[i]Gal 5:15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.[/i]
[i]That all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself[/i], Gal_5:14. Love is the sum of the whole law; as love to God comprises the duties of the first table, so love to our neighbour those of the second. The apostle takes notice of the latter here, because he is speaking of their behaviour towards one another; and, when he makes use of this as an argument to persuade them to mutual love, he intimates both that this would be a good evidence of their sincerity in religion and also the most likely means of rooting out those dissensions and divisions that were among them. It will appear that we are the disciples of Christ indeed when we have love one to another (Joh_13:35); and, where this temper is kept up, if it do not wholly extinguish those unhappy discords that are among Christians, yet at least it will so far accommodate them that the fatal consequences of them will be prevented.
(2.) The sad and dangerous tendency of a contrary behaviour (Gal_5:15): [i]But[/i], says he, if instead of serving one another in love, and therein fulfilling the law of God, [i]you bite and devour one another, take heed that you be not consumed one of another[/i]. If, instead of acting like men and Christians, they would behave themselves more like brute beasts, in tearing and rending one another, they could expect nothing as the consequence of it, but that they would be consumed one of another; and therefore they had the greatest reason not to indulge themselves in such quarrels and animosities. Note, Mutual strifes among brethren, if persisted in, are likely to prove a common ruin; those that devour one another are in a fair way to be consumed one of another. Christian churches cannot be ruined but by their own hands; but if Christians, who should be helps to one another and a joy one to another, be as brute beasts, biting and devouring each other, what can be expected but that the God of love should deny his grace to them, and the Spirit of love should depart from them, and that the evil spirit, who seeks the destruction of them all, should prevail?
II. That they should all strive against sin; and happy would it be for the church if Christians would let all their quarrels be swallowed up of this, even a quarrel against sin-if, instead of biting and devouring one another on account of their different opinions, they would all set themselves against sin in themselves and the places where they live. This is what we are chiefly concerned to fight against, and that which above every thing else we should make it our business to oppose and suppress. To excite Christians hereunto, and to assist them herein, the apostle shows,
1. That there is in every one a struggle between the flesh and the spirit (Gal_5:17): [i]The flesh[/i] (the corrupt and carnal part of us) [i]lusts[/i] (strives and struggles with strength and vigour) [i]against the spirit[/i]: it opposes all the motions of the Spirit, and resists every thing that is spiritual. On the other hand, [i]the spirit[/i] (the renewed part of us) strives [i]against the flesh[/i], and opposes the will and desire of it: and hence it comes to pass [i]that we cannot do the things that we would.[/i] As the principle of grace in us will not suffer us to do all the evil which our corrupt nature would prompt us to, so neither can we do all the good that we would, by reason of the oppositions we meet with from that corrupt and carnal principle. Even as in a natural man there is something of this struggle (the convictions of his conscience and the corruption of his own heart strive with one another; his convictions would suppress his corruptions, and his corruptions silence his convictions), so in a renewed man, where there is something of a good principle, there is a struggle between the old nature and the new nature, the remainders of sin and the beginnings of grace; and this Christians must expect will be their exercise as long as they continue in this world.