Title: The Spirit That Gives Life
Text: Galatians 5:22-26
FCF: We often struggle with the impossibility of becoming like Christ.
Prop: Because the Spirit weaves Himself to the true Christ Follower, we must be controlled by the Holy Spirit.
[Slide 1] Turn in your bible to Galatians chapter 5. Well it has been a long time since we have been here. It feels like it was a year last year! J It was. December 11th was our last message that vaguely touched Galatians, but even that focused on several passages of scripture. Well today we come back home. Today we will camp out again in the context of this one book and find what the Lord has for us. If you remember, we were in the midst of making a shift in Paul’s teaching. He has shown definitively that he is an apostle without question, and that his gospel is the same as the other apostles, to the point that he had to correct even Peter for betraying such a faith. After this, he demonstrated theologically that Christ fulfills the law and that we are no longer slaves to the law, but it was the law that taught us that we need a savior from our state. We have been freed from this slavery. Now he is telling us what that freedom means. It is not freedom to be used to sin freely. To disobey the law. To cast aside all scruples and give ourselves over to baser desires. Quite the opposite really. Paul tells us that our freedom now grants us the ability to live successfully for God. That ability is inseparably linked to our dependence on Christ and His Spirit within us. Before we could not do this. Before we were incapable of pleasing Him, but now, we are able, through the passion, power, and guidance of the Spirit, we are FREE to FAINALY BE ALL THAT GOD WANTS US TO BE. That is the slavery in our freedom and that is the freedom in our slavery. Along with this truth comes a warning though. That it is still possible to succumb to the wishes of our former nature. We are still able to turn back and live a lie. Paul says to be led by the Spirit and not to fulfill the desires of our flesh or our sin nature. We then looked at a lengthily list of the lifestyles of the flesh. So lengthy that it took two weeks to get through (and we didn’t cover them all). These are lifestyles that are normal works of natural man. In other words, to be plain, this is who we are from birth. Not generally good… no. We are, by nature, evil. We learned that any person who has a lifestyle of any of these, cannot enter heaven Why? Because the Spirit of God will not allow a person He dwells within to live in such a way. Now finally today, we will come to verse 22. I am reading from the NET today but follow along in your own preferred version.
[Slide 2] In case you haven’t already learned this about Kadie and I, we enjoy watching movies. I hesitate using too many examples from movies just because we all may have different preferences on standards for movies and I don’t wish to cause any to stumble. I rarely mention movie titles and I never endorse movies… even if they are Christian. But, there is a movie that has an amazing scene in it that really conveys where we are going today. It is one of Kadie and I’s all-time favorites. In the movie, an archeologist, who regularly finds mythic and legendary items, sets out with his father to find the holy grail. After a lot of action and running, and shooting – you know, normal archeology stuff J - They come to this old forgotten temple where the grail is supposed to be kept. As they make their way to the grail there are three challenges they must pass in order to make it to the grail. The final challenge was the path of God. To pass the test, the person would have to take a literal leap of faith over a deep cavern. The archeologist puts his foot out and believes. When his foot falls down it lands on solid ground. The test makers had painted or designed the rock bridge over the ravine in such a way that from where you stood it looked like it was the wall of the other side of the ravine, when it was actually a bridge camouflaged from the naked eye. Every test was like this. There was a physical real life explanation for success, even though the task seemed impossible, but that was not seen unless the person passed the test. I think for us as Christ followers, we hear the words from pulpits and posters “be like Christ” and we think… well that is just impossible. I can’t be holy. I can’t be like Christ. It is like someone saying “Do a million pushups” and then actually expecting you to do a million pushups. Most of the time Christians and even non-Christians look at this statement and they are perplexed. They deflate in defeat as they can see no possible way they can be like Christ. And you know what… they are right. There is no way we can be like Christ. Even on this side of salvation. Even after we depend on Him and surrender to His will, there is just no way we can live like Jesus lived and fulfill all that God asks us to fulfill. We can’t be holy. From our text today what we will discover, however, is that at our salvation, the Spirit of God weaves Himself to the very fabric of our being. As He joins with us, effectively taking us over, He empowers us and impassions us to fulfill all that God asks. In fact, He produces it in us. Not our effort. Not our will… Him alone. He takes the wheel from us and steers our entire life, and when we sin, when we don’t exhibit holiness, that is us ripping the wheel from His hands.[Slide 3] For us then, the application for today is clear, and there is only 1… We must be controlled by the Holy Spirit.
In the text we are going to see three separate things that really drive this point home for us. The first of which is the undeniable proof that the characteristics that God wants to be formed in us, could never come from us.[Slide 4] The Spirit produces a fruit in us and because of this, we cannot afford to take control from Him.
I.) Because the Spirit produces a fruit in us, we must be controlled by the Spirit.
a. Go back to verse 16-18 for context
i. Walk in the Spirit or Live by the Spirit – Be guided by the Spirit
ii. And you won’t fulfill the lusts of the flesh – They are opposites. To achieve one is to fail at the other.
iii. If you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law. In other words – when you are being guided constantly by the Spirit of God, having a law to govern your actions is redundant and unnecessary because He will guide you. The law was made for the transgressor, not for the law abiding citizen. And now that you are supernaturally capable of following the guidance of God – no law is needed. The law is truly written on your heart.
b. Fast forwarding past the works of the flesh we now come to the positive side of what Christ makes us to be through the power and passion of the Holy Spirit.
c. [Slide 5] 22 - But the fruit of the Spirit –
i. Before we saw the works of the flesh. Those were the normal behavior and worldviews of the natural man, the depraved man. Just as plants produce oxygen, so we produced wickedness. We were not simply morally corrupt, but spiritually bankrupt.
ii. But this next section contrasts the normal workings of our nature with the normal production of the Spirit of God in our lives. A person who has the Spirit of God in them must yield fruit of this kind. Why? Because it is God the Spirit who is producing the fruit. Therefore, since it is not really up to us, it will be produced.
iii. And just as the last list was emphasizing a lifestyle of wickedness, not a one time action – so this is indicating a lifestyle of Spiritual fruit, not a rare occurrence. People who have the Spirit in them produce these things on a consistent and predictable basis.
d. is love, joy, peace
i. We may be tempted to break up these fruit and place them into several categories. Some have suggested 3 others 4. The problem with these arbitrary divisions is that this is the fruit of the spirit and although fruit in English can be singular or plural – in Greek it is singular. In other words this is a package deal here. You have all of these or none of these. So to divide these up seems silly since it is actually 1 bunch of grapes not 9 kinds of fruit. It is also important to note that unlike spiritual gifts, which come in diverse packages – none can say I do not have the gift of joy, self-control or gentleness, simply because not only are these present in every Christian, but they are all present in every Christian, as their default lifestyle. To not show them, would be out of character. To not show them often, is to be unsaved.
ii. love – is same word God had when He sent Christ to die for us. It is a love that is almost emotionless. It is a love of choice and loyalty. It is unconditional and unmoving. The love that is produced by the Spirit of God is a love that we struggle to comprehend. Something tells me that if we could just wrap our minds around what it means to love each other this way – a selfless and unconditional choice – we would be so peculiar to a world that has no idea what love is. But the Spirit produces in us this love, so that we are selflessly choosing to show mercy and grace to others, and dependence and surrender to God.
iii. joy – Gladness or cheerfulness. James tells us to count it as joy when we fall into trials. Paul tells the Thessalonians to have joy in the Spirit as they await persecution. It is clear that this word does not talk about the far inferior word happiness. The difference is this. Happiness is cheer that is felt and is subject to the times and the seasons of life, therefore it is fleeting. Joy is the cheer that is chosen and stands firm against and through all times and seasons enduring secure in the hope of something greater. Joy is constant because it is based on something constant. That something is Christ.
iv. Peace – A word that means rest and ease. It means to be set at one again or made right. Very obviously this word is speaking primarily to the peace achieved by the blood of Jesus Christ. A peace with God. We are no longer at war but are made right with Him. There is quietness in our soul. As a conquered people, we live for our King who conquered sin and death our former masters. By extension then, all those who are also of His kingdom we are at peace with. Because no squabble or personality difference can drive a rift between countrymen of God’s Kingdom. And finally, there is nothing that can happen to us on earth to unhinge this peace. Because Peace with God is ultimately all that matters. In fact, war with natural men on this sin cursed rock is inevitable when we have peace with God.
e. patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness
i. Patience – This word means longsuffering. That they bear with others and are patient with others. And while that is certainly an application of this word, it could also mean a heart that willingly endures pain and persecution while it waits on the Lord. With that image we can picture the pre-crucified Christ, sweating blood in the garden asking to have the cup pass from Him. He stood up, and willfully submitted to the plan and timetable of the Father instead. He endured because it was God’s will that He do so. Patience has l to do with our stillness and steadfast waiting on the Lord. It is also most certainly to do with our relationship to others. That we endure and hold steadfastly being slow to seek justice or vindication and quick to forgive. Again an image comes to mind of Jesus hanging on the cross as those He came to seek and save crucified Him. His response. Father forgive them, they don’t understand what they are doing.
ii. Kindness - This is a word that has no real English word to go along with it. Best we can do is to try to define it with a paragraph. It means useful kindness. It means to be morally good and to have integrity. It is a person who meets needs in the most upright and gentle way. There are so many layers to this word that it is very difficult to say exactly what it is, but to simply suggest that we see the kindness and compassion of Christ upon the humble and weak and by His life we find the definition to this word. To tax collectors, lepers, children and women he spoke. To the outcast he offered the words of life, because to be soft enough to follow Him, one must be humble.
iii. Goodness – This is speaking to quality rather than performance. The Holy Spirit produces one who is by their very nature good. Not in the sense that they uphold God’s moral law, although they do, but instead that they are sweet, kind, good natured, and gentle.
iv. Faithfulness – While this is the same word that is used to communicate our faith in Christ, here it is used differently. It is used to communicate fidelity or trustworthiness. That the Holy Spirit grants to the person in Christ a dependability. That others, including the Father, can rely on them to do what they are expected to do because the Spirit of God has made them reliable.
f. 23 - Gentleness and self control
i. Gentleness – This conveys mildness or meekness. It is the disposition of a person that holds great power and authority but wields it with grace and kindness never seeking to destroy someone with it, but to use it to benefit others. It is a person who can overwhelm and invade but choose diplomacy instead. It is a person who is spiritually knowledgeable and mature but chooses to use that knowledge and maturity to edify and build and not destroy. This person flashes anger and power at injustice and heresy, but calmly and sweetly corrects the sin of a brother.
ii. Self Control – This word means to hold dominion over a particular sphere. It is to be in control, specifically of yourself. It does not mean that you are your own master or that you can muster up enough effort to do this. Remember these are fruit of the spirit. What this means is that the Spirit produces an ability within us to restrain our impulses, A feat that no human can ever do on their own for any real length of time and certainly not to great degree. In other words people may conquer their drug addiction through programs and steps but will fall victim to some other form of fleshly impulse or addiction. The only freedom, the only true form of self control is not from self but for self. It is from the Holy Spirit.
g. Take note here! That every single item, by itself, is impossible for us in our natural state. In fact, even in our redeemed state, by our own power, these things are not possible. That is why they are called the fruit of the Spirit. Not the fruit of those who follow the Spirit. Our submission to His leading means He is free to produce this in us. Only when we depend on and surrender to Christ and the leading of the Spirit will we have success in these fruit… in obedience.
h. Against such things there is no law – Heralding back to verse 18 – If the Spirit of God is leading a person to produce this fruit no law could be formed to keep it better than His Holy passion and power living within us. By saying there is no law against them it means that no law could improve upon these to make the person more like God.
[Slide6] So the Spirit produces all this in us. Meaning we cannot afford to take control from Him. Not only that, but we have already seen what happens when we run the show haven’t we? [Slide 7] Haven’t we conclusively proven that we cause problems? That is why we put our flesh to death is it not?
II.) Because our flesh has already been crucified, we must be controlled by the Spirit
a. [Slide 8] 24 - Now those who belong to Christ – The nature of salvation is deep and complicated. We are in Christ and He is in us. We are His and He is ours. To belong to Christ is to have Christ in us.
b. have crucified the flesh – This is quite difficult. We know there is a progressive nature to our sanctification. In other words we must continue to crucify our flesh. We know this by what Christ said “To take up your cross daily and follow me”. There is a continual and progressive nature whereby a follower of Christ continues to repent and follow. However, the language of this text does not allow for that continual nature. This is a onetime event for Paul. A contradiction? Not a contradiction no, but a constant tension within the word of God. That tension is this…
i. The New Testament writers speak of the finality of the work of Christ on the cross. We have been crucified with Christ and Christ raised in us. That has happened. In a very real sense this is already done. It is accomplished. Complete.
ii. However, even in Romans 6 where Paul says all this even more clearly and tells us how we have already (past tense) died with Christ and crucified our former natures. After he says all that in verse 12 he says – “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body to make you obey its passions. “ If it is dead… then how can we let it live again to reign over us? If we have killed it, then how can it come back?
iii. From God’s perspective it is done. Complete. He has crucified sin and death and put to death for all time the flesh and raises up Christ in all who believe.
iv. However, from our perspective, this is true, yet we live as though it is not at times. What Paul is imploring the Galatians here is… to live in the reality that you have already put off the old nature. This is a complete act that is done, but when you reject the Spirit’s guidance and obey the flesh, you live as though it were not true. It is an act of disbelief. A denial of truth.
v. Paul is telling them to believe again to the point that they remember that they repented, and to continue to repent.
vi. To the extent that…
c. with its passions and desires
i. This speaks well past the moralistic messages that we hear today.
ii. Do this – Don’t do this.
iii. Don’t have premarital sex, don’t watch this movie or that one, don’t cuss, don’t drink, don’t dress in tight clothes, don’t smoke, don’t chew and so on and so on.
iv. Paul isn’t saying that we crucified the works of the flesh friend. He is saying we crucified the flesh itself, along with its passion and desires. Do you realize what that means?
v. It means we don’t stand on the outside of sin looking longingly at the things we are missing. We don’t wonder why God is so mean that he won’t let us have sex before we are married. We don’t wonder why God is killing the party by not allowing us to get drunk. We don’t look at someone who is kind of a jerk and think man I WISH I could just tell them off right now but God won’t let me!
vi. It means that we wouldn’t want those things even if God said we could do them. Those passions and desires are being killed off. Because realistically friend… God won’t stop you from indulging in the works of the flesh. Not often anyway. If you want to have premarital sex, then He won’t stop you from doing it. Why? Because the problem is not in the action that you do, but in the desires of your heart. Your desires, your passions, those reveal a heart that is already disconnected from God. So before you even act – you are already distant.
vii. What does that mean? It means that God’s desire is to make us into a new creation friend. To remake us from the ground up. So that even our desires, our very MOTIVES conform to Him. And friend, that is why the law failed. Because it could not govern motive. And that is why Christ succeeds, because true Christ followers are changed from the inside out.
[Slide 9] The Holy Spirit produces a fruit that is unreachable by our own effort and we have already seen the mess our flesh makes of doing right. That is why Christ died, and that is why we killed our flesh off with Him on the cross. One final reason for us to consider for why we cannot afford to take control from the Holy Spirit is that [Slide 10] it is from the Spirit that we have life. Our way, our effort, our power leads to death, but He leads to life, so we must be controlled by the Spirit.
III.) Because we only have life in the Spirit, we must be controlled by the Spirit.
a. [Slide 11] 25 - If we now live by the Spirit, let us also behave in accordance with the Spirit
i. Life is rooted to God. In Him we have life. So to be near Him, close to Him, we must please Him. We must be His people, living for Him. To please Him on our own is impossible but through the Spirit, supplied when we repent and believe on the finished work of Christ, we can live in such a way that is pleasing.
ii. So by the Spirit we live. We are connected to God because of the Holy Spirit. Logically then…
iii. We must follow the Spirit! That is life. That is how we live. NOT DOING THIS IS DEATH.
iv. Not only do we put off the flesh and its passions and desires. We don’t stay an empty slate. We then put on God’s thoughts, feelings and actions. We clothe ourselves in righteousness after we have burned our filthy rags. And we do this every moment of every day.
v. More on this in just one moment. First lets conclude Paul’s thought.
b. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, being jealous of one another.
i. This seems out of place. It seems like Paul is trying to get one last shot in here.
ii. We can cautiously guess that perhaps, these were attitudes happening in the church of Galatia and indeed given what we know about the context we can easily see that there was no doubt a great deal of conceit in believing that the Judaizers had the true gospel. Lots of provocation and jealousy over who had circumcision and who didn’t.
iii. Interestingly enough, Paul seems to peel back the layer of theology here and sees it only as the object for these practices to come alive. Meaning of course that even though he has already dealt with the issue of bad theology – the sinful practices surrounding that remained uncorrected. Here he points out specifically some of these that would need to go away – and perhaps wouldn’t just vanish once they got their theology correct.
iv. There would still be old feelings of conceit and provocation and jealousy. In fact, it may even sprout anew against those who were led astray or strongly considered joining the judaizers.
v. Paul is saying to cut those out and live in the love of the fruit of the spirit with one another.
[Slide 12 (blank)] To bring this all to a close, to bring us back to the one point of application that we must leave with… simply put, surrender control to the Spirit of Christ. Yield.
How do I yield? What does that mean? It can’t mean I just say [Sing] Spirit Take the wheel and then let go of everything can it? How could it when He tells ME to obey Him. And yet… we find here again, evidence that we cannot obey. How can God tell us to obey knowing we can’t. That is kinda unfair isn’t it?
That is why He gave us His Spirit.
[Slide 13] To put it bluntly, when we obey it is because we allowed the Spirit to produce obedience in us. When we disobey, it is because we cast the Spirit aside and took control.
We… Get… No… Glory.
This is where people in our churches get so messed up.
With our American self-sufficiency we think that we can do all that God asks of us. I mean we don’t actually think that but we do. We are content to lie to ourselves and think that if I just try a little harder, I’ll get it.
Many Pastors get this wrong too. Because in passages of scripture where the Lord commands us to obey, their applications neglect to mention the fact that we can’t. In fact if you look at the fruit of the spirit you will notice that each item in that list appears elsewhere in scripture in the form of a command. Yet, we conclusively showed today, and I feel like we conclusively show every day with our human effort, that these are impossible commands to obey.
And as difficult as that is, then we add this element of desire and it all comes crashing down on us. Why? Because how do you control your desire? How do you change what you want?
The fact of the matter is that you can’t.
[Slide 14] It is only the Spirit of Christ, creating a new nature within you, that enables you to live for Christ. As Paul speaks to more fully in Romans chapter 8.
We understand this at conversion. We get that we can’t earn our salvation so we have to depend on Christ to save us. But then we live every moment after that like we can continue the saving process. We live after that thinking that if I try really hard and just muster up enough effort, then I can live a holy lifestyle that is pleasing to God. Do you know what belief system that sounds like? Catholicism. They say the exact same thing just in different words.
They would say that Christ’s death on the cross affords us a sufficient amount of grace so that we can begin to live a life of merit, earning more and more grace toward our eventual salvation. Let me translate what that means.
It means that to a Catholic – Christ supplies us with just enough salvation so we can earn the rest.
And the way some Baptists practice their faith is the same. They think that Christ’s death on the cross saved them from hell, but to continue to please God on earth, it is up to them. You may as well be Catholic if you really believe that.
What is the truth then? It is simply this… Christ’s death on the cross supplies our complete salvation. His Spirit in our heart supplies the power and passion to continually obey God.
When we disobey, God’s view of us does not change. When He looks at us He still sees Christ. He isn’t standing up in heaven huffing and puffing over your failure.
[Slide 15] But you might say, If there is no punishment for failure, then why do we obey at all?
A full question. One that Paul addresses in Romans 6. He concludes by saying this in verse 21-23 [Slide 16-18]
6:21 So what benefit did you then reap from those things that you are now ashamed of? For the end of those things is death. 6:22 But now, freed from sin and enslaved to God, you have your benefit leading to sanctification, and the end is eternal life. 6:23 For the payoff of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Now, this side of salvation, the result of our failure is shame, guilt, pain, hurt, loss and discouragement. The result of our sin is that we have sinned. And while there is no condemnation in Christ – Romans chapter 8 – the reality of it is that we live with the agony of defeat. That what we desire to do, we fail at doing. What we desire to resist, we succumb to. – Which is Romans 7.
[Slide 19] When we fail, our rebuke comes from the fact that we ARE A NEW CREATURE and that we have been reprogrammed to HATE SIN!
So going back to the question, if there is no punishment for failure, then why do we obey at all… we realize that that is the wrong question. The right question is this…
[Slide 20] Without punishment for failure, do I still desire to obey? Because if the answer to that question is no. Then you have a real problem on your hands. Our salvation is that God changes our desires. So that formerly we wished only to satisfy our desires and had no desire to obey God on His terms. In salvation, we become slaves to righteousness so that we desire to be all that God wants us to be.
What does this mean for us? Well, it means that every application that will ever be. Every take away point from every sermon from every passage of scripture. Every time you read the bible, feel convicted, and desire to change. The formula to living like Christ is ALWAYS the same, and it is the same formula we followed when we were first saved.
[Slide 21] Repent. Believe. Obey.
Or to put it in less theological terms.
[Slide 22] First, Stop doing what you are doing and agree with God that it is wicked.
Second, depend on the power and passion of the Spirit of God in you and Surrender to His Guidance on how to live (as revealed in scripture)
Finally, in faith, live as the Spirit guides.
And remember our application point for today? We must be controlled by the Holy Spirit right? That is step 2 and 3. And the reason step 1 has to come first, is from the verses 16 and 17 of Galatians 5 which we read earlier. You can’t be controlled by the Spirit while you are still obeying the flesh.
[Slide 23 (blank) (end)]Let me illustrate this.
You are walking in the dark and you step on a rock and break both of your ankles. There lying in the dark you know you made a mistake. You turn and see that you were walking away from the light and that next to you lays a pair of crutches. You pick up the crutches, stand to your feet, lean hard on the crutches and walk toward the light. Without the crutches you could not walk and without the light you could not see the crutches.
That is sanctification. That is the formula for being more Christ-Like. That is how you are controlled by the Spirit.
Turn. Lean. Walk.
Repent. Believe. Obey.
So my question to you first is have you ever done that even once? Have you repented? After repenting have you believed? After believing have you set out to obey? If not, may I invite you to do so today? You are wicked and under the judgment of God’s wrath. Won’t you become His child instead, and accept His olive branch of peace?
My next question is like it. When is the last time you repented, believed, and obeyed? Have you been trying to obey God without repenting first? Have you been trying to obey God without depending on His Spirit first? Have you been trying to obey God at all?
The life of a believer is a life constant repentance, enduring belief, and habitual obedience. It isn’t fun. It isn’t comfortable and I daresay it won’t be until we enter heaven’s gates and are completely free of our sin nature, forever.
Have you been fighting a war with sin, or are you still on a bench with your bus ticket marked heaven? Perhaps it is time to get off the bench, make your election sure by fighting sin and living in Christ.