January 7, 2013

The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians

Tom Lowe

                 

Chapter IV.B.2: The Fruit of the Spirit (5:22-26)


Galatians 5:22-26 (KJV)

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

 

 

Commentary

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

But the fruit of the Spirit. “The fruit of the Spirit” can be produced only by the Holy Spirit. The reason the apostle used the word "Spirit" here is most likely to denote that the things he is going to mention do not flow from our own nature. The vices he listed in Chapter IV.B.2 are the "works" or result of the strategies and procedures of the human heart; the virtues which he itemizes here are produced by a foreign influence - the activity of the Holy Spirit. That's why Paul does not trace them to our own hearts, even after we have experienced the new birth. He says that they are to be regarded as the result of the Spirit's operations on the soul. The sinful nature of the human heart and spirit, and the purified state of the soul changed by the grace and Spirit of God, are represented by the apostle as trees; one tree yields good fruit, and the other bad fruit. The fruit produced by each replicate the nature of the tree which produced it; likewise, the tree reproduces the nature of the seed from which it sprung. The bad seed produced a bad tree, which produced bad fruit; the good seed produced a good tree, which yielded the most excellent kind of fruits. The tree of the flesh with all its bad fruits, we have already seen in Chapter IV.B.2; the tree of the Spirit with its good fruits is described here. Paul is informing the Galatians, and us too, that all virtues, all proper and well regulated affections, proceed from the Spirit, that is, from the grace of God, and the renewed nature which we derive from Christ. It is as if he had said, "Nothing but evil comes from man; nothing good comes but from the Holy Spirit." There have always been unregenerate men who showed remarkable instances of gentleness, integrity, temperance, and generosity; but it is certain that all were just phony disguises and it was only in the sight of men, and as members of civil society, that they were so hailed for these noble qualities. In the sight of God nothing is pure but what proceeds from the fountain of all purity. Paul used the plural when describing a life lived after the flesh (works of the flesh), but here he used the singular (fruit, not fruits, of the Spirit) to describe the life of a follower of Christ. In the big picture, the Spirit has one work to do in all of us. These aren’t the gifts of the Spirit, which are distributed on an individual basis by the will of the Spirit; this is something for every Christian, since he is not speaking of a mixture of fruits that would be shared, so that one believer has one, and another believer has another. Instead, he is referring to a cluster in which all the qualities are to be manifested in each believer.” The works of the flesh seem overwhelming—both in us and around us. God is good enough, and big enough, to change everything with “but the fruit of the Spirit.” The fruit of the Spirit can always conquer the works of the flesh. If we have these fruits we show that we have the Spirit. Love. Love, as used here is defined as an intense desire to please God, and to do good to mankind; the very soul and spirit of all true religion; the fulfilling of the law, and what gives energy to faith itself. [“For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love” (Galatians 5:6).]. The apostle begins with love, since it is the fulfilling of the law, the greatest of all the graces, and without love a profession of religion is irrelevant. It encompasses all of the following. It may even be said that the following eight terms are just describing what love in action looks like. “It would have been enough to mention only the single fruit of love, for love embraces all the fruits of the Spirit.” It may have as its object:

1. GOD—love for God, of which every man's heart is destitute, being enmity against God, until regenerated by the Spirit of God; when he sheds abroad the love of God in the heart, and which is the ground and reason for any man's truly loving God.

2. Christ—love for Christ, which the natural man feels nothing of until the spirit of wisdom and revelation, in the knowledge of Christ, opens his eyes to see the loveliness of His person, the suitableness of his grace, righteousness, and fullness, and the necessity of looking to him for life and salvation.

3. Saints—love for the saints, which a carnal man cannot express until he is renewed by the Holy Ghost, who in regenerating him teaches him to love the brethren; and which is the evidence of his having passed from death to life, through the mighty power of His grace.

4. Church and Scripture—love for the house of God and worship of God, and for the truths and ordinances of the Gospel. All men have a natural aversion to God, Christ, Christians, church, and the Bible; it is only by this first fruit of the Spirit that he can come to love them all. Love is a translation of the Greek word agape. There were four distinct words for “love.” Eros was the word for romantic or passionate love. Philia was the word for the love we have for those near and dear to us; our family or friends. Storge is the word for the love that shows itself in affection and care, especially family affection. But agape describes a different kind of love. It is a love more of decision than of the spontaneous heart; more a matter of the mind than the heart, because it chooses to love the undeserving. According to Barclay, “Agape has to do with the mind: it is not simply an emotion which rises unbidden in our hearts; it is a principle by which we deliberately live.” In another place he says it “means unconquerable benevolence. It means that no matter what a man may do to us by way of insult or injury or humiliation we will never seek anything else but his highest good. It is therefore a feeling of the mind as much as the heart; it concerns the will as much as the emotions. It describes the deliberate effort—which we can make only with the help of God—never to seek anything but the best even for those who seek the worst for us.” We could say that this is a love of the Spirit, because it is a fruit of the Spirit. This is above and beyond natural affection, or the loyalty to blood or family. This is loving people who aren’t easy to love; loving people you don’t like. It may be helpful to understand the works of the flesh in the light of this love of the Spirit. Each one of them is a violation or a perversion of this great love.

• Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, and lewdness are counterfeits of love among people.

• Idolatry and sorcery are counterfeits of love of God.

• Hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, and murders are all opposites of love.

• Drunkenness and revelries are sad attempts to fill the void only love can fill.

This shows us the foolishness of excusing the works of the flesh because of “love.” “To talk of ‘love’ when a man covets his neighbor’s wife, or when a woman violates the command, ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery,’ is little less than sheer blasphemy against the holiness of love. It is not love, but lust; love is an angel, and lust a devil. The purities of domestic life are defiled, and its honors are disgraced when once the marriage bond is disregarded.” (Spurgeon) Joy. I don’t think Joy, as it is used here, denotes that "joy in the Holy Ghost" which is the subject of Romans 14:17 [“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost”], but that cheerful behavior towards our fellow-men which is the opposite of gloominess. It is not the joy that comes from earthly things, still less from triumphing over someone else in competition. It is not a joy that comes from what they have, but from what they are; not from where they are, but from whose they are; not from what they enjoy, but from that which was suffered for them by their Lord.” It is a joy whose foundation is God. One of the greatest marketing strategies ever employed is to position the kingdom of Satan as the place where the fun is and the kingdom of God as the place of gloom and misery. Joy for the Christian comes from several sources; in the love of God; in the evidences of pardon; in communion with the Redeemer, and in His service; in the duties of religion, in trials and hardships, and in the hope of heaven. Joy and peace is the normal state of the Christian who displays his joy in the exultation that arises from a sense of God's mercy communicated to the soul in the pardon of its iniquities, and the prospect of that eternal glory of which it has a foretaste in the pardon of sin [“By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:20.]. We could say that this is joy of the Spirit, because it is a higher joy than just the thrill of an exciting experience or a wonderful set of circumstances. It is a joy that can abide and remain, even when circumstances seem terrible. Paul knew this joy personally; he could sing when manacled in a dark prison dungeon! [“And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them” (Acts 16:25).] Peace. Peace (Gr. “Chara”) is the calm, quiet, and stability, which take place in the justified soul, instead of the doubts, fears, alarms, and dreadful forebodings, which every person under conviction for his sins feels (more or less) until the assurance of pardon brings peace and satisfaction to the mind. Peace is the first sensible fruit of the pardon of sin [“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).]. This peace is peace with God in one’s own conscience produced there by the Spirit of God and peace with people, and it is a positive peace, filled with blessing and goodness—not simply the absence of fighting. We could say that this peace is a peace of the Spirit, because it is a higher peace than just what comes when everything is calm and settled. This is a peace of God, which surpasses all understanding [“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).]. Longsuffering. This grace is not so much a patient waiting for good things to come, such as for more grace, and for glory through the Spirit; but a patient bearing and enduring of troubles with joyfulness, through being strengthened by the Spirit according to his glorious power. It also includes being slow to anger, ready to forgive wrongs, putting up with insults, and bearing with, and forgiving one another. Longsuffering is usually accompanied by gentleness, humanity, cheerfulness, and courteousness, shown in words, gestures, and actions; in imitation of the gentleness of Christ. Longsuffering is associated with love in that it is said in 1 Corinthians 13:4, “Charity [love] suffereth long. . . ” Long-suffering becomes easier once we take into account that God has suffered long for our sake, and that, if he had not done so, we would have been quickly consumed. Knowing this helps us to endure all the troubles and difficulties of life without complaining; submitting cheerfully to every dispensation of God's providence, and thus deriving benefit from every occurrence. Longsuffering in itself is a work of the Spirit! “Longsuffering is that quality which enables a person to bear adversity, injury, reproach, and makes them patient to wait for the improvement of those who have done him wrong. When the devil finds that he cannot overcome certain persons by force he tries to overcome them in the long run . . . To withstand his continued assaults we must be longsuffering and patiently wait for the devil to get tired of his game.” (Luther) Longsuffering means that you can have love, joy, and peace even over a long period of time when people and events annoy you. God is not quickly irritated with us [“Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” (Romans 2:4).], so we should not be quickly irritated with others. Longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, and meekness are the graces which relate to others. Gentleness. The same word which is translated gentleness here is translated "kindness" in 2 Corinthians 6:6. The word means goodness, kindness, and benevolence; and is opposed to a harsh, grouchy, twisted temper. It is a pleasing disposition; it is mildness of temperament, calmness of spirit, an unruffled disposition, and a disposition to treat everybody with courtesy and politeness. This is one of the regular effects of the Spirit's operations on the heart. Religion makes no one crabby, and morose, and sour. It sweetens the temper; corrects an irritable disposition; makes the heart kind; inclines us to make everyone around us as happy as possible. Sad to say, this is a very rare grace which is often missing in many who have a considerable amount of Christian excellence. Gentleness has the idea of being teachable, not having a superior attitude, not demanding one’s rights. It isn’t timidity or passiveness; “It is the quality of the man who is always angry at the right time and never at the wrong time.” (Barclay) It is important for the Christian to see that the self-assertiveness that is so much part of the twentieth-century life should not be valued highly. It is much better that each of us curtails the desire to be pre-eminent and exercises a proper meekness (or gentleness). It is said that Peter wept whenever he remembered the sweet gentleness of Christ in His daily contact with people. Goodness. Goodness has been defined as the perpetual desire not only to abstain from every appearance of evil, but to do good to the bodies and souls of men to the utmost of our ability. But all this must spring from a good heart—a heart purified by the Spirit of God; and then, the tree being made good, the fruit must be good also. Goodness seems to be used here in the sense of kindness, or a disposition to do good to others. The sense is, that a Christian must be a good man. We can be good only because the good Spirit of God, the author of the good work of grace upon the soul predisposes it to perform acts of goodness to men, in a natural, civil, moral, spiritual, and evangelistic way, for the benefit both of soul and body; such goodness is well pleasing to God. Faith. Faith may be used here in the sense of fidelity, and may mean that the Christian will be a faithful man, a man faithful to his word and promises; a man who can be trusted or confided in. It is probable that the word is used in this sense because the object of the apostle is not to speak of the feelings which we have toward God so much as to illustrate the influences of the Spirit in directing and controlling our feelings toward people. True religion makes a man faithful. The Christian is faithful as a man; faithful as a neighbor, friend, father, husband, and son. He is faithful to his contracts, and faithful to his promises. He is punctual in performing promises, conscientious and careful in preserving what is committed to his trust, honest in transacting business, neither does he betray the secret of his friend, nor disappoint the confidence of his employer. No man can be sure he is a Christian, if he is not faithful, and all pretensions to being under the influences of the Spirit when such fidelity does not exist, are deceitful and vain. The idea is that the Spirit of God works in us faithfulness both to God and to people. It is the characteristic of the man who is reliable. The ability to serve God faithfully through the years and through the temptations of life is not something we achieve on our own. It comes from the Spirit, as does faith in Christ; because a person does not create his own faith, nor do all men have it: it is a gift of God, installed by His power, and the work of His Spirit, hence He is called the Spirit of faith. Faith shows itself in believing in Christ for salvation, in embracing the doctrines of the Gospel, and making a profession of them, which is called the profession of faith; all which, when right, comes from the Spirit of God.


23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Meekness. “Meekness” is the quality of humility and lowliness of mind, of which Christ is the prime example and pattern; and which the Holy Spirit places into the heart of a born again person; and it causes a person to have modest thoughts of himself, to walk humbly with God, to acknowledge and be thankful for every favor and blessing, to depend on His grace, and to behave with modesty and humility among men.

Temperance. “Temperance,” (or "self-restraint;” “self-control”) embodies both chastity and sobriety, and particularly moderation in eating and drinking. It may be observed, that these fruits of the Spirit are opposed to the works of the flesh. So love is opposed to hatred; joy to rivalries and envying; peace to conflict, strife, and troublemaking; longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, and meekness, to wrath and murders; faith to idolatry, witchcraft, and heresies; and temperance to adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lustfulness, drunkenness, and carousing. This last fruit looks to oneself, and implies not only abstinence from injurious drinks and food, but control of the temper, the tongue, the desires, and the passion for money or power. The world knows something of self-control, but almost always for a selfish reason. It knows the self-disciple and self-denial someone will go through for themselves, but the self-control of the Spirit will also work on behalf of others. Against such there is no law. This observation by the apostle reflects both irony and understatement. There is certainly no law against love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. What’s more, if a person has this fruit of the Spirit, they don’t need the Law. They fulfill it already! Paul may have meant to ridicule the false apostles, who, while they enforced subjection to the law, were eager to release themselves from its yoke. The only way, he tells us, in which this is accomplished, is, when the Spirit of God obtains dominion, from which we are led to conclude that they had no proper regard for spiritual righteousness. By the term “such” is meant the fruits, graces, and good things mentioned above; there is no law against any of them. In fact, they are perfectly agreeable to the law of God, which is holy, just, and good, and spiritual; they are so far from being forbidden by it, that they are highly esteemed and approved of by it. Accordingly, there can be no law against persons that are in possession of such fruits; because these fruits are produced by the Spirit, and these people are led by the Spirit; and therefore, they are not under the law, and have nothing to fear from it, because it is no longer terrifying, accusing, cursing, and condemning. The works of the flesh, and those that are of the flesh, are such that come under the curse and lash of the law; and not the fruits of the Spirit, and they that are of the Spirit. By this observation, “Against such there is no law,” the apostle implies that the graces and virtues mentioned here are so noticeably excellent, that they were not only never forbidden by any human law, but there never has been any nation that did not acknowledge their excellence. And those who in the general course of their lives give rise to these pleasant and nonthreatening fruits of the Spirit, are, by the grace of the gospel, freed from the condemning sentence of the divine law; hence there can be no condemnation for those who possess them. But even the Law condemns the works of the flesh. Observe what these prominent theologians had to say in regard to against such there is no law:

• “This is a masterly understatement. It draws our attention to the fact that the kind of conduct that Paul has outlined is that which lawmakers everywhere want to bring about.” (Morris)

• “There is a law, of course, but it does not apply to those who bear these fruits of the Spirit. The Law is not given for the righteous man. A true Christian conducts himself in such a way that he does not need any law to warn or to restrain him. He obeys the Law without compulsion. The Law does not concern him. As far as he is concerned there would not have to be any Law.” (Luther)


24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. And they that are Christ‘s.

“And they that are Christ’s” are all who are true Christians, and therefore are bound to Him by faith; who possess the fruit of the Spirit, and belong to Him, because they have given themselves over to him, as you, Galatians, once did. “And they that are Christ’s” continue to walk in the Spirit, meditate upon the teachings of the Lord, actively seek to maintain identity with the mind of Christ, are conscious of the indwelling Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—these things will indeed "crucify" the lusts and evil imaginations which feed them. This is possible only in the spiritual religion of Christ Jesus, free from the externals and attractive allurements of spectacular Judaism, which is the blessed "freedom in Christ." And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh, thus putting to death the corrupt passions of the soul. They are as good as dead, and have no power over us [“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).]. This is an incredibly important truth that no man is ever saved because he possesses any true righteousness of his own. All of the righteousness of God is in Christ (Ephesians 1:3); and no mortal may be saved as strictly himself. He must renounce self and become identified with Christ who is righteous. "As Christ," therefore, he is dead to sin, he has crucified the flesh, has fulfilled the law, is alive unto God, and the heir of eternal glory "in Christ." This doctrine is one of the fundamentals of Pauline theology, and one of the concepts which gives meaning to and ties together in a coherent whole the various aspects of Paul's gospel. This forsaking of one's identity to be “in Christ" was announced by Christ himself, who said, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me" (Matthew 16:24). Also he said, "He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit ... If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, etc." (John 15:4-6). Therefore, if a man is able to answer two questions affirmatively, there is no way he can be lost: (1) Is he "in Christ"? (The only way one can be "in Christ" is to be baptized into him.) (2) Will he be "found in him"? (Philippians 3:9). This means, will he still be "in Christ" when life ends, or the Lord comes? The person who can answer affirmatively to these questions is of them concerning whom the voice from heaven said, "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord" (Revelation 14:13).

With the affections and lusts. The word affections, or passions denotes evil passions, appetites, and inclinations, such as pride, self-will, discontent, anger, malice, envy, revenge; these are distinguished from the lusts of the flesh. Having crucified the flesh, we have through grace overcome the reigning power of sin, and are now consistently weakening and destroying its influence; and we are bound NOT to let the flesh, with its affections and lusts, revive again and produce works. And in the next verse he shows us how it is done. 2


5 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

The gist of this verse is probably, “We who are Christians profess to be under the influences of the Holy Spirit. Our Spiritual life is effected and formed by His influences and intervention. We profess not to be under the dominion of the flesh; not to be controlled by its appetites and desires. Let us then act in this manner, and as if we believed what we profess. Let us yield ourselves to His influences, and show that we are controlled by that Spirit.” It is a serious appeal to Christians to yield entirely to the operation of the Holy Spirit on their hearts, and to submit to His guidance [“For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:5); also “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).]. “If we live in the Spirit,” or "by the Spirit," as all do who are spiritually alive. Sin has not only brought death into the world, but it has also made men prone to an eternal death. Moreover, it has also brought upon them a spiritual or moral death; they are dead in trespasses and sin, nor can they quicken themselves, nor can any creature give them life; not the ministers of the word, nor the angels in heaven, only the blessed Spirit of life from Christ; who upon entering into them, frees them from the law of sin and death, and implants a principle of spiritual life in them, whereby they live a life of faith in Christ, of holiness, and communion with Him: and the apostle makes use of this as an argument for believers to walk after the Spirit. Every child of God should “live in the Spirit.” Since this is so, then let our walk be consistent with it, seeking no other motivating power except that which comes from God. To desire personal and worldly honor is just the reverse of this, since such motives are really offensive to God. Self is then puffed up, which is a most obnoxious attitude for a Christian, and may produce many evils in our associations with one another, such as—jealousy, disputes, envy, etc. You may want to think of it like this: The inner life should rule the outer life. “Let us also walk in the Spirit,” or "by the Spirit;” with His help and assistance, according to the teaching of His word, and under His influence and direction as a guide, which He had mentioned before [“But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law” (Galatians 5:18).]. 26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another. “Let us not be desirous of vainglory.” “Vainglory” as used here means “proud” or “vain” and may include pride in empty advantages, such as one’s birth, property, eloquence, or learning. The reference here is probably to the paltry rivalries which arose on account of these supposed advantages. It is possible that this might have been one cause of the difficulties existing in the churches of Galatia, and the apostle is anxious to curb it and remove it. The Jews prided themselves on their birth, and people have always been prone to overvalue the supposed advantages of birth and blood. The doctrines of Paul assume that with regard to these things all people are on the same level; that these things contribute nothing to salvation; and that Christians should consider them of little importance, and that they should not be permitted to interfere with their fellowship, or to mar their harmony and peace. He said as much in Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” The ambition that makes a man want to be thought of as wiser, and richer, and more valuable than others; of having the preeminence in the management of all affairs, and of having honor, esteem, and popular applause from men, may well be called vainglory, since it is only concerned with outward things, such as wisdom, riches, strength, and honor, and not in God who is the giver of them, and who can easily take them away. Therefore, these things are temporary and quickly disappear, since they exist only in the opinion of men. Vain-glory and jealousy are two of the fundamental fleshly lusts that are especially degrading and unbecoming in the church of Jesus Christ. Nothing that anyone is or has is of himself, but of God. Even Jesus said, “The Son can do nothing of himself” (John 5:19). All of the miracles of our Lord were done as a result of prayer to the Father [“And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me” (John 11:42).]. “Provoking one another.” The sense is, that those who have the spirit of vainglory, do provoke one another. They provoke those whom they regard as inferiors by their arrogant demeanor and by acting in a contemptuous manner toward them. They often look upon them with contempt, disregard them, and treat them as if they were beneath their notice; and this provokes hard feeling, hatred, and a desire to take revenge. When people regard themselves as equal in life’s important pursuits; when they feel that they are fellow-heirs of the blessings of life; when they feel that they belong to one great family, and that everyone is on the same level when it comes to the opportunity to succeed and no one derives an advantage from birth and blood; when people recognize that everyone is on the same level as descendants of the same apostate father; that everyone is on the level of sinner at the foot of the cross, at the communion table, on beds of sickness, in the grave, and at the judgment bar of God; when they feel this, then the consequences referred to here will be avoided. There will be no arrogant demeanor to provoke the opposition; and no envy on account of the superior rank of others. “Envying one another.” The dictionary defines envy as “a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another's advantages, success, possessions, superior wealth, rank, talent, learning, etc.” Envy and jealousy are very close in meaning. Envy denotes a longing to possess something awarded to or achieved by another: to feel envy when a friend inherits a fortune. Jealousy on the other hand, denotes a feeling of resentment that another has gained something that one more rightfully deserves: to feel jealousy when a coworker receives a promotion. Jealousy also refers to anguish caused by fear of unfaithfulness. The true way to cure envy is to make people feel that in life’s important pursuits we are all on the same level. Everything that is really important lies beyond the grave. The things of this life are temporary, and when compared to what Christians have to look forward to, are mere trifles. Soon all of us (our physical bodies) will be on the same level as they rest in the grave, and at the bar of God and in heaven we will be on the same level; the difference is that some of us will be safe because we bear the righteousness of Christ. Wealth, and honor, and rank are worthless there. The poorest man will wear as bright a crown as the richest man; the man of most humble birth will be admitted as near the throne as the man who can boast the longest line of illustrious ancestors. Why should a man who is soon to wear a “crown incorruptible and undefiled and that fadeth not away,” envy him who has a royal crown here—a trinket that will soon to be laid aside forever? Why should he who is poor here, but will soon inherit the treasures of heaven where “moth and rust do not corrupt,” envy him who can walk over a few acres he can call his own, or who has accumulated a glittering pile of gold bars, which will soon be left forever? Why should he who is soon to wear the robes of salvation, made “white in the blood of the Lamb,” envy him who is “clothed in purple and fine linen,” or who can afford to adorn himself and his family in the most gorgeous clothing money can buy, when their fine clothes will soon be replaced by the simple garb which the most humble wears in the grave? If men feel that everything of consequence lies beyond the tomb, that in the important matter of salvation they are all on the same level; how unimportant comparatively would it seem to adorn their bodies, to advance their name and rank and to improve their fortunes! The rich and the great would cease to look down with contempt on those of more humble rank, and the poor would cease to envy those above them, because they are soon to be their equals in the grave; their equals, perhaps their superiors in heaven! “Envying one another” is probably one of the sins the Galatians were subject to; and where this sin is found, there is confusion, and every evil work, and therefore it is to be guarded against. This is a sin that I have been guilty of, and perhaps you have been too. likely to denote that the things he is going to mention do not flow from our own nature. The vices he listed in Chapter IV.B.2 are the "works" or result of the strategies and procedures of the human heart; the virtues which he itemizes here are produced by a foreign influence - the activity of the Holy Spirit. That's why Paul does not trace them to our own hearts, even after we have experienced the new birth. He says that they are to be regarded as the result of the Spirit's operations on the soul.

The sinful nature of the human heart and spirit, and the purified state of the soul changed by the grace and Spirit of God, are represented by the apostle as trees; one tree yields good fruit, and the other bad fruit. The fruit produced by each replicate the nature of the tree which produced it; likewise, the tree reproduces the nature of the seed from which it sprung. The bad seed produced a bad tree, which produced bad fruit; the good seed produced a good tree, which yielded the most excellent kind of fruits. The tree of the flesh with all its bad fruits, we have already seen in Chapter IV.B.2; the tree of the Spirit with its good fruits is described here. Paul is informing the Galatians, and us too, that all virtues, all proper and well regulated affections, proceed from the Spirit, that is, from the grace of God, and the renewed nature which we derive from Christ. It is as if he had said, "Nothing but evil comes from man; nothing good comes but from the Holy Spirit." There have always been unregenerate men who showed remarkable instances of gentleness, integrity, temperance, and generosity; but it is certain that all were just phony disguises and it was only in the sight of men, and as members of civil society, that they were so hailed for these noble qualities. In the sight of God nothing is pure but what proceeds from the fountain of all purity.

Paul used the plural when describing a life lived after the flesh (works of the flesh), but here he used the singular (fruit, not fruitsof the Spirit) to describe the life of a follower of Christ.  In the big picture, the Spirit has one work to do in all of us.  These aren’t the gifts of the Spirit, which are distributed on an individual basis by the will of the Spirit; this is something for every Christian, since he is not speaking of a mixture of fruits that would be shared, so that one believer has one, and another believer has another. Instead, he is referring to a cluster in which all the qualities are to be manifested in each believer.”

The works of the flesh seem overwhelming—both in us and around us.  God is good enough, and big enough, to change everything with but the fruit of the Spirit.”  The fruit of the Spirit can always conquer the works of the flesh. If we have these fruits we show that we have the Spiri.

Love, as used here is defined as an intense desire to please God, and to do good to mankind; the very soul and spirit of all true religion; the fulfilling of the law, and what gives energy to faith itself. [“For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love” (Galatians 5:6).].

 

The apostle begins with love, since it is the fulfilling of the law, the greatest of all the graces, and without love a profession of religion is irrelevant. It encompasses all of the following.  It may even be said that the following eight terms are just describing what love in action looks like.  “It would have been enough to mention only the single fruit of love, for love embraces all the fruits of the Spirit.” It may have as its object:

  1. GOD—love for God, of which every man's heart is destitute, being enmity against God, until regenerated by the Spirit of God; when he sheds abroad the love of God in the heart, and which is the ground and reason for any man's truly loving God.
  2. Christ—love for Christ, which the natural man feels nothing of until the spirit of wisdom and revelation, in the knowledge of Christ, opens his eyes to see the loveliness of His person, the suitableness of his grace, righteousness, and fullness, and the necessity of looking to him for life and salvation.
  3. Saints—love for the saints, which a carnal man cannot express until he is renewed by the Holy Ghost, who in regenerating him teaches him to love the brethren; and which is the evidence of his having passed from death to life, through the mighty power of His grace.
  4. Church and Scripture—love for the house of God and worship of God, and for the truths and ordinances of the Gospel.

All men have a natural aversion to God, Christ, Christians, church, and the Bible; it is only by this first fruit of the Spirit that he can come to love them all. Love is a translation of the Greek word agape.  There were four distinct words for “love.”  Eros was the word for romantic or passionate love.  Philia was the word for the love we have for those near and dear to us; our family or friends.  Storge is the word for the love that shows itself in affection and care, especially family affection.  But agape describes a different kind of love.  It is a love more of decision than of the spontaneous heart; more a matter of the mind than the heart, because it chooses to love the undeserving.  According to Barclay, “Agape has to do with the mind: it is not simply an emotion which rises unbidden in our hearts; it is a principle by which we deliberately live.” In another place he says it “means unconquerable benevolence.  It means that no matter what a man may do to us by way of insult or injury or humiliation we will never seek anything else but his highest good.  It is therefore a feeling of the mind as much as the heart; it concerns the will as much as the emotions.  It describes the deliberate effort—which we can make only with the help of God—never to seek anything but the best even for those who seek the worst for us.”

We could say that this is a love of the Spirit, because it is a fruit of the Spirit.  This is above and beyond natural affection, or the loyalty to blood or family.  This is loving people who aren’t easy to love; loving people you don’t like

It may be helpful to understand the works of the flesh in the light of this love of the Spirit.  Each one of them is a violation or a perversion of this great love.

  • Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, and lewdness are counterfeits of love among people.
  • Idolatry and sorcery are counterfeits of love of God.
  • Hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, and murders are all opposites of love.
  • Drunkenness and revelries are sad attempts to fill the void only love can fill.

This shows us the foolishness of excusing the works of the flesh because of “love.”  “To talk of ‘love’ when a man covets his neighbor’s wife, or when a woman violates the command, ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery,’ is little less than sheer blasphemy against the holiness of love.  It is not love, but lust; love is an angel, and lust a devil.  The purities of domestic life are defiled, and its honors are disgraced when once the marriage bond is disregarded.” (Spurgeon)


Joy

I don’t think Joy, as it is used here, denotes that "joy in the Holy Ghost" which is the subject of Romans 14:17 [“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost”], but that cheerful behavior towards our fellow-men which is the opposite of gloominess. It is not the joy that comes from earthly things, still less from triumphing over someone else in competition. It is not a joy that comes from what they have, but from what they are; not from where they are, but from whose they are; not from what they enjoy, but from that which was suffered for them by their Lord.” It is a joy whose foundation is God.

One of the greatest marketing strategies ever employed is to position the kingdom of Satan as the place where the fun is and the kingdom of God as the place of gloom and misery.  Joy for the Christian comes from several sources; in the love of God; in the evidences of pardon; in communion with the Redeemer, and in His service; in the duties of religion, in trials and hardships, and in the hope of heaven. Joy and peace is the normal state of the Christian who displays his joy in the exultation that arises from a sense of God's mercy communicated to the soul in the pardon of its iniquities, and the prospect of that eternal glory of which it has a foretaste in the pardon of sin [“By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:20.]. We could say that this is joy of the Spirit, because it is a higher joy than just the thrill of an exciting experience or a wonderful set of circumstances.  It is a joy that can abide and remain, even when circumstances seem terrible.  Paul knew this joy personally; he could sing when manacled in a dark prison dungeon! [“And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them” (Acts 16:25).]


Peace.

Peace (Gr. “Chara”)is the calm, quiet, and stability, which take place in the justified soul, instead of the doubts, fears, alarms, and dreadful forebodings, which every person under conviction for his sins feels (more or less) until the assurance of pardon brings peace and satisfaction to the mind. Peace is the first sensible fruit of the pardon of sin [“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).]. This peace is peace with God in one’s own conscience produced there by the Spirit of God and peace with people, and it is a positive peace, filled with blessing and goodness—not simply the absence of fighting. We could say that this peace is a peace of the Spirit, because it is a higher peace than just what comes when everything is calm and settled.  This is a peace of God, which surpasses all understanding [“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).].This grace is not so much a patient waiting for good things to come, such as for more grace, and for glory through the Spirit; but a patient bearing and enduring of troubles with joyfulness, through being strengthened by the Spirit according to his glorious power. It also includes being slow to anger, ready to forgive wrongs, putting up with insults, and bearing with, and forgiving one another. Longsuffering is usually accompanied by gentleness, humanity, cheerfulness, and courteousness, shown in words, gestures, and actions; in imitation of the gentleness of Christ. Longsuffering is associated with love in that it is said in 1 Corinthians 13:4, “Charity [love] suffereth long. . . ”

Long-suffering becomes easier once we take into account that God has suffered long for our sake, and that, if he had not done so, we would have been quickly consumed. Knowing this helps us to endure all the troubles and difficulties of life without complaining; submitting cheerfully to every dispensation of God's providence, and thus deriving benefit from every occurrence. Longsuffering in itself is a work of the Spirit! “Longsuffering is that quality which enables a person to bear adversity, injury, reproach, and makes them patient to wait for the improvement of those who have done him wrong.  When the devil finds that he cannot overcome certain persons by force he tries to overcome them in the long run . . . To withstand his continued assaults we must be longsuffering and patiently wait for the devil to get tired of his game.” (Luther)

Longsuffering means that you can have love, joy, and peace even over a long period of time when people and events annoy you.  God is not quickly irritated with us [“Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” (Romans 2:4).], so we should not be quickly irritated with others.

Longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, and meekness are the graces which relate to others.

Gentleness.

The same word which is translated gentleness here is translated "kindness" in 2 Corinthians 6:6. The word means goodness, kindness, and benevolence; and is opposed to a harsh, grouchy, twisted temper. It is a pleasing disposition; it is mildness of temperament, calmness of spirit, an unruffled disposition, and a disposition to treat everybody with courtesy and politeness. This is one of the regular effects of the Spirit's operations on the heart. Religion makes no one crabby, and morose, and sour. It sweetens the temper; corrects an irritable disposition; makes the heart kind; inclines us to make everyone around us as happy as possible. Sad to say, this is a very rare grace which is often missing in many who have a considerable amount of Christian excellence.

Gentleness has the idea of being teachable, not having a superior attitude, not demanding one’s rights.  It isn’t timidity or passiveness; “It is the quality of the man who is always angry at the right time and never at the wrong time.” (Barclay) It is important for the Christian to see that the self-assertiveness that is so much part of the twentieth-century life should not be valued highly.  It is much better that each of us curtails the desire to be pre-eminent and exercises a proper meekness (or gentleness). It is said that Peter wept whenever he remembered the sweet gentleness of Christ in His daily contact with people.


Goodness.

Goodness has been defined as the perpetual desire not only to abstain from every appearance of evil, but to do good to the bodies and souls of men to the utmost of our ability. But all this must spring from a good heart—a heart purified by the Spirit of God; and then, the tree being made good, the fruit must be good also.

Goodness seems to be used here in the sense of kindness, or a disposition to do good to others. The sense is, that a Christian must be a good man. We can be good only because the good Spirit of God, the author of the good work of grace upon the soul predisposes it to perform acts of goodness to men, in a natural, civil, moral, spiritual, and evangelistic way, for the benefit both of soul and body; such goodness is well pleasing to God.

Faith.

Faith may be used here in the sense of fidelity, and may mean that the Christian will be a faithful man, a man faithful to his word and promises; a man who can be trusted or confided in. It is probable that the word is used in this sense because the object of the apostle is not to speak of the feelings which we have toward God so much as to illustrate the influences of the Spirit in directing and controlling our feelings toward people. True religion makes a man faithful. The Christian is faithful as a man; faithful as a neighbor, friend, father, husband, and son. He is faithful to his contracts, and faithful to his promises. He is punctual in performing promises, conscientious and careful in preserving what is committed to his trust, honest in transacting business, neither does he betray the secret of his friend, nor disappoint the confidence of his employer. No man can be sure he is a Christian, if he is not faithful, and all pretensions to being under the influences of the Spirit when such fidelity does not exist, are deceitful and vain.

The idea is that the Spirit of God works in us faithfulness both to God and to people.  It is the characteristic of the man who is reliable. The ability to serve God faithfully through the years and through the temptations of life is not something we achieve on our own.  It comes from the Spirit, as does faith in Christ; because a person does not create his own faith, nor do all men have it: it is a gift of God, installed by His power, and the work of His Spirit, hence He is called the Spirit of faith. Faith shows itself in believing in Christ for salvation, in embracing the doctrines of the Gospel, and making a profession of them, which is called the profession of faith; all which, when right, comes from the Spirit of God. 

23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.


Meekness” is the quality of humility and lowliness of mind, of which Christ is the prime example and pattern; and which the Holy Spirit places into the heart of a born again person; and it causes a person to have modest thoughts of himself, to walk humbly with God, to acknowledge and be thankful for every favor and blessing, to depend on His grace, and to behave with modesty and humility among men.

“Temperance,” (or "self-restraint;” “self-control”) embodies both chastity and sobriety, and particularly moderation in eating and drinking. It may be observed, that these fruits of the Spirit are opposed to the works of the flesh. So love is opposed to hatred; joy to rivalries and envying; peace to conflict, strife, and troublemaking; longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, and meekness, to wrath and murders; faith to idolatry, witchcraft, and heresies; and temperance to adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lustfulness, drunkenness, and carousing.

This last fruit looks to oneself, and implies not only abstinence from injurious drinks and food, but control of the temper, the tongue, the desires, and the passion for money or power. The world knows something of self-control, but almost always for a selfish reason. It knows the self-disciple and self-denial someone will go through for themselves, but the self-control of the Spirit will also work on behalf of others.


Against such there is no law.

This observation by the apostle reflects both irony and understatement. There is certainly no law against love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. What’s more, if a person has this fruit of the Spirit, they don’t need the Law. They fulfill it already! Paul may have meant to ridicule the false apostles, who, while they enforced subjection to the law, were eager to release themselves from its yoke. The only way, he tells us, in which this is accomplished, is, when the Spirit of God obtains dominion, from which we are led to conclude that they had no proper regard for spiritual righteousness.

By the term “such” is meant the fruits, graces, and good things mentioned above; there is no law against any of them. In fact, they are perfectly agreeable to the law of God, which is holy, just, and good, and spiritual; they are so far from being forbidden by it, that they are highly esteemed and approved of by it. Accordingly, there can be no law against persons that are in possession of such fruits; because these fruits are produced by the Spirit, and these people are led by the Spirit; and therefore, they are not under the law, and have nothing to fear from it, because it is no longer terrifying, accusing, cursing, and condemning. The works of the flesh, and those that are of the flesh, are such that come under the curse and lash of the law; and not the fruits of the Spirit, and they that are of the Spirit.

By this observation, Against such there is no law,”the apostle implies that the graces and virtues mentioned here are so noticeably excellent, that they were not only never forbidden by any human law, but there never has been any nation that did not acknowledge their excellence. And those who in the general course of their lives give rise to these pleasant and nonthreatening fruits of the Spirit, are, by the grace of the gospel, freed from the condemning sentence of the divine law; hence there can be no condemnation for those who possess them. But even the Law condemns the works of the flesh.

Observe what these prominent theologians had to say in regard to against such there is no law:

  • “This is a masterly understatement. It draws our attention to the fact that the kind of conduct that Paul has outlined is that which lawmakers everywhere want to bring about.” (Morris)
  • “There is a law, of course, but it does not apply to those who bear these fruits of the Spirit. The Law is not given for the righteous man. A true Christian conducts himself in such a way that he does not need any law to warn or to restrain him. He obeys the Law without compulsion. The Law does not concern him. As far as he is concerned there would not have to be any Law.” (Luther)

24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

And they that are Christ‘s.

 And they that are Christ’s” are all who are true Christians, and therefore are bound to Him by faith; who possess the fruit of the Spirit, and belong to Him, because they have given themselves over to him, as you, Galatians, once did.

 And they that are Christ’s” continue to walk in the Spirit, meditate upon the teachings of the Lord, actively seek to maintain identity with the mind of Christ, are conscious of the indwelling Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—these things will indeed "crucify" the lusts and evil imaginations which feed them. This is possible only in the spiritual religion of Christ Jesus, free from the externals and attractive allurements of spectacular Judaism, which is the blessed "freedom in Christ."

And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh, thus putting to death the corrupt passions of the soul. They are as good as dead, and have no power over us [“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).].  This is an incredibly important truth that no man is ever saved because he possesses any true righteousness of his own. All of the righteousness of God is in Christ (Ephesians 1:3); and no mortal may be saved as strictly himself. He must renounce self and become identified with Christ who is righteous. "As Christ," therefore, he is dead to sin, he has crucified the flesh, has fulfilled the law, is alive unto God, and the heir of eternal glory "in Christ." This doctrine is one of the fundamentals of Pauline theology, and one of the concepts which gives meaning to and ties together in a coherent whole the various aspects of Paul's gospel. This forsaking of one's identity to be “in Christ" was announced by Christ himself, who said, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me" (Matthew 16:24). Also he said, "He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit ... If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, etc." (John 15:4-6). Therefore, if a man is able to answer two questions affirmatively, there is no way he can be lost: (1) Is he "in Christ"? (The only way one can be "in Christ" is to be baptized into him.) (2) Will he be "found in him"? (Philippians 3:9). This means, will he still be "in Christ" when life ends, or the Lord comes? The person who can answer affirmatively to these questions is of them concerning whom the voice from heaven said, "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord" (Revelation 14:13).

With the affections and lusts.

The word affections, or passions denotes evil passions, appetites, and inclinations, such as pride, self-will, discontent, anger, malice, envy, revenge; these are distinguished from the lusts of the flesh. 

Having crucified the flesh, we havethrough grace overcome the reigning power of sin, and are now consistently weakening and destroying its influence; and we are bound NOT to let the flesh, with its affections and lusts, revive again and produce works. And in the next verse he shows us how it is done.


25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

The gist of this verse is probably, “We who are Christians profess to be under the influences of the Holy Spirit. Our Spiritual life is effected and formed by His influences and intervention. We profess not to be under the dominion of the flesh; not to be controlled by its appetites and desires. Let us then act in this manner, and as if we believed what we profess. Let us yield ourselves to His influences, and show that we are controlled by that Spirit.” It is a serious appeal to Christians to yield entirely to the operation of the Holy Spirit on their hearts, and to submit to His guidance [“For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:5); also “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).].

“If we live in the Spirit,” or "by the Spirit," as all do who are spiritually alive. Sin has not only brought death into the world, but it has also made men prone to an eternal death. Moreover, it has also brought upon them a spiritual or moral death; they are dead in trespasses and sin, nor can they quicken themselves, nor can any creature give them life; not the ministers of the word, nor the angels in heaven, only the blessed Spirit of life from Christ; who upon entering into them, frees them from the law of sin and death, and implants a principle of spiritual life in them, whereby they live a life of faith in Christ, of holiness, and communion with Him: and the apostle makes use of this as an argument for believers to walk after the Spirit.

Every child of God should “live in the Spirit.” Since this is so, then let our walk be consistent with it, seeking no other motivating power except that which comes from God. To desire personal and worldly honor is just the reverse of this, since such motives are really offensive to God. Self is then puffed up, which is a most obnoxious attitude for a Christian, and may produce many evils in our associations with one another, such as—jealousy, disputes, envy, etc. You may want to think of it like this: The inner life should rule the outer life.

“Let us also walk in the Spirit,” or "by the Spirit;” with His help and assistance, according to the teaching of His word, and under His influence and direction as a guide, which He had mentioned before [“But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law” (Galatians 5:18).].

26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

“Let us not be desirous of vainglory.”

 “Vainglory” as used here means “proud” or “vain” and may include pride in empty advantages, such as one’s birth, property, eloquence, or learning. The reference here is probably to the paltry rivalries which arose on account of these supposed advantages. It is possible that this might have been one cause of the difficulties existing in the churches of Galatia, and the apostle is anxious to curb it and remove it. The Jews prided themselves on their birth, and people have always been prone to overvalue the supposed advantages of birth and blood. The doctrines of Paul assume that with regard to these things all people are on the same level; that these things contribute nothing to salvation; and that Christians should consider them of little importance, and that they should not be permitted to interfere with their fellowship, or to mar their harmony and peace. He said as much in Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

The ambition that makes a man want to be thought of as wiser, and richer, and more valuable than others; of having the preeminence in the management of all affairs, and of having honor, esteem, and popular applause from men, may well be called vainglory, since it is only concerned with outward things, such as wisdom, riches, strength, and honor, and not in God who is the giver of them, and who can easily take them away. Therefore, these things are temporary and quickly disappear, since they exist only in the opinion of men.

Vain-glory and jealousy are two of the fundamental fleshly lusts that are especially degrading and unbecoming in the church of Jesus Christ. Nothing that anyone is or has is of himself, but of God. Even Jesus said, “The Son can do nothing of himself” (John 5:19). All of the miracles of our Lord were done as a result of prayer to the Father [“And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me” (John 11:42).]. 


“Provoking one another.”

            The sense is, that those who have the spirit of vainglory, do provoke one another. They provoke those whom they regard as inferiors by their arrogant demeanor and by acting in a contemptuous manner toward them. They often look upon them with contempt, disregard them, and treat them as if they were beneath their notice; and this provokes hard feeling, hatred, and a desire to take revenge. When people regard themselves as equal in life’s important pursuits; when they feel that they are fellow-heirs of the blessings of life; when they feel that they belong to one great family, and that everyone is on the same level when it comes to the opportunity to succeed and no one derives an advantage from birth and blood; when people recognize that everyone is on the same level as descendants of the same apostate father; that everyone is on the level of sinner at the foot of the cross, at the communion table, on beds of sickness, in the grave, and at the judgment bar of God; when they feel this, then the consequences referred to here will be avoided. There will be no arrogant demeanor to provoke the opposition; and no envy on account of the superior rank of others.


“Envying one another.”

The dictionary defines envy as “a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another's advantages, success, possessions, superior wealth, rank, talent, learning, etc.” Envy and jealousy are very close in meaning. Envy denotes a longing to possess something awarded to or achieved by another: to feel envy when a friend inherits a fortune. Jealousy on the other hand, denotes a feeling of resentment that another has gained something that one more rightfully deserves: to feel jealousy when a coworker receives a promotion. Jealousy also refers to anguish caused by fear of unfaithfulness. The true way to cure envy is to make people feel that in life’s important pursuits we are all on the same level. Everything that is really important lies beyond the grave. The things of this life are temporary, and when compared to what Christians have to look forward to, are mere trifles. Soon all of us (our physical bodies) will be on the same level as they rest in the grave, and at the bar of God and in heaven we will be on the same level; the difference is that some of us will be safe because we bear the righteousness of Christ. Wealth, and honor, and rank are worthless there. The poorest man will wear as bright a crown as the richest man; the man of most humble birth will be admitted as near the throne as the man who can boast the longest line of illustrious ancestors. Why should a man who is soon to wear a “crown incorruptible and undefiled and that fadeth not away,” envy him who has a royal crown here—a trinket that will soon to be laid aside forever? Why should he who is poor here, but will soon inherit the treasures of heaven where “moth and rust do not corrupt,” envy him who can walk over a few acres he can call his own, or who has accumulated a glittering pile of gold bars, which will soon be left forever? Why should he who is soon to wear the robes of salvation, made “white in the blood of the Lamb,” envy him who is “clothed in purple and fine linen,” or who can afford to adorn himself and his family in the most gorgeous clothing money can buy, when their fine clothes will soon be replaced by the simple garb which the most humble wears in the grave? If men feel that everything of consequence lies beyond the tomb, that in the important matter of salvation they are all on the same level; how unimportant comparatively would it seem to adorn their bodies, to advance their name and rank and to improve their fortunes! The rich and the great would cease to look down with contempt on those of more humble rank, and the poor would cease to envy those above them, because they are soon to be their equals in the grave; their equals, perhaps their superiors in heaven!

“Envying one another” is probably one of the sins the Galatians were subject to; and where this sin is found, there is confusion, and every evil work, and therefore it is to be guarded against. This is a sin that I have been guilty of, and perhaps you have been too.

 

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