brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only [use] not
liberty for an occasion
(= bridgehead) to the flesh, but by love serve one
another. For all
the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy
neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another,
take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.
Paul now moves on to show more clearly the difference between the flesh
and Spirit particularly in their out- workings. For the remainder of
fifth chapter we have spelt out for us the final
both the works of flesh, and that of the Spirit.
Having established that believers are brought into
liberty, Paul warns us that this liberty is not for us to indulge our
selves, but rather for serving one another. Paul uses
an interesting word here: 'occasion',
the Greek word is bridgehead,
this being a military term for a
base of operations in war.
This picture can be understood using the famous D-day
landings of the second world war. In order to drive
out the Nazi occupation of Europe the Allies had to send an
invasion force onto the continent. This they did by firstly
landing troops onto the Normandy beaches of northern France,
then, after driving the enemy away from that part, they poured
in the troops
and equipment needed; thus they established a base from which
they could launch out in order to
bridgehead the Allies would not have succeeded in driving out Hitler
So in the spirit we have a similar picture. We are freed in
Christ from sin and the bondage of the law. We no longer have the
disposition to sin, we are in the liberty wherewith Christ
has made us free; but that liberty is for us to do
what God wants, and not to do as we please; previously, in
our fallen state we had no
freedom to do what God wanted at all, but on new birth we do. And the
here is not to allow the flesh to use that liberty as a bridgehead for
its own operations.
Here are some other scriptures that give us the same picture.
sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in
me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.
For sin, taking occasion by the commandment,
deceived me, and by it slew me.
For we commend not ourselves again unto
you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have
somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart.
But what I do, that I will do, that I may
cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they
glory, they may be found even as we.
I will therefore that the younger women marry,
bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to
body, as well as soul and spirit and
the body has its natural
desires. What we have to guard against is allowing those
normal desires to become out of control and to
become bondages; we have to master them, and not them us. In
the basic disciplines of
living such as eating, sleeping etc.
there is a proper order of things; in their place they are correct and
indeed necessary for life, but
when they become the ruling force, such as gluttony and
slothfulness, we become their slaves and not masters.
So taking this thought over to the theme under consideration:
allowing the body to indulge in the flesh, so that that
becomes a base of operations for the flesh, we soon shall
ourselves back in bondage. By being free many would
natural desire to do things by self effort, and set up
regulations in order to govern how they live; it may be a
matter at first,
but soon a bridgehead will develop. Little by little more rules are
laid down, and the flesh pours its troops in, so to
and slowly, but surely, bondage will ensue. The flesh would have taken
the ground of that liberty, and once more becomes the dominating force.
The believer becoming thus carnal and not spiritual, walking after the
flesh and not the Spirit.
Being free does not
give us licence to pour in the works of
the flesh, by setting up regulations that govern our
lives for example, or for others to follow us for
that matter. This freedom is for a higher purpose.
the flesh gains a
foothold in the liberty that we have, and starts
regulations for people to follow then it
eventually to lead to trouble; some people will begin to lord
others, some will accept it, some will resent
it, factions will grow, and there will
contentions, divisions and the flesh will be all too evident amongst
There are three words that Paul uses here : firstly, bite,
this has the sense of stinging. It is used as a metaphor as
the wounding of the soul in reproaches. One can imagine the scene, a
brother who has 'the revelation' from
God and is trying to Lord it over others: he starts by making remarks
that sting the hearts of the brethren that causes a rebuke, thus
beginning a process that causes them to have guilty
feelings and eventually leading them
bondage, usually of listening to him and his so called revelation
The second word is devour,
and it has the connotation of exploiting or preying on
Having stung others such brethren begin to prey on other believers.
Using them to satisfy their own desires in seeing them conform to their
way of thinking. But if many are doing the same
assembly is just
devouring itself. Instead of feeding off Christ to grow in
true life of the Spirit, they are feeding off each other to indulge the
flesh, and the carnal ways continue and indeed increase.
third and final word is consumed,
it means to destroy, and is the climax of the first two thoughts.
flesh to gain a foothold leads to biting and devouring one
another, and this in turn leads to destruction; there can be no other
outcome. In the
fighting that follows people, and the whole assembly, will
eventually loose their testimony. What a tragic state of
The church at Corinth had such problems, and here is what
Paul had to say.
I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye
all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but
that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same
judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by
them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among
you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I
of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of
I, brethren, could not
speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal,
even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and
with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now
are ye able. For
ye are yet
carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and
divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I
am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?
Who then is Paul, and who is are ye not carnal, and walk as
but ministers by whom ye
believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos
watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he
planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the
increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one:
every man shall receive his own reward according to his own
labour. For we are labourers together with God: ye are
God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.
the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I
have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every
man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
I Cor. 1:10-12; 3:1-10
The Corinthians, whilst having
started off on the correct foundation, as had the Galatians, had fallen
into party spirit, and carnality was rife. It is
interesting to note what Paul said the Corinthian
complaint was: are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
They were walking, living as
ordinary unregenerate men! They had gone back into the flesh.
Paul opened the epistle by stating their fault. Namely there was party
spirit, each person was saying that they were following certain
leaders; some said they were of Apollos, some of Paul others yet
following Cephas, and so forth. They were saying: I am of......,
in the Greek this is emphatic and we conclude that the
Corinthians were focussing on themselves, the flesh. They were walking
as men, in the flesh. Consequently they were split and, reading the
Corinthian epistle, we see them biting and devouring
themselves. One example being that they were taking
another to the world's courts in order to
their disputes. I Cor.
The biting, devouring and eventual consuming of each
is totally opposite to the ways of God. We are to love and serve one
another. Serving is the opposite to dominating, loving is the
devouring. So far we have considered much concerning the flesh and some
of its outworkings but now we turn our attention to the way of the
In this chapter the word love appears on several
|......faith worketh by love
but by love serve one
another. For all
the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy
neighbour as thyself.
whole] all the law is fulfilled in one
word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy
neighbour as thyself.
But the fruit of the Spirit is Love.....
tells us, and this is repeated in Romans ( Rom.13:10),
that love is the fulfilment of the law. The Christian life, as we
have repeatedly said on many occasions, is not an
external law; it is
not governed by regulations, and legislation laid down by
churches, or even other believers, but by the life that God plants in
us at new birth.
The Old Covenant showed how powerless we were to
life that pleases God; God's full and free salvation,
for us by the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ,
makes us new creatures in Christ, we receive His Spirit, and become
partakers of the divine nature. Consequently God's laws are written in
our hearts and that which we were powerless to do we now live because
it is our nature to do so, for it is His life in us.
if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away;
behold, all things are become new.
as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto
life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to
glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding
precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine
nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have
been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he
saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new
covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of
Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day
when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt;
because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not,
saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make
the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my
laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to
them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall
teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know
the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
is the characteristic of God's people, as it is characteristic of God
Himself, and as God served us so we are to serve one another. This will
take up our thoughts in the next study.
Now the end of the
commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience,
and of faith unfeigned:
I Tim. 1:5
walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for
us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.
know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the
brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.