On Friday I pointed to Paul’s admonishment to the churches in Galatia regarding the way the deeds of the flesh are manifest like the fruit that is borne of wicked seeds. You can read part one here: Sowing Seeds of the Flesh (part 1). Our actions and attitudes are like seeds that we are constantly planting. It may take some time, but they will eventually bear fruit.
Paul wrote, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:7–8, ESV)
What does Paul mean when he says, ““Do not be deceived…” (v. 7a)?
The word “deceived” means to wander, or to go astray. It can also used of those who are led astray or lead others astray. Paul has already spoken of the fact that the Galatians were straying. In Gal 1:6, he spoke of his astonishment that they were so “quickly deserting” the Lord who had called them in salvation. And in Gal 3:1, Paul used even stronger language. He asked who it was that “bewitched” the Galatians into following this false gospel that was consuming the heart of the Church there. It was as if they had been put under a spell.
But Galatians isn’t the only place where Paul speaks of being deceived. In 1Cor 6:9 he warned the Corinthian church of the false teaching that says that somehow sin and the Kingdom of God are compatible. In other words, don’t worry about some fundamentalist understanding of the Law of God. Don’t worry about how you live. There is grace abounding to sinners, so live how you want, because God is love and he would never condemn anyone to hell.
Paul says, don’t let this kind of lie deceive you into being eternally damned to hell. God does care about our souls. That is why he calls us to the gospel of Jesus Christ and then calls us to live a life of holiness that reflects that inner change. This is a lie similar to what the Galatian libertines were saying.
In 1Cor 15:33 Paul once again sounded a warning about deception. In this passage he warned the church of the false idea that a Christian can stay unstained by the world of sin that we live in while he “wallow[s] in dens of iniquity.” (Timothy George, NACNT). There are some even today who want you to think that as a blood-bought Christian you are free to do anything that an unbeliever does and that by virtue of your redemption you are like Teflon–nothing sticks to you!
Don’t be deceived! Second Corinthians 6:14-18 is clear! You may remember well the sinful world that you came out of and you have enough God-given sense to stay away from that filth because of the carnage and destruction it brought to your life before Christ.
And then someone comes along, and we are afraid of the labels “legalist” and “Pharisee,” so we allow them to pigeon-hole us into thinking not only that they are not sinning by indulging the flesh, but we are tempted to follow suit in our own lives. Don’t be deceived!
A legalist and Pharisee seek to be redeemed by their own righteous keeping of the Law. And if you are doing that, you are a Legalist. You need Jesus because all your righteous deeds are like filthy rags to God.
But if you trust in the blood of the Lamb to set you free from your sins, and you want to obey God in the big as well as little things because you have been redeemed and you want to walk in the Light as He is in the Light (1Jn 1:7), YOU ARE NOT A LEGALIST. YOU ARE NOT A PHARISEE! You, my friend, are a faithful servant of God. You are HOLY! You are GODLY. For sure, God is working “in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure,” (Phil 2:13) so he deserves all the glory–but You ARE working out your salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12), testing yourself to see whether you are actually in the faith (2Cor 13:5)! Do not be deceived!
When we think that what we believe or how we live has no real importance in our lives, we are either being deceived or are self-deceived. And we are more than likely deceiving others in trying to justify our own sin. Paul tells us, “Do not be deceived!”
But Paul says more. He goes on to say, “God is not Mocked.”(v. 7b).
God does not command or admonish so that we can choose to obey or ignore him. God is not some weak old man who is powerless to do anything but watch us helplessly as we sin. God is not joking. He is not suggesting when he commands. He is not hoping we will obey. He is not playing when he speaks. The fool who thumbs his /her nose at God will find that, in the end, the tables have turned. THERE IS A PAYDAY SOMEDAY!
What do I mean by “Payday?” Verse 7 paints us a picture from agriculture–from the farming community that Paul lived in. He says, “What you plant, is what you will sow!” You can’t get watermelons from tomato seeds. You can’t get peaches from corn kernels. You can’t plant green beans and hope to get grapes. And Paul is telling the Galatians and by the Spirit he tells us, You can’t live a wicked life of sin and hope that you will bear the fruit of the Spirit! Our actions produce consequences! Your words produce consequences. Your thoughts produce consequences. Your activities produce consequences.
It used to be that if you were a young boy playing baseball in the street, that if you broke a neighbor’s window, your dad would take you over to the neighbor to apologize and make arrangements for you to replace that window. Today we live in a different culture. Today people want to live without consequences.
Today people sue McDonalds for getting fat. They sue the company that made the navigation system in their car after they drove off the road and into a lake because the GPS told them to do it. They complain to the principle of their school because the teacher didn’t make their kid smart.
And that mentality is not new. In Galatia, the false teachers had taught that they didn’t need to worry about the consequences of their actions. They could live how they wanted–Grace! Grace! Let us sin that grace may abound! MAY IT NEVER BE, was Paul’s answer! And it ought to be our answer. We must see that we will reap what we have sown!
Tomorrow we will look at verse 8 and the negative consequences of being deceived by this lie.