This week we will be reading through Galatians 5:16-26. One way to look at the juxtaposition of the works of the flesh and fruit of the spirit is that Paul is writing of a battle of forces, not simply within the individual, but at a cosmic and mythical level. Paul’s Gospel is our deliverance from this present evil age (1:4) where we are enslaved by “elemental spirits” (4:3,9). Our fight is against principalities, powers, rulers of darkness, and spiritual wickedness. Eph. 2:12. And in these verses we see these two cosmic forces doing battle within the individual in order to compel the individual’s allegiance to that force, which allegiance becomes complete when the individual becomes obedient to that force. This is why Paul tells his audience to walk by the Spirit, but if they bite and devour another or gratify their selfish desires then they allow the rulers of darkness and spiritual wickedness to take over. Our internal disposition both reflects and causes the dominance of one side or the other.
Another similar way of looking at these verses is in light of our past readings of St. Athanasius’ On the Incarnation and C.S. Lewis’ Great Divorce. Both writers (with Lewis borrowing heavily from Athanasius) see our teleological purposeful end as being partakers of the divine nature. 2 Peter 1:4. God is the source of existence, and as we become more existent, we become more God-like and take upon ourselves the divine attributes of love, joy, peace, patience, etc. However, when we fall away from God, we begin to return to the non-existence of pre-Creation. We begin to cease to exist. As George MacDonald says in the Great Divorce, there is a difference between being a grumbler and grumble. In the former, there is still an existent person with a divine spark that can be rescued, whereas in the latter there is nothing left but ash to be swept away. And so what Paul is saying is that when we walk in the Spirit, we are obtaining salvation, and when we give into the flesh (the grumbling) we are moving towards death, for the flesh cannot inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Cor. 15:50.
The best modern example of Paul’s lesson, however, is the final fight scene in “Return of the Jedi.” (Clip 1, Clip 2, Clip 3). Within the first clip, the Emperor tells Luke to “Strike me down with all of your hatred and your journey to the dark side will be complete.” (0:39). In other words, in giving in to his hate and anger and in killing the epitome of the Dark Side, Luke will himself become the Dark Side. And in the fight, Luke tells Vader to “Allow the good to take over.” (2:30). Luke sees that there is still a spark of humanity in Vader that can be rescued. In the second clip, Luke’s anger is aroused. When he has the opportunity to kill Darth Vader, he begins to physically become Vader. (0:21). In allowing his anger to take over, Luke is becoming darkness. At the very end of the second clip (2:40) as the Emperor is killing Luke, Vader’s love for his son takes over and he saves his son from death and in doing so he saves himself from the Dark Side. (Clip 3). Vader’s love for Luke and his acting on that love expels the Dark Side from Vader. If you have not seen Star Wars in a while, please take a look at the three clips and see how the actions of Luke and Darth Vader reflect the battle between the Spirit/Force and the Flesh/Dark Side within each character.
Dinner is at 6. The menu is chicken parmigiana. Discussion about 6:45. Hope to see you here.
By this it may be seen who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not do right is not of God, nor he who does not love his brother.1 John 3:10