“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. Against such, there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another” (Galatians 5:13-25).
Paul, by inspiration, is telling that the liberty that is in Christ is to be used to serve others and not to sin. Walking in the Spirit — following the word of God — one will not fulfill the lust of the flesh. This is why deciding who to follow is so important.
Israel of old had to make a decision as to who they would follow. At times, they chose to follow God (as they should have), but at other times, they did not. On some occasions, they tried to follow God and worship idols, which never worked out for their good. Trying to “ride the fence” is hypocrisy and deception. Such a deception is dangerous because it will cause one to “harden” their heart to the truth of God’s word.
Paul wrote, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked. For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 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” (Galatians 6:7-8).
Just as the Jews of old found “things” to worship, men today find things to worship.
Some worship the “god” of riches, one that will enslave and capture the heart of anyone who falls down before it. “For the love of money is the root of all evil, which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:10).
While money is needed to have a home, food, clothing and the like, the desire for it must be watched carefully. Some begin to let their wants get the best of them and miss opportunities to worship God or to study his word.
Before long, the feeling of remorse that such an opportunity has been missed is no longer there, and so it becomes easier to miss services even more. Jesus has given us warnings against covetousness, “And he said unto them, ‘Take heed, and beware of covetousness, for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth’” (Luke 12:15).
Others worship the “god” of self. Instead of putting God first, the selfish elevate themselves to that position — their wants, their desires, their way always. Matthew recorded about one who was selfish: “And behold, one came and said unto him, ‘Good Master, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?’ And he said unto him, ‘Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one — that is, God — but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.’ He saith unto him, ‘Which?’ Jesus said, ‘Thou shalt do no murder, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false witness, honour thy father and thy mother, and thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.’ The young man saith unto him, ‘All these things have I kept from my youth up. What lack I yet?’ Jesus said unto him, ‘If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and come and follow me.’ But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (Matthew 19:16-22).
God is who must be followed and obeyed. All the other things are just idols, things that try and take men from God and lead to destruction.
God gave man a mind to use in order to know what he should do, but he leaves it up to man to make that decision.