Spirit and Flesh

Jihad is a word used by the Muslims to describe a holy struggle.  The lesser jihad is a reference to actual military combat.  The greater jihad is the struggle against evil in oneself.  Christians also have an inner struggle.  It is the struggle between flesh and Spirit.

I.  The Inner Battle:  Galatians 5:16-17

 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.

This is a battle that takes place within ourselves.  The battle between flesh and Spirit.  Our flesh is inclined towards evil.  God’s Spirit calls us to do what is right.  It is not simply a matter of “following your heart’, because your heart may be controlled by your flesh and might lead you astray.  It is important to be able to learn to distinguish what is the leading of the Spirit, and what is the inclination of the flesh.

II.  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.

Once we are able to identify the inclination of the flesh, we are to crucify it.  Of course, this is not meant to be taken literally.  It means that we are not to give in to the inclination of the flesh, but rather, to be given over to the Spirit, so that the Spirit leads us.

III.  Christ Lives in Me:  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.

To the degree that we are being led by the Spirit, to that degree, Christ is living, or acting through us.  There have been times in my life when the struggle has been intense and I have reminded myself of this verse.  I have died, but Christ lives in me.  It has given me strength many times to continue in the calling that God has for me.  A part of the good news is that those times of struggle are only momentary, the joy of the Lord is eternal.

IV.  One in Christ:  Galatians 3:27-28

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

The body of Christ, which is the church, appears divided, but in truth it is one.  We are not divided by race, sex or denomination.  When these divisions do appear, it is the work of the flesh.  In the Spirit we are one.  We should try to live and act in that truth.

V.  Process:  Galatians 4:19

My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you,

We are saved by our faith in Jesus Christ.  At salvation the Spirit of God enters our hearts and we are born again.  After we have been saved, we begin the lifelong process of being formed into the image of Christ.

VI.  Service:  Galatians 5:13

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.

We are not to live merely for ourselves.  We are to serve one another.  Each one of us has different skills and we should use them, not just for our own advancement or needs, but to help out our brothers and sisters in Christ.

We are not only human, as Christians we have received the Spirit of Christ by which we are transformed.  This transformation is a lifelong process which requires our cooperation.  We must learn to crucify the flesh, and to live and walk, in the Spirit.

These are the sermon notes from 12/14/14.  Any advertisement that might appear has been placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

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