Fruitful Living — Galatians 5:19-26
The apostle Paul, after addressing the legalists for much of the letter began to address the opposite danger of license (or anti-nomianism) earlier in chapter five. Here there is a stark contrasting picture painted between the libertine, fleshly lifestyle and the believer who submits to the Holy Spirit. Using vice and virtue lists common to the era of Greek-influenced philosophy and thought, Paul shows with 15 terms a snapshot of the worldly life. It is immoral, idolatrous, filled with infighting and self-indulgent. In fact, the normal treatment of others is shown in a whopping eight terms of division and destruction!
The Christian life, instead of such destructive descriptions, should be filled with nine terms described as the “fruit of the Spirit.” In a sense, these terms contrast – are the opposite of – the vice list. Love contrasts immorality; faithfulness contrasts idolatry; self- control contrasts self-indulgence; and six more terms contrast the eight terms of infighting. Yet these things are not easily exhibited. Instead, the flesh must be crucified, sometimes resulting in a long, painful battle and death of such sins. We are told to “keep in step” with the Spirit. A reminder of how easy it is to wander off or get off-track. A believer, struggling to do so, must focus on others – Christ first and then others rather than get caught up in self-promotion and self-glorification.