When a Christian sins, his actions are often followed by guilt and shame. Where do these convictions come from, and do we have any control over the sinful choices we are prone to make? Well, today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll is teaching from a passage in Romans Chapter 8 that describes the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives. In particular, we're looking for instruction on how to deal with our sin.
So let's begin now right where we left off on the previous program. Chuck titled his message, My Sin and the Things of the Spirit. Now, why is the Spirit suddenly introduced in Romans 8? Because apart from him, there is no possible way to control the flesh. We are awash. We are adrift. We are at the mercy of our flesh. But because he is within us, we can know power that overcomes sin and gets us through life in another dimension. And because we can, we must.
That's the thesis of this series. Now if you have sin dwelling in you and the Spirit dwelling in you, what you have is a struggle, a battle royal that's going on, which sometimes you feel and more often than not you and I do not feel. But it's there nevertheless. To appreciate it in all of its vigor, look at Galatians chapter 5. We'll come back to Romans 8 before we're through. But just a little more in-depth examination of the struggle, Paul writes of it in Galatians 5.
There are certain skirmishes or battles that we experience from without. Galatians 5, 13 to 15. You were called a freedom, brethren, only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Grace has deliberated us from the domination of sin. We are freed from legalism. We are freed from the demands of sin. However, we're not to use it as an opportunity to do as we please, but we do what we do for the good of others.
For the whole law is fulfilled in one word in the statement, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. But if you bite and devour one another, take care lest you be consumed by one another. I think there's a little humor in that, lest you eat each other up.
If you fight and argue and bite at one another, take care that you don't consume each other. Now, he gets to the inner struggle in verse 16. But I say, walk by the Spirit.
Now, that is a mouthful. That is, of course, the secret, which we'll look into later at another time. Walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh. Let me just ask you straight out, you have to answer in your own mind, I do not know your answer. You don't know my answer. Do you more often than not walk by the Spirit?
Do you even know what that means? Well, I believe in Christ, has nothing to do with believing in Christ. That's conversion. That's salvation. This is Christian truth, not truth given to the lost person. This not talking about believing with all your heart that Christ died for your sins.
That's conversion. You are now a believer if you are on this side of the cross. You're now in the family of God. Do you walk by the Spirit? Is your day spent walking in the power of the Spirit or is it in the energy of the flesh? And I think I can read your answer and in some of your faces, you have to say and you're not pleased with it, but more often than not, you walk in the flesh. And that concerns you. If it didn't, you wouldn't be listening.
You're concerned about that. It's a habit that you've built. It's a pathway of your mind. And we could get into any one area of sin and some of you would say that's me.
All categories. And you walk long enough in a category of sin, you become what is called addicted to it. And you're a believer.
We'll see in a moment that your life can look like an unbelieving life as you walk in flesh. You pick up the habit of lying. You begin to lie. You lie on a regular basis and before long, you do not tell the truth.
You are a liar. You fall in the category of sexual sins. You play with it before long.
It grabs more of your attention. And before you know it, there's a whole secret world that goes on in the realm of the sensual life that no one else knows about, but you're trafficking in it and you know at the time you're doing it, it's wrong, but you keep doing it. Surely that is something other than walking by the Spirit. And yet you know with all your heart you belong to Christ.
And you would in fact stand at any moment to give praise to God for saving your soul. The problem is the domination of sin. While all the while there is the Spirit who is grieved within you, wanting to be in control of your life.
Now, look at 17. This is the description of the struggle. Here's the struggle between flesh and spirit. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit. And the Spirit, may I read this, sets its desire against the flesh. For these are in opposition to one another so that you may not do the things that you please. The living Bible puts it this way.
Just keep looking at verse 17. For we naturally love to do evil things that are just the opposite of the things that the Holy Spirit tells us to do. And the good things we want to do when the Spirit has his way with us are just the opposite of our natural desires. These two forces within us are constantly fighting each other to win control over us and our wishes are never free from their pressures. William Barkley calls this the war in the soul.
The Amplified Bible renders the central part of the verse. These are antagonistic to each other, continually withstanding and in conflict with each other. Friends and neighbors, this is a war. A battle royal. And it can be going on while we are dressed nicely for church as we assemble with God's people. There is this enormous, enormous struggle.
It happened in Luther's life back in the 16th century, working over the biblical text, knowing of God's plan for him and commission for him to put the text in the language of the people from the Latin to the German. And at times in that castle he would be fighting with the enemy and one time he even threw an equil across the room and there was a mark on that wall for years of the ink as it drained down, throwing an equil against the enemy. Have you ever felt like doing something like, get out of my life. But you can't get a hold of him. It is all in the invisible realm. That's the insidious part of it. In real war you can see the enemy and you can load up and defend your country from the enemy forces but in this deep and supernatural warfare within us there is nothing seen.
It is all invisible. And it's a battle nevertheless. Well, what happens when the flesh is dominant? What happens when the flesh wins the battle and takes charge?
You're not going to like the list. Verse 19 and following, Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, that would be arguments, factions, envyings, drunkenness, carousings, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Whoa, wait a minute. Does that mean I'm not a Christian? Look at the word practice. Paul uses words very carefully. This is a word that, it's the word prosso, it means to practice.
And the tense of the verb means to habitually practice. It's describing the lost person. The person who habitually practices these things is known as a lost individual.
He will not inherit the kingdom of God. But he lists them in a context for the Christian, not that we habitually practice them, but we poio them, we do them, we play with them. On occasion, they rise up and characterize a day of our lives or an hour of our lives.
The point I'm making is that we can live like a lost person for a period of time and you cannot tell the difference by looking. That's how deep sin can impact us. Oh, the need for confession of sin, for walking in the Spirit on such a level that it does not take dominance over us. And it need not do so, Romans 6 tells us. Now, what is it that the Spirit produces when he is in control?
Drop down a little further. The fruit of the Spirit, verse 22. All the things you and I love and long to have characterized our lives.
And this is just a representation of a group of them. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Those are the things I want to have characterized my life. And yet, you and I have to admit that because of this struggle and our not handling it as we should and as we could, we walk like verses 19, 20, and 21.
More often than we want to admit. Now I'll tell you something, that bothers me. It's these things of the Spirit, back in Romans chapter 8, the life of the Spirit that intrigues me. See how he puts it in Romans 8, verse 5? Those who are according to the flesh, we just read about those things, set their mind on the things of the flesh, dissension and carousing and drunkenness and those things mentioned there in Galatians 5. But those who set their minds on the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
Ah, now we're talking. And by the way, it isn't mechanical. I tell you there are times I just would love to be able to chart all this and give you four techniques and three easy steps and pass out little three by five cards and let you go on your way and like little Christian robots, you walk that out and it works like a charm, but it's not the way the Spirit works. And the teaching on the Spirit is some of the deep things of God. Jesus himself said to Nicodemus, the wind blows where it wills. We see where it's come from and we see where it's going, we see what it's doing, but we do not know its direction.
We do not know the plan. So it is with the Spirit. The wind blows where it wishes, you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from or where it is going. So are those who were born of the Spirit. Some things related to the Holy Spirit are as unexplainable and unpredictable as the direction and movement of the wind.
Nevertheless, it's there available. Now what are some of these things of the Spirit? I want to close with that. I'm intrigued by the things of the Spirit. I've decided to limit these things to the 8th chapter of Romans, for there's a whole list of them, four, five of them right here in front of us.
Look at verse 6. The mind set on the flesh is death. When you operate in the realm of the flesh, it's like a death-like existence. It's horrible.
It stinks like death. It is a death existence. But the mind set on the Spirit, look at the first thing, life and peace. Verse 11 says a similar thing and verse 13 says a similar thing. Verse 11, if the Spirit of him who raised Christ from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies. There is a life, there is a peace as a part of the things of the Spirit. Verse 13, if you are living according to the flesh, you must die, but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
I mean really live. There is a dimension of living in the Spirit that you will not touch as you operate in the flesh. So the things of the Spirit would include what I will call life and peace.
Verse 15 is another. You have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, Abba, Father, and you've had it taught to you before. These are very intimate words, Daddy, Daddy, a sense of intimacy with God, an absence of fear before God. That's another part of the things of the Spirit. People who live under the dominating control of the Spirit come to God with confidence and with assurance and without fear, that is without fright.
There is a holy respect for God that is always healthy, but one who is operating in the realm of the Spirit can call on God in prayer with confidence, not demanding of God, but with that sense of assurance, God, this is your work, do these things. And I lay them before you, and there isn't a sense of reticence or fright before the living God. Verse 15, I see that in this spirit of adoption as sons by which we're able to call him our own dad. Verse 16, verse 17, inner assurance, if we are children then heirs, heirs of God, fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. Doubts are gone. There is a sense of inner assurance.
16 and 17, I'm sorry, the Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. There is a sense of inner assurance. Doubts flee away. When you operate in the realm of the Spirit, you don't operate in the realm of many, many doubts. You have a sense of assurance.
Here's one that has interested me for years, maybe you too. Verse 26, 27, in the same way the Spirit also helps our weaknesses, our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Haven't you ever spent hours like that and you don't know how to pray?
Haven't you ever thought, how do I even frame this? And perhaps in the pressure of your situation, you don't know how to put it into words. Well, as you're walking in the Spirit in that situation, he who searches the heart, verse 27, knows what the mind of the Spirit is because he intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. I take it that there are times when I am in such need, unable to put these feelings and thoughts and desires into words, that I rest upon the presence of the Holy Spirit who interprets for me the needs and he communicates on my behalf with the living God who understands. They're in a dimension, the Spirit and the Father are in a dimension together that I am not in and I rely on him to do that for me.
I call it assistance in prayer. Here's another one, verse 17 and following, an inner awareness of the will of God. The Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. And then verse 27, he who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is because he intercedes for the saints according to the will of God and there is an inner awareness of his will and that's when he goes into knowing that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose. God's intimate spirit brings to our awareness certain things that are part of God's perfect and unfathomable will. He makes that known to us and there is what I call a flood of peace that accompanies it deep within us. You may have been cultivating a romantic relationship with a young man and as time passes that romance begins to bud and he feels drawn closer and closer to you as a Christian woman.
He's a Christian man. But somehow within you there is a sense of resistance and a sense of removal from him and you can't explain what it is. But you are in the realm of the Spirit, you are operating under his control and without being able to explain it fully, you know he is not the one for you. And you hold back and you don't commit yourself to an engagement. Or if you have committed, you break the engagement because you sense the will of God is not that the two of you become one.
And even though you cannot explain it for his satisfaction, you must follow through because you know in your heart it's right. That may seem very ambiguous but it's the best I can do. It is in that sense that God somehow intercedes and communicates with the saints according to his will and that is all part of the realm of the Spirit or the things of the Spirit. While our time is up, let me give you two or three thrilling thoughts that to me are worth pursuing. There are realms of earthly existence we have never traveled.
That's a thrilling thought to me. There are realms of earthly experience, let's put it that way, that we have never traveled. The intimate Spirit can open them up to us.
Here's a second great thought. There are depths of God's will we have never tapped, which the intimate Spirit wants to show us. There are depths of God's will we have never tapped, which the intimate Spirit wants to show us.
And here's a third. There are dimensions of supernatural power we have never touched, which the intimate Spirit will allow within us. There are dimensions of supernatural power we have never touched, which the intimate Spirit will allow within us. And he is so full of variety in his role as a part of the Godhead.
I hesitate to give any particular example or illustration unless you think it is limited to that. But I have come to the conclusion that there is more, so much more that could be ours by way of peace and trust and power and confidence and victory and assurance if we would simply walk by the Spirit, which would be a subject we want to develop in the future. Would you like to bow your heads and for a moment just close your Bible and close your eyes? Perhaps something has been said in this message that has prompted within you an awareness that some things have gotten out of line and you know what they are. And the beauty of the person of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit is that we are met by the one who loves us and understands and is ready to forgive as we acknowledge these realms of wrong in our lives.
It may not even be something wrong, there may be some sense of inadequacy or lack of trust in him or assurance. He wants to take that limitation and make that right and strong for you. This is a wonderful opportunity for anyone who has not given his or her heart to Christ to do that.
That's first. There is no sense or no hope of victory apart from Christ living within. So I invite you to come to the cross to acknowledge his death was on your behalf and the payment paid was a payment paid for your sins. That as you receive him he will wash away your sins. Our Father we acknowledge your right to rule over us and to have charge of us and we also acknowledge that far too many hours of our lives are spent yielding to the flesh and submitting in the midst of the struggle to the wrong source of power. We thank you for the promise of hope for the reassurance that comes and the thrilling thoughts that accompany a message such as this and we anticipate with great delight the privilege of walking in a deeper and more meaningful consecrated manner with you. Thank you for Christ whose blood was given on our behalf and we bow before him, your son, as our maker and our master. And as we acknowledge his presence in and among us we pray that he would be glorified through that which was declared and that which we do with what we have heard.
In a very special and intimate way meet with us now right at this moment at this juncture in our lives and make these moments sweet and delightful. For Jesus sake we pray. Amen. As you can tell from today's message this series on the Holy Spirit is deeply personal in nature and that's because the Holy Spirit is a person. As Chuck Swindoll explained the Spirit isn't a cold and sterile truth to be studied on the page.
He's like fire. You're listening to Insight for Living. Chuck titled this series on the Holy Spirit flying closer to the flame. To learn more about this ministry we invite you to visit us online at insightworld.org.
This teaching series is complemented by one of Chuck's popular books. This one is called Embraced by the Spirit and the subtitle gives you an idea of what you can expect to receive in this book. The Untold Benefits of Intimacy with God. You see walking with God's Spirit brings us peace and comfort.
It's a relationship that calms our deepest fears and replaces them with hope. This is a powerfully practical book. Again it's called Embraced by the Spirit. To purchase a copy right now go to insight.org slash store or give us a call at 800-772-8888. Well this month tends to be one of the leanest months for nonprofit media ministries like Insight for Living. All that to say as God prompts you to give a donation please follow his leading. Your contribution will truly make a difference for those who come to rely on Chuck's teaching every day. To give a donation right now call us. If you're listening in the United States call 800-772-8888 or go online to insight.org. Is the spirits filling that big a deal? I'm Bill Meyer. Join us when Chuck Swindoll answers this honest question Tuesday on Insight for Living. The preceding message My Sin and the Things of the Spirit was copyrighted in 1992, 1993 and 2003 and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2003 by Charles R Swindoll Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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