Summary: Standing in the Freedom of the Gospel: The War Within
Standing in the Freedom of the Gospel:
The War Within
After finishing our series on discipleship, we are back in Galatians to finish the series we started in the fall, “Standing in the Freedom of the Gospel.” If you have your bibles, turn to Galatians 5:16-25. I have been in situations, whether it be arguments with Karen, struggling with lust, getting angry while working around the house, where I struggled with choosing the right thing and chose not to do so; other times I struggled and chose the right thing. Have you ever been there? Too often it seems we are on the losing end of that battle and can get discouraged but the good news is that in the end, the Spirit wins out. We are presently are and in the future will be conformed to the image of Christ.
Message in a sentence - The freedom Christ promises, is not without a daily war or conflict within us between submitting to the leadership of the Spirit or the submitting to the desires of the flesh. Today as we begin the passage speaking about the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit, I want to spend today developing about the war or conflict within each one of us. Lets look to see what the bible has to say about this conflict. I want to look at three truths today: There is a Conflict Within us; We have a resource in the Spirit the helps us in this conflict; Our overcoming the flesh is the work of the Spirit.
1. There is Spiritual Conflict Within Us (v.17)
If you have come to faith in Christ, there is a conflict, a war within you, that is waged every waking moment of your life. Many times it is apparent and you know it; other times you do not even know it. That is because we are spiritually numb to the sin we are engaging in. This conflict is because the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh and the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit. The flesh wants to keep you from doing the things you want to do. Sin is dethroned in our lives but it is not not destroyed. This is why Paul tells the churches, 'walk not according to the flesh, to crucify the flesh, to put to death the deeds of the flesh.' The flesh is what characterizes our life before we come to faith in Christ. It is our natural, selfish and sinful propensity to rebel against God. It is cunning and deceiving, lurking underneath the surface, waiting to rear its ugly head when you least expect it. It is influenced by our past and our personalities. Some of have lived reckless lives, others came from very dysfunctional homes, others are emotionally scarred, and still others have been very self centered all their lives. All of this results in different baggage for different people. The greater the baggage, the greater our struggles will be.
2. The Spirit is our Resource in the Conflict (v. 17)
The flesh keeps you from doing what you want to do. We are powerless to resist and overcome the flesh in our own strength. But the good news is that the Spirit is also exerting his influence in our lives. The Spirit is persistent and relentless in his influence. He is opposing the desires of the flesh. Much of this is not seen nor felt but He is working. He does this two ways. First by changing the desires of our heart and secondly by exerting his influence over our hearts so that we will more and more be swayed and won over by the Spirit. We will only overcome the flesh by the Spirit given new and greater desires and by submitting to the impulses and promptings of the Spirit.
3. Transformation is a Work of the Spirit (v. 16, 18)
The work of the Spirit is three things: intimate, internal, and it is inevitable. By intimate I mean relational. He is a person, a member of the trinity. God, the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit, always working together in unity as One. The Spirit is not just powerful but personal. You are following his lead, listening to his voice. He is the battery for the Christian life but he is also a person. When you follow his lead and listen to his voice, you are following Christ because He is the Spirit of Christ (Rom 8:9). You tap his power through your relationship with Christ. Second, the work of the Spirit is internal. Real faith produces real fruit. But because it is internal it cannot necessarily be measured easily. It is gradual and over time; very rarely dramatic. It is organic. We often do not see the change until the pressures of life come and we see what we are made of. Last, it is inevitable. You will be made holy; you will be conformed to the image of Christ. When we see him we will become like him (1 John 3:2). You can resist it, fight it, but in the end he wins because He promises.