Summary: Galatians 5:16-25, The Spirit-controlled life!

The Spirit Controlled Life

Galatians 5:16-25

March 2008

* One of the positive things about preaching through a book of the Bible is that you are forced to address topics that you might otherwise skip over.

* Traditionally, we Baptist have left the teaching of a Spirit controlled life to the Pentecostal church.

* There is a lot of misinformation about the Holy Spirit today.

* Some people are actually afraid of the Holy Spirit.

* But the Holy Spirit of the Bible is not to be feared but embraced.

* The Bible teaches us who the Holy Spirit is and what He does for us as believers.

- Our source for understanding the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives is not someone else’s experience.

* Perhaps the reason the church today lacks spiritual power is because of the lack of Biblical teaching concerning the Holy Spirit in our lives.

* In this section of Galatians, Paul is going to talk about the ministry and the work of the Holy Spirit.

* The Galatians had abandoned His ministry in their lives and it showed up in the way they treated each other.

* They had begun biting and devouring one another (5:15),; they were provoking and envying one another (5:26)

* Follow along with me, and let’s discover what Paul says about living a Spirit controlled life.

First of all, there is …

I. A command with promise v. 16

A) Walking in the Spirit is not automatic v. 16a

* The Holy Spirit is not a machine we turn on and leave it on automatic.

* Neither is the Holy Spirit a force in our lives that automatically makes us do what is right.

* The Bible teaches us that the Holy Spirit is a person waiting to be depended upon.

* The verb is present imperative and is literally translated, “keep on walking.”

* The Spirit filled life is not something that happens to us once and for all.

- You don’t walk the aisle and have some kind of spiritual or emotional experience that will carry you through the rest of your life.

* The words, "keep on walking" imply that it’s possible NOT to keep on walking.

- …that we can discontinue our walk in the Spirit.

* That’s not God’s desire, but it is a possibility.

* Walking in the Spirit is not something that passively occurs in our lives.

- We have to take action on our part.

- We must yield ourselves to God and trust Him to empower us.

- Paul puts upon the believer the responsibility of choosing to walk in the Spirit.

* But we must remember that we walk in the Spirit by trusting, not by trying!

- It’s not the "harder you try" but the "more you trust".

- The power is His power working in and through us, it’s not self effort.

* Paul tells us it’s God’s desire that we walk and live in the Spirit; that we seek to be continually controlled by God’s Spirit.

B) Walking in the Spirit empowers us v. 16b

* "ye shall not" = a double negative strengthening the denial; not at all: - any more, at all, by any (no) means, neither, never, no (at all), in no case (wise), nor ever, not (at all, in any wise)

* It’s impossible to walk in the Spirit and fulfill the lust of flesh at the same time.

* "lusts of the flesh" = refers to evil desires, impulses, and passions arising from our evil nature.

* Paul has told us of the inability of the law to save us; now he explains that the law cannot change or control the old nature.

* The Holy Spirit gives us the power to say "no" to sin.

II. The conflict within us v. 17-18

A) The contenders

* Every Christian has two natures; a sinful nature and a new divine nature

* Inside every believer there is a battle that is raging.

- It’s a lot like a boxing match.

- In corner # 1 is our evil nature and in corner # 2 is the Holy Spirit.

- These two are not friends. They are enemies. They are hostile one to the other.

1) The evil nature

* Every believer has a sinful nature. No exceptions. No matter how spiritual one may be

* Our sinful nature was not eradicated at salvation.

- Both the Bible and our experience are proof this is true.

- We have a sinful nature we received at birth, … everyone has one,… it was inherited from Adam

* No where in Scripture are we taught that our old nature has been rendered inactive after we become Christians.

W. F. Adeney – "The human saint is far removed from the heavenly angel. The body and its appetites are with him; the soul has its meaner powers, its earthly passions, its self-regarding interests. There are times when the spiritual life is dull and feeble; then some sudden temptation, or even without that the depressing atmosphere of the world, will reveal to a man his worse side."

2) The Holy Spirit

* At salvation, God made us partakers of His divine nature.

2Pe 1:4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

* The Holy Spirit is mentioned 7 times in this passage

John R. W. Stott – "The Holy Spirit is presented as our Sanctifier who alone can oppose and subdue our flesh (v. 16-17), enable us to fulfill the law so that we are delivered from it’s harsh dominion (v.18) and cause the fruit of righteousness to grow in our lives (v. 22-23). So the enjoyment of Christian liberty depends on the Holy Spirit. True, it is Christ who sets us free. But without the continuing, directing, sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit our liberty is bound to degenerate into license."

B) The problem

* The problem is that both of these, the old nature and the Holy Spirit both want control of us.

1) Both reside in the believer.

2) Both natures have desires; one for evil and the other for holiness.

3) Both desire to control us.

* They are not content to live at peace each in its own corner.

* Both are ambitious to rule the whole man.

C) The continual struggle

Kenneth Wuest trans v. 17 "For the flesh constantly has a strong desire to suppress the Spirit, and the Spirit constantly has a strong desire to suppress the flesh. And these are entrenched in an attitude of mutual opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you desire to do."

* In this section, Paul is contrasting the way the Galatians were living their Christian lives. Some had turned back to the law (Gal. 4:9)

* In v. 18 we have contrasting ways of living the Christian life. The contrast is between the law and the Spirit.

* To live by the law is to live a life of self-effort; a life that is "trying" instead of "trusting"

- Those who live this way try hard to keep as much of God’s law as they possibly can.

* To live a life controlled by the Spirit requires faith; a life that is "trusting" instead of "trying".

III. A contrast in ways to live v. 19-23

A) Works of flesh

1) The description v. 19-21a

* Paul says the works of the flesh are "manifest" ; open, evident, clearly defined

* These verses describe the person who lives his life apart from the control of God’s Spirit.

* If we find these things in our life, we have all the evidence we need to prove we are NOT living a Spirit controlled life.

2) The fatal consequences v. 21b

* "They that do such things"

- The word "do" is durative in action which speaks of the habitual practice of something

- idea of " those who practice such things"

* A persons character is determined by his habitual actions, not the infrequent fall.

* Anyone whose life is characterized by the works of the flesh is giving evidence that he does not know God and the consequence is eternal separation from God.

B) Fruit of the Spirit

1) The description v. 22-23a

* Paul describes not the fruit of the Christian, but the fruit of the Spirit.

* When we are under the Spirits control these qualities are evident in our lives.

* But it’s not something we produce by self effort, it is produced in us by the Holy Spirit when we are under His control.

* The word "fruit" is singular, indicating that when we are filled with God’s Spirit all of these virtues will be present in our life.

2) The blessing v. 23b

* There is no law against love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, etc.

* These virtues are approved and highly esteemed by God.

* Paul says the law can bring no charge against these things.

* Our lives will be blessed and enhanced by these virtues, but our lives will be diminished by the works of the flesh.

IV. A concluding plea v. 25-26

"If" – better translated "Since" or "Seeing that we live in the Spirit"

v. 25 – "walk" = NIV – "keep in step"

* Since we live in the Spirit, or better yet, the Spirit lives in us, let us walk or keep in step with the Holy Spirit.

* Let’s be guided by and controlled by the Spirit.

Lessons For Life

1- The spirit controlled life is available for all believers.

* It’s for the young and the old alike.

* Every Christian can walk in the Spirit if he chooses to.

* It doesn’t matter how long you have been a believer, it’s available.

* A Spirit controlled life is not reserved for the elite.

* It’s not just for the pastor, deacons, and Sunday school teachers.

* Paul is speaking to all the believers in Galatia, not just a select few.

2- The spirit controlled life is not a life without struggles.

* It’s a continuous struggle.

* It’s a war on the inside of us.

* No believer will ever be entirely free in this life from the evil desires that stem from his fallen human nature.

* If there were no sinful nature still within us, there would be no struggle.

* But just when you think you have mastered that nature, watch out…

1Co 10:12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

3- The Spirit controlled life is simple, yet profound.

Illus. – In one of his books Watchman Nee tells about being asked about the secret of spiritual power in his life. Watchman took the young man who asked him the question down to a nearby river. After both of them enter the water Watchman takes the lad by the back of his neck and forces his head under the water. The young man struggles a little bit; not understanding what is going on. After a few more seconds, the young man begins to exert more force to free himself from the hold of Watchman Nee. He begins to ask himself questions. "What is he doing to me?" "Why won’t he let me up?" "Is he trying to drown me?" The young man begins to swing his arms and kick his feet in an attempt to get free. Finally, with all of his strength and might he breaks free and comes up out of the water coughing and gasping for air. Watchman explains to the young man, "When you come to the place in your life that you want to know the secret of spiritual power as intensely as you wanted to be out from under that water, you will know the answer."

* It is simple enough that any believer can experience a Spirit controlled life.

* It’s difficult for us because we are so accustomed to self-effort and self-dependence.

4- The Spirit controlled life is the secret to victory over the flesh.

* The law did not save us nor does the law sanctify us.

- We are in need of an internal power, not an external law to have victory over the flesh.

* Victory over the flesh cannot be accomplished by mere resistance and repression.

* If we find ourselves living a defeated life, it’s not because we are not trying hard enough, it’s because we are not trusting enough.

* Victory over the flesh is not obtained by self-effort, but by dependence upon God’s Spirit within us.