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Many churches are beginning Advent today as we begin to anticipate Christmas.
But I don’t want us to rush too quickly away from the work of God’s Spirit in our lives.
We still have 4 weeks to focus on the surprises of Advent, but first let’s talk about the type of life we live when God’s Spirit is in control.
I realize a sermon is not a term paper, so you don’t need all the footnotes where I am citing the works of another.
But I also do not want to present the work of other men as my own.
Today I have edited and combined thoughts from 2 of the greatest pastors of the last century.
Some of what I am about to say will sound like it comes from Adrian Rogers, former pastor of a church in Memphis and the voice behind the radio program Love Worth Finding.
Other ideas come from the pen of John Piper, a retired pastor from the Minneapolis, MN area and a ministry called Desiring God.
Both of these pastors preach about an hour, so you can rest assured I am not just reading their words verbatim, but I have gleaned from each of their comments on today’s text to write words that I believe are helpful and applicable for us in Chase County 2022.
Last week we talked about the giftsof Holy Spirit, this week we consider the fruit of Holy Spirit.
There are 2 general ideas I would like to introduce before we jump into the text.
1. Fruit in v.22 is singular.
This is not a list of options you find in the produce aisle that allows you to pick and choose.
If the Spirit is truly calling the shots in your life, all of these will be evidenced to some degree.
This leads me to the second observation...
2. Just as fruit is produced when a tree or plant is healthy.
The fruit becomes evidenceof the health and the type of the plant.
The fruit of the Spirit is evidence of the health and type of life you are living.
Transition: Let’s begin by breaking down today’s texts into manageable pieces.
Generally speaking, the type of life you experience can fall into one of two divisions.
Fleshly sins/works (5:16-21) vs. Spiritual fruit (5:22-23)
· Sexual sins - “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality”
· Spiritual sins - “ idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions”
· Social sins - envy, drunkenness, orgies”
Now, you may wipe your brow, let out a breath of relief and say, “He didn’t get me.”
And then, he says—“and things like these.”
That includes you!
· Spiritual fruit - “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law”
There’s a contrast between works and fruit.
We produce the work—that is, it’s an effort in our flesh—and we only bear the fruit.
You see, the Holy Spirit produces the fruit.
We produce the work.
And so Paul is very exact here, in this Scripture, that he uses.
Now he goes on to say,
Transition: There is an enemy of God that the Bible calls the flesh.
This flesh is not muscles, tendons and skin; it is human tendencies shaped by 3 influences that are opposed to the purpose for which God created you.
The flesh personified is the Deceiver, and He deceives through internal motivations and external enticements.
All that is opposed to God finds root in the Evil one.
2 Corinthians 2:11 states that we can be aware of the schemes of our enemy.
The Strategy of Our Foe
A. He Attacks Unexpectedly
Jesus, after His baptism, and when He was anointed with the Holy Spirit of God—when the Spirit like a dove descended upon Him—the Bible says,
Now what I’m trying to say, dear friend, is there’s a principle that you could almost call the devil after the dove.
The dove descended, and then came the devil.
For Jesus said, “Watch and pray … the spirit indeed is willing, but”—watch—“the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41).
He is going to come.
B. He Attacks Indirectly
I’m going to tell you something else: Our Foe attacks us indirectly and internally.
Look, for a moment, at Deuteronomy 25:17.
This example is of a warrior who attacks at your most vulnerable and exposed point when you are tired and weary.
I’ll tell you, God doesn’t think much of this fellow Amalek—you can tell that, right away.
He came unexpectedly, but he came indirectly.
He sneaked up from behind.
Have you ever been in a situation where somebody just caught you off guard—maybe you were tired, irritable, a little confused—and you opened your mouth, and said something terrible?
You just said something, and then, after you said it, or after you did it, you were as surprised as the person.
And you said to your self, “You know, I’m really surprised at myself.”
Or, you said, “Hey, what made me do that?”
And you did not even realize that there was in you that propensity.
What the devil did was a sneak attack on you; he used the flesh, but he came from behind, and he bushwhacked you when you were weak.
He Attacks Viciously
He comes, dear friend, unexpectedly; he comes indirectly; and, he comes viciously.
Notice what he did.
Look again—in v.18 that was just read, the Bible says, “he attacked you on the way when you were faint and weary, and cut off your tail, those who were lagging behind you, (Deuteronomy 25:18).
What the flesh does is to attack us in our weakest place.
Now when God tests us, God tests us in our strongest place.
God tested Abraham’s faith, because that was his strongest place.
But the devil attacks us in the weakest place.
Now these people were wounded; they were weak; they were weary; and the flesh took advantage.
Now I tell you, friend, when you have a great spiritual experience, at the same time, so many times, you’re going to find yourself weary.
Jesus fasted forty days and was weak—then, the devil tempted.
A pastor, who can be praying and fasting, can come home and have a tremendous argument with his wife, if he’s not careful.
A church that can have a great spiritual outreach like VBS or our Bible in Life Conference where we’re working, and praying, and fasting, and organizing, and God will bless—but we’re all so tired; we’ve been to so many meetings.
Don’t you think the enemy knows that?
You see, he’s very vicious; he comes unexpectedly with a sneak attack; and he comes, dear friend, indirectly—from behind.
He comes viciously to take advantage of the fact that, many times, we’re tired and disoriented, albeit that we’re walking with God.
D. He Attacks Arrogantly
Then, I want to say something, He comes arrogantly.
Notice again, in this passage of Scripture, the last part of verse 18: “he did not fear God ” (Deuteronomy 25:18).
Now I want to say, dear friend, that the flesh has no fear of God.
The Bible says, “The flesh is warfare with God” (James 4:1–4).
Now be honest—do you find it hard to pray sometimes?
Do you find it hard to read the Bible?
I say today, if you’re born again, there will be a desire to pray; there will be a desire to love God, a desire to witness, a desire for the things of God—and, indeed, there is.
But I’m going to tell you something else: You’re going to find something in you that doesn’t desire it at all, and it will fight you and keep you from doing the things that you ought to do.
God wants you to have victory over this foe.
Transition: The Christian life attempted in the flesh is marked by defeat.
But the Christian life under the control of Holy Spirit displays...
The Victory of Our Faith
How are we going to overcome the flesh?
Yesterday I was doing my devotional reading in Exodus 4-7 where God tells Moses to use his staff to convince Pharoah.
He said, “Moses, pick it up by the tail.”
And Moses said, “What’s that, Lord?”
Now any country boy knows that’s not the way you pick up a venomous serpent.
That leaves the business-end loose.
But He said, “Moses, pick it up.”
And it became a rod again in Moses’ hand; and, no longer, now, is it called the rod of Moses—it is called the rod of God.
And what God was showing Moses was this: “Moses, there is a flesh principle in you; there’s a serpent in your so-called ability—and you need to throw down the flesh.”
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