Archive for September 10th, 2013

Walk (or Run) in the SpiritI.

September 10, 2013

Here are the notes from the sermon Sunday, September 8, 2013.

Introduction:  We were in Minnesota Friday and Saturday visiting Gloria’s mother.  I told Gloria that I would need to get a run in on one of those days.  I was having a tough time getting back into shape after taking two weeks off from exercise recently.  The only time that it would work in our schedule was first thing Saturday morning.  I got up at 7:00 and immediately hit the road.

When I was younger, I used to routinely run in the mornings.   For many years now I have done my running either at mid-morning or afternoon.  My body did not like starting a run first thing in the day.  It was very difficult.  I wanted to quit within the first one hundred yards.  I did not quit. however, but continued to put one foot in front of the other.  I struggled on through the first mile, and into the second.  As I kept going, eventually my stride came together and I was able to finish the six miles that I normally run.  I was feeling pretty good by the end.

I   A Good Start:  Galatians 1:10

 For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.

On Saturday, the first thing that I needed to do was to get out of bed with enough time to make the run.  Then I needed to get dressed and get out the door.  That doesn’t sound like much, but you cannot skip the first step.  In serving God the first step is even more important.  Are we seeking to please God?  Or are we trying to win the approval of others?  Or are we only seeking to please ourselves?  Our service to Christ should not be only with the lip-service of saying that we are Christian.  We should be wholly committed in our service to God.  We should be asking if the choices that we make, the things that we say and do, even our attitudes; are they pleasing to God?  If the answer is yes, then we are off to a good start.

II.  Crucified With Christ:  Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

As I was beginning my run, it was very difficult.  I had to really push myself to keep going.

At times in our Christian walk there will be times that are very difficult.  It is appropriate to pray and ask for God’s help.  It is appropriate to pray and ask for confirmation if we are doing what we are supposed to be doing.  Sometimes, serving the Lord will require that “we endure hardship”.

During difficult times, I remind myself that “I have been crucified with Christ” and that I now “live by faith” and not by sight.  It is important that we do not lose heart just because life is difficult.  Stay strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might!!  God will give us the grace that we need to fulfill His calling in our life.  We must cling to Him, keep going, and not give up.

III.  Walk in the Spirit, and not in the Flesh

A.  Led By the Spirit: Galatians 5:13-18

For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!

16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

To really hit our stride, we must learn to love, and serve one another.  We should have compassion for all people, even those who have wronged us.

To be the people who God wants us to be, we must be led by the Spirit, rather than by the flesh.  The flesh is our old nature that would seek to please itself, rather than God.  The Spirit of God has entered into our hearts through our faith in Jesus.   The voice of the Spirit can guide us, but we must learn to listen and to be obedient to the direction that God gives us by His Spirit.

B.  The Works of the Flesh:  Galatians 5:19-21

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Paul identifies for us actions that can be labeled as the works of the flesh.  This list includes all forms of sexual immorality.  If he were writing today, I have no doubt that pornography would be included in this list.  Christians have no business viewing pornography.  Another item that would make this list if it were written today would be any form of recreational drug use.  It would fall under “drunkenness, revelries, and the like”.

We should use this list, not to examine the lives of others, but to examine our own lives.  Some will struggle more with envy, some with outbursts of wrath.  The point is that we can learn to identify the areas in our life where improvement is needed, just like some of us used to get on our report cards.  By God’s grace, we can change. We can weed out the deeds of the flesh, and allow the fruit of the Spirit to grow in our lives.

C.  The Fruit of the Spirit:  Galatians 5:22-23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

This list is given so that we can confirm that we are on the right track.  When I finally hit my stride in my run, my breathing was good, my legs were moving rhythmically, I was not hurting anywhere; it was good.  If we are able to look at our lives, and after an honest evaluation, we can see that the works of the flesh are growing less evident in our lives, while the fruit of the Spirit, is present and increasing, then we can continue to cruise on down the road.

D.  Crucify the Flesh:  Galatians 5:24-25

And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

As we continue down the road of life, if we notice the works of the flesh trying to creep back into our lives, we are to crucify the flesh.  Now, obviously, we do not literally crucify anything.  We are however, not to simply give in to fleshly desires and claim that we cannot help ourselves.  We do not overcome the deeds of the flesh in our own strength, but by the power of the Spirit that is within us.  We can do all things through Christ.  We can overcome!

This is a process that will continue throughout our time here on earth.  We will not reach perfection in this life, but we will be growing in godliness if we are being led by the Spirit.  If we are being led by the Spirit, we will be pleasing to God.  We do this, not to earn our salvation, but to live out the new life that God has given us in Christ.