We’re not just talkin’ “saved, sanctified and filled with the Holy Ghost!” We’re talkin’ FRUCTIFIED!
Gal. 5:16 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 walk by the Spirit.
It would be hard to find a set of more practical verses than these in all of God’s Word. They are just so rich and useful. And sadly, misunderstood and grossly underapplied.
Without trying to get too technical or preachy here, let me just mention that there are three contrasts these verses point out, that make the implications of this passage are even more “EE-UUGE” than Fucillo Auto-mall! (Locals will know what that means – the rest of you should not waste your time trying to figure it out and just assume it means BIG!!!)
But before I even give you the golden verses – let me point out the real core principle here that we need to digest. Its found in verse 16 – so it sort of forms the introduction. Here it is – don’t miss it, or everything else will be useless. Ready?
Sin is not conquered negatively, but positively.
Say what? Are you sure that’s verse 16? (I hear you say). Yep. And it just gets passed over like it isn’t even there.
Here’s the deep dark secret neither Satan, the World nor your own flesh want you to know: Obedience to the commands of God (Law) is mandatory – but it has no power to weaken, subdue or kill sin. None. Gritting your teeth and obeying the commands of Scripture is NOT the way to grow in sanctification – even though it is right and proper to do. What is? Walking in the Spirit.
Let me try to give you a very faulty but I hope plain example. Look up from the computer, and look at the light switch on your wall. Notice anything special about it? Let me tell you what I’m after – its either ON, or its OFF. Profound isn’t it? And I know some yahoo out there is going to say “I have a dimmer switch so you’re analogy doesn’t work. No, but your switch does, because it has obviously already made you DIM! Just stick with me on the regular switch for a minute. If the switch is on, it can’t be off. And if it is off, then it can’t be on. It can only be one or the other at any given time. This is Paul’s point in verse 16. If you are (positively) walking in the Spirit (i.e. if the switch is ON), then you will not (negatively) fulfill the lusts of the flesh (i.e. be OFF). You don’t walk into the room and say “how do I get the darkness out of here?” You turn the light on. Because when the light is on, then it isn’t dark.
The not so secret secret to overcoming sin is to stop spending your time and energy on stopping a particular sin, and invest it instead in pursuing righteousness.
Let me give you anot her lame example. Say the Bible says that walking south is sin. You have been walking south for quite some time now. You know the command reads “thou shalt not walk south” but no matter how you try – you can’t stop. Sometimes you do pretty good at slowing your progress, and maybe even standing still for a while. But when it is all said and done, you are still facing south and every time you try to walk – that’s where you go. So you pray about not walking south. You read books on not walking south. You get into a small group of folks who have all vowed to help each other stop walking south. But the truth is, you keep walking south. Then one day, you see a guy walking in the opposite direction. Let’s just call Him “Jesus” to avoid getting overly cute or uselessly subtle. He says “follow me”. And so you start walking with Him. Funny thing, since He’s going north, and you’re walking along with Him, guess where you ARE going and where you are NOT going? You’re going north too – which means YOU CAN’T BE WALKING SOUTH!
Yah-haa! That’s the key. All the time you spent on trying not to walk south has been a loss, because the answer wasn’t in “not walking south” it was in walking north.
Study to walk in the Spirit and guess what – you WILL NOT, I repeat, you WILL NOT fulfill the lusts of the flesh. They are mutually exclusive.
“OK Ferguson” you say – “how do I do THAT?” I thought you’d never ask. And by some strange coincidence – Paul has included a few more verses to help us out at this very point. Its almost like it was written to be helpful – huh?
But that’s all I have time for today – so I will leave part 2 to our next visit.
In the mean time, spend a little time meditating on the verses you have here. Think about this principle of walking in the Spirit and how it prevents you from fulfilling the lusts of the flesh. And while your mind is occupied with that – one thing I can tell you is – it won’t be occupied with fulfilling your lusts.
That’s how it works.
That’s not all of it, but if you can start here, new things can happen for you today.
Look to Him.