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Many would have you believe that this is exactly what Paul is saying. What is Paul saying in Gal.5:19-21? Is he now telling them that they are saved by works after having spent 4 chapters telling them that they are not? Do you really believe that Paul is reversing himself here by now teaching that bad works make them unsaved and good works make them saved? Is this what Paul was saying here? Or is there another explanation that we can see by being consistent with the teaching Paul gave in the whole of his letter to the Galatians? As well as in the rest of his epistles?
Because if salvation by works is what he intended for us to glean from this passage then he has broken from his teaching in the rest of this letter and his other epistles. Because what we actually find in this letter if we will read it in context is Paul expressing over and over again that these have been deceived by those who would have them believe in salvation by works. And not just any works. But, by the works of the law.
We see this from beginning to end in this epistle. From his telling them in ch.1 that if anyone comes to them with a different gospel than the one of salvation by grace through faith without works that he preached to them they are anathema. And his statement in ch.2 that justification is “by the faith of Christ” and not by works of the law. To his showing them in ch.3 that they have been bewitched if they have now believed that after having begun in the Spirit they are now made perfect by the works done in the flesh. Then in ch.4, we see Paul teaching that to believe that the works of the law have anything to do with their life in Christ is to be “of the bondwoman” that is of the flesh(works), and not “of the “freewoman” that is of the promise(faith).
So what we see in Paul’s letter to the Galatians is a consistent theme throughout that shows that the works of the law, or even the thought of or consciousness of those works, have no place in the life of the believer in Jesus. So when we read Gal.5:19 and following, and we conclude that Paul is now saying that works do save or unsave, we break with everything Paul wrote up to this point. So it must be considered in this light to be correctly understood. The light that those who are of the works of the flesh, that is the works of the law, is not of the promise which is of faith. And it is because of this that these can not inherit the kingdom of God.
This is true because those who are of the works of the law have their minds focused constantly on works. Both good and bad. Just as Israel did while under the law. As we see Heb.10:2,3 saying the sacrifices under the law caused in them that were under the law. This happened because while under the law their minds were continually focused on sin so that they can not think in terms of faith apart from works. This is also why Paul said that only those who are of the faith of Christ can be justified. Saying plainly in Gal.2:16 that by the works of the law, which are the works of the flesh, some of which we see here in Gal.5:19-21, no flesh shall be justified.
We see Paul’s intent here when we read about the fruit of the Spirit in vs.22-ff. Paul’s point then is that those who mind the things of the flesh(works) are at enmity with God. This is why in vs.1 of ch.5 Paul says “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” The yoke of bondage Paul refers to here is to think in terms of the law. Because this causes a focus on works. So Paul says to be free in Christ is to be free from the law. Free from the mindset that works of the flesh have anything to do with how we are saved. Or how we stay saved. The works of the law and it’s focused on works that make them focus on the things Paul spoke of in vs.19-21.
So what Paul is saying here is that those whose continual focus is on such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Because their focus on works has joined them to the law and not in a saving faith relationship with Jesus. This is why Paul said, “the law is not of faith”. Because the law is working. But, our relationship with Christ is by faith apart from works.
This means that it is not these bad works Paul enumerates here in vs.19-21 that send a man to hell. No, but it is a man’s constant focus on them that keeps him from focusing on and knowing the savior that sends him to hell. Because he is focused on works and not the spirit. On the law and not on Jesus. Bondage and not the promise. Works and not faith. Sacrifices and offerings and not Jesus whose final once for all sacrifice took away that covenant of works as Heb.10:9 says. This is why Paul prefaces his statement about the works of the flesh by saying, “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 cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.”
Did you see what Paul did there? He said “lusteth against the Spirit” is being “under the law”. And that under the law “you can not do the things you would”. Does that sound familiar to you? It should. Because in Rom.7 Paul said this very thing about those who were attempting to live being joined to both the law and Christ. He said “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.
Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.” Vs.15-17. These can not do the things they would because, on one hand, their marriage to the law makes them think in terms of works for righteousness. And on the other their belief in Jesus makes them think in terms of faith for righteousness. And since the law is not of faith they can not do what they would. But, instead are in a battle between the law and the Spirit. A battle between righteousness by works and righteousness by faith.
So in Gal.5:19-21 Paul is consistent herewith his teaching throughout this letter because in it he is once again contrasting the life in the Spirit with the life lived in the flesh. A life lived by the Spirit contrasted with a life lived under the law. A life of righteousness by works with a life of righteousness by faith. So these things that Paul says will cause one to not inherit the kingdom of God are all things that are the focus of them who are under the law. Because if one is under the law they are not in the Spirit. But, are actually living a life that is contrary to life in the Spirit. A life of works good or bad, naughty or nice. And not the life that looks to a relationship with Jesus Himself for righteousness.
What being joined to the law does to a man is what the false teaching of the sinful nature and original sin doctrine does to a man as well. Because when he believes he is condemned by works as these doctrines teach, and as Israel did under the law, it must then be by works that justification comes. And as I showed before in this message Paul said plainly in Gal.2:16,20 and in all of his epistles that no flesh, Jesus’ or any other man’s, shall be justified by works. And specifically not by the works of the law.
Will you be free from this life whose focus is on works for righteousness? Will you be free from the sin nature and original sin doctrines of antichrist? Will you be set free from a life that Paul said is contrary to the Spirit? A life that joins you with the law and with Christ at the same time making you the adulteress of Rom.7:1-3 that Paul says in Rom.7:24 makes you a “wretched man” because you have believed in a perversion of Paul’s gospel that is a salvation by works? And in need of deliverance from that body of this death? And will you who have not believed in Jesus, yet are still under the mindset that being good enough(works) will get you to heaven, turn from your idols to serve the true and living God? Will you believe in this Jesus who died and rose from the grave conquering death for all who will trust in, cling to, and rely solely in Him?
If you will then please pray with me now. Dear Jesus, thank you for coming as a man so that you could join with a man in his death. So that by your resurrection you could conquer death for all who will trust in you and your resurrection. Thank you for saving me from the power of death into your eternal life. Thank you for making me a spiritual man. So that as God’s child I am now heir to His kingdom. In Jesus’ name, amen.
If you prayed that prayer with me then you are now a child of God and heir to His kingdom. I rejoice with you. And if you will please leave a comment in the section below so that we can rejoice together for your new life in Christ.
God bless you and I will see you there or in the air.
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