Summary: The basic problem all of us face is ourselves.
The flesh and the spirit.
Galatians 5:16 -- 26. 02/13/05
I have been having some trouble with a person in our church and I think it is time I just call out that person’s name. As a matter of fact, I have been having trouble with this person ever since I have been here. So, tonight, I just want to expose that person to you. That person is myself. The basic problem all of us face is ourselves. The songwriter is right when he says it’s not my brother, it’s not my sister, but it’s me o Lord standing in need of prayer.
Very soon after you become a Christian, you make a somewhat startling discovery. You discover that is a real battle going on. You find as a believer that you have some enemies. Actually, there are three enemies that the believer faces. There is the enemy without : that is the Devil. There is the present enemy and that is the world. But there is the enemy that is within and that is the flesh, that old nature that rebels against God. I have come to the realization that the No. 1 of these enemies is the flesh.
Now when you were born physically, you got your physical nature. Jesus said in John 3 verse 6, “that which is born of the flesh is flesh.” He isn’t talking about the flesh and blood, but to your old nature, the sin nature. Now Jesus also says in that verse, “that which is born of the spirit is spirit.” At your new birth you get the new nature, the spirit. At your first birth, you have the old nature, and at the new birth, you have the new nature, the spirit. Here is the kicker; they don’t seem to like one another. And the bad thing is we have them both as believers. They are always at one another to battle.
Now what Paul basically does in verse 16, is tells us the key to victory over that old nature and how to live victoriously in the new nature. He says in verse 16, “walk in the spirit and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” There it is. The word walk is talking about our daily living. To live our daily life in the atmosphere of the Holy Spirit.
Like any good writer, Paul gives the key in the start of the paragraph, then spends the rest of the paragraph to explain the key. You see that in verses 17 and 18 as he talks about THE CONFLICT.
The word contrary in verse 17 means in opposition to another. It’s like a butterfly and a bug in the same body. The butterfly wants to soar to the light and the things that are above but the bug wants to crawl around in the dust and darkness. So, we have a battle. The new nature wants to get up to go to church Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesdays, but the old nature says you just need to rest and stay home. Your new nature says worship in giving to the work of the church and to the missions and the old nature says keep it for yourself. The old nature wants to watch that dirty show on TV but the new nature says don’t put that junk in your mind.
There were some in the church in Galata who said we can take care of this; we will just impose law’s and rules. Paul says that is not a way to live victoriously. It’s not by laws but by love. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide and the love of the Redeemer to rule in your life. There is the conflict.
Then in verses 19 through 23, Paul talks about THE CONTRAST. What he does in these verses is to show us the difference between a life dominated by the flesh and a life dominated by the Holy Spirit. On one hand he talks about the works of the flesh and on the other hand, he talks about the fruit of the Spirit.
Let’s look at these for a moment. We won’t talk about every word but we will look at a few.
In verse 16, he talks about the lust of the flesh. That is the inner desires. We can’t see a person’s inner desires but we can see the works of the flesh. The works of the flesh is the outward behavior.
There are 17 in all. This I want you to know, you and I are capable of committing anyone or all of these if the Holy Spirit isn’t our guide.
The first four works has to do with sensual sins. They are sensual sexual sins. Such as premarital sex, and extramarital sex. I know that is contrary to what the world teaches and what you see on some of the TV shows. But I want you to know Paul is talking about works of the flesh that are sins against God. Paul deals with sins in here that have to do with the thought life being unpure. He deals with sins of witchcraft, which are spiritual sins. There are sins of hatred toward another human. Sins of envy and jealousy. You ought to go through all of these after the service tonight. You ought to look them up in your dictionary and look at the meanings. And while you are looking, you better look at this carefully, “they that do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”