Daily Devotional

Today’s Scripture Reading

Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:16-21 (New Revised Standard Version) 

You’ve heard someone you know say one thing one day, and then later say the opposite. It makes you pause, shake your head, and perhaps frame a question to that person. In today’s reading, Paul does that kind of thing—making a statement that runs contrary to other things we’ve heard him say. In today’s reading, he does say to live by the Spirit. So far so good. But then he says if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. That ought to raise your eyebrows, unless you remember that Paul says we are saved by grace through faith, and not by works. But brace yourself, because then Paul launches into a laundry list of sins, or works of the flesh, as he calls them. And he says that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Wait. Hold up, Paul. Where’s the saved by grace part in that sentence about not inheriting the kingdom? Where’s the “you are not subject to the law” part of “”not inherit the kingdom of God?” Well, for Paul, you are either of the Spirit or not, you are either a new creature in Christ Jesus or not. You are either freed from the law or not. And you are. Because you believe in Christ, you are not under the law. The way Paul sees it, no Christian freed from the law will turn around and engage in works of the flesh. The outer acts are evidence of an inner truth—the heart is revealed by the actions observed. On confidence and boldness, today, live the faith that has changed your heart, and declare the grace of God by your works of compassion and service. Amen.

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