Continue in the Spirit

Galatians: No Other Gospel  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  28:03
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Awakening must be followed by intentional obedience if results are to last.



Last weekend was a spiritual highpoint for many of us who affixed our brotherly love on the Body of Christ and our selective love on the Triune God. After 50+ years of following Christ, attending revivals and studying spiritual awakenings, I am convinced of 2 things: The High points are followed by spiritual valleys and our Enemy uses these low valleys to cause discord.
When I mapped out our Galatians study, I originally intended to skip this passage because I preached on it just last November. But verses 15-16 of today’s text reminded me that this is a message we cannot hear too often. The temptation to bite and devour is just below the surface in each of us, and the challenge to walk by the Spirit is necessary to repeat every moment of every day.
I’ve come to the conclusion that the difference between miraculous signs of spiritual awakening and the lasting influence of Holy Spirit revival is what is happening in the community 2-4 weeks later and what is happening in the region 6 months after that.
Transition: The experience of being set free from hurts, habits and hang-ups is followed in the text by a challenge to use our new freedom for the sake of others.

Exchange Devouring to Deferring for the sake of Others (Gal 5:13-15)

Galatians 5:13–15 ESV:2016
13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

Explanation (James 3:5,8)

We can never underestimate the power of our words
James 3:5 ESV:2016
5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!
James 3:8 ESV:2016
8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
Those of us surrounded by the Flint Hills pastures are acutely aware of the value and threat of wind and fire.
The wind blows from the south and the cattle migrate in the pasture from North to South appreciating how the wind keeps the flies out of their faces. But 10 days ago we experienced what happens when wind increases without restraint.
We know the therapeutic impact of fire to kill that which is unwanted and to inspire the growth of that which is living and full of nourishment. We also know how unrestrained wind can act upon smoldering embers to ignite that which is destructive and devastating.
Likewise, your freedom can be used for building up others, or destroying others.


I have heard, [never tried it, but it seems plausible] that if you put red ants and black ants in a jar of sand with a few morsels of food they will work and tunnel peacefully, but if you shake the jar the ants will determine the others are their enemies and they will fight to the death.


Have you been in a conversation or text thread that went from 0-60 in a matter of seconds? One minute everything seems polite and 3 seconds later someone has taken offense and gone nuclear? [or nukular for our Texan friends]
The reality is that it is unlikely that the person you are talking with is in the same spiritual mood that you are. If you are on the mountain, she may be in the valley. If you are on the skids, He may be coming off a victory.
If you’ve ever tried to remove a splinter from the paw of an injured animal, you know what I’m talking about. Your kindest intention can be misread if the nerves are already on edge.
Verse 13 is a call to lovingly serve one another, and v.14 reminds us to do it HOW? As yourself, or how you would want.
Transition: This passage is easy to outline if you just look for the buts. (Freedom but service; love but beware of devouring;) The next contrast is easily seen between v.15 and v.16. Don’t devour but...

Elevate the Direction of your Desires (Gal 5:16-21)

Read through these verses noting each time desire, works or do is used:
Galatians 5:16–21 ESV:2016
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
When we are operating in the flesh we find ourselves doing things with lack of restraint. Often we don’t intend harm, but our lack of restraint ends up harming ourself and others. Just remember Eve and the piece of fruit.
As you look at this list of 15+ I want you to notice the last descriptor things like these. This is not an exclusive list of behaviors that flow out of self-interest. You or your buddy may not be born again and unlikely but possibly not guilty of one of these 15 right now. It is even less likely that you have never done any of the 15.


Years ago there was a magazine that many pastors subscribed primarily because of the cartoons. I subscribed to Leadership Journal until its last edition. The most memorable content from LJ was this cartoon that I stumbled across.
The Lite Church took a new development when drive-thrus became popular and exploded with Covid isolation.
Under the category of “Truth is stranger than Fiction”
This church recognized it is not a passing fad and built a building
4. A lot of Western so-called evangelicals today are attracted to a church with less commitment, fewer vices, and lower expectations.
5. As you look over Paul’s list in Galatians 5, you may identify 4-5 that you would consider the biggies. You can probably list 8 or 9 that are not a big problem for you. Without even knowing your list of the biggies, I dare say it is very unlikely that your biggies are your greatest temptations, because we all find it easier to identify what is wrong with other people more than what is wrong with us.
6. I would suggest that you may have a wrong idea of the biggies. The biggest sins on this list are not the ones that are the most icky, they are the ones that are your greatest struggle and my greatest temptation.
7. The purpose of Paul’s list of vices is not to evaluate which are worse and which are acceptable, but to identify that the desires of the Spirit and the desires of the flesh are opposed to each other (v.17) and that we constantly come to a fork in the road where we must decide which path we choose to follow.


Desires determine outcomes, or Appetite impacts diet.
On occasion Ann and I find ourselves at a restaurant. I’ve notice that icons have begun to appear on menus (even at fast food and drive-thrus). Some of these icons are more helpful than others. Yelp will post 1-3 dollar signs so a person can have an idea of the cost. I can avoid the $$$ places and reserve3 $$ for special occasions. Chinese restaurants place a fire icon next to the dishes that are spicy so I can decide if it is worth the risk. Some icons indicate a vegan option, I can skip those items, and some include a heart indicating the recipe may be healthier than some other choices.
2. If my appetite is shaped by the fact that I have quarterly blood tests for my diabetes at the end of the week, I may look for the heart. If my team just got beat, I may need comfort and ask where the gravy and potatoes section of the menu is found.
3. Likewise, if we are aware of the deeds of the flesh and the results of those actions, we can decide to set our appetite in a new direction. We can determine to crucify the flesh and pursue the Spirit. We can let love have its perfect work, or we can bite and devour one another.
4. The 3rd word of v.16 is a command—Walk is not specifically about being ambulatory or a step count. It is literally the idea of move about. Whether you do that on a prosthetic, with a walker, in a chair or scooter or with a cane or you run with the energy of the children after church, however you move about, do it within the realm of the Spirit of God.
Transition: Verse 22 begins a contrary realm. In 16-21 one walks according to passions and desires, but in 22-23 one lives (exists) within the realm of God’s Spirit.


Fleshly deeds and desires give way to Spiritual Fruit.
Last year I tried something for the first time in my life. I attempted to raise tomatoes. I quickly learned that I could not cause fruit to appear or ripen. The best I could do was to select plants that do well in this environment, I could fertilize and I could water, but I had to wait for the Sun and the plant to do what the farmer could not.
2. While I couldn’t produce fruit, there were actions I could take to anticipate and delight in the fruit of those vines.
a. I made sure I had plenty of bacon, mayonnaise and bread when the bigger fruit began to turn red.
b. I got the condiments for a Chicago Hot Dog when wedges of tomatoes appeared on the horizon
c. I bought Ann salad mix when the cherry tomatoes began to ripen.
3. The words fruit and is in v.22 is singular because all 8 flow from one source, the word things in v. 23 is plural because the same Spirit produces various effects depending upon what is needed at the moment. If the Spirit of God is in control of your life, you will not be deficient in any of these 8, and when the Spirit is leading any of these 8 can be sensed.


There is a difference between causation and allowance.
This is a HUGE difference in matters of medical ethics!
Some outcomes in a body happen without direct causation, and other outcomes only occur as a result of direct causation.
As you find opportunities to grieve loss or give directives at end of life, please ask yourself if you are causing or allowing something to happen.


In verses 16-21 our desires cause the 15+ outcomes; In verses 22-23 we allow God to produce these 8 evidences.
In my illustration of tomato plants I could impact the production of fruit with water and additives, likewise you can impact the amount of fruit that the Spirit produces in your life by time in His presence, renewing your mind through the intake of Scripture and ongoing surrender to His will through prayer and worship.


You have a choice to make.
If you belong to Christ (v.24a) meaning you have repented of sin, placed your trust in His work on Calvary and been transferred into His kingdom/family;
If you have (and moment by moment) crucify the flesh with its passions and desires. (v.24b); and
If you live by (find delight in) the Spirit;
We will keep in step with the Spirit.
John 12 speaks of our need to die to self then 3 chapters later Jesus says,
John 15:8 ESV:2016
8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.
The harmonious life finds Spirit > Self!

Response Song#333........................ “Let Him Have His Way with Thee

Benediction: Romans 15:13 - May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

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