Peninsula Community Church
Who is Your Master?
May 7, 2017
Galatians 5:16-24 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
When I was in high school back in 1973, I witnessed an amazing event take place. You see for most that year there was a short skinny kid named Jimmy who had been picked on and had been abused emotionally and even physically in many ways. It had begun as fun but now it was a daily exercise from many in the school. While many were engaged in this brutality others had begun to feel sorry for Jimmy but felt powerless to do anything. That all changed one day, however. It was regular day for the most part. As I headed to my next class, I noticed a crowd had gathered outside the gym and they were shouting at someone in the middle of the group.
As I got bit a closer, I realized Jimmy was in the middle of the group. In front of him was one of the biggest, toughest guys in the school. He was slapping Jimmy, and each time he did, people would cheer and laugh. It seemed that Jimmy was being beat down. But something happened in that moment that changed everything. From somewhere deep inside of Jimmy, he suddenly stood up taller than ever before, and before we knew it the big, tough senior was on the ground. He had blood pouring from a broken nose and and he was in the fetal position grabbing his stomach where he writhed in pain. You see what no one knew was that Jimmy was a black belt in karate. He had enough that day and he finally retaliated for the first time.
For some of us, we are living like Jimmy. Every day we are beaten down, pushed around, and ridiculed. We feel defeated and we feel we have lost control of our lives. We feel mastered by both external and internal forces of our lives. We find that we are being subjected to unnecessary and undeserved abuse physically, emotionally, and spiritually. But like Jimmy we don’t have to live defeated, but instead we can be victorious. We can leave the enemy with a broken nose writhing in pain. The fact is Jimmy had the power to deal with his enemies within him the hole time, he just never used that power.
You see no matter what you experience whether it be anger, insecurity, feelings of failure, or other issues, you have the power to overcome each of these. To overcome, we must come to the place where we recognize we are in a battle. We must understand there is a war going on within us and the winner of the battle will master us. Paul describes this war as one between the flesh and the Spirit.
I did not know this until this week that May 4th has been designated as Star Wars Day. As you might remember, Star Wars is a movie that deals with the battle between good and evil. In this passage, Paul reminds us that a real battle is going on within us. This battle is not some conflict that happens on a movie screen that is resolved within an hour to two hours. It happens within our hearts and souls on a daily basis.
Paul defines this battle by way of the symptoms manifested as a result of the battle. He describes these manifestations as the fruit of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. When you go to the doctor he/she will ask you a series of questions. Most of the answers we give are really just symptoms which point to an underlying problem. What Paul describes here are the symptoms of a life being mastered by the flesh or the Spirit. The symptoms of walking in the flesh are sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. Juxtaposed to these symptoms are the symptoms manifested by one who is walking in the Spirit. They are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. These are a matter of the condition of our heart.
Paul understood the concept of symptoms and understanding when it comes to the question of who masters us. That is why in verse 17 he states there is a necessity to walk in the Spirit. Paul reminds us that by walking in the Spirit, we will not gratify the desires of the flesh. The truth is we have been set up for failure in so many ways. For some, we have been raised in such a way that has negatively impacted us spiritually and emotionally.
All of us at different times have allowed the flesh to master us, but there is a difference between being mastered by something and having a short time failure. For example, when it comes to anger there is a difference between getting angry and having ongoing fits of rage. Of course, we can insert whatever issue we deal with here. It might be fear, envy, jealously, strife, and rivalries. All of these can control our life and how we respond to others but they don’t have to.
As I have talked to some of you over the last few weeks one of the issues we have discussed is anger. Some of you express anger through fits of rage while others use the silent treatment. When we deal with anger, or any of the other issues found this passage, there are a few thing we must recognize. First of all, fits of rage or anger can be a learned response. We respond in anger because that is what we learned through experience. Therefore, when things don’t go the way we want, we get angry. I know this because I was one who learned to respond to things in anger because my stepdad would do that.
Secondly, anger can become our “go to” when we are frustrated or we do not get our way. Because it is our go to method of dealing with things, it is easy for us to go negative. We find that anger is a result of unmet expectations which is based on a false concept of expectation. We also get angry when we feel our is identity is being tested or is being diminished by another. When our anger goes unchecked, it is so easy for us to respond with anger because it has become the norm for us. The fact is it can be easier to get angry rather than deal with the problem before us. But though it is the norm it does not have to be that way.
Paul closes this verse out by saying that those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. By the spirit’s power we can crucify the flesh’s work in us. In practical ways how do we do this? First, we must have a desire for change. Without a desire for change, we will not be positioned for change. We will allow ourselves to be battled and the flesh will win every time. A desire for change begins with taking very thought captive and bringing our thoughts into obedience to Christ’s will and desire for us (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Secondly, we must saturate ourselves with the Word of God. The Word of God gives us guidance and details how we should live. David stated that he had stored up God’s word in his heart so he would not sin against God (Psalms 119:11). That is what we need to do. For example, this week I shared with someone a particular Scripture that could guide their life. I suggested they write the scripture down and post it on their mirror, in their car, or any place they would see the Scripture on a regular basis. Then every time they feel anger or they experience any fruit of the flesh, they could go to that Scripture, read it, and by the power of the Holy Spirit live it out.
Thirdly, we ask the Holy Spirit to establish in us right thinking. We take every thought captive to the glory of God (2 Corinthians 10:5). How we think determines how we will respond to the stimuli in our life. When we have our thinking under control, we will find that the flesh will be gratified less and less and the fruit of the spirit will be revealed more and more. You see fruit is the outcome of how we live and how we think. If we allow the flesh to master us, we will have flesh like fruit. If we allow the Spirit to master us, we will manifest spiritual fruit.
Fourth, I would suggest we learn the power of the pause. When we feel we are getting angry we need to pause and ask the question. Why am I getting angry? Why am I flying off the handle? You see there is something to be said of counting to ten, twenty, hundred, or even a thousand. Whatever it takes we must do. When we slow down and think through why we are angry, most of the time there is no real answer. We are just angry. For that reason James commands us Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God (James 1:19-20) The desire of James is that we become less reactive and more active in our responses to life’s issues.
Finally, we cannot and must not forget the power of prayer. We begin our day by asking the Heavenly Father to help us overcome these things. We pray for God to guard our hearts, help us to take every thought captive, and we pray that our emotions are guided by the Holy Spirit. Then whenever we are driven to walk in the flesh, we ask for God’s help to overcome in that moment and to empower us to walk in the spirit.
So today let me ask you, “who is your master?” “Who controls you?” It is your choice!
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14
Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom