Foundation for Living Lesson 2
How shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to Thy word; Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I may not sin against Thee. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Jesus prayed to the Father, sanctify them in truth; Thy word is truth. The grass withers and the flower fades; but the word of our God stands forever.
Before we begin our study of God's word this evening let's make sure we are in fellowship, ready to study, concentrate and focus on His word.
Let's bow our heads together and go to the Lord in prayer.
Father, we thank you so much that we have You to come to. We have Your word that reveals to us the nature of reality. We have Your word that tells us about Yourself. We have Your word that informs us about Your love, Your character, Your compassion and Your grace for us. We haveYour word, above all, that tells us about our salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ and the new life You give us at the instant of faith alone in Christ alone. Father, now, as we continue our study of what it means to live the abundant life, what it means to have a life established on the foundation of truth, we pray that You would challenge us with these things, so that we would recognize the importance of assimilating all of this into our daily life and our daily thinking. We pray this in Christ's name. Amen
Last week we started the second part of a basic series. I divided it into two segments. The first section had ten lessons and this section will probably have ten to twelve lessons. The first section focused on who God is, specifically, the nature of truth. That truth, by its very definition is exclusive, and, since it is grounded in the thought of God as the Bible expressed, that means there can be only one way - that which is consistent with truth. There cannot be multiple truths, multiple realities. This, in turn, means that if we are going to have a path of salvation, whatever it is in any sort of religious thought, it has to be an exclusive path that is consistent with the character and revelation of God. All of that was to give us that framework of understanding that when the Bible makes the claim that Jesus is the one and only way to salvation, that this is not some sort of arrogant claim, but is totally consistent within the framework of the definition of truth itself. In essence, those first ten lessons focused on the gospel. Moving into the second series we are answering the question, after I trust Christ, then what? Now that I am saved, what do I do? This series is grounding us in the nature of our Christian life. In Luke 6:46-49, our Lord gives a parable to illustrate the point of the importance of our foundation. He says, "Why do you call Me Lord, Lord, and do not do the things which I say?" This is reminiscent of James' point to be a doer of the word, and not just a hearer only. It is not about assimilating a lot of doctrine into your doctrinal notebooks, but letting the truth become full knowledge, or epignosis, in your soul that transforms the way you think and live. If we are going to trust Christ as our Savior, and if we are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, there is a path to follow subsequent to that, in terms of spiritual growth and maturity. Christ says in verse 47, "Whoever comes to Me (analogous to faith alone in Christ alone, trusting Him as Savior.) and hears My sayings ( that relates to post salvation spiritual growth ) anyone who comes to Me (and anyone can come to Him on the basis of simple faith, trusting Him for salvation, it is not a matter of works, it is not a matter of ritual, it is simply a matter of trusting in Him. And then hears His sayings and does them. That is not works salvation, it is application of the principles of Scripture so that you can grow and mature as a believer. He says "I will show you whom he is like" (in other words, let me give you a down home illustration) " he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock; and when the flood arose the stream beat vehemently against that house and could not shake it, for it was founded upon the rock." This may have particular resonance with those who have lived in the midst of the hurricane zone in the last few weeks. By contrast, verse 49: "But he who heard and did nothing, (that is, the one who hears the word and does not apply it, make it a part of their soul, doesn't use the word when trials and tests of adversity come) is like a man who build a house on the earth without a foundation against which the stream beat vehemently and immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great."
Let's look at the illustration in a little more detail. Building a house is analogous to constructing our life. What is your philosophy of life? Everybody has a philosophy of life. You have either thought it through, and it is consistent, or you have not thought it through, and you are inconsistent. I remember back in seminary saying that everybody has a philosophy of life and someone said that they were not a philosopher. I told them they were not a very thoughtful philosopher but every one has a philosophy of life, everyone has certain values, everyone has a framework within which they make decisions, determine priorities, address the issues of life and handle the problems and heartaches that come our way . Every man builds a house on something, there is a foundation. The first man is one who digs deep, he is thoughtful, he plans. He has worked out the implications of what he is constructing. He knows that what he has constructed has value. So he lays the foundation on that which has stability. Of course, the only thing that has stability is the truth of God's word. It is the word of God that never changes because it is based upon the eternal, unchanging thinking of God. He lays that foundation on the rock, he builds his life. He constructs his marriage, his family, everything he does, upon a foundation. He thinks about that foundation. As believers, we think about that foundation of truth and we work out the implications of what we believe, in every area of our life, from our life as an employee or an employer, as a husband, father, mother, wife, what ever it may be. Our day to day decision making is going to be built on the foundation of the truth of God's word.
"And when the flood arose", the flood represents the adversities of life, major or minor. The minor adversities are those such as the nitpicking little pains we put up with everyday. We experience the irritations of living in a fallen world with fallen spouses, fallen children and fallen coworkers. We start up in the morning with our to do list of ten things, and at the end of the day, we've been very busy, we've accomplished a lot, but at 5: 30 we still have those ten things to accomplish. We can't figure out what happened during the day, and it makes life frustrating. We have all experienced that, it is reality. We live in a world that is fallen, and we constantly face those minor adversities. Then there are those major adversities you go through. Those times when perhaps you are out of work, you are dealing with major illness, in your own life or in the life of a family member. You have elderly parents to take care of. Or you have children with debilitating health problems you have to deal with. Whatever it is we face, it is the framework of Bible doctrine that provides us with the tools to use, so that when we want to react with anger, bitterness, resentment and handle that problem by getting out there and doing something that we know involves sin, whatever it may be, rather than yielding to those internal pressures from our sin nature, we turn to Scripture. As we have studied the Scripture we know that you can boil down the basic skills of the Christian life into what I have defined as the ten stress busters, or we call them, the problem solving devices. These are skills that the Holy Spirit uses, when we apply those doctrinal principles. The Holy Spirit then uses that to produce spiritual growth. When those adversities come, another term for that is testing, when those tests come, rather than trying to handle the situation through a variety of sinful mechanics, we use the word of God. When we don't it is the picture of the last man who has built his life on shifting sand. He has not thought about what he is doing, he has not applied doctrine, he is using whatever psychobabble skills there are today. He is going to some church that is telling him he is really wonderful, everything is positive, let's just all do our best, whatever it may be. Founding his life on some human viewpoint system that may sound good, that may be logically consistent with his Darwinian presuppositions, or his religious presuppositions, or his positive thinking presuppositions, whatever it may be. But when the pressures of life come, it does not ultimately work. It may work for awhile. It may provide a certain level of benefit and peace. I heard one man say, years ago, that if you think that stability or fun or pleasure in life comes from having a lot of women, a lot of booze then why don't you just take a vacation and get a lot of booze and women. You may have a lot of fun for awhile. But eventually, it won't solve the problems of life. Unfortunately, most people don't allow themselves to get pressed to the full conclusion of their assumptions about life. That is why you have to think about it. That is why we are presenting the basic series, to establish what those foundational principles are for the Christian life.
We started with salvation. That is the starting point because it is the work of Christ on the cross that takes care of the greatest problem we have in life which is sin. It is on the foundation of Jesus Christ that we are able to handle all of the other issues in life. Moving beyond salvation, we recognize that at salvation all sins are forgiven. The believer is cleansed and sin is no longer an issue between the believer and God. Last week we looked at that in terms of the doctrine of cleansing, which is really the starting point for being able to grow in the Christian life When we try to handle the adversities of life by our own methods, efforts, strengths, the Bible defines that as the flesh. That always entails sin at some point. At salvation we are forgiven of all sins and the Bible pictures that as a bath. The last time we saw that, it was foreshadowed in the imagery of the Old Testament by the bath that the high priest took when he was inaugurated into office. At the point that the high priest entered into office, he took a bath from head to toe; he is bathed. Subsequent to that bath, as he functions in his responsibilities as high priest going into the tabernacle, later the temple, he would have to wash his hands and feet as a symbol of the fact that we do things and we go places where there is sin in our life, and there must be ongoing cleansing when we go forward in the Christian life. The ongoing cleansing is fulfilled in the principle of confession of sin in 1 John 1:9. It says that if, and that is a third class condition, indicating, maybe we will and maybe we won't. The Greek expresses conditions, that is 'if' statements, hypothetical statements, four different ways. Actually, classical Greek has a fifth that is very rare. In fact the fourth condition is debated, used maybe one time in the New Testament The third class condition is, if we confess, maybe we will, maybe we won't, it is an option for every believer. Whenever you sin you have to decidewhether or not you will confess your sin. The word for confession is homologeo, it means to admit or acknowledge sin. It does not mean to have remorse. It does not mean to feel sorry for your sin. It does not mean to impress God with your guilt. It simply means, as if you were standing in a courtroom, to admit or acknowledge guilt. It means to admit or acknowledge your sin. And the result is, when we do this, if we do this, He, God, is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. And because of what is stated in the second part of the verse, we say that this is a promise. The promise is that if you do X, God will do Y. Everytime. You do X, God will do Y. That is a promise. When you confess your sin, God will, on the basis of His immutable character, and His perfect justice, He will forgive us our sins. Not only the sins we remember and confess, but also cleanse us from all unrighteousness. That is what we studied last time and that is the foundation for the Christian life, because as long as we are out of fellowship, as long as we have the sin nature controlling our life, then the Holy Spirit's ministry of growth, of spiritual advance, is shut down. Paul uses two different phrases, grieving the Spirit, and quenching the Spirit. Last time we looked at the doctrine of cleansing ending with the promise of 1 John 1:9. Learning to apply this is foundational to the Christian life. It is the first skill we develop. *** Here is a chart, foundational spiritual skills.*** We start with the basic childhood skills. That is all I am going to cover in this basic series. I will spend one Sunday on each of these five skills. Then we will go into ministries related to our priesthood, and that lays the foundation for our Christian life. The first one we studied last time dealt with confession and cleansing. All confession does is put us back into a position where we can grow and advance. It does not move us forward. It is analogous to the ballplayer who has been out on the field playing, he messes up some way, and the coach pulls him out of the game and he seats him on the bench. He can't play, he can't go forward, he can't advance his career, he can't demonstrate anything about what he has learned. He is benched and stagnant. If he stays that way, and he doesn't play, eventually his skills will erode. And that happens in the Christian life. Confession simply gets you back in the game. It gets you back into action. But it does not carry you forward. There is no forward momentum associated with confession. It is a restoration to a position where God the Holy Spirit is going to be able to work in your life, take the doctrine in your soul and use it as you apply it. He will use it to advance you forward spiritually. That is what we will look at in our study this evening. We will talk about two key ministries of the Holy Spirit, the filling of the Holy Spirit and walking by means of the Holy Spirit. I prefer to emphasize the second of those 2nd phrases, walking by means of the Holy Spirit. The reason I use the phrase 'by means of', is because it is a more precise way to communicate the instrumental nuance of the dative case of the noun spirit. It shows that the Spirit is the means of spiritual advance. It is the work of God the Holy Spirit that is the crucial element in spiritual advance. It is not our decisions, not our doctrine, but it is the Holy Spirit who produces growth. Not that your volition and your learning of doctrine is not important, it is the tool that the Holy Spirit uses. Let me give you two illustrations. The first is that of eating and working out. As we get older we begin to learn some things about nutrition, diet. We get a member ship to a gym, we try to get back in shape, like we hopefully were when we were younger. Anybody can understand this analogy. Anybody can eat. I look around and everybody here has demonstrated that they have excellent eating skills. how much you eat, when you eat is all determined by your volition. You can decide, as I did yesterday. After a funeral, as is typical in Texas, you go back to the family's home and there is food there with some really good desserts. There was this killer carrot cake somebody brought from Fredericksburg, and I love carrot cake. This was probably one of the best pieces of carrot cake I have ever had, so I decided to have a small bit of the salad and meat and a large piece of carrot cake. I regretted that the rest of the afternoon. That was my decision. We decide what we are going to put into our biological system, but once we chew that food up and swallow it, our volition is no longer engaged. Once we swallow, everything goes into built in metabolic processes designed by God that have nothing to do with our volition. Our body takes that food, whether it is salad, broccoli, meat, or good old sugar, our body breaks it down into various chemical components and our blood stream takes it and feeds it out into our muscle system. If I haven't had sugar for a couple of days I can feel it in my fingertip. I feel it down my legs and out my arms, I can feel them tingling. It has got to be a drug. But, all that is built in, it does not have anything to do with my volition. But then volition kicks in again. Once your blood system transfers those nutrients out and feeds the cells in your body, we have decisions to make about how we are going to utilize that energy. Are we going to use it to sit on the couch and watch television, even if it's the Astros winning a ballgame, or are we going to use that energy to be disciplined and go to the gym, or at least get up and walk a couple of miles and work out so there is positive production from the musculature in our bodies. And that is the analogy for the Christian life. God the Holy Spirit is analogous to that built in metabolic process in your body. He is not related to your volition other than whether you are going to be walking by the Spirit or not, and that is related to your use of 1 John 1:9. But you eat the word, you take in the word. This is why you have pictures in Scripture; God says to Jeremiah, 'take My word and eat". We take in the word, and once we accept it by faith, swallow it by analogy, then God the Holy Spirit is the One who takes over. He is the One who breaks down those components, stores it in the soul, brings the doctrinal principles back to our memory when we are involved in adversity and tests, in order to apply those principles. And that is analogous to 'well, now it is time to work out.' Are we going to use our volition that second time to apply the principles of Scripture under the teaching ministry, illuminating ministry, and sanctify ministry of the Holy Spirit? As a result, just like going to the gym, walking, or getting on the treadmill, or whatever it is you do, you exercise and then there are those metabolic processes built into the cell structure of your musculature, that takes that and produces growth in your muscles and strengthens them. In the process of spiritual growth, you have the teaching of the word, then we decide to accept it under the ministry of God the Holy Spirit. He then takes what we are learning, converts it into usable doctrine and then we have to use our volition again to apply that doctrine, on a day to day basis, to the situations in life. Then God the Holy Spirit takes that and He produces growth. You cannot make yourself grow any more that you can make yourself strong, or in physically good shape, simply by saying, ' I want to do that'. You go through the processes, but, what works in and through the process of learning and applying the word is God the Holy Spirit. He is the one who produces the growth. That whole dynamic is what the Scripture refers to with the phrase 'walking by means of the Spirit.' I am convinced that this is the umbrella term that describes various other components of the Spirit's work in our life in spiritual growth, such as the filling ministry of God the Holy Spirit, His teaching ministry, His illuminating ministry, are all facets of that overall term, walking by means of the Spirit. That is the second skill we have to develop. Walking is one of the first skills, other than eating, that you had to develop growing up. For a while you crawled, finally you decided to stand up and you grabbed hold of a chair, your parents hand or the wall, and in a very unsteady way and you pulled yourself up on two feet, then you tried to take a step and fell down. Over a period of days and weeks you finally mastered the process of putting one foot in front of the other. Neither your, nor I remember how much concentration or mental energy went in to that at the time. But by the time we were approximately four or five years of age we quit thinking about it, it was so automatic. We were running around like crazy, driving our parent's nuts, because we were mobile, we didn't have to think about the process of walking anymore. But walking, like we have in Galatians 5:16, is a command, and that command and it involves thought. In Galatians 5:16 we have our key verse on walking by the Spirit. There we have the command, but to understand it, we have to understand the context of the book of Galatians. Let's stop a minute and focus. Galatians 5:16 says, "I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh." To understand this passage, we have to go back to an earlier verse in Galatians. Galatians 3:3 states, "Are you so foolish? Having begun by means of the Spirit, are now being made perfect by the flesh?" You see, what happened to the Galatian church was that following Paul's time there, when he taught them the gospel, there was a group of folks called Judaizers who came behind Paul and said, well, what Paul taught was fine, as far as it goes, but he left out that you have to follow the Law. Men have to get circumcised, and you have to fulfill the Mosaic Law and that completes your salvation, and that is how you grow as a Christian, by following the moral principles of the Law. What they were teaching was really a distortion of the Mosaic Law. The Mosaic Law was never given for salvation or sanctification in the Old Testament. But after the Babylonian captivity, with the rise of various religious sects within Judaism, they distorted the Mosaic Law into a means for salvation, and a means for the spiritual life. So these Judaizers came along and convinced them that there was another way to salvation. Galatians 3:3 "Are you so foolish? Having begun by means of the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?" When that is corrected in translation, Paul is saying, "Are you being foolish in this way?" The first word in the Greek text is houtos , which indicates something that is coming up, 'in this manner, or in this way are you being foolish?' It is the same word that you find in the beginning of John 3:16. Where we translate it 'For God so loved the world'. But literally, it is 'God loved the world in this manner, that He gave His unique Son to die on the cross for us.' Here, Paul is saying, "Are you being foolish in this manner? After beginning by means of the Spirit (which is how we begin our Christian life. Titus 3:5 says, 'It is not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.' So, we begin by the Holy Spirit, He is the One who regenerates us.) Are you now being matured by means of the flesh?" The contrast there demonstrates that there is a battle now, between the flesh, meaning our own efforts to save ourselves, solve problems, surmount hardships by our own efforts, and trying to go forward by simply doing the right thing ; thinking, I can grow as a Christian if I read my Bible, if I pray, if I just avoid certain overt sins, somehow spiritual growth is going to take place, and total dependence on God. ****I added the last phrase, he did not finish the thought********
But what Paul emphasizes in Galatians 3 is that there is a contrast between living the Christian life by means of the Holy Spirit, and doing it by your own effort. He says the same kind of thing in 1 Corinthians 3:3, which is in the context of a contrast between being spiritual and being carnal. He says, "For you are still carnal (you Corinthians are still fleshly, literally, you are still operating on the flesh, on the sin nature; you are trying to live on the basis of your own ability instead of the basis of God's) for where there is envy, strife and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving (what?) like mere men?" Literally, just like men. In other words, you are trying to live the Christian life on the basis of human effort alone, and you have left the Holy Spirit completely out of the equation. And the result is failure. Even when you start off trying to live the Christian life on the basis of morality, because you are living apart from God, it is a self righteousness produced by the sin nature. The end result is always going to be converted into overt sin, mental attitude sin, or sins of the tongue. That is what happened in Corinth, and that is what happened even in Paul's own life. He said in Romans 7, no matter how much I tried to obey the Law, and remember the Law is totally just and good, but no matter how much I tried to obey the Law, I always ended up in sin. No matter how moral I tried to be, sooner or later I always discovered there was lust or covetousness that surfaced. And this is what told me that I was unable to fulfill the Law at all on my own, and I needed to rely on God's grace. So when we try to live the Christian life on the basis of morality, or on the basis of all these different systems, - I remember years ago there was a book called Disciplines of the Christian Life, and it was talking about good things and important things, prayer, witnessing, giving, all these other things that are aspects of our priesthood, but they were making those the means of the Christian life, the means of spiritual growth.. What Paul is saying in Galatians is, that is just trying to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. There is no external power there, and the Christian life is a supernatural life. It has got to be energized by a supernatural power. You just cannot do it on your own. And so we come to Galatians 5:16, to "walk by means of the Spirit and the result is, you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh." So we see that same contrast between Spirit and flesh. The command is to walk. It is a present, active imperative. The reason I believe this is the main command, and not the filling of the Spirit, is because this is an active imperative. If you look at the Greek of Ephesians 5:18, where it says to be filled by means of the Spirit, the command to be filled is a present, passive imperative. The difference is that in an active voice verb, the subject performs the action. In a passive voice verb, the subject receives the action. So, when you are problem solving, when you are dealing with the problems of sin in your life, the priority goes to that which is active , not which is passive in terms of a command. The passive command means that you receive something. An active command means you do something. So the first thing we do is confess sin. The next thing we do is start walking, taking steps by means of God the Holy Spirit. The passive side of that command is as we fulfill the active side, walking, we will be filled by means of the Holy Spirit. Do you understand that distinction? When we are taking the active steps, responding to the active voice imperative, then we receive, because the filling of the Spirit is a passive thing. We are active in the sense that we are receptive to something. But the active command is to walk. To take those steps, step by step by step. So let me remind you, confession does not get you anywhere but back in the game. To go forward, to advance spiritually, you respond to the active voice imperative which means to walk. As you are walking because you are in fellowship, you will receive the filling of the Holy Spirit, and I will explain that in a little more detail in a minute. So the word walking, peripateo, has the idea, in most passages, of the physical act of walking, such as in Act 3:6-9, which relates to the healing of the lame man. But, the word here is used metaphorically. Now, think about what it means to walk. You think back to when you learned to walk, or your kids learned to walk, and you watched them, it involved a lot of thought. It involved concentration. As you developed some skill at it, it related to discipline and regular practice. And before long, because you practiced it on a consistent basis, you no longer had to think about it. When you expand this out and relate it to the skills in other areas of life, you realize that part of what was involved in that, even though it occurred when you were 2 or 3 years of age, was training. Training your muscles a certain way, so that before long, it is a non conscious activity. You don't think about it anymore, you just get up and you walk, and you just do it. It comes automatically. But it only comes automatically because the process was ingrained in you. But if you were involved in an automobile accident, and there was some neurological damage, you would have to learn to walk all over again. Or if you reach a certain age, then, all of a sudden, walking becomes difficult. Perhaps you have hip replacement, knee replacement surgery, whatever it may be, and suddenly you have to walk with a walker. And walking again becomes a matter of concentration. The first time this really hit me was five or six years ago. I was invited to come to a church in Poughkeepsie, New York to teach on the spiritual life. I was going to teach on Galatians 5:16 that night and I was thinking about how to present this and illustrate it. I left my hotel room and took the elevator down to the first floor and when the elevator doors opened, I was confronted with the fact that there was some sort of senior convention there that particular night, and there were fifty grey and white haired people walking past the elevator on their walkers. I couldn't get out of the elevator, I had to just stand there with the door open. But I'm watching each of these people go by on there walkers, and I'm thinking, walk by means of the Spirit, hm, there is something here that the Lord has got me focused on. They had to think about each step. The walker was the means by which they walked. See, God the Holy Spirit is the means by which we advance. As I watched them, I said, that walker, which was the means of their forward momentum, is something they are totally dependent on. They are leaning upon that, they cannot go forward at all on their own efforts. They are totally dependent on that walker for strength, for stability, and to be able to go forward. And that is the illustration of this grammatical phrase here in the Greek, walking by means of the Spirit. We are totally dependent on the Spirit. We have to concentrate on the Spirit. As long as we are thinking about that, there is forward momentum. But, as soon as we forget, we are going to stumble, and we will stop, and there will be a reversal, because we will instantly fall back on the flesh. The flesh is the default mechanism for the human heart. As long as we are concentrating on the Holy Spirit, we can go forward, but the instant we relax and quit thinking about it, quit concentrating on it, quit thinking, I need to apply doctrine to this situation, I need to live my life dependent on the Spirit, as long as that is not the framework, we will instantly default to a sin nature position.
As we do this we develop a skill. Now there are all kinds of skills in life. The bedrock of developing a skill is discipline. I don't know what king of background you had growing up. Some of you were in homes or situations were you played sports as a kid, some of you were involved in music, some of you were in theater, others of you were in dance. But all of these different things involved discipline. They involved practice, developing skills. When I was growing up, I took piano lessons a couple of times every week and my mother made sure that I practiced the piano for thirty minutes every single morning. Whether it involved playing the piece that I was learning or just playing keyboard technique, it was all designed to develop muscle memory, discipline and skill, so that I could improve in my piano playing. The same thing happened later on when I was in junior high and high school, I played trombone in the band. I would have to go in two or three times a week, and we would just play technique, over and over and over again. Nothing, to my mind, was more boring than playing the exercises in the technique book. There is no melodye. I remember playing different sports. You have to get out there and practice certain techniques. If you play football you have to learn blocking techniques, and running techniques, and all these different kinds of things. And if it is dance, you have to learn other techniques. But, it is practice, practice, practice. And that is how the spiritual life operates. We have these different spiritual skills we are going to learn about, but you have to practice them when you get into a position of adversity.
When you fail, and get into sinning, overt sins, mental attitude or whatever it is, you have to confess. You have to practice that, over, and over, and over again. Some of us do it three or four thousand times a day, but it is practice. You think, okay, I've got to get back in fellowship.
If you are in a really difficult situation, where you are tempted to worry or to have anxiety and that is the weakness of your sin nature, then every thirty seconds, you have to say, Oh Lord, I am worrying again, I am fearful again, or there I am gossiping again, or whatever it may be. Then we practice confession over and over again, sometimes we feel as if that is all we ever do. But that is how growth takes place. There are skills that we develop as time goes by. It trains us to think about life, and to think about those habit patterns, and to think about facing adversity from a Biblical viewpoint. Not just to think of it in terms of , this is just another rotten situation in life that I have got to get through, and if it doesn't kill me, it will make me stronger. It is the idea that I have got to face this, and handle this through the doctrine the Lord has given me through His word, and through the Holy Spirit who indwells me, who has filled me with this doctrine and is using it to produce spiritual growth. And if I am not engaged in the process of applying it, then the Holy Spirit won't be engaged in the process of making me stronger. Your application does not make you stronger, but your application gives the Holy Spirit the tools He uses to build that strength and endurance, James 1:2-4. So the physical act of walking becomes the metaphor for the Christian life. Now we have various passages that utilize this. 2 Corinthians 5:7: "We walk by means of faith, and not by sight." That is faith directed to the principle of the word of God. That is not faith in faith, this is not mysticism. It is faith directed to the principles, promises and procedures that are outlined in the word of God. Colossians 2:6 gives us an analogy to salvation. "Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him."
How did you receive Christ? You believed a promise. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. It was not just faith in faith. It was faith in a particular revealed promise that God gave in relation to salvation. In the same way, we advance in the spiritual life, by believing the promises of God and implementing them in our life. Romans 6:4: "Therefore, we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so also, we should walk in newness of life." The first part of that verse describes what happened at the instant of salvation. We were baptized by means of the Holy Spirit, which means we were identified with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection, so the power of the sin nature was broken at that point. The result is that we should walk in newness of life. Again, it is optional. It depends on whether or not you are going to engage your volition to get into fellowship, walk by means of the Spirit and apply the principles of God's word.
Roman 8:4: "That the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit." Again, we have that contrast. Every instant in our life, you are either walking according to the sin nature, or according to the Spirit. One, or the other. We have to determine that. When we are walking by the Spirit, we cannot fulfill the lust of the flesh, but as soon as we quit that dependence on the Holy Spirit, the walking by mans of the flesh kicks in as the default position of the soul, and we start going backwards. We have to then utilize 1 John 1:9, get back in fellowship, and start applying doctrine. Ephesians 4:17: "This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk. " How do they walk? Some of them are immoral, but others of them are moral. Just think of some of the folks who are members of cults. Now, Mormonism, as you know, is a cult. But they do not know that anymore. There is a recent cover story in Newsweek magazine that identifies Mormonism as just a different Christian denomination. I hope you all are smart enough not to fall for that. It is just a perversion of idolatry, and just another one of these Gentile pagan morality religions. There are a lot of Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses, and many other religious people who are very upright and moral. They have tremendous integrity and honor, and sometimes it far surpasses that which you find among Christians. But the mechanism by which they live their life, that is, what they are walking by, has no eternal value whatsoever. It is not spiritual, it is just their own flesh, their own sin nature. So Paul says, don't walk like the Gentiles, even the good, moral Gentiles. That is just emptiness. We have to walk in the light. "for once you were darkness" , he says in Ephesians 5:8, "but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light." That describes our new position in Jesus Christ. We are children of light, and God has given us His Spirit, and we are to walk by means of His Spirit. In fact, the results of walking as a child of light, as given in Ephesians 5:9, are identical to the fruit of the Spirit given in Galatians 5: 22 and 23. Now we go back to Galatians 5 to wrap up. After Paul gives the command to walk by means of the Spirit, he then says, which gives us an idea of what it means to walk by means of the Spirit, "but if you are led by the Spirit" and it is a first class condition, indicating that yes, you are, as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, you are led by the Spirit, "it you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law." There is a contrast between the Spirit and the Law and the Law lines up with the flesh. But being led by the Spirit lines up with the truth of God's word and walking in dependence on the Holy Spirit. But how are you led by the Spirit? You have some folks who come along and say, you just have to think about, you have to feel the Holy Spirit. How objective is that? How do you know it is the Spirit and not? How do you know it is not just liver quiver? How do you know you just did not have too many jalepenos on your burrito at lunch? How do you know it is the Holy Spirit and not just your emotions? Well, you don't. There has to be some sort of objective criteria. Remember, when Jesus prayed to the Father, He said, "Sanctify them by truth, Your word is truth." Now, what is God's word? It is the objective revelation of God. Let's plug that into the concept of walking and leading. If I am being led somewhere, there is somebody in front of me, who is giving me a clear path to follow. I don't have to guess, I don't have to wonder, does he want me to go this way or that way. If I am being led by somebody, if they are doing there job, then they are laying out a clear path. You know what I am talking about. You have had to follow somebody on the freeway before, follow them to a restaurant, or to somebody's house, and they do not know how to lead at all. You get behind them and fifteen seconds later, they have let six cars get in front of you, they have made a turn, and you have no clue as to where to go. Then there are other people who know how to lead. They make sure that if some other car gets between you and them, they slow down so that car gets frustrated and goes around them, they turn on their direction signal a quarter of a mile before they make the turn in order to make sure you understand that you have to be in that lane and make a turn. They lead you, there is clear information, objective information on where you are supposed to go. Now, if you are being led by the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit reveals His word to us, it has been enscripturated by the prophets and the apostles, so that the path the Holy Spirit is leading us down is not some subjective path related to our feelings, but it is the clear trail established in the Scriptures, the prohibitions and the imperatives of the word of God. So, if you are led by the Spirit, and you are, because He has laid the path down in front of you, you are not under the Law. Then we go through several verses that contrast the flesh and the Spirit, and their ultimate production. And in the conclusion, Paul says in verse 25, "But if, (again, it is a first class condition, if and it is true) "if we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit." In the previous verse he said, if we are led by the Spirit, we are not under the Law. If, and as a believer, we are led, first class condition, if, and it is true, you are all led by the Spirit, we are all led by the Spirit, and here it says if we live by the Spirit, what does that describe? It describes regeneration. If we live by the Spirit, yes, that is true for every one of us. If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, you are regenerated by God the Holy Spirit at the instant of faith alone in Christ alone. So, "If you live by the Spirit", that is, if you are a believer, he then says, "let us walk by the Spirit." Or, we all should, or must, live by the Spirit. It is a third person imperative. We don't have that in English, so I try to translate it a little stronger. "We must also walk by the Spirit." And here there is a different word for walking. It is not peripateo, which emphasized that step by step process of dependence, but it is the Greek verb stoicheo, a military term. It means to stand in order, to advance in rows, or in ranks. But in the New Testament, it is used figuratively, to mean to walk in an orderly manner according to some external rule or direction. What is that external rule or direction? It is the word of God. It is the clear, objective guidance given from the word of God. So, if we live by the Spirit, we walk by the Spirit, and that word for walking by the Spirit here emphasizes following an external guideline that is objective, knowable and understandable. That is the rule by which we live. Following the prohibitions and the positive imperatives and mandates of the word of God. So, this is the first skill we have to develop, and that is to follow the leading of the Spirit through the word of God. Now, I'm going to briefly tie this together, because these passages, at least this passage, is familiar to most of you. Ephesians 5: 18 says, do not be drunk with wine, but be filled by means of the Holy Spirit." That is a primary mandate related to the Christian life. But if you look at the verses that follow, verses 19 and following, we learn of these results of being filled by means of Spirit. Verse 19 says, "speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord." Verse 20 focuses on giving thanks, verse 21, submitting to one another, verse 22 focuses on wives submitting to your husbands, verse 25, husbands loving your wives, and then , into Chapter 6, children obeying your parents, fathers raising of children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. That flows from fulfilling the mandate of Ephesians 5:18. So you have a clear command to be filled by means of the Spirit. The thrust of the Greek there is to be filled by means of the Spirit. The Spirit is the means of the filling, not the content of the filling. It is not what is filled up. If I had a cup up here, and I said, fill that up with coffee, I would be talking about the content of what you are going to put into the cup. That is not what this grammar refers to. It is not talking about filling you up with more of the Spirit. You got all of the Spirit you are going to get at the instant of salvation. But you are now being filled up with something, by means of the Spirit. So what are you being filled up with? We have to go to a parallel passage in Colossians 3. So, just skip over Ephesians, you have Ephesians, then Philippians, then Colossians. In Colossians 3:16 we have another command. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, (that is the command, not be filled with the Spirit, but let the word of Christ dwell in you- what are the results?) teaching and admonishing each other with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs." Didn't we just read that that is the result of being filled with the Holy Spirit? Yes we did. Then it goes on to say, in verse 17, "Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord, giving thanks." Wasn't that a result of the filling of the Spirit? Yes. Then in Colossians 3:18, "Wives, submit to your husbands." Verse 19, "Husbands, love your wives.." Verse 20, "Children, obey your parents..", verse 21 " Fathers, do not provoke your children's wrath." In other words, you have this series of results, given in verses 16 b, down through verse 25, that flow from 'letting the word of Christ dwell within you.' They are the same results that you have in Ephesians 5:19 and following. So, if the filing by the Spirit produces this set of results, then letting the word of Christ dwell in you produces the same set of results, then , being filled by means of the Spirit, and letting the word of Christ dwell in you, both produce the same thing. That means, those two things must be related to one another. They are two sides of the same coin. You cannot let the word of Christ dwell in you apart from the filling of the Holy Spirit. The filling of the Holy Spirit does not work independently of letting the word of Christ dwell in you. The Spirit of God and the word of God work together, to produce growth in your life. It is not one or the other.
They are the two that come together. It is the Spirit that produces growth in your life, but ultimately it is your volition that determines whether you are rightly related to the Holy Spirit or not. When you are rightly related to the Holy Spirit, you are walking by means of the Holy Spirit. As you walk by the Spirit, you will be learning the word of God, He will be filling your soul with the word of God, and He will be using in and through your application to produce spiritual growth and spiritual advance. So what is the key? The key is staying in right relationship with the Holy Spirit. That begins by confessing your sin, whenever you sin. But it doesn't end there. It is not just a matter of saying, God, I've been worrying, I've been fearful, I'm vindictive, whatever the sins may be, I've been gossiping, I've been slandering, and then that's it. Once you've confessed your sin, the issue is to stay in fellowship. To keep walking. Jesus used the phrase, abide in Me. It is not just a matter of making sure you are back in fellowship, it is a matter of staying in fellowship. Walking by means of the Holy Spirit. So that 1John 1:9 is not an end in itself. It is just a means of recovery so you can keep going forward. When your are an infant, a spiritual baby, sometimes you are just in and out, in and out. You confess and you are back in fellowship, and then you sin. We have all gone through that. But the goal is to stay in fellowship, to abide in Christ, to walk by means of the Spirit. It is when we are in right relationship to the Spirit, that God the Holy Spirit produces the growth that takes us to maturity.
With our heads bowed and out eyes closed.
Father, we do thank you for the opportunity to study these things. To try to understand how these passages fit together, basic dynamics of the spiritual life. That God the Holy Spirit is the One who takes Your word, and produces growth. That He is the One who uses Your word, who reminds us of what we have learned, who stores it in our soul, and then, when we apply it, He takes that application and He produces strength and endurance and growth in our life. It is not on the basis of who we are, or what we have done, it is not simply a matter of confessing our sin. It is a matter of staying in fellowship, applying Your word and moving forward in our Christian growth. Father, we pray that You will challenge us with the things we have studied this evening. We pray this in Christ's name. Amen