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The Gospel and the Spirit

Galatians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Big Idea: Keep in step with the Spirit and kick the works of the flesh
So I have found that my mind can go to some pretty dark places. I have this reoccurring fantasy when I am driving that I have telekinetic powers. As you know, people have a tendency to drive like idiots.
So I fantasize in the midst of someone cutting me off or generally driving like an idiot, that I can simply push their car with my mind right off the road and into the median or a light pole or some such.
Sometimes those passions result in actions. Laying on the horn. Yelling at the other drivers. Riding their bumper. Where do these actions and passions come from? They certainly don’t come from following Jesus. In fact, I would say that the longer I have followed Jesus, the less I have acted on those passions. In the past I have chased people down in my truck. But these thoughts, actions, and desires are inconsistent with following Jesus. There are times where I feel like my passions are totally in sync with what God is doing, and then others where I completely backtrack and relapse into old behaviors.
Does that happen to you? Do you find yourself defaulting back to old behaviors that you know are inconsistent with following Jesus? Do old passions creep in and mess things up in your life? And if you are a Christian, it’s not that you are thrilled you are doing these things right? Often we are disgusted with where our minds go and what our hands do. So what on earth is going on?
So far in this letter to the Galatians we have been examining living by faith in Christ, contrasted with living under the law. We know that we cannot be saved by works and we know that we cannot earn God’s approval through our efforts but Christ’s.
But we also know that following Jesus requires a new way of living. Last week we saw that doing whatever we want is not and option. We have been called into a life of freedom to love others. But at the same time, we just don’t want to do it. There is this inner war going on inside of every true follower of Jesus.
In our text today, Paul explains the cause of this war, and what we can do to fight against these desires that continue to rear their ugly head.

The War of the Spirit

Galatians 5:16-
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.
There is a war inside of every Christian, between the Spirit and the flesh
What is the Spirit?
What is the flesh?
Who we are by natural birth
Sinners by inheritance
Sinners by practice
What is the Spirit?
Who we are by new birth
A new nature
A new tenant
The desires of both parties are contradictory
The flesh has desires for you that are the opposite of the Spirit
Illustration - like having a bad room mate
This war can be frustrating
The intensity of this internal conflict is unique to the Christian. There are massive irreconcilable differences between the two.
There is at every hour of the day a violent civil war raging inside of ever follower of Jesus.
It is easy for us to get into a defeated mentality when you constantly struggle with this inner battle. You can feel like a schizophrenic! Why can’t I every seem to escape my struggles?
The very fact you feel the turmoil is a sign that the Spirit is at work.
If you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law
Paul is going to give ethical instructions and does not want to confuse life with the Spirit with life under the law
Christians are called to lead a godly life, which comes not as a result of living under the but by being led by God’s Spirit.
To help us in our quest to lead godly lives Paul will describe what it looks like to live by the flesh and by the Spirit.

The Works of the Flesh

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.
Galatians 5:19-
The works of the flesh are obvious
Sexual Sins
Sexual Immorality
Unlawful sexual acts (adultery, sex with someone you aren’t married to)
The state of being sexually unclean or unnatural. (incest, homosexuality)
Unbridled sexual perversion, complete lack of limits, restraint, decency
Religious Sins
The worship of things
Referred to drugs taken during occultic practices, to worship demons and practice black magic.
Often included drugs used for abortion or sacrificing infants and children.
Social Sins
Anything that is the opposite of love
Anything rooted in a contentious temper. A love for fighting.
Hating others because you want what they have
Fits of anger/rage
Losing your temper
Rivalries/Selfish Ambition
Self serving and seeking. Climbing over others to get what you want.
Egging others on. Desire to get others to fight.
Embracing controversial position/doctrines to divide people.
Lacking contentment with what you have and always desiring what others have.
Sins of excess
Abusing alcohol. You could include drugs here too.
Hard partying. Can include sex, but not necessarily. More of the idea of a lifestyle of addiction and wild behavior.
Anything like these things
Paul’s list isn’t meant to be exhaustive. He could go on and on, but he gives us an idea.
These are the works that kept us from the kingdom of God
If our lives continue to reflect these things, we are demonstrating that we are still not yet trusting in the grace of Christ.
If we remain happily in these sins, we will find that we are barred from God’s kingdom on that last day.

The Fruit of the Spirit

Galatians 5:22–24 ESV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Galatians 5:22–23 ESV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-
First, notice the terminology change. Paul said WORKS of the flesh. He does not now say WORKS of the Spirit, does he?
The works of the flesh are the product of our fallen, broken, rebellious efforts at life.
Fruit is different. Fruit is a gift. If you grow oranges, you might seek to protect trees from the elements or from insects. But at the end of the day that fruit is a gift. It is not the result of human effort.
The word fruit is SINGULAR. The fruit of the Spirit is that new nature being wrought in us by the Spirit of God which looks like the following characteristics.
The Fruit of the Spirit
Deep love for God and for others. God has loved us through his Son Jesus and as a result we love him and give ourselves to each other
There is no higher pleasure than Jesus. We are overwhelming happy and content in Christ. A Christian is characterize by rejoicing.
Christians are at peace with God and work for peace with others. They are easy to get along with.
To be long suffering. And put up with others. To not be easily offended. People should not have to walk around on egg shells when they are with you.
Fruit includes Spirit wrought works
To be nice and forbearing. To be warm and inviting to others. To be approachable.
They are ethical. They do what is right. They are benevolent and generous.
Dependable and trustworthy. They do what they say. They can be relied upon.
Not pushy or imposing.
They have mastery over their desires and passions.
There is no law against living out the Fruit that the Spirit is growing in you. You will not be breaking any rules if you act according to these characteristics.
If you belong to Jesus, you will make it a habit to daily crucify the flesh and its desires.
You have to constantly remind yourself that the old person you were was crucified and died when Jesus died.
You have to fight to make sure that guy stays dead.

Live by the Spirit

Galatians 5:25–26 ESV
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Galatians 5:24–26 ESV
And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Galatians 5.24-
Since we live by the Spirit, meaning the Spirit is producing this fruit in us, we should keep in step with the Spirit
This means to do the kinds of things that are consistent with these new characteristics that the Spirit is giving you.
So, to be led by the Spirit or to walk in the Spirit, is simply to do the kinds of works that are characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.
Living by the Spirit is not something mystical
Crucify the works of the flesh
Kill the flesh
Walk in the fruit of the Spirit
Practice the fruit
For example
In the Galatian churches, there was a specific way in which they were not keeping in step with the Spirit.
They were being conceited, thinking to high of themselves, which led to bad behavior. This is Paul’s gentle reminder to put that old conceited man back in the grave and walk according to God’s Spirit.


On the night that Jesus was betrayed he took bread and gave it to his disciples saying, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup and gave it to them saying, “This is my blood of the covenant. Do this in remembrance of me.
The meal that Jesus taught his disciples to pray would serve as a constant reminder of his death, and consequently theirs. When we take communion, it is a reminder that the old you was supposed to be crucified with Jesus.
In a moment I will dismiss us to take communion in the back. Before we do, I ask that you would take a moment to consider how God is calling you to respond to this passage.
If you are a follower of Jesus, take a look again at that list of vices. Which ones characterize you? Read Paul’s warning again. If you do these things, you will not inherit the kingdom of God. If any of these sins characterize your life right now, you need to repent. And if you do not want to repent right now, do not take communion. You are essentially proclaiming with your life that the very things Jesus was crucified for are still acceptable for you to practice.
Again, if you are a follower of Jesus, take a look at that list of virtues. Have you seen the Spirit’s work in your life growing fruit that wasn’t once there? Where do you need more growth. Pray and ask the Spirit to grant you greater growth in that area.
Friend if you are not yet a follower of Jesus, please do not take communion. Instead I want you to consider that list of vices. Do you see yourself in any of those? You will not be able to enter the kingdom of God. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you receive Christ today, you will be granted access. Speak with me following service.
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