The apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 5 that the works of the flesh are obvious.
Google tells me the word obvious stems from the Latin ob viam, meaning in the way. The English word came around in the late 16th century and meant something “frequently encountered.”
That reminds me of when someone once asked me why I don’t talk more about the devil.
My initial response was something like, “Have you read the news lately?” In my mind, you don’t need me to talk more about the devil. We all frequently encounter what he is doing. And this conversation happened more than a decade ago. People weren’t as fixated with cable news the way they are today. You can hear all about the devil’s work 24/7.
So, let’s talk about that for a moment.
Over the years instant access has created and satiated a craving for all the latest in news, facts and opinions. What’s unfortunate is the lines between those three things have blurred so much it’s often hard to distinguish one from the other. I say that’s by design. When you’re enraged, you’ll keep watching. When you’re told who the enemy is, you’ll listen to every story that highlights how evil you know they are. Apparently, everyone’s an enemy of everyone else.
We’ve long passed the point of being informed. Now, half-info spun into indignation is all we need, just enough to infuriate us to tune in again later today–if we ever turn off the news.
So, before, you could listen to the news and notice how the devil was on the prowl. Of course, that hasn’t changed. The only difference is, using our cable news illustration, the devil is reaching through the TV to do his work.
It should be so obvious what is happening.
Now, this isn’t some prudish preacher’s rant against the technology of the day. You know I’m not that guy. I’m only reflecting on the fruit of what I see in others and listen to when we talk–yes, even church conversations.
When Paul said the works of the flesh were obvious, he still identified a handful of big ones: Some of those works are: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing,
Do you really want to tell me cable news doesn’t bring out some of those things in all of us? Of course, cable news is only one culprit. Do we even realize that many more of us are finding stronger connections and identity to our political affiliations than we are our Christian calling? What other frequently encountered activities and ideas do we entertain in our minds and pursue with our time?
Paul didn’t say the fruit of the Spirit was obvious. And that’s the main reason I don’t talk about the devil all that much. You and I need to hear more about the Spirit’s work. We need to learn and relearn what it means to live by the Spirit.
Anything that takes you away from the fruit of the Spirit will not help you live by the Spirit. That should be obvious. But is it?