The Spirit, The Flesh

by F.Wallace

Notes of an address on Galatians 5:13-26

It is a wonderful liberty into which we have been brought, we are set free from the fear, the curse and the claims of the law, from the power of sin, and from the world.

Tonight I want to talk about how we can be set free from the flesh. These liberties are all wonderful blessings. Because of the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ and the descent of the Holy Spirit we are brought into this liberty, and praise God nothing can destroy it. This liberty belongs to us because it is the fruit of the work of Christ. It is secure in Him for all His people at all times for their encouragement and blessing. Thank God that when we are set free from all the limitations of earth we will enter into that liberty in a fuller and greater way. Now my exercise tonight is to occupy our minds with this great opposition to us, that is, the flesh, and to see that there is a greater power to overcome all the features of the flesh and produce in us that which is pleasing to our Lord Jesus Christ, that is, the power of the Holy Spirit

Before I go any further I want to say one word on a matter of translation. In our Authorised Version verse 17 reads, "so that ye cannot do the things that ye would". I believe that to be a faulty translation. If that were true then we might as well throw up our hands in despair and say, 'There is no use going on!' But we believe the right translation is that, "we should not do the things that we would", that is, that whereas the flesh desires that we should not do the works of the Spirit, and the Spirit desires that we should not do the works of the flesh. Who is going to win? This is where our practical obedience comes in, that we throw ourselves unreservedly into the hands of the Lord and cry to Him to help us by His Spirit that we might refuse every feature of the flesh and express the fruit of the Spirit; what a triumph there then is.

We start with this verse 13, "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another" and end with verse 26, "Let us not be desirous of vainglory, provoking one another, envying one another", and all that comes in between these two statements indicates to us how we can operate or live with each other and set forth the fruit of the Spirit so that we are together with all those features of the fruit of the Spirit circulating amongst us. I know that in verses 22 and 23 some have suggested three different areas, what we are to God, what we are to others, what we are in ourselves. Now first of all I am going to say that the Scripture does not say that, Scripture just mentions a nine-fold fruit of the Spirit, and I am going to suggest to you that the main force of the Scripture is that these features of the fruit of the Sprit in you, in me and in every believer promote this internal joy and blessing that belongs to the liberty of the position we have been brought into. Oh, how wonderful it is when we view the thing objectively in Christ, how wonderful to see what He has secured! There is nothing wrong with what He has secured, it is perfect, but when we come to the maintenance of this liberty in the Christian company that leaves much to be desired.

In the 1830's a good number of devoted saints, at great sacrifice to themselves, separated from many things that shackled them as to the liberty of the Holy Spirit. It cost them a great deal, it was not easy. They broke away from long entrenched traditions and brought upon themselves a great deal of reproach. To get away from the organisations of men and all that was centred in their minds they came into the liberty of the Holy Spirit by gathering to the name of the Lord Jesus Christ in simplicity and humility. The free activity of the Spirit in their midst brought them into and maintained the things of God. Do not let us give it up. Do not let circumstances govern us, let the truth govern us. This is what we require in these last closing days, to hold on to the truth that has been ministered to us for so many years in the simplicity that is in Christ and in obedience to this word that has been set before us.

You will all agree with me, that having been liberated from the shackles that existed in men's organisations, it is to our shame that in the maintenance of this liberty in a practical way amongst us we have, to a certain degree, failed. I suggest to you that one of the reasons is that the flesh has found too much place in our meetings. The flesh has found too much place in our lives, individually, and this has resulted in the divisions and sorrow and strife that we find amongst those called 'brethren'. Oh, it is sad. I am sure we all feel it, and I am sure you would desire to see it all rectified and the saints of God walking together shoulder to shoulder as this word says here, "walk in the Spirit" (v.25) and that particular word at the end of the chapter means 'walking in order' or 'walking all in a line, in the same way', governed by the Holy Spirit.

"For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another."   (v.13)

I remember reading a book about the French revolution and there was a picture in the book of a Madame Roland who was about to be guillotined and she is pointing her finger to the statue of liberty, and the caption in the picture was, 'Oh, liberty! What crimes are committed in thy name!' Now it seems to me that this underlines what we are saying here. The liberty that we read of earlier at the end of chapter 2 is in Christ Jesus and no one can take that from us, oh, but what crimes have been committed in the name of liberty; liberty to express myself in any way that I wish, liberty to go where I like, do what I like, say what I like, liberty to say, 'I am free from the shackles of man's organisations and so I can please myself'. No, Paul's wrings do not present that to us at all. Romans 8:2 says, "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death". Thank God for liberty from the law of sin and death, but we come under another law, "the law of the Spirit", the Spirit of life which is in Christ Jesus. There is a great deal lacking in the expression of this kind of life individually and collectively.

We are to serve one another by love. This service is the service of a bondman, just as the Lord Jesus Christ served, and what an example this is for us! You remember in Philippians 2 it says clearly that He took a bondsman's form, served in that way, serving the will of God. Now here as bondsmen we are to serve each other, and we have the example that the Lord Jesus Christ set as He served His God, as He did His Father's will. It is not a case of setting my will against your will or you setting your will against my will, but together we are to submit to each other in the fear of the Lord and seek to love each other in this way. Now I know that we say, 'We cannot do this, there are all sorts of problems and difficulties and trials', but I think we will see in a few moments, thank God, there is power to do this.

"This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh."   (v.16)

The Spirit and the flesh are diametrically opposed to each other, there cannot be any mixing, and thank God, the Spirit is the greater. Now we want to state briefly what we understand by being "in the Spirit" and "in the flesh". Firstly, "in the flesh" can be viewed as the physical body. We find that in relation to the Lord Jesus. It says of Him, "in the days of his flesh" (Heb.5:7), meaning in His physical body, but then there are other verses where "in the flesh" refers, as far as we are concerned, not to the Lord, but to our unconverted state. In this respect all people who are "in the flesh", that is, in the fallen nature, are unconverted. In Ephesians 2:11 Paul says, "When ye were in the flesh", that is when they pleased themselves in all the evil that they followed.

Now in Romans 8 we are told that we are "not in the flesh but in the Spirit" (v.9). This speaks of our state before our God, and praise God for that! We are not "in the flesh", we are "in the Spirit". Whereas in a practical sense we know this dual nature exists, God views us "in Christ Jesus", God views us "in the Spirit". Our position is "in Christ Jesus" at the right hand of God, and our state is "in the Spirit" here upon earth. The Holy Spirit indwells us, guides us, directs us, and blesses us. This is what Paul is saying here at the very outset.

I want to mention one or two Scriptures about the flesh. "They that are in the flesh cannot please God" (Rom.8:8). There is nothing in the flesh that pleases God, there is no such thing as 'cultured' or 'educated' flesh, there is no such thing as 'sanctified flesh', the flesh in the sight of God is filthy, is sinful, and Paul's reckoning in connection with it is, "In my flesh dwelleth no good thing" (Rom.7:18). It cannot be justified, no flesh can be justified in the sight of God, and "no flesh [can] glory in his presence" (1 Cor.1:29). As far as God is concerned it is finished, it is hateful in His sight and He ended it in the death of Christ. Surely our desire would be to be in consistency with God's thoughts in relation to it. This will mean a lifelong struggle as far as we are concerned. Those of you who have read something of the life and service of Mr. Darby will remember that right at the end of His life, an ill man, there were those who visited him and they had a Bible reading and when at one point someone asked a question Mr. Darby replied very sharply, and then confessed that he had spoken "in the flesh". This man of God, a servant with prodigious labours, at the end of his life confessed that he had spoken "in the flesh". The flesh does not improve, right to the end of our days. Even if we are the most spiritual and the most godly of men this will not improve the flesh. Oh, how evil and wicked it is! Paul's desire is that this liberty might not in any way be impaired in any practical way because of our failure, and so he says, "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh". There is the promise for you, for me, and for every believer.

"For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other, so that ye [should not] do the things that ye would."   (v.17)

Oh, what an awful conflict this is! It never lets up, it never stops, there is never any armistice or truce here, it is a fight all the time. The flesh always intrudes and you know this as well as I do, that even in the moments where you feel nearest to the Lord how easy it is for something to intrude, some feature of the flesh, of self-will, some thought that comes into your mind, something that expresses itself, oh, what a hateful and an evil thing it is! The flesh is opposed to the Spirit. There is never any let up. You know and I know that this is a continuous thing in our lives and we want to get help from the word of God to see how we can oppose the flesh.

"But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law."   (v.18)

I do not believe that any unconverted person is ever led by the Spirit. There may be the convicting work of the Spirit in bringing home to their conscience that they require salvation, that is a different matter, but to be positively led and guided by the Holy Spirit is something that belongs to every believer. You remember in Luke the Lord Jesus, the humble dependent Man, was led by the Spirit into the wilderness (4:1-13), oh, what a moment that was for Him, and then, under the power of Satan in the temptations, He showed that He was "the holy one", He showed that He was perfect in every detail. It was not a trial to reveal that there might be the possibility of Him failing, oh no, the trial was to express in a most wonderful way that the man who was there in the wilderness with Satan was a different kind of man altogether from the man who was in the garden of Eden, He was the holy One, and intrinsically so. None of the temptations of Satan could find an inlet into His life. I believe the leading of the Spirit was to place Him in that position to demonstrate that here was another kind of man. Oh, how thankful we are for that! So we find here Paul saying that those who are led by the Spirit are not under the law. What an onerous, burdensome thing the law is. The law reveals how sinful we are. Whenever the law says, 'Thou shalt not covet' it immediately brings to our minds how covetous we are (Rom.7:7-14), and so we are thankful that those who are led by the Spirit are led in power and liberty and led into the pathway that is pleasing to God and to Christ.

"Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seduction, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."   (vv.19-21)

Now we are not going to talk about all the different features of the flesh, they are awful. We know some of them. Thank God we have been delivered from the others. Thank God, we have not known the depths of them in our lives, those features of the flesh which are so grossly evil and so depraved, but I think if we go down the list we must confess that we know something of them.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is......"   (vv.22-23)

I want to suggest to you that the fruit of the Spirit here is what is normal to those who are in the gain of the liberty that Christ has secured for them. These are the features that the Holy Spirit will delight to produce in us as we are gathered to the name of the Lord Jesus, as our wills are submissive to the Lord, and as our desire is to be led by the Spirit. I feel convinced that if this were so there would be an expression towards each other of love, joy, peace and these other six features. And what a tremendous blessing that would be indeed! Now then, how is this going to be secured? Paul tells us, "by the Spirit". But how does it work practically?

Before I can tell you the doctrine of the matter and say something about the practical way in which it works, I must experience this for myself and have proved that it works. If we take for a moment evil thoughts. That is a very, very prevalent thing. Oh how often Satan puts into our minds the most evil suggestions how are we going to overcome them? I believe it is at this point, feeling our own weakness and our own inability to combat these things, that we cry to the Lord, we express our inability and we ask Him to help us by His Spirit to overcome these evil suggestions and to implant into our minds pure thoughts, thoughts that please Him. I say, thank God, it works. First of all we have to express our utter weakness that in ourselves we cannot do these things no matter how hard we try. The flesh is so powerful, but the moment we do express our weakness and cry to the Lord to help us in the only way He does help through His Spirit, then He will. Oh, if we could only feel this at all times when we feel the workings of sin, the burdens of the flesh in our hearts and in our minds.

Now I am going to comment on each different feature of the fruit and to speak a little on how this operates in the Christian company.

"......love......"   (v.22)

In 1 Peter 1:22 Peter preaches the same kind of message that Paul has here for the saints to love each other, but he does not stop there, he says "love fervently". That seems to me to be an excellent word, to love one another fervently. It is not the technical way of loving by fulfilling some obligations that we feel have to be fulfilled, a handshake and that kind of thing, it is to be a fervent love that overcomes any restraint or suspicion or distance, a fervent love that is ready to express itself in any given situation, a fervent love towards each other that is warm and encouraging and real and sincere and true. You remember when Judas came to the Lord Jesus it says he "covered him with kisses" (Matt.26:49), the same kind of kisses that the father gave to the prodigal son when he returned from the far country in Luke 15. What a hypocrite he was! There was no love or warmth behind those kisses, it was all outward, external, show. We do not want that kind of love amongst us, dear brethren, but rather love that the Spirit produces. In Peter's epistle it is the love that springs from the new nature, and because we are born again, this fervent love can be expressed. This is where the difficulty comes in. We may think, 'I cannot love that brother or sister they are awkward. I am frustrated by my attempts to love them, they keep me at arms length. I have tried so hard but I am always rebuffed', and it is so easy to give up. Well, the fruit of the Spirit is love, the activity of the flesh is to be overcome. In the Spirit we have the power to love in the way that Paul desires that we should love, in the way that Peter desires that we should love, in the way that John desires that we should love, all these dear servants of the Lord united in pressing the matter as the Lord Himself commanded - "love one another" (John 15:12,17).

Would there have been so many divisions amongst the saints of God if love had been shown? Would not many of the problems that have existed amongst the saints have been overcome if love had been in operation? Not love at the expense of truth, but love bolstered up by truth. John says, "I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father. And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another" (2 John 4-5), and oh how he spoke of love too connected with it. That must be a pure love without any ulterior motive, love in the power of the Holy Spirit, without any thought of gain attaching to the one who loves but rather desiring the blessing of the one who is loved. "The fruit of the spirit is love". Oh how prominent it is in all the writings of the New Testament! It is not a sentimental, floppy kind of thing, it is a very solid kind of love, the love that is expressed in 1 Corinthians 13 is a love that can stand any test, it "never fails" (v.8), a very reliable kind of love. Love can be produced in you and in me in the power of the Holy Spirit. Thank God for that. It is not something that belongs to those who are extremely spiritual or extremely knowledgeable it is a love that can be produced in every believer because every believer has the indwelling Spirit. Potentially they can love. Oh how wonderful that is! No one can opt out of this, no one can say they will take the soft option, no one can do that, when they have the power of the Holy Spirit to help them to do that which is right in the sight of God, in the sight of Christ.

"......joy......"   (v.22)

In this connection I am going to refer you to 1 Corinthians 12, and it is in connection with the body. Paul says, 'If one member suffers every member suffers, but if one member rejoices all the members rejoice' (v.26). That is a very testing thing indeed. I do not think there is another company of believers that talks so much about the body of Christ as 'brethren'. It is always in their mouths, "we gather on the ground of the one body" we say, we are always referring to the truth of the one body, indeed this was the great truth that those known as 'brethren' set out to demonstrate at the very beginning in the 1830's, not to create the truth of the one body, but in some measure to work it out in practice. Oh, how sadly we have failed! But nevertheless the truth is still there. That is a very challenging matter in chapter 12. It might be comparatively easy to suffer with each other, our compassions, our feelings, and our hearts go out to those who suffer in whatever way the suffering is known, but it is a different matter to rejoice with each other. When someone is advancing, when someone is being blessed, when it is very obvious that the Lord has laid His hand on someone and He is progressing spiritually oh how easy it is for the seeds of envy to be in the heart and in the mind. 'But,' says Paul, 'we are to rejoice with each other.' Can I do that? Yes, we can all do it in the Spirit's power. It is the fruit of the Spirit. The Spirit is always true to Himself in producing the features that are pleasurable to God and to Christ; sometimes we are not. This rejoicing with each other is a very great matter indeed.

You remember the story of Mordecai and Haman in the book of Esther. Oh, it was a sad, sad thing in Haman's life whenever he passed Mordecai. In all his exhortation, in all his prominence, in all his greatness, there was this niggling thing that frustrated him, this man would never bow (3:5). Now Mordecai could not bow to Haman for the simple reason that he knew the evil that was behind that man. The time came when the position was reversed and instead of Haman being exalted Mordecai was exalted and my, there was rejoicing in Israel then (8:15-17). There were no envious hearts of those in Israel because Mordecai had got this place of supremacy. So it was with Joseph when he was exalted, there was no envy in the hearts of his brethren when they saw him in the place of exaltation. I believe this is one of the body features that we can express in the power of the Spirit, to rejoice with each other when we see each other's prosperity, this joy produced by the Spirit that someone is being blessed, someone is moving forward in the pathway that is pleasing to our Lord Jesus Christ. What a wonderful thing it is. It is so easy when we see a Christian connected with another company and being blessed by the Lord to cast some doubts upon the blessing, to be a bit sceptical as to the truth of the reports that we hear. That is not the feature of the body. We were mentioning this morning about one of the early incidents amongst the dear brethren when in a prayer meeting the floor of the room was wet with tears because a Christian in another part of the town, not connected with brethren, had failed in his testimony. They did not say, 'Well, what can you expect of those people', they did not talk like that, they were concerned about the glory of the Lord. Here was a Christian who had failed in his testimony and so they wept. Here was true body feelings. It was not exactly suffering on the man's part, it was he that had failed, but they felt it so much as it stood related to the Lord that they were crying about it. 

So joy is something that can be produced in the power of the Holy Spirit.

"......peace......"   (v.22)

I love the portion at the end of Romans 14. I think it is one of the finest chapters to read to help us to get on with one another, and to express true brotherly relationships. It is a wonderful chapter. Paul says, 'Now do not destroy each other over trivial matters, do not get at each other's throats because of these things, the kingdom of God does not exist in those things, it exists in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit', and he goes on to say, 'pursue the things that make for peace and things whereby you shall edify each other'. There are excellent exhortations for us all. We are not to have the political compromise, that is not the principle in the Bible at all, true peace in the Bible is always based upon righteousness. The Lord Jesus Christ died to establish righteousness and the effect of that is peace. Praise God that in the affairs of believers this is exactly the same, 'Pursue the things that make for peace and when there is peace, thank God, there is building up'. There is no building up, no progress when there is discord amongst the saints of God, only sleepless nights and endless talking, but no progress. But when there is peace and tranquillity, the sense that things are ordered according to the mind of the Lord, then there is edification, the building up, there is strengthening instead of scattering or demolishing. Peace established in righteousness leads to building up for God.

The fruit of the Spirit is peace. If we feel a tendency in us to create trouble, and that is possible in each of us, it is the easiest thing in the world, then let us cry to the Lord to overcome that tendency and to produce instead the things that make for peace amongst the saints of God. One of the best ways, I think I can say humbly that I have experienced is, to act in forgiveness when it is a question of personal affront, things that affect one personally. It is a good thing to practice forgiveness. If it is something about me personally let it go, it does not matter; but if it is a matter about the Lord Jesus, His honour, His glory, some vital matter of truth then fight for it tooth and nail, but if it is about yourself, let it go. Moses was the "meekest man in all the earth" (Num.12:3), that is, in relation to himself, but when it came to the things of God, he was as bold as a lion! He could speak and act in a way that was very, very severe indeed when it was in relation to God, but not in relation to himself. So this matter of peace is a very wonderful thing to pursue amongst the people of God.

"......longsuffering......"   (v.22)

I understand that the word translated 'longsuffering' here has to do with each other, with persons. Those of you who have Mr. Darby's translation will find in it a footnote in the epistle to James showing how he describes the two words 'longsuffering' and 'patience' (or 'endurance'). This word longsuffering that we have here has to do with persons, that is, we are longsuffering towards each other. Well, that is a very, very good trait to have indeed. It is so easy to give the cold shoulder, so easy to turn aside and say, 'What is the use'. But we are to be longsuffering and remember this is a feature of God himself, "the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation" (2 Pet.3:15). We continue in the spirit of love and peace and grace and kindness towards each other. Well, we may be sorely tried in our spirits (not forgetting we may try others too), but this longsuffering is to be active all the time towards each other, we are not to make hasty decisions, not to rush into conflict, but we are to be longsuffering towards each other, praying and helping and considering each other; and it does produce results, thank God. We have seen that in the past, too hasty a confrontation brings sorrow, but patience and praying and waiting often secures the desired result and the Spirit's fruit is in us when we are longsuffering. It is something that can be maintained and promoted in us by the Spirit of God. As we said at the outset, no one can say, 'This is impossible as far as I am concerned!' If you say that it is tantamount to saying that the Holy Spirit is not powerful enough to produce this in me. So we humbly wait and act in longsuffering towards each other.

If I can refer to Moses again, what an object lesson he is for us in this respect. For forty years he led the complaining, groaning and opposing nation of Israel. What a trial that man had in his life, but the Lord helped him, the Spirit helped him to lead the nation right up to the borders of the promised land and how successful he was in his service towards them. But then he was just acting like God, God bore with their manners forty years, He was longsuffering towards them, He bore with them that He might help them, and He did help them and bless them. So longsuffering is a possibility for you and for me in the Christian circle.

"......gentleness [or, 'kindness', J.N.D.]......"   (v.22)

Now in this connection I want to refer you to Colossians 3:12-13. Kindness is nicely situated here with three beautiful features before it and three beautiful features after it. I suggest that here is a cluster of features that are so wonderful in the Christian realm. The saints are described as holy, beloved and full of compassion and then they are described as having lowliness and meekness and longsuffering. So there are three features before, kindness in the centre and the three features afterwards, and it seems to me that that is a very good sandwich. What a wonderful feature kindness is.

You remember the kindness that David showed to the household of Saul when he blessed Mephibosheth, what kindness he showed to him, and if anybody was entitled to show the opposite it was David. He always remembered how he was hunted because his psalms express it, if you read some of the headings of the psalms when David was chased "as a partridge in the mountains" (1 Sam.26:20), and in many of those psalms he expresses how he felt. But his heart was moved towards the house of Saul to show kindness to them. He had been injured and yet he desired to show kindness. Oh, how easy it is for us to act in a spirit of injured feelings. We say 'They have said something wrong about me, they have done something wrong to me', and so I cannot express kindness', but this is another way of saying 'I want to do the very opposite of what the Lord says'. The Lord said, 'Show kindness to your enemies. If you show kindness to them that show you kindness you are just a Pharisee' (Matt.5:47).

Oh, thank God in the Spirit's power we can show kindness to each other. Thank God for that; kindness is a wonderful Christian virtue. It is connected with all these different features, compassion, care and concern. If we want to indicate that we are concerned about someone, that we feel for them, then our kindness goes out towards them. And, thank God, it can be done in the power of the Holy Spirit.

"......faith......"   (v.22)

How can we operate in faith towards each other? I want to suggest to you that this is a very, very important thing in any company of believers. In 1 Corinthians 12 there are many gifts mentioned which are given by the Holy Spirit, and the gift of faith is one of them. Now it might be that the brethren gather together and they are concerned about some spiritual matter in relation to the assembly, and there are problems. What can be done? How can they approach this matter? I believe it is a distinct possibility for the Spirit to give someone a particular gift of faith to indicate how to move forward governed by the truth to deal with this particular matter. I remember many years ago an assembly in Scotland required a new hall, and it was going to cost a great deal of money. Various ideas were brought forward as to how this money could be acquired, but were all discarded as unworkable and so they all came to a stop. What was to be done? One brother said, 'Brethren, when we gather together on Lord's day morning let us have a collection and see how we get on', and they all agreed and the next morning they got everything they needed. Now that brother was governed by faith. He indicated the way ahead. Oh what a wonderful thing it is when someone acts in faith! Thank God for men of vision in the past who could indicate the way ahead. God has given to them the gift of faith. They can direct the local company as to what should be done, and that is a very, very wonderful thing indeed, and specifically in 1 Corinthians 12 it says, "to another, [the gift of] faith by the same Spirit" (v.9). Here is the Spirit of God empowering someone in faith to act in relation to the local company.

"......meekness......"   (v.23)

I have two references in connection with meekness and they are both linked with restoration. Oh what an important matter this is. A few weeks ago some brethren were gathered together in Newcastle and they were very, very much concerned about the great matter of shepherding amongst the saints of God. I trust those who were there will hold this in their minds and affections that it might not be lost, that it might not only have been a nice meeting where good things were said, but that it might also be something that will be carried out in exercise in all the different companies concerned. What a concern! Oh how many dear saints have been lost to the meetings, they have slipped away and no one has been concerned about restoration. Even in matters where gross evil has come in, they have been allowed to go as if there was no forgiveness for gross evil, as if they were beyond redemption, and it was better to get rid of them. No, that is not the spirit that we find in the New Testament.

In Galatians 6:1 we find that those that are spiritual are to restore those who are overcome. Do not think for a moment that that being overcome by a fault is something trivial, it does not mean that at all; it is a very serious thing indeed. A person has been overcome by a sudden temptation, and those who are spiritual are to go, but how are they to go? They are to go in the spirit of meekness lest they themselves are tempted. Oh dear brethren, what a delightful spirit to go to someone who needs help, the spirit of meekness, not to abrade, nor in any way to condone a compromise, but in a spirit of meekness to help and encourage. Oh, dear brethren, what a need there is for this kind of action amongst the people of God, this real concern that there might be restoration. Ezekiel 34 was referred to in the meeting in Newcastle and just read it for yourself what the evil shepherds did not do. So twist it round, and the good shepherds should do the things that the evil shepherds did not do, searching, binding up, feeding, helping, caring, all the different things that were necessary. This is real restoration. What a wonderful thing.

The same thing is mentioned in 2 Timothy 2 where there is to be the spirit of meekness in helping those that have gone aside in relation to the truth. What a wonderful feature this is to be operating amongst the saints of God, the spirit of meekness and trying to help each other, and who has not gone astray in mind or in practice? Who has not needed help at one time or another? We all have, and I trust that in the days ahead, having been restored, we might be a help to those who require restoration.

"......temperance....."   (v.23)

Here is a very wonderful thing. Some of us might be a little hasty in spirit. Thank God we have a greater Spirit than our spirit, that is the Holy Spirit, and He can help us to check that quick retort that might come to the lips when anger and feelings rise. I find this linked with knowledge. It is one thing to have knowledge it is another thing to apply it. Mr Darby once said that spiritual things in the hands of an unspiritual man is like a 'sword in the hands of a child or of a drunken man'[1]. Well, you know the damage that could be done by a drunken man if he had a sword; he would be absolutely irresponsible, and what awful damage he could cause. So a great deal of knowledge of the Bible and of truths used in an uncontrolled way as far as one's spirit is concerned can cause much damage amongst the saints. One such way is to impress upon the saints of one's mind without any gracious consideration, but self control will prevent this; it is a wonderful feature. There is to be no anger or a pressing in a self asserting spirit in the application of this knowledge, but we are to use it in patience, in meekness, and under the control of the Spirit of God. What a wonderful thing that is. We hear a lot today, you will excuse the expression, of 'blowing one's top', that is out as far as the Christian company is concerned. What a shameful thing when brethren express themselves in this way when they gather together to talk about the things of God, things that we have been speaking about today, the liberty that we have in Christ Jesus and many, many other features of truth. Yet we sometimes think we can express ourselves in anger, in self assertiveness in talking about divine things! It is surely a nauseous thing in the sight of heaven. Instead, how precious in His sight is the spirit of meekness, the control of the Holy Spirit, and self control in dealing with these things.

"......against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vainglory, provoking one another, envying one another."   (vv.23b-26)

So we find that at the end of the portion Paul says, 'They who are Christ's have crucified the flesh', that is, it has been done away with once and for all, they recognise that in the death of Christ the flesh was ended once and for all, a death that never needed to happen again, never needed to be repeated. The work of Christ was done once never to be repeated and those who belong to Christ recognise that and having recognised it they walk in the Spirit. Oh, whatever else we may forget, please remember this, that every true believer in Christ is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and we can walk in the Spirit, the power is there, but have we the heart to forget ourselves or, shall we say, condemn ourselves, and walk in the spirit of self judgment and let these nine-fold features of the fruit of the Spirit be expressed in us individually and collectively? May it be so for His name's sake.


[1] "A glance at various ecclesiastical principles and examination of the foundations on which the institutions of the church on earth are sought to be based. In reply to various writings" J.N.Darby, Collected Writings Vol. 4, Ecclesiastical No. 2, p.76

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