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Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
Established November 2008 Published Weekly on Friday
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1Timothy 2:3-4)
Welcome to HBS.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1).
The Creator God has established various natural laws in His universe that are unyielding. When Isaac Newton saw apples falling from a tree, he noticed each one struck the ground. He noticed because as he continued to watch the tree no apple that broke free from its branch ever traveled upward. Mr. Newton may not be the first person to recognize God’s gravitational pull on the earth, but he was the first person to write a law describing it.
God has established other natural laws in His universe such as the Laws of Thermodynamics. Man has debated these laws over the centuries, but what has changed? The debating continues, but God’s unyielding laws stand. I assure you if you step off of a tall ladder you will become acquainted with the Law of Gravity. Debating this law with God will not change your situation. God’s gravitational law will stand and you will fall. And we’re all experiencing the undeniable effects of God’s second law of Thermodynamics. This law simply means everything in existence is breaking-down. It is the universal law of decay. Everything in God’s creation ages, wears out, and dies; not just our bodies, but the clothes we wear, our cars, our homes; just about everything you can think of has an expiration date. This isn’t how God designed His universe; it’s the result of Adam’s offense; it brought sin and death into the world (Romans 5:12-21, 8:21; 1 Corinthians 15:21).
It stands to reason, since there are laws that govern the universe, then God has also established moral and spiritual laws for His creation. We first learn of this in the book of beginnings. In Genesis 4:7, long before the Ten Commandments were given to the nation of Israel at Mt. Sinai, Cain knew it was wrong to murder someone. Before he committed the evil deed the LORD God communicated this message to him, “And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” (In other words, get your act together!)
This book says it is not possible for sin to exist where there is no law for: “where there is no law, there also is no violation,” (Romans 4:15; 1 John 3:4; Romans 7:7). These Bible passages prove no sin can be imputed where there is no law in effect, which also proves God’s moral law was in effect at the very beginning, even before God gave the moral law to Moses. The statement the LORD God made to Cain about sin crouching at the door is clearly in reference to his conscious plan to kill his brother. Cain, who was destitute of faith and envious of his brother, evidently toyed with the idea of taking his brother’s life for some time. The Omniscient LORD God (Psalm 139:1-3; Matthew 10:29-30; 1 John 30:20) appeared to Cain before the deed, to warn him, his plan to kill Abel would violate His established moral laws. I say “laws” (plural) because when Cain murdered Abel he violated every one of the Ten Commandments. There’s some homework, if you’re interested. How did Cain violate each one of God’s Ten Commandments? I’ll give you a head-start with this Bible passage Romans 13:8-13.
Man continues to debate and lawyer their way around these moral and spiritual laws which are meant to govern our present lives, but humanity will end up bringing about their ruin if they ignore God’s wise counsel (Proverbs 8:33; Romans 1:18-32, 3:23).
In our lesson this week, Paul explains one such law: Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap (Galatians 6:7).
Please open your Bible to Galatians 6:7-10
Sowing and Reaping
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will 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 (7-10).
The Galatians were being deceived by the Judaizers. The different gospel they proclaimed as truth, which is really not another; sets aside the grace of God, and justification based upon faith (alone) and teaches a works-based faith instead (Galatians 1:6-7, 2:21).
God is not mocked – the Koine Greek word for mocked is Mukterizo (mook-tay-rid’-zo), Verb, Strong’s Greek #3456, meaning: to turn up the nose or sneer at. To understand what Paul means to say by this, we need to back up one verse to Galatians 6:6.
And let the one who is taught the word share all good things with him who teaches.
Paul’s saying if the Galatians value the things that are “of God,” those things that are eternal, and they value walking by the Spirit, then they need to share all good things with him who teaches. This message differs somewhat from Paul’s instruction to the church in Corinth (1 Corinthians 9). I said differs but not changed. Here Paul said Believers are to share all good things. You won’t find this command in his letters to the Corinthians. The closest parallel is: If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we should reap material things from you? (1 Corinthians 9:11)
We find an in depth explanation of Galatians 6:6 from our Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 9. In this chapter, Paul answers the Corinthian saint’s question on Christian liberty. Paul (who sets the example for every Believer) just recently made a statement in 8:13 saying he was willing to surrender his rights (liberty) for the sake of his brother:
Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, that I might not cause my brother to stumble (1 Corinthians 8:13).
In chapter 9 Paul goes on to show us he practiced what he preached. Not only did he talk the talk, he walked the walked; meaning he laid aside his rights. Paul could have stressed the need for the Corinthians to support him financially, instead of doing that Paul chose to earn his own living. He was a tent-maker by trade; he chose to work with his hands rather than accept any financial help from the Corinthians. This wasn’t unusual for Paul. He usually declined financial help from immature Believers. This may seem odd to us today, but Paul took the gospel of God’s grace to the gentiles, a.k.a. pagans; to places other people had never been. He didn’t want these people to get the idea he was doing it for the money. There were plenty of people making money from preaching, but Paul didn’t want to be linked with any of them (1 Corinthians 9:12).
Getting back to Galatians 6:6, sharing in Koine Greek is translated Koinonia (koy-nohn-ee’-ah), Noun, Feminine, Strongs’ Greek #2842, and it means “fellowship” or share. It’s an interesting word choice. It does not convey the idea of payment for services rendered, as though one was paying a debt. It expresses the idea of mutual participation in the ministry with and to other members of the Body of Christ. The word sharing conveys the meaning of mutual involvement or communion (Romans 12:3; 2 Corinthians 9:13; Hebrews 13:16). For example, the sharing of the Philippian church was not merely payment for services rendered to Paul. There existed a mutual participation in the ministry, a linking-up in fellowship as Paul ministered to others (Philippians 1:5, 4:15).
Now we’ve arrived at the heart of Paul’s message - for whatever a man sows, this he will reap – here Paul uses a farming illustration to explain God’s moral law. The farmer knows if he sows 40 acres of corn, he will not reap 40 acres of apples. It’s not possible because the Creator God has established this law in His universe: “Whatever you sow, of that same kind you will reap” (Genesis 1:11-12).
The farmer as well as the urbanite with a small garden or flower bed understands this law. They totally “get this” farming principle, but I find it interesting the vast majority of people don’t understand (or won’t accept) God’s moral and spiritual laws apply in life equally.
The farmer knows there is a time element involved in sowing and reaping. Sowing is the beginning of the process, while reaping is the conclusion of it. When the farmer sows his field, he must do so in faith, trusting all of his efforts will eventually be worthwhile. I was born and raised in a farming community, so I’m aware no farmer enters their field to begin the process of sowing thinking “this won’t accomplish a thing.” The farmer does just about everything by faith, trusting God. As Paul pointed out, so it is with the spiritual life.
… you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:7-8);
We walk by faith not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7);
for I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).
The law of sowing and reaping reminds us our sowing will ultimately be rewarded by our reaping.
The law of sowing and reaping also exists to remind us we will reap what we have sown. When the farmer sows wheat seed, he fully expects to reap wheat. Paul employs the image of sowing and reaping to show the direct correlation between what is done in this life and what we’ll reap in eternity. Paul wants the Galatians (and us) to know God is keeping a running account. What we do and why we do it matters to God. Paul is saying we have but two choices as to what we will sow in this life. We can either sow “to the Spirit” or “to the flesh.”
Sowing “to the Spirit” means to invest our time and resources in those things which are spiritual (of God) and thus are eternal. This investment is achieved through the Spirit of God, and not through the flesh. Our Apostle Paul said, “… put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity” (Colossians 3:14).
It has been said, “If your life were an arrow, your values would aim that arrow.” Good values, therefore, help you establish sound priorities in life and help you make the best use of your time and talents, i.e. your resources. Therefore every Believer should remember there is no higher value than love. God said so (Matthew 22:36-40). This is why the first fruit of the Spirit is love. Paul said there was nothing greater for: “if I do not have love, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13). If you don’t practice loving unconditionally, then you’ll never love.
8: 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.
I pay attention to every word and punctuation mark in scripture and I’ve noticed the words “flesh” and “Spirit” are used often by Paul throughout this Galatian letter. But Paul introduces a new concept here it’s the sowing of seeds. So we need to determine what Paul means by the phrases: "sows to the Spirit," and "sows to the flesh?"
This is a good place for an illustration: Paul’s saying our individual lives are being built just like a building is erected, “one brick at a time.” These bricks resemble the choices we make, one at a time. By these individual choices, we are putting one brick after another into that building process, and the kind of life that results from our decision-making depends on the hundreds, literally thousands, of individual choices that went into it. The warning that comes across in this section of Paul’s letter is to make those choices based on what God’s Spirit is concerned with. Walk by the Spirit is a command to do this, daily.
You’ve probably noticed there’s quite a bit of repetition in Scripture and this is done on purpose. When something is repeated it’s because God wants us to learn this truth. So, once again, this book says there are two ways we can sow. We can sow to the flesh, and if you choose to walk this path your plan is to get what you want out of life. It means you’ve swallowed the old McDonald's’ slogan, “You can have it your way” hook, line, and sinker. Or you can sow to the Spirit and the aim of this is to fulfill God’s will and purpose for your life (John 15:1-6; Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Peter 4:10-11).
It’s important to understand the one who sows to the flesh ends up with zero Paul used the word “corruption.” It’s the Koine Greek word Phthora (fthor-ah), Noun Feminine, Strongs’ Greek #5356, which means decay or destruction. Here Paul uses it to convey the idea of a “putrid corpse, in the process of decomposition. Now that doesn’t evoke a pretty picture, but it explains Paul’s comment perfectly. Below are three names you may recognize. These people opted to sow to the flesh and reaped corruption.
· Pete Rose was discredited and dishonorably discharged from baseball for illegal betting. He is forever barred from entering the Baseball Hall of Fame. He’s suffering the consequences of “his poor choices.” Pete is reaping what he has sown.
· Martha Stewart only wanted to avoid losing money in the stock market. The problem with her decision was it broke the law. Martha lost more than her money in that transaction. Her reputation is tarnished and her company suffered financial loss and she served jail time. She reaped corruption.
· Over thirty years ago they found the body of Jim Morrison in a bath tub in Paris, France. Jim and The Doors climbed the ladder of success and made it to the top. They enjoyed rock-stardom for a few years, but “what goes up must come down.” He too was sowing to the flesh. Drugs and alcohol played an intricate role in their lives, and because of this Jim reaped what he had sown. On July 3, 1971, Jim, who was only 27 years old, overdosed on heroin.
As you can see sowing to the flesh is investing one’s time and resources in that, which is mortal, physical, and thus passing away, rather than those things which are Spiritual, of God, i.e. those things that are eternal. In short, those who sow to the flesh are those people who do what they feel like doing because they feel like doing it. These people by-and-large are not interested in God or what God has said. They are building themselves a little kingdom all their own here on earth and they are in a hurry to become lord over it. This book says their destruction is certain (Proverbs 16:18; Psalms 37:38; Philippians 3:18-19; 2 Thessalonians 1:9).
Sowing to the Spirit is investing one’s time and resources in those things which are Spiritual and thus eternal. This can only be achieved through the Holy Spirit. To sow to the Spirit is the same as to walk by the Spirit (Galatians 5:18). It is the same as abiding in Christ and in His Word (John 15:7). It is the same as walking with Christ (Colossians 2:6) and setting one’s mind on the things above; not on the things that are on earth (Colossians 3:2).
So, we’re at the point in this lesson where the obvious question is, “What interests you the most the world’s system (this originated with Satan and consists of those philosophies and values that perpetually influence humanity to think and behave contrary to God’s expressed will – 1 John 2:15-16) or Spiritual things? “Is God the Main Thing in your life or has He been brushed aside by lesser things?” How you answer these questions is important because how you view Spiritual matters speaks volumes about the kind of life you’re building.
Remember, every single day we make hundreds of choices and we’re going to be sowing in one of two fields. There is no third field. You are either going to sow into the field called the flesh or the field called the Spirit. Now when you opt to sit down and watch an “R” rated movie where do you suppose you are sowing? When you curse at the driver next to you and flip the finger at him because he would not let you cross over into his lane, in which field are you sowing? When you cheat on your taxes, which field are you sowing in? Are you starting to get the idea?
Paul wants the Galatians to know every word they speak, every choice they make, has eternal ramifications. They can’t go through the day, biting and devouring one another, in all actuality, sowing in the field called the flesh, and then complain when they reap a harvest of corruption. This book clearly says whatever you sow, you reap. If you sow Spiritual seeds, you will reap a harvest of God’s blessings. Paul wrote: “the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (6:8).
Earlier I pointed out Paul said it’s possible for someone to decide on sowing to the flesh. If they chose to do so, what will they reap? Look to the Corinthian church and the Galatians who were entertaining the idea of being circumcised, to assure their place in God’s kingdom or their salvation. Paul said those who sow to the flesh wind up with zero or corruption. So, verse 8 is not about obtaining eternal life/salvation, as some people claim, or even losing it, if we don’t “toe the line.” It is a warning of discipline to those who sow to the flesh.
Another law of the harvest is: you reap far more than what you sow. An example of this is the tiny acorn. It starts out small but it contains within itself a mighty, towering oak tree. A pumpkin seed is small compared with the massive pumpkin it produces. While up in Indiana recently I saw a pumpkin that weighed in excess of 57 lbs. The size of the seed does not determine the size of the harvest (1 Corinthians 2:9). That's why the text contains a negative warning: "Do not be deceived" (6:7).
9: And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.
Here Paul is saying there are times when Believers devote their talents, and time in doing good, but they don’t notice any fruit, so they lose heart. They’re active in their church. They’re forgiving, they give regularly, they practice loving; they pray, serve, teach, and they witness. But they aren’t getting any positive feed-back; there are no external signs showing what they are doing amounts to all that much.
And yet our Apostle Paul, the encourager, provides this verse for those who are “growing weary,” those who are losing heart in doing good. He’s saying press onward toward the goal. Our rest is on the other side. Remember, this verse comes in the context that begins in verse 6. The well doing that we are not to be weary of has to do with sowing and reaping. When I sow to the flesh, I usually reap an immediate benefit. If I purchase a new car, I drive it home right away. If I get paid on Friday, I go right out and treat myself to a lavish meal and I eat it. These are examples of immediate rewards.
It’s not that way, Spiritually speaking. Spiritually, we are making an investment. You agree to help a child at church with their English homework, mentoring them over a period of time and this is considered an investment. You’re not going to see a return on your outlay right away and that’s the thing. Sometimes people grow weary of doing good things; it becomes a chore. Sometimes these tasks may even become a burden (Galatians 6:2).
This book says the time of reaping is ahead for those who persevere in doing good.
Paul assures Believers a reward for doing good awaits: for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary (v9b).
The farmer sows his seed with the expectation of harvesting or reaping at the proper time. I’ve never seen an “instant seed.” The Bible never speaks of one in this life so we should not expect to see a harvest in this life from what we have sown Spiritually. Nevertheless, we must never give up; because we know that at the proper time our Lord will reward those who have been faithful servants (Matthew 25:23).
We need to continue to plant, sow, and water, not with the idea that we are the agents of growth but with the understanding what we sow, God can make grow: So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor (1 Corinthians 3:7-8).
10: 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 make sure we understand what Paul is saying here. Every opportunity that presents itself is actually an appointment prearranged by God Himself. Where am I getting this; from my Bible study. This is why we study our Bible, so that we make every effort to present ourselves approved to God, an unashamed workman who accurately handles the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15 – Berean Study Bible).
The word opportunity comes from the Koine Greek word Kairos (kahee-ros’), Noun, Masculine, Strong’s Greek# 2540, which is sometimes translated “time” or “occasion.”
But don’t think of it as time, slipping away. It refers to those moments of time when a door of opportunity literally opens before us, and we have a choice to make. Kairos means: a measure of time, a fixed and definite time, a seasonal time, or the right time. You are familiar with the child’s Sunday school song, “In His Hands.” Well, the Bible teaches all of our time is in God’s hands. The time of our birth as well as the time of our passing, and every minute in-between, is owned by God – He’s in control of all things (Psalm 95:1-5; Daniel 4:35; Matthew 20:15; Ephesians 1:11-12).
Every true Believer has been created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them (Ephesians 2:10). There is definitely a time element involved in that passage and here our Apostle Paul is saying the Galatians (as well as every true Believer) will have opportunities to do good, if they welcome and take advantage of those occasions or seasonal periods of time when they come; and they will come. Every single day there are moments when these Galatians can be an encourager. There are times when they can come alongside someone who is carrying too heavy a burden and offer to share their load. For instance, a Believer may be eating a meal with another church member when all of a sudden that individual begins talking about a situation confronting them at home. It’s true misery loves company; and at that particular time the door of opportunity just may swing open for you. This could be your Kairos moment and if so you have a choice to make.
Let us not lose heart in doing good - this includes many different things. It certainly speaks to those who are being taught the word of truth. They are to share all good things with the one who teaches. But Paul isn’t saying these folks are to be “paid for their services,” necessarily. The phrase “is to share” teaches us Believers have a Spiritual responsibility to share in the ministry of those who preach and teach the word but the word share means “fellowship.” Paul’s saying Believers who give to the ministry are actually participating in the Lord’s work with and to other members of the Body of Christ.
Let us do good… to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.
Please turn with me in your Bible to Titus 3:8.
This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have (what) believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.
Skip down to verse 14:
14: Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful.
From these Bible passages we learn Believers are to actively, energetically pursue a course of good deeds for others and not just for our church family. Where do I get this information? Turn with me to Acts 10:38 please.
“You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.
The Apostle Peter summarized the Lord’s ministry thusly: “He went around doing good.”
The Apostle John said something similar: This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true. And there are also many other things which Jesus did, (the many astonishing things) which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written (John 21:24-25).
The Lord Jesus Christ performed many miracles, signs, and wonders (John 4:48) during His three-year ministry to His own people (the Jews – John 1:11) with a few gentile exceptions, with purpose but what I want you to take away from this is there wasn’t a prejudiced bone in His body. Jesus showed loved to all people. He was openly critical of those who were not in harmony with God’s Truths (John 8:44), the Pharisee’s come quickly to mind; but this book says Jesus Christ came to save all people (John 12:44-50; 1 Timothy 2:4).
In contrast, the Galatians were already at each other (5:15). The competition was well underway thanks to the legalists. There wasn’t a whole lot of good being done anywhere. Paul taught these Believers the divisions between Jews and Gentiles had been eliminated. But instead of peace and harmony, they were experiencing quarreling and divisiveness. Paul said this activity runs contrary to what the Lord accomplished on Calvary and against the unity for which the Body of Christ was to strive (1 Corinthians 12:13). This troublesome situation resulted from the Judaizers’ teaching that circumcision was necessary if the Gentiles wanted to be fully accepted by God.
People haven’t changed all that much over time. It’s natural to think anyone who refused to be circumcised would be considered second class or worse, inferior, and I base this on the human pecking order. Therefore it’s no wonder discord and divisions developed between the Believers who chose to be circumcised and those who chose to say, “No.”
So, I hope you’re starting to see the Judaizers brought some serious problems into these churches that had been taught the grace of Christ. This is why Paul refused to remain silent and why in verse 10 he commands the Galatians to “do good to all people, especially those who are of the household of the faith.”
Paul is saying our love is meant for all people and this is because he fully intends to save some. There is a view toward evangelism in the words we speak and in our actions for we are Christ’s ministers of reconciliation (1 Corinthians 9:19-23; 2 Corinthians 5; 1 Peter 3:15).
However, our primary focus, as far as fellowship goes (2 Corinthians 6:14), is on the household of the faith. This truth crosses all denominations. When someone says they have trusted in the gospel of Jesus Christ by faith (alone) for their salvation (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), we are to take them at their word. Once that has been established, we are to serve them, as Christ served us (Mark 10:35-45; John 13; Galatians 6:2).
(To be continued)
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