Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Series 6. Experiencing the power of the cross . No 16:- Dead to the flesh (Walking in the Spirit - Part 1)

. No 16:- Dead to the flesh (Walking in the Spirit - Part 1)

Experiencing the Power of the Cross over flesh

Walking in the Spirit

 

Well, finally we are finished with Satan. Remember that even the last three sermons on prayer were attached to putting on the whole armour of God.

So a short reminder where we are going in this series before we get to today’s thought. We are trying to make sense to 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (ESV) 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”

We came to discover some glorious realities weeks ago as we saw just how central the daily experience of the power of the cross is for Paul as a believer. When he says ‘we died’, we are suddenly reminded that this concept is all over in his writings. And so we started unpacking this theme as given to us by Paul. I told you in the beginning where we are going, but let me remind you. Paul says in various sections and in various ways that we are dead to sin, Satan, self, the flesh, the world, the law and even racism.

Something else I need to remind you of is that the death that we have died as believers is in Christ and that is our positional death. So, in Christ we are dead to sin, Satan, the flesh, self, the world, the law and racism. However the spiritual life does not end there, we have an obligation and that is to ‘make dead’ and to ‘keep dead’. Another way to put it is to say that we are dealing with a poison and an antidote. We saw that even though in Christ we are dead to sin and dead to Satan, sin still has an amazing power over us and Satan is a major threat to us. We therefore have an obligation to ‘make dead’ sin as we saw in Romans 8:13 and we have an obligation to resist Satan and to fight Satan according to various texts. So after many sermons we are able to say with Paul: “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died, TO SIN” and ‘therefore all have died TO SATAN’.

Today and next Sunday I want to get to another two thoughts and we will deal with it as one sermon in two parts and that is our death to self and the flesh.

Our two key verses are Galatians 2:20 (ESV) “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

And then Galatians 5:24 (ESV) “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”

I would have like to have dealt with the two namely dead to self and dead to the flesh as two separate entities, but we must keep in mind that "flesh" here does not mean "body," as though our bodies were the root cause of our sins. There are some sins listed in the context before us which we will get to later that don't come from our bodies (e.g., strife, enmity, jealousy, anger, envy, etc.). Flesh is nothing but the old ego that we read about in chapter 2:20 that is self-reliant and does not delight to yield to any authority or depend on any mercy. It craves the sensation of self-generated power and loves the praise of men.

Now what you are going to see later is that the contrast to living in the flesh or living for self is living in the Holy Spirit or walking in the Holy Spirit. The Galatians had failed in this. We read in Galatians 3:3 (ESV) Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”

Now what does it mean that they began by the Holy Spirit. That goes right back to their conversion. The moment you are born again you are baptised by the Holy Spirit into Christ and into Christ’s death and you positionally die to the old life, sin Satan, flesh etc. and you are a new creation. The old things have passed away and everything becomes new.

Because our salvation is a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in its initiation, so our spiritual living must be a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in its continuation.  That is what we saw even when we looked at ‘dead to sin’. We saw in Romans 6:1& 2 that we are dead to sin, and then we saw in Romans 8:13 that we must now make dead the sin that is still alive in us, but verse 13 is clear that we ‘make dead, by the Spirit’, because the Christian life is a work of the Spirit from beginning to end. We cannot fall to the level of the Galatians. We cannot begin in the Spirit and be perfected in the flesh. We must live on the spiritual level. We must live in the power of the Holy Spirit. Christian, you cannot be sanctified without the work of the Holy Spirit in your life. The answer is not in psychology or a 10 step plan on how to improve your spiritual life, or in any human efforts or even laws. You began in the Spirit and you now continue in the Spirit. The answer in short is not in the flesh as you died to the flesh and its evil desires.

Let me remind you of the work of the Spirit in our initiation. It is critical to remember how we became Christians. All of us came into spiritual life through the agency of the Holy Spirit. We were convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit. We were brought to repentance by the Holy Spirit. Faith was energized in us by the Holy Spirit so that we would respond to the preaching of the gospel. We were then brought to the place where we would submit to the lordship of Christ by the Holy Spirit. And then we were regenerated by the Holy Spirit which means we were recreated into new life.

At the time in which the Spirit of God regenerated us, He came to indwell us by His agency, we were baptized into the body of Christ, He gave us spiritual gifts, and He then sealed us for eternal life and then separated us from sin. All of that is the work of the Spirit, a monumental work that lifted us out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God's dear Son, a monumental work that took us out of the mundane and earthly and set our feet in the eternal the heavenlies. So we live a spiritual life. We are not of this world though we are in this world. Our citizenship is in heaven. And as a result of this heavenly life and this spiritual kind of existence, we cannot begin in the Spirit and be perfected by the flesh. And so it is essential for us to live in the Spirit, therein lies the solution to everything.

Now, let me remind you of the work of the Spirit in our continuation. The Spirit offers us all of the perfecting resources that we need, He is the one who enables us to make dead sin, and to resist the devil as we take up the sword of the Spirit and pray in the Spirit at all times.  The Spirit brings us into intimacy with God where is all the resource found. The Spirit illuminates the Scripture so we know exactly what the Word of God calls us to do. The Spirit then strengthens us in the inner man to do that. The Spirit glorifies Christ to us, both as our authority and our example so we know how to live and whom to be like. The Spirit then personally guides us as He moves within us through our conscience to do God's will. The Spirit then ministers to us through other Christians as He comes to us through them to touch our lives and bring us strength. And then remember as we saw last week that it is the Spirit that intercedes for us so that all things work together for good in our lives.

Now those are the ministries that the Spirit of God offers the believer by which we are perfected in the Spirit. How ridiculous, how foolish and how bewitched we would have to be like the Galatians to stoop to a lower level and having begun in the Spirit then try to live in the flesh especially when we take verse 24 seriously: Galatians 5:24 (ESV) And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Why would we want to bring back to life that which has been crucified?

I believe that sadly today the church has to a great extent forsaken the real work of the Holy Spirit in the lives on believers. So much again has become fleshly, even some of the claims of being in the Spirit has become fleshly. For many the work of the Spirit has been reduced to worship in the Spirit as emotionalism on a Sunday when the believers gather, but on a day to day basis the work of the Spirit of God means so little in our lives.

Let me give you an example. I was speaking to a girl in the sauna at Eiland where we were on holiday recently. She was telling me just how good a Christian she is and told me where she worships in Pretoria. She had much to say about her being slain in the Spirit etc. Then she told me that her church had recently had Todd Bentley as a guest speaker from the USA. Now, you can research him on You Tube, but this guy who left his wife for a girl in their band, claims things like God telling him to kick old ladies in the face, to leg-drop pastors on stage like a wrestler does, to hit a man who has bowl cancer in his stomach with his fist, how he stormed a Chinese man walking down the aisle for prayer and hit him in the face that he did a backward flip, and all of this he claims he does in the Name of Jesus by the Spirit. He is nothing but a showman and his showmanship is reserved for his services. I asked the girl what was so special about Todd Bentley’s visit to their church and this is what she said: “man he knows how to put on a good show.”

And sadly throughout the world the supposed ministry of the Holy Spirit in many cases has been reduced to a show that exalts the stature of the leader on stage. I believe the church has to a great extent entered into the folly of turning from the Holy Spirit who is the stream of living water and has looked in the empty buckets of psychology, pragmatism, humanism in order to discover the things that it thinks will be able to meet its own spiritual needs.

Remember the words of Jesus in John 7:37-39 (ESV) 37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

Now you and I live in an age where Jesus was glorified, He ascended on high and is at the right hand of the Father and He sent us His Spirit to indwell us. His ministry is day to day, and comes from the depths of our being, and should be no different on a Monday than what it is on a Sunday.

We are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:19 not to ‘quench the Holy Spirit’, and I believe today that we are doing this. We are told in Ephesians 4:30 not to ‘grieve the Holy Spirit’ and I believe we doing this as well. We are putting out His fire, we are pushing Him aside and we are treating Him with indifference.  The church today, I believe, is both quenching the Holy Spirit by refusing to respond to His leading on a daily basis and grieving the Holy Spirit by  our continuous sin and disobedience. We must cease to quench and cease to grieve and begin to move in the power of the Spirit or the church will get worse and worse as it struggles to offer human solutions to spiritual problems.

The question is, how do we do that? How do we live on the spiritual level? How do we get to that point where we're not looking anymore at human solutions but we're looking at spiritual solutions, supernatural answers and supernatural living?

I believe the answers are in the text before us.

As a starting point we need to again get back to our position. What is our position? Our position is that we want to be able to say with Paul from 2 Corinthians 5:14: “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died, TO THE FLESH What is the reason behind this. This is clearly stated in verse 15: and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”

This then goes hand in hand with Galatians 5:24 (ESV) “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires”, and let me add, and they are now no longer living for themselves anymore but for Him who for their sake died and was raised.

So, positionally we are dead to the flesh, positionally we are in Christ, positionally His spirit indwells us, so what is the solution, what is the antidote to flesh living? Christian, our problem today and this is why we quench the Holy Spirit and this is why we grieve the Holy Spirit is because we are inclined to give in to the flesh. All our difficulties are related to the flesh. Every wrong action, every wrong word, every wrong idea, every wrong reaction, every wrong emotion, every wrong attitude is from the flesh. Every difficulty in life is a result of our humanness, the old self, the old ego. The reason we have anxiety is the flesh. The reason we have fear is the flesh. The reason we have terrible relationships is the flesh. The reason we have difficulty in marriage is the flesh. The reason we have difficulty in the family is the flesh. The reason we have difficulty cooperating with other people is the flesh. The reason we have pride is the flesh. All sin of every form, all wrong emotions, all wrong attitudes, all wrong actions, all wrong reactions, all wrong thoughts, all wrong words, and all wrong deeds all come out of the flesh. So Christians, let’s be honest, the flesh or the old ego is a major problem in our lives.

Paul gives the solution to the Galatians and that very solution is our solution today.

The answer is very simple, and that is: You are dead to the flesh, so therefore walk by or live by the Spirit.

Now anyone who knows anything about Christian living biblically must acknowledge that the key to Christian living is the Holy Spirit, that it is a Spirit-controlled life that is a victorious triumphant life. Only the Holy Spirit can harness the fallen flesh.

We all know that we have been saved from the penalty and the power of sin which means that we have been changed in the inner man, but only when we are glorified will we be saved from the presence of sin and the outer man. It is at that point that neither sin, Satan nor the flesh will have any power over us.

So, how do we make dead the flesh that we are positionally dead to, how do we subdue it, conquer it? Come back next week for the answer, and then we will see how to overcome the flesh and what it is to walk by or to live by the Holy Spirit. We will start with Paul’s very simple statement, but it is a statement that is so rich in meaning for the Christian life and that is what we see in Galatians 5:16 (ESV) 16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”

Amen!

Logos Community Church: 21 July 2013