This is what God gave me today in his word:
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (Galatians 5:13-16)
Don’t use your freedom as a license to sin, instead love and serve one another. Don’t bite and devour one another, or you’ll get bitten. Walk in the Spirit, or you’ll gratify the desires of the flesh. Now then, I understand the bit about not using my freedom as a license, and I understand the part about walking in the Spirit; by reading the Bible and praying. But what could Paul mean by, “don’t bite and devour one another”. Isn’t that sort of… Redundant? Isn’t it pretty obvious to Paul that these people are humans and therefore wont bite each other? Much less attempt to devour one another!
What does Paul mean when he refers to them biting and devouring one another?
As this is Paul (who seems to hardly ever talk about physical things), we know he’s talking Spiritually, rather than physically. The Galatians, it seems, were attempting to Spiritually kill each other. Not a pleasant thought. How is it possible to Spiritually rip each other apart? By words, and by actions. That’s why Paul’s next words are about walking in the Spirit, rather than in the desires of the flesh: because walking in the Spirit would mean not gratifying their sinful desires, and consequently, not attempting bite and devour one another. – Guess what, everything Paul told the Galatians to do, doesn’t just apply to them. Instead, it applies to us as well.
We’ve been set free through Jesus’ death and Resurrection, that doesn’t mean we now have a license to point out every else’s problems. Instead, it means we’re asked to love and serve one another. Loving and serving does not include biting and devouring. – When Jesus died on the cross for us, ‘the comforter’ (Holy Spirit) came. Paul is now asking us to walk in the Spirit, in order to be able to resist the temptation to bite and devour.
Why is it, I wonder, that someone might stoop to biting and devouring a brother? It’s a little like a king having all his subjects bow when he walks by: he’s trying to be taller, by having everyone else be smaller. When we’re walking in the flesh, rather than in the Spirit, we want to be bigger, we want to be better (or: worse. Depending on how you look at it I suppose). That’s because when walking in the flesh, we’re Satan’s kids: Satan, if you remember, wanted to be God. He wanted to move up in
the world Heaven. Ironically, he got kicked down to the world, but that’s for another day. The point is this: If we’re not walking in the Spirit, we’re walking in the Flesh. And if we’re walking the flesh, we’re going to get beaten to a bloody pulp and dethroned when God teaches us a lesson.
Jesus was beaten to a bloody pulp for us! He was crucified for us! This in no way gives us permission to beat up on others (physically or Spiritually!). – When we’re walking in the flesh, our sinful desires are dominant. Our wants and cravings become our king. I’ll put things this way: would you want to crown a Nero, a ruthless, bloody killer (who murdered his own mother) as king, or someone who is calm, forgiving, and at least somewhat forgetful? Nero represents you in your flesh. The forgiving and forgetful king, should represent you now/walking in the Spirit.
But what exactly does it mean to walk in the Spirit, rather than the flesh? Walking in the Spirit, is the same thing as walking in Jesus. Therefore, by extension, walking in the Spirit means reading the word, because:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)
In general, it means doing exactly what the two of us are doing now, going through God’s word and gleaning what it has for us. – In summary: We, as Christians, should love and serve one another; rather than bite and devour one another in an attempt to make our-self look better. Even if it is only in our own mind.
You are Loved!