Yeah, But …

My father-in-law has started sending out a “verse of the day” by email that is usually closer to a chapter a day. I wrote him and told him it was really good. Today, I got a good picture of why his little devotional is really good.

One of the verses he touched on is Galatians 5:19-21:

19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,
20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions,
21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (NASB)

This is a controversial passage of Scripture. I don’t know how many times—in the distant past—that I’ve had doctrinal arguments about this passage, but it’s a lot.

Does this mean we can lose our salvation? What does it mean not to inherit the kingdom of God?

Even now, I have to strain to avoid the temptation to answer those two questions.

The questions have their place, but they are inappropriate until some other questions has been answered:

Have I stopped my immorality, envy, anger, slander, and all the other things listed in Galatians 5:19-21? Am I able to stop those things? Do I want to stop practicing those things? Do I know what I need to do in order to stop practicing them?

If the answer to any of those questions is no, then we can have our “lose your salvation” arguments later, and we can discuss inheriting the kingdom of God later. We all know that this passage is a threat. Paul is “forewarning” us. He encourages us in other passages, but in this passage, he is “forewarning” us.

He is forewarning us because not inheriting the kingdom of God is a bad thing. We all know it is a bad thing. Discussing how bad a thing it is, rather than discussing how we obey God in order to avoid that bad thing, and thus heed Paul’s warning, is just one more “work of the flesh” to add to Galatians 5:19-21.

What does my father-in-law think about losing your salvation and eternal security? I don’t know. What he wrote was:

The Bible is God’s revealed will. It is His desire on how we should think, live and act. It also reveals what displeases Him or better yet what He will not tolerate. … What does God not want us to do? Here is what His Holy Word says …

Are we striving to please God? Do we talk about our role in obeying God (“work out your salvation with fear and trembling”) and God’s role in obeying God (“for it is God who works in you both to do and to will of his good pleasure”) so that we can find the power to OBEY him … or are we just talking about it as a distraction, while we carry on in the works of the flesh?

I discipline my body and bring it under subjection, lest having preached to others, I should be disqualified my own self. (1 Cor. 9:27)

As you read that, are you asking the right question?

About paulfpavao

I am a church historian and pastor, but I do occasionally play APBA baseball for fun.
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