Galatians 5:19-20 "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath..."
Last week, we contrasted the concepts works vs. fruit, determining that works carry the connotation of toil, sweat, and self-effort; whereas, fruit is a naturally or supernaturally occurring process, where the internal is manifested externally.
Ultimately, when a believer attempts, through religious behavior to make himself righteous, or he believes he is better because of something inherent in him, the lusts of the flesh will be apparent in his life. On the other hand, the believer, who understands what it means to be a true follower of God; understanding he is righteous and capable of pleasing God only because he accepted the righteous one of God; understanding that he is incapable within himself of producing behavior pleasing to God; understanding he must submit his life and allow the Holy Spirit to have his way, for this believer, the result will be the production of fruit in his life because what is on the inside- the Holy Spirit- will be allowed to be manifested outwardly.
Last week we covered: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, and witchcraft; this week, we will cover: hatred, variance, emulations, and wrath; in addition, we will mention a couple of the fruits of the Spirit, which provide a contrast to these lusts of the flesh.
Last week, the words we covered focused primarily on sexual sins; whereas, this week, the words will focus on social relationships: how we engage other people.
(1) Hatred- the word hatred describes: hostility, opposition, and enmity. God is love; Satan is hatred.
The interesting thing about many of these adjectives we will discuss today is that they are not overtly obvious; instead, they are hidden seeds sown in the heart; they germinate slowly, finally sprouting into disastrous consequences.
Jesus said: Matthew 5:21-28
"Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca (a term of reproach meaning senseless), shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool (stupid), shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift."
Jesus is focusing upon what is taking place internally- in the heart of the believer. When you look at certain people, do you feel disdain and disgust towards them? Do you secretly wish that they were gone? How much better life would be if they would just go away...? I don't want to kill them; I just want them to go away.
Hatred, enmity, hostility, ill will, are all adjectives describing the heart of Cain who wiped the existence of his brother from the earth. Cain's sin began as hatred in the heart before it ever manifested outwardly as the first murder.
Love is the opposite of hate; love is the nature of God. Truthfully, we could say that all the subsequent fruit of the Spirit that will follow are simply more specific adjectives, which more clearly describe the loving nature of God.
Let's see how the Bible defines love:
1 Corinthians 13 "1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. 4 Charity (love) suffereth long, and is kind; charity (love) envieth not; charity (love)vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity (love)."
(2). Variance (KJV): Discord (NIV)- lacking harmony, quarreling, disagreement, strife.
A good example here may be divorced relationships. Unfortunately, even the church is experiencing divorce at an alarming rate. Let's create a scenario. One spouse, for whatever reason, has an affair on the other spouse. They committed adultery, unbridled lust consumes them, repentance never takes place, and selfish divorce ensues. Now, in the partner, hatred begins to manifest in the heart, ill will, antagonism, hostility.
Then the sins of the heart begin to manifest into retaliatory actions; the other spouse commits adultery, fornication, full of all manner of unclean thoughts, all the while hatred growing every day.
Time passes, the court date arrives, the verdict is in, joint custody, split everything down the middle. The judge gives specific orders: hire a chain saw crew, everything is to be cut in half and make the lines straight, the flesh wants every bit it has coming. Cut the car, cut the house, line up the children and split them in half.
The spouse did me wrong. They hurt me deep. I wasn't perfect, but I didn't deserve what they did, and now, they must feel it. Only, the offending spouse is not the one that feels it, they have moved on in their selfish little world: new spouse, new house, and new car. Instead, it is the children who now experience the hatred, the discord, the hostility, the anger. The seed is carried by this wind of hatred and anger and sown in the heart of the child, lying dormant, the seeds wait; they wait to germinate. They spring forth when life spits again on them, it’s bound to happen, it’s just a matter of time, because life always spits on us at some point. Sadly, in this scenario, the child’s example is the selfishness of the parents rather than the selflessness of Christ, and the cycle ensues.
Back to the offended spouse, can you picture how this person feels? The very sight of the one who originally cheated evokes visceral anger, variance, or discord...whatever word you prefer, but the idea is that there is no harmony or joy.
Let's talk about the fruit of the Spirit called joy for a moment because this person needs some joy badly right now.
The word joy in the Greek describes calm delight or gladness. The question that begs to be asked is how, in the midst of this mess, could a person experience: calm, delight, and gladness? The answer is simple; joy is a fruit of the Spirit; joy is not manufactured by man; joy is what takes place when the believer allows Jesus to live His life through them. In order for this to take place, self must die so that Jesus can live; "I must decrease; He must increase.
The True Vine
1 “ I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit (Hebrews 12:6-11). 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 5 “ I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
Love and Joy Perfected
9 “ As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.
11 “ These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.
People have been known to ask the question, but who are my friends Lord; who are my neighbors?
(3). Emulations (KJV): Jealousy (NIV)- envious and contentious rivalry.
Cain's jealous envy over God accepting Abel’s sacrifice and rejecting his, initiated his hatred, resulting in a fit of rage, culminating with the murder of his brother. When you have been called and gifted, but see someone else with the opportunity you thought was yours, how do you respond? What do you hear in your heart when you see God place His anointing upon someone and use them; are you joyous or jealous; do you feel harmony or discord; is the root of your emotion: love or hate?
Love does not put itself forward; love desires that others do well; love realizes that it is not their kingdom; instead, it all belongs to God.
(4). Wrath (KJV): Fits of rage (NIV)- these are not your normal little bouts of frustration.
Instead, these are flesh/sin driven fits of anger causing Christians to cuss, scream, bang, and throw; then the dust clears, the shoulders shrug, and the mind justifies, "It was them; they made me do it." No sir! It was you; it was your fruit; it was your flesh; it was your mirror. Something is wrong!
What is the object of your faith? Have you been trusting in your Christian performance instead of remembering that access to grace comes through faith in the redemption plan of God...because that is faith in works sir/ ma'am, which will ultimately lead to failure. Or better yet are you just refusing to submit to the Gospel message, and instead, holding on with all your might to SELF?