The Power of Living by the Spirit
At times we think the only time we are to interact with God is at Church. We think we’re only connected to God on Sunday morning. But how do we live when we walk out these doors? How do we interact with God on Monday? In what way are we connected to God at the Grocery store? And how close are we to be to God when our spouse embarrasses us in public? Or when our coworker annoys us? Or when we’ve been snowed in with our kids for a solid week? How Connected are we to be to God? And what does that connection look like?
First Christians -
This was a constant question the first Christians dealt with. One guy by the name of Paul constantly wrote about this. You might know Paul as the guy who wrote half of the New Testament. But before he was a writer, even before he was a Christian, Paul was a Radical Jew. And he didn’t have patience for people who practiced their faith different than he did. And he became so angry against a certain group called the Christians because they practiced their faith drastically different than he did. They believed the Messiah, the promised one, the Son of God had come to earth, had died, and had been resurrected. And Paul did what radical religious people do, he took his anger and used it as a weapon to hunt down those who practiced their faith differently. And he imprisoned and hurt a lot of Christians because of his anger. But on one of his missions, Jesus appears to Him, blinds him, and tells him to stop using his anger as a weapon and to begin practicing his faith in the same way as those he was hunting. And from that day forward Paul became different. Instead of attempting to hurt and harm Christians he sought to spread Christianity. He sought to tell people that Jesus was love. And he started multiple churches all over the Mediterranean teaching them that Jesus was the Son of God. And many of the people who attended the churches he started weren’t coming from the Jewish faith, but were coming from paganism. And as they transitioned their lives into Christianity they continued to ask this question: What does it look like to stay connected to God during the week?
Perhaps you’ve asked that same question. Because its easy to feel connected to God when you walk into a church. Its easy to feel connected to God when you’re singing with a group of believers about how great Jesus is. Its easy to feel connected to God when you’re studying your Bible. But what happens when you walk out those doors and you’re on your own? What happens tomorrow at your desk? What does it look like to stay connected to God during the week?
And Paul’s answer would be an incredible theological piece. In fact what Paul did here in Galatians, is write the original Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde. In fact I think Robert Louis Stevenson got the idea from Paul. Because for Paul, what he does here in Galatians is tell one thing that we already know that following Jesus during the week is hard and not because our lives are threatened. Not because we could go to jail for living for Jesus. But because keeping the connection between us and God is not an emotional connection. Though we think it is. Certainly we are emotional beings, and God made us to be emotional, but its not what connects us to God. And if its not what connects us to God then it shouldn’t be what guides us. But so often it is what…
We are connected to God by God’s Spirit.
And since the Spirit is what Connects us, the Spirit should also be what guides us.
⁃ Because when you decide to live for Jesus.
⁃ you can’t always change jobs -
⁃ You can’t change family members -
⁃ You can’t change where you live -
⁃ And at times, you’ve allowed your emotions, your desires, your hopes to fit in with the crowd direct your conduct. But the tension comes when you decide to follow Christ. It comes as you walk back into those same situations as believer. It comes as you begin to realize that if you’re going to be a follower of Jesus something has to change with your conduct.
Paul writes this in Galatians: So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
⁃ To walk by the Spirit means to let your conduct be directed by the Spirit.
⁃ When Paul wants to show us what the connection between us and God is during the week he describes it as a Walk with your best friend.
When You’re on a Walk -
⁃ You have to stay connected
⁃ You have to know the goal
⁃ Stay connected enough to maintain the relationship with the one you’re walking with. This is why its not a run, because when you’re running with someone its about competing, or its about just getting to the end, its not about the relationship. But on a walk, you can converse while still focusing on walking. Its about balance, between staying in relationship with God through the work day, or through the day with your kids, while still focusing on what you have to do.
⁃ What’s the goal? - You have to know where you’re headed. What’s the end goal? Where do you hope to walk to? As a follower of Christ, what is our goal as we’re walking with God? We’ll come back to this.
⁃ Then Paul tells us what each one of us already knows.
For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.
⁃ Flesh = our skin, but even more than that, its our desires, our emotions, our cravings, our lusts, the things that make us human
⁃ The Spirit - That part of God that keeps us connected to Him. The part of God that when we decide to follow Christ immediately connects us to Him. The Spirit. God’s Spirit.
⁃ Flesh and Spirit are opposites - And not only are they opposites but they oppose one another.
⁃ And you know this. Because every time you walk out these doors, you have cravings, desires, or even lusts about your former life that have been hard to break. And at times you’ve attempted to live both lives. You’ve lived the Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story. But you keep feeling this connection tugging at you that there’s something more. Theres something different.
⁃ And the Galatians faced this. When they met at church, they were connected to God. But when they walked out the door they went right back to making decisions based on their emotions, cravings and lusts.
⁃ And Paul says, no, its the Spirit of God that keep you connected and its the Spirit of God that wants to be your guide.
⁃ So when you walk out the Galatians church doors you don’t walk alone, your walk with the Spirit begins.
⁃ So stay connected to Him. And know what the goal is.
Then Paul take it a step further. He doesn’t want us to guess. He wants us to know what it looks like to be disconnected from God. What it looks like to be guided by our emotions, cravings, lusts throughout the week. It looks like this…
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
⁃ These Paul would say, are just a few of the warning signs that you’re disconnecting from God. That you’ve moved away from Walking with the Spirit. These are what it looks like to be guided by our emotions, our cravings, our lusts, our appetites.
⁃ And maybe a few of these are a bit extreme. But some, are what each one feel, or have felt. Because we’re human.
⁃ But Paul’s point, is that when we chose to follow God we chose to begin a walk. We started a journey with God that would give us the power, the ability, the strength to not be guided by our humanness, but by God’s Spirit.
⁃ And its a Walk.
⁃ And Paul, having painted for us the picture of what it looks like to be disconnected from God. He moves even further to show us what the goal is, and should be for all of us on our Walk with God.
⁃ Remember, every walk with a friend has 2 important things you have to do: you have to stay connected and you have to know the Goal?
⁃ Where are you walking to? What’s the destination?
⁃ Paul didn’t want the Galatians to be confused or misguided. So he showed them exactly what the goal would be of walking with the Spirit. He shows you and I exactly where this walk with God will take us if we stay connected.
⁃ And here’s what he says…
Goal of walking by the Spirit -
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
⁃ This is where God is leading us. This is what it looks like to Walk with and by the Spirit of God all week. He wants to produce each one of these things in your life.
⁃ And there not easy things to make happen, but God produces them in our lives as we stay connected to Him during the week.
⁃ And that next time, that your coworker annoys you, pause, remember your on a walk with God. And flip through these 9 things God wants to do in your life. And allow God to guide your response.
⁃ Or the next time you get angry at your spouse. Keep walking with God, flip through the 9 things God wants to do and allow him to guide your response.
⁃ Or the next time, those cravings, emotions, lusts pop up in you and you so want to make a bad decision based on how you feel. Remember, your on a walk with God, and God wants to produce 9 things in your life. Allow him to guide your response.
24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
And this reminds us of Jesus’ struggle. Jesus, being human experienced the same emotions that you and I experience. Yet he somehow was bold enough and brave enough to put those to the side and allow God to guide his responses. He knew why he came, to die for you. Yet, when it came time for his purpose to be fulfilled he begged God to find another way because he was human. So Luke tells us that he went to the place called the Mount of Olives to pray at night. And he prayed this:
42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
⁃ God, find another way. I don’t know that I can do this. I don’t know that I can go through with this plan. Can you please find another way.
⁃ His Humanness met the Spirit of God and they opposed each other.
⁃ But Jesus knew he was on a Walk. He wasn’t alone. He was walking with God. And He kept the connection.
⁃ And in light of all of this, he thought about what hung in the balance. He realized what depended on his decision to allow the Spirit to guide him. He realized, he had a choice to be guided by his emotions or by the Spirit of God.
⁃ But he knew that you and I hung in the balance of that decision.
⁃ And He followed the Spirit of God and went to the cross and he died for you.
⁃ And what about you? You and I are human. We have emotions, cravings, lusts. But think about what hangs in the balance of your decision. Think about what is hanging on the edge of your decision to stay connected to God throughout the week. What/who hangs in the balance of your decision to choose to Walk by the Spirit or Walk by the Flesh?
⁃ Who’s watching you? Are your coworkers monitoring your responses? Are your kids taking cues from how you make decisions?
⁃ Think about what hangs in the balance.
⁃ And remember, when you walk out these doors, your on a Walk with God. So stay connected. And know where you’re headed.
⁃ Imagine what would happen, if everyone of us just this week, went out into our jobs, our families, our neighborhoods and decided that we weren’t going to be guided by our emotions, cravings, our lusts, but we were going to be guided by God.
⁃ We were going to keep the connection with God every day this week.
⁃ And we went out into this world and allowed God to produce Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control.
⁃ Imagine what it would do to your coworkers. Imagine how your family would respond. Imagine how attractive you would make following Christ.
Posted on Sun, February 7, 2016
by Erika Catlett