You can tell a lot about what someone believes just by looking at his or her actions. This is because our external actions are almost always controlled by our internal decisions.
To illustrate this, you really don’t need to look any further than your own life. You see, everyone (including you) must decide what kind of lifestyle they will live. In reality, that decision basically comes down to one of two basic choices. The first choice involves following God and His direction for your life and the second choice involves living a self-oriented life without any help, input or direction from God.
Each decision has it’s own set of consequences and God speaks about those consequences through the pen of Paul the Apostle in the Biblical book of Galatians, chapter five, verses 19-21…
“The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21 NIV).
So let’s say that you decide to live a “self-oriented” kind of lifestyle without any regard to God or spiritual things. In this case, the Scriptures tell us that there will be certain consequences that are sure to result from that choice. You can see a list of those consequences in Scriptures quoted above.
If you look closely, you’ll notice that these consequences fall into different categories. For instance, some of these consequences affect your relationships with other people. Some of these consequences affect your personality. Others have an effect on your spiritual life. The point is that every area of your life will be affected in some way by the lifestyle that you decide to live.
Let’s take a closer look at those consequences mentioned above and see what they can tell us about the eventual effects of living a self-oriented lifestyle…
The term for “sexual immorality” here is translated from the Greek word porneia. If this word looks familiar to you then you may have guessed that “porneia” is the word from which we draw our modern-day word “pornography.” Just as pornography can take many different forms in our own day, porneia was used back then to refer to sexual sin in any form.
When used in a moral sense, this word refers to someone who has bad motives. It can also refer to someone who is lustfully using someone else for their own personal pleasure.
“Debauchery” is a word that people don’t really seem to use much anymore. This word was used in the past to describe unmarried people who were living a very sexually active lifestyle. Today, many people would probably use words like “immoral,” “loose,” or “promiscuous” instead of a word like debauchery to describe such people.
This word refers to the worship of false gods. For people today, an “idol” can refer to anything that you love, fear or depend on more than God or anything that takes the place of God in your life. Once something becomes more important than God in your life, that thing (whatever it is) then becomes your “idol.” For example, there are many people who have made an idol out of a car or their money or a member of the opposite sex. “Idolatry” starts whenever something else takes the place of God in your life.
“Sorcery” of course, refers to the practice of witchcraft or the magical arts. But surprisingly, this word also refers to the use of drugs to achieve an altered state of consciousness. You see, the original word used for “sorcery” here is the Greek word pharmakeia. This is the word from which we also get our modern English word “pharmacy.” This clearly tells us that taking drugs is not something that’s going to draw people closer to God; on the contrary, it’s something that shows that a person’s relationship with God is far from what it should be.
This refers to intense feelings of hostility and opposition to other people.
Constant conflict and difficulty in getting along with others are signs of discord.
This involves someone who is envious of someone else or someone who fights and argues with a rival.
Fits of rage
This describes someone who easily loses his or her temper for little or no reason at all.
This term refers to people who try to get whatever they want without regard to how it might affect others.
People who cause divisions among others are said to cause “dissentions.”
This word refers to an opinion that’s accepted instead of the truth because it will help someone keep a personal advantage.
Jealousy, ill will and spite are all synonyms for the word “envy.”
Today, we might say that this word refers to someone who has a “party all the time” kind of attitude.
This is not the kind of sexual orgy that most people usually think of when they see this word. This word actually refers to the actions of a rioting crowd at night. Back in the days of the New Testament, this word was used to describe feasts and drinking parties that went on until late at night. The closest thing that we may have to this in our own day might be an all night rave that’s gotten out of control or riots in a city after a major sports team has won a championship.
So the Bible says that these characteristics are connected with the kind of lifestyle that ignores or rejects God. Of course, you can decide to live this kind of lifestyle if you want but remember that there’s a payoff: “…I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:21).
Now, in contrast to everything that we’ve just read, check this out…
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other” (Galatians 5:22-26).
Just as you can tell the differences in fruit trees by the distinct fruit that each one produces, you can also tell someone’s spiritual beliefs by the “fruit” that their actions produce. After all, you don’t get peaches off a banana tree and you don’t get apples off a pear tree, right? Well in a similar way, you can tell if someone is really living a God-oriented life by looking for what the Bible describes as the “fruit of the Spirit.”
This is the identifying mark that really indicates if someone is living a self-oriented life or a God-oriented life. For example, look at the differences between the self-oriented lifestyle that we just talked about and a God-oriented lifestyle…
- A self-oriented life pays off in hatred but a God-oriented life pays off in love
- The outcome of a self-oriented life is selfish ambition but the outcome of a God-oriented life is patience
- The fruit of a self-oriented life is jealousy but the fruit of a God-oriented life is kindness
- The payoff from a self-oriented life is fits of rage but the payoff of a God-oriented life is self control
- The result of a self-oriented life is discord, dissensions and factions but the result of a God-oriented life is kindness, goodness and faithfulness
Just as it was in the first century when Paul wrote this, so it also is for people today. Whether we like it or not, everyone makes a decision to follow one of these two lifestyles. You can choose to live a self-oriented life along with everything that goes along with that choice or you can choose to live a God-oriented life and enjoy everything that comes with that decision. Each choice carries it’s own set of consequences and The Doctor hopes that you’ll make the right decision.