This is the sermon for Sunday, October 24th, 2010.

Galatians 5:16-26 HCSB – 16 I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar.  I tell you these things in advance —as I told you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit. 26 We must not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Introduction: This morning, as we dive into Galatians 5:16-26, we are going to be talking about fighting.  Now the fighting we are talking about is not skin on skin with other people, but against two primary opponents.

Our opponents are:

  • Ourselves (our fleshy desires): This in my opinion is our most dangerous opponent, primarily because it is the one we least like to fight against, and we will even deny that sometimes we are in a fight with this opponent.
  • Satan: This is the one we get so excited about fighting.  We will quote verses, rebuke, and do all types of spiritual exercises and activities against this opponent; not realizing that the primary way he fights against us is through the first opponent.  Think of Satan as the manager of our main opponent in this fight.

Last time we looked at Galatians 5:7-15 and saw the dangers of religious idolatry.  Now in this sermon Paul is going to pit the flesh against the Spirit: it is a fight that all of us must fight.  It is only won as we continue to walk in the Spirit.

Let’s begin unpacking our text.

Training for the fight.

Galatians 5:16 – I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.

  • No one goes into fights without training in the gym.  In the same way, we don’t go into this fight with our flesh without training.
  • Paul’s method of training mentioned here is walking. What does he mean by “walk by the Spirit?” It is the Greek word, peripateo (per-ee-pat-eh’-o). It means, “to tread all around, to walk at large.  Figurative meaning – “to live, to follow, to be occupied with.”  So we are to walk under the Spirit’s guidance and direction.  This isn’t some mystical word that we wait for to fall out of heaven; but He has given us clear direction through the Bible.  So, in my opinion, to walk by the Spirit is to live a life governed by the contextual study of Scripture; not pulling verses out of context.
  • I posted this quote a few weeks ago on Facebook, but it bears repeating here: “Studying the Bible isn’t about picking and choosing passages; it is about understanding texts in their entirety” – Greg Laurie.
  • This passage says that if you walk by the Spirit, “you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” Carry out in Greek is teleo (tel-eh’-o). It means, “fulfill, complete, execute, perform, to bring fulfillment to action.”
  • Desire in Greek is epithymia (ep-ee-thoo-mee’-ah). It means, “a longing for what is forbidden, to lust after.”  According to Vincent Word Studies, “it’s the desire that is peculiar to human nature without the Spirit.”
  • Remember, Paul is talking about legalism so far in this epistle. Legalism is just as much a desire of the flesh that we must fight against as any other fleshly desire.

The two combatants in this fight – The flesh and the Spirit.

Galatians 5:17 – For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want.

  • Paul is acknowledging the fact that the Christian life will be a fight we all have to participate in (verse 17). In fact, Paul describes this very fight that he battles in Romans 7.

Romans 7:14-25 – 14 For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am made out of flesh, sold into sin’s power. 15 For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. 19 For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but it is the sin that lives in me. 21 So I discover this principle: when I want to do good, evil is with me. 22 For in my inner self I joyfully agree with God’s law. 23 But I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh, to the law of sin.

Galatians 5:18 – But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

  • Being led by the Spirit breaks the hold the Law has on us (verse 18). This hold the Law has on us as Law-breakers cannot be broken by our performance – but by the Spirit’s power we receive at Salvation.

The opponent’s weapons.

Galatians 5:19-21 – 19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar.  I tell you these things in advance —as I told you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

There are four sinful categories the flesh uses in its fight mentioned in this passage.  Let’s unpack them:

Sexual sins (verse 19):

  • Sexual immorality.
  • Moral impurity.
  • Promiscuity.

False worship (verse 20a):

  • Idolatry.
  • Sorcery: Greek word, pharmakeia (far-mak-I’-ah). It means, “magic, medication, sorcery, witchcraft.”

Personal conflict (verses 20b-21a):

  • Hatreds.
  • Strife.
  • Jealousy.
  • Outbursts of anger.
  • Selfish ambition.
  • Dissensions.
  • Factions.
  • Envy.

Drunkenness (verse 21b):

  • Drunkenness.
  • Carousing: Greek word, komos (ko-mos).  It means, reveling, rioting.
  • Anything similar.

  • The result: those who practice these things will not inherit the Kingdom of God (verse 21c). The Greek word for “Practice” is interesting here.  According to Robert’s Word Pictures the Greek word is Prasso {Prasso} and it means, “an habitual practice.”  It is not the Greek word, poieo {poieo} which means, “An occasional doing.”  So those who don’t inherit the Kingdom of God here are those who practice these deeds habitually, not those who in times of weakness fall into these sins.

The Christian’s weaponry – The Holy Spirit.

Galatians 5:22-24 – 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

The Spirit inhabits us and provides these weapons to combat the flesh with (verses 22-23a):

  • Love.
  • Joy.
  • Peace.
  • Patience.
  • Kindness.
  • Goodness.
  • Faith.
  • Gentleness.
  • Self control.

  • These weapons effect is they loose us from the bondage of the Law (verses 23b-24).

We must continue in this fight against the flesh.

Galatians 5:25-26 – 25 Since we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit. 26 We must not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

  • We must continue to follow the Spirit (verse 25): The Geneva Bible notes says, “If we are indeed endued with the quickening Spirit, who causes us to die to sin and live to God, let us show it in our deeds, that is, by holiness of life.”
  • Evidence of following the Spirit – how we treat other Christians (verse 26).

Conclusion: Church, each of us are in a fight with our flesh.  We must fight this battle with the weapons of the Spirit – which is His fruit that He supplies to all Christians.

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