Terrorism in a Spiritual World

Title: Terrorism in a Spiritual World

Bible Book: Galatians 5 : 16-26

Author: Frank Page

Subject: Spiritual Conflict; Christian Living



In the fourth century, Diocletian carried out one of the most severe persecutions of the early Christians by the Roman state. Diocletian's son-in-law, Galerius, urged him to begin the persecutions and insisted that they be continued. Succeeding Diocletian as emperor of Rome, Galerius continued the persecutions with unabated zeal. Galerius had his home in Nicomedia. A young Roman army officer, who was a part of the court of Galerius, was impressed by the faith of the Christians in Nicomedia. He asked them the secret of their courage in face of persecution and  death. He was told and received instruction in the Christian faith. When the Christians were next examined, he stepped forward and requested Galerius make a note of his name among the Christians.

"Are you mad?" asked Galerius. "Do you wish to throw away your life?"

"I am not mad," the officer replied. "I was mad once, but am now in my right mind." This young Roman army officer was won to faith in Christ by his observation of the death of the Christians.

How you live and how you die will have dramatic impact on the lives of others. Your testimony . . . how the Holy Spirit is or is not working in your life has dramatic impact on others. It is the difference between a home run and a grand slam. One takes you home and the other one takes several others home too! How does a Christian live his faith on a day-by-day basis so that this "quality Christianity"  is maintained within one's life and so that others recognize the Holy Spirit? We do so by "walking in the Spirit," by being filled with the Spirit, by keeping in step with the Spirit. These phrases, two of which are found in our passage for today, and the other in Ephesians 5:18, speak of a daily, Spirit- led existence.

It means that we must come to the point of relying completely upon the ability and power of the One who indwells us. When we do this, the quality, or the distinguishing characteristic of a Christian, begins to be seen in us. As we ponder spiritual warfare we begin to understand how important this is. We have identified from the scripture already that in spiritual battles, we fight the world, the flesh, and the devil. Last week we talked about our fleshly nature. Again today, we see that if we do not rely upon the fullness of God's Holy Spirit, then we will give in to our fleshly nature.

Look to our passage, Galatians 5:16-26.

We find several reasons why we must keep in step with the Spirit.

I. There Are Two Forces, Which Pull For Your Life

Movie director George Lucas who produced the Star Wars trilogy promoted the idea that there is a cosmic force that is both good and evil which emanates through the life of one who has connected properly with this cosmic force. The phrase, "May the force be with you," became a household phrase for many years. Was George Lucas right? Is there a cosmic force that has both positive and negative attributes? While this New Age philosophy does point to a force beyond this world, it is woefully inadequate because it does not endorse scripture, which tells the truth. As you live life, you will become aware that what the scripture says is true. There are two forces, which do pull for your loyalty. They are resident in the life of the disciple. There have been those who would deny this.

There have always been those among us who pretend...who seem to believe that it is a horrible weakness to confess sin. D. L. Moody used that to his advantage one day.

"At a church where D. L. Moody was invited to preach, he was warned that some of the congregation usually left before the end of the sermon."

"When Mr. Moody rose to begin his sermon, he announced, 'I am going to speak to two classes of people this morning: first to the sinners, and then to the saints.'"

"He proceeded to address the 'sinners' for awhile, then said they could leave. For once every member of the congregation stayed to the end of the sermon."

You know there are two forces. The Bible teaches that when one receives Christ as Savior, he is redeemed, that is, he is "brought back" from the kingdom of Satan. This is an eternal and completed transaction. It is sealed in heaven, never to be repeated or undone. But we are talking about the soul, the spirit of man. On the other hand, these bodies, or our physical lives are not yet redeemed. Our bodies will not be redeemed until Jesus comes. But until that moment, we must live in these unredeemed bodies, which are subject to sin, to disobedience toward God.

Therefore, our "redeemed souls" are constantly in conflict with our "unredeemed bodies." Satan cannot touch our souls, so he aims his attacks at our physical lives. Why? Because, as the Bible teaches, these bodies are the "temples of the Holy Spirit" who indwells us.

II. How Do We Overcome This

The Spirit makes victory possible and that only to the degree that the believer "lives by the Spirit" or "walks" in Him. The present tense of the verb "walk" points to a continuing condition or need for it. That the word is an imperative demonstrates the necessity of a choice.

III. We See The Resuls Of The Two Forces (vv. 19-21 and vv. 22-23).

The works, the resulting lifestyle of the flesh are seen in vs. 19-21.

When Paul says that the acts of the flesh are obvious, he does not mean that they are all committed publicly where they may be seen. Some are, some are not. Instead he means that it is obvious to all that such acts originate with the sinful nature, and not with the nature given believers by God. Here the full scope of the word "flesh" becomes evident (if it was not so before), for the list does not contain only the so-called "fleshly" sins. It contains sins that emanate from every part of human nature.

It is impossible to tell whether Paul was thinking in categories of sin as he wrote. But whether or not he did, four divisions in his list are obvious: first, three sins that are violations of sexual morality; second, two sins from the religious realm; third, eight sins pertaining to conduct in regard to other human beings -- i.e., social sins; and finally, there are two typically pagan sins--drunkenness and the reveling accompanying it.

In v. 21, Paul adds a solemn warning, saying that those who habitually practice such things will never inherit God's kingdom. This does not mean that if a Christian falls into sin through getting drunk, or some such thing, he thereby loses his salvation. The tense of the verb (present) indicates a habitual continuation in fleshly sins rather than an isolated lapse, and the point is that those who continually practice such sins give evidence of having never received God's Spirit.

Verses 22-23 tell us of the works, the resulting lifestyle of the Spirit. In these verses we see compressed into nine words not only a portrait of Christ, but also a description of the life God would have you and I live here and now. The nine virtues that are the Spirit's fruit hardly need classification, though they seem to fall into three categories of three each. The first three appear to comprise Christian habits in a more general way. Their primary direction is Godward. The second set primarily concerns the believer and his relationship to others and are social virtues. The last three concern the believer as he is to be in himself.

These precious characteristics are not something you can achieve on your own. They are a direct result of the Holy Spirit's working in and through you. These are not spiritual gifts that are given to some and not to others. This is spiritual fruit that is given to everyone who possesses the Spirit of God. It is of utmost importance that you understand the need to let the fruit of the Spirit live through your life. Those who are lost need to recognize the Holy Spirit in you. You need to let Him work so that you can have a godly character, a divine ministry, as well as inner quality that cannot be imitated.

Keeping in step with the Spirit is of utmost importance because of the inner conflict. The command is imperative, because the need is great. The warfare is both intense and unremitting.

Daily living in the presence of the Holy Spirit within is a necessity because of the difference between living God's way and living the world's way. The inner conflict is the early warning system signaling a need to beware of a world system totally opposed to God's way. One of Satan's greatest lies, one, which many of us believe is that there really isn't much difference, after all, we live in America, a "Christian" nation. After all, as long as you believe in something, then you're an okay person. There is a difference.

Our minds become cluttered with the compromising cobwebs of this world and its ruler. We have come to live under this world's standards.

Daily living in the presence of the Holy Spirit within is a necessity because of the difference between living God's way and living the world's way. There is a difference. Thank God for the difference.

IV. Keeping In Step With The Spirit Is Vital To Christian Unity

There were ongoing problems in the fellowship in Galatia. In v. 15 of this chapter, we find a poor picture. In our passage, v. 26, we see an admonition to allow our keeping in step with the Spirit to affect our unity. Nothing must be allowed to encourage a prideful spirit, a party spirit.


look with me to v. 24. Here we find a key point to keeping in step. Paul uses vivid imagery here. He states that when we came to Christ, we repented fully of the works of the flesh. We crucified the old nature. This does not mean that the battle is thereby over forever. As in an actual crucifixion, life lingers even though the criminal has been nailed to the cross. Nevertheless, the disciple is to regard the decisive act as having been done. He is not to seek to remove from the cross what has once been nailed there.

Let us keep in step daily with the Spirit of God...keeping the works of the flesh in their place, the past, and the works of the Spirit in their place.

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