Words taught by the Spirit”
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SOWING AND REAPING
- “7. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Gal.6:7-9)
- “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it [spring] the issues of life.” (Pr.4:23)
Introduction: a universal law
God manifests his love to us through this warning and exhorts us to pay attention to the words of the Holy Spirit and not err concerning the real nature of things. The law of ‘sowing and reaping’, though it refers to the vegetable world, it is also of application in the spiritual realm. Satan’s pride and fall constitutes the proof. It is: “… as I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same.” (Job 4:8). The verses under study mean that carnal indulgence and bad habits and above all bad choices will end in ruin or perdition. On the contrary, good and healthy spiritual seed will lead to a good final spiritual harvest and to everlasting life. Whatever man sows, the same will he also reap. If we sow wheat, we cannot harvest tomatoes! As far as quantity is concerned, the seed we sow reproduces itself manifold!
This law is valid for everyone: for the family, for the society and even for the Church. The words of Scripture that “He who sows iniquity will reap sorrow…” (Pr.22:8) and those who “…sow the wind… reap the whirlwind…” (Hos.8:7) are constantly confirmed. This law tells us to pay attention in order not to sow thorns and thistles on which we will walk later all along our present life and later throughout the whole eternity. Life is, therefore, a season of sowing but at the same time also as of reaping. One’s future and the conditions after death depend exclusively on the choices of his heart (Rom.2:4-11).
Is it possible to be deceived by others and to be self-deceived
“Do not be deceived…” People believe that it is possible to be deceived or be cheated by Satan or by evil spirits or by other people but they do not believe that it is possible to be self-deceived… However, the Word of God – but also psychology and philosophy – admits that self-deception is possible and warns us against self-deception.
A man may be deceived from outside: By traditions of men, by evil spirits and by men. For example: Who is Jesus Christ: A good man, a philosopher, the Archangel Michael, only man or only God? How can one be saved?
God urges us to be on our guard against Satan and men and pay attention to the choices of our hearts! Satan comes as an angel of light, leading to error our mind and our conscience, exploiting the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1Jo.2:16).
Satan also comes in the form of some so-called great teachers, who are sometimes false teachers, who, having the form of godliness (2Tim.3:5), twist the Word of God and poison the soul, the mind and the conscience with their philosophies and teachings. They lower God’s exigencies concerning repentance, faith, faithfulness, obedience and sanctification and introduce “will worship and humility”, of “good works” etc…. The apostle John says, “Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.” (1Jo.3:7). Some of them even teach us that we must taste both sides of life. I do not need to put my hand in the fire to find out that it burns. Even the wild beasts have that “common sense”… However, the Word of God is categorical. “Let no one deceive you with empty words…” (Eph.5:6) “Friends”, members of our family and our neighbors etc., can lead us astray or create in us sinful habits! “Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”” (1Cor.15:33-RSV). Among bad company are bad spectacles (TV etc.) …
A man can be deceived from inside: Let us just mention a very limited number of Scriptures about spiritual self-deception:
- · “For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” (Gal.6:3)
- · “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (Jas.1:22)
- · “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.” (Jas.1:26)
- · “”Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ ––and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked––” (Rev.3:17)
Let us not forget that our heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? (Jer.17:9). How many times did we not make up our mind not to commit the same sin or not to repeat a harmful habit and before 24 hours had gone by, we had repeated it? The Bible says that, “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered.” (Pr.28:26). Self-deception is grafted upon ignorance, upon our lusts and upon a refusal to keep a good conscience. The Bible tells us: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…” (Ho.4:6) and “having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck,” (1Ti.1:19). The solution is: Love God with all our heart!
The importance of our choices is great
Our present spiritual situation reveals, very often, the sowing of the past… The future will reveal today’s sowing. God tests us every moment and in every thing! (Job 7:18). Our choices are, in reality, our real sowing. This is the reason why God exhorts us to keep our heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life (Pr.4:23). It is impossible to influence the course that the bullet will take after you have pulled the trigger; so it is impossible to change the reaping of what you have sown! The choice of our heart, in full knowledge or in ignorance, is the thing that conditions the course of our life. Very often, however, we try to resist and/or to avoid reaping what we have sown, inventing ways of escaping or of changing the consequences, using illegal methods. Nevertheless, the only efficient, short and quick way to do God’s will and eventually to avoid the consequences or at least part of the consequences is to humble ourselves, to repent and to obey: To accept humbly the guilt and the punishment of our sin (Lev.26:41). The criminal on the cross was saved and – IF I may use the expression – became “spiritual” in the twinkling of an eye, just because his heart rejected what he was, understood what he ought to be, adopted it and, turning to Jesus, asked for His mercy. His humility gave God the possibility to open his spiritual eyes to see who the man Jesus was and where He was going! He fulfilled the conditions and was “rewarded” immediately! He did not become “spiritual” because of additional efforts but because of a good choice! He was transferred from darkness to light and transited from death to life. There is no progress without a good choice and a heart’s decision!
Little or temporary things may have terrible consequences
The Bible says that “…for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the Day of Judgment” (Mat.12:36) and that even the lust of the eyes is considered as sin (1Jo.2:16; Mt.18:9 et Mark 9:47). We should not, therefore, despise the day of little things because they might have great and terrible lifelong and eternal consequences! Little foxes destroy vineyards (So.2.15) and a little folly dishonors a man respected for wisdom and honor (Ec.10:1) says the Word of God. Such “little” sins devour our spiritual life… A small breach or hole in a ship can make it sink … even while it is within the harbor…
The repetition of small sins, which seem unimportant, may become a real bondage to our soul and to our body. Wrap up your two legs together with a thread. You can break it at any time. Wrap them up many-many times and you will see if you can break them and loose your legs… Every word, act or thought has eternal repercussions and it comes back the way it was sown… Even our discussions are registered and we will hear them again replayed when we stand before God! (Mal.3:16).
The phrase “sowing to the flesh” refers to the gratification of our lusts
This is absolutely true when they absorb our heart and our life as it happens when it has to do with excessive attachment to our job, our studies, our money, our glory etc. What are we going to reap? Corruption! Sowing in the flesh is not only the doing and the abiding in gross, flagrant or vulgar sins. And let us pay attention to the warning: “For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” (Rom.8:13). Many are those who sow in the flesh while they appear doing what is good because, in reality, they have after-thoughts and hypocritical dispositions or because their lives consist of a feverish human activism for which they have never asked God… In two words: Who sows in the flesh? He who lives and works for himself and not for God!
Man reaps more than he has sown, exactly as in the vegetable world!
David, a man after God’s heart, paid his sin fourfold! A glass of wine or beer etc., more than what is permitted or the non-respect of a traffic light may cause our death and the death of other people. A lie may destroy a man’s whole career; a sexual sin of youth may destroy all the years of his or her life and all that we have been building for years and years on end! Yea, a bad action of a moment may make you pay it back during all your life. What I have just said holds true also for good choices! A godly choice may surely bring countless blessings in our life! (1Sam.16:7).
The ignorance of the quality of our acts does not make us innocent!
If I think that I sow good quality and healthy seed and the seed is bad and/or unhealthy, is my ignorance going to change the result? The Bible says that “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Pr.14:12). My ignorance about the sin I commit does not discharge me from the guilt and does not deliver me from the consequences of my sin and of my foolishness! This can be clearly seen in Lev.5:17-19; Num.15:24-30 and Ec.5:6.
- · What kind of seed do we sow? What is our behavior? Selfish, harsh, mean, bitter, nagging, authoritarian, irritating and leading our women and our children to mean acts and to discouragement? (Col.3:21). How do we do our work and that of other people’s work, diligently or negligently? “Cursed is he who does the work of the LORD deceitfully (or negligently)”? (Jer.48:10). Do we do whatever we do in order to be seen, acting in a spirit of eye service, as men-pleasers or in sincerity of heart, fearing God and as bondservants of Christ? (Eph.6:6; Col.3:22). How do we spend our leisure time? Telling jokes and using foolish or filthy talking that pollute our mind and the mind of other people? What do we read? Are our Yes, yes and our No, no? Is our speech salted with grace or with lies and/or exaggerations? Do we think one thing, say another thing and do another thing? Do we keep our promises and respect faithfully our small or great commitments? (Mt.25:23). Do we use the Bible the way that suits us? To direct questions, which corner us, do we reply as Christians fearing God or as diplomats being afraid of a confrontation, inventing excuses and taking refuge in the expression: “You do not know my heart”? Of course – only God knows our heart – but our neighbors see our fruit! How do we judge and measure others? Where is our treasure and where are our thoughts focused all day long? (Mt.6:21). Do we speak the truth in our heart before God and men? (Ps.15:2). Do we say: “Yes Lord, you are right and I am wrong”? I deserved to go to Hell but you saved me!” “Yes, my brother, my sister, my wife etc., you are right and I am wrong”. Do we ask God to forgive our sins? Have we put our trust in God’s loving and righteous character? In two words: Do we repent sincerely and have we put all our trust in Jesus Christ?
The expression “he who sows in the Spirit”
This expression means: minding and savoring the things of the Spirit and walking in the Spirit. If a person believes God’s words, repents mourning for his sins, confesses and rejects them and surrenders his being to Christ and keeps diligently a good conscience, spiritual blessings will come upon him. This is the meaning of verse 9, which says, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Sowing in the Spirit means self-denial on behalf of the ONE who saved us and to WHOM we belong. Only those who are governed by the Spirit of God are His children (Rom.8:14), if we look unto Jesus, the Author, the Leader and Finisher of our faith and if we live by faith, relying absolutely on the precious blood of Christ.
Who is the man that can sow in the Spirit?
Only the man who has been born of God, he who has surrendered himself to God, he who has kept nothing for himself and who has a pure heart and keeps a good conscience. Only he who relies on God’s grace and not on his efforts, who resists sin to bloodshed, striving against sin (Heb.12:4) and Satan. “Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.” (1Jo.3:9) Only to that man, good works can be of any value! Only from the hands of a pure man can God accept with pleasure his ‘sacrifices’. If men do not keep a good conscience, then their religious activities are in vain. They grieve or quench the Spirit (Eph.4:30-31 and 1Th.5:19‑20) and harden their neck resisting to true reproofs (Ac.7:51). Woe unto him who tries to find an alibi in order to cover up his guilt or find an excuse such as “I did not know”, “it is your fault”, “you do not know my heart”, etc. One cannot expect anything from a man who is capable of inventing excuses!
Quantitative and qualitative proportionality between sowing and reaping
Is it ever possible?
1. Someone who opens the Word of God once a week, just for a couple of minutes or in a haphazard way or when he is only in church, to become a believer mighty in words and acts? (Col.3:16);
2. Someone who has not put his or her life in order to become able to teach and admonish other people? (Col.3:16; Mt.5:19);
3. To see someone being blessed, when he spends hours and hours on end in front of the TV, who finds time for his occupations and his leisure but does find the time to study his Bible and to pray neither for himself nor for other people? (Mt.26:41);
4. To see a man greedy for money who does not give money to the poor but who wastes his money for things that have to do only with his house, his family, his vacation and pleasures, prosper spiritually?
5. Someone who makes compromises with sin and the world and interprets the Bible as it suits him or her best or who does not ever give his testimony?
6. To see someone who offers money, praise and worship to the Lord and who sits at the Lord’s Table without having been first reconciled with his brother or sister while he is aware that they have something against him, to enjoy God’s peace and joy? (Mt.5:24);
7. To see a believer being transformed by the renewing of his mind, without having previously presented himself as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God? (Ro.12:1-2)
8. To see a believer who does not endure to the end to be saved? (Mt.24:13);
9. To see a man who has not the fruit of the Spirit and be at the same time truly filled with the Holy Spirit? That is forgery; that is imposture! God gives the Holy Spirit only to those who obey Him! (Act.5:32);
10. To see a man sowing pride and arrogance, resist God’s will and reap at the same time God’s grace? (Jas.4:6);
11. To live with an impenitent heart that resists God’s reproofs and, at the same time, have God’s life and the mind of Christ? (Pr.1:23);
12. For someone to live with an impatient and unfaithful heart and, at the same, time expect to see God’s promises being accomplished in his life? (Heb.10:36).
We conclude, therefore, that “…He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” (2Cor.9:6). Also, “Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” (Ps. 126:5-6). The main characteristic of all great men of God was that they had surrendered their lives completely to Christ and were faithful, remaining steady and diligent in the execution of God’s will and that they did not let anything or anybody divert them from their purposes.
The reaping will be: either corruption or eternal life
In v.8 the Bible speaks about corruption and everlasting life. When the Bible refers to “corruption”, it means basically perdition and eternal condemnation. As regards “corruption”, Paul, addressing himself to the Corinthian believers declared: “lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and I shall mourn for many who have sinned before and have not repented of the uncleanness, fornication, and lewdness which they have practiced.” There are, nevertheless, other forms of corruption such as sadness, agitation and confusion, depression, sickness, discouragement, worries which devour the soul and remove every bit of freshness and create insomnia, psychological diseases due to unbridled desires, fear, frustration, etc., during or after the act of sin. God blows away whatever we do, though it may appear good, but which has selfish and egocentric motives (Isa.17:10-11 and Hag.1:5‑9). These forms of corruption can result in the final destruction. God makes us reap not based on the toil of our hands but based on the choices of our hearts. Anyway, God would bring us to the full of our harvest on the Day of Judgment and of reward.
And now, let us examine the expression “everlasting life”: The Bible says: “Say to the righteous that it shall be well with them, for they shall eat the fruit of their doings.” (Isa.3:10). Man’s fruit is manifested by the formation of his character and his usefulness to other people. In addition, and what is most important, is that the righteous will not reap in the age to come the fruit of his sins because Christ has reaped them on the cross for the account of the believer.
If the imperfect fellowship now with God and with other believers is a source of joy, how much more the blessedness and prosperity of the age to come during which he will be co-heir with Christ and will become like Him! Unbelievable but true! God will reward our honesty and faithfulness with the currency of the Heavenly Country. That is why the Word of God tells us: “And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear;” (1Pet.1:17; also, 1Cor.15:58 and Heb.10:35-39).
The way of reaping
The best way to reap is by “bowing or bending oneself”.
1. When we reap the sin we have sown, we must bend ourselves in humility, self-examination and repentance. We must accept it without murmuring (Lam.3:39-44 and Lev.26:40-41) or rebellion or discouragement or despising the chastening of the Lord (Isa.1:5; Rev.16:11; Heb.12:5; Jer.5:3). If not, we will be caught in an ever-increasing vicious circle… We must take care to discern why God has lifted up his rod! (1Cor.11:31-32). Let us not forget the word “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore, be zealous and repent.” (Rev.3:19). The lost ground cannot be recovered but slowly and/or partially, unless God intervenes and does a miracle. God forgives our sins but in certain cases He lets certain consequences of our sins remain on us! In this way, we are chastened or instructed and protected from falling again to sin! We are reminded in this way of our shortcomings and are taught to depend always on Him and remain humble. The nails nailed on a piece of wood can be removed but the holes remain! Attention! What I say does not mean that we are in need of sinning to stay humble but we need God’s grace that we both discern ourselves and stay humble!
2. When we reap God’s blessings, we must bend ourselves in humility and profound gratitude. God’s blessings are not the result of our own capacity or piety (De.8:17 and 9:4-5). Even our capacity to understand God’s truth is not from us but it is from God! (2Cor.3:5). We must, therefore, give the glory to God who blesses us and gives us glory… We must not, therefore, transform these blessings into idols but we must attach ourselves to God the Giver! He gives us the possibility to reap, very often, things which we have not even sown and that are due to God’s grace. HE offers us things that we do not deserve…
Let us not miss eternity for rubbish
Let us be careful not to miss eternity for rubbish and sell out our spiritual “birthright” for one morsel of food. (Php.3:8; Heb.12:16) If we, therefore, call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, let us conduct ourselves throughout the time of our stay here in fear (1Pe.1:17).
God is not only severe but He is also merciful
Every one of us will give account and will reap what he has sown. That is why we should take refuge in due course to Christ and ask Him for mercy and for His grace! HE will forgive all our sins and He will throw them into the deep seas not to remember them anymore. Let us repent, therefore, if we have not yet repented, let us continue repenting, and let us go to Christ because it is He who has reaped on the cross and through His death on the cross the fruit of all our sinful sowing. God will revive and restore to us, in His sovereignty, the years that have been eaten up by the enemy (Joel 2:25) and/or by our own foolish actions. Our sins will be blotted out, and times of refreshing will come from the presence of the Lord (Ac.3:19). The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy. (Ps.147:11) God is not only severe but He is also merciful (Job 11:6 and Es.9:13). God will have mercy because He takes pleasure in mercy! Then, “Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our life; and we will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” (Ps.23:6). AMEN!