Crucify the Flesh

Sermon Passages: Galatians 5:16-24John 14:15-18

Sermon Notes

Paradigm shifts:

  1. Every Christian is a disciple-maker
  2. Every Christian is qualified to be a disciple-maker
  3. [Next Week]

Every Christian is a disciple because disciples obey Jesus and bear fruit (John 15:8). Therefore, every Christian who helps another Christian bear fruit is their disciple-maker. Jesus tells us all to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20).

What is a disciple?

Christ tells us that disciples are those who abide in his word (John 8:31-34, last week's sermon).

He also says that disciples crucify the flesh and walk by the Spirit (Galatians 5:24). The Spirit lives within you to grow you and remind you of the grace that you have in Christ.

In Galatians 5, Paul lists a bunch of sins and desires of the flesh. In modern language, here's what that list can sound like:

  • Sexual immorality: "You can sleep with her. Don't be so old fashioned"
  • Impurity: "So what if he's married. You deserve someone like him."
  • Sensuality: "You can look. There's nothing wrong with looking."
  • Idolatry: "God hasn't been listening to you. It's time to look elsewhere for help"
  • Sorcery: "The Bible doesn't say anything about Hindu meditation. It helps you clear your head."
  • Enmity: "Those people are parasites. They just live off the hard work of others. Don't waste your time on them."
  • Strife: "Those Democrats are godless, liberal, hippies. God's judgment will fall on their socialist heads."
  • Jealousy: "She shouldn't have gotten that promotion. You've worked a lot harder than she has. She's just a suck-up. It's all rigged."
  • Fits of anger: "Why can't these stupid people learn to drive!!!"
  • Rivalries: "It's a dog-eat-dog world out there. If they can't handle it, they need to get out of your way. It's ok to step on them on your way to the top. Some people are meant to stay on the bottom."
  • Dissensions: "Can you believe they let their kids do that? I guess some people just don't care how their kids will turn out."
  • Divisions: "Do you know what preachers they listen to? You can't trust anything they say. They're probably not even saved."
  • Envy: "It's their fault your life is this way. You deserve to make more money and live better than this."
  • Drunkenness: "Finish the bottle. You've had a hard day and this will help you escape the pain."
  • Orgies/gorging: "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas." "You don't eat like this all the time. It just makes you feel better. Have some more."
  • "And things like these"

In contrast, Paul gives the Fruit of the Spirit, which are the fruit of walking by the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

Crucifying the flesh & walking by the Spirit isn't behavior modification, it is a change of desires. "walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh" (Gal 5:16). Even coffee shops train their employees to be patient and kind. The difference between Christianity and coffee shops is that we are called to exhibit the Fruit of the Spirit even when we're off duty, even when it doesn't benefit us, even when nobody's looking, and even when doing so will cost us everything.

We gain victory over the flesh only because it has been crucified with Christ. We can't do it on our own with our own effort. Christ has defeated the flesh for us so that it no longer has dominion over us, it no longer calls the shots. Because of grace, we have the ability to say no to temptation. The Spirit continues to work in us as we walk by the Spirit to grow our desires and habits to be more and more like the Fruit of the Spirit than Paul's list of sinful desires.

What does it take to form a disciple-making community?

  1. Relationships
  2. Good questions

Good friendship and chatting about sports over coffee isn't enough. We need someone who will correct us, someone who knows our dirty laundry and can help us clean up.

We get offended at criticism because our identity is wrapped up in our sin. We love our sin. Yet, when another Christian helps you see your sin so that you can grow, they are helping you fight your enemy of the sinful flesh. They are an allied assault on the enemy, reinforcements sent into our life.