"THE FLESH AND THE SPIRIT" Which Shall We Serve? INTRODUCTION 1. As Christians, we enjoy wonderful freedom in Christ... a. There is freedom from sin - Jn 8:31-34 b. There is freedom from the Law of Moses - Ro 7:6 c. There is freedom from the traditions of men - Ga 4:9 2. It is truly the desire of Christ that we be free - cf. Ga 5:1 a. But we must not allow freedom to become "license" (i.e., freedom without any restraint) b. If we are not careful, desires of the flesh can wreak self- destruction - Ga 5:13-15 3. To prevent this, the apostle Paul commands us to walk in the Spirit - Ga 5:16 a. If we do so, we will not succumb to the desires of the flesh b. And whatever dangers there might be in fulfilling the lust of the flesh are thereby diminished 4. To encourage us to walk in the Spirit and not carry out the desire of the flesh, we will spend several lessons examining this section of scripture: Ga 5:16-26 5. Perhaps a good place to begin is by asking these questions: a. Why make any effort to walk in the Spirit? b. Why not just succumb to the desires of the flesh? [At least five reasons are given in our text, and the first one we shall consider is this...] I. THE SPIRIT AND THE FLESH ARE CONTRARY TO ONE ANOTHER - Ga 5:17 A. LIKE TWO OPPONENTS, FIGHTING FOR OUR SOUL... 1. They are in opposition against each other - Ga 5:17 a 2. Is "the Spirit" referring to the Holy Spirit, or the human spirit? a. I believe it has reference to the Holy Spirit b. The context of the epistle certainly suggests this to be the case 1) Through "the Spirit" we eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness- Ga 5:5 2) Paul's argument "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" would not make sense if the human spirit is meant - Ga 5:25 3) Reaping everlasting life "of the Spirit" must refer to the Holy Spirit - Ga 6:8 3. So while the flesh pulls us in one direction, the Spirit of God would have us go in another! B. A CHRISTIAN MUST SERVE ONE, OR THE OTHER... 1. If you follow the lusts of the flesh, you can not do the will of the Spirit - Ga 5:17 b 2. Like the dilemma described in Ro 7:14-23 , following the flesh will enslave 3. But with the help of Spirit, the flesh can be overcome! - cf. Ro 8:12-14 [So we must choose who will be our master: the lusts of the flesh, or the Spirit of God; we cannot serve both! As we continue, we are given more reasons to serve the Spirit...] II. IF YOU ARE LED BY THE SPIRIT, YOU ARE NOT UNDER THE LAW - Ga 5:18 A. WHAT DOES MEAN TO BE "UNDER THE LAW"? 1. In the context, "the law" has primary reference to the "Law of Moses" - cf. Ga 4:21 2. The purpose of the law was primarily two-fold: a. To reveal sin - cf. Ga 3:19 a; Ro 3:20 b. To condemn the sinner as guilty - cf. Ro 3:19 3. To be "under the Law", then, is to be under a state of condemnation! a. For the law does not provide forgiveness b. It only provides condemnation! B. THOSE WALKING IN THE SPIRIT ARE NOT UNDER THE CONDEMNATION OF THE LAW... 1. Because obedience to the gospel revealed by the Spirit results in freedom a. Freedom from condemnation - Ro 8:1 b. Freedom from the law of sin of death - Ro 8:2 ; 6:17-18 -- Made possible through the sacrifice of Christ! - Ro 8:3-4 2. Because those walking according to the Spirit (cf. Ro 8:4 ) do things against which there is no law to condemn them! - cf. Ga 5:22-23 [If we desire to be free from the condemnation of sin under the law of God, then we must "walk in the Spirit". There is another reason why we should seek to "walk in the Spirit" and not "fulfill the lust of the flesh"...] III. FULFILL THE LUSTS OF THE FLESH, AND YOU WILL NOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD 5:19-21 A. THIS IS A REFERENCE TO THE HEAVENLY KINGDOM... 1. Spoken of by Christ - Mt 25:34 2. Looked forward to by Paul - 2 Ti 4:18 3. Referred to by Peter - 2 Pe 1:10-11 B. NOTE THE EMPHASIS BY PAUL... 1. A double warning! 2. "of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past..." - Ga 5:21 3. He wants to be sure they don't miss it! C. THE END OF THOSE WHO FULFILL THE LUSTS OF THE FLESH... 1. They have no inheritance in the kingdom of God - Ga 5:21 ; Ep 5:5 2. Indeed, the wrath of God will come upon them - Ep 5:6-7 [Which shall it be? Walk in the Spirit, or fulfill the lusts of the flesh? The choice should be clear: one offers freedom from condemnation, and the other offers no hope of the heavenly kingdom! But Paul gives us two more reasons to make the right choice...] IV. THOSE WHO ARE CHRIST'S HAVE CRUCIFIED THE FLESH - Ga 5:24 A. IN BAPTISM, WE DIED TO SIN, HAVING BEEN CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST... 1. Our old man was crucified with Him, that we might no longer be slaves of sin - Ro 6:1-6 2. We died with Christ (in baptism) that we might be free from sin and live a new life with Him! - Ro 6:7-10 B. AS CHRISTIANS, WE ARE TO CONTINUE TO "CRUCIFY SELF"... 1. We continue to "put to death" the "members which are on earth" - Co 3:5-7 2. We must be involved in the process of "putting off" the old man - Co 3:8-11 3. If we are not doing this, there is no hope - cf. Ro 8:13 [Putting off the works of the flesh, therefore, is fundamental to the Christian life. We started the process when we were baptized into Christ, and we are to continue the process as we grow in the Lord. We are not alone in this effort. As Paul indicated in Ro 8:13 , it is by the Spirit we are able to put to death the deeds of the body. That leads back to a fifth and final reason we ought to walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lusts of the flesh...] V. IF WE LIVE IN THE SPIRIT, LET US ALSO WALK IN THE SPIRIT - Ga 5:25 A. WE OWE OUR SPIRITUAL LIVES TO THE HOLY SPIRIT! 1. It was the Holy Spirit who made the Gospel known to mankind a. As Jesus said He would - Jn 16:7-13 b. The apostles attributed the gospel message to the Holy Spirit - 1 Co 2:9-13 2. When one responds to the gospel of God's grace, they are renewed by the Holy Spirit - cf. Ti 3:5 3. It is the Spirit in us who gives us new life! - Ro 8:11-13 B. SINCE WE LIVE IN THE SPIRIT, SHALL WE NOT WALK IN THE SPIRIT? 1. It is by the Holy Spirit that God has made our new life possible 2. It is only proper that we should live out our new life... a. Being led by the Spirit - Ga 5:18 ; cf. Ro 8:14 b. Walking in the Spirit - Ga 5:25 ; cf. Ro 8:1-2 CONCLUSION 1. We have these five reasons why we should walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lusts of the flesh: a. The Spirit and the flesh are contrary to one another b. If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law c. Fulfill the lusts of the flesh, and you will not inherit the kingdom of God d. Those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh e. Since we live in the Spirit, we should also walk in the Spirit 2. But lest anyone remain convinced, consider another point made by Paul... a. We reap what we sow! - Ga 6:7-8 b. And the type of corruption reaped by those who give into the works of the flesh is varied: 1) It is physical, mental, social and spiritual 2) Look around you and you can see the truthfulness of this; only the foolish do not see it 3. But also seen is the type of life which is enjoyed both now and in heaven by those who follow the Spirit (as suggested in 1 Ti 4:8 ) The question we each face is this... The flesh or the Spirit: Which shall we serve?