How do You Appeal to Venal Spirits?

Word of the Day:  venal

Definition; open to bribery

The Book of Galatians takes many of us to an all too familiar place, one that highlights spiritual conflict similar to that of the Galatians. Like the Galatians, we too have been chastened, charged to stop, commanded to cease behavior inconsistent with that which God approves of.

The Apostle Paul urged, “I have also told you in times past?”(Galatians 5: 21), indicating that this was not the first time that he felt it was necessary to address rumors about the Galatians and their ungodly behavior. In fact, at least (5) appeals are documented in Paul’s Galatian Epistle.

Making an appeal is different than casually mentioning an issue. An appeal directly demands, calls for, petitions or pleads with one to cease or began something! As it may be, an appeal is usually initiated in the wake of desperation, when all other ways of convincing have failed.  

Appealing to one’s soft side, common sense, intellectual ability, or emotions is how many of us respond to circumstances that threaten our sense of peace.

Suppose modern-day religious leaders mimicked Paul’s approach to addressing “ungodly behavior,” including their own? While appealing to others as well as themselves, what if venal “men of the cloth” turned from their wicked ways? Yes, it is possible to appeal to yourself, command your own attention, and call out behavior unbecoming to Christ! Being open to bribery is unbecoming of Christians. Bribery can manifest in many ways, both in and away from the church.

How do You Appeal to Venal Spirits?

Bribery does not occur as a result of one making a mistake. Instead, bribery can only happen if the flesh is weak, subject to trickery, being coerced or “hoodwinked.” The Galatians encountered venal and persuasive forces that successfully led them astray. What steps could they have taken to change their course? Paul appeals to them. He reminds them of who they belong to.

To reverse ungodly behavior people must “crucify” the flesh. Crucifying the flesh entails giving one’s life to Christ, enslaving oneself to sin, acquiring worldly possessions, loving yourself more than anybody else, and resisting the urge to chase fortune or fame. “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5: 24

Passage Interpretation:

This is not the first time that Paul felt it was necessary to address rumors about the Galatians and their ungodly behavior. They have been continuously disobedient. He is persistent and verbally assertive in his written efforts to lead disobedient, stubborn and spiritually corrupt Galatians back to Christ.

In Paul’s Galatian epistle, he boldly confronts and petitions Galatians at least five times over and about the destructive path many have taken. Paul seems surprising that many chose to desert the Gospel of Christ for a new gospel. He also seeks information about the identity of whoever managed to trick them but not before calling them out as being foolish for doing so. He also ponders over whether he wasted his time preaching the Gospel to them. Galatians 5: 19-26 serves as an eye-opener for those who have been blind-sided by false doctrine. Following are examples of Paul appealing to the people of Galatia.

Five Appeals

  • Galatians 1: 6-7 NIV – 6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all.
  • Galatians 3: 1-3 NIV– You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish?
  • Galatians 4: 10-12 –You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! 11 I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.

12 I plead with you, brothers and sisters, become like me, for I became like you.

  • Galatians 5: 7-8 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you.
  • Galatians 6: 12-13 –Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 Not even those who are circumcised keep the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your circumcision in the flesh.

Paul’s letter to Galatia mentions that he had been “crucified with Christ,” meaning that he is no longer of the world but lives according to the Gospel of Christ. In Galatians 2:19, Paul states that in Christ he became dead to the Law.

The apostle Paul wants Galatians to know that once a person is crucified with Christ he or she becomes non-responsive to ungodly temptation, temporary things, and false doctrine. In Paul’s case, “he states that he became insensible to the Law as a means of justification. [Christ became the end of the Law by what He did on earth through His sinless life and His sacrifice on the cross. So, the Law no longer has any bearing over us because its demands have been fully met in the Lord Jesus Christ. No longer under the penalty of the Law, we now live under the law of grace in the love of God.]

Paul’s passion and love for Christ, including a desire to lead souls to Him are the driving force behind his epistle to Galatian churches. One of his missions in the book of Galatians is to expose, confront and re-direct wayward Galatians that have been corrupted by false doctrine, are confused about the Law, and what is required to inherit the Kingdom of heaven.

21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:21.

The primary purpose of this section of the passage “Galatians 5: 19-26” is to clarify what is and is not permissible in one’s walk with Christ, reveal again what the “fruits of the Spirit” are and confirm that they are necessary for everybody who desires to inherit the Kingdom of heaven.

How do You Appeal to Venal Spirits?