June 9, 2021
How you live today matters. And the reason it matters, is that we live in a world today that constantly tells us that there is only one way to live – to live for self. The philosophy that guides many people today, is all about pursuing individual freedom and happiness. “How I feel or what I think is all that matters.” It used to be that the Bible gave people a foundation for life, how to live, what really matters. But no more. Today the Bible’s values have been replaced by personal experiences, desires, preferences and feelings. Take marriage for example: A married person may say, “I am what I feel. And my feelings have changed for this person I’ve been married to for ten years. Since I don’t feel the same way I once did, I think we should get a divorce.”
In fact, in my previous Church, it’s thinking like this that led one woman to say to me that she believed God was leading her to get a divorce. But God never leads anyone to do anything that’s contrary to His will. So that kind of blew my mind.
So again, I want to state, how you live today matters. Or should I say, “It’s how you live today as a follower of Jesus Christ that matters.” And the reason it matters, is that in a world that is constantly telling us there is only one way to live – to live for self – we get to show the world a different way to live. But that way is not the way of the flesh, but the way of the Spirit: a way of love and joy, of kindness and peace; of goodness and self-control. It’s the new kind of life God saved you for and it’s the kind life people are really longing for. It’s the new kind of life found when we learn to walk by the Spirit God put in us when we put our trust in Jesus.
So today, as we continue our Rock Springs Reboot series, we are going to look at how God made it possible for you to live this new way of life. So, if you brought your Bible with you today, let me encourage you to find Galatians 5:16-25; where we’re going to unpack how the Holy Spirit can help you live this new way of life. But before we look at how the Holy Spirit helps us, let me remind you of what God did for you when He put His Spirit in you. From Romans 8:1-17, we learned that God did four things for us:
First, when God put His Spirit in you, He freed you. He freed you from having to live under the burden of the law. He freed you from trying to earn your salvation. He freed you from condemnation and He freed you from the fear death, so you could now be free to live the new life He gave you.
Second, when God put His Spirit in you, He changed you. Once God’s Spirit took up residence in you, God changed your inner nature and made you alive to God. Where you once only lived for yourself as a rebel to God, now God has given you a whole new disposition in life: You now want to please God; make much of Jesus and bring glory to His name in this life He’s given you.
Third, when God put His Spirit in you, He empowered you. Now you don’t just have the desire to please God, you have the power of the resurrected Christ living in you by His Spirit so you can live this new life.
And finally, when God put His Spirit in you, He leads you. In other words, when God put His Spirit in you, He made you His child by adopting you, so you will now follow His leading in this new life.
So the question our text answers today is this: How do we do that? How do we follow God’s Spirit so that we live this new life? That’s what we’re going to see now from Galatians 5. It’s in walking by the Spirit. In fact, this passage reveals three ways how walking by the Spirit helps us live this new way of life. And the first way is this:
Walking by the Spirit breaks the power of the flesh in our lives God’s Word says: So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 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. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Galatians 5:16-18
Paul begins with this command calling us to walk by the Spirit. To walk by the Spirit is another way of saying that we are to live our everyday lives according to the leading of the Spirit. The idea pictured here is walking with the Spirit in every context of life; and then following His lead in how you relate with the people in your life: whether that be in conversation with your spouse, interacting with your buddies on the pickle ball court, the person bagging your groceries, the guy working on your car, or the neighbor next door. What this command is calling us to do is to yield to the Spirit’s leading in every encounter in life. You are to walk by the Spirit.
Now the Greek word for walking is the word, peripateite, which means “to walk around after someone or to walk in a particular direction.” In the days of Aristotle, his students were known as peripatetics because of their habit of following their teacher around.
So the idea here is that we are to develop the habit of following our teacher around. And that makes perfect sense, since the Holy Spirit is our teacher. So this command is calling us to keep in tune with the Holy Spirit – to stay in contact with the Holy Spirit – to let Him lead us – to stay open to His guidance in every relationship in life.
Now for most of us, living surrendered to the Spirit’s leading for every decision or every encounter is not how we normally function. So we need to reprogram ourselves so that we are following the Spirit’s leading in our lives, and not the flesh.
Allow me to illustrate what God is calling us to do: Think about your decision making capacity. Most of your life you’ve made decisions on how the decision might benefit you. You’ve made choices according to what’s in it for you. So for however long you’ve lived without Christ, you’ve trained yourself to think according to a flesh oriented operating system. You’ve learned to live by your feelings, go with your gut, follow your heart. This is the way of the world. The world lives for self. The world creates its own morality. “My personal happiness and well-being is the ultimate authority.” That’s how the flesh operating system works. And the result of such living is not pretty. The flesh operating system produces actions that Paul lists here: The acts of the flesh 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. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21
Those who live to please the flesh have no future with God because they live opposite of God’s will. They live to please themselves, not God. Their way of life never finds satisfaction but only results in division, destruction and despair. So the warning, God gives is clear: those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But here’s the good news: When you put your trust in Jesus Christ, God put His Spirit in you. And now with the Holy Spirit in you, He is able to help you follow God’s new operating system for life. And God’s new operating system for life is the Word of God, given to you to teach you how to live like Jesus, experience the joy of Jesus, apply the patience of Jesus, and produce the kindness of Jesus in every part of life.
However, Paul tells us that living according to the Spirit’s leading isn’t always going to be easy. Our flesh doesn’t go down without a fight. The flesh doesn’t surrender. It is we who must choose to surrender. This is the spiritual battle we face each day. That’s why this is a command we are to put into practice continually. We need to train ourselves to follow the Spirit by becoming students of His Word, so that God’s Word will change us and help us respond to people with the love of Jesus. We need to cultivate the habit of walking by the Spirit not by the Flesh.
Let me illustrate this: God’s Word commands us to be patient with all people, to be longsuffering or forbearing with people. This is how Jesus lived. He put up with our bad behavior because He loved us. So he didn’t immediately judge us or give up on us. So this is kind of how it might work: You start your day, then you pray and ask God to help you be patient. Soon you encounter a difficult person who says or does something that attacks you or is offensive to you, and now you’re rattled. At that moment you have a choice: you can respond by the Spirit, or you can respond according to the flesh. Now, the flesh wants to control you – so the flesh jumps in there immediately and tells you to tell them where to get off. How do I know this? Because I’ve done this. I’ve reacted, I’ve been impatient rather than be patient.
But the Spirit gently reminds us to be patient. The Spirit reminds us that there’s probably a a reason this person is acting this way. So now you choose. Will you live by the flesh, or by the Spirit? Your choice. You will always have this choice…. That’s why we often mess up. We get caught off guard, and our flesh immediately jumps in and wants its way. But the person who trains himself/herself to habitually walk by the Spirit, will begin to recognize what triggers you impatience, and you will learn to submit to the Spirit, give the person patience, and experience God’s promise – you will render the flesh powerless. And the more you do that, the more you live by the Spirit, the less you will gratify the flesh. This is the new way of life God wants you to live. To walk by the Spirit.
So here’s the point: Learning to walk by the Spirit IS A PROCESS. We don’t become proficient at this overnight. It takes an active choice of the will. We choose to follow the way of the Spirit. It’s a moment-by-moment choosing. But the more we TRAIN OURSELVES to walk by the Spirit, the more the Spirit will work in us to help us live and love like Jesus. And as we do this, as we walk by the Spirit, we begin to break the power of the flesh in our lives. And the more that happens in us, the more Christ can live through us. And this leads directly to our second point:
Walking by the Spirit forms the character of Christ in our lives Look at verses 22-23 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. Here’s the truth: With the Holy Spirit living in you, over time and practice, the Holy Spirit will begin to produce a Holy life in you. Holiness is not simply purity. Holiness is what sets us apart as God’s people. Holiness is what makes us different from the world. And Holiness is the beauty of Christ’s life being formed in us. And it is the fruit of the Spirit being formed in us that makes us Holy, makes us different, and sets us apart.
But the fruit of Christ doesn’t form in you overnight. Just like the fruit on a tree doesn’t ripen overnight. I have four fruit trees. Three months ago blossoms appeared on those trees. Right now my lemons aren’t much bigger than an almond. My oranges are rock hard and about the size of a golf ball. And my grapefruits are dark green and aren’t much bigger than my oranges. But I know from experience, that this fruit need time to develop and mature. Then sometime in December or January they’ll ripen.
The same is true for us. It takes time for God to develop the fruit of the Spirit in us – to form the character of Christ in us. This is another reason why we must continually train ourselves to walk by the Spirit. For the more we walk by the Spirit, the more the Spirit will form the life of Christ in us. The more we expose ourselves to the Word of truth, the more we put it into practice, the more the Spirit will work in us to develop the character of Christ in us. That’s why we encourage you to develop a habit to daily time spent in God’s Word. That’s why we want to encourage you to participate in a journey group. Because together, we can encourage and help one another put God’s Word into practice – we can encourage and help one another build the habit of walking by the Spirit.
And as you do, God will begin to produce the life of Christ in you. God will make you holy – and you will become more and more like Jesus. Let’s look now at this fruit that the Holy Spirit will produce in you – How the Holy Spirit makes us different:
The Fruit of Love will change how you relate to people. You will begin to seek what’s best for a person, and no longer look for what the person might do for you.
The Fruit of Joy will change how you relate with God. You will begin to delight in God for the sheer beauty and worth of who He is. And you’ll have this joy regardless of your circumstances; regardless of your health; regardless of what’s going on in our world. You’ll no longer have mood swings based on the state of current affairs in our world.
The Fruit of Peace will change your sense of well-being. You will live with a confidence and rest in the wisdom and control of God, rather than your own. And this peace will replace your anxiety or worry.
The Fruit of Patience will change how you react to unmet expectations. You will grow in your ability to face trouble without blowing up, especially with people who continually irritate or provoke you.
The Fruit of Kindness will open your heart to the needs of others. You will grow in your initiative to graciously respond to the needs of others. And things like envy and greed will lose their grip on you
The Fruit of Goodness will develop integrity in your life. You will become the same person in every situation. You will treat your best friends and your worst enemies with the same love and kindness.
The Fruit of Faithfulness will make you a person who can be counted on. God will give you the courage to be true to your word and utterly reliable at all times.
The Fruit of Gentleness will transform you into a humble servant. You will become less self-absorbed and more others focused.
The Fruit of Self-control will help you pursue the important over the urgent, rather than to be always impulsive or uncontrolled. God will free you from the need to always feel in control.
This is what God wants to produce in you. The fruit of the Spirit is the character of Christ, and what makes us holy. And the more we learn to walk by the Spirit, the more the Spirit will form Christ in us. The more you will become like Jesus, less and less like our old selfish and broken selves. Can you imagine the impact Rock Springs would have if we all bore this kind of fruit? This is why God commands us to walk by the Spirit. For the more the Holy Spirit forms Christ in us, the more we will show the world that there really is a different way to live – and that leads us to the final truth we need to grasp about walking by the Spirit today, and that is this:
Walking by the Spirit becomes the new way of living the Christian life Look at verses 24 where Paul declares two powerful realities of your new life: Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:24-25
The more you walk by the Spirit the more others will see a new security in your life: That you belong to Jesus. You are no longer under the law. You no longer have to prove your worth to God or anyone else. You are free. Free to live the way God intended. And now when you freely love people, treat people with kindness and bless people who don’t deserve to be blessed – people will see your treatment of others and recognize there is something different about you. They’ll see the difference in you, but won’t be able to put a finger on it. But you will know. You will know that because you belong to Jesus, you are now secure in your life. You live differently because you don’t belong to this world, but you belong to Jesus.
And the more you walk by the Spirit the more others will see a new power in your life: That you are not controlled by your flesh. They will see that the things that control their life have no control over your life. They will see a freedom in you that they wish they could enjoy. They will see a new power in you, but again they won’t be able to recognize it, because it’s a power they do not know, but you know. For it’s the power of God’s Holy Spirit in you that is helping you put to death the desires of the flesh. And it is this power that has set you free to pursue a live a new life of holiness, peace and love.
And that is why walking by the Spirit becomes the new way of living the Christian life. For the old way of life under the law didn’t work for us. It didn’t work for anyone. All it did was expose the desires of the flesh, and leave you longing for a better way.
Well, the good news today is that God has given us a better way to live – a new way of life walking with Him. Walking by the Spirit. That’s why Paul ends with this exclamation: Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:25 For when we walk according to the Spirit, how we live will matter. How we live will make a difference, for we will show the world there truly is another way to live!
So let us take advantage of our new relationship with Christ and our new power with the Spirit, and learn to yield to the Spirit’s way of living the new life. Let’s surrender to His Spirit so others might see there’s a different way to live – by walking by the Spirit.