Walk with the Spirit (Galatians 5)
Walk with the Spirit Message Introduction
Today, we’re continuing our message series called “Bondservant.” Our slide shows a chain representing that everyone is a slave or bondservant, serving a master. The question is who is your master, who are you a slave to?
Bob Dylan wrote a song called “Gotta Serve Somebody” and I’d like us to listen to the first part of the song. “Gonna have to serve somebody, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody.” Everyone serves somebody and there are only two choices, the devil or the Lord.
If you’re serving the Lord, you know it. But most of the people who aren’t serving the Lord don’t know that they are serving the devil. The devil hides himself and is the ultimate puppet master. People worship and serve idols, things like money, pleasure, drugs, prestige, themselves. But behind all of them is the devil, who they are really serving.
The tag line in our slide is “free to be a slave.” Jesus came to set people free from serving the devil, free to choose Jesus as your master, free to be Jesus’ slave or bondservant.
Today, my message is entitled “Walk with the Spirit.” We’re going to be talking about the contrast between a person serving the devil and a person serving the Lord.
Romans 8:8-9 (NIV) Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.
A person serving the devil is controlled by their own sinful nature. They are slaves to sin and the devil and they cannot please God. On the other hand, a person serving the Lord is controlled by the Spirit of God. Every believer has the Holy Spirit living inside of them.
Who is the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit is God Himself, the Spirit is the third person of the Trinity, God the Father, God the Son (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit. God the Father dwells in heaven. Jesus, the Son, has ascended to and also dwells in heaven. The Holy Spirit, which is the Spirit of Jesus, lives inside each believer. The Spirit is who empowers us, guides us and speaks to us.
Yet many believers do not understand or are afraid of the activities and power of the Spirit. There are deeper dimensions of the Spirit that God wants each believer to experience.
We’re going to talk more about the Spirit in our next message series beginning on Easter Sunday, April 5, called A.D. This series will be in conjunction with an epic television series on NBC called AD which will cover the resurrection of Christ through the first ten chapters of the book of Acts.
Today, we’re going to talk about how to follow the Spirit’s leading and walk with the Spirit.
Walk by the Spirit’s power
Galatians 5:16 (NIV) So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
Our passage begins with the command to “live by the Spirit” or literally in the Greek to “walk by the Spirit.” In other words, our lives should be empowered by and guided by the Holy Spirit.
When God’s Word gives us a command, it means first of all that what is commanded does not happen automatically, When God’s Word gives a command, it means that we must make a choice to obey God’s command. It also means that whatever God commands is possible for us to obey with God’s help.
The second phrase of the verse tells us that when you live by the Spirit …
You will resist your sinful nature
Galatians 5:17 (NIV) For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.
So, here is Galatians we see the same contrast the God’s Word taught us in Romans 8. Namely the opposition between the sinful nature and the Spirit.
What is the sinful nature, translated sometimes as the flesh? The sinful nature is human nature that every person is born with, a nature that naturally sins and makes every human being a sinner. The sinful nature is powered, not by God’s Spirit but by Satan, who uses it and it’s desires to tempt us into sin. The important message here is that when you walk by the Spirit’s power, you will resist the desires of the sinful nature.
You will follow the Spirit’s leading
Galatians 5:18 (NIV) But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
Here God’s Word describes believers as being led by the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a person, a person who speaks to you and guides you. Being a Christian is a relationship with Jesus Christ through His Spirit. Being a Christian is not simply trying to follow the law, a list of does and don’ts, by one’s own will power. A bondservant of Jesus walks by the Spirit’s power.
Last Sunday, we spoke about growing to maturity. And one of the keys to spiritual growth was spending daily time in God’s Word and prayer. This daily time in God’s Word and prayer is also essential in learning to hear the Holy Spirit speaking and following His leading.
Today, I want to give all of you some help in establishing this daily habit of reading God’s Word and prayer. This coming Wednesday, February 18, Life Church is going to begin a 40 day prayer emphasis that will culminate on Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter. We are calling this prayer emphasis, Seek God for the City, the metro area of St Louis.
Inside your bulletins is a booklet, called Seek God for the City that I’d like you take out. There is a page for each of the 40 days we’re going to be praying. Let’s look at Day 1 on page 5. The prayer topic is to Seek God to bring lasting revival to St Louis. Our city needs God to revive His church and His people. There are several Scripture passages to learn from and meditate on.
In the green sidebar on the right encourages us to seek God for the youth of St Louis. Notice at the bottom a PrayerWalk suggestion. If you read this in the morning, pray for the teens that you encounter during the day, that they would follow Christ. As you pray, pray that God will use you and Life Church to impact our city for Jesus. As you use this guide over the next 40 days, you will develop a powerful habit of prayer and Word that you will continue the rest of the year.
Not only must we walk by the Spirit’s power, we must …
Understand the actions of the sinful nature
Galatians 5:19-21a (NIV) The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.
This is a long list of 15 examples of the actions of the sinful nature. This actions are things that are prohibited in God’s Word for a reason. They all hurt people and are not the actions that God created people to do.
The first three are sexual sins, which society today condones. Sexual immorality is anything sexual that takes place outside the boundaries of a marriage between one man and one woman. Sexual immorality includes living together before marriage. God’s Word prohibits any kind of sexual expression before marriage. Sexual immorality includes sex with someone who is not your spouse or adultery. Sexual immorality includes all forms of homosexual expression, whether the partners are “married” in the eyes of the state or not. We could go on, but I think you get the picture.
The next two sins are religious sins, any form of idolatry or witchcraft, which encompasses the use of drugs to enhance religious experiences. The next 8 are relational sins that damage or break relationships. The last two are drinking sins, drunkenness and the parties or orgies that typically go on with heavy drinking.
God’s Word says these actions of the sinful nature are obvious, but need to be restated especially in our culture, which tends to say wrong things are right and right things are wrong.
These lifestyles characterize unbelievers
Galatians 5:21b (NIV) I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Here is the punch line. Those who live lifestyles that include these actions of the sinful nature are not saved. They will not inherit the kingdom of God, which mean that they will not go to heaven. Those who practice these things as a lifestyle will spend eternity in hell. Of course, those who repent and turn away from such lifestyles and put their faith in Christ will be saved.
In the last days of the Civil War, the Confederate capital in Richmond, Virginia fell to the Union army. Abraham Lincoln immediately visited the city and the freed slaves thronged to meet him. Through the Emancipation Proclamation and the Union army, he had set them free.
Lincoln spoke to the slaves and said, “You are free, free as air. Cast off the name of slave and trample on it. Liberty is your birthright.” But Lincoln also warned them not to abuse their freedom. He said “Let the world see that you merit your freedom. Don’t let your joy carry you into excesses. Learn the laws and obey them.”
In the same way, Jesus Christ has set us free from our sins and the desires of our sinful nature. We must live in that spiritual freedom by walking with the Spirit. Not returning to the slavery to the sinful nature that we have been freed from. Not only must we live free, we must speak the truth in love to our culture, which is increasingly ignorant of God’s plan and purpose.
As believers, we must …
Bear the fruit of the Spirit
Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
As opposed to the actions of the sinful nature, here God’s Word lists the fruit of the Spirit, beginning with love. These attitudes and the actions that result from such attitudes are the fruit of a life walking with the Spirit.
Fruit is not something that you work up, it is something that naturally grows from the life of a believer who is following the Spirit’s leading. If we would look closely at each action of the sinful nature, we would see that antidote in the fruit of the Spirit. Believers who are growing to maturity will be growing in these fruit of the Spirit.
What about the sinful nature in the believer?
Be dead to your sinful nature
Galatians 5:24 (NIV) Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.
First of all, underline the word “belong” in this verse. If you are a believer here this morning, you are not your own master, you belong to Jesus. What He says, you do, where He leads by His Spirit, you follow.
Believers have crucified, past tense, the sinful nature. Our sinful nature was crucified on the cross when Jesus died. So, we must live dead to the passions and desires of the sinful nature, yet alive to the leading of God’s Spirit.
Keep in step with the Spirit
Galatians 5:25 (NIV) Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
Since the Spirit has given us new life, we must keep in step with the Spirit. The Spirit sets the pace for your life. Some people tend to run ahead of the Spirit’s leading and get in trouble. Others lag behind the Spirit’s leading and fall off God’s pace.
God’s Word instructs us to keep our spiritual eyes on the Spirit’s leading and make sure that we aren’t distracted. Keep walking in the Spirit’s power and at the Spirit’s pace.
The very first thing that the Spirit leads every new believer to do is to be water baptized by immersion. We don’t have time to do a study on baptism this morning, but baptism is how we begin walking with the Spirit.
Baptism is more than just getting wet. As you go under the water, your death to the sinful nature takes on a new reality. When you come up out of the water, the Spirit comes on your life in a new way, leading you as never before.
If you have not been baptized since you have become a believer, baptism is the next most important step that you can take to grow spiritually and to follow the Spirit’s direction. Our next baptism is scheduled for March 29 and I encourage you to sign up on your Connect Card. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. Don’t procrastinate, sign up today to obey Jesus by being baptized.
Today, we’ve talked about walking in life by the Spirit’s power, rather than giving in to the desires of the sinful nature. As we walk with the Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit grows from our lives and draws others to Jesus.
Be sure to begin using your Seek God for the City prayer guide this week. I would also like to encourage everyone to come out for our Prayer and Praise night this Wednesday. We’ll be talking more about our 40 day prayer emphasis.
God has wonderful plans for your life and for Life Church. Plans to bless us and make us a blessing to more and more people.