We are told in Ephesians that we are to “put on the whole armor of God” that is very true but we also must know how to use our weapons! In any battle it is vitally important to understand the mission. We need to know how to recognize the enemy. And we need to know what we have in our own arsenal!
Last week we began to examine the battle between the flesh and the Spirit. We examined the differences between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. I would like to look at the lists that Paul provided and break them down word by word so that we can better understand the battle that we face. Let’s begin by examining:
I. The Works Of The Flesh – now notice I used the common English translation so it may help us understand these things today. This is from Galatians 5:19-21
1) Sexual immorality – married adultery, all illicit sexual activity, yes, premarital sex, homosexuality, incest, prostitution and yes living together without being married.
2) Moral corruption – this refers to physical or moral impurity.
3) Doing whatever feels good – any excessive behavior or lack of restraint.
4) Idolatry – Worshipping anyone or anything other than the one true God.
5) Drug use and casting out spells – in this context it refers to mood and mind-altering drugs, as well as the occult, witchcraft, and magic.
6) Hate – hostility and bitter opposition.
7) Fighting – quarreling and hostile debate
8) Obsession – refers to hateful resentment, malice and indignation.
9) Losing your temper – outbursts of anger.
10) Competitive opposition – contention, dissention and conflict
11) Conflict, selfishness, group rivalry – division and discord, organized division and/or cliques.
12) Jealousy – jealousy coupled with ill will toward someone.
13) Drunkenness – literally means intoxication
14) Partying – rowdy living, wild parties
This list describes in great detail many of the actions seen in the lost man. These actions are prevalent in those who are without Christ. The lost man has a void in his life and is trying to fill that void with anything that brings pleasure. When someone is living this lifestyle they may think that they are “living it up” so to speak.
When examined, this living it up never lasts long. When examined, there is no joy, contentment or lasting fulfillment in this lifestyle, long term. And Paul is clear with his finish: I warn you as I have already warned you, that those who do these kinds of things won’t inherit God’s kingdom. It’s simple and it’s true. Those who refuse to surrender to Christ and follow a life with these desires are destined for Hell. Not because of the things that they do, but because of what they refuse to do which is trusting in Christ for salvation. Some people may look at this statement and say “there is no point in trying because there are some things in this list that describe me!” We need to consider the context of these statements. Why?
I hate to admit it but there are several words in these verses that describe me from time to time. I know all of you possess some of these attributes in your life. So, does this mean that we will “not inherit the Kingdom of God?” Does it mean that we will lose our salvation when we commit any of the sins on this list? If that is what this means then we just need to hang it up because we have NO HOPE whatsoever! But, I am glad that we DO HAVE HOPE and it is in Jesus Christ!
But preacher, Paul said “those which DO these kind of things WON’T inherit God’s kingdom.” Yes, he did and he is right! But you must understand that the verb “do” in this verse in the original Greek indicates an ongoing lifestyle. If you are constantly living a life that is filled with these “works of the flesh” then yes, YOU ARE HELL BOUND! If you have surrendered to Jesus and you have fallen into sin you are not automatically lost and hell bound again.
We must remember Galatians 5:13: “You were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only don’t let this freedom be an opportunity to indulge your selfish impulses, but serve each other through love.” Translation – these negative things should not be ongoing. If they are ongoing, you must repent, truly desire to change direction, and God will forgive you. That is God’s promise from His word. Remember though that according to Revelation 20:12 it has an impact: “And the dead were judged on the basis of what was written in the scrolls about what they had done.”
Those who have surrendered and stay in the flesh sins will suffer as a result! There will be consequences in eternity – 2 Corinthians 5:10: “We all must appear before Christ in court so that each person can be paid back for the things that were done while in the body, whether they were good or bad.” This shows the importance of Winning The War Within! Maybe this portion of scripture has caused you to doubt your salvation. This may be a good thing because there are some people who need to doubt because they haven’t truly surrendered! But Paul tells us how we know our salvation is real and secure, we will display the fruits of the Spirit in our life.
II. The Fruit Of The Spirit
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is ? love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against this there is no law.
It is important for us to remember what Jesus said in – John 15:4 “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. A branch can’t produce fruit by itself, but must remain in the vine. Likewise, you can’t produce fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, then you will produce much fruit. Without me, you can’t do anything.”
Our fruit comes from the vine of our surrender to Jesus. It shows us our salvation. Examine your life and see if you possess these fruits.
The first fruit is LOVE!
Love – (agapē – ag-ah’-pay) – love without expectation of return.
a) You will love God, simple
b) You will love your neighbor, simple. All neighbors.
c) You will not possess anything opposite of love and that’s hate. th not seen?
Joy – (chara – khar-ah’) – cheerfulness, calm delight: –
There is a difference between happiness and joy. Happiness depends on what happens, Joy will remain even in the midst of trouble! When we are facing troubles, trials and tribulations if you are in Christ you can still have Joy. It’s not something we put on from the outside but something that comes from within. It’s the reflection of the light of God in our hearts.
You will not find joy in unbelief, not in short term pleasure, not in vain personal prideful glory.
Peace – (eirēnē – i-rah’-nay) Spiritual prosperity: internal quietness, rest. The peace that comes to those who are in Christ is not the absence of trouble, but is rather the confidence that Jesus is always with you! We live in a world that is filled with chaos and uncertainty but the believer can have peace because we are not of this world! We can have peace only because of the One who has secured it for us!
Patience – or forbearance.
This refers to those who are willing to accept and bear injury – Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind, compassionate, and forgiving to each other, in the same way God forgave you in Christ.” There are times in the day when people just get to us. Maybe you are quick to blow up and tell somebody off! When we react this way we are not being patient. Coupled with patience is:
Kindness – or gentleness.
Someone who is gentle has an attitude of kindness. This is a person who is easy to get along with and easy to please. Someone who is always bitter and combative does not show evidence of this fruit!
Goodness – or virtue
This refers to a willingness to do good and help others – 1 John 3:18, “Little children, let’s not love with words or speech but with action and truth.” So many are quick to talk the talk but very few will back it up with their actions, We can shout the Gospel from the roof top but if we never back it up with our actions what does it benefit?
Faithfulness – moral conviction of religious truth, or the truthfulness of God or a religious teacher, especially reliance upon Christ for salvation; as well as constancy in that profession; This fruit begins in surrender to Jesus but it doesn’t end there! When you possess the fruit of faithfulness you are trusting Christ each and every day of your life. It is also having faith in the promises that God has made concerning the future! Faithfulness implies that you are truly: devoted and faithful to Christ, devoted and faithful to His Word, devoted and faithful to His Church. Are you?
There is never a shortage of excuses to not be faithful, but we must be found to be faithful. This is part of the war within that we speak of. The flesh does not want to pray, study, worship, praise, witness or serve. The flesh will provide you with many excuses not to do these things. But when you “walk in the Spirit” you will be able to accomplish each and every work that you have been called to accomplish!
The next fruit that is mentioned is:
8) Gentleness or the Greek word really translates to meekness, humility, restraint
This is power under control. Not using one’s power for evil or for revenge. Gentleness, meekness is not weakness! Jesus was meek and humble No man that was weak could have endured the beating that Christ took but we see during the crucifixion that He did not use the power that He possessed! Isaiah 53:7 “He was oppressed and tormented, but didn’t open his mouth. Like a lamb being brought to slaughter, like a ewe silent before her shearers, he didn’t open his mouth.” When we are meek, we refrain from using our positions, power and influence for evil! This restraint is not possible when you follow the works of the flesh. The last word that is mentioned is:
This is refusing to do those things you have in your power to do. 1 Thessalonians 5:22 “Avoid every kind of evil.” Many have it in their mind that they are allowed to live as they please but the opposite is true! Every child of God is commanded to live his life as a living sacrifice – Romans 12:1 “So, brothers and sisters, because of God’s mercies, I encourage you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God. This is your appropriate priestly service. Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature.”
When you look at these two lists that are covered in these verses you see total opposites. It is white and black. You see good and evil. You see spirit and flesh. You see surrendered to Jesus and lost. You see heaven and Hell. You see victory and defeat. It is a war.. it is THE WAR WITHIN! And if you have surrendered to Jesus you are in the middle of this war each and every day! If you will apply the truths found in these verses you will have all that is needed to win the war within!
How do you win the war within? Galatians 5:16, ” I say be guided by the Spirit and you won’t carry out your selfish desires.” It’s just that simple….with the help of the Lord.