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Life as a Christian

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Living the Christian Life

Please turn with me to for our text for the day.
(Slide)
Read and pray.
Today as we begin our time of preaching in the Word, I want to walk through a story that will help us understand the theme of this passage.
Jim was a young man who was genuinely converted by God in his younger years.
He grew up in a Christian home and was blessed beyond measure to be in a healthy Church.
Yet as he began to grow into adulthood, he was confused as to what he should be doing with his life.
Should he be pursuing a call to ministry?
Should he sit around and wait upon the Lord to make His plans for Jim’s life extremely clear?
Maybe he should just start doing something and wait upon the Lord to reveal to Him what it is that he should do?
This confusion ran rampant in his mind and he finally decided to approach one of his elders about it.
It was then that Jim recieved some of the most freeing advice that he has ever been given.
(Slide)
That advice was this, “Walk with Christ and do what you want!”
Walk with Christ and do what you want.
Because of this, Jim was able to go on and live a life where he both faithfully served the Lord through the local Church and pursued a career choice of his hearts desire.
Now I understand that any analogy that I could give here is going to fall short of truly explaining the idea here.
But the gist of this idea goes far beyond a mere career field or industry.
This idea and theme goes into every portion of Jim’s life.
It’s not merely his career choice that is being impacted by this ideology but all of his life is impacted by the idea of walking with God and doing what you want.
So today, my question for you is this;
(Slide)
How do we know that we are walking with Christ?
That is actually what Paul is illustrating here in this passage.
“What does it mean to walk with Christ and do what you want?”
Paul examines the idea of living by the flesh and by living by the Spirit and in order to understand the distinction, we have to examine both of those.
The flesh that Paul is referring to is what we are by nature.
What we have inherited with this fallen condition which is sometimes called a lower nature.
The flesh is what we are at natural birth.
And by Spirit,Paul is referring to the Holy Spirit which regenerates the heart of men and gives them faith to believe upon Jesus.
And during this regeneration, the Spirit gives us a new nature and then dwell’s within us.
The Spirit is what we become by the new birth.
And these two natures will always have a conflict with each other.
There are many teachers who would claim today that these two have no conflict with each other any more.
That the flesh nature is now somehow completely repressed and it is only the spiritual side of man that remains alive after regeneration.
There is actually several sects who would claim to be Christians who swear by the idea that they never sin anymore because they’ve been made new in Christ.
This entire passage contradicts any idea of this.
Living this Christian life in the Spirit does not mean that you as a new creation will never struggle with sin.
That you as a new creation will never have thoughts of lust or desires of the flesh.
Instead, what Scripture teaches is that you will struggle between these two.
And that conflict will arise time after time.
But that you also have hope.
And because Paul wanted the Galatians to know that there was hope, he shows us how to discern our hearts by using this tool which shows you where you’re at.
As you begin to walk in the Spirit, the flesh side of you begins to become increasingly subdued.
You begin to desire more and more the things of the Spirit.
But if you are not walking in the Spirit, the flesh in you will not be subdued and you will increasingly fall prey to that side of you.
This is all of God
So how can we tell these two apart?
(Slide)
The first thing we
If it is true and possible that we as new creations are able to walk with God and do what we want, how do we check our hearts to see that we are truly walking in the Spirit and not in the flesh?
The first thing we need to do is understand some terminology.
In verse 16 Paul lays out a term which because of our modern understanding of the word we need to revisit its definition.
Paul says to walk by the Spirit and not the lust of the flesh.
(Slide)
In our time, the term lust is almost always given a sexual connotation.
Now there is good reason for that but we cannot change the original intention of the original language.
Paul will go on to explain sexual immorality in a minute and this first verse will contain a part of that but is not exclusive to that term.
Instead what the Lord was intending for us to see is that in our hearts we can lust after anything.
Our sinful fallen nature that we inherited through Adam has desire to have what does not belong to us.
And we do this in a multitude of ways.
When we look at other people whom we perceive to be better of financially than we are and we desire what they have, we have begun to lust after that which is not ours.
If I as a Christian, desire to have the successful life or career that the Lord has given to someone else, then I have already lusted after that and there is nothing sexual included.
Now this does not mean that the word can never be applied to that.
Each of us in this room knows that there is a proper time to use the term lust in a sexual term.
Yet this is not it
The second thing that I would say is that the works of the flesh are evident.
It is very apparent when someone is walking in the flesh.
The reason for this is that their desires become that which Scripture reveals to be the flesh.
Just think for a moment about the first work of the flesh that Paul mentions in Verse 19.
(Slide)
Sexual immorality.
If your walk with God includes sexual immorality, than you are not walking with God in a right manner and instead are gratifying the desires of the flesh.
Paul says to walk by the Spirit and not the lust of the flesh.
Now notice I didn’t say that you are not saved.
A person who struggles with sexual immorality in their life because they have a desire to live right before the Lord is revealing in their heart a care for Christ.
If they had no care for Christ or no struggle with the sin, that very well might be a different story.
But for the moment, we’re presuming that this person is a believer because after all, that is the context of the people that Paul was writing to.
He wasn’t writing to a group of unbelievers but was instead writing to Christians.
And realistically, each of these sins could be lumped into four categories.
One deals with sex.
The next one is religion, then society and lastly to drink.
But in this realm specifically, sexual immorality goes probably far beyond what many of us would be comfortable talking about on a given day.
But the gist of the theme here is that sexual immorality impacts the root of the
It would include impurity and licentiousness as well.
The idea behind impurity would be along the lines of pornography, lustful desires or something like that.
The idea of licentiousness would be in the arena of open and reckless behavior.
Now my common practice is that when I plan to go into any more detail or implication concerning sexual issues is to give at least a weeks notice for younger ears and such in the room so I will not go much farther with this thought.
The very last thing I will say is that sexual immorality can include anyone.
Whether you’re married or unmarried.
Young or old.
And when it grips onto your heart it will lead you into some of the darkest areas that you would have never wanted to go.
If you see this in your life, it is possible that you are not walking in the Spirit.
Instead, you are walking with yourself and doing what you want and the end of that road is not somewhere you want to be.
The next work that Paul mentions is in the realm of religion.
And this comes in many forms and is probably the one issue I would argue is most prevalent within the hearts of God’s people.
And that is the area of religion.
As human beings we are inherently religious.
And this is found in the area of idolatry.
And as hard as this may be for us to admit, this reveals in our hearts a desire to worship objects rather than our Creator.
Now most of us would argue against this.
We develop an envy or a lust concerning how God bestows His gifts upon other people and not upon us.
We would say that we’re Christians and therefore idolatry doesn’t find itself in our lives.
And these are offences against God.
I would actually argue that more often than not, idolatry encompasses much of our daily lives.
Think back to last week when we talked about our own standards and ideologies being placed upon other people.
Those works are nothing more than a work of the flesh which reveal that a person is not truly walking according to the Spirit.
This is nothing more than us applying our idea of what we think God looks like and expects upon other people.
And by doing so we replace God with ourselves.
We idolize our own idea of who we believe God to be and often when someone brings correction, we reveal our idolatry even more by refusing to submit to Scripture.
This is idolatry in the sense that we place our own standards above that which God has placed upon others.
But it doesn’t end there.
With this you also have the idea of greed and selfish gain.
This is probably the portion that is found most within the Church.
Many people though they do not mean to, find themselves serving financial means instead of serving God.
They think first and foremost about providing for their family and not about serving Christ first.
Sadly this idolatry has crept into far too many places.
It has even found its way into the pulpits of our Church’s.
Some pastors look at smaller Church’s as stepping stones which lead to the next and better Church which can pay better.
Of all places, the Church is not the place in which this form of idolatry should be.
Instead of serving God through faithfully serving their local Church, they seek after money.
The Church and God’s people should be the last ones we need to worry about in the sense of pursuing something other than God.
Yet it all goes back to that statement I made earlier.
Christians with their new life in Christ, yes they are guided by the Spirit.
Yet they can just as easily walk in the flesh.
This goes back to checking our hearts using the Word of God.
And because of that, Paul shows us this tool that we can use to check our own hearts.
So if we compare our actions in light of what Paul is writing about here, what do we find?
Do we find ourselves doing works of the flesh?
Or do we find ourselves walking in the Spirit?
As we continue through this journey, the Word of God will begin to reveal this to us.
So what about Jealousy?
That doesn’t exist within the Church does it?
I mean surely there is not a soul in this room who has ever been envious or lustful towards something that someone else has?
We watch from afar as God bestows a certain grace upon one family that He did not bestow upon ours and our idolatrous hearts are soon exposed.
And as hard as this may be for us to admit, this reveals in our hearts a desire to worship objects rather than our Creator.
We develop an envy or a lust concerning how God bestows His gifts upon other people and not upon us.
And these are offences against God.
Those works are nothing more than a work of the flesh which reveal that a person is not truly walking according to the Spirit.
It also reveals what we think about God as well.
The truth of the matter as hard as it may be to swallow is that each of us are where we are because God has ordained us to have this life.
It’s the same as complaining about the weather.
Did the sovereign King of all creation ordain it to be cold or hot?
Then who are we to complain about such things.
Did God ordain you to be rich?
Than don’t take it to the grave because God has made it possible for you to take part in His plan in a way that He has not done with another.
The truth of the matter is this, when we complain or envy or even boast in our success or lack there of, it reveals a heart that is walking in the flesh and not the Spirit.
If you are jealous of your brother or Sister in Christ, then you have failed to walk in Spirit.
The last thing we will cover here is the issue of drunkenness as it seems to be the one which sticks out more than the others.
For the sake of time we’ll stop there in the text but there is so much more that could be said concerning the sins listed here.
And if this is you, you need to repent.
If your heart carries with it any form of works that coincides with the works of the flesh, you must repent.
A failure to repent on your part will ultimately reveal that the reason you didn’t walk according the Spirit and only walked according to the flesh is because you never had the Spirit.
That is Paul’s point at the end of verse 21.
(Slide) Galatians 5:21
I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Listen to me for a moment because if you don’t hear anything all day, this is what you need to hear.
God’s kingdom is a kingdom of godliness, righteousness and self control.
It is the very nature of who God is as our creator and there will not be one single person who makes a practice of walking in the flesh who will inherit the Kingdom of God!
Now many might say, but Cory, doesn’t that mean that our Justification is dependent upon us?
No!
That very idea misses the larger picture of this entire passage.
Those who belong to Christ will ultimately walk according to the Spirit.
It goes back to .
(Slide)
Romans 8:30 ESV
And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
Romans 8:29 ESV
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
Remember, this portion of Scripture in Romans both teaches a Sovereign Predestination of sinners to become Christians, and it teaches that those who are predestined will be conformed to the image of Christ.
And as you walk through all of the works of the flesh mentioned there by Paul, not one of them fits the character of Christ Jesus.
Therefore, those who are regenerated by the work of the Spirit and given faith to believe as shows are those who will be different.
There is no question about it.
They will be conformed to the image of Christ and because of that, at some point in time, their struggle with the lust of flesh will see progress.
It may take months, years or even decades but they will eventually be conformed to the image of Christ Jesus.
Once more than that, they will struggle with these works of the flesh.
The keyword here is the word struggle.
Many people have no problem with admitting their guilt when it comes to their sin.
Even unbelievers as you walk them through the Law will gladly confess to their sin.
Yet the unbeliever will run right back into the depths of their sin with no thought or care about the God who created them or the Judgement that one day awaits them.
The believer will fight their sin tooth and nail until finally, when they do break, they throw themselves at the mercy of the Lord and plead for forgiveness.
Do you see the difference?
The one person could care less about their sin and just runs to it.
The other actually cares and fights against it.
The reason why they care is because they have within them this struggle over what to do.
Inside of the Christian is the Spirit drawing the them closer to the character of Jesus.
Drawing them closer to a reflection of what Jesus looks like in His perfect righteousness.
That means that as time progresses in the life of the Christian, you will begin to see this character coming to life.
(Slide) Love, Joy and Peace
The first set of character traits that you will see will be Love, Joy and Peace.
They will develop within their hearts a love for God that is not found within any form or likeness in the religious world.
They will begin to be more loving both with one another and in their regular interactions.
They will no longer have a complete desire to be rude or act in an unloving way with the world.
Instead, they will begin to long for showing the love of Christ in their interactions and dealings with one another.
And the joy.
They will have a joy that is unspeakable found in their redeemer.
The Christians highest joy will not be found within the things of the world but will instead be found within the Lord of all creation.
He will also have a peace beyond measure.
Knowing that of all the people in the world, God has redeemed them and bestowed upon them something that many others will never have.
They will have peace in knowing in the very depths of who they are that they have been made right with God through Christ.
Love, joy and peace are all characteristics which are mainly God focused.
They are upward and because they are upward bound, the overflow of those three will be an outflowing towards one another.
(Slide) Patience, Kindness and Goodness.
The next set of characteristics that Paul mentions is Patience, Kindness and Goodness.
All three of these attributes extend outwardly.
Instead of being upward focused towards God, they are focused towards one another.
Patience in our interactions with one another.
Look, let’s be honest with one another for a moment.
Each of us in this room probably get on each others nerves at times.
And someone in this room has the ability to push your buttons in ways that nobody else does.
Yet, because of who you are in Christ as a new creation, you will begin to display a form of patience that is beyond comparison.
You are no longer bound to say those thoughts that come into your mind about someone you may not like.
Instead, walking by the Spirit means that you will develop patience with one another.
You will no longer be short with your brother in Christ.
You will no longer be rude or arrogant or snarky.
Instead, the Spirit will begin to work on your heart in how you interact with one another.
And because of that you will begin to have a kindness not known by the unbelieving world.
You will look to one another with great compassion and admiration that you will get to spend all of eternity with them.
Now I want you to take this serious for a moment.
Look around this room.
Many, and I would pray that all who are in this room will be with you and with Jesus for all of eternity.
Do you realize that?
This is your family, given to you by God to draw you closer to Himself and to sanctify you.
You will spend all of eternity with this family.
And finally, when that time comes, all those times that you didn’t think the best of your brother or sister in Christ will be gone.
But you don’t have to wait until you get there.
You can look around this room and give your brothers and sisters in Christ the benefit of the doubt.
You can choose to believe in the goodness of their heart motivations instead of believing upon the negative side.
And you can treat them in this way.
You should have patience with those who aggravate.
You should have kindness in your disposition.
You should look at your brother or sister in Christ and choose to see the goodness of their words and their deeds.
(Slide) Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control
The last fruit of the Spirit that we will look at will be Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control.
Each of these attributes describe the Christian.
They describe the reliability of the Christian per their external conduct.
Faithfulness would be better translated as gentleness.
And Gentleness in this context is that humble meekness which Christ Himself exhibited.
Could you imagine for a moment what the Church would look like if we had the gentleness of Jesus as our defining attribute as Christians?
I think our conversations at home with our families would be different.
Not only that but it would change our interactions here as well.
Imagine what the reputation of the Church would be if in the way which we carried ourselves was understood as being gentle, dependable and reliable.
Yet the truth is, these are all great qualities that are not necessarily a choice.
These are all great qualities that are not necessarily a choice.
Not in the way we like to think of choice.
Listen, this all goes back to being conformed to the image of Christ.
This is preordained to come to pass in your life if you are truly redeemed.
Yet, we live in a generation of Christians who would rather walk in the flesh than in the Spirit.
We have a generation in front of us whose life is filled with spiritual fruit which matches that of the flesh instead of that which matches the Spirit.
And we have to do something about it.
We cannot thrive as a Church body if our demeanor and attitude is not Christocentric.
If what is on display to the world is a Church full of Christians who look no different from all the rest of the world, what message are we sending them?
More than that, if what our spiritual fruit is revealing is that we live by the flesh instead of by the Spirit, what does this say about the state of our own hearts?
What does it say about how much we care about our redeemer?
Listen, Christ did not die so that we can be careless as Christians.
He died upon the cross of Calvary so that in Him we may have life everlasting.
That in His taking our place upon that cross and suffering the full weight of the wrath of God for you and for me, that was done that we would be different.
Not only are we redeemed and justified but we will be sanctified.
This means that we will be changed!
In the Greek it is written in a form which guarantees this future event in our lives in such a way that it is written as already having been completed.
So for all of us in this Church today, I believe it is time for some self examination.
Maybe you’re thinking about the fruit of the flesh and you aren’t seeing a trend in your own life.
Praise God as that means that He is at work in your heart.
But maybe you are that person that is thinking about the fruit of the Spirit and you are not seeing that in your life.
If that is you is you then you only fit into two categories.
Redeemed but living for the flesh.
Or unredeemed and bound for an eternity separated from God in hell.
If you’re redeemed and yet you know that you’re living in the flesh, today is the day for you to repent.
Hit your knees and ask the Lord to redirect your heart so that you will begin producing spiritual fruit.
And I can assure you, He will!
It will not be easy and you will make many mistakes along the way but God will cause you to have Spiritual fruit.
If you are thinking about this and you know that the reason you don’t have any spiritual fruit is because you are not redeemed, then hit your knees every day until you can’t pray any longer that God would give you repentance leading to faith.
And don’t stop until your heart can sing with confidence that you are a new creation in Christ Jesus.
I assure you, the Gospel that you’ve heard proclaimed is far more beautiful than you could ever imagine.
The last thing I want to say on this subject is this:
The reason why walking with Christ and doing what you want will work is because of these checks and balances in Scripture.
The Word of God will reveal to you whether or not you are truly walking in the Spirit when you are doing what you want.
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