Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Series 6. Experiencing the power of the cross . No 18:- Dead to the flesh (Walking in the Spirit 3)

. No 18:- Dead to the flesh (Walking in the Spirit 3)

Experiencing the power of the cross (sermon 18)

WALKING IN THE SPIRIT 3

This is our third and last sermon on walking in the Spirit.  In my first sermon we looked at the work of the Holy Spirit in our initiation and in our continuation, and started to get some understanding of the importance of the Holy Spirit in our victory over the flesh. The flesh we saw was one of those which Spurgeon called part of the horrible trinity. Now while we are dead to the flesh, we realise that we have a continuous struggle with the flesh and that the only way we will have victory over the flesh is by the work of the Holy Spirit. So many Christians still live under bondage when the Word of God declares in 2 Corinthians 3:17 (ESV)  that: “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom”.

So last week we saw that we need to walk in the Spirit to overcome the flesh. This we will do in two ways, firstly by studying the Word of God which is the sword of the Spirit and applying the Word of God in our fight against the flesh. Secondly we saw that we must declare war against the flesh as we have two opposing forces within us, the one being the Spirit and the other the flesh, and both express opposite desires for us, and we will ultimately submit to the one and resist the other. If we submit to the flesh we hinder the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and we grieve the Holy Spirit, but if we submit to the Spirit we overcome the flesh.

There are a few more things I must say about this struggle between the Spirit and the flesh.

Look at Galatians 5:18 (ESV) But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” What Paul does here is to equate the flesh with the law.

So many people think that if they can keep the law they are able to control themselves fully. But we very quickly realise that we cannot keep the laws, even those easy ones we generate ourselves, because all it does is to expose your weaknesses further and further. Now in verse 18 Paul equates the flesh with the law and the law is nothing else but human or fleshly effort.

So Christians who walk in the Spirit, do not put their confidence in what they can achieve in the flesh through works and human effort.

The point is this, the human effort is one thing, it's connected with the flesh and spiritual effort is another, it's connected with the Spirit. To be operating under the law means to be operating by works, or to be operating by human effort. Any human solution, any human agenda, any human wisdom, any human approach, any human methodology or human means only feeds the flesh. So verse 16 says if you're walking by the Spirit you'll overcome the desires of the flesh, and if you're led by the Spirit, verse 18 says that you will not be trapped in a system where by human effort you're trying to attain spiritual means. Fleshly efforts are always useless when attempting to deal with spiritual things. You throw flesh at flesh and you are putting petrol on the fire. If the law of God in the Old Testament could not redeem man from his sins, how do we think our own endeavours will?

Church family, the battle in every person's life, every believer's life is the flesh and the Holy Spirit at war. Satan is a strong foe, sin is attractive and the flesh is weak. On a daily basis you and I are at war with the flesh, the flesh resists, the flesh fights, the flesh wants to hinder our walk with the Lord, and it remains a constant battle. Now, listen carefully, do not be like the Galatians who started in the Spirit but are now trying to have a quick fix in their lives through human endeavour. As soon as you enter the realm of self-effort, you depart from the realm of Spirit guidance. That is why Paul says in verse 18, you started in the Spirit, now be led by the Spirit.

So, let me summarise this struggle between the Spirit and the flesh. We know that every problem in life comes from what? The flesh. We saw that every solution comes from whom? The Spirit. So if you have a problem where do you go for the solution? Never forget the word of Paul to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 6:16 (ESV) “ … For we are the temple of the living God,” and how does He indwell us? He does it by His Spirit. We need to become more and more aware of this fact on a daily basis. Then we will realise as we live in His word, and pray 24/7 that the Spirit of God is walking ahead, He is leading and He calls you to literally ‘follow the leader’.  The Spirit of almighty God in you is alive and moving and you are to follow, and follow, and follow day by day, week by week, month by month and year by year, till you see Him face to face. That's the only way you can conquer the flesh.

There is a third thought in the text here. We have seen the importance of the Word of God, we have seen the struggle between the flesh and the Spirit.

Thirdly, we must understand the contrast between the Spirit-filled life and a life in the flesh.

The contrast between the Spirit filled life and the life in the flesh is absolutely vast.

Paul continues in Galatians 5:19-21 (ESV) Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

We don’t have time to expound on them all in detail, so let me just summarise. The first three that any of us can easily succumb to is sexual immorality, impurity and sensuality. These three are sexual sins and they come from the flesh. A person who is wanton in sexual sins or sensuality is one who goes so far in lust that they could care less what anybody else thinks. We could say this is the person with sexual addictions, to use a contemporary term. Now we all know that sex in the right context is not sin. Now there are many things that cause sexual sins, whether it is in upbringing, relationship as a child, influences, friendships, lifestyle, but the incubator is nothing but the flesh, and it needs to be fought by the Spirit.

Sadly many Christians have a fixation with pointing out the sexual sins of others as if that is all that is there in the Word of God. One thing I have noticed in Christianity is Christians who want to execute the adulterers and the divorcees as if that is where the list ends, and they ignore their own fleshly issues. Verse 20 continuous with more and introduces "Idolatry," which is as much a work of the flesh as immorality. Idolatry means to worship anything other than the true God. Some people worship a false god, some people worship in a false religious system, some people worship themselves, and some people worship their money, their career, their prestige, their house, their car, or even their faith in God instead of God.  It can be anything. Paul then mentions “Sorcery" which is taken from the Greek word (pharmakeia) which means the use of  drugs.  It seems that the reason they translated it sorcery or even witchcraft in the English Bibles was since drugs were used as the common medium in the practice of magic and sorcery. Drugs were very central in the practices of the occult. So, if you thought the Bible says nothing about drugs, here it is. Whenever you see alcohol, tobacco, hard drugs or even legal unnecessary pharmaceutics as your solution to fleshly problems, you are throwing flesh at flesh, and you are not solving your problems.

 

There is a third category in Paul’s list which has to do with your interpersonal relationships. The first one is ‘enmity’, or hatred, it means hostile hatred. Then he speaks about ‘strife’ which is nothing else but fighting, quarrels etc. Then there is ‘jealousy’ which is a discontent and angry spirit which is produced when somebody has what you want. Also we have ‘fits of anger’, which literally is hostile outbursts, uncontrolled temper tantrums. Then Paul mentions rivalries, dissensions, divisions which is conflict of different kinds. Lastly under interpersonal relationships you have in verse 21 ‘envy’ which is another form of inability to get along with people because of who they are and what they own.

Then last of all Paul mentions ‘drunkenness’ and ‘orgies’. Drunkenness we all know. Orgies is nothing but wild parties, especially the ones involving excessive drinking and unrestrained sexual activity.

Now, before you think that it is the end of the list Paul says in verse 21 ‘and things like these’ which means the list goes on. Many Christians who want to continually focus on one or two sins in the lives of other believers forget the words of James in James 2:9-11 (ESV) “9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.” So for James, well actually for God partiality is as bad as adultery and murder.

Christian, if any of these problems are in your life, and again remember it is not the end of the list, the Word of God says it is works of flesh.

Now listen carefully. If this is what the flesh produces, then how do we overcome it? By human effort, by more laws, by attending classes on how to overcome it? The answer again is by ‘walking in the Spirit and being led by the Spirit’. Christian, we need to hate those things in the list, because God hates it and the Spirit resists those things in you. Those things belong to an unredeemed lifestyle. That is why Paul can end with verse 21 by saying “I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God”.

Now, it does not mean that if you fell in any of these areas that you are no longer a child of God, but if you continue in this lifestyle and this is unbroken pattern in your life and you have no desire to deal with it, then you are not a Christian, because you are not dead to the flesh but alive in the flesh.

So, here is this struggle with the flesh and it is all action, deed, works, behaviour, and there is only one way to conquer, to make dead or to dominate the flesh, and that is by the Spirit.

Now let’s look at the contrast in Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV) 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

Listen carefully what I want to say now. If you look at the previous list, we can have laws to control it, or at least most of it. But as I mentioned before, laws simply become petrol on the fire as you are fighting flesh with flesh. But, look now at the fruit of the Spirit, and you will see that you cannot command it by law and there is no law against it, why, because it is spiritual, it is fruit produced by a spiritual root.  By the way, it is not fruits, but fruit. It is one Spirit producing much fruit.

Look at all the hatred in the world, fighting, bickering, slandering, all form the flesh – the antidote ‘the fruit of the spirit is love’, real love not the worlds kind of love. Look at all the sadness, discontentment and depression, all to a lesser or greater extent from the flesh ­– the antidote is ‘the fruit of the spirit is joy’. You might always be in conflict with yourself and others and where this world is going to? “The fruit of the Spirit is peace”. You are frustrated, distracted and afraid, and because of that you are acting in devious, hurtful embittered ways.  Well, the Spirit will give you “patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness”. You say, "I'm just out of control, I can't get my life together." Well, “the fruit of the Spirit is self-control”.

Man, life is full of problems, isn’t it? How, do we resolve these deeds of the flesh? Christian, everything that's wrong in our lives is produced by the flesh. Everything that's right is the fruit of the Spirit.

So that takes us our fourth point which involves keeping in mind our victory, and this is where we started the sermon in the first part, so I will not say too much about it now.

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

That's past tense, we've done that. The flesh has been put to death in Christ Jesus, because we concluded that when one died we all died to the flesh. But some of us are foolish enough to carry the dead corpse around and let its rotting decay effect our lives more than it needs to. So Paul says, from a positional standpoint, from a factual standpoint, before God the flesh is dead. Its passions and desires, the power of them is broken. So Galatians 5:25 (ESV) 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”

I wish I now had time to give you illustration after illustration on how to make it all work out in practice, but go and take stock, take those two lists and see for yourself how much of your life is controlled by the flesh and how much is controlled by the Spirit. That will tell you who you are listening to. No matter what problems you face, walk in the Spirit, be led by the Spirit, and keep in step with the Spirit, commit yourself to constant prayer, and the study of God’s word, sit under it day by day, week by week and you will be surprised just how the Holy Spirit helps you to turn the flesh upside down. Many people find their solutions in the chemical comfort of things like tobacco and alcohol. While, I cannot condemn either of these as a major sin, unless there is drunkenness involved. However if it is there to replace the work of the Spirit in your life, then all you are doing is to throw flesh at flesh, and it costs you a whole lot of money, while the work of the Spirit is free, gratis, mahala and verniet (excuse the use of other languages for our readers, my audience understood it). Ephesians 5:18 (ESV) is clear: 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,…” Sadly, so many people even Christians, when they are in need of Biblical answers and a work of the Spirit of God in their lives, rather run to the bottle for their solutions.

One last thought, a fifth one which I want to call, walking in the Spirit together.

This is critical. People in our midst are going to get caught in the area of the works of the flesh, whether it is sexual sins, idolatry, drug addiction, interpersonal relationships, drunkenness etc. What is our role? Well the only way you can criticise is if you are more spiritual, right. Paul, says, ‘let him who thinks he stands be careful lest he falls.’ Now remember Paul did not write the epistle to the Galatians in chapters and verses, it is one letter, and it is amazing what you see in the next few verse. He continuous and tells us how to deal with a fallen brother or sister, and no, you do not kick them out, no matter who they are. Galatians 6:1-2 (ESV) “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Church family, we are here for one another, you are your brother’s keeper. There is nothing more disgusting than Christians who are experts in the doctrines of grace but they know nothing about the grace of the doctrines.

Let me give you an NJ Coertze unauthorised version of the text. ‘If one of us, is caught walking in the flesh, whoever they are, even if it is your pastor, then those who are walking in the Spirit do not chase them away or be harsh on them, but rather invite such a person to walk with you in the Spirit’. Remember the Holy Spirit is our ‘paraklytos’, the one who calls us alongside Himself for many reasons, but we are to be to one another a ‘paraklytos’ and call each other alongside ourselves. The bottom line is, if any of us are caught not walking in the Spirit in any particular issue, those who are walking in the spirit on that issue should come alongside that person in a spirit of gentleness and restore them while paying attention to themselves, because they too can be caught not walking in the Spirit, and then they will need that restored brother alongside them. Kick him out of the family and apply this kind of behaviour consistently and you will empty the church. All we do when we kick one another out is to solve flesh with flesh, and again it is petrol on the fire.

Verse 2 says that we must: “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” What is the law of Christ? Very simple, ‘love your neighbour as you love yourself’, and ‘do unto one another what you want to have done unto yourself.’ Christians, we need one another, isn’t that why the church is the church? We are not called to destroy one another but to spur one another on to love and good deeds.

So, my dear church family, the answer to all life's needs for the believer is in walking by the Spirit because all the problems come from the flesh. Let's help each other do that.

Amen.

Logos Community Church:- 04 August 2013