We live in a fantastic universe. Our planet, a tiny speck in this vast universe, is filled with illustration after illustration of the mind boggling order and design that God has written into every fiber of His creation. For example, have you ever thought about the changing of the seasons that we experience here in Oklahoma? August can be extremely hot and December through February can usher in a mandate for coats and gloves. We may complain about the extremes that we experience, but we really don’t know how extreme the heat and cold could get if the earth were not perfectly positioned 93,000,000 miles away from the sun and tilted at just the right angle. If we were positioned a little closer to the sun then we would burn up like forgotten toast in the oven. If we were positioned a little further way from the sun then we would freeze like a Popsicle. God has placed us in just the right place for life to thrive.
God’s intricate design is written into His creation to teach us who He is and to show us that He is a God of purpose. Along with His design, God has also written natural laws into His creation. The natural laws I am speaking about are laws such as the “Laws of Gravity” or the “Laws of Thermodynamics.” You can debate these natural laws all you want, but I will assure you that if you jump off of a ten story building you will quickly learn about the “Laws of Gravity.”
We people don’t do so well with following the law, any kind of law, but whether or not we choose to comply – laws are still laws. We are very creative in trying to circumvent the law, but it really is a futile effort my friends. Let me give you an example of what I am talking about. Today, we have all kinds of experts to help us try and get around one of the most visible laws of God. The law I am referring to is the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.
Now, you may have never heard of the 2nd law of thermodynamics, but you are feeling its affects even as you sit here this morning. It doesn’t matter how young or old you may be. The law affects every ethnic group, every socio-economic group, and it has an equal impact on the educated and uneducated. The law of thermodynamics not only affects people, but it affects all of creation.
The 2nd law of thermodynamics simply stated means that everything is falling apart. It is a universal law of decay. Nothing stays as fresh as it was the day that you bought it. Your favorite pair of pants or favorite shirt that looked so nice and new the day you brought them home, now looks faded and is becoming worn looking. Every one of the houses in this neighborhood were brand new when they were built, but today many of them, like many of us, look their age. Everything ages and wears out. Not just our clothes, houses, or bodies, but everything in the universe.
From the moment we are born the 2nd law of thermodynamics begins to take its toll on us. The gray hairs on my head, the wrinkles in our skin, and the loss of muscle mass are all a result of this universal law. Death is the ultimate “exclamation point” of this 2nd law of thermodynamics.
I said that we people don’t do so well with laws. We buy “fuzz busters” to try and avoid getting a ticket for speeding, we hire shady, crooked tax advisers to help us circumvent the tax laws, and we hire plastic surgeons to help us postpone the affects of the 2nd law of thermodynamics on our bodies. The fact of the matter is that the law will eventually catch up with you. You may have a “fuzz buster,” but eventually you will get busted, you may hire the most prominent tax evading pencil pusher known to man, but you will pay one day, and you can hire Rodeo Drive’s most heralded cosmetic surgeon, but you are still going to get old and death will visit your house like every other person.
Just as there are laws of nature that govern the universe there are also moral and spiritual laws that God has written into His creation. We can try and get around God’s laws that are given to govern our lives, but we will end up bringing about our ruin if we ignore God’s counsel.
Today we are going to take a look at our next section of Galatians and try to learn some lessons in “sowing and reaping.” Won’t you turn to Galatians 6:7-10 and let’s begin.
7Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (Galatians 6:7-10 NIV)
This is such a powerful section of God’s Word for us who live in a day when immorality is rampant, when good is called evil and evil is called good. This lesson that we are studying today was written to Christians. There is no doubt about this. But, let me say to any of you who are here this morning and you have never accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior—this lesson applies to you as well. You can not escape the implications of this lesson for your life.
Take a look at verse 7 with me. Paul writes, 7 “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” Don’t be deceived. Don’t try and convince yourself that you can get away with it…you can’t. God has never, and will never, be mocked. The word for “mocked” is a very descriptive word in the Greek language. The word, “mukthri,zw” (mukterizo) means, “to turn up the nose, sneer at, to show contempt for, or to ridicule.” If you can remember being on the playground as a kid and having kids make fun of you for something you did, or how you looked or dressed, or because you struck out in baseball or made an “F” on your assignment, then you know what it is like to be mocked. Can you remember the bully in your class who stole your lunch and then as he walked away he turned and waved your lunch sack at you to let you know what he had done? I’m sure everyone here this morning can identify with at least one of these experiences. We may have experienced being mocked at some point in our life, but let me assure you of something my friend, God will not be mocked.
Now don’t get me wrong. You might thumb your nose at God as you go about your business and seek to get around God’s prescriptions for living life, but He will get the last laugh. Let me give you some examples of how folks have tried to mock God throughout history.
Zedekiah became king when he was 21 years old. That’s so young to have so much responsibility, but God gave him the prophet Jeremiah and others to help give him godly counsel in leading the nation. Zedekiah turned up his nose at God and the people of Israel followed in his steps. During Zedekiah’s reign the word of the Lord came. Turn with me to 2 Chronicles 36 and let’s read together.
15The LORD, the God of their fathers, sent word to them through his messengers again and again, because he had pity on his people and on his dwelling place. 16But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the LORD was aroused against his people and there was no remedy. (2 Chronicles 36:15-16 NIV)
Those who thought it was not necessary to serve the Lord ended up serving King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in shackles and servitude. God will have the last laugh.
In Psalm 2 we read about the powerful leaders of the world deciding that they had all of the power and they could do whatever they wanted. It reminds me of Saddam Hussein and the years that he led the nation of Iraq. With each passing year of his reign as dictator he became less and less accountable to everyone. As a result of this, he became more and more evil, more and more a threat to his own people, and more convinced that he was invincible. Saddam didn’t get by with thumbing his nose at God; he ended up trapped like a rat in a hole in the ground. If only Saddam would have read Psalm 2 where the Psalmist writes,
1 Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? 2 The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One. 3 “Let us break their chains,” they say, “and throw off their fetters.” 4 The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them… 10 Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. 11 Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling. (Psalm 2:1-4; 10-11 NIV)
No matter what position you hold in society, you still have to report to someone. The someone that we all report to is God, the One who has given us life, the abilities that we possess, and the responsibility to use those gifts to bring Him glory and to bless those around us.
Let me give you one more example of how people have mocked God. In Malachi 3 we read about a time when God called His people on the carpet for misusing His gifts and for turning their backs on Him. They decided that it just didn’t “pay” to serve God so they set their sights on being like the arrogant and the wicked that seemed to prosper. Read along with me.
5“So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me,” says the LORD Almighty. 6“I the LORD do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. 7Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD Almighty. “But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’ 8“Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ “In tithes and offerings. 9You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me. 10Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. 11I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit,” says the LORD Almighty. 12“Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD Almighty. 13“You have said harsh things against me,” says the LORD. “Yet you ask, ‘What have we said against you?’ 14“You have said, ‘It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the LORD Almighty? 15But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly the evildoers prosper, and even those who challenge God escape.’” 16Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name. 17“They will be mine,” says the LORD Almighty, “in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him. 18And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not. (Malachi 3:1-18 NIV)
Malachi shows us that there were two groups of people there on the day when God spoke to His people: there were those who mocked God and turned away from Him and there were those who “feared God and honored His name.” I love the last verse of the Scripture we read where God says, 18 “And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.” You will see the difference.
The Scripture that we are studying today shows us that distinction my friend. Go back to our Scripture for today and let’s take a look at the end of verse 7 through verse 8. Paul writes,
A man reaps what he sows. 8The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7b-8 NIV)
The lesson in sowing and reaping is a universal truth. There is no farmer who sows wheat in his fields and expects to harvest corn, you don’t plant an orchard of oranges and expect to sell apples at market, and you don’t sow your wild oats and expect to reap a harvest of peace, joy, and righteousness. As a matter of fact, I spend time most every week with folks who have sown their wild oats and suddenly realize that they need to pray for crop failure.
The Scripture points out two different ways that we can “sow.” Sowing is the common denominator of the Scripture we are studying for today. We are all sowing, but the question is, “To what end are you and I sowing?” Are we sowing to the flesh, our sin nature, and that which we want? Are we sowing to the Spirit, the will of God, and His purpose for our lives? That is a very important question. It is imperative that we understand how and what we are sowing because the crop will come in due season.
Paul says that if we are sowing to the flesh then we will reap destruction. What does this mean? The Greek word for “destruction” is the word, “fqora,” (phthora) and it means, “corruption, destruction, perishing, or decay.” Timothy George says in his commentary on Galatians,
The word phtora, ‘destruction,’ ‘decay,’ ‘corruption,’ conveys the idea of a putrid corpse in the process of decomposition…the consequences of sin are nowhere more vividly seen than in the ravaging of the human body through disease, decay, and death. (Timothy George, Galatians, p. 423)
Stop and think about this idea with me just for a minute. “If you sow to the flesh then you will reap destruction.” Can you think of any illustrations of this universal truth of God? The real question is, “Where do begin in reciting the endless lists of illustrations!” A major league all-star decides to bet on ballgames and ends up suffering the consequences of his choices for years. All Pete Rose wants is to get in the Baseball Hall of Fame, but Pete is reaping what he has sown. All Martha Stewart wanted was to avoiding losing any money in the stock market, even if it meant breaking the law, but Martha has now lost more than money can buy. Thirty two years ago they found the body of Jim Morrison in a bath tub in Paris France. Jim and his buddies had been on top of the world as The Doors played to sold out audiences all over the world. On July 3, 1971 the light went out on the one who had sang, “Come on baby light my fire.” Jim had overdosed on heroin and he was only 27 years old. I could go on and on with the list of names that are recognizable to all of us, but let’s bring things a little closer to home.
She is bored with her marriage. There’s a man at work who is so tender and caring. Her husband doesn’t understand her any more, but he does. Can you smell the decomposition taking place? He had watched his business grow and he had prospered, but he figured that if he could figure out a way to cut his costs then he could pocket even more. Labor was his highest expense so he began to whittle away at the benefits of his employees, when someone left the company he would hire someone else for beggar’s wages. His motto was, “pay them as little as you have to so that you can make as much as you can.” Can you smell it? You may not, but those who work for Ebenezer Scrooge sure can. She was just a sophomore in college trying to make ends meet when a friend told her how much money she was making selling pills to some of her friends. Quick money, illegal drugs, can you smell it? He was making money hand over fists, but the taste of money bred a greater thirst. He began to turn in expenses that were fictitious. He found ways of skimming a little off the top. He negotiated with some of his customers at higher prices than he reported back to the company so that he could pocket the rest. Nobody would ever find out. The company was so big and he was so slick that they would never miss any of the money. Can you smell it? It’s the smell of destruction. It’s the smell of a life rotting away. “If you sow to the flesh you will reap destruction.”
We do not have to sow to the fleshly desires that seem to drive us day in and day out. Our Scripture provides us with a different option. We read, “The one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” It is quite obvious how we go about sowing to the flesh—we simply do what we feel like doing. We don’t have to enroll in “sowing school” to know how to plant the seeds of destruction deep and watch them grow.
On the other hand, we do need instruction on how to sow to the Spirit. What does it mean to “sow to please the Spirit?” How do we go about it? That’s a great question. John MacArthur writes,
On the other hand, the believer who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life. The Christian who is preoccupied with the things of God rather than the fleshing things of the world will produce the fruit of the Spirit (5:22-23). To sow to the Spirit is the same as to walk by the Spirit (5:18). It is the same as abiding in Christ and in His Word and having His words abide in us (John 8:31; 15:7). It is the same as walking in Christ (Col. 2:6) and setting one’s ‘mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth’ (Col. 3:2). It is the same as giving one’s body as ‘a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God,’ and not being ‘conformed to this world, but being transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:1-2). (John MacArthur, Galatians, p. 189)
What has your attention? Are you preoccupied with the things of the flesh or the things of God? Do you go out of your way to make sure you get what you want or do you make every sacrifice to make sure that you please the Lord by the way you live your life? Do you use the gifts that God has given you, the resources He has entrusted you with, to bring honor to God—or do you view all of these as “yours” to use as you please? How you answer questions like these will speak volumes about the kind of garden you are growing my friend.
Paul wrote that those who sow to please the Spirit will reap eternal life. For most people today the idea of “eternal life” is out there somewhere. In their minds, eternal life begins when you die. Life beyond the grave is only one aspect of eternal life as the Bible describes it. Eternal life comes to all of those who know the Lord, all of those who receive Him as their Lord and Savior, and it begins the moment He comes to live in our hearts. Jesus spoke about eternal life in John 17 when He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. Take a look at this chapter with me.
1After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (John 17:1-3 NIV)
What is eternal life? It is to know, to intimately know, God the Father and Jesus Christ our Savior. This is the life that sets us free. This is the life that is full of abundance. In John 10:10 Jesus spoke about the diametrically different lives of those who are under His control as opposed to those who are under the control of the enemy. Jesus said,
10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10 NIV)
Jesus didn’t say, “I have come to make sure they have life when their physical life is over.” He said that He has come to give us life to the full—now! Can you see how living to please the Spirit, sowing of the Spirit and not of the flesh, can lead to a full life, a life full of meaning, in this life? I certainly can. If you and I live to please the Lord in all that we are and all that we do then we will not avoid heartache and suffering entirely, but we can sure avoid some of the heartaches and suffering that come about when the harvest of the flesh comes about.
I can avoid the humiliation of losing friends because of my uncontrollable temper is I live to please the Spirit. I can avoid the heartache of losing my wife because of my uncontrollable desire to fulfill the sexual drives if I live to please the Spirit. I can avoid the shame of going to prison for selling drugs, getting arrested for a DUI, or spending time in a crack house if I live so as to please the Spirit and not fulfill the desires of the flesh. I can avoid the disgrace of having my kids know that I am a swindler and crook if I conduct my business in a way that pleases the Spirit of God. The list goes on and one.
I have to ask you this morning, “Have you learned the lessons of sowing and reaping? Have you seen how you have reaped a harvest of destruction because of what you have sown in your past. Has God been speaking to your heart this morning and showing you that it is time to begin to sow some different seed?”
I have to let you know that you can only sow what you have. If you are living life thinking that you can do it on your own if you will just get more focused, begin to think better thoughts, or do things differently—then you are sadly mistaken my friend. If Jesus doesn’t live in the seed sack of your heart then the only seed you have at your disposal is the seed of the flesh, the seed of the sin nature. You will reap what you sow. The good news is this: you can begin to sow new seed, imperishable seed, the seed of the Spirit of God, this very morning. All you have to do is surrender. Won’t you ask Jesus into your heart as your Lord and Savior and watch Him begin to plant seeds of righteousness, seeds of holiness, seeds of peace, and seeds of abundant life through your life?