gotten better, throughout all the ages, though many a man has tried.
    Down through the ages, man has failed to recognize what his one assignment from JESUS is, and that is “to draw other men from the world” that he has already given over to satan, and then, we are to “make them disciples of JESUS”. It is not until JESUS HIMSELF returns, that HE promises to make the world a better place (the Millennial Kingdom). That’s HIS job, not ours.
    Back in verse 1 of this chapter of Galatians, Paul reminded us that our “Christian Freedom” does not mean that we have freedom in indulge in the trappings of the lower side of human life, but rather, it is freedom to walk in the true life that can only be found in CHRIST JESUS, and, in our reliance on the power of the HOLY SPIRIT of GOD to guide us. Here in this passage (Vs. 16-21), every word that Paul uses in his list of evil doings has a very vivid picture associated with it.

·         Adultery” and “fornication”, for instance, is quite literally the opposite of chastity, which true Christianity requires from all of us as people made in the “spiritual image” of GOD.
·         Uncleanness”; Here Paul uses the Greek word “akatharsia” which describes the pus of an unclean wound.
·         Lasciviousness”; from the Greek word “aselgeia”, which means, readiness for any immoral, lustful pleasures, or, to be sinfully out of control. 
·         Idolatry”, which is the worship of anything, or anyone, other than GOD”.
·         Witchcraft”; it literally means the use of drugs, which in ancient times was a necessary part of sorcery.
·         Enmity”, the complete opposite of love, it describes one who is characteristically hostile to someone else.

    All together, Paul mentions no less than seventeen fruits of evilness that the “human sin nature” can easily cotton to. Anyone, who chooses to indulge in any of these “works of the flesh”, unless they repent, can never enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.
Starting in verse 22, the Apostle Paul shares with us, a list of “lovely things” that characterize the “fruit of the SPIRIT”. The catalog includes;

·         Love,
·         Joy,
·         Peace,
·         Patience,
·         Kindness,
·         Goodness,
·         Fidelity,
·         Gentleness,
·         Self-control.

    The HOLY SPIRIT is the engine that drives the converted person’s “new self” in the opposite direction of their “old self”, away from their “sin nature” and the world. HE also produces in the converted person’s personality, the “fruits of the SPIRIT” that are mentioned here by Paul.
    These “GODly qualities” replace the “unGODly desires” for the “fruits of evil” that had previously “dominated the thought process and actions” of the now “converted person”. It then becomes the responsibility of that converted person to keep in step with the HOLY SPIRIT (Gal. 5:25). He or she must then “live by the SPIRIT”, and “be led by the SPIRIT” responding only to HIS promptings, as HE seeks to guide our decision-making in every area of our lives. We must, in our hearts, show our reliance on the SPIRIT, and our confidence in “doing what we know to be right”. Our lives will then no longer be marked by our sinful acts, but rather, it will be marked by the deeds of one who is submissive to the SPIRIT of GOD.
    In Paul’s final advice to the Galatians in chapter 6, verses 11-13, he points out to them that he is closing out his letter in his own handwriting, and not that of his personal scribe. He again stresses some of the issues that he had previously discussed in this letter. These final words contain both a summary, and, advice on how to proceed in the future, as far as their dealings with detractors are concerned.
    Detractors and false teachers, for the most part, go along with the program of man, either because they fear persecution from man for teaching the truth of GOD’s word (in other words they are cowards), or, because they are more interested in “glorifying themselves” by influencing people to “follow them”, instead of following CHRIST.
    “True men of GOD” refuse to boast about anything except what JESUS CHRIST did on the cross, in order that HE might save us from eternal damnation. Paul says that “it is because of the cross that his interest in the things of this world died long ago, and the world’s interest in him died along with it (v.14).
    When we choose the Christian Walk, it is the “circumcision of the heart” that becomes paramount, not the “physical circumcision” of the male’s sexual organ. If that was the key, then women would be blocked from salvation. What really matters is whether we really have been changed into a new creature because our “heart”, (“kardia” in the Greek, which means “our thinking”) has been changed to the thoughts of “the things that are important to GOD”, and away from those “things that are important to the world” (v.15).
    Paul’s body bore the scars that served as evidence that he belonged to CHRIST JESUS. And if we are to follow JESUS’ example as Paul did, we too, can only follow that example by “going through the cross” (suffering for the cause of CHRIST JESUS). GOD expects us to suffer for the faith we say we hold, until we can began to believe in our thinking (heart), that we really do hold it. GOD, WHO knows all things, knows through HIS infinite wisdom that, if our faith costs us nothing, then, we are in danger of valuing it at “nothing”.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander







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