Well-worn Road | Galatians 5:19-21
And just what does it look like, this dead-end side road down which your lower self would lead you? Oh you know it. It’s well-worn: Smarmy, depersonalized sex with anything that moves and all the filth that goes with that scene, inside and out, fueled by shameless, insatiable sex-lust always searching for the next body to use and discard; insatiable religion-lust polishing its altars, rituals and rules, always on the hunt for the next “fix,” the next religious “high”; unfriending, feuding, one-upping, raging, dirty party-politicking, polarizing, dividing and conquering, ranting, raving rivalries, murderous gutting, drinking yourself under a table covered with vomit from last night’s binge party…ad nauseum. Galatians 5:19-21 | MAV
The “works of the flesh.” Fifteen tawdry words. Sixteen if you’re using the Textus Receptus of the King James Bible. It’s where we’ve lived. Where we live. All of us. Many of us religiously avoid outward manifestations of the “insatiable sex-lust” connoted in the first three words, while falling for the proverbial hook, line and sinker of the “insatiable religion-lust” that actually occupies most of the list (⅔ of it, to be precise), which should make us pause to consider what really should scandalize us most. We should literally feel sick by the time we finish processing the list (which is why I finish with the graphic image of a table covered with vomit). We should feel like we just spent a night at the “cook shop” of the Thenardiers in Les Miserables. The movie version of the musical left me feeling the filth of the Thenardiers and being very happy to see Cosette freed from it. Hugo’s description of the Thenardiers takes me right into these “works of the flesh”:
They were of those dwarfed natures which, if a dull fire chances to warm them up, easily becomes monstrous. There was in the woman a substratum of the brute, and in the man the material for a blackguard. Both were susceptible, in the highest degree, of the sort of hideous progress which is accomplished in the direction of evil. There exist crab-like souls which are continually retreating towards the darkness, retrograding in life rather than advancing, employing experience to augment their deformity, growing incessantly worse and becoming more and more impregnated with an ever-augmenting blackness.
Yes, far too well-worn a path. To look into our souls as a mirror and see such a reflection staring back at us is to cry out with Paul, “Wretched man that I am, who will rescue me from this body of death?” Thankfully, like Cosette, we have been shown the way out through the kindness of another, so we also can respond with Paul, “I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Which part of this listing of the “works of the flesh” nails you? What is the way out?
Jesus, thank you for constantly seeking out brutish and brooding souls stuck in the ruts of such well-worn roads. Thank you for not rejecting, but redeeming. Steer my soul away from such paths of “ever-augmenting blackness.” Set me on the path to life.
The whole text this week is Galatians 5:16-26. Read it daily in it’s entirety from a few different translations if possible.
For all of this week’s resources on Galatians including this week’s DG video on Galatians, check out the Vineyard website.