Summary: The Fruit of The Spirit (Part 12) Understanding the conflict between the flesh and the Spirit. (See sermons in Word format at www.praiseag.org)
LIVING BY THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT
The Fruit of The Spirit (Part 12)
• Galatians 5:16-25 (NIV)
 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature [the flesh].  For the [flesh] desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the [flesh]. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
 The acts of the sinful nature [the flesh] are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;  idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions  and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature [the flesh] with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way. . .”
Perhaps you can identify with the contrast Charles Dickens uses to open his classic A Tale of Two Cities. Have you ever had a day when everything was going great, and then the bottom fell out? Have you had times of sharing a tender moment with those you love only to give way to a heated argument? Have you ever found your peace and solitude to be broken by conflict and strife . . . even when no one else is around? Yes, on any given day we may say being able to say of ourselves, “It is the best of times; it is the worst of times . . . I’m going straight to Heaven, I’m going straight the other way.” Am I the only one who has felt such a tug of war going on within my soul? Surely you have felt it too.
Today we bring to a close this series on the Fruit of the Spirit. Through the last three months we have been looking at how these characteristics can be developed in our lives. (Now don’t worry, I’m not going to try to dump it all on you again this morning!) Today I want to again bring us back to the full context of the fruit of the Spirit in order to learn how to live our lives with the fruit of the Spirit. Living by the fruit of the Spirit comes down to essentially two things: UNDERSTANDING THE CONFLICT, and FINDING FREEDOM THROUGH THE SPIRIT.
UNDERSTANDING THE CONFLICT
• Galatians 5:16-17 (NIV)
 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature [the flesh].  For the [flesh] desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the [flesh]. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.
1. The Conflict is Ongoing!
The desires of the flesh are in conflict with the desires of the Spirit. The Spirit and the flesh are constantly in a tug of war to lead us in opposite directions. As long as you live in a human body you will experience this conflict; you are not going to grow out of it. The desires of the flesh and the Spirit are in opposition to each other.
Paul did not say the Spirit was at odds with your “sinful nature.” Many modern translations use sinful nature instead of the literal translation “flesh” of the Greek word “sarx” as found in the KJV. That’s why I change “sinful nature” to “flesh.” Paul wants you to understand that the desires of the Spirit are not the same as the desires of your human body – flesh.
Now if you want to call it your “sinful nature,” that’s okay with me, but my Bible tells me, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17NIV). When I accepted Christ, God made me a new creation; His Spirit took up residence within my life and I’ve never been the same. Well that’s not completely true . . . I still live in the same body; I’ve got the same flesh and blood with its natural desires and urges that it had before I became a Christian. Paul says the desires of my flesh stand in opposition to the Spirit; therefore, I need to learn to live my life according to the desires of the Spirit and not the desires of my flesh.