If you find this sermon meaningful, please consider supporting this ministry by sending an offering to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal.
This morning, though, we’re going to focus on what Paul had just talked about you know, that caused him to write “by contrast.” In other words, this morning we’re going to look at the opposite of all these wonderful fruits, the stuff, we’re not suppose to do, something Paul calls the desires of the flesh. And you know, since it really is the opposite of what he wants us to do, it’s actually like living by the Spirit in a place called the Bizzaro World. Now, does anyone know what I’m talking about? Well, if you don’t, just check this out, because I think this little video explains Bizzaro World better than I could.
Of course, if you’ve seen this episode or know anything about Seinfeld, you understand exactly what’s going on. Elaine has met three new friends. And since they’re dependable and sensitive and intellectual, Kevin, Gene and Feldman are the Bizzaro World’s version of Jerry, George and Kramer. In other words, they’re the exact opposite.
And in a real way, I think that’s what Paul was warning the Galatians and us when he wrote, “Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” [Galatians 5:16-21] You see, doing this kind of stuff is the exact opposite of what Paul thought Christians should be doing. And in that way, it really is like living by the Spirit in Bizzaro world.
And just think about what that means. Through Jesus Christ, we’ve been set free from the Law, and I’m talking about all those rules and regulations that folks believe will make them O.K. in the sight of God. As he wrote a little later in Romans, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” [Romans 8:1-2] You see, thanks to the cross, we’re free; that’s our condition; therefore, Paul meant it when he wrote right before our passage, “For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” [Galatians 5:1] Now I don’t care how you cut it, this is good news. Man, we are free, free at last, thank Almighty God we’re free at last.
Now if you’re sitting there thinking, “Well, I’ve never practiced witchcraft or committed murder, and so I must be OK,” think again. Now don’t get me wrong, even if we do all this crazy stuff, I believe we’re still loved by God, because remember nothing can separate us from his love, including our misuse of the freedom we’ve been given. But if you found yourself drawing a line through some of these characteristics and then trying to come up with reasons why some others don’t technically apply (I mean, technically it wasn’t a lie, not technically) if that’s what you started to do, well, I think you’re probably showing some pretty strong signs that, in spiritual terms, you should start your prayers by saying “amen” because, I’ll tell you, that’s the kind of world in which you live, Bizzaro.
And second, there’s also a break in the relationships we have with one another. I mean, just consider most of the signs offered in Paul’s list, and I’m thinking about actions, you know like arguing and cheating, gossiping and bragging; and attitudes, like being jealous and selfish, conceited and unreliable. Now you tell me, how can you have a genuine relationship with a person who’s always saying cruel things about others and who doesn’t have any love or pity for those around them? I’ll tell you, I think the result of living this kind of life will always lead to separation from God and others.