S212P6 – Bad fruit: the pursuit of the flesh

Gal. 5:19-23

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such there is no law.

We are urged by the Psalmist in chapter 118 to give thanks to the Lord because He is good.  It is an interesting statement to make because our thankfulness is to be motivated not by any specific actions or words.  Sure, God takes care of us by providing for us and answering our prayers, but that is not the motivation for thankfulness in that passage.  It is the goodness of God which is to elicit our praise, but that is simply a part of his character.  There is a quality about God that we are to appreciate because it is a quality we do not possess independent of him.  The force which opposes this goodness is our flesh, and catering to that flesh instead produces all kinds of wickedness.

The word translated as goodness in today’s passage is also defined as virtue, beneficence, or generosity.  This speaks of God’s purity and holiness.  He can do only that which is righteous and just.  God’s goodness is a mixture of all of his holy characteristics.  A good fruitful spirit will chase after that holiness and desire to exhibit it as well.  The spirit operating in opposition to that goes in the other direction and pursues the qualities of our imperfect flesh.  That pursuit of wickedness takes all different forms, but it has at its root the defiance and rejection of God’s holiness.  Our classic struggle between good and evil is not about choosing God or the devil.  The question is whether we choose God’s goodness or our flesh.

Adam and Eve chose against God in Eden, but that does not mean that they chose the devil.  What they chose was the elevation of self.  We know that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.  The actions we take and the words we say will show which of these two we decide to entertain.  This might be why we are instructed to seek first the kingdom of God along with his righteousness because we need to replace our natural pursuit of the flesh with the pursuit of his goodness.  It is about making his kingdom an internal part of us and not just an external destination.  Father, we ask that your Spirit would guide us in pursuing your holiness and giving us an increasing distaste for the things of the flesh.