- Pass Me Not
- INTRO - The Spirit of God.His Power, His Provision, & His PathThis past week I spent a good amount of time talking with God about His power, His provision, and His path for all of humanity.I believe God’s purpose is to garner my attention towards His all sufficiency in all things.Talking with my mother on Tuesday, she mentioned enjoying last week’s steaming service on FaithlifeTV, but asked that I might place some more emphasis on encouragement. As you know, a mothers discernment is always a good thing.I thought, how insightful mom was to see exactly where God is going with our message today.
Recent studies indicate that men and women of faith live longer than people of no faith. They have fewer strokes, less heart disease, less clinical depression, better immune system function, lower blood pressure, and fewer anxiety attacks. They are also less likely to commit suicide.
These findings come from secular medical schools and schools of public health. What’s more, Dr. Harold Koenig of Duke University Medical Center has calculated that the lack of religious involvement has an effect on mortality that is equivalent to forty years of smoking one pack of cigarettes per day.
And another study by researchers at the University of Texas found that those who regularly attended worship services lived an average of seven years longer than those who never attended.
—Gregg Easterbrook, The New Republic (July 1999)TRANS - All this to say, “Glad you are here.” Lets be encouraged by what God has in todays message.In our text, Paul points out the power of the Spirit of Jesus over the power of the flesh:But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.This is one of those highlighted verses in my Bible. It has special meaning to me because I know the flesh is still a powerful force in my life. Oh, that it were not so, but God’s will is that I know the truth and hold my liberation from the pressure to sin in the highest regard.What a promise we have in this opening verse. Through the apostle God communicates, “You can have victory today!!!” If you are a expositional preacher, which I am, you really excited studying the cultural context and the meaning found in the original language of this verse.BAK - The people of the time were much more in touch with the idea of walking places. The Hebrew “way” or sense of walking a path coveys a sense of ethical or religious living. The Greek, Syrian, Arabic, Sanskrit, and even the Chinese all convey a similar sense.The people Paul is addressing must had the idea conveyed clearly in mind. “Walk by the Spirit means let your conduct be directed by the Spirit of Jesus.”I got so excited about this I had to stop my study to go share it with Jennifer and one of my neighbors. Paul used a word to convey an idea that everybody understood; no room to disagree with his communication!The way of love that we discussed in this study, is the way, the walk, the ethical manner of Christian living that steps in line with the manner and choice to go about life just as Jesus Himself might chose to do.The flesh is powerful with its “passions and desires.” v.24 Still, the Spirit is stronger and we have the confidence, the certainty, the assurance, that we have victory over the flesh.Now, I want to encourage you, our confidence is not without proof. Paul tells us the power of the Spirt over the flesh is a fight fought for us:For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.Some may attempt to discover the exactness of where Spirit and flesh meet, and without any success, but rest assured that God will not let His children encounter more than which we can contend.Our fight, the manner with how we resist, is not won with willpower but with Spirit power. Let’s go one theological step deeper.The fight is not even about our overcoming desire of the flesh with the help of the Spirit; you heard me correctly. The BIG idea is that the Spirit is the winner and we live by the Spirit (v.25) as we walk along putting on the mind of Christ, loving like Jesus, and doing the will of God.Have confidence because the greater important message is that God is in control and will never lead His children astray.What do we do when discouraged, when feeling frustrated, when fighting against the flesh? How do we respond when trying not to be short-tempered, jealous, indulgent, gluttonous, lustful, or despondent? It is a sad thing when a Christian gives in to sin because they do not trust the Spirit of Jesus.TRANS - Let’s take a closer look at our text. We will break our passage down and look at three points.Point 1Acceptable for Sidestepping the Curse vv.18-21Let’s read our text:But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.The Spirit is helping us today battle the flesh and to further our quest to enter the kingdom of God. See, He frees us from the flesh and keeps us from judgement.“Under the Law”“Under the Law” in this book occurs five times. Repeated phrases or words tell us to pay close attention. It’s Paul’s way of getting right to the point of saying “your are under a curse, the curse of the Law.” This and similar statement referencing being under the curse of the Law occur nine times in this book.Why so important? Because the Spirit frees us from judgement incurred by the Law.Follow along with Paul’s thinking.If you practice works of flesh while under the curse, then you will not enter the kingdom of God.If you bear fruit of the Spirit, then you are not under the curse, and will inherit the kingdom of God.Simple then the condition is practice works of flesh or bear fruit of the Spirit. The first done under the curse will die to enter damnation. The second will not be perfect, but will bear fruit and not be punished by the curse because the are saved by Jesus and will die to go to be with Him in His kingdom.Look at it like this. If the Galatians will not follow the Spirit, they will be left out of the inheritance to come. If they repent of their ways and follow Jesus, they will be led by the Spirit, exhibit fruit of the Spirit, will no longer be under the curse, and will inherit reward from God which just one part is not spending eternity in damnation.Paul want the Galatians to understand that the Spirit of God, that love for others which marks the Christian, is what frees a person from the curse of the Law.If the Galatians follow the Spirit they don’t need to worry about the curse of the Law anymore.However, if the people give in to the desires of the flesh and all that occupancies that type of living, the very thing they are doing, all Paul has left is a warning that they will not enter the kingdom of God.Paul’s message to the Galatians, therefore, is twofold. Paul is assuring them of the power of the Spirit and the ability offered them to forgo the curse of the Law along with the message of warning about the consequences of giving in to the temptations of the flesh.Ironic is a way is this twofold message. On one had Paul assures them of the leading of the Spirit to avoid the curse. On the other hand, Paul warns them that the world of the flesh will lead them to encounter the curse of the Law.The Galatians are tempted by circumcision as a way to avoid the curse. However circumcision is not following the Spirit and the very thing they hope to avoid is the very thing that they incur; the curse of the Law.The purpose is to call the Galatians to follow the Spirit of God. This warns them about the curse fo the Law; it the follow the Spirit, they are exempt from the Law’s curse. However, if they give in to the desires of the flesh then they will fall under the curse and be excluded form entering heaven.TRANS - Spiritual sufficiency helps us sidestep the curse of the Law. The Spirit, also, gives us the ability to fulfill the law. Let’s look at this in our next two verses.Ample for Satisfying the Law vv.22-23But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.Law fulfilled through love sums up the whole law:For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”The Spirit is the One who creates love in the life of Christians. Love is the #1 fruit of the Spirit. Love is mentioned first in the list of fruit of the Spirit.Love has first place in the list. Love is the greatest, the most powerful, and the one in which all of the other fruit of the Spirit is contained. Love holds the whole of all God wants and expects from us.ILL - Nobody imagined a pandemic this time last month. Look how this is bringing out some of the best in people. Sure, there are those who will only look to how it brings out the worse in people, but that is something only they can change. For Christians, difficulty and challenge is not something new.Christians know the value of fighting the unseen. We face that challenge everyday. In some ways, our daily fight against the flesh prepared us more than the lost who are terrified of dying.Now, shift this to considering the place of love during this time and you will see we have something far greater than even hope of a cure. We have joy and peace during this time. We experience patience even while we can’t gather in a building to worship together. We show kindness and goodness to those in this time of need. We remain faithful to pray, read our Bibles, and focus more on God than the pandemic. We know the value of being gentle and maintaining self-control especially because the wicked are looking to see us drop our guard.Perhaps this is why Paul tells us “against such things there is no law.” The Spirit led person is not under the Law. The Law is not against the Spirit. As a matter of fact, love is exactly for what the Law calls. In this way, the Spirit leads us to produce fruit that fulfills the Law and therefore avoid the curse.Love is the hallmark, the highlight, the holy glow in the life of the faithful Christian.How we love should be how we’re known; how we love others and the world. Love is the indicator of whether or not we walk by the the Spirit.Our church, the people, should stand out from the world because of love. The people should be filled with the Spirit. We should be like the sky on a clear night, each star sending its light in all directions, we should show love to all, everyday, all day long. We have in us the Spirit, God Himself, and God is love.Fruit of the Spirit should over flow our lives into the lives of others. The aroma of fresh fruit flowers should fill our homes and wherever we go as the once know sent of orange blossoms once filled this area. We should be the people others count on to be joyous, loving, and kind.The church is the where people can feed, be nourished, and come for healing and help.In this time of uncertainty, we are here and should share all God provides. Not to do so keeps others in need and without hope. To not share our faith is not love and the opposite of all we know of love.TRANS - The True Christian knows the closeness of God and the demands on our lives to be the witnesses to all peoples of the world. The love we know is a gift intended for all of humanity and must be shared.The Spirit enables us to sidestep the curse and satisfy the Law. Yet there is more! Let us consider walking by the Spirit in our closing section.Stroll, Stride, Strut, Shuffle, Saunter, & Step by the Spirit vv.24-26Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.These verses bring this part of Paul’s message to its end. We must ask, “If all there is a tug of war between the Spirit and the flesh, does that mean the life of a Christian is one of defeat and little growth?”ILL - I had an orchid, had is key here. Orchid are hardy plants. It took a few year for me to kill mine.Orchids need little water, a place with a little light, and nourishment ever so often. No big deal, right?I noted my plant was looking withered. Leaves formed lines down their center and started turning brown and falling off. One by one, the leaves died.I said, “I watered it and fed it.” But, it needed more attention than I provided and died.Sometimes I think we say, “I read my Bible and go to church.” Yet, we don’t feed enough on the things of God and it hurts our spiritual condition.Let’s give God’s Word full sway in our lives today. Let this message, this Word, and God’s Spirit feed us today.Our passage notes the all inclusive, all capable, all that is necessary Spirit to deal with the flesh. The road Christians walk is a Holy Way. Each day along the road a Christian is dying to flesh and living to grow through the life given by the Spirit. This holy road is the way of sanctification.We read earlier:I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.Somewhat similar to what we are talking about in today’s passage, but not exactly the same. In 2:20 “have been” is passive. It describes something that already happened. It was done to and for Christians by Jesus.Jesus died on the cross for Christians and this is the basis of the Christian righteous by God through faith:Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.The “already done” gives way to the present. Crucifixion of the flesh is not done to us but something we do to ourselves. Christians are the ones who put to end their bad ways. We do this in various ways including taking time to pray, fasting, repenting, and controlling ourselves. This is the act of daily mortifying the flesh.The devoted Christian is familiar with the passage in Luke:And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.Paul runs with this idea nearly saying “we take up our cross and actually see that the execution happens!” Our self-crucifixion takes place throughout our life. In our current mortal bodies we know so many desires. We must put to death the sinful passions and desires as they occur each day.We will never completely be rid of the flesh while living in these mortal bodies. However, the Christian can look to the One who is perfect all our days with the hope of seeing Him face to face and one day having a body perfected and able to be in heaven nearer to God.Shortcuts, cheats, and the like don’t exist. Spiritual victory takes in the whole of our lives. There is no second blessing or rededication. There is a return to the path, but this will always be the same call to consistent and obedient renouncing of the world and mortification of the flesh.In v.25 Paul says, “If we live by the Spirit” which is something already done, then “let us also walk by the Spirit.” which is our call to obedience.Christ is engrafted into us by faith; this is our hope of glory. So we should walk in the Spirit, be led by God, and work to say in step with what He calls us to accomplish.The “walk by the Spirit” is a military term that means to “be drawn up in line,” to “stand in a row.” Among the Hellenists it was used to me to “follow someone’s philosophical principles.” What this means is that discipleship is conformity to Christ under the leadership of the Spirit.Just as we ought put to death daily the works of the flesh, at the same time we walk forward in faith keeping in step with the Spirit in our attitudes, conduct, and lifestyle.Verse 26 is transitional language that connects Paul’s talk about the life of a Christian with what’s going on with the Galatians. It linked to the preceeding as sort of the negative part of Paul’s teaching. Look at it again:Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.It goes back to the division taking place among the Galatians and looks forward to what Paul has next. In chapter six Paul will deal with attitudes and behaviors that when judging their fruit, don’t fit into the world of the Spirit but that of the flesh.The word “boastful” or “conceited” in some translations comes from an underlying Greek word that refers to the attitude of being puffed up with pride, arrogant, boastful, “setting value on things not really valuable,” or “glorying in vain things.” The KJV says “Let us not be desirous of vainglory.” which suggests some of the Galatians were preoccupied with gaining recognition from other people.The attitude of seeking “star power” and “popularity” belongs to the world of the flesh and not the realm of the Spirit. The limelight life led to terrible life and fellowship among the Galatians and some began to envy one another. Perhaps they said, “I’m the true son of Abraham” or walked among others saying, “I’m free from all Law because of Jesus” perverting their liberty and issuing it as cause to appear better than others.The verse tells us something for today. There seems much pride among pastors and churches. How we Baptist love to say we are “people of the book.” We make big deals out of style of music, style of buildings, and how we appear compared to other churches and denominations. How this hurts the message of Jesus. How this hardens the lost looking on at our behavior. How this grieves the Holy Spirit!May God deliver all of us from such vainglory and move us to only take glory in the cross of Jesus.But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.PRAY(end)
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