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Summary: Message 6 in our exposition of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians continuing a discussion of what it means to live by the power and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit.

Chico Alliance Church

Pastor David Welch

“Cultivating our Spiritual Passions -- Crucifying our fleshly passions”

I Corinthians 2:6-3:4

Every one of us has witnessed the war between two opposite views.

Lies, brainwashing, fear, intimidation, bribery, power and control are a way of life.

We find that the side that is best equipped and well-trained has the advantage.

Yes that is true of the current war in Iraq but I am talking about a different war we as Christian wage every day.

Paul wrote about three spiritual conditions that affect how we receive and perceive truth.

• Those driven by the soul

• Those driven by the Spirit

• Those driven by the flesh

The Bible talks about a battle between the flesh and the Spirit.

The flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. Gal 5:17

It appears that the Corinthians were loosing this battle evidenced by fighting and disunity among them and an inability to digest the meatier truths of God’s kingdom. By looking at Paul’s address to them and other passages that describe this fierce fight I hope you will gain some insight and therefore be better equipped to win the battle.

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? For when one says, "I am of Paul," and another, "I am of Apollos," are you not mere men? 3:1-4

o They were not able to receive “solid food” but only “milk” because of a fleshly focus.

o They manifested “fleshly” behavior

The proof of a fleshly focus is fleshly thinking, selfish attitudes and fleshly behavior.

Thinking develops into attitudes and attitudes produce behavior. Peter urged his readers…

Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord. 1 Peter 2:1-3

These believers could only digest truth related to God’s love, grace, forgiveness. They were not able to digest words related to righteous living and the depths of God. They were not able yet to handle the training necessary to wage war against the enemy.

How do we win the flesh wars? Paul informed the Galatians that if we walk in the Spirit, we will not fulfill the desires or passions of the flesh. There is a grand tug-of-war between the cravings of the flesh for satisfaction through the things of this earth and the new desires of the Spirit for the eternal things of God.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. Galatians 5:16

The word for walk in this passage means to conduct yourselves or live by the Spirit. It is a present tense command to always live by the direction and energy of the Spirit. Make yielding to the Holy Spirit and trusting his resources a way of life. Intensified fleshly and selfish desires lurk behind every conflict. That is why Paul instructed the Romans to “stop making provision for the flesh in regard to its desires but put on the Lord Jesus Christ.”

James is pretty clear about the source of interpersonal conflict.

What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures (desire for personal gratification) that wage war in your members? You lust (desire) and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. James 4:1-3

You can always trace conflict back to selfish and fleshly desires. Desire for sensual gratification, personal satisfaction with things, and desire for power and control drive our struggle to live the truly Christian life. When someone frustrates or blocks these desires -- anger and conflict result. These desires stem from the lie that true satisfaction in life can be found anywhere else but through relationship with God. Nothing on this earth can fill the God-shaped hole and the spiritual dimensions in your life.

The lie of Satan is that we can find life within ourselves apart form God or through the possession of things or relationship with things or people. The flesh focuses on the passion for pleasure, possessions and power. Since the fall, mankind pursues the promise of life apart from the spiritual power of God. We don’t want to have to humble ourselves and depend on God for our life. We want to experience life in our own way and through our own strength.

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