One of the biggest goals of the Christian life is victory of the Spirit over the flesh and a change of life, which manifests itself in righteous living before God.
But Billy Graham says the works of the flesh are hard to overcome. When we see the word “flesh” the Apostle Paul is referring to human nature in all of its weaknesses. Graham calls it the “lower side of man’s nature. The flesh is all that man is without God and without Christ” [104-05].
The list of works of the flesh is long, existing in Galatians 5. Graham says that many categorize the list of sins into three types: sins of sexual immorality, sins of impurity and sins of sensuality.
Many read the list and think “Ok, that is extensive and maybe I have problems with some of the sins on the list but overall, I think I am good enough.” But that is naïve. Let’s discuss the challenge of living a righteous life before God.
First of all, the effort is a battle against human nature. It is our nature to fall prey to sins of the flesh. I wish it was not so but Adam and Eve insured that we would have a never-ending battle to fight every day. We are in denial if we think that some aspects of human nature are not sinful and we all fall prey to those sinful urges.
Secondly, we see so much evidence of depravity on a daily basis. Newspapers are full of stories about situations that are far from what God expects. Television screens broadcast news, programming, and commercials that send out a message that to be ungodly is ok. Temptation is literally everywhere and at times the old bandwagon is hard to battle. Everyone is doing it, so it must be ok. Climb aboard the bandwagon!
Thirdly, many people have the idea that they can do anything they want and they can. We live in a very free society. Doing what I want is my means of expression. If I have the urge to sin, no one can tell me that my urges are wrong. In our culture, we value liberty but liberty can lead to an attitude that anything is ok. This reminds me of the last verse of Judges: “Everyone did as he saw fit.”
Read Galatians 5. That is not the way it is supposed to be.
Lastly, Graham gets very tough on Christians in name only [what some refer to as CINOs]. He says “Professing Christians are only that—‘professing.’ They have never possessed Christ. They live lives characterized by the flesh. Tens of thousands have never been born again. They will go into eternity lost—while thinking they are saved because they belong to a church, or were baptized, and so on.”
This is hardly good news…
Maybe this is one of the least popular posts I have ever written.
It is hard to plant yourself squarely in front of a mirror, turn on the bright lights and really look.
Most of us would say, “I would rather not…”
Graham writes “Many people say, ‘I cannot live like this. I cannot hold out.”
True. We can’t. If it were just up to me, I know I could not make it, but I have something very important in my corner that helps me on a daily basis to battle “the flesh.”
I have faith.
I accept what Jesus Christ did for me on the cross. I know He came to help me battle my passions and desires that are ungodly. During His lifetime He lived as a man, was tempted as a man, yet He kept the whole law of God and had victory over the flesh. In Galatians 5:24, it says “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Paul recognizes that these fleshly tendencies are still alive in man and we must constantly battle those to live the life God intended for us.
By faith, we turn our lives over to the Holy Spirit.
Graham says “Since we believers have already been crucified even as we have been saved, we are now called on to work out that crucifixion in the flesh so that we do not make provision for the works of the flesh. We have been buried with Christ.”
But pay attention…[you know the story]…
As Christ was raised, so are we. His victory over death is also ours through the power we have in the Holy Spirit…
We have a new life…