- Overcoming the Sinful Nature
Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church
(11/30) Welcome to part 3 of our message series entitled Hostage. Weíre continuing in our conversation about how we overcome the addictions and temptations that have held us hostage. You know, we all have a story that we face on a daily basis and each one of us has a story that youíre probably not very
proud to tell. You mightíve made some decisions that you regret and there may be a whole chapter of your life where you really donít want to tell that story. Well last week we talked about deciding to stop, resisting that temptation, and fighting your way out. So today, were going to talk about living by the Spirit, making a
move in the right direction, and starting new habits, new disciplines that will help you be victorious.
In his book, "The Principle of the Path" Andy Stanley says, "Direction not intention determines destination." Isnít that so true? I love that, because so many times we find ourselves in a place where we wonder how we ever got there. You know it was never our intention, but the choices and the path that
we took brought us to that destination. It wasnít what you intended to say, it wasnít what you intended to do, but the direction that you were heading determined your destination, not your intention. Therefore the way that weíre living and the choices we make ultimately determines the story that we have to tell.
Last week, we looked at the process of resisting temptation and 3 steps for victory. Number one was to submit to God, number 2 was to resist the devil, and number 3 was to eliminate the temptation. But so sometimes, so many times, weíll say things like, "I just had to." Or, "I just canít stop." Or, "I
tried everything and I just canít quit." and so we have resigned ourselves to this reoccurring temptation where no matter what you do you just canít seem to stop doing that one thing. So I want to remind you of our theme verse from 1 Corinthians, chapter 10, verse 13, "God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond
what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."
This morning you need to know that no matter what youíre facing God will always provide a way out. You may be tempted to grumble and complain, but thereís a way out. You may be tempted to worry, but thereís a way out. You may be tempted by an addiction; maybe sweets, social media, gambling, gaming, or
smoking something. Maybe itís looking at something inappropriate, but the good news is that thereís a way out. Our God is faithful and he will provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
The problem is that we often tell ourselves, "No, I need to stop thinking about this, no, I need to stop doing that, or noÖ I need to start doing this" and so we beat ourselves up and itís like thereís no way out. But the Bible tells us to refocus, to stop dwelling on the negative and focus on the
positive, to stop trying not to think about the wrong thing, but to actually do the right thing. And so here is what the apostle Paul said in Galatians chapter 5 at verse 16. He said "So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature." What heís saying is, "Do the right thing, stay close
to God, and live by the Spirit so that you donít fall into temptation.
Now if youíve been following Jesus for long at all, you know that thereís a war going on between what Godís Spirit wants you to do and what your sinful nature want you to do. And so there is hope, because the Bible said, if you live by the Spirit you wonít gratify the desires of the sinful nature. If
you live moment by moment by the Spirit youíre not going to be as tempted to do the wrong thing. And so then in verse 17 the apostle says, "For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you
want" (Galatians 5:17). And I am sure that there are those of you who can relate to this much like Paul in Romans chapter 7, when he cried out in verse 15, "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." So the difficulty is that you want to do whatís right and you donít. You want to
read your Bible, you want to stop overeating, you want to get up early and jog, you want to do the right things but you donít. And then you donít want to do the wrong things. You donít want to get so angry with the children, you donít want to sleep with your boyfriend again, you donít want to look at that again, you donít want
to do these things, but you end up doing these things anyway. The right things you want to do you end up not doing and so life has become this daily struggle of wanting to do the right things and not wanting to do the wrong things. So what Paul says in Galatians 5:16 is the key to our struggleÖ
1. Living by the Spirit
He says, "Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature." In a spiritual sense it is tipping the scales in the favor of a godly victorious life in Christ Jesus. Itís loving and obeying God as Jesus said in John 14:15-16, "If you love me, you will obey what I command." So
love and obedience go hand-in-hand with following Christ, with living by the Spirit, and resisting temptation. Remember, "Temptation is anything that promises satisfaction at the cost of obedience to God." Jesus said again, in verses 23-24, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will
come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teachingÖ"
So we are deciding to stop, submitting to God, and resisting the devil. Itís direction not intention that determines destination. So as followers of Christ in our Christian walk we want to encourage the positive things and discourage the negative things. We want to do the right things and donít want to
do the wrong things. And therefore, we want to feed the Spirit and starve the sinful nature, because if you feed and encourage your Spirit, your Spirit grows stronger, your intimacy with God grows, and His power in you to overcome temptation increases as well.
So instead of having his ongoing battle in your mind, where you are continually thinking, "no, no, no". You encourage the things of the Spirit, you feed the Spirit, so that your Spirit grows stronger overcoming the sinful nature and the temptations that are common to us all. You outweigh the negative
with the positive and with the help of the Holy Spirit you overcome those wrong desires. So it is the Holy Spirit that can empower us to break free from temptation.
Jesus said in John chapter 16, "It is for your good that I am going away." Itís for your good, because something much better is coming. "Unless I go away, the Counselor (the Holy Spirit) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you" (John 16:7). He says, "I will ask the Father, and he will
give youÖthe Spirit of truth, whom you know, because he lives with you and will be in you. And so Jesus promises in verse 18 "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you". He tells us, that for all those who receive him as Lord and Savior, the same Spirit that raised him from the dead will also live in those of us who
believe. And his Spirit does, it teaches us, convicts us, comforts us, and counsels us; giving us that peace that surpasses all human understanding.
Today, you and I with the help of God the Holy Spirit can overcome the desires of our sinful nature as we learn to depend upon him. The Bible says in Romans chapter 8, "We have an obligation ó but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature,
you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God" (Romans 8:12-14). You see, we have been redeemed, we have been bought at a great price, with the precious blood of Christ, and therefore we have an obligation to live by
the Spirit; but number two: we also have an obligation to "put to death the misdeeds of the body".
2. Kill the Misdeeds of the Body
Now Paul tells us this in verse 13 "If you live according to the sinful nature, you will dieÖ" and that sounds pretty dramatic but itís true. Itís been said that, "Sin thrills and then it kills." "Sin fascinates and then it assassinates." And thatís the reality, because sin can be fun for a little
while, thatís what the Bible says. Hebrews chapter 11 tells us, that Moses "chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time" (Hebrews 11:25). You see, Moses knew that the fleeting, passing, momentary pleasures of sin were not worth the consequences tomorrow. He
knew that sin would grow, it would increase in power, and it would kill. And it does. It kills marriages. It kills relationships. It kills your health. It kills your intimacy with God, and it kills your testimony for God. Sin kills!
The prophet Isaiah said, "Woe to the obstinate children," declares the Lord, "to those who carry out plans that are not mine, forming an alliance but not by my Spirit, heaping sin upon sinÖ" (Isaiah 30:1). But hereís the good news, "If by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body you will
live" (Romans 8:13). Paul says, "If by the Spirit" meaning as God said, "Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the Lord Almighty" (Zechariah 4:6). You see, itís not in our strength, but by Godís powerful Spirit that lives within every born-again believer. Itís by the Spirit. And if by the Spirit you kill the deeds
of your sinful nature; if by the Spirit you put to death, you starve, and stay away from that thing which has been strangling you and holding you hostageÖ "Youíll live".
And Iím believing that there are those of you here today that are going to tap into the power of God, the Spirit of God, and not by your own strength, but by Godís mighty power youíre going to starve and kill the sinful nature. This is your moment, this is the beginning of your healing, youíre going to
rise up victorious, because if by the Spirit you put to death, you kill those misdeeds, youíre admitting your weakness to God, and youíre relying upon the power of the Holy Spirit. So you call it what it is, you give it a name, because youíre only as strong as you are honest. You confess it and you bring it into the light,
because sin grows best in the dark. James tells us that as we come together as believers we confess our sins to one another and we pray for each other, because thatís where we find healing (James 5:16). And so before we move on, I want you to get the most of this moment, and I want you to put a name on the deed. Just between
you and God, right now, put a name on that deed. Admit that you are weak, that you need the help of God, and rely upon the Spirit of God to strengthen you, comfort you, and guide you into the truth. You see, if by the Spirit you are living in the power of the Holy Spirit, and number two you are killing the misdeeds of the
body, then number three keep in step with the Spirit.
3. Keep in Step with the Spirit
Thatís what Paul says in Galatians chapter 5, "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires" (those who belong to Christ, those who live by the Spirit have crucified the sinful nature, theyíve killed it and so Paul says) "Since we live by the Spirit,
let us keep in step with the Spirit" (Galatians 5:24-25).
But how do we keep in step with the Spirit of God? What does that mean? Well, itís about learning to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Weíre going to spend time with him, weíre going to get to know him better, weíre going to learn to recognize when heís leading and guiding us. And so then we
will know when heís leading us to say this, prompting us not to do this, telling us to take our mind off of this, leading us to help this person, or telling us to pray for this, and so literally weíre keeping in step with what God the Spirit is doing.
And so Galatians chapter 5 says, "Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature" (Galatians 5:16). "Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit" (Galatians 5:25). Which really brings us back to the promise that the resurrected Jesus gave to his
disciples in Matthew 28:19-20: "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Surely I am with you always! "Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit" (Galatians 5:25). Because when youíre close to the Spirit of God, you wonít gratify the desires of the sinful nature, and therefore because youíre so full of the presence of God, so full of what really
matters, youíre not easily tempted by the empty, vain, meaningless things of this world. Now that doesnít mean that your not still tempted to sin, but as you are filled with the Spirit you are distracted by heavenly things, you are focused on eternal things, and so as your intimacy with God grows the temptations will diminish.
So what we want to do is to be very purposeful about our relationship with God. Thatís what it means to keep in step with the Spirit. Itís like being in a marching band. Have any of you ever played in the high school marching band? If you did, you know what Iím talking about when I say that you need to
keep in step with the Spirit. Could you imagine a marching band on the football field or in a parade if everybodyís not keeping in step? Imagine the confusion, the mayhem as trombones, tubas, and trumpets collide. Or imagine if everybody were playing to a different drummer. But as you are attentive to the Spirit, as you keep
in step with the Spirit, youíll be different, youíll be orderly, efficient, effective, and victorious.
The Bible tells us that Ö"No one serving as a soldierÖ" Like "Archippus our fellow soldier" in Philemon verse 2, or "Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier" in Philippians 2:25, or you or I, as soldiers of Jesus ChristÖ "No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs
Ė we want to please (our) commanding officer" (2 Timothy 2:4). So weíre very purposeful about our relationship with God, about feeding the Spirit, doing things that was stir up the Spirit in us, and so when you hear that song on Christian radio it will minister to your soul. Youíll be reading your Bible and suddenly a verse is
going to come alive and speak to you. Youíll be carrying out the normal duties of your day when suddenly God puts a name in your mind to pray for.
As youíre walking in the Spirit, suddenly the Spirit says, "Donít do that, but instead do this." And when you keep in step with the Spirit, when youíre living according to the Spirit, you wonít gratify the desires of the sinful nature. Because you have no obligation to sin, to obey the desires of your
sinful nature, to stay addicted, dependent, distracted, or indulging in that whatever. You see, the Spirit of God living inside of you is greater than that desire, heís renewing your mind, and giving you a peace which goes beyond our understanding. Our God is faithful and he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can
bear, but when you are tempted, he will always give you a way out.
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