Bethel Baptist Church
20.12.27 Morning Worship
      • Proverbs 4:20–27ESV

  • Proverbs 29:11 is one of my favorite verses.
    Not because it is says amazing things about God,
    But because it intuitively humbles me under the hand of God.
    Proverbs 29:11 ESV
    A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.
    What a practical verse.
    And although prosperity can be deceiving and cause me to give full vent to 100s of sinful desires.
    I find more often that suffering forces me to hold back my desires.
    Maybe that is my personality, but I find it much more difficult to hold back my Spirit during suffering.
    When I don’t get what I want - peace and happiness, my world becomes like an storm of sinful desires.
    Samuel Rutherford said,
    “Keep God’s covenant in your trials. Hold yourself by His blessed word, and do not sin. Flee anger, wrath, grudging, envying, fretting. Forgive a hundred pence to your fellow servant, because your Lord has forgiven you ten thousand talents. For I assure you by the Lord, your adversaries shall get no advantage against you, except you sin and offend your Lord in your sufferings.” (SAMUEL RUTHERFORD)
    Elliot Ritzema and Elizabeth Vince, eds., 300 Quotations for Preachers from the Puritans, Pastorum Series (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2013).
    Suffering is unique because it sets off a tidal wave, a hurricane of sinful desires.
    Desires I can easily justify.
    And desires that are incredibly tempting.
    And if I don’t hold them back, it will lead me to incredible depths of foolishness and destruction.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Several weeks ago we began a series titled - Honoring God in Times of Trouble.
    And so far we have primarily looked at 2 Cor 4:7-5:10.
    We have said,
    We ought to Live for Spiritual Matters.
    Glorification should zap our fears of death.
    Our only goal in life - should be to please God.
    And that we should labor for eternal rewards.
    Essentially, a progression through Paul’s answer to the Corinthians about their suffering.
    But I am left with a question -
    What choices please God and what choices do not?
    And so I began to think about what other passages might clarify that question.
    What might be important in pleasing God in times of trouble?
    I think we all would agree - that being lead by the Spirit instead of the flesh is key to pleasing God.
    We are not pleasing God if sin controls our life.
    But we are pleasing God if the Spirit controls our life.
    And thus, today we turn to Galatians 5:16-21.
    This section will guide us through what it means - to live for God rather than the flesh.
    Galatians 5:16–21 ESV
    But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
    From Gal 5:16-21, I challenge us -

    We ought to respond to times of trouble by denying the desires of the flesh.

    And this text gives us 2 ways by the Spirit we can deny sinful desires.
    ******************
    LETS PRAY LETS PRAY LETS PRAY
    ******************
    The First way, in which by the Spirit we can deny sinful desires - is to

    (1) Recognize that suffering brings out a war between the desires of the flesh and the spirit. (Gal 5:16-18)

    We should not be surprised when we struggle with sin, during trials and suffering.
    To begin with, this war between our desires is not unique to suffering.
    ILLUSTRATION:
    If you did a survey, and asked - Are you a good person -
    Most people consider themselves pretty good people.
    Even Christians, often consider themselves as pretty good people
    - having forgotten the sin nature inside them, a massive potential for sinful desires.
    - And nature that needed Jesus in the first place.
    But what most fail to recognize - is that their is a war over their desires.
    The desires of the flesh
    And
    the desires that come from the Spirit of God.
    Are enemies - playing tug a war for control over you.
    ILLUSTRATION:
    It is just as real as troops landing on the Beach on D-Day.
    Or the horrors of Trench Warfare during WWI.
    Galatians 5:16–18 ESV
    But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

    (a) The flesh and the Spirit are at war in our desires.

    ILLUSTRATION:
    We all have observed tug a war games.
    And on each side - people line up to pull the other team across the line.
    And in a fierce tug a war match,
    each side will dig their heals and pull with all their might to get control.
    And usually that control goes back and fourth until … finally someone gains a clear advantage.
    The sin nature of our flesh and the Spirit of God are just like that.
    We know who the ultimate winner is.
    The Spirit is always stronger, but nevertheless this is a battle for control in our lives.
    There is a war inside us.
    And I would even say -

    (b) This war is heightened during suffering.

    ILLUSTRATION:
    Jim Berg in his book, Changed into his Image, gives a really good visual of this.
    He describes a tea bag being put inside a teapot.
    The teabag is just fine, until the hot water is added.
    And suddenly the tea bag releases all kinds of dark tea.
    Did the hot water cause the tea bag to release dark tea?
    Or did the hot water simply release what was already there?
    I would caution us, that when we get into hot water, and face suffering.
    It often heightens the war that is already waging inside us.
    Suffering causes exhaustion, fear, a feeling of being disconnected from God.
    And when that happens - it heightens the war that is already being waged.
    And in those times, It is really important -

    (c) The Christian must choose to be lead by the Spirit rather than the desires of the flesh.

    Observe what Paul says -
    Galatians 5:16–18 ESV
    But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
    In addition, Paul tells us - to live and be in step with the spirit.
    Galatians 5:25 ESV
    If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
    Paul is begging us to live choose to live by the Spirit rather the flesh.
    Let’s put this together -
    The flesh and the Spirit are enemies at war in our desires.
    And suffering often causes that war between the two desires to come out.
    But we must choose to listen to the Holy Spirit’s prompting of our conscience.
    A key part of honoring God in times of trouble is to -
    Recognize that suffering brings out a war between the desires of the flesh and the spirit. (Gal 5:16-19a)
    And when we recognize this, it helps be prepared to choose to live by the Spirit.
    To be a wise man who holds back his spirit.
    And The Second way, in which we by the Spirit can deny sinful desires - is to

    (2) Remember the vices of suffering. (Gal 5:19-21)

    How do we know who is winning the skirmish in our lives?
    What sinful desires does suffering bring out?
    And how can we know whether we are lead by the Spirit or not?
    Paul doesn’t leave us guessing.
    He over the next several verses will compare the vices of the flesh to the graces of the Spirit.
    For our purposes today we are looking at the first half - the fruit of the flesh. (verses 19-21)
    If you are falling the flow of thought,
    - Paul warns us about the war over our desires,
    - and then gives an expanded section of what the vices of the flesh are.
    He says, these are obvious, but I will give it to you anyway.
    Galatians 5:19–21 ESV
    Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
    Again,
    if suffering heightens the struggle between the flesh and the Spirit,
    if our frustration and exhaustion in suffering heightens this struggle -
    then we can anticipate struggles in these areas.
    Let’s consider the vices of the flesh.
    Paul begins by considering -

    - Sexual immorality.

    - Impurity.

    - Sensuality (debauchery, lasciviousness)

    ILLUSTRATION:
    Let me know if you are like me,
    On a bad day - I just want go eat.
    Maybe it’s my favorite meal.
    Maybe it’s ice cream.
    Or something easy - like Pizza.
    But I go back to those comfort foods when I had a hard day.
    Why?
    Because I can ignore the struggles I am facing,
    And the gratification of the flesh feels good.
    And that makes me feel better about everything.
    That’s perhaps an amoral way of responding to suffering.
    But just like I can use comfort food to ignore my struggles,
    - I can go to sexuality.
    I think one of the draws to pornography and fornication for many people is an attempt to ignore the struggles in their lives.
    It is already a struggle, but then suffering heightens this temptation.
    Further,
    - I can seek out that which sensual and impure.
    (Sensuality is not necessarily referring to sexuality - but just using sensual things to satisfy me and to make me feel good, and thus ignore my problems.)
    Drugs, alcohol, computer games, social occasions, binge movie series .... can be used to ignore my struggles.
    Paul warns us that our flesh often seeks to entice us to sexuality, impurity, and sensuality.
    In a suffering context - sexuality, impurity, and sensuality - draw me
    To Make my flesh feel good and ignore my problems.
    Further, I can also turn to -

    - False worship.

    Paul next mentions -
    - Idolatry.
    - Witchcraft (sorcery).
    One of the greatest lies we can believe - is that God doesn’t care about my situation.
    We hurt - and therefore we question the goodness and sovereignty of God.
    That struggle is what is behind Romans 8:31-39.
    That is the struggle behind 2 Cor 4 and 5, that we looked at a few weeks ago.
    And I think one response to that struggle in suffering - is to be curious if some other religion might have hope for me.
    If there is at all a tendency to turn to idolatry and witchcraft,
    then suffering will always present an even more compelling temptation to do that.
    If you spend enough time talking to lost people, you will find some who rejected Christ for a host of other religions - when they suffered.
    Now, we may be tempted to dismiss this tendency, but spend enough time in your community and you will find a number of supposed “Former Christians”.
    What caused them to hear the truth and walk away? Many times it was because of how they understood God’s hand in their suffering.
    I would suggest that suffering - causes us to wonder if there might be something else out there, that could help us more than what we have now.
    And in sense there is something better out there - our heart is longing for the day when Christ will fully roll back suffering.
    We were not designed to suffer and suffering is not natural.
    It is only common.
    And Scriptures promise a day when he will remove that suffering.
    But till then - we need to wait for the hope found in him.
    So suffering can cause us to wish for more,
    but we need to be careful to remember that hope is only found in Christ.
    But if sexuality, impurity, sensuality, and false worship doesn’t tempt us - there is one that almost always tempts us.

    - Relationship Conflicts.

    Paul mentions a huge list of conflicts with people.
    Observe what he writes.
    - hostilities (enmity, hatred).
    - contention (strife, variance).
    - jealousy.
    - fits of anger (outbursts of anger, fits of rage).
    - selfish ambition (selfish rivalries).
    - dissension (disputes).
    - divisions (factions, seditions).
    - envy (divisions, factions).
    (A host of these words are very similar in meaning, so I have added some other ways people have translated this passage. But you get the gist of what Paul is describing. )
    ILLUSTRATION:
    I had a friend who often says - a hurting person, is a hurtful person.
    - Have you ever walked in somewhere, and suddenly felt the chill in the air.
    - Or you had to walk on egg shells.
    - Your spouse or kid was going through something … and were really touchy.
    Why are they like that?
    There is a natural war going on over desires.
    And it is easy to desire these sins more than things of God.
    When we are hurting - that temptation for this is heightened.
    I suddenly justify a lot of conflict because I am hurting.
    Few things can cause me to be more blind to my hostility and anger, then suffering.
    Few things can make more irrationally selfish than fear and pain.
    When you are facing times of trouble … you need to recognize the incredible temptation conflict has for you.
    Like the hot water in a tea cup, suffering can activate a deep anger, selfishness, and bitterness inside us.
    To honor God in times of trouble - we need to recognize our capacity to let conflict rule us.
    And Finally, Paul warns of -

    - Drunkenness

    - Binge parties (orgies, carousing, revelries)

    The last two vices Paul warns us about is related to alcohol.
    Many people have looked to alcohol and partying to drown out their hurting - but it never does.
    It leaves them empty and hurting more.
    For some, Alcohol is a seductive temptation and suffering draws it out.
    We can talk about why?
    Perhaps it is the product of massive marketing, which has convinced many that good times must include alcohol.
    For many, alcohol is a choice comforter food - because they have believed the lie that alcohol relaxes you.
    And for others - they are just believing the lie that you can drown out your misery.
    And binge parties just add to this.
    Binge parties are ways we can forget about our problems.
    Binge parties offer a false hope of good times.
    Drunkenness and binge parties is a temptation of the flesh, but it seems to really tempt some when they hurt.
    It s their comfort food.
    But unlike ice cream, Alcohol comes with host of problems.
    Consider what Proverbs says about Alcohol -
    Proverbs 23:31–32 ESV
    Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder.
    Paul warns us not to be seduced by the vice of drunkenness and binge partying.
    Finally Paul concludes

    - And things like these.

    On one hand, I would challenge us - that we are more than likely tempted by one or more of these areas.
    Sexual immorality
    Sensuality
    False Worship
    Relationship Conflicts
    or Drunkenness
    On the other hand, there may be some other shade of vice that you struggle with.
    We are all are unique and we have unique ways we to struggle.
    We each are tempted differently.
    So what vice do you go to when you suffer?
    I challenge you -
    to note the vices that you naturally struggle with, and a guarantee that these will be same vices you struggle with in suffering.
    The vices that come natural will be heightened and more tempting when you hurt.
    CONCLUSION:
    Let me finish this morning by saying this -
    Paul gave us a great principle to live by -
    2 Corinthians 5:9 ESV
    So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.
    However, one of the great challenges to actually doing that is choosing to live in the flesh rather than the Spirit.
    Paul warns us about the temptation of the flesh in Gal 5:16-21.
    He told us to -
    (1) Recognize that suffering brings out a war between the desires of the flesh and the spirit. (Gal 5:16-18)
    And to -
    (2) Remember the vices of suffering. (Gal 5:19-21)
    If we want to Honor God in times of trouble,
    we ought to be prepared to deny the desires of our flesh when we suffer.
    And remember - this always accomplished by looking to the strength found in the Spirit.
    We have focused on the negative aspect of honoring God in times of trouble this morning - denying the flesh.
    But remember we are not alone - the Holy Spirit is always there to help us.
      • Proverbs 29:11ESV

      • Galatians 5:16–21ESV

      • Galatians 5:16–18ESV

      • Galatians 5:16–18ESV

      • Galatians 5:25ESV

      • Galatians 5:19–21ESV

      • Proverbs 23:31–32ESV

      • 2 Corinthians 5:9ESV

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