The Flesh vs The Spirit

What Are The Acts Of The Flesh And How Can We Learn To Control Them?

Troy Spilman
May 15, 2022    40m
In Galatians chapter five, we learn about how the acts of the flesh are in a battle with the Spirit. We are taught to lean on the strength of the Holy Spirit to help us resist the desires of the flesh. Video recorded at Upland, California.

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Troy Spilman: [00:00:19] There's a well-known saying it goes like this, “Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.”. This quote draws out the idea that the way that we live our lives, whether for good or for bad, did not come about as a result of our decisions right now or in the moment. No, they're the fruit of many, many choices along the way. So basically, I'm not the way I am because I woke up this morning and took a shower, had my coffee, and decided to be this way. No, that's not how it works. I am the way that I am because of a lifetime of choices that led me to this point right here today.

Troy Spilman: [00:01:14] In past years, my family, we've sown some cucumber seeds, maybe some squash seeds, because they grow like crazy and they're pretty easy to plant. And when I do this, later on, I'm not looking for carrots. What am I looking for? I'm looking for that which I had sown. I'm only going to reap what I sow. Now there are times that we would do this garden, and there would be things that would be popping up later on that I didn't plant this year, those seeds just kind of laid dormant, they were just there, and they were kind of just chilling in the dirt maybe for a year. And then later, sometimes the impact is delayed. It isn't always felt right away, the long-term investments, just like long-term investments, that bear fruit over time. So the question for us today is, what kind of seeds are we sowing? What are we sowing in our life as we go about our day, week, month, and year?

Troy Spilman: [00:02:12] Now, you probably know about this baseball player, Major League Angels, Shohei Ohtani, 27 years old. Some call him the new Babe Ruth because he's what they call a two-way player, where he's both a hitter and a pitcher, and he's great at both offense and defense. Even if you're not a big baseball fan, it's hard not to be impressed by this guy. Last year he had forty-six home runs, this year he already has six, and it's very, very early. He's also an epic pitcher, he was given credit for nine wins last year and was also named the MVP of the American League. Five years ago, he didn't just wake up one day and say, you know what, I think I'm going to go play baseball. No, he is at his current star status because of tons and tons of decisions back years and years ago. In Japan, he was known as a kid who lives, eats, and breathes baseball. His mentor in high school actually had him clean toilets, so that he would basically kind of learn humility, and create a servant's heart. Tons of decisions got Shohei to where he is today, it didn't just happen, it was a process that was started a long time ago.

Troy Spilman: [00:03:33] So we're also the product of our decisions, we get this, what we make today will impact tomorrow, it just will. So this morning, we're going to walk through four main areas of what Paul calls the acts of the flesh, and then we're going to talk about three guardrails that we can put in place to help keep us on the path that God has for us. So these three verses that were just read, the written by Paul to the church in Galatia, they're not necessarily the most inspiring verses to read, yet they're powerful. They serve as a reminder, also a warning to us, so turn with me into Galatians, or you can watch, or look at the screen above, or read these verses.

Troy Spilman: [00:04:23] Starting in verse 19, "The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God." So Paul speaks of the acts of the flesh, which are basically the characteristics of a life in which the flesh has full reign. If a person continually indulges their desire for instant gratification, the result would be a life marked by what Paul describes right here. We'll be tempted to tell ourselves. stop being so jealous, Troy, stop treating people like they're objects, stop acting out in anger, just stop drinking so much, or whatever the issue might be. But that's not what Paul is really going for, he's not trying to convince us of that. Instead of giving us a list of what not to do, Paul's revealing what we actually will do if we give in to the flesh. He's basically saying, if you give into the flesh, this is what it will look like. In other words, our first thought should not be to try to go back and stop the acts of the flesh but go back several steps further and change what is leading them to manifest themselves in the first place.

Troy Spilman: [00:06:00] So last week Pastor Dan took us through a few verses that lead up to this section of the acts of the flesh. Let's look back at verse 16, and it says this, "So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17For 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 want." So friends, we all hear these voices, right? We feel the pull to do what we believe is right, but we also feel the pull to do what makes us feel good at the moment. The yearning for instant gratification is what the Bible calls the flesh, it's a part of ourselves that wants us to indulge our appetites and just to run with our instincts with very little concern for the fallout. And yet, Christians are also indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Part of being a believer is the Holy Spirit makes His home in our lives, he's the one who prods us to walk by faith, to be loving to others, to be able exercise self-control. Friends, we are in a battle, it's the flesh versus the Spirit, and they have very different goals and they're contrary to each other.

Troy Spilman: [00:07:33] So a year out of college, I was hired as a pastor in training, we call it a pit, P I T. And the pastor I reported to talked in these terms a lot, he talked about the flesh versus spirit. And so there was one day I was kind of frustrated and I was in my cubicle, it was kind of a tight space. So we kind of have the joke that if someone was meeting with someone else, we were all meeting with that person because it was so kind of tight there. So I must have muttered underneath my breath a little too loud, my frustration maybe towards someone else that kind of bailed on me last minute for a youth ministry event that we were putting together. And I remember this pastor, kind of just hovered over the cubicle and said, Troy, stop being in the flesh. God has got this, it's not worth it. It just really struck me, I just love just how refreshing that was of his transparency and just basically calling it what it is, it was the flesh.

Troy Spilman: [00:08:35] I think it's good for us to talk in those terms, talk about the flesh or the Spirit, let's not dance around it and let's not sugarcoat it. It'd probably be good if we spoke this way a lot, if we actually just incorporated this into our language. I think we'd know what we're talking about, maybe I give you a signal. You know, I pull my ear, you know, and I kind of give you a wink, like, oh, maybe I'm being in the flesh, I know I could use that. So what's the answer to this battle that we all wrestle with?

Troy Spilman: [00:09:02] Well, the answer is we walk by the Spirit. We are led by the Spirit. We have a daily choice, friends, to come under the leading and direction of the Holy Spirit. Now, don't be shocked by the existence of the struggle, something isn't crazy with you, when you chose Christ, you chose a side, and it puts us at odds with the flesh. I mean, be ready for battle, you wouldn't play basketball in Berk, okay, I might, but you want to lace up, get into the game, greater is he who is in us than he who is in the world.

Troy Spilman: [00:09:38] Okay, so let's break this list down. So again, in verse 19, the acts of the flesh are obvious, sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, adultery, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and the like. So there are four main categories, four main areas we call Paul's acts of the flesh. And then we're going to talk about three guardrails a little later, a little reminder.

Troy Spilman: [00:10:11] And so, Paul here says that these deeds are obvious. In a sense, they're kind of listed as a reminder. It kind of has a feeling that maybe he's even apologetic that he has to kind of lay them out so clearly. But let's just beware that this is not an exhaustive list. I mean, notice Paul says at the end, he says, and the like, kind of like dot, dot, dot, etc., etc., etc. We can't say, whoa, man, the thing I struggle with, it's not on that list, so I guess it's okay. No, that's not what we're talking about here, the goal here for Paul is to motivate godly living, as he contrasts lists of the acts of the flesh and lays them out next to the fruit of the spirit, which will be covered in greater detail next week.

Troy Spilman: [00:11:00] So Jesus points out that what's wrong with us is not from the outside, mere external forces at work here, but something that's from within. There is a situation where the teachers of the law at the time of Jesus were criticizing Jesus because the disciples didn't follow the ceremonial handwashing procedure. They're basically calling them out on a technicality, it's not like the hands of the disciples were filthy or dirty, that wasn't it. It's just, that they didn't follow the lengthy, set, established, rules that went into a traditional handwashing ceremony that the leaders of Israel perform every time before they would eat.

Troy Spilman: [00:11:00] In this passage in the Gospel of Mark, we see Jesus's response to the hardness of the heart of the Pharisees. So, in Mark chapter 7, Jesus says this, “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. 21For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly. 23All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” His response was basically, let's be more concerned about the attitude of our heart, our inward being, which is the true source of our problem, not as much about the outward washing of our hands. We're born in this world friends, with a faulty, sinful nature that can only be changed by the gift that we can receive of forgiveness and salvation available to us because of the sacrifice of Jesus.

Troy Spilman: [00:12:48] The humanistic view is that we're basically born morally good, or at least morally neutral. This view would say that the biggest culprit is our environment, if we just had equal access to education and jobs and transportation, income, medical care, housing, transportation, and the list goes on, if we had these things, then we wouldn't have all these ills, or these issues you can say, in our society, that's kind of how the thinking goes. And no doubt that certain environments expose us to particular temptations, but we still have a choice, we're still moral creatures. The Garden of Eden was essentially a perfect environment, but there are still reasons to be discontent and to ultimately rebel against God. Biblically, we all have inherited this corruption and we are in need of a Savior.

Troy Spilman: [00:13:46] If you have not committed your life to Jesus Christ, you can make Jesus your Lord and Savior today. You can experience this forgiveness and new life, this hope of eternity that's given to us. We'd love to talk to you and pray with you after service, you're going to have this hope in this joy today.

Troy Spilman: [00:14:06] Now, let's try out this humanistic view in a good, controlled environment. Let's say Disneyland, the happiest place on earth. If there's an atmosphere geared toward being happy and fun, this is it. Everything is geared toward fun, right? It's like the food and the music, even things they call the food, the designs, the photo op opportunities, the rides, the entertainers, and their outfits, and what they do when they ride their bikes around and all kinds of cool stuff. The cleanliness, you drop something and there's like three people picking it up before it almost even hits the ground. Even the lines are fun, who does that? Yet it never fails that if you're there, particularly on an afternoon, you'll experience kid meltdowns all over the place.

Troy Spilman: [00:14:56] One time we were there, this is a true interaction. There was a kid that was throwing a fit, and now probably a little overheated and was just done with sitting in the stroller. And the parents said, you know, basically something along the lines of, you need to stop this. Do you want to go back to the hotel? Your parents are going, I know what's coming, right? The kid answers, yes. And there's a big pause, and you can see the mom kind of has this oh, crud look on my on her face, and she says, well, you're not going to. Yeah, right, we've all been there. Look, friends, Walt Disney is not really the problem here, it's the flesh. No doubt there's probably a list of past behaviors that helped get him to this place of this particular interaction, but still, it's the flesh.

Troy Spilman: [00:15:49] You know, this battle of the flesh and the Spirit, it is very real. Now, let's take a closer look at this list of the acts of the flesh, there are four main areas having to do with sex, having to do with religion, human relationships, and then social sins. So these four main areas are what Paul calls acts of the flesh, and he says these are obvious. It doesn't take a Ph.D. to kind of figure out that these are wrong, he says they're obvious, people would know this. He says, "The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like."

Troy Spilman: [00:16:36] Now we're often appalled at the sexual immorality of our day. You know, there's evidence that at the times that Paul wrote this letter were just as bad, if not even worse. One Bible scholar commented on this and stated, there's ample evidence to show that the sexual life in the Greco-Roman world at the time of the New Testament was sheer chaos. Such evidence has come not from Christian writers, but from pagans who are disgusted with unspeakable sexual immorality. So we're going to go through these four areas of the flesh, what he calls acts of the flesh. We are going to go over these four areas, and I'm going to highlight ways that we might kind of dabble in, because we can kind of look at this list, go, no, I don't do that, I don't do that. But we're going to kind of talk about maybe what would be the beginning, or even the genesis of, heading toward this particular area in the flesh, how we might say you dabble in it.

Troy Spilman: [00:17:31] So the first area deals with sex. So the first one here is sexual immorality. This is derived from the word porneia, where we get the word pornography. It refers to illicit sexual activity, it could be adultery, fornication, prostitution, basically, anything outside of God's line for sex between a man and a woman in marriage. Well, there could be some of you even here today, but you're dating and you're having sex. You've justified it, but it's contrary to God's plan, and it's time for you to come in line with God's plan of what He wants to do in your relationship. Look, I can say we want to help you in this, we want to help you get on God's track and His plan for sex and marriage. Meet with one of our trained couples who do premarital counseling and they're really good at what they do, I'd encourage you to talk to us about that, we'd love to get you connected. So we get the idea here, sexual immorality.

Troy Spilman: [00:18:30] But the next is impurity, translated from the Greek literally means unclean, kind of like an infected wound. This is a very broad term, it also includes how one talks about, or jokes, or even pressures others in regard to sexual activity. There can be this perverse is not just in what we do, but in what we say, and how we think about these topics. How might we dabble in this? Maybe we forward on that crude joke, or being edgy, or having sexual innuendos, these are really just some possibilities, there could be a lot more.

Troy Spilman: [00:19:07] And then the next category here is debauchery. it's sexual indulgence without shame or concern for others or how they might be affected, or, I might add, infected. Now, this is a mindset that no longer blushes when one probably should. Now, to dabble in this, look, friends, we know this with the Internet and live streaming, we have access to a lot of highly sexually charged content that comes straight into our households. You don't have to go somewhere else to get it, comes to you. You used maybe not to watch shows, or at least skip the parts where there's nudity or sex scenes, now, you don't really skip over those unless maybe your kids are around. And there can be a way that we can kind of soften to this, we can dabble. Now, how do all these sexual sins begin? They start with imagination and ultimately have to do with the heart.

Troy Spilman: [00:20:05] The second area deals with human-made religion and spirituality. You have idolatry, the worship of manmade images of any type. I doubt that there are any of us that have idols, like those of the first century that were crafted and made from stone and wood and clay to represent the likeness of some type of God. In reality, anything that takes the place of the Lord in our lives can be considered an idol. It can include such things as the worship of material possessions, we can live in idols, we can ride in our idols. They can be an influential influence, they can be affluence, and they can be a position, or even ranking, that we prize. How do we dabble? Well, it used to be keeping up with the Joneses, your next-door neighbor. Now it's keeping up with the people you follow on social media. Where you might see someone that you're following, or you're tracking with, what you see that they have, or they do.

Troy Spilman: [00:21:07] Okay, the next area is witchcraft, which is translated pharmakeia, where we get the term pharmacy that came to be known for particularly mind-altering drugs. So these occult practices often incorporate drugs to induce supposed communication with the deities and later became connected to witchcraft. And now this is often tied to practices such as spiritualism, fortune-telling, and astrology, which can open us up to the dark spiritual influences, a lot of times some people call these gateways. Now, how do we dabble? Maybe you think it's kind of fun to go to the fortune teller booth at the fair, or tracking your horoscope online, which we dismiss as being fun but they actually could be softening us up for darker realities.

Troy Spilman: [00:21:56] Now, how do all these spiritual sins begin? They start with really seeking some kind of spiritual, mystical experience apart from Christ.

Troy Spilman: [00:22:07] Okay, the third area deals with sins related to our relationships. So the first one here is hatred. Well, we kind of get this, right, it's simply hostile attitudes toward others. It starts with the attitude of looking down upon someone that maybe we see as having less value. Now it's difficult to hate someone unless we size them up and judge them. So how do we dabble? Well, we can think that leaving negative comments on social media for those we disagree with, whether they're right or wrong, that we're doing a public service, somehow, we think we're doing good, right, when in reality it feeds into this hostility and hatred and can tarnish our witness.

Troy Spilman: [00:22:54] Okay, next is discord. Hatred results in strife among people, which includes bitter conflict, so this is kind of like the next level. In regard to 24/7 news, we have become infatuated, and borderline obsessed with programing like this. And we just need to remember that it's in the programing interest to sow discord, this is kind of like their job. It brings eyeballs, which brings advertising dollars. Look, friends, this is a business. How do we dabble? Regardless of where you might stand politically, or what varying views you might have on certain issues, it's sad to see political ideologies and views bring division along the body of Christ. And I'm sure I'm not the only one that witnessed some of that, and it's sad that there's discord that we allowed to take place in such a deep way.

Troy Spilman: [00:23:48] Next would be jealousy, now, this is resentment that is caused by desiring that which others possess. I see what they have, I want it. We desire to have the right stuff, the right kind of car, the right kind of breed of dog, the right kind of clothing, the kind of accessories. But we can see what others have, and we can be jealous. How do we dabble in this? Well, I'll just say, look, I imagine if you're like me, we all my experiences from time to time, but it's an attitude that really is toxic. Why is it toxic? Because it tends to kill gratitude and any thankfulness would have for the Lord for what he does provide for us. We focus maybe on what he hasn't, but we need to focus on what he has provided for us and start there.

Troy Spilman: [00:24:34] The next one is fits of rage, and this is sudden unrestrained hostility, unrestrained hostility toward others with very little or no justification, very little or no justification at all. Recently on the news, I saw this incident, and here's the headline, Mom Gives a Black Eye to Girls Softball Umpire. Basically after continuing to disagree with the call, the woman basically just went after her and gave her a black eye. I mean, look, this wasn't like robbery or a life-threatening situation that might justify such an act of getting involved, it was over a debatable call made at the plate. How do we dabble? Can we say road rage? I'm not talking about others, I'm talking about us, our own, we need to stop justifying it because someone else is causing us to be late. All right, enough with that.

Troy Spilman: [00:25:30] Selfish ambition, this is about self-promotion, usually at the expense of someone else. The idea is that I need to speak up for myself, even when it might cost others being overlooked. How do we dabble? Well, it's all fun and games until it's personal, right? When someone else might get that promotion instead of you, then somehow some information got leaked that tarnishes their spotless record and puts them in a bad light, and then also, maybe you become a little bit of a better light. Okay, so that's selfish ambition.

Troy Spilman: [00:26:08] Next is dissensions, we kind of get this, this is a lack of harmony or agreement. How many of us have disputes with others, and we create kind of this me versus them mentality? How do we dabble in something like this? Well, it could be taking issues with our neighbors over things like overgrown hedges and street parking. Instead of coming alongside them trying to win them over, we build resentment, we build up walls.

Troy Spilman: [00:26:38] Factions. Now, factions are a small, organized group within a larger group that causes some kind of disruption. So this isn't just me versus them, this is us versus them. How do we dabble on this? Well, this is about influencing others to our side to gain some kind of advantage, there's something in it for us. We might unfairly characterize one group over another, it tends to be kind of what we do if we kind of want our way, right? This could be in our neighborhood, this could be at work, this could even be at church, this could be in a softball league, you name it, we can have factions.

Troy Spilman: [00:27:16] Next is envy, the desire to have a quality, this is a little bit different than jealousy. Jealousy tends to be more about stuff, envy has to do with a quality or an attribute that belongs to someone else. This could be a skill set, an attribute, or a gift that we might covet. Look, friends, I wish I had rhythm. I could sing, I could dance, you don't want to see any of that, I wish I could even play an instrument. Then I read long ago, the Bible says, make a joyful noise unto the Lord. And I was like, okay, okay, I can do that. But how might we dabble in this? Well, we can actually kind of, you know envy others that have skills that I don't have. I think of Andy and the worship team, they all have skills and they're going to be out here a little later, which is going to be like right in my face that, hey, they're so good and I'm not. And I have to be willing to let that go and be thankful that God gifted them, and has gifted me, in different ways.

Troy Spilman: [00:28:17] So how do all these fleshly tendencies begin in our relationship? By putting ourselves on the throne, we put ourselves first, allowing my self-interest to take the steering wheel of my life's decision-making.

Troy Spilman: [00:28:28] Now, the fourth area deals with social sins, which are often committed in the company of others. One of these is drunkenness, to be intoxicated by alcohol, you get that, which is defined by a lack of self-control, this is about purposeful excess. How do we dabble? Well, we might drink too much with the purpose of losing some of our inhibitions, some might call it liquid courage. As a Christian, look friends, we don't need that, we take on challenges knowing that God is with us, and not because we medicate to take the edge off. One question that could be helpful as a Christian, am I being purposeful in my moderation?

Troy Spilman: [00:29:11] And then there are orgies, which often characterized the pagan worship ceremonies that many of these Gentile Christians had once participated in. This ties into drunkenness and giving in to all kinds of rowdy and crude behavior, the rules are basically just thrown out the window. How do we dabble? We might fantasize about life without rules, what would that be like? We haven't physically engaged in anything or behavior, but we surely have entertained it in our hearts.

Troy Spilman: [00:29:42] Paul adds, after all these, and the like. This basically means, there's more, you get the idea of what these could be, this isn't the end of the list. Basically, whatever our fleshly imaginations can concoct.

Troy Spilman: [00:29:56] So we've covered these four main areas of what Paul calls acts of the flesh, and soon we're going to talk through the three guard roles that we need to put in place. But I'm just going to pause for a moment, I just want to hit the pause button for personal prayer. I'm going to ask that with this list of all these acts of the flesh, that I'm going to ask that you just have a moment between just you and the Lord, that you would seek the Lord in prayer. Maybe as you think through this list, maybe there's one or two that the Holy Spirit would bring to your attention, maybe you need to give it to him. Maybe there are ways that you've dabbled in this, maybe there are ways that you've fully jumped into it. I would ask that you would quietly, silently, with you in the Lord, that you would name those, that you would ask for forgiveness for those, and you would commit it to him that you wouldn't go back to those things. So let's take some minutes right now, just go through that list. I just want to pause and allow us just to go through that list and see what the word might show you.

Troy Spilman: [00:32:29] Lord, whatever you have revealed to us, thank you that Jesus paid the price for those things. Whether it is maybe even just dabbling in temptations, maybe it's just at the very early stages, maybe it's full-blown, whatever it is, Lord, we confess it to you. Lord, I pray that you would give us victory over it. Lord, I pray that you would help us to say no to our flesh and set boundaries. Lord, I pray that you would empower us, Lord, to turn from those things, that we would walk in the Spirit. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Troy Spilman: [00:33:07] So next week, Pastor Dan will be back in action, and he'll be going through the fruit of the Spirit. If we live these out, we ought to have a lot fewer issues in our personal relationships, right? Now, if you look at the fruit of the Spirit, just real briefly you have, "Love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control."

Troy Spilman: [00:33:32] How might these interact with the list that we've just gone through, of the acts of the flesh? Maybe envy, that could be countered by goodness? Hatred could be countered by love. Dissensions could be countered by kindness. Sexual immorality could be countered by faithfulness. Fits of rage could be countered by peace. Drunkenness could be countered by self-control. You get the idea, maybe other fruits actually, several, can match up with one of these. But this is how we could be focused, this is how we could be in prayer, matching up the fruit of the spirit with issues we wrestle with. May we rely upon the Spirit to give us the ability to not just resist, but to counteract the acts of the flesh. Paul says those who practice acts of the flesh will not inherit the kingdom of God. At first, this sounds like a little bit of a shocking statement, but what Paul was getting at is that the follower of Jesus is not going to have a lifestyle marked by the above traits, it's incompatible. It's one thing to wrestle with an issue from time to time, it's something altogether to give your life to it, to be defined by them, where this is a regular behavior of mine.

Troy Spilman: [00:34:55] Second Corinthians chapter 5:17 says this, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: a The old has gone, the new is here!" We are new creations in Christ, even today we've been given a new identity, friends, in Christ." We can take active steps to follow his leading as a child of God, we will not be able to continually live after the things of the flesh in a habitual way. Now it'd kind of be like this, it'd be like going to Top Golf once or twice a year and claiming that you're an avid golfer. And Top Golf basically is a place, they built one just recently on Ontario, we have three levels of hitting bays where we hit golf balls that have trackers in them out to targets. Now, if that's the extent of your golfing, it's hard to say that you're a golfer, right? If that's kind of what you do, because you probably spent more time, you know, probably ordering food than really worrying about where your ball landed because they do have good food. The warning from Paul is for those that practice the acts of the flesh, not those who just rustle from time to time, but we need to commit even the times that we wrestle.

Troy Spilman: [00:36:03] Now the stakes are high in regard to how we respond to this battle between the spirit and the flesh, dabbling in the gray zone will lead us off course toward the acts of the flesh. The Lord has so much in store for you and for me, he wants to use you and me to point the way for others. So here are some best practices that we can put up, these can be guardrails to keep us on the path that God would have for us?

Troy Spilman: [00:36:29] The first guardrail would be to establish accountability. Have someone in your life willing to ask you the tough questions, and you be willing to ask them. We need to put this guardrail into place, it wouldn't just happen by itself, you've got to construct it. We need a place where you can be totally real and transparent, maybe you have an inner circle of just a few people that you can confide in, you can talk about your struggles, and you can pray for one another.

Troy Spilman: [00:36:56] Now, for some of you, this might mean you join C.R., which is Celebrate Recovery, which deals with habits and hang-ups. Maybe as a youth, you get involved on Wednesday nights with Exit 83 Youth Ministry, or maybe our College Ministry, a Young Adults Ministry, or our Women's Ministry, they have lots of Bible studies, and you have our Men's Ministry. We have lots of ways to get connected, maybe that's the first order of business for you is to get connected in a deeper way. Friends, we need each other, we are better together. Amen?

Troy Spilman: [00:37:34] The second guardrail is to say no to our flesh. We just need to say no to our flesh, almost like we are going to practice it in the mirror. Like, no. Identify areas that you're prone to give into, and make the changes. We're usually not very dumb about this, we kind of know some areas that usually we struggle with. We may be aware of them, but the challenge then is to make some changes, make some adjustments. Our flesh is a spoiled brat, boundaries are key. Block off a certain website, stop hanging out with certain friends, and not watch a particular type of movie. Look, it's worth it, friends, to make some changes. If you aren't willing to set some boundaries, you probably aren't all that serious about making some change. Boundaries are necessary, they are key.

Troy Spilman: [00:38:25] The third guardrail is this, have His Word be a top priority in our lives. We have so many other things competing for our attention in our time, I think we're more distracted than ever. How many driving close calls have you had because someone's distracted, right? Maybe that was us. It's food for our spirit, we need to be in God's Word. Most of us know its value, yet knowing is different than doing, we need to be in His Word. How many times where you are rushed, set aside time that you are just able to be with the Lord, that you read, and you reflect and you can pray over actually what you read. The reality, friends, is that we carve out time for what's important to us, so let's make this important.

Troy Spilman: [00:39:13] So let's seek to live out some of these best practices. I'm going to circle back, “Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.”. So, friends, as we move into a time that we're going to partake of communion together, let's remember Jesus paid the price to set us free, totally, and completely. Jesus gives us the strength we need to press on, but it started at the cross. The one that the Son has set free, the Bible says, is free indeed. We're free to live fully for his kingdom. So, friends, if you are helping out to serve with communion, please make your way to the back. And we're remembering his sacrifice that makes us whole, it brings forgiveness. Jesus said, Behold, I make all things new.

Troy Spilman: [00:40:16] Lord, I pray that you give us the ability to remember, to turn to you. Lord, help us put these guardrails in place, and yet, Lord, may we be those that walk in the Spirit. Lord, thank you, thank you for the sacrifice of Jesus, thank you for the hope that we have because of him. Lord, I pray that we would be mindful, be led by Your Spirit, that we are new creations in Christ because of the finished work of the cross. Lord, we can proclaim with authority the cross before me, the world behind me. Thank you for the hope that we have in Jesus.

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