The works (plural) are deeds motivated out of selfishness and self-gratification. It’s the nature that we are all born with and that dominates our lives in an undeniable way. But something happens when God’s love enters 21 lifted meinto our experience. Christ is God’s love expressed to the uttermost on Calvary. When we received Christ, we receive God’s love. When we receive God’s love, or when He first loves us, we too can return His love and learn how to love each other. Love is always victorious in the end. That’s why Paul writes in Galatians 5:24, “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” As Christ died in the flesh, we too, in Christ die to our flesh. His love conquers us, kills us, and raises us from the dead!

God’s love teaches us, exhorts, us, constrains us and much more. It inspires us towards godly living as our love for Him grows so too does our love for others. He explains how the truth of God’s love transforms us. It moves us from living selfish lives to living lives under the influence of God’s Spirit. It’s God’s Spirit prompting us to keep up. Paul writes in Galatians 5:25, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” Then in Galatians 5:26 Paul explains what that would look like in our relationships with each other. He writes, “Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” You see it is God’s love that lifts us out of living according to the works of the flesh to live life on a much higher plain.

Leroy Lawson has a great illustration regarding this truth. He writes, “During World War II, the Allies drove the Italian forces out of Eritrea in North Africa. The departing Italians did their best to delay their enemy’s advance, though, by filling great barges with concrete and sinking them across the entrance to the harbor. They failed to take into account the ingenuity of the Allied engineers. The barges were removed in a brilliantly simple manner. The Allies requisitioned the huge empty tanks that oil refineries store their fuel in. They sealed them airtight, then floated them in the sea above the barges. Then at low tide they chained the gigantic floats to the submerged barges and waited for high tide. When the tide was full, the buoyancy of the fuel tanks lifted the barges off the harbor’s floor—and away from the entrance. The engineers could never have lifted such weights by themselves. Instead, they harnessed the power of the tides. Paul insists that we cannot raise ourselves above the pull of sinful nature by ourselves, but we can be filled with the Spirit that lifts us Godward, above both the sinful nature and the law that sinful nature requires. There, in the purer air in which the fruit of the Spirit can flourish, is true freedom.”