Summary: The first in a series on choices. This sermon introduces the concept of choosing to live a life led by the Spirit or the flesh.
There are many freedoms that we enjoy today. Living in the United States, we embellish ourselves in the joys of freedom. We have the freedom to say whatever we want whenever we want, we can worship any way we want, and to the chagrin of some politicians, we have the freedom to own a firearm.
As Christians we have many freedoms and liberties as well. Praise God that through the blood of Jesus we have liberty from death, hell and the grave. We have been set free from the power of sin, and as Christians, the enemy no longer has dominion in our lives. But there is one thing that we are never really truly free from – choices.
We make decisions everyday, some major and some minor. Just this morning you have made decisions, some conscious, and some unconscious. Every one of us woke up this morning and made a choice as to what we would wear to church. Now in some families, that is a major battle, but in others, it’s no big deal. When you drove to church, you chose to stay in your lane (at least I hope you did). There is nothing magical keeping you from going across that line except you. But you probably didn’t even think twice about it, it just came natural because that is how you were taught to drive. When you walked into this sanctuary, you were faced with at least 150 choices as to where you wanted to sit.
When you leave this place today and go out into the world and back to the workplace tomorrow, you will be faced with many choices. Some may affect your life in a major way, some could cost you your life. But I believe you get the point. There will always be decisions and choices as long as we are in this life. So I feel it is important that for the next few weeks we should take a closer look at these choices, and how to make good ones, and how to bounce back from bad ones, and how the choices we make affect others around us.
This morning, however, we need to have a basic foundation of understanding regarding the power of choice. It’s important that we remember that God created us to have a free will. Adam and Eve were not mindless robots. And it is out of their free will that they choose to disobey God and allow sin to permeate the earth. And we being the offspring of Adam, we too have the freedom to make our own choices.
In our everyday lives, we are faced with so many choices. I liken it to going to McDonalds.
Illus: You will go to McDonalds and stand starring at the menu for twenty minutes because you don’t know what to choose. It’s the same menu that’s been around practically for 15-20 years, but for some reason you’ll flip flop between a fat ridden Big Mac or a less fat and more healthy grilled chicken sandwich. Why is that?
You see, we are made up of three parts – the body (flesh), the soul, and the spirit. Our flesh is our old sinful nature, and its desire is to do what is natural to us: sin. Now the spirit is the part of us that is made in the image of God. And when we come to Christ, our spirit is made alive and is controlled by the Holy Spirit. Now your soul is where your emotions and your free will reside. And as we will see in our Scripture text, your flesh wants to go one way and your spirit led by God Himself, obviously, wants to go another.
“So I advise you to live according to your new life in the Holy Spirit. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The old sinful nature loves to do evil, which is just opposite from what the Holy Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are opposite from what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, and your choices are never free from this conflict.” – Galatians 5:16-18 NLT
I like the New Living Translation how it describes that our choices are never free from the conflict between the spirit and the flesh. Isn’t it true? Just a minute ago, I used an illustration using food, and so let’s do it again.
Illus: After church, let’s say you go out to eat. Again, more choices. As you gaze over the menu, a conflict begins. Should I have the double-decker bacon cheeseburger with extra mayonnaise, or should I have the garden salad with fat free dressing? Now for some of us, it’s a no brainer. We’d go for the burger. Why? Because it tastes better. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like the occasional salad, and maybe I’d go with it if it weren’t for the fat free dressing. Fat free stuff just doesn’t taste good. The fats in most foods are what gives it its flavor. When scientists somehow alter the food to make it fat free, some of those flavorful fat morsels are removed. But I have heard when you’ve grown accustomed to fat free foods and garnishes, and your palette has adapted to it, it’s difficult to eat anything else.