Walk in the Spirit
Sermon by David Chittenden (5-24-98)
Today I want to spend some time talking to you about the Holy Spirit. I know that sometimes in our preaching and teaching we emphasize certain things. We talk about this and talk about this. I think sometimes the information just goes in one way and we really don't take time to really absorb what it is that God wants us to do about it. I think the hardest part sometimes in preaching and teaching is to get the information from my heart to your heart. And I realize I can't do that other than the Holy Spirit taking His, God's word and applying it to every private life. Now God's the only one that can do that But I believe we have to have a receptive heart and receptive mind and sometimes we just have to pay attention.
I was thinking about a lady I read about a teacher named Miss Thompson, who had a primary class and was trying to teach the class on the Trinity. And so she began to think how can I do this so that these children can remember this once they walk out of the classroom. So she came in with of those real large pretzels and you know the pretzel has the three different holes in it. And so she pointed to the top hole and said the Top hole represents God the father. The she pointed to the hole in the side and said this hole represents God the son, Jesus Christ, then she pointed to the other hole and said this hole represents the Holy Ghost. And several times in her lesson she held up the pretzel and said this is God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost. So at the end of class wanting to make sure that the children had got the lesson she had one of the boys come up and said; I want you to tell me what this represents. And the little boy you know stood there and looked at it a minute and pointed to the top one and said; that's God the Father. Boy she smiled you know man maybe he got this. She pointed to the next one and said what's this he said that's God the Son, she thought, " Boy this is going good." She said, " Alright what's the last one?" He said, " That's the Holy Smoke." You know when I read that, I thought how easy it is for us to almost get what the Lord wants us to have.
But I believe that we have to apply ourselves, we have to realize that God wants us to take His word and apply it to our own life. Now we talk about the Holy Spirit, of course we know the Holy Spirit works and does a number of things in the Scripture, it tells us that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. That he intercedes in such a way that as He searches the hearts and He knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit. He gives intercession for the saints according to the will of God. We know that the Holy Spirit reveals things to us. The Bible tells us in I Cor. Chapter 2 that the natural man cannot receive the sent things of the Spirit because they are spiritually discerned. We're told in I John Chapter 4 that we are to try the Spirits to see whether they are of God. So when I think of the Holy Spirit I think of someone who is our comforting helper. Someone who is our truth teacher, someone who is God's will revealer, someone who is a gift giver, someone who is a hurt healer, but more than anything else this morning I believe we need to recognize that the Holy Spirit is God. He is not just another person, he is not just an influence, he is not just a force but He is a part of the Trinity. As I was studying this I'm just reminded again of what He says here in Galatians 5 and verse 16. As we understand a little bit more of who the Holy Spirit is. He says, I want you to understand. in verse 16 He says, "This I say then walk in the Spirit and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." I believe we understand that we talk about the Holy Spirit that the Holy Spirit has a permanent presence within us. When we got saved, when you got saved the Holy Spirit came inside to live and he has a permanent dwelling inside of each one of the believers. Now if we understand that permanent presence we understand that God did now leave us alone. Jesus said in John 14 He said I will pray the Fathers and He will send you another comforter that he may abide with you forever even the Spirit of truth which the world cannot receive because it seeth him not neither, knoweth him but ye know him for he dwelleth with you and shall be in you. Then Jesus said I will not leave you comfortless. I will come to you . I believe today we need to recognize that as far as the Holy Spirit is concerned That God's Holy Spirit , his permanent presence is within us. In other words, I say to you today that there is no place that you go that the Holy Spirit is not with you. The Holy Spirit has a permanent dwelling in other word you can't get in your car and say Ok now I'm going to go somewhere that God doesn't want me to go, so I'm going to leave the Holy Spirit here. When you got saved the Holy Spirit indwells your body. In other words, where you go, He goes. His presence is with us. So I say if you go somewhere you shouldn't ought to go the Holy Spirit goes with you. But what happens, well the Bible tells us that you can quench the Spirit of God, that you can grieve the Spirit of God. I mean think how hard, how difficult it is for him to bear as you say, "Listen God, I don't care what you want me to do, I'm going to do my own thing." You see we have the permanent presence of the Holy Spirit inside each of us as a believer and because of that permanent presence I believe it ought to help us decide what we need to be doing. If the Holy Spirit is inside of us, then we need to recognize His presence within us.
But do you know what I find to be a big problem? Is that many times Christians don't want to recognize the Holy Spirit inside, They don't want to listen to the inner promptings of the Holy Spirit and so what they do is they quench the Holy Spirit and say, " I don't care what you say, I'm going to have my own way," and we grieve God's Spirit and then we wonder why we don't have peace on the inside and then we wonder why we don't have good fellowship with God. And then we wonder why God doesn't show us what we need to do because we have grieved God's Spirit. I believe, as God's people if anyone ought to be aware of the Holy Spirit, we ought to be aware of it. I don't expect the world to know anything about the Holy Spirit because it says the world cannot know him. He only indwells believers. You know we can point our finger at this old lost world all we want to point our finger, but I want to tell you that God's presence in this world is in and through believers. And God still expects us to yield of ourselves to the permanent presence of the Holy Spirit. As I read this I'm reminded again he tells us here, "Walk in the Spirit and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." In other words you have a choice. When you get up in the morning you have a choice which path you're going to take. Are you going to take the Spirit's path or are you going to take the flesh's path? And that's the choice that's before us.
You know, no matter how we've been spirit lead in the past we still have a choice very day. When you get up you have a choice. You can follow the Spirits leadership or you can follow the flesh. Now just because we've won those battles in the past doesn't mean we are going to win them in the future. That's why He give us a very clear command, we are to walk in the Spirit. If we walk in the Spirit. We're not going to fulfill the lust of the flesh. We recognize His permanent presence inside of us and we determine, we're going to walk in the Spirit. We're going to do what God wants us to do. And then I want you to see, as he goes on, he says in verse 17 " For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law." Now what happens? There is a battle going on inside each of us. And it's ragging. It say the Spirit wants us to one thing,
our flesh want us to do something else. So what do we have to determine what we're going to do? We're going to have to determine to go the way the Holy Spirit wants us to go. We have to decide and it's like the story I told before, I think it's the best illustration there is. It's like 2 dogs, the boy who had 2 dogs and they were fighting out on the lawn and somebody asked him one time, "Which one of them dogs wins? He said, " Well, which ever one I say sick 'em to the loudest." And I believe that's true as far as the Holy Spirit, that we are to walk in the spirit. That we are to determine to follow what the Holy Spirit shows us.
Now, not only are we to recognize his permanent presence within us, but notice verse 18, he says, "But If ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law." And then he goes in verse 19 and says," Now the works of the flesh are manifest which are these." Now he very clearly lays the works of the flesh, so if you have any questions in your mind today, which direction is the flesh and which direction is the spirit, he laid it out very clearly. We find here the direction of the flesh: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, which is jealousies, wrath, strife, sedition, which are divisions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like. Now he pretty much lays it out so you can understand it, right? He does. If somebody comes along and says, " Is adultery okay?" It's a work of the flesh. It tells us we're not to walk in the flesh. Now is the temptation going to be there? Yes, because it's a work of the flesh. He talks about fornication. You know sexual sins are not new as far as God is concerned. God say these thing are right and these things are wrong. God still draws the boundaries. And by the way, you know I get so tired of the push going on today of people saying, "Listen. we're just going to live together before we get married, because we want to try this thing out." Well anytime you go outside the boundaries that God sets, you have already created problems for yourself. Well you say, Bro. Dave are all sexual things wrong? God is the one who designed sex. And He put it in a certain boundary. He said this is what I designed it for and this is the place it needs to be confined in; and anytime that we get outside of those boundaries, then we have got involved with the work of the flesh. Now why do men get outside of those boundaries? You know it's kind of like the fence, you know when you see the fence and see the grass on the other side. I remember driving down the highway and seeing a cow right over to the fence, had his head stuck out the fence eating the grass on the other side of the fence. I mean even a dumb cow wants the grass on the other side of the fence, no matter how much grass he has got in his . He's looking on the other side of the fence.
You see the works of the flesh says, " I don't want to be confined, nobody's going to tell me what to do. Nobody's going to tell me I cant' do this. I want to do this. I want to do it because it feels good." The works of the flesh are manifest and the Bible very clearly says that these are the works of the flesh. He said we cannot walk in the works of the flesh, and by the way, you walk in the works of the flesh and it will destroy you. He goes on farther, uncleanness, lasciviousness, now this is just all kinds of immorality, all kind of filthy communication, idolatry. Isn't it something. in the heart of man, that man always wants to worship images? They want to see something tangible. Witchcraft. You know we can look at our drug culture today. We can look at the occult today. We can see that people still want to get outside the boundaries. You know God's not going to tell us what we can and cannot do. That's the work of the flesh. He talks about hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings and such like. Now he just lumps it all in and says listen I just want you to know these are all the works of the flesh. And by the way, as a Christian, don't allow yourself just to say, "You know I've got this weakness over here and I just can't help myself." Well then what you've done is you've said that I can walk in the flesh, but I can excuse it away and say that's just how I am. You see, he says very clearly that these are the work of the flesh. Now he makes a very strong statement after this, that last part of verse 21, he says, " As I have told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. Now the word, "do," here is the idea of practice or habitually practice . In other words what he is saying is, if you're a child of God, you cannot habitually practice these things and be a Christian. You say, Bro. Dave that's kind of narrow minded. It certainly is. But I find the Bible to a very narrow Book. God says this in how it is. And I believe that if you're able to practice those things and not have any remorse and not have any conviction about it, you need to check up whether you' re a child of God. According to the word of God.
Now you say, " Preacher, I don't like that". You know I read a lot of things in here I don't like, but it doesn't change the truth. He said those who do such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. And let me just throw this out. You know how people say from time to time, have you heard that old saying, " Let your conscience be your guide." You better watch out. Because you know your conscience is a lot like a compass. If that compass is "off" you're going be headed in the wrong direction. What you need to do is let the Word of God be your guide. You know our conscience has been developed by so many different means it may have been developed by our parents and by our training. But the only way we can stay on the right track is follow what the Word of God says. Now these are the works of the flesh, but I'm glad he doesn't stop there. Verse 22: He says, " But the fruit of the Spirit." You see not only do we have God's parallel presence withing us, but we have his unparallel power among us. The fruit of the Spirit in verse 22 is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, which is self control against such there is no law. Now I believe if we walk in the Spirit like we read in verse number 16, then there is going to be the evidence of the fruit of the spirit. Now you'll notice here it does not say "fruits," it says "fruit." So when the Holy Spirit works in your life he doesn't just give you a dose of love, he doesn't just give you a dose of joy, he doesn't just give you a dose of peace. He gives you the whole thing. You see, what the Holy Spirit does is the Holy Spirit works in our heart and he give us this fruit that is going to be evident in our life.
Now if I went to your home today, and I guess the preacher is meddling now, but if I went to your home today, and I asked people in your home, have they seen evidence of the fruit of the Spirit in your life, what would they tell me? The fruit of the spirit. It's a crying shame sometimes I talk to husbands and wives and I find out that treat their animals better than they treat each other. Now this is where we live folks. The fruit of the Spirit is going to be obvious in how we deal with one another. We cannot allow ourselves just to let go and say, "Well, you know I just didn't fell like it." Well you can either walk in the flesh or you can walk in the Spirit. You see when we got saved God has given us this new power. He has given us the power of the Holy Spirit. What he's saying in Acts 1:8, " But ye shall receive power after the Holy Ghost has come upon you." And I believe that God gives us a power an enabling, a dynamic, an inner confidence, he give us this through the Spirit that helps us to relate to the things were going to need to relate to. And then we find, he says here in verse 24, " And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts." You see, as this power works inside of us, something is going to happen in our dealing with the flesh. He says here, that they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with affections and lusts. In other words, the more that we walk in the Spirit, the more that we let God have control of our life, then the more that we can crucify the flesh and say, " I'm going to take that flesh and I'm not going to let it rule over me. I'm going to make it powerless against me," because we let the Spirit have control.
Then we find in verse 25, last of all, what the Holy Sprit does for us: it affirms the Word of God. He says here if we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. You know it's not just enough to say, "Well, okay, I know the Holy Spirit lives inside of me. I know that there are some things that I'm doing in the flesh that I shouldn't ought to do." Remember what he said in Ephesians 5, he says, "Be not drunk with wine wherein is excess, but be filled with the Spirit." And you know he goes on and describes that filling, he says, "Speaking to yourselves in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God." Now folks, that has to do with affirming the will of God for our life. When we are filled with the spirit, when God's Holy Spirit reveals to us how that we're supposed to respond, how that we're supposed to react. And by the way, I believe we have to be careful in coming to place that we feel like that we have arrived. That's such a dangerous place, because if the Holy Spirit begins to work in our life, I'm thankful for what God does and the things that we can look at and say that God did this in my life. But you know some of the most vulnerable times in our life is after a great victory. After we've already accomplished some things, after we've already denied ourselves, we say, "Oh, good. I denied myself," and we get proud about it, and immediately Satan has an opportunity to attack us. We need to recognize that the Holy Spirit needs to always evaluate what's going on in our life. He says if we live in the Spirit, we need to walk in the Spirit; not just saying I've arrived, but continually walk. It is a continual process, always walking in the Spirit, always living in the Spirit, being aware that the Holy Spirit is inside of us, being aware that the Holy Spirit is working on us. You see as the Holy Spirit comes into our life and He convicts us of our sin, as He tries to guide us, as He reveals to us what we ought to do. But the way, the Holy Spirit will never reveal anything to you contrary to this Book. But as we accomplish certain things in our life, let us realize that God has more that he wants to accomplish. That he is not through yet.
I read several years ago about a German Company that had made a drill bit that would drill about the size of a human hair. And they were so proud of their accomplishment that they sent one of these bits to the Japanese, and one to the Americans, and one to the Russians. Of course the Russians didn't respond, and the Americans responded immediately. They wanted to know how much they would cost and what discounts they could get and how they could market this new bit; but predictably after several days of delay, the Japanese responded, and very politely they wrote this note to them. They said, "Thank you so much. We are so happy for your new accomplishment in making this very small bit. We are returning your bit to you, but with one slight alteration. And so the engineers, they opened it up and looked inside, and they took out a microscope and they found out what the Japanese had done is they drilled a little bitty hole through their bit. When I read that I thought, you know, that's how we are so many times. We come to a certain place in our lives and say, "Boy I've finally arrived," and the Holy Spirit says, "No you haven't." You're not there yet. Because he is trying to conform us to the image of Jesus Christ.
Now what is it to walk in the Spirit? To walk in the Spirit is to allow the Holy Spirit to work through us. People around us ought to see a difference. They ought to see a difference in how we talk to them. I mean, just simple kindness, just showing a love, just having a joy about us, that is a joy unspeakable, having a meekness, having self control. That is the power of the Holy Spirit working in our life. But I think the reason many times we do not have the power of the Holy Spirit is because the Holy Spirit lives inside of us, but we are not allowing him to fill us - because we're not listening. He's talking to us. You came this morning saying, "Oh, Bro. Dave, things are going pretty good in my Christian life and I'm thankful. And I look at our Church and I'm so thankful for how God has worked in lives, but I want us to very aware and very conscious of the fact that God is not through with us yet. There are some things that God still needs to develop yet in our life. There are still things that God still needs to take out of our life. And the only way that He can do that is for us to listen to him. Be aware of what God's spirit is saying. Don't just come to church and say, "Man, I hope God speaks to somebody today. Come to church and say, " God speak to my heart today. I need to hear from you, I need you to show me, God I don't have much time left. I need you to work in my life. I need you to show me what I need to do." But we are so busy aren't we? Oh, we've got others concerns. We've got other problems, we have things that are distracting us. Things that are keeping us from focusing on what the Holy Spirit is doing in our life.
And it really boils down to this: There was an Indian who was walking with a friend who lives in New York City. As they were walking down the street, this Indian friend grabbed his friend and said,"Hey I hear cricket." The man who lived in New York said, "Ha, Ha, How in the world do you hear a cricket? I mean, there are cars going up and down t he street, there are horns honking, there are people up and down the sidewalk, there are subways roaring underneath us. I mean, there's all kinds of noise going on all around. How in the world? Don't tell me you can hear a cricket!" He said, "I do!" And in just a moment, that Indian friend of his went down the block and stood there and listened. And then he crossed the street and he listened and looked both ways. And then the crossed the street again, and he listened. And he went over to this concrete planter that had a tree in it, and he reached down into the mulch and pulled out a cricket, and held it up high, and turned back to his friend and said, "See I told ya!" And his friend came over, kind of scratching his head and said, "How in the world did you ever hear that cricket?" And the Indian said this, He said, "Well, I guess we listen a little differently." He said, " It all depends on what you're listening for." He said, "Let me show you." He reached into his pocket, he pulled out a handful of change, of nickels and dimes, and quarters. He held them up about waist high and he let go of them on the sidewalk. And when they hit the ground, heads for over a block, turned to look and see the change falling on the ground. You see it all depends on what you're listening for.
And I believe, when God's Spirit speaks to us, it all depends on what we're listening for.