April 30, 2023 – Who Am I?
Sometimes the fiercest spiritual struggle is internal. Our own desires war within us. We are not alone in this battle, however. The Spirit of Christ fights for us and ushers us into a life of freedom in the Spirit.
13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh,
but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 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. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 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. 22 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. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
Does this list apply to you in anyway? If you’re honest, the answer is “yes.” So what’s going on here? Is it that you don’t know these things are wrong? Maybe there are times you do something and truly don’t know it’s wrong. But the majority of the time you know without a doubt that what we’re doing is wrong. But you do it anyway. And then, let’s add this layer to it. Sometimes, you might not even want to do something, but you still do it. Have you ever promised someone, or even yourself, that you would never do something ever again? Or, “this time I’m going to make the change”? And you meant it. You prayed about it. You set up systems to help you succeed. But you failed. What is going on there?
Most of what you will find on the internet, or with popular psychology, completely misses the mark in trying to diagnose and treat people who are struggling with this inner conflict. What is the fundamental difference between modern thinking and what God says about human nature?
If you start by believing humans are fundamentally good, what is the approach to dealing with inner conflict and bad decisions? If you start from the Biblical teaching that we are corrupt, born sinful, where does that lead you in dealing with the desires of the flesh?
You have freedom as a baptized and beloved child of God. So why is engaging in desires of the flesh harmful to you? See verses 17 and 21.
If you let that sink in, there is the reality that you have no hope. This is the nature of the Law of God’s Word. The nature of God’s Law is to show you your sin. Do you see it? Do you feel it?
How does this section of scripture start? Here comes the undeserved, unmerited, sweet message of the Gospel. How did Jesus do it? Read and discuss 2 Corinthians 5:21, The sermon started with a list of things that God calls desires of the flesh. Read Galatians 5:13 – 25. What are they? How do you see evidence of the desires of the flesh in the world around you?