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Paul tells the Galatians that while they are free to reject the Word of God, the Spirit of God and the people of God, they do not have the freedom to choose their consequences. When we watch the world around us embracing sin, it can appear that God is keeping us from true freedom and that the penalty for sin is far off or non-existent. But Paul reminds us in Galatians 6:7 that we are deceived if we think we can mock God.
Write it Down, Live it Out, Pass it On
So What's the Big Deal About What You Sow? And How Long Does it Take to Make a "Donkey" of Yourself?
To Ignore, Impale or Encourage: What it Means to Bear One Another's Burdens
"Is He in You?" What That Means, What it Doesn't, and Why it Matters
Three Ways to Respond but Only One Way to Really Live
Freedom: Defined, Defended and Demonstrated
We are making our way through a little book you may not initially want to turn to if you want to find something relevant, but that's just because we're ignorant and misinformed. That book is the book of Galatians. What does a letter written to some folks some 2,000 years ago have to do with you and me? "A lot" seems to be the answer.
It is God's primary vehicle to communicate to us in his Word the idea that us performing to earn his acceptance is never going to be the way we form relationship. Relationship is formed out of our confidence and faith in his provision for us. The reason God gave us law is to reveal to us that we are not who he intended us to be.
He was reminding us of the standard of good, which initially we were created to walk in, that we have turned away from with our haughty eyes and presumptive ways. He then has been wooing us back, and he has reminded us of this standard so we can see the error of our ways, so we would cry out to him, so we could see his goodness revealed through his provision for our error that we might walk with him, love him, and be restored into relationship with him.
Let me break Galatians down for you. Galatians is laid out this way. The first four chapters are telling you, "God's Word is good. You can ignore it if you want. You can scoff at it. You can say 'I don't want anything to do with your Word,' both living and written Word through Jesus. It won't be well with you if you do, but I'm going to give you the freedom to reject my Word."
Then we get to chapter 5, and he says, "My Spirit also prevails with you. It convicts you. It reveals things to you. It speaks to you through inner promptings and through revelation. If you want to stiff-arm my Spirit, if you want to grieve my Spirit, if you want to quench my Spirit, so be it. You are free to do that."
Galatians 6. "Not only can you stiff-arm my Word, not only can you stiff-arm my Spirit, you can stiff-arm my people who love my Word and yield to my Spirit. You can tell them you want nothing to do with them. You can say, "I want to isolate from you. I want to avoid you. I want to say you're too difficult. I want to say you're too troublesome. I will remove myself from you." So you can get away from God's Word, you can get away from God's Spirit, if you will. You can reject his people.
But now he's going to tell you in chapter 6, verse 7 that there's something you will not get away from: the consequences of your choice to leave him. It is impossible for a finite being to be ultimately sovereign or free. I mentioned a number of weeks ago a little poem that the great Wizard of Westwood wrote. "There's a choice you have to make in everything you do.
So keep in mind, that in the end, the choice you make makes you."
You are free to choose, my friends, but you are not free to choose your consequences. God is going to tell you, "I love you. Here's my Word. Listen to it. I love you. Here's my Spirit. Follow him. I love you. Here are my people. Be a part of them." No, no, and no. Then he says, "Fine. Then you shall harvest the fruit of your ways." Read with me. Galatians 6:7-10. It says,
"Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith."
Let's start this little passage. Let's break it down. I think you're going to find something here that will bless you. "Do not be deceived…" Why is that there? I will tell you why it's there. It's so easy to be deceived that God's Word is burdensome, God's Word is baggage, and God's Word is just his club to keep us from where life is. God's Spirit is an annoyance. We need to suppress our conscious and overcome it and be enlightened. God's people are pious and religious and foolish and childish and myth-ridden.
We believe that. We don't say it often. It's certainly the truth of how our world perceives God's Word, God's Spirit, and God's people. Sometimes we look at those who are living in rebellion to God's Word, God's Spirit, and God's people, and it looks like they are having a big time. He says, "Do not be deceived…"
I want to go back. In John 8:44, the one who originated the message that God's Word, God's Spirit, and God's people are no good is a deceiver. If you, according to Jesus, listen to that idea, you are of your father the Devil. "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father."
Your true Father, who created you. But you have left him, and you have adopted for yourself a new leader who is a murderer. You have given yourself over to a gang that "…does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him [the leader of that gang] .Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature…" **Which is corrupt. It is not good. It is not agathos. It is not right. It is not morally pure. _" _ … for he is a liar, and the father of lies."**
From the very beginning, when that liar spoke to people like you and me, he said, "God isn't good. He is trying to rip you off. He's not trying to sow you things that will lead to life. He's trying to strangle you and keep you from true freedom." The whole idea behind this message is the long reach of freedom in your life. It will take you places, you've never imagined. It'll take you to heaven on earth. It will take you to a literal heaven one day.
But the original liar is one who is out there, and he's going to consistently tell you that God's Word is not good. He's going to consistently tell you that that disobeying God is fun, that obeying him is not necessary, that there isn't a consequence to that, and Paul says, "Do not be deceived…" In fact, all through Scripture, you'll find a number of times that this admonition shows up.
Let me walk you through a few of them. One of them is in Proverbs 23. We glanced at this last week. Let's take a look at it. It says in Proverbs 23, "Do not let your heart envy sinners…" Why would my heart envy sinners? It looks like sometimes sinners are having a big time. "…but live in the fear of the LORD always." Always. "Surely there is a future, and your hope [that there is ultimate justice, ultimate rightness, ultimate good] will not be cut off." Someday you'll see that as so.
"Listen, my son, and be wise, and direct your heart in the way. Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine…" Who delude themselves and try and escape from pain, who try and create fun through intoxication. "…or with gluttonous eaters of meat…" who live to eat and don't eat to live. "For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty…" What doesn't lead to life will lead to death and want. "…and drowsiness will clothe one with rags. Listen to your father who begot you, and do not despise your mother when she is old. Buy truth, and do not sell it…"
Do not envy sinners is the idea. Why do we envy sinners? We envy them all the time because it looks like Spring Break is where life is. It looks like MTV has it going on. It looks like the American Pie movies are where life is happening. It looks like affairs and adultery. It looks like the sitcoms and the Saturday night soaps, weeknight soaps, weekday soaps, rebellion, sin, and raucous living is where life is. Doesn't it look that way sometimes? It does. It looks like people are having fun in a way that you're not.
I want to just tell you, "Don't be deceived." There is an allure to sin. One of the things that drives me crazy is when I hear the church trying to take a gift from God that has been abused and misused and maligned and twisted and misapplied and, therefore, brings pain. We make the activity itself the problem.
Sex being the classic example, and this idea that sex is something we shouldn't speak about in church and celebrate is crazy. Sex is God's invention. Sex is God's gift. To tell people it's not, to keep them away from it because they might misuse it is nuts. No, we need to teach them this is where it was given and why it was given and how it should be celebrated, and to misuse it and to take it and put into a different category where it does not belong, does lead to the death. But use it in the way, and it is unbelievable and great and good.
It's like telling a wolf that blood isn't good. Blood is good, but blood that is wrapped up in a deceptive way in order to bring you to death is not good. Why do I say that? I say that because of an anecdotal story about how Eskimos catch wolves. Eskimos catch wolves by taking some livestock in their community.
When a wolf has been wreaking havoc on their community, terrorizing the people and their belongings, they will take an animal, they will slaughter it and will take a knife, and they will dip it in that warm blood. They will put it outside and allow that blood to form into ice over that knife. Then they will dip it in that blood again and repeat that until they have a nice blood popsicle. Then one more time, they will dip it with fresh blood, tie it to a stake, drive it into the ground about a quarter-mile out from their community, and the wolf will smell that fresh blood.
There is life in that blood for the wolf because there is food there. So that wolf and its pack will come. It will smell that fresh blood, and it will begin to lick that warm blood. As they lick that warm blood, it goes down to the cold frozen blood, and their warm tongue melts that layer of frozen blood.
As that warm tongue melts that cold blood, that cold blood numbs that warm tongue until they continue to lick right through all the frozen blood and then begin to lick a blade. But their tongue is now so numb they do not know that this fresh supply of warm blood, which they are competing for, is, in fact, their own blood until they literally consume themselves in that moment.
If you go and you tell wolves that blood is bad, they're going to go, "You're crazy. Blood is where we get life." Blood, though, that is presented to you in a deceptive way, that will numb your senses, and cause you to kill yourself in your seeking it is not what you want. We are so naïve if we think we can watch frozen popsicles of blood in the form of movies and music and videos and television and watch people ravenously dive in and enjoy things and look at it and not think that we one day we are going to want to lick from that same popsicle.
We are fools if we curry those ideas in our mind, if we begin to envy, if we begin to live vicariously through certain characters and movies, certain stars in soap operas and the like, certain friends in riotous living. You're a fool if you sit there and you think, "I'll just watch it, but I don't want it." No. I'm going to show you a little bit later how it leads to what is called corruption. You'll see it's going to be a slow rot towards that which is evil.
Whatever is true, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is honorable I skipped, whatever is excellent… If there's anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things. Then the peace of God will guard your hearts and souls in Christ Jesus. When you sit there, and you look, and you dive in, and you watch, and you fantasize, I'm going to tell you where that's going to lead, and you're not going to like it.
Watch this. In Proverbs 24, it picks up this same idea. "Do not be envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them…Do not fret because of evildoers or be envious of the wicked; for there will be no future for the evil man…" **It will come."The lamp of the wicked will be put out. My son, fear the LORD and the king; do not associate with those who are given to change…"**
"God is good." "No, he's not. I can't really be sure. Maybe I should sow to the flesh. Maybe I should sow to the Spirit. Maybe I should do this on certain weekdays, but I should do this on other weekdays." Do not associate with men given to change, "…For their calamity will rise suddenly, and who knows the ruin that comes from both of them?" You tie yourself to the mast of truth, and you don't listen to those who are being seduced by the siren's song. You don't put that song in your ear. You don't put it before your eyes. Why? Because, "Do not be deceived…"
It looks life-giving, and you are not capable of watching and looking. What you flirt with you will fail in, is my point. You sow a thought; you will reap an action. You sow an action; you will reap a habit. You sow a habit; you will reap a character. You sow a character; you will reap a destiny, and it will not be well with your soul.
Psalm 37. One of my favorite psalms that's out there. Again, it's this same idea. I love where this Psalm starts, and I love where it goes. "Do not fret because of evildoers…" Why do we fret because of evildoers? I'm going to explain in a minute. "…Be not envious toward wrongdoers. For they will wither quickly like the grass and fade like the green herb. Trust in the LORD and do good…"
They're fleeting in their and in their celebration, and they're mocking of God and others. "…well in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD…" and then you will reap from that life. It doesn't mean in this little passage (in Psalm 37:4) that if you delight yourself in God and you can ask for whatever you want, and you'll get it.
It means what you really want, the ability to love and be loved, to be gentle and kind and faithful, to be self-controlled, to be joyful and filled with peace and informed with a life that matters…you get that when you walk as God wants you to walk. Don't be deceived that there is life apart from God. Don't be deceived.
Again, part of the deceitfulness of sin that we are to encourage each other through is that we all think we can mess with sin, flirt with sin, dance with sin without being consumed by and controlled by sin. That's why we are to encourage each other day after day, as long as it's still called today.
All of us think, "I think I can get away with messing with that beast. I think I can get away with toying with that. I think I can raise it when it's a cub, and when it gets big and scary and starts to control me, I'll make sure I don't get addicted, and then I will leave it." That's not the way that it works.
Sin is also deceitful because sin is not always immediately bearing repercussions in our life. Ecclesiastes 8:11 says, "Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil." In other words, "You go first." Then, "He went first. There doesn't seem to be real fallout. Okay, I'm in." We don't ever see the real consequence.
Let me tell you about the law of the harvest. This is what's going on here in Galatians 6. It says, "…God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap." This is going to be true of believers and nonbelievers. The believer will reap, ultimately, forgiveness before God and union with God because Christ has reaped our consequences.
Because we have trusted in Jesus, because we've trusted his provision on the cross, because we have said our flesh is guilty and worthy of death, and we have by faith identified what happened to Christ on the cross as what should happen to us, and we've asked God to make that the provision for our sowing rebellion… Therefore, the harvest of judgment, the harvest of separation from God has already been satisfied in Christ.
Those who don't have a relationship with Christ, that will be their harvest. For all of us, those who have trusted in Christ and those who haven't, we will reap a harvest of insecurity, we will reap a harvest of hopelessness, we will reap a harvest of wounds, we will reap a harvest of pain, we will reap a harvest of broken relationships, of shame to our family, our children, our society, and our world if we don't listen. This admonition is primary to believers.
He's saying, "You know truth. You know God. So walk with him. If you don't, it will have consequences in your life. By the grace of God unspeakable, it won't be eternal if, in fact, your faith is in Jesus. When you sow to the flesh, when you grieve the Spirit and quench the Spirit, you are going to experience consequence, and God loves you enough to let you experience it. You don't want that.
So you know God is good. Trust in him. That's why it says, "Instead of being envious towards the wicked, instead of watching certain people and living vicariously through their rebellion and to look at, 'I won't do it, but I'm going to watch them do it because it sure does look fun,' he says, 'Don't run there. Don't meditate on that.' If you walk in the counsel of the wicked, if you stand in the path of sinners, if you sit in the seat of scoffers, guess what's going to happen? It won't be long before you're corrupted and you join them."
Proverbs 18:10-12. "The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe." The idea here is that… What is the name of God? You who has understood his Word, who has listened to his Spirit, who has been in a community of faith who sing about the goodness of God, the name of the Lord is good and righteous and true and loving. He is merciful. He is peace. He is provider. He is kind.
I have to remind myself of that. He's not looking to rip me off. He's looking to set me free. So I run to that God whose name I know, not the deceiver who tells me he's a killjoy trying to rip me off. He is a loving God. The righteous runs to him and is safe. I'm not going to listen to the world.
It says in verse 11, "A rich man's wealth is his strong city…" He thinks he can buy himself out of trouble. He thinks he can always buy himself a new set of friends. "…And like a high wall in his own imagination." Money can make him happy. The only problem with that is the people who have it know better. It won't be long before destruction in the heart of the man comes, when he is haughty. In fact, when you look in Proverbs 6, God lists out the things he hates.
"There are six things which the LORD hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him." What's number one? Haughty eyes. Why is that number one? Everything else out of that then, the other six, all have to do with what it leads to in the lives of others who you're in relationship with. God hates haughty eyes because haughty eyes lead to trouble. Haughty eyes go, "You know what, Dad? I don't think you have it going on. I don't think your eternal, righteous self knows better than me how to experience life on this earth.
Last night I was out late. I bumped into a couple at the grocery store, and we started talking. As we shared, they looked at me and said, "Can you talk to our son? He thinks we're idiots and we're stupid, we're dumb, and we don't know anything." They know better, but their point was he's starting to look at them with 18-year-old haughty eyes.
We know where 18-year-old haughty eyes go when they start to say, "Mom and Dad, it's good for you. I know you lived way back in the 70s and the 80s. This is 2000. It's a whole new millennium. You have no idea what it's like to be in high school today." There are pieces of that that are true about what the world exposed them to, but I will tell you this. We were exposed to a lot less. We had haughty eyes towards that, and we paid the piper for that.
So what I do know, maybe not as your entire world, I just know what happens when you look with haughty eyes towards the King of this world. They just said, "It scares us for where our son is headed." The idea in Scripture is that you have to be careful, because sin is deceitful. It's deceitful because you think you're the first person who can tame it, who can manage it and not be mastered by it. You think with rebellion from God you'll control just how far you'll go.
No. That is a freefall. That is a slippery slope when you start to cut God in as an advisor instead of bow before him as King. When you sow to your flesh, your understanding, you will reap corruption, which means something which moves from good towards evil. Watch this. This is the law of the harvest. You've heard it.
The law of the harvest is you reap what you sow. You put a tomato seed in the ground, and you are going to get a tomato plant. You put a cucumber seed in the ground, and you are going to get a cucumber. You put a watermelon seed in the ground, and you get a watermelon. You put a sperm of man in an egg, and you get a man. You put a chimp sperm in a chimp egg, and you get a chimp. Every time.
It doesn't later become something else. It is always a tomato, always a cucumber, always a man, always a monkey, always a giraffe, and it doesn't change. It is an immutable, inviable law. You can convince yourself all day long, things change. God is saying, "Professing to be wise, you have become fools."
This is the law of the harvest. Things reproduce after their kind, and you will reap what you sow. So if you sow stupidity, you're going to reap stupidity. "If you sow to the wind, you will reap the whirlwind," it says in Hosea. God won't be mocked. There are inviable, fixed laws in the material universe, and there are inviable, fixed laws in the spiritual universe. Mock that all you want. Come up with your theories, and God says, "You will reap."
Secondly, the law of the harvest says, "Not only will you reap what you sow, you reap later than you sow it. This is Ecclesiastes 8:11. You don't always see it right away. You see the riotous, raucous living. You see the rebellion. You see people getting away with it, and you think it's not a problem.
When I started to think about this, I went to and began to investigate a little bit on seed germination. I started to say, "How long does it take a tomato seed to germinate to die before it gives root and starts to grow?" Or, "How long does it take a carrot to germinate and grow." I looked, and botany is such a huge, wide, broad spectrum. We're not as familiar with plants as we are with another seed. Then I began to look not at germination but at gestation. There's a picture here.
As a kid, I grew up in St. Louis. St. Louis has one of the greatest zoos in the country, especially free zoos. I would go to the zoo all the stinkin' time. I loved the zoo. Especially the children's zoo that was there because they'd put all these little animals in there, and they'd let you hold them when they were young. You could literally form a relationship with those animals where they'd recognize you as you would go back.
I can remember going to the zoo one time. I would go there a lot as a young man. I was standing there in front of the African and Asian elephants. They said specifically that one elephant was pregnant. I go, "Cool. There's going to be a baby elephant." I would go back to that zoo once a month or sometimes twice a month, and they'd say, "That elephant is pregnant." I'd go, "Heard that."
I'd go back nine months later, and they'd go, "Hey, guess what. One of our elephants is pregnant." I'd go, "I know." I went back 18 months later. They go, "Hey, guess what. One of our elephants is pregnant." I go, "Are you kidding me?" I go back close to two years. They go, "We're so glad you're here. We want to show you one of our elephants. She's pregnant." I go, "All right. I might've been born at night, but I wasn't born last night. Where is the baby elephant?"
Come to find, the gestation period of an elephant mama is over two years. Then there's a baby elephant. So I can imagine some elephant got his seed in there and said, "I shouldn't mess around. There isn't a problem. That seed isn't growing. No problem for me. I'm still free." Well, hang around, baby. I started looking at this and went through and looked at the gestation period of different animals.
I'll tell you this. I had a dog, a golden retriever. Not those little silly, sassy, sissy blond ones they put blow dryers on and parade down on leashes like this at Westminster. I'm talking about athletes. I'm talking about the red goldens that hunt. The field dogs. A man's golden. I love that. I had one of those, and other folks loved him because he was a bright dog.
They wanted to mate, so I said, "All right. I think he'd be up for that. Bring your dog on over." So I stood there in the back and went, "Oh man. There is no romance in that right there." There was violence. There was offense. There was not much intimacy. Low and behold, I said, "I think they're done." My dog was happy, thanked me. That dog went home.
Sixty days later… Did you hear that? Sixty days from that mess, they go, "You have to come over here. We have 12 of the cutest things you've ever seen." From that violent, impersonal act, there were 12 of the cutest things. I go, "Sixty? That was better than my sister's Easy-Bake Oven. The heck with mom in the kitchen kneading the dough. Five minutes later, we could have cake. Sixty days, and I have 12 golden retrievers? I marveled at that. I thought, "How in the world? Lord, that is amazing."
We all know it's about 300 days for the intimacy and love and tenderness that comes in a relationship with a man and woman to bring forth the genius that is humanity. In 300 days, God brings fingers and fingernails and nervous systems. It's amazing the complexity of that creation. So I kept looking. This is what hit me.
Do you know what the gestation period of a donkey is? It's 365 days. This is just the way I interpreted it. I read that and go, "Okay. There's the deal. So when somebody says, "I'm rebelling against God. It's no big deal." I said, "Let me tell you something. It may take you a year to make an ass out of yourself, but that's all it's going to take is one year."
This is my point. There are people who have put the seed of a donkey in their life, and they go, "See. No one thinks I'm an ass." I go, "Just hang around, baby, because that thing is going to grow in your life, and everybody's going to see." Do you know what's interesting? A whale is the animal that takes second longest to an elephant.
Sometimes, when you see people living in rebellion and thinking they're not going to reap what they have sown, you know that they're growing? A whale of a problem. The longer you go by doing something without paying a certain bill isn't because you're getting away scot-free. It's because the bill hasn't come yet.
When it does, you're going to go, "Oh my gosh. I wish this bill would've come every 26 or 30 days, so I could see I couldn't just swipe this plastic and skip free. Had they told me in 30 days, it would've only been $3,000. This credit card comes once every three years, and look at my debt." But if you're hanging around that, for the first three years, you go, "I want one of those. I want some of that. I want to be able to swipe and be free."
God says, "Are you kidding me? Do you really think it's free? Do not be deceived." You reap what you sow. You reap it later than you sow it, and you reap more than you sow. There is compounding interest. You put a tomato seed in the ground; you don't get a tomato. You get a tomato plant. You put an apple seed in the ground. You don't get an apple. You get an apple tree. You get a bushel of apples, and it keeps producing.
You go, "Oh my gosh. How in the world could that decision I made one night affect me for this long?" God says, "I tried to tell you. There is a brood of problems in what you are doing. It's coming, and you don't want to mess with it. So I'm telling you, don't sow it. You reap what you sow, you reap it later than you sow it, and you reap more than you sowed.
You look at my sweet friend, Katie Lokey and her husband Brandon who were so gracious to share their story of life change that happened as a result of the body of Christ, the Spirit of Christ, and the Word of God right here. In that, they tell you in their story, "We got together, and we started to love each other. Then we decided we had haughty eyes towards God about how we used this gift. Then we found ourselves impregnated in a way we didn't want to be. So we made another decision. We'll just scoff at God again, and we'll say life's not that big of a deal."
So they got rid of it. Everything looked fine, but it wasn't fine. They got married, for goodness' sake, and she says, "But our intimacy was gone. The guilt and shame which ruled me, the distrust, the horror, the brokenness that I was in was ruining me and ruining my relationship with my husband. It was isolating me from other people. It isolated me from God. What I did in one night, what I did as a followup to that one night, I didn't realize it was going to affect every single day of my life."
And it did until she stopped sowing to her flesh and began to sow to the Spirit again and listened to the Spirit, who said, "Come here, Katie. Come here, honey. I know what you did, and what you did will never be changed on this earth, but it doesn't change one thing. I'm your dad. I love you. I want to begin to sow righteousness back in your life. I want you to hear me say that I forgive you. I want you to hear me say that I died for that kind of sowing.
I want to make you whole again. It's not going to bring your little baby boy back. He's gone forever. But I can make your heart whole. I love you. I'm not afraid of your abortion. I'm not afraid of your premarital sex, but I'm afraid of what's going to happen if you keep sowing to your flesh. It's going to reap more than you thought. You thought it was a one-time decision to correct a one-time decision, but you have a whole plant that's killing you."
So Paul says, "Oh, man. I love you. You can ignore God's Word. I love you. You can ignore God's Spirit. You can ignore God's people, but I will not let you ignore the consequences of what you chose because I love you. Loving people let you see what you are doing so you can respond to it. Look what it says in verse 8.
This is the idea. "For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption…" The Word corruption is from good to worse, from rightness to brokenness. Here's my point. When you leave God, your flesh is not stupid. It doesn't say, "Let's go become a crack addict." Okay. Your flesh doesn't say, "Let's go drinking so much we that we lose our job, we lose our respect, we damage our mind permanently, our family is isolated from us, we're in jail and miserable and broke." "Okay."
Your flesh doesn't say, "Why don't you go be a pedophile?" "All right." No, your flesh says, "God doesn't have your best interest in mind. Why don't you just fantasize a little bit? Why don't you just dabble over here, first with women your age? Just look at them. That's the victimless crime. Right? That's all you need."
Guess what happens? When you move from good (the word for good is moral excellence, rightness, God) and you start to say, "I don't think that's right. I'll define rightness here," you start to try and find life away from where God says life is, and you'll find out it's not life. You're still thirsty. So the reading and the pictures and imagination don't help. Then you start to take different steps and then different steps and then different steps.
Then you find yourself where everybody finds themselves when they're over here. They go, "I have no idea how I got here." God said, "I do. You chose to move away from good. When you sow to your flesh, your flesh has no end. Greed, the Scripture says, has two daughters. Give and give. It's never satisfied because you're longing for life. Everything the world tells you is life-giving is a lie. So you go somewhere else and then somewhere else and then somewhere else.
Your flesh never says, "Let's do this. Let's go get on a bridge and do a swan dive onto asphalt, okay?" But what it does is it starts to say, "Let's rebel against God. Let's live this way. Let's live this way. Let's be in control of our own life. Let's be king of our life. Let's be king of our world. Let's make ourselves know what's right and wrong." Then your flesh says one day, "This is awful, but you're still king. You can stop the pain. Swan dive." You go, "Good idea," and it moves towards death.
It says, " …but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life." When we read eternal life, we go, "That's all fine and good, Pastor, at the grave." It's not talking about the grave. He's talking about now. He says he wants you to experience love. He wants you to experience intimacy with others. He wants you to experience peace. You want some of that? Is our world looking for peace?
They have started a campaign of bumper stickers asking you to visualize it, and God says, "How about just living in it? It comes this way. How about joy and contentment outside of circumstances? How about self-control where you're not victim to the latest whim and the latest model and the latest magazine and the latest idea? How about being in control because you are submitting yourself to one who will not make you an addict to the next idea but will have you satisfied in truth?
You will reap a quality of life today if you sow to the Spirit. Your mom isn't crazy. Your dad is not out of touch. Your Father in heaven loves you, and he is good. So he says, "Follow me." The Spirit says, "Follow me." The Word says, "That person is blessed," meaning, the quality of their life rich and full and good. I'm not being ripped off. I'm telling you God is good. I will also tell you my flesh is crazy.
It still looks like Jerry Springer down there in Cancun has it going on. Girls Gone Wild has a decent idea. In the midst of that I go, "Are you kidding me?" People ask me all the time, "Todd, does it ever get better?" I go, "What do you mean?"
"This roaring temptation to be nuts?"
"Let me just tell you my personal experience. If you're asking me after 20-some-odd years of knowing God and loving Jesus if I'm any less drawn to sin? No, in my flesh, but I consider myself dead. I'm never surprised when my flesh says, 'Hold that right there a little longer. Look at that.' I'm never surprised when my flesh says, 'That'd be a good idea.' I'm never surprised when my flesh says, 'Be a little bit more lazy.' I'm never surprised when my flesh says, 'Good time for an outburst of anger.' It doesn't surprise me. But I have considered it dead. It's worthy of judgment. That, counselor, that idea needs to be nailed to a cross."
I will tell folks what has happened is I have walked with God for 20-odd years. Listen to me, you guys, especially. My high school and junior high friends, listen to me. I have never once done what God wanted me to do, I have never sowed obedience, I have never sowed righteousness, I have never sowed God's Word into my life in a moment, and have regretted it. Not once. Not once in 20 years.
So it gets a little easier because he has a perfect track record. Not only that, but I've watched a bunch of wolves who go, "It's life over here." I've gone, "Okay, you first." I've watched them lick at that delicious-looking popsicle and then all of a sudden drop over. I go, "Oh, I want a popsicle." There's not a joke on wood at the end of that lick. There's death. I kick them, go "Oof," and walk over here. I see death all around me, so it gets a little easier because I'm constantly being exposed.
My flesh still thinks the Word is foolish. My flesh still thinks the Spirit isn't where life is. My flesh wants to isolate from you who want to encourage me that God is good. I need you, and you need me, and we need each other. We have to be a body who love each other and do what it says in Galatians 6. Why? "Do not be deceived…"
It amazes me the movies that we intake. I'll be honest with you. It amazes me. What we do is we go, "I'm going to go and listen to the best liar ever who's going to use words and art and emotion and visual pictures just to show how good I am at resisting lies." Do you think that's smart? Me either.
It says then in verse 9, "Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary." It's not going to happen right away. There is a gestation period for righteous sowing too, but it will come in due time. So don't give in. We'll reap if we don't grow weary. That's why we're told to hang on. Let me just show you Hebrews 11:32-39. Watch this. This is a great section of Scripture.
"And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.
Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment.
They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. And all these, having gained approval through their faith [in sowing to the Spirit] , did not receive what was promised…"
How much peace can you have when you're being sawn in two. You look at that and go, "Wow." Then I look at stories and Scripture of people who really did endure some of that stuff, and it talks about how there was a peace on them because they knew. They were living by faith in that moment.
Sometimes, you don't experience on this world the full germination and product of your seed. That's when you have to go, "How deep is this faith? I'm really banking that this is just an elephant of blessing that's coming, and I just can't give birth to it yet. That's what he says. Just hang on. Be around each other. Be around other people who sing. Be around people who remind you of God, that he is not unmindful of your righteousness and the love which you have shown towards the saints. He will not forget it.
Most of us will experience a lot of blessing in this life because we sowed to the Spirit. There will be certain categories that won't fully come in. I'm really glad to know that God says, "You're just seeing a shadow of it right now. Do you think you have a little joy, a little peace? Do you think you have a little righteousness? You think you have a little love right now? It's coming. It is storing up for you. Do not grow weary. So it's here, and it's coming."
"So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith." Here's what I want to share with you just as a close to this application. What do we do with all this? Here's what we do with all this. We sow wisely. We sow to the Spirit. We sow to God's Word. We sow these things into our life. We are purposed to choose what God says we should choose. We yield to him.
We don't consult our emotion. We don't consult our flesh. We don't consult what is natural to us. I don't treat my sister the way I want to treat my sister. I treat my sister the way he says I should treat my sister. I don't love my wife this much if I get this much back. I just love my wife the way he loved the church. I keep going. You sow wisely.
Secondly, you speak to others boldly, because you have some seed, don't you? You have an abundance of it. You say, "Take all you want. Sow this in your life, and I promise you it will be well with your soul." So you are seed-givers that others might sow, and you speak to them, and you implore them, and you beg them to consider the seed.
You stay humble because, for some reason, God has allowed you to see that he is good and that his name is righteous altogether. As you watch other people who are sowing to their flesh, don't be arrogant towards them. Don't be surprised.
Go, "I understand. That's what I would sow too if I didn't know God, and I didn't sow this seed in my life, and I didn't bear that fruit. I would be an individual to do what you're doing, so I want to be as humble as I can and tell you I love you. If you like what you have, keep doing what you're doing, but I'm going to predict if you keep doing what you're doing, you're not going to like the whale that's coming."
Proverbs 29:1 says, "A man who hardens his neck after much reproof will suddenly be broken beyond remedy." You sow wisely, you speak to others about it, you stay humble, and you stay the course. You stay the course. One of my favorite little stories that's been around for a long time… When I first heard it, I thought it was a true story. I went digging and found out it wasn't really a true story. It was a song written by Hank Cochran that Merle Haggard recorded on the album, Mama Tried.
It's an anecdotal story that talks about the fact that what we're experiencing here, that God knows what he's talking about when he says "I'm not going to forget you." If you've left brother and sister and mother and father and homes on this earth, you're not going to regret it because there is blessing that is coming. You stay the course.
The story is this. A couple of folks who served God faithfully for decades overseas. While they were over there, this illness overtook them. They lost some of their kids, and they were too weak to serve God anymore where he had called them to serve. So they came back home. On the ship that they were coming back home there happened to be a dignitary, a celebrity, who was living righteously.
He was womanizing. He was being foolish. He was rebelling against God and sowing to his flesh. They watched it. They weren't surprised. They were humble about the fact they knew where true seed was. They tried to love him, but this was a big-time celebrity. When they docked in the harbor and they got there, there were all kinds of people there to welcome this guy back.
It was a notorious trip. They wanted to hear what happened on safari and what he happened to do while he was overseas. There were cameras and paparazzi and media that were all around and celebrated him and interviewed him and made a big deal about the fact that he came home. He had done some humanitarian work while he was there, giving away some money, but he had just lived like a wild man.
As they were walking off that ship, having lost their family and their health for those 30 years, the man was discouraged in walking down that deck. His wife looked at him and saw a tear coming down his eyes, and she said to him, "Honey, what's wrong?"
He said, "We have lost children, we have lost health, and we have been gone for 30 years, and there is nobody here to greet us when we come home. This man has lived wildly, and this man has lived inappropriately, and he is being made to be a hero and getting a king's welcome upon his return." His wife grabbed him by the arm and turned and looked at him and said, "Oh, honey. We aren't home yet."
Folks, no matter how good, and there is much to be had in this life, abundant stuff in this life, I want to tell you if there wasn't a heaven this is the right way to live. But even more that there is, and do not be deceived. If you sow to the Spirit, you will never regret it. Now, and especially in the life to come. Let me pray for you.
Father, I thank you for the truth of this text and what we find here in this passage of Scripture about why you are so desperate for us to not have haughty eyes towards you. You love us. You want us to have a harvest of good things. You want us to experience fullness of life, not fear and shame and guilt and angst, not brokenness and isolation.
You want us to have peace. You want us to have unity. You want us to have kindness. You want us to have the abundance of what happens when people care for one another, and your way is where that comes. So give us, Lord, the brokenness and the humility to look to you and say, "Lead us, Father. Lead us to life. You know where life is. Where else should we go?"
I pray, Father, you would give us the wisdom to shepherd each other that way with all the tenderness of a mother and all the consistency and strength of a father. May we shepherd each other towards truth that we might sow righteousness and experience life now and in the age to come. For your glory and our good, I pray. Amen.
The first place you speak a word is when you stand before other people and say, "I consider my flesh dead because Christ died for me." Look at me. Next week is your week to sing. I grabbed a friend right after we got done singing. I walked up and said, "Hey dude. I've seen you come to Christ. I've seen you walk with the Lord. Have you ever been baptized?"
He said, "Not on my own. As a little kid, I went through it, but at the time, I didn't know what was going on. Something about being 8 days old doesn't give a real good sense of your personal sin and your need for a Savior. But I'm in, and I want to stand and tell people about how I want to consider my flesh dead. I still wrestle with my flesh because it's alive, but I love Jesus." Next week is your week to do that.
As you sow righteousness into your life, you speak the truth that this flesh has caused a lot of pain to me and to others. I'm thankful for his forgiveness, but this is where my flesh belongs. I am so glad that my King, Jesus, has reaped the harvest of judgment and separation for God from me, that I've been brought near to him, that I might stay humble as one who has received a gift, and I might stay the course as I tell the body of Christ to spur me on. Amen?
Would you all, if you've never been baptized, take that little perforated section, write your name, and let us follow up with you this week? Let's celebrate. You guys have a great week of worship.
Performance-based acceptance vs. acceptance-based performance. Galatians, more than in any other in the Bible, explains the difference between the two. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul makes it clear that we can never perform our way into a relationship with Christ, and that the law was in place as a demonstration of God?s standards, rather than a means for us to earn our salvation. In short, Galatians paints a vivid picture of why we all are in need of a Savior.<br /> Examining chapters 5 and 6 of Galatians, Todd Wagner explains why bondage to legalism and performance is so dangerous to the Christian life. And what being truly free from the need to earn God's love looks like, how we live it out, and how it will ultimately bless us and honor Christ.