Summary: Standing in the Freedom of the Gospel: The Ammunition of the Spirit
Standing in the Freedom of the Gospel:
The Ammunition of the Spirit
Message in a sentence - The freedom Christ promises, the freedom to love and serve others, is the fruit of walking in the Spirit.
Two weeks ago I shared that the freedom the gospel promises is Spirit empowered freedom from our own selfishness to serve others, to seek their best interests, and therefore their happiness. It is there that we find our own happiness. Yet how do we get beyond ourselves? The answer is found in learning to walk in the Spirit. So it is critical that we understand what it means to walk in the Spirit. Today I want to answer three questions - what does it means to walk in the Spirit; why must we walk in the Spirit; and how do we walk by the Spirit?
1. What Does it Mean to Walk in the Spirit?
There are two images that help us. The first is the phrase, ‘led by the Spirit,’ which emphasizes the Spirit as the one doing the leading and more importantly doing the work. We do not follow in our own power but by his power; not our own strength but his strength. So walking by the Spirit means staying connected, sensitive to the divine source of power and go where He leads (Eph 5:18).
The second image comes from verse 22, the phrase 'fruit of the Spirit.' The Life of following Christ is a walk (peripete) of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Those are all social words that answers the problem of the conflict mentioned in v. 15. Therefore walking by the Spirit is being led by the Spirit and bearing the fruit of the Spirit. This emphasizes the work of the Sprit, not our work but the command is for us. So our wills are involved, we must want to be connected to the locomotive, follow the pace card, be sensitive to the tug of the leash. So now lets look at why it is important to walk in the Spirit.
2. Why Must we Walk in the Spirit?
The passage gives us two reasons. The first reason is an incentive. With the command God gives us a promise as the motive for us to obey. ‘Walk by the Spirit you and you will not fulfill, gratify, carry out the desires of the flesh.’ Two weeks ago, we defined the flesh as the empty ego that seeks to meet its need with anything but God, it is unsubmissive to God, rebels against God. Now, look at 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” The term flesh here refers to the mode of our existence. The first two I's in 2:20 corresponds with the flesh that is in rebellion to God (Gal 5:24; Rom 8:7); the second two I's is the new nature in union with Christ that lives by faith. This is why there is a struggle within each of us. The flesh is unsubmissive by default, resisting God’s grace; the new ‘I’ lives by faith, dependent on God’s grace. The war within is because the flesh and the Spirit are opposed (17) to each other and as we saw, the flesh is always looking for an opportunity to get the upper hand (13). Victory is certain because we have crucified the flesh, but must say no to it on a daily basis (5:24; aorist active). Let me give you some encouragement. The struggle we all face on daily points to the fact that we have a desire to obey God but the flesh is opposing us. The flesh is always lurking and looking for an opportunity to keep you from doing what you want. The key to victory is walking/being led by the Spirit.
The second reason is that if we are led by the Spirit we are no longer under the law. This means we are out from underneath the tyranny of the futile effort to gain God’s approval. We cannot fulfill the law in our natural fallen and sinful condition, but because of the gospel, the Spirit does through us what we cannot on our own (5:13-14; Rom 8:3-4). What the law requires the Spirit produces as fruit in our lives. We have looked at what it means to walk in the Spirit and why it is important, now let's look at how we walk in the Spirit.
3. How do we Walk in the Spirit?
How do we overcome the war within? The flesh is a relentless and powerful foe; the battle is spiritual and we can only overcome the flesh with spiritual ammunition. I have two passagges that will give us help here. "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field (Mat 13:44). The man found something that filled the emptiness in his soul, that brought joy to his heart, so much so that it broke the power that all his earthly treasures had on him. The joy of what the world offered was broken by a greater joy. So the first way we walk in the Spirt and overcome the flesh is by finding our joy in God.