Are You Prepared for the Battle?

Understanding The Battle Between The Flesh And The Spirit

Dan Franklin
May 8, 2022    43m
We all live in a fallen world, so we will always be tempted by sin. So as believers in Jesus, we need to take time to understand the battle between the flesh and the Spirit; so that we can learn how important it is to be walking in the leading of the Spirit. Video recorded at Upland, California.

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Dan Franklin: [00:00:19] So December 7th, 1941, what happened? Pearl Harbor, the day that will live in infamy. Pearl Harbor, the United States at Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japan. From the Japanese perspective, it was an incredibly successful attack. Over 2400 American soldiers lost their lives in the attack, about 1200 more were wounded, over 150 aircraft, American aircraft were destroyed, and over 16 ships were either sunk or were damaged in this attack. It was an incredibly successful attack, it was meticulously planned, and it was just perfectly executed by the Japanese, and that's one of the reasons why was such a successful attack. But if you know the story of Pearl Harbor, you know that there's another big reason why it was such a successful attack, and that's that the attack was a complete and utter surprise. The biggest reason why was a complete and utter surprise is that at the time, as the United States, we were not at war with Japan. Or you might look at it from a slightly different perspective, you might say from a certain perspective, Japan knew we were at war, and we didn't. When you're at war and you don't realize that you're at war, you're set up for some major losses.

Dan Franklin: [00:01:47] Today, we are going to talk about the battle, and when I say we're going to talk about the battle, we're going to talk about the battle that's not going on outside, not the battle going on in Ukraine right now, we are going to talk about the battle that is going on inside each one of us. Has anybody here this past week had at least one moment where you felt like you were in the middle of a battle? We feel this way constantly, constantly feel like there's a battle going on inside. In fact, some of you right now, you might be thinking, like, I thought it was just me. I thought it was just me, that I have this deep longing to do what God wants me to do, but I also have these deep impulses and just these instinctive pulls to do other things, it's like there's this battle going on inside. And you're right, there is a battle going on inside.

Dan Franklin: [00:02:38] In fact, one of the most important reasons why we need to talk about what we're going to talk about today is because if this battle is going on, and you're not aware that this battle is going on, you're set up for some major losses. And some of you right now probably come in this morning and you are just battle-weary, you have no doubt that you've been in a battle. You might not know all the ins and outs of what's going on, but you just feel tired, or you feel guilty, or you feel defeated, or you feel frustrated, or you just feel like this is never going to end. You're in the middle of a battle, and one of the gifts that we get in this passage that we've already heard read, and that we're going to walk through today, is we get insight not only into what exactly this battle is, but we also really get God's battle plan for us in how we wage war in this battle.

Dan Franklin: [00:03:33] I'm in fact, if you want an easy way just to remember what we're going to talk about, the things that we're going to talk about in these three verses Galatians chapter 5 verses 16, 17, and 18, Here are the three things we're going to talk about. We're going to talk about the approach for the battle. We're going to talk about the reason for the battle. And we're going to talk about the strategy for the battle. But before even doing that, I just want to take a pause right here, because the things that we're going to be talking about, this is going to be heavy, and this is also going to be really significant. This passage, in some ways, is right at the core of talking about how those of us who are believers in Jesus look to live our day in and day out lives in the battle that we're facing.

Dan Franklin: [00:04:18] So before we go any further, I just want us to pause and pray over this time and over ourselves. So let's do that now. Father, We know that even as we're bowing to pray right now, we are engaged in battle, And we're coming to you, we're coming to the God of hosts. we're coming to the God of Angel armies, we're coming to you, and we're confessing. We're not up for the battle that we feel raging inside of us, we find ourselves frustrated and defeated and sad and guilty and discouraged. Father, I pray for anyone who's discouraged today, I pray that you'd lift up their head and give them hope. I pray for anyone who's defeated right now that you give them the hope and the joy of knowing that there's victory ahead. And Father, I pray that you lead each one of us to hear your word and respond, not just to have a new fact to roll around in our heads, but that we will have a new power to walk in the battle that you've called us to face. We pray this in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Dan Franklin: [00:05:32] All right. So as I just mentioned, again, if you want to just know where all this is going, the approach for this battle, the reason for this battle, and the strategy for this battle. And we start with the approach for this battle.

Dan Franklin: [00:05:44] So verse 16, you can even see up on the screen, the title of this whole series that we started last week that's going to last five weeks is called, Walk By the Spirit. And that's what we get in this verse, verse 16, "So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh." And so if you're paying attention, all right, we just got the two agents in the battle right there. We've got the Spirit and we've got the flesh, walk by the Spirit, and if you walk by the Spirit, you will not gratify the desires of the flesh, so we've got the two agents in the battle.

Dan Franklin: [00:06:24] Let's just define what we're talking about, with the Holy Spirit, we are talking about God Himself, we are talking about the third person of the Trinity, God is one, and God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was promised by Jesus to everybody who placed their faith in Him. the Spirit is the gift from Jesus, and the Spirit is not just a force, the Spirit is not just our conscience, the Spirit is God Himself dwelling inside of us. If you read through the New Testament, you have all kinds of passages that talk about our interaction with the Spirit. One of the passages says, "Do not grieve the Spirit. Do you grieve your conscience? Do you grieve the force? No, you grieve a person, and the Holy Spirit is a person, the person with God living inside of us, and Jesus says, he's going to remind you of all the things that I've taught you. He's going to bring those things to bear on your hearts. He's going to teach you. He's going to enlighten you. He's going to guide you into all truth. We find out that the Spirit is the one that inside of us really convinces us that we belong to God and that we're His children. The Spirit empowers us and gives us spiritual gifts to be used within the context of the church. He's saying, We have the Holy Spirit living inside of us, that's one of the agents in this battle.

Dan Franklin: [00:07:45] And the other agent is the flesh. And the flesh, to put it simply, the flesh is that part of yourself that still wants instant gratification. The Flesh is that part of yourself that says, I know what I want, I want it now, and I don't care who's in my way and I don't care what it costs, I want it now. Does anybody feel like the flesh is still rolling around inside of you?

Dan Franklin: [00:08:10] It doesn't matter how long you've walked with Jesus; you've still got the flesh, you have the Spirit and you have the flesh. These are the two agents, and for every believer in Jesus, these are the two agents inside of you at war. Now just to clarify, this is significant, if you're not a believer in Jesus, you may still feel a battle going on inside of you, but it's not a battle between the Holy Spirit and the flesh. It might be a battle between the flesh and your God-given conscience, that you just have a sense that there are certain things that are right and certain things that are wrong, so you might still feel at war. But for us as believers, we have the flesh, and we have the Holy Spirit.

Dan Franklin: [00:08:50] By the way, just a quick note on this. The pastor of the church that I grew up at used to say this, he used to say the most miserable person in the world is not somebody who's a non-Christian, the most miserable person in the world is a Christian who's in ongoing sin because you are torn up in knots, can't really enjoy your sin because the Spirit is speaking to you, and you can't really enjoy walking closely with God because you're in sin.

Dan Franklin: [00:09:19] As believers, we have a battle going on, and so here's the approach. The apostle Paul writes to the Galatians, and he says, here's the approach, walk by the Spirit. And that word walk, it's just the right translation, that's the literal Greek word, it's just the same normal word for walk. And throughout the Bible, this is a way that the authors talk about how we relate to God, to walk. Let me just read you some passages. In Ephesians 5:2, Paul writes to the Ephesians, "And walk in the way of love." He writes to the Colossians in chapter 3 verse 7, talking about their old life before they came to know Jesus, he says, "You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived." A famous passage First John chapter 1 verses 6 to 7, John writes this, "If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all b sin."

Dan Franklin: [00:10:28] And it's not even just a New Testament idea, some of you might know Psalm 1:1, the very first verse of the very first Psalm, Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers." This is the idea, walk, we're constantly told walk, when it comes to how we relate to God, and it's just a visual way of communicating to us how we conduct our day in and day out lives. That's how we walk, it's an ongoing relationship with God. We are walking with him, and we're told to walk by the Spirit. In other words, we're told to conduct your life in both the power and in the presence of the Holy Spirit, walk by the Spirit.

Dan Franklin: [00:11:22] And by the way, one of the things I love about this command, that this is the approach that God tells us, he says, you're going to walk by. the Spirit. Is that this reminds us that at the core, our connection with God is relational. The primary way that God wants us to relate to him is not simply as Him as a lawgiver and us as the law keepers, he wants us to walk with him. I love going on walks. Does anybody love going on walks? I love going on walks with myself, I love going on walks with my wife. In fact, frequently, once a week we go and take an extended walk. And there's something just about walking with somebody else, just the idea that you're in sync together and you're experiencing that, it's very relational. God is calling us to walk with Him. You can even, in your mind right now, you can even imagine sort of a hand in hand or an arm in arm walk, walking together gives this us this visual of togetherness.

Dan Franklin: [00:12:19] In fact, and I've told my sons this, there are certain things that I pray for my sons every day, and one of them is about their friendships. Because I know from my life, man, friendships have been so huge. And especially when I was a young man, friendships were really formative for who I was going to become. And so every single day I pray the same thing, I say, Father, please give my sons friends who will walk with them as they walk with you. I want for my son's walk with Jesus, and to have friends that are walking right alongside them.

Dan Franklin: [00:12:49] This is a relational idea, remember that at the core, God's biggest gift to us is that God has given us God, God has given us Himself. Even greater than God giving us forgiveness, or given us provision, or giving us friendships, the greatest gift that God has given us is that God has given us Himself through Jesus. The greatest thing that Jesus did for us, is he ushered us into an arm in arm, hand in hand, walk with God. Where He's our father, we're his children, and we're close to him and we're experiencing his love flow through us.

Dan Franklin: [00:13:30] In fact, in Romans chapter 5, in speaking about the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul says that God has poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who He gave us. When we're told to walk by the Spirit, we're told, walk in the joy and the closeness of the love of God. It's a relational idea, it's a relational idea, but the other great thing about this is that this is a very positive image. And I hope that you hear this, this is what's so important about the approach here. It would be easy for us to look at this verse and say, perfect, this is a verse about the approach for how I stop sinning. Because if you're a believer in Jesus, that's probably one of your desires. And there have probably been times that you've been up late at night or lying in bed, or you've just been crying out to God, say, God, please, just, I want to stop sinning, I want to stop falling, I want to stop slipping, please just show me what I need to do so that I quit falling into these same sins. And so it'd be easy to look at this and say, oh, this is what this verse is about, this verse is about, what do we need to do, what is the technique, to stop sinning? And what I hope that we can see is there's something much better at stake here, because if we live our lives, just saying, please just show me the formula to stop sinning.

Dan Franklin: [00:14:50] That would be a little bit like a couple that's getting married, and he asked them, what is your deepest desire for your marriage? And they say, our deepest desire for our marriage is that we will not get divorced. And you say, well, that's good, like there could be worse things that I guess you could hope for. But they're saying, yeah, our greatest dream is that one day, years from now, it'll be our 50th anniversary and we'll be sitting out on the porch and we'll kind of look at each other and we'll be like, we made it, we didn't get divorced. And she'll nod and he'll nod and you'll just go about what you're doing and you're just like, Well, that's better than getting divorced, but that's not what you long for and you long for the idea that that at your 50th anniversary, you'd be able to look at each other and you'd be able to say, Gosh, we really have done life together. Like we've built a life together and we've shared a life together. And I'm a different person because of you and you're a different person because of me. And we've gone through the ups and downs of lives and we've celebrated and we've grieved and we've walked and we've seen God work through us. You want to be able to say all that, not just to get to the end and say, well, technically we didn't get divorced, so. God's deepest desire for you. And I hope your deepest desire is not just to say I didn't sin, and at least if I did, I didn't send so bad that I got thrown in prison or got kicked out of the church or got a divorce or whatever it is. At least I didn't really, really, really screw up. God has something much more for you than that. You just didn't mess up really badly. God has offered himself to you, and what He's saying in the approach in the battle right here is that our focus is not meant to be just on sin, just on sin, just on sin.

Dan Franklin: [00:16:33] By the way, anybody tried that doesn't work great. You know, if you do that, you know what you're thinking about all the time. You're thinking about sin all the time. Just like, just don't do it. Just don't do it. Just. God in some ways is saying fight fire with fire here. Don't just look at it and say, well, what do I do? How do I use God as a means to an end so that I have a less drama filled life with all of the sin I'm dealing with? That instead God is saying, You know what? If you are walking by the Spirit, you're not going to have time for the flesh. If you're walking by the Spirit, sin is going to begin to look much less appealing because you're being filled up with God himself. Walk by the Spirit and then look at the last part of the phrase Walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Now that word gratify basically means to complete something. So it's almost the, it's a little bit of a chilling image here, but it's almost like Paul was first acknowledging, all right, the flesh has things that the flesh wants you to do. And when we sin, it's basically us saying to the flesh, to the flesh. Your wish is my desire. So let's go into the flesh and say and I want to make your dreams come true.

Dan Franklin: [00:17:49] I want to make your wishes come true. That's what it means to gratify the flesh. And I don't know if you're looking closely at verse 16 here, but this seems like a big promise. If you walk by the Spirit, you'll gratify the flesh less. Right. No, that's not what it says. It doesn't say you won't gratify the flesh in as gross ways as you would if you weren't walking by. the Spirit says, if you walk by the Spirit, you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. This feels a little audacious. This feels a little bit like too big of a promise. And so that's where we need to move into this next part and find out more about the reason for the battle going on inside of us. And we get that in verse 17. Now, verse 17, Paul says, for the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit and the Spirit. What is contrary to the flesh? They are in conflict with each other so that you are not to do whatever you wish. So he's already talked about the Spirit in the flesh. These are the two agents sort of at work in this battle going on right here. And what he says is they are against each other. They are opposites now. Now they're not equal in opposites in the sense that the Spirit is much stronger than the flesh, but they're going in different directions.

Dan Franklin: [00:19:11] It would be a little bit like if you were let's say you were doing a big scavenger hunt, a whole bunch of people were doing a big scavenger hunt. And the clue that you were looking at was in Upland and you found the clue and it was a clue to go see something. And you and a couple other people were looking at the clue and trying to figure out like, where is this? And one of your friends says, Oh, I know exactly where this is. This is in downtown Pasadena. And your other friend says, Oh, I know exactly where this is. This is right in the middle of Joshua Tree. And they both head off. You can go to Pasadena, and you can go to Joshua Tree. You know what you can't do? You can't stay with both friends. Things happen in our lives. And the Flash says, I have a great idea of what to do now. And the Spirit says, I have a great idea of what to do now. And if you are walking by the Spirit, you can't be doing what the flash tells you to do. They are at war with one another. In fact, look at the last the last phrase in this verse is the one that that kind of turns our minds. It's hard to figure out what he's saying because he says they the Spirit and the flesh are in conflict with each other. And then he says, so that you are not to do what you want.

Dan Franklin: [00:20:22] Now, some of you might have an open Bible with a different translation. I actually want to run through some different ways that this is translated to show that this is a tricky end here to try to figure out what's going on. So this is the 2011 NIV, this is the version that we typically use. Now, let's look at the ESV, the last phrase is translated in the ESV, English Standard Version, "To keep you from doing the things you want to do." a little bit different. New American Standard Version says, "So that you cannot do the things that you please." Any King James Version people, let's look at that, "So that ye cannot..." You've got to love the ye's, So the ye cannot do the things that ye would." And finally, the New Revised Standard version has it even slightly different, it says, "To prevent you from doing what you want." The reason I'm bringing this up is because it's kind of a weird last phrase to try to figure out. In NIV here, what it seems to be saying is that there's this conflict, and this conflict exists for the purpose of telling you not to just do whatever you want. And somewhere at the core of this, what this is saying is, the result of the battle between the Spirit and the flesh is that you don't end up doing what you want.

Dan Franklin: [00:21:35] The tricky thing is that we have to figure out what does it mean when it's talking about what we want because it could go either way. It could be saying, because the Spirit and the flesh are at war with each other, you don't just do whatever you want, and what it means is you don't just follow your instinctive desires of the flesh because the Spirit is telling you not to. So it could be that, but it also could be the opposite, where it could be saying you want to follow the Spirit, but because of the flesh, a lot of times you don't do what you want because the flesh gets in the way.

Dan Franklin: [00:22:06] And you might be sensing Paul seems to leave this ambiguous, it seems to just be this general idea that he puts out there to say, because of this battle, you find yourself not doing what you want. Well, what do you mean, Paul? Do you mean that sometimes I really want to just fulfill my flesh, but because of the Spirit, I don't do that? And Paul would probably say, yeah, that happens. And what do you mean, Paul? Do you mean that I really want to follow the Holy Spirit, but because of the flesh, sometimes I don't? And I think Paul would say, yeah, that happens too. Paul is saying there is this battle going on inside and you end up being conflicted, you end up not doing the things that you want to do, whether we're talking about the things that you want to do by instinct or the things that you want to do by following Jesus, you end up with an eternal conflict. You end up with internal turmoil because of this battle going on inside of you.

Dan Franklin: [00:22:59] And I want you to notice something else, I want you to notice that the flesh and the Spirit both have active desires here. It says The flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what's contrary to the flesh. Now, most of us, if we're being honest, if we are trying at all to walk with Jesus, when we read the first part of this, and we read the flesh desires what's contrary to the Spirit, every single one of us is like amen and good night. Like we know, like, yes, I'm trying to walk with Jesus, but I got the flesh thwarting me at every step that I take. That's true, but don't miss the fact that he says, not only is the flesh waging war against the Spirit, the Spirit is waging war against the flesh. The Spirit is not simply defensive, even though I think sometimes we can be tempted to think of things that way, that we think of the battle is sort of like, here we are, and there's this onslaught from the flesh, and the only thing that the Spirit is good for is just trying to help the tower not be taken. Like the Spirit is like Mel Gibson and Braveheart just being like, hold, hold, and you're just trying to survive the onslaught of the flesh. Paul says that's not what's going on at all, the flesh is looking to take ground, and you know who else is looking to take ground? And the Spirit is actively looking to take ground, the Spirit is on the offensive, the Spirit is on the attack, looking to gain ground in our lives. the Spirit is active.

Dan Franklin: [00:24:35] And so that means when we face a variety of different crossroads, the flesh, and the Spirit are both giving us different ideas of what to do, and we can't do both of them. So you end up in a situation where somebody hurts you, somebody wrongs you, and you feel hurt because they wronged you, or they lied to you, or they said something cruel to you, and you got the flesh being like, I got an idea. I got an idea, it's time for revenge, we're going to be very creative about revenge, we're going to find a way to get back at them. And then you have the Spirit saying to you, hey, I've got an idea too, and the idea has to do with compassion and forgiveness instead of seeking revenge.

Dan Franklin: [00:25:12] You find yourself with a day or with a weekend where you're like, finally, I have nothing I have to do. Some of you right now are like, the school year is almost over, I'm going to be able to do whatever I want and you're longing for that. Sometimes, even as an adult, you're like, you get a weekend or you get a day and you're like, I can do whatever I want, and the flash is like, I have some ideas, I have some ideas, and it might involve everything from 8 hours of Netflix to things much worse than that, but I've got some ideas. And the Spirit's saying, yeah, I have some ideas too, I have some ideas of you reconnecting with and texting some prayers and some Bible verses to those people who desperately need that right now. And I've got some ideas also when your alarm goes off in the morning and the flash is like, I've got an idea, snooze until you absolutely have to get up, roll out of bed and head to school or head to work. And the Spirit is whispering to us, no, get up now because you want time to pray, you want time to be with God, you want time to shut down Netflix for at least one episode and open up your Bible.

Dan Franklin: [00:26:07] There are times, some of you right now, you're waiting on a tax return or an inheritance or something where you're going to come into some money. And when you come into that money, the flesh is going to be like, got some ideas. And it's not always going to be sinful stuff, sometimes it's going to be like that wave runner, it's right there, you know you want it, you know it looks good, you know it's going to be a lot of fun. And the Spirit might be speaking to you saying, I've got a different idea because there are hungry children who need the love of Jesus, and that money could be really useful there, and you have this battle going on because the flesh and the Spirit are both speaking to you.

Dan Franklin: [00:26:42] I just want to share this, this past week a time that I felt, as I was studying for this message, and in the midst of it I felt the battle going on and it kind of snuck up on me. A lot of you are probably aware that this last week there is a lot of conversation about abortion. There was a leak of a potential decision that the Supreme Court is going to come out with on Roe v Wade, to the point where it's genuinely a possibility that Roe v Wade could be overturned. And if you're not aware of what I'm talking about or what all this means, what that would basically mean is that there would no longer be a constitutionally protected right for abortion. It wouldn't mean that abortion would suddenly become illegal, it would mean that it would go to the states and states would decide. And if you know anything about California, you know that we're a long way from abortion having any kind of constraints here. So I heard about the decision, I was sort of like, wow, I didn't think we were anywhere near that. I still don't know if we are, we'll see what happens. The thing that ended up really just kind of stealing my breath and stealing my joy over the next several days was just being grieved by the absolute passion of millions and millions of people to do everything that they could and use their voice in every way to protect the right for abortion.

Dan Franklin: [00:27:57] Now, there's a lot of us in here, I don't presume to know where everybody is at with this. But I'll just say a couple of words on this. When I talk about abortion, and when I talk about abortion being wrong, this isn't just sort of Dan Franklin speaking off the cue, this is what our church teaches. And not only that, this is what the Christian church has pretty much always taught. If you go back, abortion is not something that's new, if you go back to the early church, the early church was taking a stand against abortion. There are Christians today that are sort of treating this as like, well, you could go either way with it. They're not only out of step with the Bible, they're out of step with the historical church. We are not taking some weird stand where we say, no, abortion is an evil, it's a wrong thing, there is a precious unborn child made in the image of God whose life is being taken. And even though people bring up a variety of things, you know, what about rape, what about incest, what about the mother's life? That takes up about 1% of abortions, that is not what's driving this industry. So I say all that just to say it grieved me to see the absolute passion of millions and millions of people saying, no, no, no, you are not going to take away our right to kill our unborn children.

Dan Franklin: [00:29:08] And then you know what started to happen inside of me? I started to realize just how much better I was than all of these other people. I just started to think about, man, they are way off base. I'm seeing this clearly; they're clearly not seeing this clearly. And I started getting angry in my spirit, and there were certain faces that were coming right to the front of my mind. And I was just thinking about how evil they are, and how much smarter I am, and how much more moral I am. Do you know what the Holy Spirit doesn't do? The Holy Spirit doesn't whisper to us, be more self-righteous. that's the way to go here. Despise people, that's what I want from you. And part in I had to realize that the Spirit is not leading me to these attitudes.

Dan Franklin: [00:29:56] Now, the point of that wasn't to say I need to change my mind and I need to become pro-choice. Not at all, but the point was to look at that and say, what is the Spirit actually calling me to do in this situation? And I'll tell you, after it happened, once in my office, probably over the next three days, it happened like 16 more times where I found myself going down the road of self-righteousness. And I kept pausing, thank God that I was preaching on this passage because God kept bringing it to mind. I kept pausing and just asking the Spirit, what are you calling me to do? And you know what, every time it turned out he was calling me to do, every single time it turned out he was calling me to pray. Pray for my own hard, arrogant heart, and to pray for people that are in some kind of deception, or are in some kind of hurt, or are experiencing some kind of distress. And even in saying this, before even going on to what we're going to talk about next, I just want to pause and say, I don't know where everybody is at here, but there might be some of you here that you are right now in the midst of a battle about whether or not you have an abortion. That you're like, we're right in that right now, I'm probably going to do it, I'm not quite sure. There is some stat that somewhere around 80% of women who get abortions are experiencing some kind of pressure from a boyfriend, from a husband, from a parent, so so you might be in a situation right now where you really feel trapped. And even as I'm talking about this, you're like, shoot that's me. Here's what I just want to say before even moving on, if you're in a situation where you're like, I feel trapped and I feel like abortion, even though that might be listening to the flesh and just doing what's expedient, it just it seems like my only option right now. What I want you to know is don't leave today without talking to me or talking to one of the other pastors, we can do it secretly, nobody needs to see this as a public thing, but we will be up here afterwards and we're going to be outside with nametags on. If you feel like you've got nowhere to go, that's a lie from the enemy, you do have somewhere to go. We here will welcome you, and we will embrace you, we will figure out how to help you with this. But don't let the lies of the enemy lead you to do something that you're always going to look back on with regret. And the fact is whether it has to do with abortion or with anything else, every time we follow the voice of the flesh, we end up looking back with regret.

Dan Franklin: [00:32:07] The Apostle Paul says, here's the deal, if you end up in any kind of crossroads, you got to voices whispering to you. They are against each other, and each crossroads is an opportunity for us to decide, am I going to trust the voice of the Spirit or am I going to go where the flesh is leading me? That's the reason why we have a battle.

Dan Franklin: [00:32:27] But one last movement here, and that's the strategy for the battle. And the strategy for the battle is going to feel very similar to verse 16, in fact, in some ways, it's almost parallel to verse 16. I'll put verse 16 up there, and you see that each part of it is sort of parallel. Verse 18 says, "If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law." Back in verse 16, we read, "So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh." So you can see, I kind of highlight it up there, two things that we're told to do with regard to the Spirit. Verse 16, "Walk with the Spirit." Verse 18, "Be led by the Spirit." And I love this because if we're thinking of a walk, like a literal walk, like I'm here, the Holy Spirit's here, and we're holding hands, it can be easy for us to think that we're the parent and the Holy Spirit is the child. And has anybody ever walked with a child? It can be kind of chaotic, and so you're like, great, I've got the Holy Spirit walking. Hey, Spirit, you're going to come over here with me and you're going to bless all the work that I'm doing over here, and you're going to make sure all of it goes well. And then, Spirit, we're going to come over here, and this is the person that I want to start dating, and so you're going to make all this work and you're going to make all of it go well. Right, Spirit? And then over here, this is the college that I want to get into, and so, Spirit, make sure you grease the wheels and make all of that happen. Paul doesn't say lead the Spirit; he says be led by the Spirit. And this sort of makes sense, because when the New Testament and Jesus and the authors of the New Testament talk about us, we're not the adults, we're the children. We are being led by the Spirit, and the Spirit has somewhere that the Spirit's going. And if you remember what it was like to be a child or to walk with a child, there are times you're like, that's pretty, that's neat. And the Spirit's like, no, no, no, no, no, this is where we're going. And then sometimes you're on a hike with a little child, and a little child is like, I don't care what you say, I'm getting off that cliff. I'm going down there and I'm getting into the water, and I don't care if I die. And the Spirit's like, no, no, no, no, no, we're walking together, the Spirit leads us. We are meant not just to walk with the Spirit, but to be led by the Spirit.

Dan Franklin: [00:34:37] That's the parallel, to walk with the Spirit is to be led by the Spirit. And then you'll notice the second part of this is also parallel. Back in verse 16, he said that "If you walk by the Spirit, you won't gratify the desires of the flesh." And here in verse 18, what's set against the Spirit is the law. The law is parallel to the flesh, which is weird because it could be easy for us right now to think, here's how you walk by the Spirit, you obey all of the rules. And sometimes, I talked about this last week, sometimes we're like, oh, for Christians, there's lots of rules. Read the New Testament, there are not lots of rules, there's basically one rule, and that one rule is, to love your neighbor as yourself. And that's the one law that covers everything else, so we don't have a whole bunch of laws, but you know what we're good at as human beings? We're good, sometimes we say we don't like rules, we love rules, we love rules, especially rules that cover other people, but even rules that cover ourselves. I heard somebody once say, our kids don't like rules. Have you ever watched kids play a game together? They make them, no, you can't do that, no, no, that's against the rules. We constantly, we are still that way as adults, we're trying to make up rules.

Dan Franklin: [00:35:46] So there's a big temptation for us to say, I know how I'm going to keep myself on the track, I'm going to make up a bunch of rules for myself. And I'm going to make sure that I read the Bible exactly this long each day, and I'm going to make sure I'm at church at exactly this time, and I'm going to make sure I go through this exact prayer list, and I'm going to make sure I don't see movies that are past this rating, and we go through all of it, and we make a whole bunch of rules for ourselves.

Dan Franklin: [00:36:10] Now, here's the deal, it is wise sometimes for you to say, all right, there are certain things I'm going to do in certain things I'm not going to do for some of you. You're like, I'm not going to drink alcohol at all, and the Spirit has led you to that, it's absolutely clear. For some of you, you're like no R-rated movies, and the Spirit has led you to that. Here's the danger that I just want to warn you about, be careful and make sure you don't end up in a situation where the way that you become convinced, you're going to win the battle is because you got the rules. And instead of relying on the Holy Spirit, you're relying on the rules, I know I'm going to get through this because I read my Bible every day, I know I'm going to get through this because I memorized this passage, I know I'm going to get through this because I don't drink any alcohol. Be careful that you don't start relying on the rules, and once again, we're good at this, we're good at making up rules instead of following the voice of the Holy Spirit.

Dan Franklin: [00:37:09] Frankly, it's easier to obey a whole bunch of rules, than it is to walk. Day in and day out and say Spirit, what are you leading me to do today? How are you leading me to pray? How are you leading me to talk? How are you leading me to apologize? How are you leading me to walk with you? And what are you leading me to do in response to this Bible reading that I'm just having? That we walk a day in and day out with the Spirit.

Dan Franklin: [00:37:32] Now let's just take a couple of minutes to make sure this is tangible in some ways, how do you set yourself up to be led by the Spirit? And I just want to say three things, this isn't comprehensive, but three things that are going to help us. Do you guys know who wrote the Bible? Yeah, the Holy Spirit led prophets and apostles along to get us the Bible that we're reading. So if we're just looking at this and we're saying, oh, I really want to be led by the Spirit, if only there was some way to know what the Spirit thinks? We've got the Bible. Now, I just said a minute ago, it's like, all right, don't just say well, I read the Bible now I'm going to be fine. But for heaven's sake, read the Bible. If we want to know how the Spirit is leading us, we've got the book that the Spirit inspired and we should be reading and we should be thinking, and we should be memorizing and reflecting, and we should be with other people and discussing it, these are all things that we look to do as a part of our church. So we say, all right, man, first and foremost, if I'm looking to walk, if I'm looking to be led by the Spirit, I get to know what the Spirit says. And some of you, you're on this, you're reading the Bible really regularly. For some of you, you're like, Gosh, every time they talk about a Bible reading plan, I feel bad because I'm not really reading the Bible. Let me just say something real quick to you, if you right now are not reading the Bible at all, like except for when you open your Bible on a Sunday or in your small group, if you're just like, I'm just not reading the Bible at all on my own, and I know I'm supposed to read it every day, but that's daunting. Forget about every day, start with one day. Just tomorrow, open up and read the Bible. And you know what? If you don't read it the whole rest of the week, one day is better than zero, and maybe next week it'll be two, and maybe next week it'll be three. But don't allow this idea that you're supposed to go from 0 to 60 to keep you from chipping away and saying, I just want to open myself up to God's word, to the word of the Spirit, reading the Bible.

Dan Franklin: [00:39:31] And number two, set yourself up, set aside times for you to commune with God through prayer. Prayer is not just getting through a prayer list, prayer is communing with God, it's walking with him. This is where I say, I love walks, I hate rainy days, and here's why, because I have trouble praying if I'm not on a walk. So every morning I'm like, I'm out on a walk with the Lord, and I'm able to just pray, and I'm able to pour out my heart, and I'm able to confess things, I'm able to give my burdens to him. Set aside time for prayer, and set aside time in that prayer for you just to listen, just to say what is the Spirit saying to me today?

Dan Franklin: [00:40:14] And here's the third thing, because you guys might be like, well, congratulations, read the Bible and pray. I've heard that before. Here's the third one, start with the small things, start with the seemingly small ways that the Spirit is calling you to respond. Start with the times they say something careless to your spouse, or to your friend, or to your brother or sister and the Spirit says, go, apologize. Start with those things and follow the Spirit in those. Start with the times that you're watching your eighth episode of a Netflix show, and the Spirit says, maybe you should turn this off and just read your Bible, start with that. Start with the small things that the Spirit is calling you to do, quit waiting for the heroic moments, and just start responding in the small, everyday things that the Holy Spirit is calling you to do.

Dan Franklin: [00:41:03] Friends were in a battle, and the worst thing that we could do in the battle is we could forget that it's going on. If you live your life, just think, all right, I'm just going to figure out a way to get through this day, and you're not living in the midst of there is a battle, there is a real enemy who wants to steal your joy, there is a real Holy Spirit who wants to lead you to all joy. If you forget that you're in a battle, you're set up for major losses. But God has given us the greatest gift and the greatest offer, and that's Himself. The invitation to walk in the Spirit is not just the invitation to eradicate sin from our lives, it's the invitation to walk with the God who has access to all joy.

Dan Franklin: [00:41:45] Let me pray for us. Father, I thank you so much that you've given us the Holy Spirit, we would be lost and helpless without him. Thank you that you've given us the Holy Spirit to remind us, and teach us, and embolden us, and also to reassure us that we are your children. And Father, I pray for anyone here who's feeling defeated and guilty and sad and discouraged, I pray that your Spirit will speak to their spirit and just reassure them that they are your children. And Father, I pray for us now as we close out this time, I pray that you move in our hearts, I pray that you move in our lives, and I pray that you'd lead, each of us, to the next step of walking more closely with you. And Father, I pray that if there's anyone here who just needs a prayer or a word or a hug or a help, that they won't leave without coming upfront to the prayer teams that are upfront to pray with them and talk with them. Father, we pray that you do work through your Spirit, not just throughout this week, but right now, as we come to you. We pray this in Jesus' name, amen. Amen.

Dan Franklin: [00:42:54] And as I mentioned, you can see some members, well, we've got a whole bunch over here, so I guess I'll go down on this side. God bless you so much. Thank you so much for being here. Have a wonderful rest of your Sunday and your Mother's Day.

Recorded in Upland, California.
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Life Bible Fellowship Church
2426 N Euclid Ave
Upland, California 91786
(909) 981-4848