Q&R with Brad Jersak – Galatian 5, morality and the kingdom of God
In one of your Breakfast with Brad videos you spoke about moralism and how we should not take rules of good living and elevate them to a faith concern, that they do not have the power to cause us to “flourish in a grand way.”
Right. Not that we would forsake morality. But what I’m saying is that the moral life is the fruit of a life transformed by the grace of God (the Holy Spirit). We are being saved by the indwelling energies of divine Grace from sin, from our attachments and addictions to death-dealing, others-harming ways. So when we see an abundance of poison fruit growing in our lives, we have to ask ourselves how or why we are resisting that grace. We examine ourselves (important, connects to Mark 9) by the fruit that grows and this indicates which kingdom we’ve planted ourselves in.
“Entering the kingdom” here is not first of all about whether I will go to heaven or hell when I die. The question is which kingdom I am entering (participating in and therefore experiencing) through my surrender to Christ or defiance to him.
How then should we read Paul in Gal 5:19-21?
19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, depravity, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish rivalries, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, murder, drunkenness, carousing, and similar things. I am warning you, as I had warned you before: Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God!
Watch what Paul is up to here. He’s talking to Christians. He does the same thing in Romans 1-2 by the way. He starts with outrageous pagan activities that initially hook them into their self-righteous judgments. Sexual perversion, idol-worship, witchcraft… Yeah, Paul! Get ’em! Those disgusting pagans with their debauchery and orgies and voodoo. And he’ll end the list of bad fruit with hideous practices like murder and orgies.
But then look what he squeezes into the middle of his list of kingdom-denying stuff: hostility, strive, jealousy, outbursts, rivalry, dissension and factions. Who’s he talking about? He’s nailing the Galatian Christians! And he’s saying, “If we’re going to talk about bad fruit, let’s look at ourselves, set salt ourselves with fire, because if we don’t, we’re really not living in, entering or experiencing the kingdom of love, joy, peace, etc. Yes, the fruit of the Spirit IS the kingdom of the heavens. So we pray, Lord have mercy and we return to the Father’s house.