Living Under the Shadow of the Gospel
“ Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
(Galatians 6:7–15 ESV)
Sowing to the Spirit, which is a phrase that Paul uses in verse 8. At the heart of this chapter, we find the theme for sowing and reaping, which fits very well with the Fruit of the Spirit that Paul shared in chapter 5.
Paul made it clear to the Galatians who they were, who they are meant to be: a people “who the Spirit leads”, 5:18, a people that “walk in the Spirit” 5:25, now in Chapter 6 “people who sow in the Spirit”.
So, we have some powerful themes running in these two chapters, and at the centre of it, we find the Person of the Holy Spirit.
• We are to be led by the Spirit and not under the law
• We are to walk in the Spirit, always abiding in Christ
• We are to sow in the Spirit, living a gospel centred life
J. Stott asked a good question in his commentary to the Galatians:
How can we expect to reap the fruit of the Spirit if we do not sow in the field of the Spirit? – Then he adds: The old adage is true: ‘Sow a thought, reap an act; sow an act, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.’
- Reaping for eternity
Paul says that the outcome of sowing in the Spirit is that we will reap “eternal life”. This is consistent with Paul’s theology of the Spirit and the Kingdom of God. However, in Gal. 5:21, Paul says that “that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”(Galatians 5:21 ESV).
Meaning that those of us who will turn our back on Jesus, believing another Gospel and demonstrating the work of the flesh we will not inherit the kingdom of God.
The Biblical theme of “inheritance” is very much part of the ethics and teaching of God’s people. In fact, in the OT, the people of God were promised that they would be heirs of God’s kingdom and rule. Therefore, people, as God promised, will take possession and inherit the promised land. Thus, there is a blessing associated with inheriting their father’s possessions. Paul develops this in his letter to the Ephesians:
“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”(Ephesians 1:13–14 NIV11-GKE).
In these two verses, we see how the Kingdom of God works:
Those who believed the Gospel of truth, of salvation.
Were marked and sealed with the Holy Spirit, who is the guarantor of our inheritance.
Till the final redemption when we take full possession of God’s promise, which is Eternal Life with him.
- Entrance to the Kingdom is by believing in Faith the Gospel truth
- The Kingdom is God’s realm. It is his sphere of influence and the place where we belong now.
- Eternal life is the blessing of our inheritance.
Sam Storms, in his devotional book on Colossians, says:
“This heavenly inheritance is undefiled or pure, unmixed, untainted by sin or evil. Best of all, it is unfading. Not only will it never end, it will never diminish in its capacity to enthral and fascinate and impart joy. It is in heaven”.
Therefore, sowing in the Spirit is sowing in the Kingdom of God, knowing that our work has an everlasting value.
- The Two fields
Paul says that there are two places to sow: “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.”(Galatians 6:8 ESV).
There are two places for sowing: the flesh and the Spirit. And unlike the outcome of sowing to the Spirit, sowing to the flesh will bring a harvest of corruption.
This word corruption is essential, not just because it gives us an idea of how destructive it is, but it also carries the idea of being perishable. It is not eternal.
There is something else here that we cannot ignore, and it is a double warning for those who are happy to sow to the flesh.
“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7 ESV)
Do not be deceived: Isn’t this the whole problem with the Galatians?
“Oh foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified.” (Galatians 3:1 ESV)
“You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you.” (Galatians 5:7–8 ESV)
A false Gospel was deceiving the Galatians. So some of them turned to another Gospel, and even the apostle Peter was dragged into an uncomfortable situation, only for Paul to rebuke him.
I want you to know that by leaving the Gospel, a Gospel that has the power to sustain us in this life, we will produce the works of the flesh. We will be cut off from the vine. This is even clearer in these verses:
“For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbour. For each will have to bear his own load.” (Galatians 6:3–5 ESV)
These are compelling verses, which can ground us to earth or give us a reality check. It is said in the context of spiritual recovery and transformation. Someone who is to be restored to faith should not be treated harshly, with condemnation, making them feel inferior. But with gentleness. The spiritual Person should do this by displaying the character of the Spirit. Keeping watch that we are not deceived, as we carry our burdens, as we love one another.
Keeping watch over our hearts so that what we do does not lead to boasting on how spiritual we are, how superior we are above the rest and therefore seeking recognition, admiration and this is Idolatry! One the works of the flesh!
God is not mocked: This is perhaps the most significant warming. God cannot be mocked; he cannot be fooled. One cannot expect to saw in the flesh and think that you will reap on the eternal life, and they’re making a mockery of the justice, righteousness, and holiness of God.
As we are aware, Paul is using agricultural language, a language that you may know well. So this is not very difficult to grasp.
There are spiritual laws that govern the kingdom of God. There are consequences for those who decide to turn away from God and even reject his invitation of salvation. There are spiritual principles of sowing and reaping.
When Moses was dealing with the tribes of Reuben and Gad, they promised to Moses to help establish the nation and complete conquering the promised land by joining with other tribes to pursue God’s plan. They committed to do this based on the inheritance that God promised them, then Moses said: “But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the LORD; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out.” (Numbers 32:23–24 NIV11-GKE)
This is a powerful spiritual principle that we need to know, be aware and fear. When we sin, we will be exposed to the very sins we have committed. Jesus articulated this same principle “Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.”
(Luke 12:2 ESV).
Paul also said: “Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.” (1 Corinthians 4:5 NIV11-GKE)
God cannot be mocked! He sees everything, and he knows every intention of our hearts.
- Place of victory.
The third observation is this: “We sow in the Spirit from a place of victory!”. We could develop the fruit of the Spirit because every disciple of Jesus, every Christian, has crucified the Flesh!
This is what Paul says in chapter 5, “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”(Galatians 5:24 ESV).
The theme of Cross, the centrality of the Gospel message, and the impact of a Christ-centred life is what Paul has tried to argue and put across in this letter.
We sow in the Spirit when we believe and live the Gospel.
Paul tells the Galatians that at the very heart of being made right with God is to understand that we, you and I, have died with Jesus.
The life we have now is only in relationship with Jesus.
This is what he meant when he said: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20 ESV). If there is one verse that can encapsulate the message of Galatians, it is this one!
Paul, in chapter 6, comes back to the theme of the Cross.
“But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
(Galatians 6:14 ESV)
Paul wants us to know that we died to the world when Christ died, and now we live a new life in Him. It does not mean that the world does not affect us. The death blow has been dealt at the cross, but the world still has a lingering influence. One day, though, when Christ returns, there will be no more corruption. Now the Christian life is about becoming what we are! We are dead to this world and alive to Christ. The world is not the believer’s treasure. Christ is. (David Platt and Tony Merida)
Sowing in the Spirit, therefore, knows who we are. We are sowing into the life that in Christ made new by his Spirit. We are a new Creation; we sow into our new identity in Christ.
• Why is it essential to sow in the Spirit? First, it is necessary because we will be cut off from the vine and produce a perishable harvest if we don’t. Second, it is crucial because we reap the blessing of an everlasting life with God.
• What do we sow in the Spirit? The Gospel in our lives. The Gospel is not just one only encounter with Jesus. It is an ongoing relationship of faith and grace with our Lord.
• How do we carry on sowing in the Spirit? By cultivating and sowing the seeds of the fruit of the Spirit. Also, living as people whose lives don’t matter anymore since we have been crucified with Christ.