#246, THE BASIS OF ASSURANCE, #20
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would, GAL 5:16-17.
First, let's note the context in which we find our text, "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would," GAL 5:16- 17. We see the spiritual conflict between the Spirit and the flesh in those verses. GAL 5:18-19a follows with this: "But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these..." and it goes on to show what fills the natural heart. In Verses 22-24 we see the fruits of the Spirit.
See how dynamically opposed these are to each other. "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh." That does not mean that we will not still strive against it or that we have them fully conquered, but we will not fulfill them. You see, that is where we do our sorting. What is our walk of life?
The spiritual warfare that goes on in our heart, the striving of the flesh against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh, makes it that we do not fulfill the evil of the flesh if we are walking in the Spirit. The fruits of the flesh are "Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God," GAL 5:19b-21. We do not fulfill those things if we are walking in the Spirit; we cannot walk in those ways if our heart is filled with the fruits of the Spirit which are "...love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance," GAL 5:22b-GAL 5:23a.
If we are walking in the Spirit, we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. As we have pointed out in a previous sermon, true Godly reverence for the Lord and His will is the most positive basis for assurance of faith. PRO 8:13 says, "The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate." That doesn't mean that we have evil under complete control, or that evil doesn't raise up its ugly head in our heart, or cause us to war against it, but we hate it. We do not serve it or walk in it. The lusts are still there, but we must watch that we do not fulfill them. We war against them so such desires are not fulfilled.
The Holy Spirit wars against these evils of the flesh, and our text says, "so that ye cannot do the things that ye would." That word cannot is an interesting word; some people define it in the sense that the good we would, we are not able to do. I looked up the word cannot in the original Greek. It means God forbid. God forbid would not fit if it was to mean that we are not able to do the good we would. Rather, it means God forbids us, we are not permitted, to do the things that our flesh and lusts would desire to do. The Spirit is warring against the flesh so that God forbids us to do the things we would do. We have God's restraining grace; God forbids us to walk in a way of fulfilling the lusts of the flesh. It is forbidden by restraining grace.
The real struggle in the spiritual warfare is between the emotions of the heart which come between the renewed will of the mind and the old love and desires of the flesh after sin. It is an emotional warfare in the soul; the old man of sin continually rears up his ugly head in the mind with lusts and desires of the flesh. They must be constantly crucified. The real struggle in this spiritual warfare is between these regenerated emotions and the love and desire of the flesh after sin. It is a struggle or warfare of the mind, heart, desires, and will. Many preach free will, as though man is sovereign. However, the Lord does want a voluntary service; He wants our will and mind to desire to do His will.
We see in ROM 7:25b, "So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin." In other words, his heart's desire and will is to serve the law of God even though that flesh still wants to serve sin. That is the source of the spiritual warfare that wages in our mind and soul. Once before we considered the meaning of the word Spirit in the original Greek. It means mind, your thinking process that governs one's will and thoughts. When we walk in the Spirit, or mind of Christ, we will serve the law of God, but there is always the old man of sin that continues to raise its ugly head.
Before the Spirit quickens our dead soul, man knows no will but his own. How do we identify the basis of actually having saving faith in our soul? The spiritual warfare is one such a basis. Why? Before the Lord quickens, we have only one desire. There is no conflict because a person only has their own desires. See JER 2:23-25, "How canst thou say, I am not polluted, I have not gone after Baalim? see thy way in the valley, know what thou hast done: thou art a swift dromedary traversing her ways; A wild ass used to the wilderness, that snuffeth up the wind at her pleasure; [The Lord is comparing the unregenerate to a wild animal who does its pleasure.] in her occasion who can turn her away? all they that seek her will not weary themselves; in her month they shall find her. Withhold thy foot from being unshod, and thy throat from thirst: but thou saidst, There is no hope: no; for I have loved strangers, and after them will I go."
In those verses the Lord is telling the house of Israel that their will is a determination to do their pleasure. Their will is not in subjection to the will of God. They have only one will, and that is what we see in the heart of an unregenerate person. After we have learned to understand this spiritual warfare, we will see our failings, fallings, and how short we come of doing that which we would do. With the mind, we serve the law of God; it is our desire to do what is pleasing to the Lord, but we often find ourselves doing otherwise. When we see our shortcomings, we sometimes question whether or not there is grace in our heart. Can there be grace in my heart when there is so much corruption building up in my heart? The fact there is a warfare is an encouraging sign. The fact that there is a second will, the new nature that desires to do the will of God, is a proof of regeneration.
When the Spirit quickens, He renews the will. The Lord wants a voluntary service. He does not want to catch the wild ass and shoe it; in other words, He does not want to control its footsteps. No, He wants a voluntary service that comes from a contrite heart.
PHI 2:12-15 tells us, "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. [with a holy reverence for God and His will] For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world."
When it is our desire to do the will of God, it is God who works in us the new will and the desire to do it. Of ourselves we are not able to do what we would do, but God works in us to will and to do. It is by our walk of life that we can then shine as a light to the world because we have that new will and desire to do His pleasure. We shine as lights of the world when we do it, "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."
The Holy Spirit draws by revealing Christ's love; we come because of the drawing power of the Holy Spirit. He does not drive us with a whip; the Lord wants voluntary service. He does not want us to serve Him out of compulsion. The Lord wants a new heart and a new desire. That desire is to do the will of God.
SON 1:2-4 says, "Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine. Because of the savour of thy good ointments thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee. Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee."
The Lord is showing us the heart and the desire of one of His loved ones. This is the bride of Christ. Do you see how the Holy Spirit comes with the precious things of Christ to reveal them to the soul? That is the drawing power. That is what makes us willing to serve the things of God with a hungering desire. It happens when the Holy Spirit reveals the precious love of Christ in the soul.
The Spirit draws by revealing the eternal, electing love of the Father. "The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee," JER 31:3. That is the drawing of the Holy Spirit which draws our souls to Christ. The fruits of regeneration reveal themselves in the drawing power of the Lord. Those fruits are the new will, the new heart's desires, and new affections.
"...the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father," JOH 15:26, draws those whom He has quickened unto Christ by testifying of His finished work. The Holy Spirit draws; it is the Spirit of truth which proceeds from the Father. JOH 6:43-45 says, "Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves. No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me." This speaks of the Father drawing, but we must understand that it is the Holy Spirit which comes from the Father. The Father sends forth His Spirit and the drawing power to draw us to the Lord Jesus Christ. How? He testifies in the soul of the love of Christ.
This drawing power not only leads the sinner unto Christ, but it breaks the yoke of Satan and sin. We see this in HOS 11:4, "I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them." The drawing unction of the Holy Spirit condemns sin in the flesh as it reveals the Holy Spirit's work and the love of the Father. It shows and reveals the love of the Son, and as it does this, breaks the yoke of sin. Then He gives spiritual food to feed the soul. Now, we see how the power of sin is broken and a new desire draws the soul unto the Lord.
The drawing power of the Spirit and breaking off the yoke of Satan is effected by convincing a sinner of the sinfulness of sin. That is how He does it. It is by renewing the will and mind and affections of the heart that we see the evidence of the work of grace in the soul.
JOH 16:8-11 says, "And when he is come, he will reprove [convince] the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged." The prince of this world is no longer sitting on the throne of our heart. Spiritual warfare is the result as Satan tries to regain the throne.
The will of one who was a blasphemer and a persecutor, who "...made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison," ACT 8:3, was broken when "...he had seen the Lord [Jesus] in the way," ACT 9:27. When Christ was lifted up before him, when the light shined in his heart, he saw the precious love of Christ. "And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks." ACT 9:3-6a.
Saul saw what he was sinning against. He saw the love of Christ that he was sinning against. What happened? His will was broken on the spot. Verse 6 continues, "And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" Right then and there, Saul's will changed; instead of going out to persecute the church and hail them into prison, he became a servant of Christ. This is the work of regeneration. Saul's will and desire were no longer after the things of the flesh.
"Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God," GAL 5:19b-21. Those are the fruits of the flesh. The fruits of Spirits now govern the heart; see the complete contrast in the will and the fruits of the two. GAL 5:22-23 continues, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law."
After Paul had been arrested in his mad career of persecution, his soul's desire was to see his fellow man apprehended as he had been. This is also a distinct mark of grace in the soul. It is the desire for the salvation of our fellow man. Take notice of PHI 3:12, "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus." Saul was apprehended, arrested, and brought in as a captive; all the bonds of Satan were broken as he was apprehended. As a result, he saw his fellow man still in the service of Satan and sin. He now had such a longing desire to deliver his fellow man from the chains of darkness and bring them into the kingdom of Christ. His whole ministry was for the purpose of delivering his fellow man from servitude to the prince of the air.
If these graces were always active without any resistance, our assurance of faith could always shine brightly. However, our text says, "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would," GAL 5:16-17. I want you to see that we are not capable of serving the Lord even when that is our desire because the warfare between the flesh and the Spirit continually rages within us.
This spiritual warfare rises from what we see in ECC 7:20, "For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not." That is where our problem is. That is why we are not able to serve the Lord without interruption and completely turn our back upon the lusts and sins of the flesh.
We all sin; the fountain of sin within us began in paradise. The fountain of this pollution of sin and uncleanness finds its source in the fall as we see from PSA 51:5-7, "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." The Lord knows our frame, and He remembers that we are dust. He looks upon what is in our heart. It is the inner desires of the heart that the Lord considers; "Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts." It is also what the Apostle Paul meant when he said, "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin," ROM 7:25.
The Lord looks at the heart. David fell with Bathsheba and Uriah. David had sinned grievously, yet he dares to say, "For I have kept the ways of the LORD, and have not wickedly departed from my God," 2SA 22:22. Do you know what he meant by that? Unlike Solomon, whose heart departed from the Lord to serve idols, Davids heart never departed from the Lord, his God. The inner desires of David's heart were always toward the Lord even though he fell and committed grievous sins. He grieved, but he never turned his heart from the Lord.
PSA 51:6 says, "Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom." What is wisdom? PSA 111:10 tells us that "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever." In other words, we must learn to understand what is pleasing to the Lord and what displeases Him. We must be able to discern that. "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." David saw that he needed cleansing for he was shapen in iniquity. He saw the need for the washing of the blood of Christ.
It is the natural tendency of the heart of fallen man to excuse evil doings, to gloss it over, making it look more palatable. Think about this; we try to justify what we have done even when we know it was wrong. "Yes, I did that, but...," and we give the reasons which seem to justify it. This is a very dangerous area; if we have done wrong, it is necessary to confess that wrong so we do not legalize that wrong in the eyes of others.
See what happened in GEN 3:11-12; "And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat." Do you see that Adam laid the charge right at God's feet. He said it was "The woman whom thou gavest to be with me." Putting the blame on another somehow makes it a little more palatable. Adam tried to split the blame with God, saying it was His fault for giving him the woman as well as Adam's for eating the forbidden fruit. He actually laid the charge at Eve's and God's accounts. This is glossing it over, trying to make it less offensive. It is entering a very dangerous area when you and I look at sin in a light that makes it excusable or palatable.
Then the Lord spoke to Eve about her sin, and she also found an excuse to justify her conduct. "And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat," GEN 3:13. Again, it was one of God's creations who received the blame. It was an attempt to make it more palatable, something to justify her actions. This a very common sin in the world for it is the natural tendency. It is used for seemingly small and great sins. Even one standing trial for murder will try to find some basis whereby they were justified in doing it.
In our own life, how many times do we find ways to justify those things our conscience told us were wrong before we did them? We shouldn't have, "but..." As soon as that word but is added, we are gainsaying; we are trying to tell our conscience not to get so picky. This is not the spiritual warfare referred to in our text. We must be cognizant of how Satan can lay traps.
Now see how different the conduct is of one who is regenerate, one who has a tender heart with the fear of God, as we see in the Apostle Paul. Such a person does not justify his sin; they are not pointing a finger at this person or that one. ROM 7:15 says, "For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I." In other words, it was not his desire to do it, but he is confessing that he did do it. See the difference between one who glosses over his sin and another who comes with a confession and acknowledges that he had no might against it. He did it, he desires not to do it, he struggles against it, but he had no power to keep from doing it. He confesses the evil thought that went through his mind that revealed a hateful spirit, but he is sorry. There is no hint of justifying or hiding the action. "For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I."
I was listening to the coverage of Gates testifying before the U.S. Senate. He confessed that he had been wrong, he ought not to have done what he did, and that at the time he used poor judgment. He confessed he did it. Afterwards there was a big spiel in the newspaper about it. It was reported that Gates gained much credibility before the Senate by the fact that he had admitted his wrongdoing. Now, they were not concerned about him intentionally doing the same thing over again. He had admitted what was done was wrong, and that he had done it.
Now see how it is before the courts of heaven when we can come before the Lord and say, "I'm guilty. I'm guilty. Lord, give me grace. Spare me. I have no might against this great enemy." See the contrast between this and saying, "Yes, I did, Lord, but..." See the difference in the spirit that dwells within the hearts of those who are truly regenerate and those who are not. Those who are regenerate will confess and plead with God to deliver them from such sin.
Let's look at Paul's statement, found after his conversion, in ROM 7:21-23. "I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members." See the different spirit of heart even though he uses the word but. Paul found that he came short of doing the good he wanted to do; his fallen nature tripped him, but he is not walking after the flesh. He is walking in the Spirit. It is his desire to do what is right. He sees his weaknesses; pride still rises up in him, but he prays against it. He cries out to the Lord to deliver him from it.
Pride crops up in conversations; we get in a group of people and begin talking, then when we are alone, we must come before the Lord to confess what a fool we had been. We may have even been trying to show God's honor in the conversations, but the old nature sneaks in there.
Paul found his deliverance by looking by faith for cleansing as well as a pardon. We must search for cleansing as well as a pardon. We must seek to be delivered from the power of sin as we see in ZEC 13:1. "In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness." As we see the warfare waged in our heart, we must diligently search continually for the fountain that is open for cleansing.
Paul learned to value sanctification equally with justification. Do you understand that? Sanctification becomes equally important as justification because without sanctification, there is no justification. A person will never stand justified before the courts of heaven while walking in sin. If one continues to walk after, and fulfilling the lust of the flesh, they may not claim justification.
In the following verses, notice the qualification, separated only by commas, of who are the ones who walk after Jesus. ROM 8:1-2 says, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." We no longer serve sin and death as a law; we no longer serve the flesh. We struggle with it; we fight against it. We prevail against it because we walk in the Spirit.
To be saved from sin is to be delivered from its reigning power, even though it still dwells within us. I want you to see the difference between having indwelling sin and reigning sin. We no longer allow our temper to go completely out of control. Our temper may flare, but it stays in bounds. Temptations still dwell within us, but we are not under their reigning power. Where is the difference? The Lord Jesus Christ was tempted, but He did not yield. Yielding is sin. We must struggle against temptations, but we do not yield to them.
There is a difference between struggling against sin and walking in sin. We find that these sins are very tempting, annoying, wounding, and very distracting for a heart that is tender for the will of God, but these sins have lost their reigning power. We do not walk in those sins. When we find our heart struggling with a sin, we flee to the Lord to deliver us from serving that sin. To be saved from sin is to be saved from its reigning power.
Let's read JAM 3:2; "For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body." In many things every one of us offends others daily. Do you know what one of the greatest graces is? It is forgiveness. The Lord exercises the grace of forgiveness in you and I as well as the grace to do His will. So if a brother offends against us, are we able to forgive him? The Lord allows us to be an offense to our fellow man so His grace of forgiveness is also exercised. It is also true the other way around. When our brother offends us, that grace of forgiveness is also brought into exercise.
We are to use the understanding and wisdom God has given us in avoiding sin. We are not to act as an untrained horse or a mule. I have ridden horses. A well-trained horse will respond to the slightest movement of your body. You can be chasing another animal on a well-trained horse, and with a very slight twitch of your body, the horse will cut that direction.
The verse in the previous paragraph is speaking of bridling the whole body. That would be like having a horse so well-trained, you could have both hands free to do another job, such as roping a calf, yet control the horse with body movements.
Now see what it says in PSA 32:8-9. "I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee." We must become trained to know what direction to turn. It is God's hand that will guide us; as well as a mere glance from His eye is enough to guide us. Don't act as if you have never had any training. We are to be able to pick out what is pleasing and displeasing with the glance of an eye. How do we do that? It is training. It is done by cutting off that which is pleasing to the flesh and doing that which is pleasing to the Lord.
There is a great difference between wrestling against indwelling sin, and giving in to sin. Look again at our text. "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would." GAL 5:17. To wrestle against indwelling sin is much different than serving sin and walking according to the lusts of the flesh.
ROM 6:13-14 says, "Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin [Don't give in to sin; don't yield to it, allowing temptation to overcome you.]: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace."
When temptation comes on you so strong that you feel you are absolutely not able to stand against it, you must cry for help. One time I had to cry out loud, "Lord, help me!" I knew I was slipping into the power of hell that was absolute destruction. I cried out loud to the Lord. Do you know what happened? Instantly, the Lord answered me. How? "Thou shall not tempt the Lord thy God." I could not go along with the devil and play his game and later expect the Lord to spare me. I could not yield, but I needed His power to restrain and deliver me.
We are talking about the will, are we not? We are talking about that which traffics the mind. It is the free will of man. We must come to realize that the Lord wants us to serve Him with a free, voluntary will. He does not want us to serve Him out of compulsion. He wants us to serve Him, and He says, "Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin." The work of regeneration, the Spirit or mind of Christ, in the soul wars against unrighteousness, "...For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace."
All too often when a quickened sinner strives to be humble, pride seeks to fill him. Has this ever happened to you? Pride sneaks in, and the more you set your heart to be humble, the more it becomes a proud humility. When you would pour out your soul unto God, you might go into your room, close the door, and plan to set aside this hour for prayer to the Lord. It is then that your mind wanders. The more one strives against these sins, the further off victory seems to be. Sometimes it seems as if the flesh has gained mastery over the Spirit. This is explained in ECC 1:17-18, "And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit. For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow." The more we learn to know ourselves, the more grief we will see in our hearts.
The more we grow in grace, the more we see the power of sin. Do you know why your desire for humility brings pride into your heart? It is the humility that allows you to recognize your pride; you have grown in humility. That same pride was there before, but it didn't bother you. That is an example of how we grow in grace, growing in wisdom. We grieve over these things because we see the horror of the power of sin that dwells within our hearts. We see that we have no might against this great army of corruption in our own strength. We are given to see that it is by the Holy Spirit that it can be overcome. We have much grief over the sins indwelling in our hearts because we see their power, and we see how mighty the sins are; we also see how much we need the grace of God to deliver us from them.
The more grace we receive to see God's just claims upon us for holiness, the more we see of the fountain of corruption that dwells within our hearts. God demands holiness, and the more we understand what true holiness is, the more we see the power of that fountain of corruption.
PSA 36:9 says, "For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light." As the Lord gives us more light and grace, we see more and more of the fountain of corruption we have within ourselves. More and more we see the need of more grace to overcome such a fountain of corruption.
The greatest contrast between those who have this grace and the wicked is revealed by what effect this light has upon them. In the light of the gospel and the Word of God we see this light which shows us who we are. We see the corruption of our own hearts. Where do we see the grounds for saving faith? To divide the sheep from the goats, we need to see the total contrast between how the light affects the wicked and the righteous.
JOH 3:20-21 gives an answer. "For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God." Those who love sin do not come to the light; they don't want their sins revealed. Those who love the truth come to the light so they might see and be delivered from their sins.
The basis of our assurance is not that we are perfect, but that there is a new and holy nature within our hearts as well as that old, ugly one. One time an amazing thing happened to me. I needed to talk to a man, and I was told I'd have to go to the bar to see him. When I walked into the bar to find this man, I saw something I'll never forget. A man who was half drunk was playing pool with a young girl. He was completely and totally happy. It was a shocking contrast with what was in my heart. The Lord used that contrast, the utter delight of the man and the sorrow and sadness I was experiencing because of what was happening in that place and that I had to be there, to convince me what a distinction there was between that mans heart and mine.
It is when we have the work of grace in our soul that we recognize that we have the new holy nature as well as the old, ugly nature in our hearts. In SON 6:13 we read, "Return, return, O Shulamite; return, return, that we may look upon thee. What will ye see in the Shulamite? As it were the company of two armies." What will we see in the choice bride of Christ? We will see the company of two armies where the spirit is lusting against the flesh and the flesh against the spirit. That must be there; if we do not see that warfare within our hearts, if we are total strangers to that, then we do not know what it is to struggle against sin.
This spiritual struggle was typified in GEN 25:22-23. "And the children struggled together within her [Who? It was Jacob and Esau.]; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to inquire of the LORD. And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger."
Now we can see what is wrong; there are two manner of people. There is the love of sin, and there is the love for the things of the Lord. Esau was the elder; he would serve Jacob. The old man is going to serve the new man, but not without a struggle. He is going to squirm, struggle, and stick up his ugly head every chance he gets. It is a struggle that will last our entire lifetime. The new man of the heart will control the old man of sin who will serve the new man, be in subjection, but not willingly, not without a fight.
The very fact that there is a struggle is our evidence that sin has not gained the final victory. Now consider a point; we can learn from the commission of the U. N. weapons inspectors in Iraq, how a conqueror disarms his enemy. The United Nations conquered Iraq, and then went in and took away any weapons of mass destruction, anything that would make them capable of doing anything more than defend their own borders.
A conqueror will disarm the one they have conquered. The very fact that there is still a struggle against sin is evidence of Godly fear in the heart. If the old man of sin had totally gained the victory, there would be no struggle, but the new man shall be the conqueror.
PRO 8:13 says, "The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: [that does not mean that we have been able to bring sin under control as we would, but we hate] pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate." Our evidence is the hate of and struggle against evil.
Again, we must be so careful not to offend the smallest one in grace, nor to build up the presumptuous. It is a fine line, yet they are so dynamically opposed. We must be careful, for if there is one who is struggling and the spirit has not yet gained the victory over sin, we must not offend them. Neither do we want to give courage to one who loves sin.
Therefore, as we see the failures of the little ones in grace, we must remember HEB 12:12-13; "Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed." If we see one who we may believe has a desire to do the will of God, we cannot be judgmental when we see them do things that ought not to be. We may not pronounce judgment upon them. They may not yet have come to knowledge and deliverance from sin that we may have attained. If they have the desire, we must lift up those feeble knees and hands that hang down; we must encourage them by making straight paths for their feet.
However, to those who are so strong in themselves, we must remind them of MAT 12:33. "Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit." If we see a person make a big profession of faith, but his walk of life tells us he loves sin, we must caution them that the tree will bear fruit according to the heart. The heart is revealed by the fruit the person bears. If we see someone making a boast of a great profession while fulfilling the lusts of the flesh, we must caution them.
See the context in which we find our text. GAL 5:13-17 says, "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty [Do we count Christian liberty to mean a license to sin? No! No! Christian liberty is to be delivered from the power of sin.] for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot [`God forbid,' or `you may not'] do the things that ye would." Amen.
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