Acts of the Flesh

Acts of the Flesh 

Daily Reading: (Galatians 5:16-21):

“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.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.”

“Freedom in Christ” is the main point of Galatians chapter five. When we reach verse sixteen we have are introduced into the sub-header: “life by the Spirit”. So we have freedom in Christ expressed through life by the spirit.

Which what Paul is saying is “do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”

“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” The question really becomes, “how are we to walk by the Spirit and what does it mean to walk after the flesh?” Most people actually read this verse the other way around. “Do your best not to fulfill the desires or lust of your flesh, and then you’ll walk in the Spirit.” That is not what Scripture says or teaches us here. The Scripture teaches this not in the negative but in the positive. “walk by the Spirit, and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” As you walk by the Spirit you won’t have to worry about the lust of the flesh.” Our focus has to be on walking in the Spirit. If you are focused on trying not to fulfill the desires of the flesh that is living your life under the Law. And if you live this way you’ll end up walking after the flesh. Walking after the flesh is an attempt to meet any of your needs apart from God.Romans 8:13 tells us this is a disastrous way to live.

So, how do we walk by the spirit or what is walking by the spirit? John Piper says, “It is “being led by the Spirit” and it is “bearing the fruit of the Spirit. You allow the Spirit to control you by keeping your heart happy in God. Or to put it another way, you walk by the Spirit when your heart is resting in the promises of God.” [1]

George Müller learned the secret of walking by the Spirit: meditate on the precious truths of the word of God until your heart is happy in God, resting in his promises.[2]

“Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” You will have victory over temptation and know the guidance of the Lord if you keep your heart happy in God by resting in his promises.

We get a better understanding in the Greek for the word “walk” (peripateō) which means to be led around. This brings us to Psalm 23:3, “He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake.” This is what it means to walk by the Spirit.

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God” (Romans 8:14). “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). Habits of the flesh will all fall off as we walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16).

The Spirit of the Lord will move you to a place of rest and refreshment where you cast your cares on Him. Troubles and stresses will come, but walk by the Spirit to the place of lying down in green pastures. Enjoy the feast God prepares for you in the presence of those plaguing enemies that have risen up against you. 

“Let us therefore give diligence to enter into that rest, lest anyone fall after the same example of disobedience.” (Hebrews 4:11 WEB)

 Rest is not inactivity—it is Spirit-directed activity. The opposite of being in God’s rest is being in unbelief.

“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. I wanted to point out that the fight is not between you and the flesh, the fight is between the flesh and the Spirit.

Here is the good news: you are not under the Law any longer because we have freedom in Christ, freedom to live by the Spirit that He has placed inside us. Live as the new creation we have become. Live out of our new God-given nature that reflects His glory. Galatians 5:16 promises victory over the desires of the flesh, not that there won’t be a war, but that the winner of that war will be the Spirit.


[1] John Piper. The War Within: Flesh Versus Spirit. June 19, 1983. https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/the-war-within-flesh-versus-spirit

[2] George Müller. Autobiography 152–154.

If the Son…

Daily Reading: John 8:31-36:

” To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

John 8 shows how Jesus satisfied the if condition of my life, with all covenantal conditions met, curses are gone and blessings remain.

Some Jews believed and so became children of God which shows salvation is not about ethnicity (John 8:31). What you might not know is John’s Gospel is unique from the other three. It is written completely different and the audience John is writing to is the church. Matthew writes to the Jew, Mark to the Romans, and Luke to the Greeks. That is why John will make statements such as: “whoever believes is a child of God” because his audience is the church.

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

You might have a Pontius Pilate moment (John 18:38) “What is truth?” Pilate asked.

Unfortunately at this time, it still exists today the worldview that truth is subjective.  Pilate’s statement was based on a belief that truth is subjective.

Subjective: characteristic of or belonging to reality as perceived rather than as independent of mind.

Pilate believed truth is whatever he perceives it to be.

Vs.

Objective:

independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers: having reality independent of the mind.

Jesus Christ claimed to be objective truth, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6).

Pilate’s question “what is truth?” was prompted by Jesus’ words: “For this reason I was born and have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to My voice” (John 18:37).

“Testify to the truth” is a statement that truth is objective and can be known (John 18:37) which in turn prompted Pilate’s worldview to come forth about truth being subjective, “what is truth”?

32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” You will know that Jesus is Messiah and this will set you free. Whether or not a person believes Jesus is the Truth doesn’t change the reality that He is in the truth.

Now verse 33 is case in point the religious Jews who did not believe in the truth and where not set free.

33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

Their argument is that they are not in physical slavery so what is it that they need to be set free from (John 8:33). This is very problematic on many levels. They are using their perception of their reality as the basis for their truth, we are not in bondage and do not need to be set free. Remember their history they had come out of slavery, they already were physically set free so they forget that spiritual speaking they are in a worse bondage.

34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.  Your master is sin. It rules over your life because you have not been purchased from this slave master to a life of spiritual freedom, because you do not believe in the Truth and therefore have no received sonship John 8:34-36).

35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever.  So, until you receive the ransom price for your redemption, or the grace through faith, you do not belong to God’s family because you have rejected the Son.

36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I love this statement so much. It is subtle- if the Old Testament Law was full of conditional statements but there is one only one condition for your spiritual freedom. All of the other if’s of the Old Testament Law were fulfilled on your behalf and only one if remains. If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

47 Whoever belongs to God hears what God says.

The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” This is also evident in what Paul wrote to the Romans: So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God Romans 10:17.  John identifies Jesus as the Word of God (John 1) the Word of God is speaking to the Jews but why is there no faith to be found? They do not hear. Akouō: to understand, perceive the sense of what is said. They cannot even perceive or comprehend that the Messiah is before them offering them what they need, spiritual freedom from the slavemasters of sin and death.

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# Set Free

Daily Reading: Acts 26:1-3

“Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You have permission to speak for yourself.” So Paul motioned with his hand and began his defense: “King Agrippa, I consider myself fortunate to stand before you today as I make my defense against all the accusations of the Jews, and especially so because you are well acquainted with all the Jewish customs and controversies. Therefore, I beg you to listen to me patiently.”

Freedom isn’t determined by our situation but by our position and our spiritual birthright.

The blessing of all of Paul’s legal trouble- is that he got to give his testimony to the whole Jewish Sanhedrin, just like Jesus said he would—”they will arrest you and this will be a time for testimony” (Luke 21:12). The persecution sets up the time for the testimony. God has gospel purposes in all the trials of our lives. Put on those gospel shoes of peace (Ephesians 6:15) with the readiness to move with the gospel wherever God leads you.

“I consider myself fortunate” (Hēgeomai)- think (Makarios)- happy blessed.  The way we recognize our freedom is to think about how truly blessed we are in Christ (Acts 26:2).

We change our mind for the better [Acts 26:20] (repent/ metanoia) as we walk away from sin because we are captivated by Someone, infinitely better. The revelation that Jesus is lovely and God is good and He thinks we’re special, causes the things of this world to grow strangely dim.

The world may look at your situation and feel sorry for you (Acts 26:32), but sometimes the persecution you face is the exact thing that leads you to present the Gospel and share your freedom story.