Chapter 6, Part 2 (continued)
Viewing the Basic Nature of Sin from
New Testament Theology
B. "Idolatry, Sorcery" (Gal 5:20)
In Galatians 5:19-21, the Holy Spirit gave a list of the deeds of the flesh. There are fifteen deeds which can be classified into five groups:
Group 1: Loose sexual behavior (immorality, impurity, sensuality)
Group 2: "Smart-alecky'',dumb deeds (idolatry, sorcery) Group 3: Self-exaltations (enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger)
Group 4: Divisive deeds (disputes, dissensions, factions, envying)
Group 5: Loss of self-control (drunkenness and carousing}
All these sins are stirred up, orchestrated, agitated and directed by the self, including idolatry and sorcery, which are from the same mold. How do we know? See the following explanation.
The purpose of practicing idolatry and sorcery is no other than to seek blessings and escape disasters, to evade calamities and obtain success, or to have a glimpse of the spiritual realm and to predict the future. Isn't it God's will for people to escape from evil and obtain success, and to have some knowledge of the spiritual realm? What then is the problem? Yes, God does desire man to receive grace and blessings, and to have some understanding of spiritual matters. However, He has given man procedures to obtain grace and blessings. The fault lies with man who is unwilling to follow God's procedures. To make things worse, they want to use "indigenous" methods to apply for them. This is just like what is recorded in the Scriptures: "For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and serve the creature rather than the Creator." So, "they became futile in their speculations and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools" (Rom.1:21-23). This is sin! Everything God requires must have the correct end as well as the proper means. The means or procedure must also follow the truth! Those who desire to exalt themselves and are only concerned in achieving the end by any means cannot receive God's pleasure! Not only this, this type of Nazi tactic is also Satan's most often used strategy. When he tempted Jesus, he resorted to the same tactics! For those who are willing to be trained as members of the Kingdom personnel, do not fall into the trap of being a smart-alecky fool!
C. "Love...Self-control" (Gal 5:22, 23a)
History tells us that in so many instances that the "love" of the ruler for his subjects has an ulterior motive. The motive can be to engineer loyalty or obedience. Many officials put in long hours not for the purpose of serving the people but to line their own pockets. Although there are a few who would regard the rise and fall of their country as their responsibility, most are in it to make a name for themselves. Worse yet, some are in it for personal gain! Auto executives are not that concerned with your lifestyle and comfort. Mortuary owners are not that worse off than ordinary people in desiring people to go before their time. Their only motive is to sell cars and caskets. In short, everyone is living for the self! However, since we have been saved by a "selfless" Lord, we should no longer live like the Jones for ourselves! For this reason, the prelude of the fruit of the spirit is "love" and the postlude is "self-control". The fruit of the spirit will now be briefly reviewed to examine if there is any element of self in it.
In this chapter, beside the list of the deeds of the flesh, the Holy Spirit also revealed to us three groups of spiritual fruit:
Group 1: Virtues in our spirit (love, joy, peace}
Group 2: Virtues toward others (patience, kindness, goodness}
Group 3: Toward God (faithfulness)
Toward others (gentleness}
Toward self (self-control)
The only difference between the list of the fruit of the spirit and that of deeds of the flesh is the presence of "self'. For example, the definition of "love" in 1 John 3:16 is "We know love by this that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren". We would all agree with the "know" and the definition of love in the first and second phrases. But the command in the third phrase puts us on the spot because we only have one life to give! If only when we lay down our lives for the brethren is counted as love, then we can love only once in our lifetime! This certainly does not
make sense. In fact, it is a translation problem. "Life" here is actually "soul". So, "to lay down our lives" is "to lay down our souls". The word "soul" often refers to the "self' (see Luke 9:24,25). In the Old Testament, often times, "sons" are actually "souls'' (see Gen. 46:15,18, 22, 25, 26). So "to lay down one's soul" is to "lay down oneself'. "Love" is laying down one's emotions, thinking, opinions, etc. So. the basic nature of sin is opposite to love. Sin is formed by the self whereas normal love has no room for self. Praise the Lord! Not only is "love" in Group 1 selfless, "self-control" in Group 3 is even clearer; because "self-control" does not let oneself run loose but exercises control. This is just the opposite of drunkenness and carousing which are the lusts of the flesh. In summary, the fruit of the spirit is of the spirit because there is no "self' in it. Members of the Kingdom personnel should bear the fruit of the spirit. To bear fruit, self must step down from the throne!