So far in this chapter Paul has admonished believers, who are living by the Spirit's power, to take care of their church leaders, and to be a spiritual help to others. They will not be critical when they see other believers fall into sin, but will feel compassion as if it were their own. We concluded that The Law of Christ is the Law of love. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34). And then Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). “For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Galatians 5:13 NLT).
“Paul moves from the particular to the general, from Christian ministers and their support to Christian people and their moral behavior.” –John Stott
“The Interpreter’s Bible refers to this section as ‘Paul’s call for Christians to engage in ‘the agriculture of the Spirit.’ That is a colorful and suggestive thought which aptly describes what Paul is talking about. The law of the harvest is relevant to our spiritual development and describes our destiny. A well-known Baptist preacher, R. G. Lee, had a famous sermon he preached hundreds of times, all over America, ‘Payday Someday…the title alone is gripping and captures the truth.” –Lloyd Ogilvie
Robert Louis Stevenson said…“Sooner or later in life,
we all sit down
to a banquet of consequences.”
Verse 7: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.”
7A: “Do not be deceived…”
“Deceived” in Greek is exapatao, means to seduce wholly, to beguile, mislead, lead astray, or delude. “Do not be deceived and deluded and misled…” (AMP). “A man's harvest in life will depend entirely on what he sows” (Phillips).
Here Paul here warns that believers should not be deceived. Usually we think of others leading us astray, but the idea here is that we may delude or deceive ourselves. Barclay writes, “Don’t deceive yourselves. The fact that this is a continual command indicates that there is always a danger of deceiving ourselves.”
Colossians 2:8 ESV, “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”
James 1:14-16 ESV, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.”
2 Timothy 3:13 NLT, “But evil people and impostors will flourish. They will deceive others and will themselves be deceived.”
7b: “God is not mocked…”
“Mocked” in Greek is mukterizo, it literally means to suffer from a nose-bleed, and takes up the sense, to turn up one’s nose, and thus pictures the idea of scorn. Hence this word means to mock, deride, sneer at, ridicule, or treat with contempt. It is ‘the mocking of God by a life that will not accept the lordship of the Spirit.’ The reference is not to verbal scoffing but to despising God by a whole way of life.” –Kittel, and Bromiley, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament
The term “to mock,” in its scriptural sense, means to act hypocritically; to make false pretenses or professions. To mock God is to disrespect, dishonor, or ignore Him. It is a serious offense committed by those who have no fear of God or who deny His existence.
2 Chronicles 36:16, “But the people mocked these messengers of God and despised their words. They scoffed at the prophets until the Lord's anger could no longer be restrained and nothing could be done.”
7c: “…for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.”
This idea of sowing and reaping is a basic principle of life. This principle is irrevocable; there is no escape, either for the believer or the unbeliever. It is a law of life. The farmer understands the principle of sowing and reaping more than anyone. When the farmer sows corn he reaps corn. If he sows wheat he reaps wheat. By the same logic, if you drink a bottle of alcohol every day, you are most likely going to become an alcoholic. If you overeat, especially foods high in cholesterol and fat will gain weight. If you drive 100MPH down a winding mountain road in a storm, there is a pretty good chance that you will have an accident. If you jump from a 20 story building, you will probably die. That’s the law of sowing and reaping that applies to all of life. It is found in the creation, “Then God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth.’ and it was so” (Genesis 1:12).
Hosea 8:7, “They sow the wind, and reap the whirlwind.”
“In this passage, Israel had planted wind and would harvest a whirlwind. The ‘wind’ means something worthless and foolish. Israel’s foolishness in the past would result in reaping a storm of consequences. Indeed, in the previous verses, Hosea decries Israel’s idolatry (verses 4-6). Their foolish pursuit of false gods would reap a severe judgment from the Lord. Also at work in the scripture is the principle of multiplication: a farmer may plant one kernel of corn, but he will reap much more than that—a whole ear. In the same way, Israel’s sin of idolatry would bring forth an amplified consequence that would sweep them all away…The rest of verse 7 notes the results of this “whirlwind” of judgment: The stalk has no bud; it shall never produce meal. If it should produce, aliens would swallow it up.” –gotquestions.org (slightly edited)
Verse 8: “For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.”
8a: “For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption…”
“For he who sows to his own flesh (lower nature, sensuality) will from the flesh reap decay and ruin and destruction, but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (AMP).
“For he who sows,” that’s in the present tense, the one who continually sows, so he’s talking about a lifestyle; he practices his Christianity.
“Every thought, word, deed, sows either to the flesh or the Spirit.” –presptaustin.org
Warren Wiersbe writes… “All that we do is either an investment in the flesh or the Spirit. We shall reap whatever we have sown, and we shall reap in proportion as we have sown.”
“Life is a glorious opportunity, if it is used to condition us for eternity. If we fail in this, though we succeed in everything else, our life will have been a failure.” –Billy Graham
The word “corruption” is phthora meaning, the manifestation of the physical effects and consequences of man’s sin against God. This corruption is not from God. It is from the flesh. In other words, out of the very thing you’ve chosen, it comes right back to bite you. It is causing the corruption in your life. You cannot invest your energy in the flesh and expect to avoid the fleshly consequences of corruption, decay, and ruin.
“And so when a person sows to the flesh, he reaps decay, he reaps death. Now let me hasten to say this, keep in mind, this is a general principle. The Christian who sows to the flesh shall reap corruption. That is the degeneration of the joy and the peace and all that he has with Christ. The unsaved person who continues to sew to the flesh all his life reaps ultimate death. Then there may be times when a Christian who sows constantly the flesh reaps death too. God just takes him home, right?” –John MacArthur
“Every time we allow our mind to harbor a grudge, nurse a grievance, entertain and in pure fancy, wallow in self-pity we are sowing to the flesh. Every time we linger in bad company whose insidious influence we know we cannot resist, every time we lie in bed when we ought to be up and praying, every time we read pornographic literature, every time we take a risk that strains our self control, we are sowing, sowing to the flesh." –John Stott
When David, one of God’s choicest servants, a “man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22) sinned, he “sowed to the flesh” with Bathsheba, and had her husband killed, he reaped a whirlwind of consequences! Oh he confessed his sin, and received forgiveness. Is that the end of this tragic story? No! Listen to his consequences: God took the child born of David and Bathsheba. Tamar, David's daughter was raped by her half brother, Amnon. Absolom was a traitor, he raped David's wives, stole the hearts of the people, attempted to wrest the kingdom from his father. Finally, Absolom was killed by Joab. Now listen to this high and mighty, powerful king as he faces the whirlwind: “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you! O Absalom, my son, my son” (2 Samuel 18:33 NLT). That’s reaping!
There is a “sin leading to death” (1 John 5:16) What's that? I believe that is God turning over to Satan the physical body of the one who sows to his flesh. Now this sin must be a continual thing with the believer, but listen to Paul, “In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus”(1 Corinthians 5:4,5).
8b: “…but he who sows to the Spirit…”
“What does it mean, John, to sow to the Spirit. It means the same thing as being filled with the Spirit. The same thing as walking by the Spirit. It just means to be preoccupied, dominated by the Spirit. Instead of pandering the flesh, you just yield to the Holy Spirit and you say well, I don't know, can't you explain it better? I don't need to explain it better. The Holy Spirit will explain it plenty clear when the crisis comes.” –John MacArthur
Verse 8c: “…will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.”
What does “everlasting life” mean?
“Well, let me ask you this, is eternal life a quantity life or a quality of life? Its quality isn't it? Is there any time in heaven? No. And I really believe you're seeing eternal life or life everlasting here in its qualitative aspect not its quantitative. And I say that for several reasons. Number one, eternal life is never a quantity of life in the Bible, it's always a quality of life. It's a kind of life. You know something, I have it now. I have eternal life and it's a different kind of life than I used to have, right? It's a quality of life. It's a kind of life. It's God consciousness. So don't think of eternal life as some kind of thing that goes on forever. Just think of it as a kind of life.” –John MacArthur
Verse 9: “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”
“And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint” (AMP).
Paul uses two Greek words in this verse. 1) ekluo, “grow weary,” to have one's strength relaxed, to be weakened through exhaustion, be tired out, become faint hearted, to become exhausted and giving up and 2) ekkakeo “lose heart,” to be utterly spiritless, to be wearied out, faint hearted, discouraged or exhausted, to lose one’s motivation in continuing a particular activity. “Let us not become discouraged in doing good…” Paul said, “Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart” (2 Corinthians 4:1). “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16 NASB).
Paul, perhaps better than anyone else, knew how wearying and discouraging the spiritual battle can be. We have all been there. For many years when I was traveling and preaching every where, the spiritual battles were almost more than I could bear. Marlena told me that I would come home from a long preaching trip and just sit and stare at the wall. I don’t remember that! I do remember saying, “if my stress bucket gets any more full it’s going to run over.” But I found that Jesus and I always overcame, if I didn't throw in the towel.
“Doing good” involves yielding to the Spirit and exhibiting the fruit He produces, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” When these things are dominant in our lives, doing good is the inevitable result.
Many believers minimize the place of good works in the Christian life reasoning that because we are not saved by good works, then good works are something to be shunned. We are saved by faith without works, but by a faith that works.
“One way to think of doing good works is to see it as a process, so that in salvation God does work for us, in sanctification He does work in us and in service He does work through us and bears fruit which will be harvested in due time and will remain forever. God builds character before He calls to service. He must work in us before He can work through us. God spent 25 years working in Abraham before He gave him the promised son Isaac.” –preceptaustin.org
•Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
•Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
•2 Timothy 3:16,17, “ All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
•Hebrews 10:24 NLT, “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.”
•Hebrews 13:16, “But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”
•James 2:26 NLT, “Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.”
Verse 10: “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
“Opportunity in Greek is kairos, it denotes “the right time” or “the proper time,” a time favorable for a purpose. Our English word “opportunity” comes from the Latin and means “toward the port.” It suggests a ship taking advantage of the wind and tide to arrive safely in the harbor. The brevity of life is a strong argument for making the best use of every opportunity God gives us.
“Therefore” based on the fact that the sowing of good seeds guarantees a good harvest (in due time), we need to take advantage as we have opportunity (John Stott adds “This earthly life is full of such opportunity.”
Billy Graham said, “Life is a glorious opportunity, if it is used to condition us for eternity. If we fail in this, though we succeed in everything else, our life will have been a failure.”
Alexander Graham Bell (1847–1922) wrote that...”When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one that has opened for us.”
Ephesians 5:16, “Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.”
Colossians 4:5-6 NLT, “Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.”
“Household of faith…” refers to all the participants of a particular family. This includes people both inside and outside the church. So he’s not just talking about the body of Christ, within the walls of the church.
1 Timothy 4:14,15 MSG, “I hope to visit you soon, but just in case I’m delayed, I’m writing this letter so you’ll know how things ought to go in God’s household, this God-alive church, bastion of truth.”
“Do good to all”
“The word ‘all’ in Greek is pas, meaning each and every person. Now understand what he’s saying here. He says regardless of color; it doesn’t matter if they’re black, it doesn’t matter if they’re Indian, it doesn’t matter if they’re Asian, it doesn’t matter if they’re Caucasian, it doesn’t matter. You do good to all men, regardless of any prejudice, regardless of whether or not—here comes the test—that they’re believers or they’re unbelievers. It doesn’t matter; you do good to all men.” –Dr. Wayne Barber (edited slightly)
Now for a final question: “Are you in the family of God?”
Life is short, death is sure, eternity is long! “But now is the time. Never forget the warning, “Today if you hear God’s voice speaking to you, do not harden your hearts against him…” (Hebrews 3:15).
Carpe Diem, seize the day!
If you have never received Jesus Christ as you Savior and Lord, “God says, ‘at just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.’ Indeed, the ‘right time’ is now. Today is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2 NLT).
There is a great danger in resisting God's call to salvation. There may be another opportunity, but it is presumptuous and dangerous to impose too long on God's patient mercy. “Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14). “Time’s up! God’s kingdom is here. Change your life and believe the Message” (Mark 1:15 MSG).
Unless otherwise noted, the New King James Version of the Bible was used. Also The New Living Translation (NLT); The New American Standard Bible (NASB); The Message (MSG); The New Century Version (NCV); The Amplified Bible (AMP); The King James Version (KJV), The New Life Version (NLV); English Standard Version (ESV); J.B. Phillips New Testament; Easy to Read Version (ERV); Common English bible (CEB); NET Bible (NET) and The Living Bible (TLB). Contemporary English Version (CEV).
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