Vol. 2, No. 29 – 7-16-2017
I say, walk by the Spirit. Galatians 5:16
In Matthew 7:6 we come across this strange passage: Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
It seems strange because we do not live in a time of wild pigs and wild dogs roaming the streets of our towns. The days in which Matthew wrote did indeed have these creatures in the streets. It was a dangerous environment. The habits of wild dogs and wild pigs is descriptive of those opposed to the truth of the gospel; opposed to the intentions of the Holy Spirit.
Ravenous dogs were bothered by your presence, and would react with violent tearing of the flesh if you so much as made an effort to befriend them or to give them what they really needed. People with this kind of reaction are dangerous; the believer needs to exercise discernment.
Violent pigs were always looking for something to devour; always hungry. If one would cast something in their direction they would examine it to see if it could be devoured. If they could not devour it they would trample it under their feet demolishing what they find unsatisfying.
Wow! Paul invites those who follow Christ to depend on the dependable Holy Spirit.
Dogs and pigs are not the only animals that appear in the Bible. Most often we read about sheep (or lambs). In comparison to dogs and pigs, sheep are at least clean—because of their habits of life. So we have choices in life. We can live like a dog, a hog, or perhaps a sheep (lamb sounds better). We make choices.
Paul notes that the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, but the Spirit has His desire already set against the flesh (5:17). The two are in opposition; the flesh and Spirit. Paul remarks that the war is so that your choices get altered. In the words of the old Cherokee story, the winner is based on who you feed.
We build relationships in our work, our ministry, and in our families. We always have an impact, good or not so good. How do we escape the compulsions of life?
- Cheap love—allowing the emotional garbage to stink up our lives
- Superstitions and opinions—the trinkets that alter our thinking, speaking and actions of life
- Competing relationships—pitting “to be friends” against the absolute truths of God
- Competing wants—the never satisfied draw of our toys of life becoming our first priority
- Divisions—the lopsided pursuits that push others away in favor of only those who will agree with you
- Living with a focus on “me” — thinking everyone has an obligation to cater to “me” (including the government)
Of course, there are more compulsions; but you knew that. The sampling only causes us to contemplate. Be reminded that the struggles go on, it is not just one-time occurrences. There are menaces of the flesh around every corner of our lives.
In verses 21-23, Paul says there is a solution. The light turns on! There is a source for our victory, in the person of Jesus Christ, in the presence of the Holy Spirit. The source for our living does not come because of works in our lives, but are a result or outcome of Who is in control. If we walk by the Spirit, our lives will portray the “fruit.”
How does that work out for us as we relate to others? It is seen in the reaction of the animals. Sheep will run to their Shepherd; hogs and wild dogs run to devour. What do these look like in our culture.
Leaders and participants in our culture who are linked to the absolute truths of Scripture take a different fork in the road–by choice. They also develop followers from that which they model (and by whom they model).
As Christ was preparing to ascend to the Father following His resurrection, He announced that the Father would send another just like Him, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is needed should we desire to be the all to others God expects. Paul encourages us with these words:
Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that you toil is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:57-58
How is it going for you in our present-day culture?