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SERMONS OF MARTIN LUTHER -
FOURTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
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GALATIANS 5:16-24. 16 But I say, Walk by the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary the one to the other; that ye may not do the things that ye would. 18 But if ye are led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousies, wraths, factions, divisions, parties, 21 envyings, drunkenness, revellings, and such like; of which I forewarn you, even as I did forewarn you, that they who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control; against such there is no law 24 And they that are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts thereof.
WORKS OF THE FLESH AND FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT.
This Epistle has been treated at length in the complete commentary (Luther’s Commentary on Galatians). It exhorts to good works or fruits of faith in those who have the Holy Spirit through faith. And it does so in a way to show that it is not the design of this doctrine to forbid good works or to tolerate and refrain from censuring bad ones, or to prevent the preaching of the Law. On the contrary it shows clearly that God earnestly wills that Christians should flee and avoid the lusts of the flesh, if they would remain in the Spirit. To have and retain the Spirit and faith, and yet to fulfil the lusts of the flesh, are two things that cannot harmonize; for “these,” Paul says, “are contrary the one to the other,” and there is between them a vehement conflict. They cannot tolerate each other; one must be supreme and cast the other out. For this reason he clearly mentions some works of the flesh which plainly and evidently are not of the Spirit, and immediately concludes that those who commit and practice these are not in a condition to inherit God’s kingdom. They have lost the Holy Spirit and faith. But he also shows whence the Christians obtain strength to enable them to resist the lusts of the flesh; namely, from the fact that they have received the Holy Spirit through faith, and from the knowledge that they have a gracious God. Thus their hearts become filled with love and a desire to obey God and to shun sin. Consequently they resist and refuse to obey the lusts of the flesh, lest they make God angry again. And although in this conflict they still feel their weakness, the Law nevertheless cannot condemn them, because through faith they are and remain in Christ.
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