18 June 2008

"Blessed Be"--Come ye blessed of My Father (The Fruit of the Spirit--against such there is no law)

Well, today, we finally finish our look at the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. We’ve looked at those 9 qualities that make up the pattern of life of a true follower of Christ. Love and joy and peace and patience and gentleness and goodness and faithfulness and meekness and temperance. Now let’s look at that last little phrase in verse 23. Against such there is no law. I have read this passage I don’t know how many times over the years. And I had always just skimmed past this phrase. See that? Then I started thinking, “What does this mean?” It’s almost like Paul is saying, “All those works of the flesh I told you about a moment ago? All of those things that are against the Law of God? Well, if you avoid those things, and walk in these things, the Law will do nothing to you.” Look at verses 16-18, and this is what Paul is getting back to—16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. That, my friends, is the heart of the gospel. That is the thing that so many people do not understand. People that say that every time you sin you “lose” your salvation. But what does it say in verse 18? Who are the people that are led by the Spirit? So if you are saved—if you are truly saved. Somebody will point to a person who “prayed a little prayer and asked Jesus into their heart” and they go right back to their old sins. They’ll ask, “Is that person still saved?” They never were. If you are saved—if you are truly saved—you are not under the Law. And if you are not under the Law, then your sins must already be paid for in advance. Who paid for those sins? When were they paid for? Do we have to pay for them again?

When we are saved, what are we saved from? The wrath of God. Why do we deserve His wrath? Ephesians 5:5-65 For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Fornication and uncleanness and coveting and idolatry. They are against the Law of God. And I don’t just mean those Ten Commandments, but all of those 613 commandments that so many people tried and failed to keep for all those years? That law that could make no one perfect. That Law that could make no one righteous. Why was it given? Galatians 3:1919 What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions. 1st Timothy 1:9-109 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine.

Some people think that they do good by “keeping” the Ten Commandments. Ask someone if they're saved, they may tell you, “Well, yes. I try and live by the Ten Commandments.” Guess what? By trying to “keep the Ten Commandments,” they are in fact condemning themselves. Other than Jesus Christ, who has kept the Ten Commandments perfectly, from the day they were born until the day they died, never ever breaking even one commandment, not even once? There is none righteous, no not one. None means none. Why is that? Why is it that we cannot keep the Law? Because we are bound and held captive by this icky, yucky flesh. Romans 8:3 tells us the law was weak because of the flesh. So the Law was not given to show us how good we are, or how good we can be. It was not meant to give life. In fact, it could not give life. Galatians 3:21-2221 if there had been a law given which could have given life, righteousness would have been by the law. 22 But the Scripture has locked up all people under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. All people are under sin. The Law was given because of our sin. And if someone tries to get to heaven by “keeping the Law,” then they will in fact condemn themselves because they can't do it.

That was why Christ came. He came to fulfill the Law of God, to be our lamb without spot or blemish (1st Peter 1:18-19), to redeem us from under the curse of sin, becoming a curse for us (Galatians 3:13; 2ndCorinthians 5:21), doing what no human being in the history of all the world could ever do. He then returned to the Father, and sent the Comforter, the Helper, the Holy Spirit, to guide us into all truth (John 16:13).

Because the Law was not given for the righteous. The Law is against sinners. The Law was given because we are all unrighteous, we are all unprofitable, there is none who does good, no not one. And if were up to us, we would never know how to please God, because we would never want to. Romans 3:18there is no fear of God before their eyes. Our flesh is always going to war against the Spirit—if we belong to Christ. If we are led by the Spirit, if we have been made alive by the Spirit, then we will not want to do the works of the flesh. If you read Romans 7:13-24, Paul is agonizing over doing what he does not want to do and not doing what he does want to do, he says in my flesh dwells no good thing. And he ends by saying O wretched man that I am! Who shall save me from this body of sin? But…

I love that little word. Whenever Paul is running off some list of sins or punishments for sinners, and then he writes “But…” You know he’s about to say something good. We have another passage that shows us that if we belong to Christ, not only that we are free from the law, but how that freedom should manifest itself in our lives. Now, if I’m saved, can I do whatever I want? No. Galatians 5:13 says that we should not use our freedom in Christ as an excuse to live in sin. Romans 7:4-54 Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. 5 For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. Look at that—you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ. If you confess Christ as your Lord and Savior, then all of the things you have done in your life that are against the Law of God, that should cause you to be condemned by the Law—and all the things you will ever do—the Law won’t touch you. Your sins have been atoned for by the body of Christ as it hung on the cross. If you belong to Christ, the Law cannot touch you. But that does not mean that we are free to go on sinning for the rest of our lives. What it means is that when we do fall into sin, we do not need to be “resaved” because that sin, because that sin was already paid for.

Romans 8:6-11. In this passage, Paul shows us the difference between our natural mind and our new mind. We see the difference between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. Romans 8:6-116 to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Until a person bows their knee and confesses Christ as Lord and Savior, that person will not subject themselves to the Law of God. The Law is still against them, but they don’t care. It’s like people who get in their car and drive 80 MPH on the interstate. They know what the law is, but they do not submit to that law. 9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Look at that if indeed the Spirit is in you. There are a lot of people who say a little prayer and ask Jesus into their heart, and they're no different now than they were before. You see, salvation is not an end—it is a beginning. God has saved you, paid the debt you owed Himself, and you can now follow Him and obey Him. He has saved you from death that you may walk in life. He has saved us from the curse of sin—now we need to live like it. You are in the Spirit if the Spirit is in you. That doesn’t make sense. To us. Go figure. You are baptized into the Holy Spirit when you turn from your sins and commit your life to following Christ Jesus.

I want to look at that word “indeed.” The KJV says, “if so be.” We really do not have a word like it in the English language. We could do an entire study just on this word alone. One of the dictionaries I use has this huge, long write-up on this word “indeed.” “The idea of the word to which it is connected must be taken to its fullest extent.” The word it is connected to is “if.” What is the fullest extent of “if?” If and only if. Kinda like “the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” He’s saying “You are in the Spirit if the Spirit is in you—and only if the Spirit is in you. If the Spirit is not in you, then you are not in the Spirit and you are still in the flesh and you are still under the law.”

You see, the Law is like a mirror. When we hold it up to ourselves, we see all those things that we do that are sinful. That Law shows us where we fall short of God’s glory. The Law shows us all the places where we fail to please God. If we were to list all 613 commandments, and start going through the list to see if we’ve EVER EVER broken one of them, it wouldn’t be too long until we saw a whole bunch of checkmarks. And we would look at our list and say, “Wow! I’m slime!” The Spirit shows us that our sins actually hurt and grieve the Spirit of God and are contrary to His Law. If it were not for the fact that the Holy Spirit has renewed our spirit, has shown us that sin is not something that just hurts us, or another person—then we would do those things that are against the Law of God every time. But the Spirit—if He is dwelling in us—He will do more than tell us, “You know, you really shouldn’t do that.” He will pull and tug at our brain and scream, “Don’t do it!! Don’t do it!!” And we hear that, and being the dumb animals we are we say, “Hmm. Something’s telling me I shouldn’t do this. But I want to. No, I better not.”

9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. Hmm. Now, wait a minute here. you are…in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. Are there two different “Spirits?” Is there a “Spirit of God” and a separate “Spirit of Christ?” No. It’s the same Spirit. The Spirit of Christ IS the Spirit of God. This is another illustration of the Trinity. Listen to these words of the apostle Peter, in 1st Peter 1:10-1110 Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, 11 searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. Did you catch that? The Spirit of Christ was in the Old Testament prophets. And Who was that “Spirit of Christ?” The Holy Spirit. Listen to what this same apostle writes in 2nd Peter 1:21for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. That same Spirit is in us, that same Spirit that was testifying to the prophets beforehand of the sufferings of Christ and the glory to follow, is testifying to us afterward of the sufferings of Christ—and of the glory that will follow.

Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. The body is dead. What did God tell Adam would happen if he ate from the tree of Knowledge? Did you know that even while our bodies are growing and developing, they are dying? Cells in your body are dying every second. As soon as the doctor cuts the cord, the clock starts heading toward zero. But, because the Holy Spirit is dwelling in you, He is life. Every single person who has ever been born is guaranteed an eternal existence. Long after we get put in a box and start feeding worms. And it will be in one of only two places—when this body gives out, we will either go to Heaven, or we will go to Hell. We will all stand before God. And He will either tell us, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter into thy rest.” Or He will tell us, “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels! Depart, ye worker of iniquity, I never knew you!” If the only spirit we have living in us is our own spirit, we will be told to depart. No matter how many “good deeds” we bring to Him, if our spirit has never been renewed by the Holy Spirit, we will be condemned because we will still be under the curse of the Law, we will bring all of our sins before the Great White Throne of Judgment, and be thrown into the lake of fire.

But if the Holy Spirit is in us; if we are walking being led by the Spirit of Christ, if His righteousness has been deposited into our account, and our sins have been paid for on the cross—then our eternal existence will be with God Himself! Because the Spirit of Christ—the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit—IS life. In other words, those who are still under the Law of God are dead to God. Romans 7:9when the Law came, sin revived and I died. When he knew what the Law of God said, and he learned what sin was, he became a walking dead man. But those who have received the Spirit of God are dead to the Law and alive to God. Romans 7:4you are dead to the Law by the body of Christ. But when the Holy Spirit took over his life, the Law had no more power over him.

Finally, 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. There’s that word “if” again. You may be asking yourself, “Well, how do I know if the Holy Spirit is dwelling in me? How do I know I’m saved?” A real easy way to test yourself to see if you're saved—and if you are saved, it is a good way to be reassured that you are—is to go to the book of 1st John. Not right now—when you get home. 1st John is filled with tests to show whether or not what you have is a true, saving faith. Or if you're one of those who said a little prayer and asked Jesus into your heart. Are you comfortable with your own sins? If so, you're probably not saved. Do you think of His commandments as more like “suggestions?” If so, you're probably not saved. Do you hate someone? Anyone? For any reason? If so, you're probably not saved. Would you rather listen to Oprah Winfrey, or God? If you would rather listen to Oprah Winfrey—well, you probably need to have your head examined. I say that in all seriousness—she is a cult.

If you can go through 1st John—it takes about 20 minutes to a half-hour—if you can go through that book, and if you have the characteristics of a true follower of Christ, and you trust Him as your Savior AND YOUR LORD—your Master, the one who has complete control of your life—then you are probably saved, and you probably have the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead dwelling in you. And He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Because Jesus rose from the grave, and was resurrected, brought back to life, never to die again, then we who are His will also be raised again to life, never to die again, because He is the Firstfruits of our own resurrection. His resurrection guarantees our resurrection. And the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead will raise our bodies, after they have been dead and rotting in the grave, and we will be given new bodies, that will never grow old, never get sick, never die, never perish—eternal life with God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. And that eternal life begins now. We don’t have to wait until after we die. If the Son has made you free, you are free indeed. Right here, right now.

If we are living our lives in a way that pleases God—and out of a love for God, not just trying to stick to a bunch of rules about what we can and can't do. We won’t need to remember all 613 commandments, because we will have that Law written on our hearts. When we are faced with a decision, our first thought is not “Well, let’s see. Is this one of those 613 commandments?” Our first thought will be, “Lord, should I do this?” And even in those times we are not sure, the Holy Spirit will gnaw at our conscience so that we say, “Well, I’m not really sure, so I’d better not.” This is why Jesus had to return to the Father. Because in the body of flesh He lived in, He could not answer everybody’s questions at the same time. But now that we have the Holy Spirit living in us (1st Corinthians 3:16 and 6:19), the Comforter, Helper, the one who convicts us of sin and righteousness, are dead to the Law and we are alive to God.

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