Monday, October 31, 2022

Transcendent Peace Overwhelms Anxiety


(Green Lake Conference Center, Wisconsin)

(I preached, yesterday morning at Redeemer, on the fruit of the Spirit that is peace. Here's the sermon link - "Transcendent Peace Overwhelms Anxiety.")


Jesus says, in John 14:27, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." How shall we understand this?

When the disciples heard Jesus talk about the kind of peace "the world gives," they would have thought of the Pax Romana, the "Roman Peace." The world, so far as they knew it, was at peace. But this peace was far from satisfying, since it was acquired through war, and maintained by power and control. In addition, Israel and other nations were occupied by foreign armies and governors. 


From a Roman standpoint this looked good. But this is peace maintained by military might. 


It reminds me of when I was teaching in Singapore, arguably the most peaceful Asian country there is. I was told it was safe to walk the streets of Singapore at any time, day or night. The crime rate was extremely low. But, as one Singaporean businessman told me one day, "We fear the police." In worldly peace there is always fear. 

Jesus claims to give peace that is different from this. Jesus' peace must be understood as an overflow of the Trinitarian union of Father, Son, and Spirit. This is a union of love, a togetherness of life and purpose, a sharing in the divine essence. This is real peace, from the perspective of the Godhead. This is the peace Jesus leaves with us. 


Jesus does not say he will strengthen the kind of worldly peace we already have. He is not interested in taking the best political, military-maintained peace-solutions, and tweaking them to perfection. Rather he says, "Here, take my peace. I'm leaving it with you."


"To leave" has the sense of "to bequeath," as when property is transferred to an heir through a will. New Testament scholar Andreas Kostenberger says “Jesus’ parting benediction is more than a “cheap wish.” Jesus’ word is efficacious.” (John, 443) 


Jesus' word effects peace, in us.

This makes sense as we understand that, in John ch.s 14-17, we are invited to nothing less than participation in the Trinitarian union, which I refer to as the Big Dance. In the Big Dance there are beautiful relational manifestations, one of which is peace. 

This is not a theory. It's not a solution to some problem. And, importantly, it is not dependent on circumstances. It is the transtemporal essence of God given, on earth, as it is in heaven.

This is the peace promised to us as we abide in Christ. It is what the Spirit produces, in us, as we live attached to God. 

Friday, October 28, 2022

The Rhythm of My Spiritual Life Is a Wheel Rolling Forward


When I became a follower of Jesus fifty-two years ago (!!!) I was an undergraduate at Northern Illinois University. I began to attend a campus ministry. I was asked if I wanted to be in a Small Group for Bible study and prayer. I was told this experience would be one of the keys to my spiritual vitality and growth.

That proved true. I've been in a Small Group all fifty-two years of my Christian life. Linda and I have been in a Small Group Community all forty-nine years of our marriage.

The early Jesus-followers met in small groups of Jesus-followers; in homes, in upper rooms, wherever they could find a gathering place. Small Group Community was essential to the explosive spiritual and numerical growth of the early church. It's also essential to my spiritual life and growth.

The rhythm of my spiritual life looks like this:

I meet alone with God. I spend time with God in "the secret place." 
This is the Very Small Group (VSG) - God and I.

I meet weekly in a Home Group to study scripture and pray together. 
This is the Small Group (SG) - 6-12 people.

I meet Sunday mornings to worship and listen to the preached Word on Sunday mornings and other times.
This is the Large Group (LG)

Today it's Friday morning, and I have spent time alone with God in the VSG.

Two nights ago was the SG - Linda and I were there.

On Sunday morning I'll be with my LG.


VSG-SG-LG; VSG-SG-LG...  over and over again and again.


It looks like this:





Note: this is a circle rolling forward on a path, led by God, progressing in the spiritual life and the movement of God and his kingdom. (It is not "the eternal recurrence of the same.")


***
My book on prayer focuses on the VSGPraying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.

Against Abortion: A Logical Argument


(Backgammon, in Jerusalem)

(I am re-posting this because the heat is rising and I want to keep this in play.)

Here is Baylor University philosopher and jurisprudential scholar Francis Beckwith’s logical (not religious) argument against abortion. (See Beckwith, Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice.)

Beckwith’s argument does not depend on religious beliefs. I think it’s a good argument to use in my logic classes because logical arguments are to be non-emotive. The abortion argument can get very emotional! 


In logic, the idea is - attack the argument, not the argument-maker. To do the latter is to commit the informal logical fallacy called ad hominem abusive. Attacking a person rather than the argument is ineffective in getting at truth.


FRANCIS BECKWITH’S LOGICAL ARGUMENT AGAINST ABORTION [1]


1. The unborn entity, from the moment of conception, is a full-fledged member of the human community.

2. It is prima facie[2] morally wrong to kill any member of that community.


3. Every successful abortion kills an unborn entity, a full-fledged member of the human community.


4. Therefore, every successful abortion is prima facie morally wrong.


By “full-fledged member of the human community” is meant that the conceptus [3] is as much a bearer of rights as any human being whose rights-bearing status is uncontroversial, like you or me. As Beckwith says, “the unborn entity is entitled to all the rights to which free and equal persons are entitled by virtue of being free and equal persons.” “Full-fledged member of the human community” cannot mean something like “viability,” since then we have two problems:

1) the arbitrariness of deciding who’s a full-fledged member and who’s not; and

2) the odd philosophical idea that there is suddenly a “moment” (call it time ‘t’) when the conceptus/fetus/inborn child becomes a person, which means at time ‘t-minus-1 second’ it was not. “Abortion advocates argue that the unborn entity is not a person and hence not a subject of moral rights until some decisive moment in fetal or postnatal development.” (Beckwith, 130) Such a position is incoherent and fraught with philosophical problems.

“Virtually no one disputes – including leading defenders of abortion-choice – that every mature human being was once an adolescent, a child, an infant, a baby, a newborn, a fetus, and an embryo.” (131) But the abortion advocate argues that it is morally permissible to end a human being’s life at the embryo stage of human life. How is this possible? Beckwith says they argue that not all human beings are equally intrinsically valuable because some do not have the present capacity to exhibit certain properties or functions that would make them intrinsically valuable. (130) The judgment is made that the fetal self is not “intrinsically valuable.”


Beckwith holds to a “substance view of persons.” This means that a human being “is intrinsically valuable because of the sort of thing it is and the human being remains that sort of thing as long as it exists”. That is, an individual “maintains absolute identity through time while it grows, develops, and undergoes numerous changes”. To use another example, the term “universe” refers to one entity that goes through various stages. The universe at t + 1 second, though much smaller and far more inchoate than the universe now, was still at that time as much “the universe” as it is now. So, the term “universe does not suffer from vagueness. It is in precisely that sense that “person” does not suffer from vagueness as well.


Various functions and capacities, whether fully realized or utilized do not constitute a person. Thus, a human being is never a potential person, but is always a person at different stages of development, whether potential properties and capacities are actualized or not.


To explain: a human being may never realize the ability to reason logically. It would then lack this ability. In contrast, a frog is not said to lack something if it can’t study logic, because by nature it is not the sort of being that can have the ability to do logic. But a human being who lacks the ability to think logically is still a human being because of her nature. A human being’s “lack” makes sense if and only if she is an actual human person. (E.g., a rock does not “lack” the ability to see.) Most pro-abortionists argue that personhood is not inherent or intrinsic, but based on certain capacities and functions, be it consciousness, sentience, self-awareness, the ability to reason, and so on.

WHAT ABOUT THE FOLLOWING POPULAR ARGUMENTS FOR ABORTION CHOICE? Beckwith says many of them commit the informal logical fallacies of “appeal to pity” and “begging the question.”


An argument from pity is an attempt to show the plausibility of one’s point of view by trying to move others emotionally, although the reasonableness of the position stands or falls on the basis of other important factors. Here are some arguments from pity:


Argument from the dangers of illegal abortions


If abortion is made illegal, then women will perform illegal abortions. If women perform illegal abortions, then women will be harmed. Therefore, if abortion is made illegal then women will be harmed.

This argument “begs the question.” Only by assuming that the unborn are not fully human does the argument work. “But if the unborn are fully human, this abortion-choice argument is tantamount to saying that because people die or are harmed while killing other people (i.e., unborn people), the state should make it safe for them to do so.” (94) Therefore, the argument begs the question.

Argument from financial burden


We can’t minimize the fact that there are tragic circumstances, like a poor woman with four small children who becomes pregnant by her alcoholic husband. “But once again we must ask whether the unborn entity is fully human, for hardship does not justify homicide.” (98) For example, if I knew that killing you would relieve me of future hardship, that’s not sufficient justification for me to kill you.


Argument from the unwanted child


This argument, again, begs the question. Because only if we assume that the unborn re not fully human does this argument work. It is extremely difficult to argue that the value of a human being depends on whether someone wants or cares for that human being.


Argument from the deformed and handicapped child


First, if this argument succeeds in showing that abortion is justified if a woman is pregnant with a deformed or handicapped fetus, it only establishes the right to abort in those kind of situations. But this argument again begs the question. “For if the unborn are fully human, then to promote the aborting of the handicapped unborn is tantamount to promoting the execution of handicapped people who are already born.” [4]Of course having a handicapped child can be a terrible burden. “But it is important to realize that if the unborn entity is fully human, homicide cannot be justified simply because it relieves one of a terrible burden.” (102)


Argument from interference in career


Again… this begs the question. “For what would we think of a parent who kills his two-year-old because the child interfered with the parent’s ability to advance in his occupation?” (104)


Argument from rape and incest


This is a horrible thing, of course. Note: this argument is not relevant to the case for abortion on demand. Note also this: “the unborn entity is not an aggressor when its presence does not endanger it’s mother’s life (as in the case of a tubal pregnancy). It is the rapist who is the aggressor. The unborn entity is just as much an innocent victim as its mother.” (105-106) Again… this argument begs the questions by assuming that the unborn is not fully human.


Another popular argument is the Argument from Imposing Morality.

This argument says: It’s wrong for anyone to “force” his view of morality on someone else. Pro-lifers, by attempting to stop women from having abortions, are trying to force their morality on others.
But this argument cannot be right. Because it’s not always wrong for the community to institute laws that require people to behave in certain moral ways. E.g., it’s not wrong to institute a law against child molestation. If the unborn entity is fully human, forbidding abortions would be perfectly just. Any law prohibiting abortion would unjustly impose one’s morality on others only if the act of abortion is good, morally benign, or does not unjustly limit the free agency of another. The real issue is: what counts as a “person,” a full-fledged member of the human community.

[1] All quotes from Francis Beckwith, Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice


[2] Prima facie is a Latin expression meaning “on its first appearance”, or “by first instance”. It is used in modern legal English to signify that on first examination, a matter appears to be self-evident from the facts. In common law jurisdictions, prima facie denotes evidence that (unless rebutted) would be sufficient to prove a particular proposition or fact.


[3] The fertilized egg


[4] See Peter Singer, who admits that “pro-life groups are right about one thing: the location of the baby inside or outside the womb cannot make such a crucial moral difference… The solution, however, is not to accept the pro-life view that the fetus is a human being with the same moral status as yours or mine. The solution is the very opposite: to abandon the idea that all human life is of equal worth.” (In Beckwith, 101)



Thursday, October 27, 2022

Serving Up Peace in Heaven's Kitchen

(Our front porch)


If you are a follower of Jesus, then you are a peacemaker.

Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God." (Matthew 5:9)

A peacemaker is more than a peacelover. As an analogy, consider food. You are a foodlover. Who isn't? Foodmakers, however, are different. Chefs are fewer yet.

Most love peace. But, as a follower of Jesus, you are a chef who serves up peace in the kitchen called the Kingdom of Heaven.

Why is a peacemaker referred to as a child of God? Because the apple does not fall far from the tree. Like Father God, like child of God.

Some tear down. You build up.

Some destroy. You create.

Some are passive. You are active.

Some weaken. You strengthen.

Some divide. You unite.

Some enslave. You redeem.

Any fool can be a troublemaker. A peacemaker, on the other hand, is an active creator who strengthens relationships. You do this with God. You do this in your family. Such beautiful people seem, to me at least, few and far between.

The peace you have with God and in your family overflows onto your other relationships.

In this, you are like your heavenly Father.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

David Chalmers's Zombie Argument Against Physicalism


As we approach Halloween, we're seeing more and more zombies. So it's time to re-post David Chalmers's philosophically famous "zombie argument" against physicalism. In philosophy, few worldviews are more frightening than physicalism.


***

One of my academic interests is "the hard problem of consciousness." The urge to understand this poked me again as I read "I Me Mind: The Unending Quest to Explain Consciousness," a book review by Michael Robbins. Robbins appears to have read much of the relevant literature. He concludes, probably rightly, that no one has a clue how to solve this problem.

One of the major discussants is neuro-philosopher David Chalmers. Chalmers is a "property dualist," which reasons that consciousness is an emergent property of the physical brain. The upshot of this, for Chalmers, is that physicalism is false, because a non-physical property, viz. consciousness, exists. (Chalmers is not a "substance dualist," like philosopher J. P. Moreland is. See here.)

I used to present David Chalmers's "zombie argument" against physicalism in my logic classes. I thought the word "zombie" would interest my students. It's a hard argument to understand. And hard to teach. Here it is. 



The “Zombie Argument” Against Physicalism


THE ARGUMENT:

1. If *physicalism is true, then it is logically impossible for p-zombies to exist. ("P-zombie" = "philosophical zombie. Physicalism entails the logical [or metaphysical] impossibility of zombies. See here Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, "Zombies," part 2 - "Zombies and Physicalism.")

2. It is logically possible for p-zombies to exist.

3. Therefore, physicalism is false.

*Physicalism - physical facts determine all other facts. This means that, on physicalism, there are no non-physical facts.

*P-zombie - i.e., "philosophical zombie" - a hypothetical being that is indistinguishable from a normal human being except that it lacks conscious experiencequaliasentience, or sapience.

If physicalism is true, then there cannot be a world that is a physical duplicate of ours (that is, where everything is physically like in our world), which is not a duplicate simpliciter of our world (that is, which does not contain anything more or less than what our world contains). 

But zombies are conceivable: creatures that are physically exactly like us, but which creatures lack conscious experiences.

Therefore, physicalism is false. 

If it is logically possible for zombies to exist, then consciousness cannot be explained reductively, and non-physical reality exists.

Or... try this.

  1. If physicalism is true, then physical facts determine all facts.
  2. If physicalism is true, then anything that is physically identical to me will be in all ways identical to me.
  3. I can conceive of a zombie; viz., a being that is physically identical to me.
  4. But a zombie is not in all ways identical to me – it lacks first-person subjective consciousness.
  5. Therefore physicalism must be false.

1. A philosophical zombie or p-zombie is a hypothetical being that is indistinguishable from a normal human being except that it lacks conscious experience, qualia, sentience, or sapience. When a zombie is poked with a sharp object, for example, it does not feel any pain. It behaves exactly as if it does feel pain (it may say "ouch" and recoil from the stimulus), but it does not actually have the experience of pain as a person normally does. (See “Philosophical Zombie,” in wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophical_zombie)


2. According to physicalism, physical facts determine all other facts. This means, on physicalism, that there are no non-physical facts. Therefore, since all the facts about a p-zombie are fixed by the physical facts, and these facts are the same for the p-zombie and for the normal conscious human from which it cannot be physically distinguished, physicalism must hold that p-zombies are not possible. Therefore, zombie arguments support lines of reasoning that aim to show that zombies are possible. Another way to put this, from SEP: "If a zombie world is possible, consciousness does not in that sense logically supervene on the physical facts, and physicalism is false. If that view is correct, therefore, to prove that a zombie world is possible would be to disprove physicalism."

3. NOTE: The zombie argument against physicalism is, therefore, a version of a general modal argument against physicalism, such as that of Saul Kripke's in "Naming and Necessity" (1972).The notion of a p-zombie, as used to argue against physicalism, was notably advanced in the 1970s by Thomas Nagel (1970; 1974) and Robert Kirk (1974).


4. See the “zombie argument against physicalism” developed in detail by David Chalmers in The Conscious Mind (1996). According to Chalmers, one can coherently conceive of an entire zombie world: a world physically indiscernible from our world, but entirely lacking conscious experience. In such a world, the counterpart of every being that is conscious in our world would be a p-zombie.


The claim of Chalmers and others is a strictly logical claim. Which means: Since such a world is logically conceivable, Chalmers claims, it is possible; and if such a world is possible, then physicalism is false. (Note: “square circle,” or “married bachelor,” are examples of concepts that are logically inconceivable; there is no logically possible world in which such things could exist.) Chalmers is arguing only for logical possibility, and he maintains that this is all that his argument requires. He states: "Zombies are probably not naturally possible: they probably cannot exist in our world, with its laws of nature." It’s easy to imagine a “zombie.” A “zombie” is a creature physically identical to a human, functioning in all the right ways, having conversations, playing chess, but simply lacking all conscious experience.


So if a person can be physically identical to us yet without consciousness, then it would seem that consciousness is not a physical thing. “There is an explanatory gap here that is really something of an abyss,” says Chalmers.

Declarations on Peace

 

                                                  (Anderson Gardens, Rockford, Illinois)

This Sunday morning at Redeemer I am preaching on the fruit of the Spirit that is peace.

In anticipation of this, here are Declarations on Peace. Carry them with you.


Much more to come!


DECLARATIONS on PEACE

THE SCRIPTURE


“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you...” (John 14:27).

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you” (Isaiah 26:3).


THE DECLARATIONS


·                     I speak to any worry, stress, or anxiety, and I say you cannot stay. Peace reigns in this temple.

·                     Because I trust in God, I am kept in perfect peace.

·                     I am known as a peace carrier at home, in the work place, and in all areas of my life.

·                     I have a unique ability to remain peaceful, even as responsibilities increase.

·                     I do not have to strive for peace, as God has already given it to me.

·                     I bring peace to extremely intense situations.

·                     Those who experience anxiety claim it leaves when they come in contact with me.

·                     My home is filled with a tangible peace. When I walk in, I immediately feel at ease and calm.

·                     My heart and mind are guarded and protected by God’s peace.

·                     My family is blessed with peace.

·                      

·                      

·                     From Steve Backlund


Monday, October 24, 2022

Abortion Is Not a Political Issue for Me

 

(Bolles Harbor, Michigan)

I have a Bachelor's degree in philosophy (Northern Illinois University), and a PhD in philosophical theology (Northwestern University). I was Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at Monroe County Community College for eighteen years. I have taught courses in theology at several seminaries since 1977. I recently taught, again, at Faith Bible Seminary in NYC, and will teach, again, at Payne Theological Seminary in Wilberforce, Ohio (Feb. 28-March 3).

Philosophers study morality and ethics. Here, e.g., is a book I read last summer on metaethics - The Morality Wars: The Ongoing Debate Over the Origin of Human Goodness.  Theologians do the same. Here is a famous book on biblical and theological ethics, which I read several years ago - The Moral Vision of the New Testament: Community, Cross, New Creation, A Contemporary Introduction to New Testament Ethics

Philosophers and theologians study morality and ethical systems without reference to political outcomes. Then, they often state the implications of certain moral judgments for human existence, some of which concern how to govern the polis. (See, e.g., Plato's Republic; or Hobbes's Leviathan; et. al. ad infinitum.)

Occasionally, someone accuses me of being political when I speak out against abortion. My response to them is to explain the distinction between moral matters and political matters. Yes, moral beliefs can influence certain political outcomes, But many, to include myself, have long believed abortion to be immoral and unrighteous, regardless of whether a vote is involved.

Philosophers mostly use logic to formulate and evaluate moral claims. Christian theologians use Scripture, and logic, to formulate and evaluate moral claims. All this kind of discussion precedes political application, and can be done without spinning political implications into  the discussion. (An exception to this might be utilitarianism.)

The statement It is morally wrong to kill innocent, defenseless human beings requires no support from political thinking. Moral judgments, such as Abortion is wrong, stand independently of political implications. 

I have, and will continue, to write against abortion because I believe it is wrong to kill innocent, defenseless human beings. Anyone who thinks such a philosophical and theological position is "political" simply does not understand the distinction.


***

Abortion - Links to Some of My Posts

(Bolles Harbor, Michigan)

(I'm reposting this to keep it in play.)

Friday, October 21, 2022

To Abide in Christ Is to Trust Him

(Store in Soho, NYC)



This quote is from my book Leading the Presence-Driven Church.

***

Abiding is a type of trusting. 

I bought a new chair for my home office. I had the previous chair for twenty years. I trusted it. I knew it would hold me. Therefore, I had no anxiety about it. It would be contradictory to say, “I trust the chair I’m sitting in, but am afraid it won’t hold me.” 

To abide in Christ is to trust him. I “put my trust in the Lord.” Which means, 


  • If God was a chef, I would eat his cooking. 
  • If God was a shepherd, I would listen for his voice and follow. 
  • If God was a rock, I would stand on him. 
  • If God was a fortress, I would make my home in him. 
  • If God was a river, and I a tree, I would send my roots to him. 
  • If God was a vine, and I a branch, I would attach myself to him. 
  • If God was a fire, I would be consumed by him. 
  • If God was water, I would drink of him.
  • If I was a cup, I would be filled to overflowing by him. 
  • If God was a hidden treasure, I would seek him. 
  • If God was a word, I would read him. 
  • If God was my Lord, I would obey him. 
  • If God was a chair, I would sit on him. 
I would do these things every day… after day… after day. 

There is a cumulative effect that results from a lifetime of trusting in God. A psychological confidence, a certitude, emerges. It is like the confidence I had because of sitting in the same chair for twenty years, and finding that, through it all, it still holds.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Just as I Am? (On Cheap Grace)

 

                                                          (Maumee Bay State Park, Ohio)

Does God affirm me, just as I am? Here's what I wrote in my book Deconstructing Progressive Christianity.

"In 1970 (yikes!) I became a follower of Jesus. I was twenty-one. (You do the math.) One of the first books recommended to me was Dietrich Bonhoeffer's monumental The Cost of Discipleship. I didn't grasp it all at the time. I did understand Bonhoeffer's distinction between "costly grace" and "cheap grace." It reminded me of the apostle Paul, when he wrote, What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? (Romans 6:1-2)  

Eric Metaxas, in his biography of Bonhoeffer, argues that the Lutheran Church's drift into cheap grace was a factor in allowing Hitler to come to power. (See Metaxas, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy) Metaxas says that cheap grace means "going to church and hearing that God just loves and forgives everyone, so it doesn’t really matter much how you live." Anyone who believes that, and self-refers as a follower of Jesus, has drifted into heresy. Yes, orthopraxy is important.  

Tim Keller writes that, today, we live in an age of cheap grace.  "Many Christians want to talk only about God’s love and acceptance. They don’t like talking about Jesus’ death on the cross to satisfy divine wrath and justice. Some even call it “divine child abuse.” Yet if they are not careful, they run the risk of falling into the belief in “cheap grace”—a non-costly love from a non-holy God who just loves and accepts us as we are. That will never change anyone’s life.""

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Just as I Am?

 

                                                                (Monroe County)

Does Jesus invite me to come to him "just as I am?" Thank God, yes!

When I follow Jesus will I stay "just as I am?" Thank God, no!

The book of Galatians explains both statements.

The first statement is about justification. Justification means being made right with God.

There was a teaching floating around in the early church that what Christ accomplished on the cross was not enough to justify us. More was needed, taught the Judaizers. In addition to Christ's atoning sacrificial death, one must also become a Jew, and, if male, be circumcised, and follow the Mosaic law and the dietary laws and keep the Jewish holy days. 

To this, Paul gives a resounding "NO!" That is a "different gospel - really, no gospel at all." (Gal. 1:6-7). Such teachings "pervert" the gospel of Christ.

But once we come to Jesus, just as we are, and are justified, are we then to stay just as we are? To that idea, Paul gives a resounding "No!" To explain this, Paul contrasts the works of the "flesh" (sinful inclinations) with the works of the Spirit. Works of the flesh include,

sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 

20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, 

fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 

21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. 

I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

The works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit are contrary to each other, are in conflict with each other. Paul's beautiful prayer for these new Christians was that they be "formed into Christlikeness," by the power of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 4:19).

Now, in Christ, we are new creations. God has put his Spirit in us. We are to walk in the Spirit, keep in step with the Spirit, say "Yes" to the leadings of the Spirit. As we do this, the Holy Spirit grows "fruit of the Spirit" in us, which includes...

love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 2

gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 

24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh 

with its passions and desires. 

25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 


All who have come to Christ, to include myself, were a hot mess. Yet we could come "Just as I am." That's justification. Thank God for it!

Then, all who abide in Christ and worship Him become different creations. That's sanctification. Thank God for it!

Here's the idea, again, from the apostle Paul.

Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral 

nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 

10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers 

nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 

11 And that is what some of you were

But you were washed, you were sanctified, 

you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ 

and by the Spirit of our God.

***

Want to dig deeper into the book of Galatians? At Redeemer, we are nearing the end of preaching through it. Here are the commentaries I have been using.

Craig Keener - Galatians: A Commentary

Ben Witherington - Grace in Galatia: A Commentary on Paul's Letter to the Galatians

Scot McKnight - Galatians: The NIV Application Commentary

N. T. Wright - Galatians

Tim Keller - Galatians for You