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The Believer's Struggle - Part 1

In Touch / Charles Stanley
The Truth Network Radio
February 5, 2024 12:00 am

The Believer's Struggle - Part 1

In Touch / Charles Stanley

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February 5, 2024 12:00 am

Learn how to move through life's toughest moments with peace, joy, and contentment in your heart.

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Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Monday, February 5th. Are you having a hard time trying to get rid of a destructive habit or a bad attitude? Today's lesson examines the primary reason for lack of progress. Here's part one of 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 think most people are saved thinking something is going to happen and transform 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 five. 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. So he says, beginning in verse 13, for you were called to freedom. Brethren, only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word in the statement, you shall love your neighbors yourself.

But if you bite and devour one another, take care lest you be consumed by one another. Then he says, but I say, now what he's referring to here is he just said you were called to freedom only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh. Now, but through love serve one another. When he says don't turn your opportunity, your freedom to opportunity of the flesh, but do what? But rather walk, he says in verse 16, by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh. For the flesh 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.

But if you're led by the Spirit, you're not under the law. Now, the deeds of the flesh are evident. That is, it's pretty evident, he says here, which are immorality, impurity and sensuality. Adultery, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, outburst of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envience, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these of which I forewarn you, just as I forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

That is, if it's their lifestyle. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control against such things, there's no law. Now, those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live with the Spirit, let us so walk with the Spirit.

Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another. Now, only the Spirit of God could cram so much into such a short few sentences. And sometime I read what Paul says and I think, God, somehow you had to have such absolute perfect control of his mind for him to be able to write exactly what you say.

And you see, Paul more than likely never had any lessons on homiletics or how to prepare a sermon. You know, he may have had something of some sort, but not like we study anyway. But when I come to a passage like this and see how perfectly he outlined what the issue is here, you would wonder if he hadn't been to some seminary somewhere, but I assure you he had not.

Where he'd been is he'd been to the one who knew it all. And so when you look at this passage, I want us to look at it in the light of our struggles. 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. Before you read that, look in the first verse of the same chapter. He reminds them, he says, it was for freedom that Christ set us free. Therefore, keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. He said, now, look, don't go back trying to keep the law when that's what God saved you from. You couldn't be saved by keeping the law. You can only be saved with the grace of God through the atoning death of Jesus. Now that you've been saved, you've heard all these Judaizers. Now you're trying to go back and keep the law. He says, so now first of all, God has set you free from all that.

Then he gives us a caution. 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 an 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 1 Corinthians chapter 3 for a moment, and you'll 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?

Now, you're not walking like mere men. Then he began to talk to them because they were, one of them would say, well, I love this preacher. And the other said, I love Apollos and I love Paul. And that all kind of dissension among them.

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. Now, when Paul, whenever he gives a command to walk, it's usually an imperative command.

And what that means, that Greek word means to walk about. And in essence, what it says, let this be your lifestyle. That is, this is the way you and I should walk daily. 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, when you and I walk by the Spirit, that means we are to walk under his leadership. We walk submissive to his leadership. And the reason Paul used the term walk is this, that the Christian life isn't some stagnant position. When you and I trust that Jesus Christ is our Savior, now watch this.

Jesus, his primary responsibility in the beginning of our life is our salvation. That's salvation. We say that he's our Savior.

But then he said, I'm going away. If I go away, I'll send the comfort of the Holy Spirit. He'll be in you, with you, and upon you, and teaching you, and guiding you, instructing you, and so forth, convicting you of sin. So now that Jesus Christ saved us by his grace, you and I have the Holy Spirit indwelling us. Well, it wasn't enough to be saved. If it had been enough to be saved, he wouldn't have sent him.

He said to them, tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you be endued with power from on high. Paul said we are to walk by the Spirit. We're to live by the Spirit.

And so the work of the Holy Spirit in our life is that which Paul is speaking of here. Now that you and I are saved, now that we have trusted Jesus as our Savior, eternal security is an absolute certainty. Don't have to worry about where we're headed as far as heaven is concerned, our eternal destiny.

But what about from here to eternity? And that what about is our problem. This is where we struggle.

We struggle on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday in our daily activities, relationships, job, church, you name it. We have our struggles, temptations, sin, lust, jealousies, as he says, enmities, strife, divisions, all these things. These are the things we have to deal with because we live in a fallen world. Now the Holy Spirit came in order that you and I may be enabled by his presence and his power to live, listen, to live above what we have to live in. We have to live in this world.

Our feet are on the same ground the rest of the people are on. But we in our heart and our spirit, we can live above that. And what he's saying in this passage is this. He says, but I say to you, instead of acting otherwise, he says, I say to you, walk by the Spirit. And he says, if you do, you will not live by the flesh. Now, let's talk about this whole idea here of what we mean when he says this. When he says, walk by the Spirit, that means that I'm to walk and you're to walk in such a fashion that we are being led by, guided by, enabled by, overshadowed by.

One who is empowering us, one who is strengthening us. That is, we have someone on the inside who will enable us to do what you and I can't do. And I can remember approximately the time when it first hit me that God never intended for me to live the Christian life. I mean, I grew up struggling, believing that was my job. And so that was my task in life, to live the Christian life.

Well, the truth is, you and I can't do it. There's no way that you and I can live the Christian life in our own strength. So when he says here in this very important word, I say, walk by the Spirit that is enabled by him, strengthened by him, given knowledge by him, upheld by him, led, directed by him. It is the work of the Holy Spirit. A Christian is one in whom the Holy Spirit is dwelling and through whom the Holy Spirit is living out the life of Christ, because it is not in our efforts. If it were, he would not have had to come.

If it were true, then the Holy Spirit would not have had to come. But he's here because you and I are absolutely helpless to live this life. And so when he says we're to live by the Spirit. Now, there's a mistake I think that people make and all of us can get out of balance in any area of our life. You've heard people say, well, just let go and let God.

You've heard people say that. And you probably say, just let go and let God. Well, what does that mean? Well, I can tell you what it does not mean. It does not mean that I can just trust Jesus as my personal Savior and then just sit and watch him do it. Now, the Spirit of God is the one who works in our lives and lives through us. But you and I cannot be passive and live a godly life. Now, the reason I know that is because we live in a world where we are continually in combat.

We are continually under attack. We are continually being tempted and tried and tested in all ways. Well, listen, you can't live a passive life and be a believer. A believer's life is an active life.

He talks about walking by the Spirit, walking in the light, walking in love. So we're talking about conflict. We're talking about battle. And so when you and I think about the Christian life, we say, well, you know, it's the life of Christ within us. It certainly is. And so all we have to do is trust him.

That's true. But if we get the idea that it's just a passive something, you know, I'm just going to let him do it all. Well, I understand what people mean by that, but we can get out of balance because I do have a personal responsibility when it comes to living the Christian life.

So we can't be passive. Now, I'll give you a couple of scriptures here that I want you to notice that certainly strikes at this whole idea of being passive. Turn back to Romans 6, first of all. Let's go to Romans 6. Well, listen to what he says in this sixth chapter. And we're talking about being passive and active as believers, that we can't just be passive.

Listen to this. Verse 11, even so, consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to Christ Jesus. Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body. Now, listen, if he says there's a command, don't let sin reign in your mortal body. Do you or do you not have a personal responsibility?

Right. We have a personal responsibility. Therefore, you can't be passive in the Christian life. In other words, it's trusting, but I have a personal responsibility to deal with the issues of sin as they arise. He says, look, therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lust. Do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead and members of your as instruments of righteousness to God. Sin shall not be master over you.

You're not under a law, but he says, but you're under grace. So when you look at these verses and then turn to turn to Romans 13. Romans 13. And look at this passage.

Listen to what he says here. He says in this last verse of this 13th chapter, the 14th verse here, another responsibility. He says, put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lust. So I have a responsibility that is putting on the Lord Jesus Christ means that I am simply to do what?

Not only have I received him as my personal savior, but I, by faith, acknowledge to allow him to live his life in me. That is a decision that you and I make. It isn't a decision that you and I make once in our life.

It is a decision we have to make daily. Who is going to live this life through me today? Am I going to live in the flesh? Or is the Lord Jesus Christ going to have the privilege of living this life through us? And so you look at these passages and it isn't just passively letting go and letting God do his thing. While it is the Spirit of God living within us, we have a personal responsibility to trust him. We have a personal responsibility when we meet sin face to face. We have a personal responsibility when we're tempted, when we're tried, when we're tested. We have a responsibility. That's why he says we ought to endure.

Listen, endurance is everything but being passive. When he talks about, he says, enduring in the times of difficulty and hardship. That means that we take personal responsibility to stand against trials, stand against sin, stand in the midst of difficulty, not give up, don't quit, don't turn around, don't back off. That takes personal responsibility on our part. Is it our strength? No. It is the strength of the Spirit but it is the decision of the believer to face and deal with these things.

And so we're going to always have to do that. Now, he says that's the mistake people make oftentimes and that is they take it passively. Now, let's look at this whole idea of what's the conflict all about?

What in the world do we talk about when we talk about flesh? Look at the conflict here. Now, it's real simple. He said in verse 13, he said, now, don't listen. Don't take advantage of your freedom and sin over here and say, well, you know, I'm saved in a way. Secondly, he says in verse 16, he says, now, here's the command. Walk by the Spirit and you'll not carry out the desires of the flesh.

Well, that sounds easy enough. But then he says, now, look, here's the problem. Here's, listen, here's the reason you and I struggle in the Christian life.

Now, think about this for a moment. The word flesh in the New Testament is used 190 times. And the Apostle Paul uses them about 90 of those times. And a lot of times, of course, it refers to physical flesh.

But we're talking about what Paul uses here primarily is this. Our flesh is that naturalness, that humanness with which we were born, we came in this world with it. We came into the world with a tendency away from God, not toward God. We came in the world with a sinful nature. That is, it was our nature to live in rebellion and disobedience to God.

That's why nobody has to be taught to rebel and be disobedient. We come into the world with that in us. We have a nature that is in opposition to God. That's why we have to be saved from this sinful nature. Now, this flesh that the Bible talks about when he talked about it in 1 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. So what is Paul saying?

Simply this. He said, look, God's made us free. Don't use your freedom for sin. He said, 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 that conflicts on the inside of you. Now, look at somebody else and say, now, my problem, the conflicts on the inside of you.

It'll never cease. It's war, war, war, war. And you say, well, will there not be the peace?

Oh, yes. Listen, you can live in the middle of that war and have most fantastic peace. You can live in the midst of all kinds of difficulty and hardship and strife and do what? Have peace on the inside. But what is that peace? Well, that peace is the result. That peace is the result not of what you and I are doing. That peace is the result of what he is doing. Back to Romans eight.

One more time quickly. Romans eight. We can have peace in the midst of those trying difficulties. We can have victory when there's great temptation, intense temptation.

Because what? Verse six of Romans eight says, for the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace. It doesn't mean the mind set on the Spirit when there's no temptation, no trial, no heartache, no burden, because there's going to be those things, which simply means this. 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. You just think about how blessed you are. And even amidst all these struggles, how blessed we are by God.

We just have to decide who's going to run our show. And if it's the Holy Spirit, you're going to come out a winner. And if you resort to the flesh, he says, that's death.

And you'll never be happy walking in the flesh. Thank you for listening to The Believer's Struggle. For more inspirational messages like this, visit our online 24-7 station. And 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 17:27:19 / 2024-02-10 17:36:15 / 9

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