The Spirit and The Flesh 2-24

Paul, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Timothy, Thessalonians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, Church, Sermon, Philemon, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Corinthians, Titus, Letters, Galatia, Thessalonica, Corinth, Ephesus, Dayton, PA, Rural Valley, Numine, Yatesboro, Smicksburg

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Please remember that sermon notes are meant to act as a guide and may not be exactly what was preached.

Galatians 3:1-6                                

These congregations of God’s Church in Galatia had heard the Gospel, believed the Word that was preached, and God had poured His Spirit into their hearts

Vs. 2 The question, for all of us is “Did you Receive the Spirit by faith or by works of the Law,” did the flesh get you into the Kingdom, or did faith in Jesus?

Like many congregations today, they had left their first love and were going after a different gospel, hence “foolish” and “bewitched.” Who would want to move back from the Spirit to the flesh, from faith to works, from grace back to the Law? In Revelation, Jesus told the Church in Ephesus “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.  Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first” (Ephesians 2:4-5).

They, like many today, were not spiritually grounded. They had no firm base of faith and they had been led astray, turning back to hopeless human effort, to works of the law.

And, losing sight of the Cross, the work of redemption that was fully accomplished through the atoning sacrifice of God’s one and only Son, they were accepting the lie and turning back to the flesh!

Why do people turn from Christ and His Church? Does the world hold more promise? More love? Or is it what I said earlier, that many do not have a strong spiritual foundation and so fall victims of a lie of Satan? Have we forgotten, as Francis Chan writes, The Holy Spirit? It is The Spirit of Christ that is empowering our salvation and enabling our walk in this world. It is the Helper, the Spirit of the living God who convicts of sin, who reveals the Gospel, who teaches and guides, it is He that intercedes for the saints, cleanses, indwells, seals, fills, and empowers Christ followers.

It is the Spirit that stirs our hearts to action, who awakens our faith when we hear the Word of Christ! It is the Spirit who makes us holy, a temple of the living God!

We cannot be Spiritual nor do spiritual things without the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. Even Jesus went forth “in the power of the Spirit” (Luke 4:14).

And yet, many act as though they are powerless in this World and revert to works of the flesh, often to worldly works of the flesh. Yet we are instructed to be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). Here in Galatians we are told to Walk by the Spirit (5:16, 25), to be led by the Spirit, and to live by the Spirit (5:18, 25).

Jesus said “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6:63).  God’s Word! His Word is of the Spirit, spiritual – and they are life! (See 1 Thessalonians 2:13, 2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter)

The Holy Spirit tells us, “So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.  For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (Romans 8:12-14).

None of what God had accomplished in the Galatian Church was based on circumcision or following the Law to the letter, “our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:5-6).

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. – Ephesians 2:8-9

You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law.  For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision.  So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?  Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical.  But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God. – Romans 2:23-39, emphasis added

Paul is arguing that Jewish circumcision is only an outward sign of being set apart to God. However, if the heart is sinful, then physical circumcision does nothing. A circumcised body and a sinful heart are at odds with each other. Rather than focus on external rites through the Law, we are to look at our hearts. In using circumcision as a metaphor, Paul tells us that only the Holy Spirit can purify a heart and set us apart to God. Ultimately, circumcision cannot make a person right with God; the Law is not enough. A person’s heart must change. Paul calls this change “circumcision of the heart.” And it can only be accomplished by the Spirit as we willingly deny the desires of the flesh. Turn from the world, from what is pulling you away, from what is keeping you from…

Digging Deeper

  • Are you allowing the Spirit to put to death the deeds of the body/flesh?
  • Is the Spirit leading you or is something else?
  • Do you walk by faith or by sight?

Further Reading:

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