Tag Archives: Word

Flesh VS Spirit 

Peninsula Community Church 

April 29, 2018 

Flesh VS Spirit 

Romans 8:3-9 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

Last week we talked about not being condemned by our past failures and issues. We discussed the fact that we are free from sin and from the past as a result of the work of Christ on the cross. This week we will continue to look at how this transpires and how we can be assured that we are no longer condemned. From our discussion last week, we found that Romans 8:1 tells us that we are free from the guilt of sin, while Romans 8:2 tells us that we are free from the power of sin.

As we will see today, our mindset makes all of the difference and our focus will determine where we go and what we do. Our focus will determine what we will achieve or not achieve in life. Notice that in our passage today, we find that the law was weak because of the flesh. Therefore, if our focus is on the flesh we will fail to be what God has called us to be. We will be guided by a law that is weakened by the very flesh that we focus on. 

To understand this, we must recognize that the law was weakened by the flesh for two reasons. First, the law was weak as it is an outworking of the flesh that drives us to do things that we do not desire to do, and we do not do what we should do. It is the carnal nature that is the focus of Paul’s words in Romans 7. Let me explain what is meant by the flesh. The flesh is that part of us that recoils when we try to do what is right. It is that part of us that came alive when man sinned and disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden. From that time until now, it is the part of us that is at war with God’s desires for us and the purpose of the Spirit within us.

As I was preparing for this message I came across this. We know the work of the flesh in us when, like the disciples, we should be watching and praying, our flesh really wants to sleep. When we should be sleeping, our flesh finds Facebook browsing and catching up on email fascinating. When we should be diligently teaching our children (Deuteronomy 6:7), our flesh would love to watch a relaxing, family-friendly movie. When we should be meditating on Scripture, our flesh becomes a fountain of ideas for reorganizing the room, improving the yard, or critiquing political candidates. When we should be focusing on our work, our flesh brings up that focus-dominating fear and what we could be doing for fun. When we should be cutting our calories, our flesh demands a sugar-laced snack. When we should be eating because we have become undernourished due to believing the lies about how our weight relates to our value, our flesh screams shame-filled things to stop us. When we should be relishing the joy and freedom of sexual purity and fidelity, our flesh desires to imagine or view defiling, lewd images. When we should be humbly resisting premature conclusions regarding a potentially offensive concern or comment, our flesh immediately turns defensive and suspicious, proposing fantasy scenarios that will indulge sinful anger with a feeling of righteous indignation. Have you ever experienced that? Do you know how that feels? That is the struggle of the flesh.

The second reason the law was weakened by the flesh is that the law had no power to bring change. It could guide us, it could teach us, and it could point out sin, but it could not give life. It was powerless to bring peace, and it was powerless to help us please God. The law could tell us what is wrong, but it could not bring change. Have you ever had that person in your life that loved to point the wrong in your life and uncover your failures, but were unwilling to aide in changing or overcoming those issues? That was the problem with the law. It pointed out sin, but it did nothing to relieve it. 

The one positive thing that came from the law is that it taught us we need a Savior. It taught us that following the rules alone is not good enough. We need a Savior. It taught us that towing the line is not productive, because we fear failing and coming up short, which happens when we try to follow the legalism of the law. We can do all of the right things and still fall short of what was intended. We need a Savior. 

That is why Paul’s next statement is so powerful. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.  Notice that Christ came in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin in order to accomplish what the law could not do. The law required righteousness. The law required us to tow the line. The law required us to keep in step.

The law had a requirement for righteousness which could not be fulfilled any way but through Jesus Christ. That is why He who knew no sin took on all of our sin past, present, and future. He fulfilled the righteous requirements of the law. What the law could not do, God did by sending His Son. At first glance, we might miss the depth of this statement. God sent His Son. This meant that He existed before. He is eternal and came to earth to save that which was lost. 

What we know is that the righteous requirement of the law was fulfilled in Christ. We are now empowered to follow Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. The law could not defeat sin; it could only detect it. Only Jesus can defeat sin, and He did just that through His work on the cross. The question then is is where will we focus our attention? What will we set our minds on? Will we focus on the spirit or will we focus on the flesh? By focusing on the flesh we become obsessed with the rules and the dos and don’ts and we miss living life. We will be focused on just getting by, rather than living life to the fullest. By focusing on the flesh, we miss the opportunity to walk in freedom. On the other hand, if we focus on the spirit, we live in freedom and power. 

Why is this? For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. As Paul noted, the flesh is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law because it cannot. In the flesh it is impossible to please God. That was the plight of Paul in Romans 7, but it is his victory in Romans 8. 

With that in mind let me make an observation or two. We must remember that the fruit of the Spirit is not produced through legislation but by what the vine is connected to. That is why we must be in Christ. That is why we cannot legislate morality, but we must live a spirituality that comes by living a life fully connected to Christ. How many have ever passed a fruit tree and have heard it groaning and moaning to produce fruit? That is not the case at all. That is because fruit is produced from the connection it has to the vine. It does not worry about its fruit, it just stays connected. So are you connected? How do we connect? 

For the guys who were at the men’s retreat this year you might remember Garret Barbush’s message. At the close of his message, he gave us some perspective into how we can set our minds on the spirit and stay connected which leads to bearing the fruit of the spirit. First, we must be confident of our position in Christ. In John 10:10 we find that a full life is a contented life. It is a life of balance. Jesus came to be our life, so you can make a difference as a believer. If we do not remain in Him, we will not be fruitful and we will not make a difference. Instead, we will be tempted to live by the flesh and not the spirit. As believers, we are in Him and we should rest in that.

Second, be aware of God’s desire to be in constant fellowship with you. We will abide in Him only as we are aware that He wants to abide with us. We know this because He chose us. In John 15:16 we find that “He chose us to bear fruit in us.” He chose us to bear fruit and we do that best when we are in fellowship with Him. The result is that we keep our minds set on Christ. 

Third, be intentional about spending time with God. In Matthew 22:36-37 the question is asked about what is the greatest commandment? How do we love God with all of our heart and soul? If we were loving God the way He wants, we will be changing culture. We will be bearing fruit because it is the defining mark of a believer. We must spend time together. We do this through prayer and solitude. 

Fourth, be in God’s word so we get to know Him. We are ineffective without His word. Without His word, we fail to understand what He wants for us. Without His word, we are left to our own demise. Without His word, we become disconnected and discontented. 

My challenge today us to take the next 30 days and focus fully on the Spirit. Spend time in the Bible and in prayer so that we become more connected to Christ. At the end of the thirty days report back and let me know how you are doing. My guess is that you will find that you are doing much better than you hoped or thought. 

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14

Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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Ephesians – The Sword of The Spirit

Peninsula Community Church

Ephesians – The Sword of the Spirit

June 21, 2015

Ephesians 6:17 … and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…

Today is Father’s Day! What a great day to celebrate fathers and all they do. As a father, myself, I recognize the responsibility that comes with this special calling. It brings me joy, it humbles me, and it scares me all at the same time. It is for this reason that I believe our topic for today is so important. For that reason I do not believe it is an accident that we are at this juncture of our study of the Book of Ephesians. We have here a passage that if is properly applied will enhance our effectiveness in the battles we face.

In the last part of Ephesians 6:17, Paul focuses on the sword of the spirit which is the word of God. Before we get into the meat of the message let us do what we have done with the other parts of the armor. Let us look at how this piece of armor was used in Paul’s day. First of all, the sword was a key component to the soldier’s armor. It was a two-edged or two-sided sword which was sharpened on both edges for maximum results. This was critical because when the soldier was in the midst of a battle, he did not have to worry about hitting the target as he could move the sword in almost any direction.

While he could swing the sword in any direction and hit the target it was also important for him to understand that to be effective the soldier had to be trained on how to use the sword. While damage could be done while swinging the sword aimlessly, the soldier could also potentially wound his own comrades in the process. In modern warfare we call this friendly fire. For that reason, the army and especially the individual soldier would spend hours in developing their technique and training on how to use the sword effectively. They did not wait until they needed the sword to learn how to use it. The training was critical because the sword was the first offensive piece of armor defined by Paul. The other parts of the armor as great as they were served only to protect against an onslaught of the enemy .

In this passage, we find that our sword is the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. Whether we believe it or not, the greatest offensive weapon we have in our daily battles against the evil one is the word of God. To understand this, we need to understand two words used in the Greek New Testament for the word “word.” The first word is “logos” which represents the entire inspired, God breathed words given to us by the Holy Spirit. That is what we would call the Bible. It is what is referred to in John 2 where John proclaimed that Jesus was the living word of God.

The second word is the word “rhema” which is the word that is used here in this text. The word  “rhema” represents the spoken word. It is a word in season (2 Timothy 4:2). Let me explain it this way. Have you ever been walking through a difficult time in your life and someone gave you a Scripture that in that specific moment positively impacted you, encouraged you, and set you free. That is “RHEMA” is a spoken word that comes to us in the moment we need it most. It is one of those words that fulfills what Paul said to Timothy.  All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16). The Logos, the entire word of God, has been given to us to disciple us and help us grow. But there are times where we will use a specific passage to speak a word of life and to challenge another person in their personal growth. You see the logos word, the entire gospel, can become the “rhema” word that is spoken in season and at the right time.

With that in mind let me make this most important statement. We must know the Logos of God so that we can speak the Rhema of God. That is, we must know the Bible, the word of God and only then can we speak the word of God effectively. To be able to do this, we must learn the word and know the word of God. This is critical because the Bible is active and powerful as confirmed in Hebrews 4:11-13). For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. The word used correctly can and will bring healing.

The warning here is that we must know more than a few verses that we pull out and use over and over again. This means that we must learn more than one or two passages that we use for every circumstance. I have had the chance to talk to several in recent days who are not believers and they have all stated similar things. They all stated that they have been turned off by those who use the Bible to seemingly force them to be something they are not. Even for some who were nominal believers, most of them stated that they did not know the word and it was confusing for them to be confronted with passages that they did not understand or know. When this occurs it is not the RHEMA word.

Another issue we have is that too often we use the sword of the spirit against our comrades in arms and not the enemy we are fighting. Too often, we use the sword of the spirit against others in order to manipulate and control the behaviors of those we associate with rather than to build them up. For example, as we heard a couple of nights ago in the marriage class, husbands too often use the “wive submit to your husband” passage as a means to control their spouses actions and so when they do something they don’t like they throw the dart of submission at them. The same is true of wives who throw the “love your wive as Christ so loved the church” Scripture to control and manipulate their husbands.

That was never the intent of Scripture. Scripture is and has always been in place to point to Christ the redeemer and savior of the world. This does not mean that scripture is not to be used as a means to bring reproof and correction, but there is a difference between reproof and correction, and manipulation and control. That is not grace and it certainly is not the mercy which Christ and the gospel is all about.

While we can misuse the Scriptures, too many times we underutilize Scripture, or at least we are not versed in how to us the Scripture efficiently and effectively. The result of such action is that our effectiveness is diminished, we lose victories that could be won otherwise, and we can do more damage than good. Therefore, to use the sword effectively, we must practice using the word correctly.  And like the warrior’s sword we must use develop our skill of using scripture appropriately.

But how do we learn how to use the sword? To do so we must consider three things. First we must consider memorization. Read and memorize the scripture. Repetition is the best way to learn things and by memorizing Scripture you can begin to learn it. You may find that hard to do but it is always interesting that we can memorize other things. I am amazed at those who play golf regularly and who can remember the course they have played 5 or 10 years before. They can remember the holes they played, the position of the pin, the distance to the pin, and what club they used. And so on and so on. For others, they can tell you the stats of every player on their favorite team. You see by memorizing Scripture we get God’s word into our minds. If you can’s remember then write the word down on a piece of paper and read it as often as you can. The desire is to get it into your mind.

Secondly, we must meditate on scripture. This is what David meant when he stated that he has stored up His word in his heart (Psalm 119:16). We must consider what the word is saying to us. Is there a promise? Is there a sin to avoid? Is there a command I need to obey? This is another good reason for writing the passage down so we hear and begin to process it.

Thirdly, we must make application of the word we memorize and mediate on. James 1:22 reminds us that we are to be doers of the word. His warning is that we would not just hear the word but we must apply the word and thereby activate the power of the word in our lives. Then, with God’s Word in our heads through memorization, in our hearts through meditation, and in our hands through application, we have the power to affect change by speaking it, sharing it, and living it. We will therefore always be ready with His words on our tongue.

We mentioned this briefly last week. Christ clearly shows us how to do this. Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:1-4). Jesus knew the word and when confronted he used the RHEMA word to counteract the enemies stance in that moment of time.

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14

Copyright © 2015 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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