A man said, “God and I have a deal. He likes to forgive and I like to sin.”
That man was as wrong as can be. God’s essential nature is gracious, loving, and forgiving. We miss the point of his love if we return to our sin like a dog eats his vomit.
— Galatians 5.13-15 – For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters, only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become enslaved to one another.
For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.
Freedom – Not Self-Indulgence
“Flesh” is the literal Greek translation that the Revised Standard Version renders “self-indulgence.”
God never intended for his grace to be perverted into the indulgence of self-centered attitudes and actions.
“Flesh” in the New Testament goes beyond self-indulgence. It refers to the human tendency to live separate from a relationship with God.
Imagine that you believe you are living in a relationship with God, but your attitudes and actions demonstrate that you are actually living separately from him. That is quite a deception!
Paul extensively considers the “flesh” in his letter to the Romans.
— Romans 8.3-8 – For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,
So that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.
To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed, it cannot,
And those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
Just a casual reading of Paul’s words makes the point that no one wants to receive God’s freedom and grace, only to turn again to the flesh.
We do well to prayerfully meditate on Paul’s words to the Romans and make sure we are not inclined to the “flesh.”
Freedom to Love
God transforms enemies into friends. When we experience his grace, the barrier that separates us from him is torn down.
Something else happens when we begin to live in a relationship with God. We begin to love other people.
I helped a Mississippi attorney-turned-preacher serve inner-city children in New Orleans. Before he met Jesus, he was close to joining the KKK in his city.
After meeting Jesus, he served children at Friendship House, where all of the children were African Americans.
The love of Jesus was real in him and reflected itself in his friendship with the children.
This is a consistent story of what God does in a human. He loves us and allows us to love others. When we love, we are the winners, because there is no human experience greater than love.
Both Romans and Galatians emphasize the work of the Holy Spirit. If we are to experience the freedom and love that Jesus came to give us, we must live in a surrendered relationship with the Holy Spirit.
If we do, we will find ourselves loving the people with whom we come in contact.
Please take a few minutes to listen to Rudy Ross and me talk about this passage on YouTube. Rudy has several ideas that are quite valuable.
Also, please email your prayer request to email@example.com or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.