It is interesting that in the older translation of the bible, the AV, Galatians 5:19 reads ‘the works of the flesh are these…..’, contrasting that list quite dramatically with ‘the fruit of the Spirit’. It is interesting that the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write about ‘the works of the flesh’ and ‘the fruit of the Spirit’. To me that says that, because I am a new creation in Christ, the fruit of the Spirit should grow naturally, while the other stuff will cost me.
After the fall in the Garden of Eden one of the consequences was that man, who had been given the remit to tend the garden and rule over the living creatures and to fill the earth and subdue it, Genesis 1:26-28, was now going to find those tasks hard. Work was going to be hard and ‘sweaty’ for them, Genesis 3:17-19. In addition they were going to have to feed themselves and look after the world without the close and intimate friendship of the Lord that they had had in the garden.
Going back to Galatians 5:19 we can see that the newer translations use the phrase ‘the deeds’ or ‘the acts’ of the flesh, but I think ‘works’ is more accurate. Since the eviction from the garden ‘work’ costs us (mankind) in terms of it taking a toll on our bodies. It can take our energy and even sometimes our health and well being, and if we look at the list in Galatians concerning the ‘works’ of the flesh we can see that in general they are very costly. They may look like fun to some people but in the long run they are debilitating and dehumanising, particularly since we have been made in the image of God for something much better.
Even if we look at the list and say “well I’m not into debauchery or witchcraft etc” there are other things that will drain our energy and raise our stress levels like ‘enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfish ambition’, and what about ‘envyings, dissensions and factions’. These are all the kind of ‘works’ that our ‘old man’ goes for naturally, and they do us no good and certainly don’t glorify our Saviour Jesus.
The thing about these ‘works’ is that they demean us if we go along with them, but on the other hand, they are also hard work to battle against in our own strength. Either way the devil gets his way, unless we can learn to ‘live by the Spirit’, allowing the Spirit to flow into and from our spirit, our ‘new man’, where ‘Christ in us’ resides. And so we go back to thanksgiving and the tractor and the trailer picture of yesterday.
When I am in a situation where the enemy is putting temptation in my way to draw my old man into responding, that’s the time to ‘reckon my self dead to sin but alive to God in Jesus Chris’. Romans 6:11. In other words it is the time to ‘hitch’ myself – the trailer – to the powerful tractor – Jesus. I do that by faith, by thanking Him for the fact that He is living in me with all His grace, power and authority and with all His triumph over the enemy.
We never see a fruit tree, straining to produce its fruit, it just happens quite easily, provided there is good soil, sun and water, because producing fruit is actually in the tree’s DNA. Paul tells us that if we ‘live by the spirit, we will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature’ (the old DNA in me). If we are led by the Spirit we are no longer under that old law that drives us to behave contrary to the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, because ‘the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus (my new DNA) has set me free from the law of sin and death.’ Romans 8:2.
So let us try that, and the next time temptation to act out in an ungodly way comes, let us thank the Lord that the Christ within and the Spirit flowing through me are more than enough, as I yield to their strength and power in me, to produce some beautiful fruit that will glorify the Lord. Not because I am ‘working hard’ but because I am ‘at rest’ and yielding to the power of the risen Christ within. This I believe is the ‘rest of faith’ that we were sharing about yesterday, resting in all that Christ wants to produce in and through me.