Ashley Davies – 19th April 2020
There are 4 parts to this talk. The Analogy, The fruit of the Spirit, The acts of the Sinful Nature and Conclusion
Many years ago I told a story about a boxing bout with my best friend Lindsey Houghton when we were at boarding school. Each year at Yanco agricultural high school there was a gala day and one of the attractions if you could call it an attraction was the boxing tent. Each of the boarders would be assigned a job for that day. It might be working in the fruit stall, shooting gallery or taking people for a row on the manmade lake. Lindsey and I were assigned to fight each other in the boxing tent, we were about 15 years of age. A canvas was laid down on the on the grass and hessian strung up around to form an arena. You had to pay an entry fee to come into the tent and watch these two guys duke it out. At the end of the three rounds everybody who came in to watch would throw some coin onto the canvas and that was our reward, we got to keep that.
Well this passage of Scripture is a little bit like that, not very much but little bit. I don’t know if this analogy is going to work. You tell me at the end.
Galatians Chapter 5:13-26
I’m not sure how else to describe this passage, it seems to be like a boxing match between two adversaries. One is the Spirit and the other one is the sinful nature. Sometimes the Christian life feels like we’re just going toe to toe with our sinful nature in a never-ending battle. Hopefully at the end of this talk we can all see a way forward where the Spirit is the one who is dominant in our lives. If I can continue the analogy, we are the canvas on which they fight. What initiated this conflict? What has the Spirit got against the sinful nature and what has the sinful nature of got against the Spirit that they would want to duke it out?
The canvas was inhabited by the sinful nature and it had control, until one day, the canvas was presented with a new truth (we are the canvas). Through the power of the Spirit, Christ was invited to join the canvas. Christ would not share this canvas and so sent the Holy Spirit to enable the canvas to stand to walk to live and to keep in step with Christ through his Spirit.
Verse 16,18 and 25
In these passages we are encouraged to walk by the spirit, live by the spirit and also keep in step with the spirit. Walking by the spirit in verse 16 is as a present tense and so it means to go on walking, it’s habitual conduct. Verse 18 we are being led by the Spirit, he is taking the lead and we follow. Verse 25 we live by and keep in step with the Spirit. That means we live our life with the Spirit and fall in line with the Spirit. How do we do that?
Well let’s look first at what fruit would be produced if we are in step with the Spirit. Verse 22 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. At this point everyone is feeling confident everyone is ticked off love joy peace yes? these are all fruits of the Spirit in my life, well sometimes, on a good day.
Okay so we know that we are to keep in step with the Spirit and we know what the fruit of the Spirit is but how do we get to that place of walking habitually demonstrating this fruit. Can I suggest that it is by welcoming the Spirit into our life regularly by calling on the name of Christ by spending time with the Spirit by reading his word. It is learning the characteristics of the Spirit that we start to walk in line with him. Also understanding his motivation. The Holy Spirit’s motivation is to be a conduit for Christ to constantly remind us of who Christ is and the fact that Jesus Christ always glorifies the Father and that we too should glorify the Father. The Holy Spirit’s motivation is to point us to the Father. He wants us to enjoy being children of the Father to know the love of the Father and how to love others. His role isn’t to duke it out in the ring with our sinful nature. That is our job with his help.
The acts of the Sinful Nature
If this is the motivation of the Holy Spirit what is the motivation of the flesh. We read in verse 17 for the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit. In some of the older translations desires is translated lust and unfortunately we would then automatically think this is referring to sex. Even desires doesn’t do it justice. It is better translated over desires. This sinful nature therefore over desires what is contrary to the Spirit and the Spirit does not over desire. The Spirit cannot over desire.
You don’t usually see Christians going around deliberately committing overtly sinful acts. It is more a case that we over desire things that are good. We may over desire wealth or that our children do better than we did or that we get our way in an argument. All these things can lead to wanting to control our lives and in so doing we become Lord of our lives. over desire will eventually lead us back to Verse 19 sexual immorality impurity 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.
We spoke earlier about the motivation of the Spirit to help us glorify God but here the motivation of the sinful nature is to glorify ourselves when over desire has its way the end result is acts of the sinful nature. If we encourage the Holy Spirit’s work in our life through spending time in God’s word, in prayer and in worshipping the Father we discourage the work of the sinful nature.
Let’s look at Verse 24. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. So here we are told that we are to crucify our sinful nature. Jesus tells us that we are to pick up our cross daily. The picture here is that we are to carry our cross to the place of crucifixion and crucify our sinful nature on our own cross. We cannot be piteous in our attitude to our sinful nature. Crucifixion was not a pleasant form of execution and it wasn’t administered to nice or refined people that’s why it was shameful that Jesus was crucified. However, our sinful nature deserves no pity.
Secondly the rejection of our old nature will be painful. We have all experienced a level of pain when we have crucified our own flesh our own sinful nature. Crucifixion is a slow death; it will take the rest of our lives.
Thirdly we need to be decisive we can’t second-guess the sinful nature. Once crucified our sinful nature will take time to die it can be a long and painful process however if we stand around gazing up longingly at our old nature our own sinful nature, we may begin to take pity on it and indulge it. We may even begin to caress it and think about pulling out the nails. Don’t linger. Return to our first love Christ.
As we continue to crucify our sinful nature on our own cross that Christ has encouraged us to carry remember to also encourage the work of the Spirit in our life or else a vacuum will form. As we push out the sinful nature let us draw closer to Christ.
If I can return to the original analogy of the boxing bout, the spirit versus the sinful nature, can I look forward to the end of our lives and ask the question. Who has been the painter on this canvas of our life? Whose work do we see. Is it the dark shadowy confused work of our sinful nature or is it the brilliant illuminated work of the Holy Spirit?