Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Non-series Sermons by Year 2020 Sermons . Walking in the Spirit

. Walking in the Spirit

WALKING IN THE SPIRIT

We have over the past 20 days spoken about the whole armour of God and ended with the concept of prayer and specifically praying in the Spirit. I showed you the frequency of our prayers, the variety of prayers, the manner of prayer and the secondary object of our prayer all takes place in the Spirit. A question we need to ask now is what will the greatest hinderance be to ‘praying in the Spirit?’ The answer is quite simple. If you live a life in the flesh how can you pray in the Spirit? So, for today’s sermon and for the next few devotions, I want to tackle this critical subject.

Now what you are going to see as we work through this 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 Galatian church 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, to sin Satan, the flesh the world etc. and you are now a new creation. The old things have passed away (died) 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.  Christian living is all about life in the Spirit. In Romans 8:13 we read: 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Now, why do we put to death the deeds of the body. It is because the Christian life is a work of the Spirit from beginning to end. We must not fall to the level of the Galatians. You 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, righteousness, and judgment 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. The work of the Holy Spirit is the only reason you could believe and receive.

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 because 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. Romans 8:1-2 (ESV) summarizes all of what I shared now quite well. “1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”

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 all our resources are 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 as we saw in the devotion yesterday the Spirit 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 of Galatians 5 seriously: “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 a simple 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 a few years ago. 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 recently had Todd Bentley as a guest speaker from the USA. Now, you can research him on You Tube, but this is the guy who 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 which brings about healing. 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 and artificial super spirituality 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 and entertainment 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.”

You and I live in the 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 works 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 are 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 daily and grieving the Holy Spirit by our continuous sin and disobedience. We quench the Spirit by putting a spiritual humanistic display on Sunday after Sunday in churches which is no more than a display of the flesh, and then we call it Spirit filled. We must cease to quench and cease and 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 are not looking anymore at human solutions, but we are looking at spiritual solutions, supernatural answers and supernatural living?

It starts with understanding Galatians 3:3 (ESV) “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”

And it continuous then with surrendering to the Spirit and dealing with the flesh. 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 by the Spirit for Him who for their sake died and was raised.

Paul says that those who belong to Christ, “have crucified” the flesh. 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 is that we are inclined to give in to the flesh, and therefore we quench the Holy Spirit, and therefore we grieve the Holy Spirit. 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 live in 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 us 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 amazingly 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. The key to Christian living is a Spirit-controlled life that is a victorious and 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? Paul tells the Galatians 5:16 (ESV) how to do it. Listen what He tells the Galatians. He says: 16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” Let me just add this for today. Here you see a correlation between walking in the Spirit vs the desires for the flesh. But it is so much deeper. Galatians 5:25 (ESV) 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” So, if we claim to live by the Spirit, we also do not gratify the desires of the flesh.

Now, in the past I would say, 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. The joy is that I can say, ‘come back tomorrow’. I am sure we can all set aside 15 minutes a day somewhere, to listen to the devotions and find our answers.  We will start with Paul’s very simple statement, that is so rich in meaning for the Christian life and that is the verse we just read: 16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” Then we will march on and I will teach you as much as possible of life in the Spirit vs life in the flesh. So, you do not have to wait till next week, and forget so much of what I have said. Catch you at 11:00 tomorrow.

Amen!

Soli Deo Gloria

Logos Community Church – 31 May 2020.

 

Walk in the Spirit (Part 2) (added 1 June 2020)

Yesterday was Pentecost Sunday when we remember the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on that glorious day when the church of Christ was birthed. It was very appropriate to speak on Walking in the Spirit, after we spent a few devotions on Praying in the Spirit. We recognized yesterday that we all still struggle with the flesh which is opposed to the Spirit. Even though we know we are dead to the flesh due to the work of atonement done by Christ on the cross of Calvary, the flesh is real, we all sin, we all stumble, and we all struggle. So, we asked the question.  How do we subdue the flesh, how do we conquer the flesh, how do we overcome the desires of the flesh? Paul’s answer is quite simple, or so it seems at least in the words of the Scripture quite simple. Galatians 5:16 (ESV) But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”

The antidote for dealing with the poison of the desires of the flesh is very simple and very clear. All you need to do according to Paul is to walk in the Spirit. Alright with that said and done, that is the end of my sermon, Amen! Let’s log off and enjoy our day. That’s all I have to say. Walk in the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

I apologise for raising your hopes. There is more to the answer than that which we will see in this sermon.

We must not forget that it is because of the flesh that we are inclined to sin. Spurgeon speaks of the horrible trinity which is the flesh, Satan and the world. All three of these seek to keep us alive to sin.

So, back to verse 16. Let's look at the command for a moment. The word (peripateo) translated "walk" is a progressive present tense command with continuity that could be translated "keep on continually walking." One can also put in the word ‘conduct’ instead of walk which refers to our constant behaviour. The idea here is that the life of a Christian unfolds one day at a time, 24/7/365 just as we saw with prayer. It unfolds one step at a time. Isn’t it amazing how praying in the Spirit and walking in the Spirit comes together in a very logical way? Because as I walk, I pray, and while I pray, I walk. Just think if your prayers are limited to a 10 minute in the morning thing, how can you even claim to be walking in the Spirit?  There is not a moment that we do not walk and that we do not pray. The story is told of DL Moody a preacher from the years gone by, who stopped in the middle of a busy road, and said I dare not walk further, because where I am at now, I have lost my communication with God. Please don’t do that, you might get killed by a car, and I also do not know if it is a true story, but dare we walk without praying, and dare we pray without walking in the Spirit.

Walking then is a very picturesque metaphor. It is one step at a time under the control of the Holy Spirit, continuously under His influence as we read in Ephesians 5:18. Don’t worry about tomorrow, walk today, that's how we are to live. It is a habitual thing. It is a constant pattern. It is a routine for us.

Now remember that from the moment you became a Child of God the Holy Spirit indwells you. Romans 8:9 (ESV) “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.” There are those who say you receive Christ and only later you are baptised with the Holy Spirit, but that is contrary to Scripture. If you do not have the Spirit, you do not belong to God. That is very simple. And by the way, this issue of slain in the Spirit, please show it to me in the Bible and we will immediately change our doctrine, because with John Calvin we cry, that “even if every bone in my body cries out against this, if God says so, so let it be.” The Word of God, just did not tell us anything of that kind of work by the Holy Spirit, and I cannot change my theology based on the experiences and claims of some. Look what has been happening over the last 2 months under lockdown. Has the Holy Spirit been locked down? No, He is still empowering His people, He is still filling His people, but without the end of a service events, where people are dropping and need to be caught.

Paul writes to the very immature Corinthian church. 1 Corinthians 6:19 (ESV) “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,…”

And it is this very Spirit, the Spirit of God that is moving and leading us and we are simply to respond moment by moment, step by step, day by day walking by means of the power and direction of the Spirit. Do you want a definition of the Christian life? Very simple, show me a person who submits to the Holy Spirit and walks with Him moment by moment, and I will show you a true Christian. Paul summarises it very well in Galatians 5:25 (ESV): If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.I love the way the NIV puts in Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

Now what does living and walking in the Spirit involve?

Now pragmatically it involves two things really.

Firstly, it involves studying the Word of God, and applying the Word of God so that you know the mind of the Spirit and the will of the Spirit. Aha, you say, just as I thought, (well maybe you didn’t think so), isn’t the Holy Trinity after all just Father, Son and Holy Book?

We all know Ephesians 5:18-19 (ESV) 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled (or under control or influence) with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,” Then we see a parallel text in Colossians 3:16 (ESV) 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

We all know based on Old Testament teaching that the Word of God is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path, which directly affects our walking. You cannot live by the Spirit apart from the Word as it is the Word of God that is the very sword of the Spirit through which He guards our lives, guides our lives, cleanses our lives and enables our lives. 2 Timothy 3:16 (ESV) “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,…” So, in the same way as the Word of God dominates your thinking and your actions, it is the Holy Spirit dominating your thinking and actions. As the Word moves through your heart and mind, it is that by which the Spirit of God directs your life. So as you spend time in the Word and as you spend time in prayer, communing with the living God and building an intimate relationship with the Spirit of God, as you feed on the Word and as you commune with God, you are in the position where the Spirit of God can move you down the path, walking as He wants you to walk.

 

Walk in the Spirit (Part 3) (added 2 June 2020)

 

You see, an unbeliever cannot do that. You can put a Bible in the hands of an unbeliever, and tell Him to read it and live by it, he just cannot, unless the Spirit indwells him, so it remains Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Christians, we never stop walking. There's never a time in your life when you just arrive and from then on you are permanently spiritual. I do not believe the Bible teaches some eradication of the sin nature in this life or some second work of grace or some perfectionism, when you have reached that you never sin again. Not at all. It is a daily moment-by- moment walk, and it comes and goes, depending upon our submissiveness. By the way, according to 1 John 1: 8-10 if anyone of us says that we have no sin we lie, and we make God a liar. We never overcome sin totally, but we can overcome it as a pattern of life by walking by the Spirit and His Word. The only way you can routinely walk in the Spirit of God is to have spiritual thoughts. And the only way you can have spiritual thoughts is to be communing with the living God in an intense and continual prayer attitude and being fed continually on the Word so that your thoughts are God's thoughts.

Church family, I trust that by now you are getting it. The Christian life is a moment by moment walking. Walking by the way is very central to New Testament Biblical thinking.

Let me just give you a few verses to ponder on. Ephesians 4:2-3 says ‘walk in humility’, 1 Corinthians 7:17 says ‘walk in contentment’ Ephesians 2:10 says “walk in good deeds’, Romans 13:13 says ‘walk in purity’, Ephesians 4:17 says that we must ‘walk different than the world’, Ephesians 5:2-3, ‘walk in love’,  Ephesians 5:8-9 says ‘walk in light’,  Ephesians 5:15-16 ‘walk in wisdom’, 2 Corinthians 5:7 says ‘walk in faith,’ 2 Thessalonians 3:6 says we must ‘walk apart or separated from sin’, and then lastly 3 John: 3-4 says we must ‘walk in the truth’.  Christian, this very much sums up the Christian walk. There are more verses, but this is the essence. And there are a whole lot of verses that tell us ‘not to walk in a particular way.’


Now how are you going to do that? There's only one way. You must walk by the Spirit, for it is the Spirit who produces humility. It is the Spirit who produces purity. It is the Spirit who produces contentment and faith and good works and who makes you different from the world and separates you from sin. It is the Spirit who produces love and enlightenment and wisdom and makes the truth known to you. So, the sum of it all is walk in the Spirit.

Church family, this is critical stuff.  You battle with the flesh, what is the antidote? Walk by the Spirit. You can take all of Christian living and reduce it to this. You can take all the commands of the New Testament and reduce them to this. If you will just walk by the Spirit you will not carry out the lusts or desires of the flesh. That's it. That's victory. The flesh wants to control you. It wants to have you think bad stuff, it wants to have you feel bad and it wants to create anger, hostility, bitterness, jealousy, envy, strife. It wants to make you sure that you have reason to fear, it wants to make you doubt God, it wants to take love out of your heart and replace it with hatred, bitterness and unforgiveness, it wants to make you do wrong things and fill your life with guilt, it wants to destroy your marriage, it wants to destroy your home, it wants to destroy your relationships and it wants to make you useless to God. The flesh lusts all the time desiring what is wrong, that which is destructive. And the only hope of overcoming it is to walk in the Spirit.

There is no human solution to all these problems. The only way you overcome the driving compelling compulsions of the lust of the flesh is simply walking by the Spirit. So, there is the Word of God used by the Holy Spirit in your life.

 

Secondly, it involves you declaring war against the flesh.

You died to the flesh positionally, but now you must make dead the desires of the flesh. Now, why do I say it is war? Galatians 5:17 (ESV) “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.”

So, to walk in the Spirit sounds quite simple, doesn’t it? Isn’t it just a matter of getting to know the Word of God and to apply it, right? If it was that easy, the question then is this. Why is it that we battle so in our Christian lives? Verse 17 provides the answer. Because there is a struggle between the flesh and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit in us, and the flesh, our old ego, our old self do not go nicely together.

 

In a sense we struggled less in life when we were non-Christians. Why? Because as a non-Christian everything was flesh. My relationships were in the flesh, my lifestyle was in the flesh, my conduct was in the flesh, my desires were in the flesh and my expressions were in the flesh. I though like the flesh, I spoke like the flesh and in everything my behaviour was fleshly. And flesh has no problem with flesh, as long as you are in the flesh there is no war. That is why the old life was so cool, because the conflict was less. The non-Christian life in many senses is not a battle, because there is no Holy Spirit to convict.

In a sense you might want to say, the upside of my life now is that I am a new creation, the old things have passed away, behold, everything is new, and in the same breath you might want to say, the downside of my life now, is that I am a new creation, the old things have passed away, everything has become new. In a sense, life without the Spirit in you was death, but without a struggle and life in the Spirit now is life, but with a struggle.

 

Walk in the Spirit (Part 4) (added 3 June 2020)

 

So why is there this struggle or battle? Yes, okay, I said it already, it is because the Spirit now indwells you, but here is the real essence, it is because you are a new creation in unredeemed flesh. And until the day when the Old Flesh is finally dealt with, the Christian life is going to be a battle against sin, the devil, the flesh, the world etc.

You say, "Well what is the flesh?" Well let me define it for you simply. The word sarxin (sarxin) in the Greek is a very important term in New Testament teaching. It can at times refer to the physical body, namely my skin and all of that which is hidden underneath it. One example is in the words of Christ in Luke 24:39 (ESV) “See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” When Paul for example talks about his weakness in the flesh, he simply talks about the body. That is very much the same idea as when we say ‘the spirit is willing, but the flesh is tired’. But it can also just talk about our humanness.  For example: Galatians 3:3 (ESV) 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” That is kind of a package deal where we put our trust in our own abilities, by our own bodies, according to fleshly desires. It is like trying to accomplish the supernatural with the natural. That is what you were before you were saved, now it is done with. Romans 7:5 (ESV) For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death.”

So, it can refer to the physical body and it can refer to human effort or human works.

But its primary significance and certainly for us it that it refers to our unredeemed nature, our fallen nature, our unredeemed humanity, that part of us that hasn't yet been redeemed. And that's the flesh where sin exists. It's not just your body, it's your mind, too. It's not a philosophical dualism that says Spirit is good and flesh or material things are bad, it's not just your material body, it's your feelings and your thoughts, your mind, all of that is tainted by the flesh. The flesh is your unredeemed humanness that waits the glorification of the body when you get a new body and thus a new kind of humanity which knows no sin.

Paul talks about it in Romans 7:14-25 (ESV) 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this BODY OF DEATH? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

Isn’t that interesting? Have you noticed that you don't do what you ought to do and you do what you ought not to do? That's the ongoing battle of a Christian. That's not an unbeliever's battle, that's a Christian's battle. That's the flesh and the Holy Spirit at war. An unbeliever does what he wants to do and does not feel bad about it.

So, Paul says that his spirit has been changed, but the house it indwells is still the old one. That is exactly what Galatians 5:17 says to us. You have the Spirit in you, you are still inclined to the old nature, and the two just do not go together. Now if you understand this and that which Paul is saying in Romans 7, in the middle of all of this, you are either going to bow to the Spirit or to the flesh, you are either going to obey, or you are going to sin. You know right from wrong according to our first point, the Spirit will convict you of sin, righteousness and judgement, the question is this: ‘will you obey, or give in to the flesh, or will you walk in and by the Spirit?’ Have you noticed that?

 

Now listen, church family. If that is true, this whole spiritual battle, and it is, then the idea that you could come up with some more human solutions to your problem is ludicrous because it's just more of the flesh. The flesh is not only our unredeemed humanness, but the flesh is all of our human effort. All the pragmatic solutions that people come up with for spiritual problems are nothing more than the flesh. And the flesh is not going to control the desires of the flesh. Flesh then refers to natural effort, independent of God that is weak, helpless and sinful. So, if I have a problem and I turn to anything on the human level, I am purely putting petrol on the fire.

 

Look again at verse 17 as we close today. Galatians 5:17 (ESV) 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do". I just for a moment want to highlight a word in the text.

Do you realise that the desire of your flesh actually sets itself up against the Spirit. How often has it not happened? Let’s say on a Sunday morning, you lie in bed, and suddenly you do not desire to come to church, it is cold or rainy or whatever reason. You know the Bible says that we must not forsake the gathering of believers. It is the Word of God, the sword of the Spirit that showed you what is right. And so, the flesh battles against the Spirit and you submit to one of them. And sadly, too often we throw fleshly solutions to a fleshly problem. The word "desire," epithumia epithumia, means strong desire, evil yearning or compulsion. What lust wants to do is conceive and bring forth sin. And what the Holy Spirit wants to do is prevent that from happening.

So, the war is on. Evil desires move in the flesh. You know what I am talking about. You know exactly what you must do, but there is this strong desire, compulsion in you to do the opposite.  The power of the flesh is great, right. But the power of the Spirit is greater, right?  So, all we have to do is walk in the Spirit and we will not fulfil the lusts of the flesh, we will not carry out its desires if we walk in the Spirit. If we offer fleshly solutions to the flesh, we pour petrol on the fire. That's the conflict. Whatever the Holy Spirit endeavours to do, the flesh endeavours to stop. So, we must walk in the Spirit. We must be filled with the Spirit.

 

Walk in the Spirit (Part 5) (added 4 June 2020)

 

Today is our fifth devotion on walking in the Spirit.  In my first devotion 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 part 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, we have seen 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. Romans 8 told us that the law of the Spirit has set us free from the law of sin and death.

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. We become like the Pharisees, we miss the heart and focus on law. 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. Daily 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 daily. 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. The Spirit will convict you of sin, righteousness and judgment. Even when you are not fully equipped in Scripture and therefor a skilled swordsman, the Spirit will speak to you. We need to get away from the idea of a little black angel on the one shoulder and a white angel on the other shoulder, both telling us what to do. No my friend, you have the indwelling Holy Spirit in you that convicts you, and convicts you, and you need to listen to him and resist the devil, by not giving in to the flesh, and obey the Spirit of God, and take a decision to obey the Spirit and do what is right.

 

Romans 8:13 (ESV) teaches us: 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” I am going to do a whole sermon on this as part of this series. We will get to it later.

Do you realise that built into your fiber is the ability to say yes, and to say no?  We exercise that daily as we make choices. The Spirit in you convicts you regarding unrighteousness, and you need to obey, you need to keep in step with the Spirit, and you have the wonderful joy of knowing that He empowers you to do just that. It is by the Spirit, by His inner working, by His conviction, by His leading that you and I are able to say no to sin, no to the flesh, and to surrender to the leading of the Spirit.

 

Walk in the Spirit (Part 6) (added 5 June 2020)


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 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, present relationships 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, 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 have any 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.