by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 2 Study # 3 October 20, 2013 Dayton, Texas
8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
1901 ASV Translation:
8 For he that soweth unto his own flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth unto the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap eternal life.
9 And let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us work that which is good toward all men, and especially toward them that are of the household of the faith.
I. The Negative Side of Sowing and Reaping.
A. The origin of the seeds.
1. Paul identifies the origin of the seeds as "the flesh".
a. This initiator is carefully characterized in 5:19-21.
b. The most profound warning in the 5:19-21 characterization is that "they which do such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God" (see Message Outline of 130526/May 26, 2013(267)).
c. By way of reinforcement, in this text he declares that "...he that soweth to his flesh shall ... reap corruption".
d. At issue is "the flesh" as the instigator of the sowing of seeds of corruption.
1) The word "flesh" often refers to the physical body, but, since the actions of the physical body are never actually rooted in the physical body (the body is simply the tool of the "spirit" dwelling in it), it is well nigh impossible for Paul to be speaking of "the flesh" as one's physical body unless he is using it as a figure of speech to refer to the "body" as the realm of corruption where a "focus" will inevitably lead to corruption. The classic example is the hedonist who values physical pleasure over all other things and ends up in extreme physical pain.
2) Another way the word "flesh" is used is to refer to the totality of what Adam was capable of passing on to his progeny [all that we are "in Adam"]. Since this is, to a large degree, what Paul addresses in the whole of the book of Galatians, it is more than likely that what he has in mind is the "functional reality of the Adamic heritage without any alteration by the Spirit of God".
2. Paul's identification of the origin of the seeds as those sown "to his flesh" signals that what he is addressing is a person's reasons for "sowing" (to satisfy "his flesh").
B. The impact of the seeds.
1. The "seeds" contain an inherent "corruption" that cannot help but be a part of the harvest.
a. This pretty much restricts the "harvest" to this present time as there will be no "corruption" in the glorious Kingdom of Eternity.
b. The point, then, is that Paul is warning the Galatians that the issue of their "sowing" is the quality of their present experience.
2. The issue of "corruption" is revealed by its uses in the New Testament to be the issue of "gradual disintegration from living order to dead chaos".
a. In every case of the references to "corruption" there exists a sense of great calamity that inevitably impacts the soul in such a way that there is no "joy" in the face of it.
b. This, of course, raises the issue of how God inserts "joy" into an inevitable process of "corruption" so that "joy" coexists alongside of the calamity of disintegration.
1) The only way this can happen is by way of a deliberate "focus" upon the good while in a situation wherein both good and evil exist. It is possible to overcome the emotional impact of great evil by having a mental focus upon a greater good. It is, after all, a fact that the emotional impact of great evil is caused by a mental focus upon that great evil. Without the focus, the impact ceases to exist. Focus is everything.
2) In all of the Bible, "joy" is presented as a consequence of "faith" and "faith" is, without dispute, a "focus" upon an as yet unfulfilled promise.
3. This means, then, that the "corruption" that is inevitably "reaped" once the seeds are sown, does something highly significant to the issue of "faith's" focus.
a. There is no external difference between "reaping" a disaster that someone else has caused and "reaping" one that is self-inflicted.
b. Thus, the internal difference involves the damage to faith's focus that personal responsibility generates. It is far more difficult to keep one's "focus on Jesus" when the disaster hits if it can be shown to be the result of personal "sowing to the flesh" than it is when the disaster that hits is someone else's doing. It could be argued that "sowing to the flesh" makes "looking unto Jesus" almost impossible.
II. The Positive Side of Sowing and Reaping.
A. The origin of the seeds.
1. Paul says of this side of the issue that it is "sowing unto the Spirit".
2. The "fruit" of the Spirit is also carefully characterized in Galatians 5:22-23.
3. The "harvest" of these seeds is called "eternal life". This makes the "seeds" elements of what makes eternal life what it is.
B. The impact of the seeds.
1. "Eternal Life" in the Scriptures is everywhere presented as a quality of experience within the larger concept of conscious existence.
2. Because there can be experiences of "extreme pleasure"; sensations of "perfect security"; and "exultant joy" within the larger domain of "corruption", we must be clear as to what the difference is between these temporary indulgences and "eternal life". Clearly, the term "eternal" enters into the picture at this point: the major difference is the issue of extremely long-term endurance.
3. It is a fact of reality that those who sow unto the Spirit will often face "wearying" circumstances that can, in no way, be called direct seeds of "eternal life", just as there is the reality that those who sow to the flesh do not exclusively experience "corruption".
4. Paul's point: Life is not to be lived for the moment; it is to be lived for the long term under the assumption that we have some "long-term" ahead of us in this world.
III. The Danger Involved.
A. The "seeds" of "the flesh" tend to have an immediate payback in terms of desirable results with a long-term payback that grinds the recipient into chaos.
B. The "seeds" of "the Spirit" tend to have an immediate payback in terms of undesirable results with a long-term payback that lifts the recipient into joy.
C. Given these tendencies, the natural inclination of the believer is to "disbelieve" in the validity of "well doing" because of a fixation upon the immediate present.
IV. The Solution.
A. The promise (to be believed) is that we shall reap a harvest of "well doing" in "due season" if we do not "faint" under the "appearances" found in the "danger" mentioned above.
B. The conclusion: "be believing". We presently have a "season" for "sowing". We should use it.
C. Thus Paul's concluding exhortation: "let us work the good to all as we have this season".