“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 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” (Galatians 6: 7-8).
God is mocked in various ways. There are those who mock the very idea that God exists. Their mockery in effect is denying Him. That is unbelief. There are those who admit the possibility of the existence of God (at least a “higher being”) but reject His Word. They laugh at it, treat it contemptuously and scornfully. That is unbelief. As they mock people who believe the Bible, they mock God. Dead in trespasses and sins, they are gods unto themselves and serve their flesh. They are without God and without hope in the world. Then there are those of whom Paul wrote saying, “although they knew God they did not glorify Him as God nor were thankful” (Romans 1:21) They “did not like to retain God in their knowledge” (Romans 1:28). They do not, because they cannot, deny God’s existence or the Bible. They choose to pick and choose what they want to believe. They determine for themselves what is true and right theologically and societally. As arbiters of truth, they exchange God’s truth to satisfy their reason and personal agenda. As a judgment, God gives them up to their wickedness. Romans 1 describes the consequence. They are oblivious to what Paul wrote to the Galatians. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap…”.
Instead of planting oats, wheat, or some other grain, does a farmer plant weeds and briars? What a man sows, he will also reap. In a temporal sense that is what happens in personal life. Sow wild oats, reap wild oats! Only a fool denies that. Likewise, a nation that countenances selfishness, greed, hatred, and immorality will reap the sad consequences. The Lord is watching. Are we there yet? Though said of ancient Israel, the Lord speaks also to a godless nation. “This is a nation that does not obey the voice of the Lord their God nor receive correction. Truth has perished and has been cut off from their mouth”… “I will utterly pluck up and destroy that nation, says the Lord” (Jeremiah 7:28, 12:17). This very judgment of God is mocked by the ungodly. But as God’s Word is truth, history shows through the ages, “ God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption…”
Paul’s words have a far more serious application in the spiritual realm. The apostolic words speak to consequences related to eternity. Sadly, the consequences are lost on all who think lightly of the Lord, mock Him, abuse His name, love sin, persecute the Church and neglect the welfare of those who bring the Word of God [In context, Paul reminded the Galatians of God’s will, that they who are taught the Word share with those who teach it ( v. 6)].
Many go their merry way because they see this life as the measure and end of all things. Their attention is focused on the earth. They fail to understand, “What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul” (Matthew 16:26). They mock the reality of judgment day. The call to repentance, and the preaching of the cross is foolishness to them. They fail to see that God is serious about what He says. Of the rich man, not condemned to hell because of his wealth, but because of his lack of faith manifest through his worldliness, his temporal focus rather than a heavenly focus, his love of things rather than God, we read, “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame’” (Luke 16:24).
When the rich man in hell begged for relief, he was told, “There is none for you.” He then asked that Lazarus be sent from heaven back to earth to warn the rich man’s 5 brothers lest they come into the same condemnation. He was told, “No.” “If they don’t hear Moses and the prophets [the Word of God], neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead” (Luke 16:31).*
It is not a pleasant thing to preach the Law which speaks of sin and the wrath to come. But without it one cannot understand the Gospel promise of verse 8: “…but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.”
Neither does God Who gave the Law delight in meting out judgment upon those who reject and mock Him (Ezekiel 33:11, 2 Peter 3:9). The confirmation of that lies in the Father’s promise of the Savior’s birth and in the birth of the Savior Who bore the sins of the world, and died.
*A parable is not to be stretched beyond the point it is making. The unbelievers in hell may cry out, but their cries are not heard in heaven. There will be no communication between believers in heaven and unbelievers in hell. At death one’s fate is sealed—either eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ alone, or eternal “living” death and pain in hell! “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). Listen to the Word of the Lord. Blessed are they who hear it and keep it ( Luke 11:28).
Let it be clear. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). There is no one born of woman, except the Lord Jesus Himself, who was born without sin and does not sin. As Luther says in connection with the 5th Petition, “For we daily sin much and indeed deserve nothing but punishment.”
Nevertheless, there are those who through faith in Christ “sow to the Spirit” and “of the Spirit reap everlasting life?” Those of the Spirit who sow to the Spirit have been born anew by the Spirit through the Means of Grace. They have been regenerated by the Word of God which in and with the water of Baptism is, “A gracious water of life and a washing of regeneration in the Holy Ghost,” as St Paul says in Titus, chapter 3. In faith they believe “…According to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, Whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Thanks be to God for His grace – full, free, complete. Paul exhorts the regenerate to be what they are. “This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men” (Titus 3:8).
Believers are, however, still sin in the flesh – the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. We have all frequently reaped a negative reaction, deservedly so, by what we have sown in this temporal life. My brothers never stepped into my shoes to take the discipline I deserved. I reaped the consequence of what I had sown. Our heavenly Father disciplines us in time for our good. However, the eternal consequence for wild oats (sin) we have sown Jesus bore in our place. He died for all. All who believe escape the judgment that befell the rich man.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 3:9). The penitent sinner basks in the joy of forgiveness and eternal life as he believes that Jesus suffered the wrath of God in our place. In the joy of forgiveness through the atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ, the regenerate daily prays, “Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me…” (Psalm 51:10).
Drawing on the Spirit and living in the love of God with thankfulness for His unmerited grace toward us, the child of God desires to gladly hear and learn the Word of God, to love God above all things, and our neighbor as ourselves. God’s children assent to the apostolic injunction, “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). The Christ-believer prays that Christ, through the eternal Spirit, will purge his conscience from dead works to serve the living God (Hebrews 9:14). Unlike those who sow to the flesh and suffer eternal consequence in hell, the child of God, active in faith, sows to the Spirit, and reaps everlasting life.
“Sowing to the Spirit,” living to the glory of God, does not imply that salvation is a result of good works. Living to the glory of God is not work righteousness. It is a consequence of the grace of God that brings salvation, not an excuse to live life as we choose because the Lord is ready to forgive (Romans 6:1). God forbid! It “is the fruit, the characteristic, the ear-mark of true faith,” the exercise of which says that we are who we say we are, children of God and heirs of heaven. It is manifestation of the unmerited, empowering, saving grace of God, a gift through which we rejoice to serve the Lord in humility and truth. Christ Jesus, the living Word, Who has revealed Himself in the inspired Word, is the power unto salvation. He alone! Further, He, through the Spirit, is the Author of the sanctified life. “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to Your name give glory, because of Your mercy, because of Your truth” (Psalm 115:1).
As time winds down, the contrast between works of those who sow to the flesh that reaps destruction, and those who sow to the Spirit that reaps salvation grows starker and starker: “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that )those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:19-22).
May our life be one of daily repentance, as well as unwavering faithfulness to the Truth of the Word of God. May our life and living and preaching be a call to repentance to those still walking the path of destruction. Finally, may our faith and life be such that in the end, by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ we hear, “Well done good and faithful servant…Enter into the joy of your Lord.”
What will you reap? The day is late. The time is now. Use it wisely.