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Perfected by the Spirit

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD
The Truth Network Radio
March 29, 2021 8:00 am

Perfected by the Spirit

The Urban Alternative / Tony Evans, PhD

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March 29, 2021 8:00 am

Many religions focus on human improvement making people better. But in this lesson, Dr. Tony Evans will explain why Christianity is about human transformation making people brand-new from the inside out. It’s a special look at what it means to be perfected in the Spirit.

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Your human ability does not have the capacity to pull off what God demands us to do. Dr. Tony Evans says the Christian life can only be lived with supernatural help.

It is the job of the Holy Spirit to take the cross 2,000 years ago and put it to work for you today. Celebrating 40 years of faithfulness, this is the alternative with Dr. Tony Evans, author, speaker, senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas, and president of the Urban Alternative. Many religions focus on human improvement, making people better. But Christianity is about transformation, making people brand new from the inside out. Dr. Evans will explore that process today as he talks to us about what it means to be perfected by the Spirit.

Let's join him. The book of Galatians is Paul's magnum opus, if you will, on the Christian's freedom in Christ. He is concerned, in the book of Galatians, about Christians who have fumbled the ball, who are no longer making forward progress. They either have to stand still, to some or large degree, regressing, even though they have a clear profession of faith. The concern in the book of Galatians is really stated in chapter 3, verse 3. Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? So first of all, what was the problem that is being addressed?

What is this issue? What he raises it in question form. These first five verses are full of questions. He says, you foolish Galatians, who bewitched you, for whose eyes Jesus was publicly portrayed as crucified? In other words, they had come face to face with the death of Jesus Christ. They had heard the gospel, Paul had proclaimed the gospel, and Jesus and his death had become real to them, as it has become to anybody in here who's a Christian. If you're a Christian here, across 2,000 years ago, became real to you.

And it became publicly portrayed. In other words, it was a visual reality that Christ died for my sins, and I need a Savior. And you came to Jesus Christ and responded to him. Well, this has led to a question. This is the only thing I want to find out from you.

That's a lead-in sentence. I've just got one thing I want to know. Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith? So what they had done was, they had gone back to trying to satisfy God's standards on their own, and to do that, he calls that the flesh. The flesh is simply your man-made attempt to satisfy the demands of God. And you can always tell flesh, because flesh is full of promises.

I'm going to do it this time, and I'm really going to do it this time. Flesh is full of New Year's resolutions. Flesh is full of grit your teeth and make it happen. Flesh is my human determination, and my goal may be admirable, because I may be wanting to do something that God says I should want to do, but what his point is, is that your human ability does not have the capacity to pull off what God demands us to do. And that's why you can't look to your own human capacity to satisfy the perfect standard of a holy God. Well then, if I'm not supposed to be running all over here, running out of breath, trying to please God, but God wants me to please him, then exactly what am I supposed to be doing? Again, verse 3, are you so foolish?

Have you begun by the Spirit, and are you now perfected by the flesh? What they did was they lost sight, watch this now, of the power and the provision of the cross. That's why he raises the question in verse 1, before whose eyes Jesus was publicly portrayed as crucified. In other words, when I was with you, I painted the picture.

I portrayed him. I let you see him on the cross, dying for your sins, and that thing was real for you. Most of us, many of us, don't understand the cross. We look at it as a 2,000 year old event that's going to get me to heaven. And it is a 2,000 year old event, and it will get you to heaven, but that was your introduction to the cross.

That's just an introduction. The cross, the Bible says, goes beyond its historical event. The cross is an abiding expression of the provision of God for the believer because when you came face to face with Jesus Christ and trusted him as Savior based on what he did on the cross, he provided for you and me the Holy Spirit. Why did God provide for you and me the Holy Spirit? Here it is, because it is the job of the Holy Spirit to take the cross 2,000 years ago and put it to work for you today. The job of the Holy Spirit is to empower the new nature to satisfy the law of God or the demands of God. God is not expecting your flesh to help you make him happy, because it can't.

It can't. When God sees your human effort trying to satisfy him, that's human righteousness, human righteousness, which is totally unacceptable to him. Now, why does a law orientation called legalism, seeking by my flesh to satisfy the demands of God, not work? Turn over one page in chapter five, verse one. It was for freedom that Christ set you free. Therefore, keep standing firm and do not be subject again to the yoke of slavery.

Verse four, you have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law, you have fallen from grace. If you've got an electric cord to an appliance, you plug it in, you've got the power, because the electricity is flowing, so once you flip on the button, that appliance is going to come on. That is unless it's severed. Once you sever it, it's not a power problem, it's a connection problem. Why don't we have power?

We don't have power because we don't have connection. And he says, the thing that will cut your cord to Jesus Christ is trying to live by the flesh to satisfy the demands of God, no matter how sincere you are. In fact, he calls it slavery. You will be enslaved to the very thing you want to fix, because the cord is cut. Once you leave Christ to make you better, and you look to you to make you better, you just got eclipsed from Christ. That is severed from him, and what does that mean? You are no longer operating under grace.

You've fallen from the grace standard, and now you want a whole different standard, therefore the benefits of grace no longer apply, the warranty is out. So this is a whole different approach we're talking about today. It's not approach based on you heaving and hoeing and trying to decide, I'm gonna and I will and I gotta, because I know I can. In fact, Jesus made a statement. He said, without me you can do nothing in John 15.

That's a powerful statement. Without me, you can do nothing. What does he mean by nothing? A lot of sinners do things without him.

No, no, no. Nothing in terms of fulfilling his design for you or being fruitful. You will not produce anything in your life that I'm telling you needs to be produced for your life unless I produce it in your life. Without me, you can do nothing. You can't get over your addictions. You can't fix your marriage.

You can't get out of your depression. You can't, you ain't gonna be able to do any of this stuff without me, and we constantly don't understand this principle. So that raises the question, doesn't it? The biggest question of it all, what's the process? How do I move from this flesh standard to satisfy the expectations of God? He says it's real simple. It's simple, but it's difficult.

It's difficult because we don't buy it. You have to move from a flesh standard to a faith standard. He says it twice. Verse 2, this is the only thing I want to find out from you. Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or the hearing of faith? Verse 5, so then does he who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith? And watch this, or do miracles among you? What's a miracle? A miracle is something outside of the human order of things. A miracle is something that you can't pull off. It has to be pulled off for you by something greater than you. That's a miracle. Now, it's obvious today a lot of us need miracles, and he says, but the miracles don't come by the working of the law because the working of the law engages your flesh, and once it engages your flesh, it cancels out any productivity in your life because it severs you from Christ.

He says that's not how you get it. Satan's way is man's effort and work. God's way is grace working through faith. Please picture faith as a wire that the power of grace and the work of the Holy Spirit flows through to make the appliance get going. To make your life begin to be miraculously changed, there is a wire called faith that conducts a carrot called grace that provides energizing by the Spirit for the motor of your new nature to come on.

So then we must answer a question. What is faith? Faith is acting like God is telling the truth.

It's not faith until you've done something. That's why the Bible says faith without works is dead. He's not telling you how to get to heaven.

He's telling you how to get heaven to earth. To get to heaven is faith apart from works, but to get heaven on earth, it's faith that works. So you've got to have a faith that acts on something. That's why the Bible says faith is the substance. See, faith has got to have stuff, substance. In order for faith to do something, it must be something. So what are we told to have faith in? We're told to have faith in the Word of God. He said by the hearing of faith, the hearing based on God's Word. We're told to believe that God does not lie and is telling the truth whether or not we feel it.

Now, you may feel it or you may not feel it, or you may feel it today, but you may not feel it tomorrow. It's got nothing to do with faith. Faith is seen by function. That's why the Bible calls it walking by faith, not talking by faith, not having faith discussions, not feeling by faith.

He talks about faith as a step you take, not a feeling you have. Dr. Evans will come back in a moment to explain how those faith steps put the power of the Holy Spirit into action. But first, I wanted to mention that what you've been listening to today is the last message in Tony's comprehensive series examining what it means to have God's Holy Spirit living inside us.

And that means this is also the last day to take advantage of that special double offer we put together to help you dig deeper into what we've been learning. It begins with all eight full-length messages from the Life and the Spirit series, including material we didn't have time to share on the air. These messages are available to you on CD and digital download, and with them we've also paired Tony's powerful book on the Holy Spirit called The Fire That Ignites.

This special package of resources will teach you how God's Spirit takes up residence inside us to focus our thoughts, empower us to face life's challenges, transform the way we live, and help us grow into mature, fully dedicated followers of the Lord. And if you make a donation to the ministry of the alternative today, we'll send this complete package to you as our gift in appreciation for your support. Just visit us at, make your donation before time runs out, and let us send you these life-changing resources. Again, that's, or call us day or night at 1-800-800-3222, and let one of our helpful team members assist you.

That's 1-800-800-3222. Well, Dr. Evans, we'll come back with more of today's lesson right after this. Wake up, men. You're more than the job title.

You're greater than the balance in the bank. Status fades, but character and courage leave a legacy that lasts. Don't let your yesterdays define your tomorrow.

You were made for much more. In a sequel to the instant bestseller Kingdom Man, Tony Evans' Kingdom Men Rising urges men to embody the greatness God's already given them. Get the book Kingdom Men Rising to discover how.

Available April 6th. So you are exercising faith even when you don't feel it. If you act like God is telling the truth.

In fact, so strong is this principle that the Bible says, without faith it is impossible to please Him. So how do you do this? How do you activate the work of the Spirit that you already have, because batteries are included? That means this thing is ready to go. It just must be activated by the switch.

Okay? The switch is faith. And you know you've exercised faith because you've done something that you've been commanded or expected to do. Which He says in verse 5 creates a divine opportunity for a miracle, meaning God doing something outside of the natural order of things. So the power issue is not your issue.

All you want to do is access it. Father, right now I choose to do what you said ought to be done in this situation, but I need the power to do this. What you just did was flip the switch when you take the step. When you take the step to do the thing that the mind of God said must be done, you're acting in faith. Holy Spirit kicks in, motor turns over, and all of a sudden you are flowing in a miracle. Some of our marriages will never be saved unless there's a miracle. Some of our circumstances will never be saved unless there's a miracle. He says that the Holy Spirit in verse 5 works miracles among you.

He does supernatural stuff. You have an upset stomach. Okay? You're not feeling too good. Let me go to Walgreens and give me some Pepto Bismol. But it ain't working.

It's still maybe four minutes it seem okay, but then it's back again. Wow. Boy, let me go up here and see if they got something stronger. And so you go up, then you get something stronger, and you get two, three different things this time. Now, it's not that you've not tried. You have tried to fix it, and you were sincere. Not working.

So now you make another decision. I need to call the doctor. I got to call the doctor because over the counter not working. My own human effort to fix me isn't working. So maybe, watch this now, maybe something deeper is wrong.

If my own human ability to go over the counter can't fix it, maybe I'm dealing with something that's deeper than I thought. So now I go to an expert. I need somebody to look deeper than my eyes and my feelings can look.

I mean, I need somebody who can go deeper than me. So I go to the doctor and he says, tell me your symptoms. And I say, Doc, I got an upset stomach.

And I got, so now Doc begins to put me through a battery of tests. He putting me through tests. He taking blood.

He doing X-rays. He making me drink stuff nasty and Pepto Bismol so he can put cameras all in me. And he going through all this. I am now very miserable.

I was miserable to begin with because that's why I came. Now he's making me more miserable because he's poking and priding and pressing and he's taking me through a battery of tests and making stuff worse. Why would the doctor be making stuff worse?

Simple. He's looking for something deeper. He's not looking what you were looking at. He trying to look for something deeper.

So it makes me more miserable for him to look for something deeper. He gets the test back. He says, oh, oh, you have an ulcer.

There's no way I could know that. I could not know that my problem wasn't ulcer. I just think I ate something wrong, food poisoning.

I just think I got an upset stomach. But because of his test, which made things worse for a while, I discover the root of my problem. See, the reason why many of us can't fix our problem is because we don't know what the problem is.

We just know what it feels like. So we deal with a symptom, try our over-the-counter human solutions, only to discover they coat for a while, but they don't fix. So the doctor then takes out a piece of paper called a prescription, and then he writes on it.

Now you don't understand what he's written on it. If you understand it, he's not a real doctor, because the real doctor can't write, and you know he's real because you can't read it. And he says, now here is the solution to the real problem. You take the solution to the real problem to your pharmacist. I'm back at Walgreens, but I'm now back at Walgreens in a different location. See, some people come to church for over-the-counter solutions.

You're in the wrong department. You got to go to the pharmacy, because that's where the heavy stuff is. You give it to the pharmacist and says, listen, the doctor gave me this to give to you, because he tells me you have back there what I need. Now he's got all kinds of stuff back there. He starts pouring stuff and capsules into a little container.

That could be strict non for all you know. That man could kill you, but you believe that that plaque on the wall that says he has been duly educated and recognized to know this from that, and he gives you the capsule to take home. You look at it.

Now you have to make the decision, the key decision. Does that doctor know what he's talking about? Because I think I don't think it's an ulcer. I don't think it's an ulcer. I just think it's up to the stomach, and I got a bad bottle of Pepto.

This is not the problem. Did the pharmacist know what he's doing? Oh, this could be, this could be like a poison. This could kill me. This could be the wrong medicine.

This could have been meant for somebody else, and he just put in the wrong thing. Now you can spend a whole lot of time doing that, or you can decide the doctor knew what he was doing, even though you couldn't fully understand what you read, but that he knew what he wrote, and that what was written was accurate, and that the one it was handed off to knew how to perform it, so that now all you got to do is take it. So now, after a few days of taking medicine for a problem you never understood, you discover that the symptoms are gone because the root has been addressed. Our problems that we deal with are tied to root issues. Those root issues are normally sin issues. The sin issue that we're dealing with is often not the sin issue that we think it is. We think it's one thing when it's really so much deeper. God wants to deal with the deeper, but we don't want to go to the doctor because we don't want to deal with the inconvenience of the test because the tests are going to find out stuff we didn't want to know, but now that he just shows it, now he can write something that'll work.

It's not working because we're using stuff on the wrong thing. Dr. Tony Evans will come back with a closing thought in just a moment as he wraps up our current series. And if you could use more help learning to tap into the power God's Spirit provides, don't forget to request a copy of all the messages in the Life and the Spirit collection for yourself.

They'll help you get past a lot of the mystery surrounding the Holy Spirit and learn exactly who he is, how we receive him, and what he'll do in our lives. As I mentioned earlier, the CD and digital version of this eight-message collection is our thank-you gift for your contribution and support of Tony's ministry here on the air. We're completely listener supported, so your faithfulness is the only way we can keep bringing you these broadcasts each day. And if we hear from you today, we'll also include a copy of Tony's popular book, The Fire That Ignites. Get all the details and make your request online at right away, or call us at 1-800-800-3222. Our friendly resource team members are available around the clock to take your call, so reach out any time of the day or night again at 1-800-800-3222.

When we hear a person described as lame, a number of different meanings or images may come to mind. But tomorrow, in a special presentation drawn from Dr. Evans' feature film, Kingdom Men Rising, he'll give us a perspective on that word you've probably never thought of before. Be sure to join us for that. Right now, though, he's back with this final comment for today. I will tell you this closing word about this doctor. He says, if you let me check you out, my yoke is easy, and my burden is light, and I will give you rest to your soul. I'm gonna cause you to rest. All we're saying to you today is, you can't pull this thing off. That's why he gave the Spirit.

The Spirit only operates by faith in what God says, and He doesn't want your flesh messing it up. The alternative with Dr. Tony Evans is brought to you by The Urban Alternative and is celebrating 40 years of faithfulness thanks to the generous contributions of listeners like you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-10 10:18:59 / 2023-12-10 10:28:07 / 9

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