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The Believer's Struggle - Part 2

In Touch / Charles Stanley
The Truth Network Radio
February 6, 2024 12:00 am

The Believer's Struggle - Part 2

In Touch / Charles Stanley

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February 6, 2024 12:00 am

Find out the best way to handle life's struggles.


Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Tuesday, February 6th. Christians have the power of the Holy Spirit living within them to overcome daily battles with sin. Today's podcast gives encouragement to win the believer's struggle. There are times when we struggle with a Christian life. Sometimes that struggle is light struggle. Sometimes it's very, very intense. And I'm sure that most of us probably can't think back to the day we were saved and recall what we expected out of the Christian life.

I'm sure I can as a 12-year-old boy. I don't know that I could ever begin to recall what I expected out of it. I can tell you one thing, it wasn't exactly what I expected. And I think most people are saved thinking something is going to happen that transformed their life and more than likely not have the struggles they used to have. But haven't you heard people say, well, you know, since I became a Christian, I seem to have more struggles than I had before. Well, you know what?

If that's not true, there's something wrong. Because before you were saved, something was missing. And once you were saved, you received something you didn't have before. And so now there's a struggle and oftentimes a battle that goes on. So I want us to look tonight in this passage in Galatians chapter 5. And I want us to look at this passage in the light of the believer's struggle, in our daily struggle in living the Christian life.

And I want you to notice the first thing he says here, he gives us a caution. And this is a good word of caution, verse 13. He says, You were called to freedom, brethren, only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh.

And what he's in essence saying is this. Now that you've been set free, don't turn your freedom in Christ Jesus into an opportunity of the flesh, which means now that I'm saved and I'm eternally secure, a little bit of sin is not going to hurt me. That is, he said, don't take advantage of your position in Christ Jesus of being saved by Him.

Don't use that as an opportunity for the flesh. Don't try to take advantage of that and say, well, I'm saved. And so, you know, even if I sin, God will forgive me and just move on. He says, no, don't do that.

Because he knew what would happen. He said, through love, serve one another. That is, if we really care for one another, we will give ourselves in living the kind of life that will express a godly life toward one another, which is going to build them up.

And that's certainly expression of love. And he says, but if you bite and devour one another and take care, lest you, he says, be consumed by one another. He said, you can't get into this fleshly stuff. And if you go back to First Corinthians chapter three for a moment and you recall that these Corinthians Christians are having this same kind of problem and you recall in this third chapter, he said to them, he said, Now, you're still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly? Are you not walking like mere men?

And so things haven't changed really because people still do the same thing. That is, we have this awesome freedom in Christ Jesus, but we take our liberties to sin against God. Now, what I want you to notice here is this. Then after giving us a caution, he says, here's the command. Verse 16, But I say to you, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh. And in essence, what it says, let this be your lifestyle.

That is, this is the way you and I should walk dead. If when somebody sees the way we walk in our Christian life, this is the way we walk. We walk, he says, by the Spirit, he says, you will not carry out the desires of the flesh. Now, this flesh that the Bible talks about when he talked about it in First Corinthians, he said, you're acting fleshly. What he meant was you're acting like you used to act before you were saved. So that our naturalness is that part of us that is not yet redeemed and will not be until, he says, until the day of redemption when these bodies of ours are going to be redeemed so that all of us have within us, as some people call it a sinful nature and some people call it a propensity or to a likeness for sin.

You can call it anything you want to. But the truth is this. It is a part of us that of that naturalness that's going to be there because we still live in a physical world. We still have five senses and this body must function in that fashion. So when the Bible says the flesh, that's that natural part of us that's still there that desires to operate in opposition to God. This battle that goes on inside of us, he says, is the flesh and we got it and we had it. We came into this world and you know what?

You're going to have it till you die. Until the day these bodies are redeemed. That is until we leave these physical bodies. Now, so when he talks about the flesh, that's what he's talking about.

Now look at this. It's that part of us. Listen now, the flesh is that part of us that wants to operate out of the confines and restrictions that God set on us. That part of us that wants to operate minus God. That part that wants to operate and ignore God.

That part that wants to operate in opposition to God and against God. So here's what he says in verse 16. But I say walk by the Spirit and if you do you'll not carry out the desires of the flesh. Now listen, nowhere does he say you won't have any. He says by the Spirit you will not carry out the desires of the flesh because that carnality, that humanness is there and will be there, he says, but we don't have to succumb to it.

Now, that's his command. Here's the conflict. Verse 17. For the flesh, this humanness, this part of us that wants to act ungodly, sets its desire, the very nature of it is in opposition, sets its desire against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh.

For these are in opposition to one another so that you may not do the things that you please. Now, so every single believer has what? Has the Holy Spirit living on the inside of him and her.

Well, before you were saved you didn't have that. So, think about the lost person. The lost person says, you know, I don't feel all those things. Lost person can sin and sin and sin against God and here's what happens. Now the only thing that will bother a lost person is this. They don't have this internal conflict going on.

You say, well, now wait a minute. I know some lost people who have internal conflict, but what is their conflict? They have a conscience. God gave to every single person a conscience, a mind, a will, a motion, a conscience and a consciousness. So they do have a conscience. But apart from that conscience, they don't have any other battle of internal furor going on.

Why? Because they are minus the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit. Listen, he says, the flesh is in opposition to the Spirit and there's continuous conflict and continuous battles going on because the Spirit is the Spirit of holiness and naturalness is the Spirit of sin.

So he says, now what you have here is this. You have two mindsets, the Spirit of God leading us to holiness and the flesh leading us away. And so we have this conflict going on inside of us. And listen, I don't care how sanctified you get, how much you love God, you're not going to get rid of that.

I wish you could. He's talking about the flesh, it's humanness within us. And there it is. That's the source of the problem. Listen, the source of the problem is not money. The source of the problem is not sex. The source of the problem is not drunkenness. The source of the problem is not rebellion. The source of the problem is not this, that and the other.

The source of the problem is on the inside. It is this naturalness with which every single person possesses. And so listen what he says. He says, now the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, the Spirit against the flesh. These are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you're led by the Spirit, you're not under the law. And then he begins to talk about the deeds which we'll come to in just a moment.

Now, what was Paul talking about? He was talking about the warfare, the life that you and I live. We live in a battle. We are, listen, we are under siege all the time.

Sometimes we feel it more than others. But if you think the devil's gonna lie down and let God bless you, you can forget that. He is not going to take anything sitting down.

He is going to battle. And you know, listen, he is going to make his most vicious attacks when you are the most effective for God. What I want you to notice is this. When the flesh gets in control and the flesh begins to work in our life, there's some things that are very, very evident. Now, if you will notice here and I won't go through all these, but look at you on this 19th verse. He says, now the deeds of the flesh. You want to know how, how this a part of us, it's anti-God works?

Here's how it works. And we'll come back to this, immorality, impure, dissensionality. So that's the beginning of the list and we're coming back to that list in just a moment. And we saw in 1 Corinthians chapter 3, he said, you folks are fleshly. You're acting like you're what you used to be.

Here you are fussing and fighting and being jealous with each other. And one of them says, Paul is the greatest preacher. The other one says, no, Paul is the greater orator. He says, oh, this is just ascension. He says, you're acting like children. You're acting like who you were before you became a Christian.

Now notice what he says here. Back to Galatians chapter 5. Look at the characteristics that he says here in this chapter, because he says, now here's what happens. When you and I walking in the flesh, natural, this is exactly, you can expect the world to act like this. He says, now look at beginning in verse 19 and 20.

You can divide these up. He says, now this is the way our humanness will operate when you and I, listen, when you and I allow this part of us that is not submissive to God, that wants nothing to do with God, this propensity, this desire for sin that inhabits every single person in the name of the flesh. He says, here's what you can expect. It can go in all four of these directions or express itself in one of these directions.

But what are those directions? First of all, he says, it's going to express itself in verse 19 in the direction of immorality. Now deeds of the flesh are evident, which are immorality, impurity, sensuality, all kinds of sexual sins. Secondly, he says, this, when this humanist, we set our mind on these things, we turn away from the spirit. He says the second sense of direction is idolatry, sorcery. So first of all, there is immorality.

Secondly, there is idolatry. The third sense of direction is, he says, is, is all kinds of rivalry. And that is, notice he says, strife, jealousy, outburst of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, Indians, all kinds of things are going.

So what happens? When we are in the flesh, we can be immoral, we can be idolatrous, we can get into all kinds of dissension and fussing and fighting and abandoning and all kinds of stuff going. And the last thing he says, drunkenness carousing. And so in these four categories, he says, when you're walking the flesh, you, you could go into all four of them, are you going into one of them?

And so he says, these are, these are the works of the flesh. Now, the deeds of the flesh, the deeds of the flesh, these are the things that people do in order to attempt to gratify, to satisfy something within them. But isn't it interesting, they can't get satisfied that what happens after a big night of drinking, they're not satisfied, they have a what? They got a hangover. A person is a fool to do something that makes them feel absolutely rotten in order to have a good time. There's something wrong with that kind of thinking.

But you know what? That's the way the world thinks. Because you know, this is where they're living. They're living only for right now.

They're gratifying something make me feel good now satisfy me now. The believer takes the long look. It isn't just now, it's eternity that we must have our minds on. While we live in today, our heart must be set on eternity.

Because listen, at 100 years, this is like one grain of sand on all the beaches in the world for what eternity is about. What you and I are doing, we're schooling ourselves, we're getting ready for eternity. We want to serve God forever and ever and ever. And we want to present ourselves to Him as those servants of God who are acceptable in His sight, not because of our righteousness, but because of His, but at least we want to be godly good stewards of the grace of God He's given to us. He says, now this is where the world acts.

He said, if you want to see the flesh in motion, you want to see the flesh exposed, you want to see the flesh on the screen, here it is. Immorality, idolatry, revelry, and drunkenness. Doesn't that describe our society? Doesn't it describe every society? It describes the Roman society, it describes our society.

Why? Because every single Roman, every single Greek, every Phoenician, I mean you can go back every Egyptian, go back to Babylonia, every civilization, every single person ever born, how do they come into this world? With an old sinful nature, bent and bowed away from God. And it is only in the person of Jesus that you and I get rescued. This is where freedom comes from. Freedom comes in the person of Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit. So, he says, now these are the deeds of the flesh.

On the other hand, when our mindset is not on the flesh but on the Spirit, he says, look what happens. Now remember we said a few moments ago that we have a personal responsibility, but there's not a single one of us that can produce these things. We can't produce love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. We can't produce that.

And you know what? There's nothing missing in this Bible. This is why Jesus gave this beautiful illustration when he said, he said, I'm the vine, you're the branch. He says, if the branch is not abiding in the vine, you can produce no fruit.

He says, you can produce nothing. But when the branch, who is the believer, is living in the vine and the sap that runs in the vine runs in the branch, that's the Spirit of God, the sap in the vine runs in the branch into the stem and produces luscious grapes. You take the branch away from the vine and you've got death. So, how does a branch produce fruit? Branches don't produce fruit. Branches bear fruit that the vine produces through the sap. And so, the believer is the person through whom the Holy Spirit is doing what?

Producing fruit. And so, it's not what we do. And so, our responsibility is to set our mind on the Spirit in order to submit ourselves to Him, to walk in Him, in order that He can produce through us, live through us, what?

Such character that we will be known as people of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There's no law against those things. We don't have to keep any law for that to happen. That's the work of the Holy Spirit. That's the difference in walking in the Spirit and walking in the flesh. When He says that you and I have crucified the flesh, here's what it means. That when you not trust that the Lord Jesus Christ is our personal Savior, we chose to give ourselves to Him.

He gave Himself to us and the person of the Holy Spirit. What we did is we turned our back on our past life. That's what repentance is all about. Repentance isn't just feeling bad and confessing sin. Repentance, it means that not only have I confessed my sin, but it is a change of attitude and a change of direction.

Things are going to be different. Turn my back on that, so to speak, and in reality. Crucified the flesh means that I chose death to the lifestyle that I used to live. That no longer fits me.

You can put that on the cross because it no longer fits me. So I crucified. Now, that is the position that we have, that you and I are the sons and daughters of God. But you know what? Not only have we crucified the flesh in our position, that is, God placed us in this position with Him that we are His sons and daughters and made righteous by His blood.

But you know what? Every single day I have to make a decision. If my flesh is crucified, that is, if I acknowledge, if I confess, if I am committed to its death, I am going to live immediately before God.

I'm going to do the right thing. So when we say that we crucify the flesh, we're talking about making decisions whereby we starve our craving flesh. We declare it to be dead because it does not fit who we are. And when He says we've been crucified with Christ, that is, when He died, He says He's on one side of the cross, we on the other. In the mind of God, listen, when Jesus Christ died and you and I received Him as our personal Savior, He died to sin, we died to sin.

That is the position He placed us in. But every single day I have to make a choice. I can make a choice to live in carnality or flesh, humanness, or I can make a choice to live dead to this, listen, dead to this humanness I have. That crucifixion is my responsibility.

I can't say, well, you know, back yonder somewhere I got saved and I was crucified with Christ and that's the end of it. No, it's not either. If there were no temptation, no trial, no sin, that's true. You have a personal responsibility to choose. This is the choice we make. We either choose death to our humanness or we choose life to it. And when we choose life to it, we submit to it and we sin against God. So this crucifixion, if you can think about it in these terms, this crucifixion is something you and I do. When we say no to sin, no, that doesn't fit me, that's on the cross.

It doesn't fit who I am. I choose, listen, this is what Paul meant when he says reconcile yourselves dead even under sin. He says write it down on your account that you died to that.

Now I'd like to say you could do it one time, but you can't. It's something we have to do on an ongoing basis. It is our responsibility to personally choose death to the things that tempt us, death to the things that try us, death to sin in our life. So what is Paul saying?

Simply this. He said, now look, God's made us free. Don't use your freedom for sin. He said, now look, walk in the Spirit. That is allow the Holy Spirit to enable you and to strengthen you.

And what will happen is He'll live through you, love, joy, peace, and so forth. Now there's going to be conflict. There are conflicts on the inside of you.

Don't look at somebody else and say, they're my problem. The conflict's on the inside of you. It'll never cease.

It's war, war, war, war. You and I have the awesome privilege of living in victory through the indwelling presence and overwhelming sense of abundant power of the Holy Spirit. And it all boils down to one single decision. I choose to follow the Spirit. I choose to follow my flesh. And here's what God has said. You choose the Spirit.

All the power of heaven is there to help us and enable us to be obedient to God. Thank you for listening to part two of The Believer's Struggle. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or In Touch Ministries, stop by This podcast is a presentation of In Touch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-10 17:36:16 / 2024-02-10 17:44:50 / 9

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