Summary: We may not see things in our own lives the way they really are.
May 17, 2009
Text: Galatians 5:16-26
Subject: Living By The Spirit
Title: Spiritual Optical Illusions
How perceptive are you? Do you always see things the way they really are, or can you, like most people, be fooled by appearances? Some of you will relate to the story I will tell you. I remember years ago when I was deer hunting I was sitting on the side of a bluff overlooking Sugar Creek in Lincoln County. I was right on the north end of the Cuivre River State Park. On the other side of the creek was a filed of 10-15 acres that was grown up in grass and weeds. On the south end of the field was a fencerow with trees growing up through it. It was in the afternoon and the sun was setting behind the hills to my back. The shadows were growing longer by the minute and there was a steady breeze blowing. The grays and browns of the field and the fencerow were moving with the wind. In the last 30-45 minutes that I was hunting I must have seen 20 deer. There was only one problem. I had trained my eyes and my mind to look for one certain thing – deer – and everything that I saw that afternoon that I thought was a deer turned out to be weeds blowing in the wind or a tree branch moving against the fencerow. Things were not as they appeared to be. What I saw as deer was nothing different than the hillside that I was sitting on. My eyes and mind had deceived me.
I am afraid that this same illusionary syndrome has invaded the church. We sit on our lofty perches and look at the outside world and point fingers at the sinners and pray that they would come to our church and be saved. We see what our “church” eyes have trained us to see. We perceive what our religious minds have trained us to perceive. We look at the lost world and see people and thank God that we aren’t like that. Though we may not be alcoholics, drug addicts or into perversion if we stop and look at ourselves through God’s eyes we may have to re-evaluate ourselves. Are we living by the Spirit?
Let’s look today and see what the great apostle Paul has to say about that.
Lord, open my eyes to see, and my ears to hear what the spirit is saying to the church.
I. LIVING BY THE SPIRIT. (16-18) 16So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature… Let’s start out by seeing what Paul meant by living by the Spirit as opposed to the sinful nature. The Spirit is the word “pneuma”. It means “a blast of air” or spiritual power. Here it is talking about the Holy Spirit. We are to live according to the directions of the Spirit of God. Romans 8:5, Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 8:9, You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 8:14, …because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. The word that is translated “flesh, or “sinful nature” is the Greek word “sarx”. It refers to the body or that which is external in nature. If we walk in the sinful nature “sarx” it is merely and outward expression of our “psuche” or “soul man”. Sin never originates in the flesh but in the mind or emotions. Galatians 5:17, For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you (psuche) want. Are you with so far? If we are God’s adopted children by the Spirit, then we should see and understand things from a different perspective. We don’t do things that would offend God, and if we do we are quick to repent and get back on the right track. What Paul is saying here is that there is a tremendous difference between the grace of God, which is spiritual involving the spirit man, and the works of man or the Law, which is from the natural man and thus influenced by the sinful nature. You cannot have it both ways because they are in direct opposition to one another. I can’t tell you enough how excited I get when a new Christian, or any Christian for that matter, comes to me to tell me about a victory in their lives – how they have overcome the flesh. That victory comes from walking in the Spirit and not according to the flesh. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. Paul said all this to lead up to his discussion of the things that are from the sinful nature and the things that are from the Spirit.