Studies in Galatians – Wayne Barber/Part 29
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2004|
|Not only is there sexual deception of the flesh, superstitious deception of the flesh, but another part of that package that we buy into when we go that religious route is the social deception of the flesh. Flesh causes all of our relationships to become fake and counterfeit.|
The Social Deception of the Flesh
Well, turn with me this morning to Galatians 5. We’re going to move into verse 20 today. We’re not going to go very far. We never do though, do we? Galatians 5:19-21, and the first part of that says, “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealously, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissentions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing,” and then Paul says, “and things like these.” He doesn’t even finish the list. He said they’re so evident let me just show you some stuff here so that you can get a picture of what I’m saying, but I’m not going to finish the list. You see, we have two choices as believers. Can you think about that? Just two choices. The root of all choices lie in two areas. Either we walk by the Spirit, as Paul talks about in verse 16, which, implied in verse 18 is being willingly led by the Spirit, or we are deceived and controlled by our sinful and wicked flesh. That’s it. There’s no gray area. There’s no in between. There’s no, “well, I got part of this and I’ve got part of that.” No, it’s either the flesh or it’s the Spirit controlling our lives.
If we choose to walk after the flesh we’ve just chosen the whole package, and that’s what Paul’s doing here. He’s trying to say, listen, there’s more to the flesh than what you thought. And you can’t get part of it without buying into all of it. The reason so many believers—and I’ve done it and you’ve done it—have bought into the flesh is because there’s a side to it that’s very deceptive. I call it the religious side. This is the side of that comes across as, “hey, we can do good things for God,” and that’s the side that deceives so many believers. This is the side of the flesh that Paul outlines beautifully. If you’ve ever studied Romans—and remember, Galatians and Romans are commentaries on each other—in Romans 2:1-3:20 Paul beautifully and carefully outlines what this is.
This is the religious side of the flesh. This is what deceives us into thinking that we can actually make ourselves better by our own fleshly efforts. We can control and we can go to a group meeting and we can do better, we can do better. We can make ourselves better. This is the side of the flesh that tells us we can do great things for God. It’s kind of an implied attitude. “God, aren’t You glad to have us on Your side? Oh, wow, we are so creative and we’re going to help You out.” And that’s the side we buy into.
This is the side of the flesh that the Galatians bought into. That’s why Paul had to say in Galatians 3:3, so clearly, “Are you so foolish,” he says, “having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” You see when a believer buys into this mentality, “Well, if I have my quiet time every morning at 4:00, if I memorize 72,000 verses, if I can do this and this and this and this, I’m going to end up being more spiritual.” And watch that person, watch that person. If he’s doing it in the energy of his flesh everything that we’re going to look at in Galatians 5:19-21 begins to surface in his life. Why? Because flesh is flesh. There’s a religious side that we buy into. We don’t set out to be of this other way.
But then on the flip side of it there’s the rebellious side, and those two cannot be separated. You buy this you get that. All flesh is flesh. It’s wicked and it’s rotten.
Well, we’ve seen that flesh has its own agenda. Verse 17 he says, “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.” It’s an opposition. There’s a war going on. My battle’s not with the devil, my battle’s with me. Simon Peter left his nets, but it was years before Simon Peter walked away from Simon Peter. There’s a big difference here. You can do a lot of things, but have we dealt with us? Paul says, “I’ve fought the good fight.” The word there means I’ve fought the battle with myself and I’ve let Jesus win over me and I’ve allowed Him to accomplish through me what He wanted to do. Now I’m ready to go home. That’s incredible. The battle we have is with our flesh, every one of us in this room.
When the Galatians, like I said, bought into the religious side of it, they got the ugly side of it also. They got the sexual deception of the flesh. In verse 19 he says, “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident,” and he means right there among them, this was going on. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God, God is allowing Paul to expose what flesh has happened as a result of their decisions. And he says, “which are immorality, impurity, sensuality.” You see that’s an unclean mind and immoral acts, mostly sexual, but they don’t really necessarily have to be. The way we treat people is just as immoral. Always go along with the flesh. Now, to what degree I don’t know. It may be this degree or this degree, but it’s always there somewhere, when religion, when religion is present. Religion breeds this kind of garbage.
But they also got the superstitious deception of the flesh. That’s what we looked at the last time. In verse 20 he adds two words. He says, “idolatry and sorcery.” They bought into a counterfeit worship. You see, the flesh will deceive us when it comes to worship. Idolatry is nothing more than worshipping what man comes up with. Man wants to be pleased. His flesh wants to be appeased, and so man comes up with his idea of what he thinks worship is, and he wants to offer it back to God at the same time, derive his own pleasure out of it. And this false worship becomes like a drug. He has to have it. It’s like a fix. If you change what he has come up with to think what he thinks about worship and you change it then it, he becomes very radical in his behavior towards others. The word “sorcery” tells us everything. The word “sorcery” is pharmakeia. It means drugs.
In 1 Samuel 15:23 that we looked at the last time, Samuel equated not being surrendered to God, he equated that with idolatry and witchcraft. And Paul does the same thing right here. He said basically what you’ve bought into, he says to the Galatians, you’ve bought into superstition. You’ve bought into something that looks good on the outside and it makes you feel a lot better, but has nothing to do with what worship is in God’s Word. It’s not a pretty sight.
But today we’re going to enter into the rest of verse 20. And this is difficult ground; I understand that. But I just want you to know I didn’t write Galatians, and you have to understand this part of it to understand the other side of what the Spirit of God produces in our life. That’s where we’re headed. But if you don’t know this, then you’ll not understand what he’s going to say in verses 22-23. Not only is there sexual deception of the flesh, superstitious deception of the flesh, but another part of that package that we buy into when we go that religious route is the social deception of the flesh. Flesh causes all of our relationships to become fake and counterfeit. Isn’t that sad? All of our relationships. I’m not talking about just at church; I’m talking about in the family; I’m talking about wherever you are. Flesh causes counterfeit relationships. This is where you find division in the church or home or wherever it is when somebody chooses to walk after the flesh.
You know, it’s interesting to me at any conflict situation, somebody’s got to drop anchor and start being what he says he is. And that’s the way it is in life. If you choose the flesh, conflict’s going to immediately result. But the way you get out of it is to come back to the Spirit. Confess it before God as sin before Him. Let Him cleanse us and then replace us. That’s the message. Flesh is never going to get any better. It cannot produce loving relationships. It cannot do it, and it didn’t do it in the churches of Galatia.
And so he says, “enmity, strife, jealousies, bursts of anger, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying,” eight things he mentions here. And I know you’re thinking how far are you going to go, Wayne? Well, we’re going to look at three of them today. All of these words describe the relationships in the Galatian churches. Now, when you’re walking by the Spirit—make sure you see the contrasts—when you’re walking by the Spirit, when you’re willingly led by the Word of God and the Spirit of God, now listen, you will be one with your brother—now pay attention—whether he’s one with you or not. Did you hear what I just said? I didn’t say your brother will be one with you. He’s got to be walking in the Spirit to be one with you. But you can be one with your brother. That’s what happens. When you’re walking in the Spirit there’s something that God does to produce His love in your heart that reaches out to other people and you can be one with them. It does not promise they’ll ever be one with you. But when you’re not walking this way, when you’ve chosen the flesh which is the only other alternative, these eight things will begin to appear in your life. And this is what religion does to a church. This is what religion does to a Christian. It doesn’t work. There’s nothing in it. That’s why Christianity is a relationship.
And let’s begin to look at these eight words. They’re so descriptive. They’re so descriptive they really illustrate themselves. The word “enmities” is the word that to me sets the pace for the rest of it. “Enmities,” the word is echthra. Echthra is a hostile word. As a matter of fact, you can’t think of this word unless you think of hostility, hostile word. It comes from the word echthros, which means it has to do and associated with hatred towards somebody. So it’s a hostility and a hatred. “Wayne, I don’t hate my brother.” I hate to tell you, no pun intended, but yes, when the flesh is there hatred is there. Hatred is there. If we had some time just to explore that word, it means to draw a line and not fellowship with other people if they don’t agree with you.
It has all kinds of emphasis in the New Testament. The word echthra is a very hostile, hateful word. In fact, it’s associated with hate in Matthew 5:43. He says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’” Now the word “enemy” is the word echthra, but look at the word “hate” is there. But then He says in verse 44 what we’re supposed to do, “But I say to you, love your enemies,” and that’s the word, “and pray for those who persecute you.” So the word means to be an enemy. You look at your brother as being an enemy rather than a brother or a sister in Christ. So echthra is a very hostile and a very hateful word.
Can you imagine brothers in Christ considering one another as their enemy and actually being hostile and hateful towards each other? Can you imagine that? “Wayne, that doesn’t go on in churches?” Oh boy! This is what’s going on in Galatia. Oh, but we’re better than the church in Galatia. Well, I know, we really are, I’m sure. Why is it going on is because—now listen—they ignored the truth of God’s changing grace, living grace and they bought the lie. They exchanged one thing for another. They bought the lie that religion offered them and as a result it destroyed their relationships with one another.
Their hostility was even shown toward the apostle Paul. Can you imagine hostility being shown to the very guy that you were saved under and who taught you the message of grace and showed you where to find that sense of joy? That’s why he says in 4:16, and he uses the same word, “So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?” You see, when you don’t want the truth then anybody who tells you the truth becomes your enemy. That’s where the flesh becomes hostile and hateful.
Well, he had to say to them in verse 16 again, “Have I become your enemy?” Let’s see if we can group these together and see if we can remember them. Two things, first of all is hateful attitudes, and secondly is hostile actions. Let’s put them in those two groups. And that doesn’t mean anything; it just means we can help remember them that way. There’s a bunch of them so let’s see if we can put them into those two groups. Under hateful attitudes that we’ll look at today are strife and jealousy. That’s a hateful, hostile attitude. But then the hostile actions towards one another would be outbursts of anger. “That doesn’t happen in a church, brother Wayne. That doesn’t even happen in my family.” Well it doesn’t? Let me come and find your secret. Outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying. So we’ve got hateful attitudes and hostile actions.
As we go through this list I want you to do me a favor. I want you to draw a circle around yourself; nobody else is in here but just you. Let’s just say just you and me are in here today and God and we have His Word. Now, are these attitudes present in your life today? And if they are, don’t beat yourself up. Understand where they come from and deal with it. That’s the beauty of what’s going on here, is that Paul is surfacing sin; and it needs to be surfaced. Why? So he can show mercy.
Two hateful attitudes he’s going to talk about here. First of all is the hateful attitude of strife. The word for strife is the word eris. It’s the word that is a contentious, argumentative and slanderous. It’s not a nice word, not a nice word at all. You say, “Why do you tell us these words?” Because they have special meanings. You can have other words that are similar that mean different things. This is what this means: It’s the verbal expression of a hateful attitude towards somebody else. It’s the characteristic, again, of those who reject the message of living grace, and replaces that message of truth, the exchanged life—not me, but Christ living in me—they exchange it for the lie that religion offers. And therefore strife begins to surface.
Well, when religion replaces walking by the Spirit, when commitment replaces surrender this is what you see. Now, the word “strife” is used of one who has embraced false doctrine. If you want to see where this is, it’s right there. Any time you’re not walking in living grace, which is the truth that Jesus came to set us free with, if we’re not going to live in that then we’ve replaced it with something. It’s a wrong doctrine, and it’s governing our behavior and it’s used that way. First Timothy 6:3, says, “If anyone advocates a different doctrine.” Now that word “advocates” means he teaches or he holds on to by the very fact he lives it. “If anyone advocates a different doctrine,” now look at this, “and does not agree with sound words;” the word “sound” means saved words, saved healing words, whole words, “those of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And didn’t Jesus say in John 15, “I am the vine, you are only the branches. If you abide in Me and My word abides in you I will produce much fruit”? If you don’t hold to that and understand where it’s got to come from “and with the doctrine conforming to godliness,” he says, “this man is conceited.” He is conceited.
You know what the word “conceited” is? Think about a hot-air balloon. You know what the word here for conceited is? It’s tuphoo, and the word means a bag of wind. And I thought, how many times do we come to church, a bunch of big bags of wind? That’s all we are, because we’re not holding to what Jesus said. We’re not holding to the message of grace. We’re not holding to that which is living and free. We’re holding to some religion that we’ve come up with. And you see as a result of that we become nothing more than a bag of air, conceited.
Verse 4 says, “He’s conceited and understands nothing.” Now watch, “But he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words.” Here’s a man that’s a bag of wind. He doesn’t understand anything, but he wants to argue about everything. By the way, do you know anybody like that? The guy’s not walking in living grace, he doesn’t have a clue, yet he’ll argue with you about it even though he doesn’t know. And what’s the result of this? And Paul goes on, he says, “Out of which arise envy,” now watch, “strife,” there’s our word, “abusive language,” now look at this, “and evil suspicions.” Do you realize when you exchange truth for a lie, when you buy into the flesh and think you can actually do something to impress God, you have just become suspicious of everybody that walks? The word is huponoia. It means he doesn’t trust anybody in the body of Christ. He doesn’t trust anybody at all. You see, when—and let me help you understand something; if I’m not trusting God then I’ll never trust you—when people can’t trust others that are believers in the body of Christ it’s not a reflection of them not trusting them; it’s a reflection of them not trusting Him. They become suspicious of everything. They don’t know anything and they’ll argue about everything. Suspicious, evil suspicious.
Strife is the product of one’s flesh whose doctrine is wrong. It’s what the flesh bought into. He has replaced truth with a lie. In fact, over and over it is used of a person who wants to argue the law. Have you had anybody argue the law with you? “Well, brother Wayne, you could be a better preacher if you did this, this, this and this.” Oh, is that right? So, I’m now the preacher, rather than God who lives in me. See, it’s amazing how people can put you up under a standard they want you to measure to. And it’s used of those people.
Strife shows itself in one who cannot control their tongue. The word eris can be translated to speak or to say. But when it’s translated that way it’s always an argumentative way. In other words, if you say something and then you say it argumentatively or in an abusive way then they use this word, because it’s the verbal expression of hostility that you have towards somebody. Why do you have this? “Wayne, I don’t understand myself.” Yes, you can, if you’re not walking by the Spirit, willingly led by the Spirit, this is what results so we can better understand ourselves.
Acts 23:1, “Paul, looking intently at the Council,” and I love the apostle Paul. I can’t wait to get to heaven just to sit down and talk with him after I spend a million years in Jesus’ presence, I want to sit down with Paul. I love him. “Paul, intently looking at the Council, said, ‘Brethren, I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day.’” Now, he’s being put on trial there. “The high priest Ananias commanded those standing beside him to strike him in the mouth.” Well, evidently they just popped him right in the mouth. Paul doesn’t realize he’s the high priest and so he makes a little bit of an error here. “Then Paul said to him, ‘God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall!’” He says it to the high priest. “’Do you sit and try me according to the Law, and in violation of the Law order me to be struck?’ But the bystanders said, ‘Do you revile the high priest?’ And Paul said,” oh gosh, that’s the high priest. I didn’t realize it. He says in verse 5, “And Paul said, ‘I was not aware, brethren, that he was the high priest,” and then he says, “For it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’” And that’s where the word is used. When you say “speak,” and it’s in a good sense, it’s not going to be that word. But when you speak abusively or argumentatively towards somebody it’s going to be this word because that’s the verbal expression of the strife and the hostility and the hatred that the flesh produces when we don’t let Jesus be Jesus in our life. So the word “strife” is a hostile attitude that expresses itself in very hurtful words.
I’m amazed at how many times believers, myself included can do these kind of things and not even see it as sin. I shared with the men on the retreat a few weeks ago, I got under some things, you know. I know the message, the easiest thing I do is preach this message. The hardest thing is living it. Did you know that? If I didn’t have to live it it’d be awesome. Just preach it and go to heaven. I mean, it’d be awesome. God’s not going to let me stand up here and preach anything He’s not going to make me have to live. You know what I’ve learned, that people that don’t understand this, they’ll get in the pulpit someday and God will back them into a corner and show everybody they’re a joke. They don’t have a clue what they’re saying. He’ll do it. I’ve seen Him do it. He’s done it to me.
A few weeks ago I was with my wife, and evidently I had got my focus off the Lord and gotten under some things, and as a result of it I guess that stuff was building up inside of me. And I’m ashamed to tell you, I turned on her and said some very hurtful words. She’s my best friend. She’s one of the most precious people I’ve ever known. The thing hit me, isn’t it interesting how the people you love the most suffer the most when you walk after the flesh? That’s the ones you’re going to slay with your words. And what I said to her wounded her so deep, and I wonder why God even lets me stand up here this morning. I want to tell you something, folks, that’s sin. That’s flesh. You get your eyes off of God and you’re not trusting Him, you’re suspicious of everybody, don’t trust anybody, you’re a bag of wind arguing about everything, don’t know anything, and I’ll guarantee you before long what’s going to come out of your mouth is going to be the most poison garbage you’ve ever thought about in your entire life and it’s going to wound that person to a depth.
It took almost a week for me to even see a healing come back into my wife, and I asked her to forgive me. I’ve asked God to forgive me. I said, “I don’t mean that. I didn’t mean that directed at you,” but that’s what happens when we let the flesh dictate to our lives. And you wished you could reach back in time and grab those words before they came out and pull them back. No way. The one thing you can do is put it under the blood and pray that God will give mercy to you for bear up under the consequence of your action. That’s all you can do. He forgives, yes. He cleanses, yes, but the scar is there. That’s what happens, that’s what happens in the body of Christ.
When we really think, we’re arrogant enough to believe, we even know what we need, much less what we ought to do; when that attitude steps into our life as believers you’re going to wound people like you never believed. I’m going to wound people like I would have never believed. I thank God for His grace and His mercy. My friend, we’re in desperate need of it.
The word “strife” doesn’t keep very good company when it’s found in Scripture. Second Corinthians 12:20 Paul is dealing with the Corinthian church. It’s a beautiful epistle compared to the first one. And he says in verse 20, “For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you to be not what I wish and may be found by you to be not what you wish.” In other words, we’re going to be on two different poles here. “That perhaps there will be strife.” And look what goes with that strife: “Jealousy, anger, tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances.” Hostility and hatred in the body of Christ only comes from the flesh.” And Paul says, “I’m almost afraid to come because I don’t know where you are. I knew where you were when I wrote the first epistle, but I’m not exactly sure where you are now. And I’m afraid there’s going to be all this garbage there.” This is what happened to the Galatian church. This hostility and hatred is witnessed in the way again, the way you speak to one another in abusive and argumentative ways, very hostile, very hateful.
One time I was preaching in Chattanooga, and I got on a point something around this area, and I threw out an illustration because I had been very hurt over the years and, man, when I did it I did it with vindictiveness. I really was as bad as the people who were saying the things that they were saying by the way I preached it. And I walked out to the car that day and my wife walked up to me, how sweet she is, and put her arm around me. She said, “You haven’t healed yet, have you, Wayne?” And I thought, no, I don’t guess I have. I don’t guess I have.
This is what destroys the unity in the body of Christ. You’re not going to have unity because of this or that. Only Christ can unify the body. Only He can. It eliminates any witness that we would ever have for Jesus Christ in the area where we live. Because, you see, out there in the pagan world, flesh dominates. And they live in this every day. Some of you have to work in that kind of environment and you see it every day of your life. When you come into the church, though, you don’t want to drag that same stuff. And when people come and see it in here, then they are the first ones out that back door. They don’t want to see that. They don’t want that. They’ve got enough of that.
Last week we looked at Romans 1 and we saw how idolatry was originated. Listen to more of the stuff that goes with it. I want to show you where our word pops up. When a person becomes idolatrous, replaces the truth of God for a lie, it says Romans 1:28, “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness,” which is fleshly deeds, “wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder,” look here’s our word, here’s our word, “strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents.” That’s an interesting little thing to slip into that list.
“Without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful.” You know, the sad thing is that all of us are part of this. It so characterizes the church of Jesus Christ in the 21st century. I’m saying the church in general. And you wonder why people don’t flood the doors to hear truth that will set them free. You wonder. And people say, “Uh, I know what you don’t know.” And for that crazy reason they walk away rather than come to what God’s Word has to say.
Well, strife is not a pretty word. That’s what you buy into and that’s what I buy into. That’s what I bought into just a few weeks ago, just by getting my focus off of Christ. And here’s the person that’s my best friend in this world and I wounded her and she’s still seeking to heal. Oh, boy! But then, secondly, the hateful attitude of jealousy. You have to hate the attitude of strife, but the hateful attitude of jealousy. Now, what is this jealousy? Paul says enmities, which means hostility and hateful attitudes. And then strife and then he says jealousy. The word “jealousy” is the word zelos. It’s an extremely passionate word. Now, it literally means to be full of zeal. It’s kind of like a pot about to boil over. I mean, it’s a good word if you use it right, to be heated or fervent towards something. It’s an intense word. Man, I love people that are jealous for the right things. It can be used in a good sense.
Romans 10:2 Paul said “For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God.” Now there’s a negative to it. He says, “But not in accordance with knowledge.” A lot of people are that way. They’re fired up to go be usable to God, but they don’t have any knowledge to go with it. But when it’s used in an evil sense, like it is in Galatians 5:20, it carries the idea of bitter resentment, of being jealous of what somebody else has that you don’t have.
It’s interesting where it appears in Scripture. In Acts the apostle Paul attracted huge crowds. It’s amazing to me, everywhere he’d go the people just came and flocked with the message of God’s grace. That was what they wanted to hear. In Acts 13:45 these crowds were just gathering from everywhere. It says, “But when the Jews,” now by the way, when I say the Jews I’m not talking about all of the Jews. When that term is used it means those religious Jews. My goodness, Paul was a Jew and became a believer and there’s a lot of wonderful people under the term Jew. That’s not what he’s speaking of. He’s speaking of those religious ones, the ones who controlled.
He said, “when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy.” Now, isn’t that interesting? “He’s got the crowds. We don’t have them.” “And begin contradicting the things spoken by Paul and were blaspheming.” If you’re going to tear the guy down, tear down what he’s saying; and if you can’t tear him down, tear down what he’s saying. They did everything they could do to disperse the crowds. They were jealous. Jealousy, when used in an evil sense, is the attitude that can destroy the harmony in the body of Christ.
One of the secular Greek historians that I discovered in this characterized the word “jealousy” by saying it is “the passion which poisons human society.” Now, just think what it has to do within a church body. This church, the word “jealousy” is also associated with our previous word “strife.” Six times out of the 11 times when it’s used it’s associated with strife, and these things build on each other. Somebody’s hostile, boop, strife, boop, jealousy. They fit together. They run side by side. Jealousy is the characteristic of a baby in Christ who just won’t grow, like the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 3:3. Paul says to them, “Are you still fleshly?” That word has the idea, are you still walking around like babies? And then he said, “For since there is jealousy,” look, jealousy and strife, puts them together, “among you, are you not fleshly, are you not walking like mere men?”
You see, a person that won’t grow up; remember we’ve been talking about this in Galatians. Maturity is to walk by the Spirit. The nursery is when I choose my flesh and that’s the product of a person who does not walk in the Word by the Spirit. Well, when a person will not bow down to Christ and jealousy floods his mind and his life, it’s the product of his flesh he has chosen. Jealousy is what develops when God’s power, when God’s moving in power on somebody else and He’s not moving in power where you are.
I used to preach in preacher conferences all the time, and we were in South Africa. We had about seven of us on a team that were preaching that week, and had 600-700 people from the bush country, and it was just awesome what God was doing. And I preached a message one day, and I’ve just never sensed the anointing of God any more strongly than I did that day. And I sat down and nothing. Kind of like thinking, “God, did You miss that? God, that was pretty good.” Nobody moved. The next guy got up and he preached. And I’ll be honest with you, I wasn’t really that excited, but you know what happened? The place just broke and revival broke out. And you know what I did? Went back to my room and pouted. “You didn’t use me, God, You used him.”
You ever been taken to the woodshed by God? And He just had to literally wear you out? Went back to my room and I started thinking those things and God wore me out. I didn’t walk to the pulpit the next day, I crawled, because God said, “That’s your flesh, and don’t you think I’m ever going to bless anything of your flesh. You could be polished, you could be funny, you can be all the other things, but buddy, if you’re not filled with My Spirit you’re no good to Me than a person that’s a lost person on the street somewhere.” I had to get some things straight because jealousy set in. “Why are You using him, God, and You’re not using me?”
An example of this, God was working in the area of Jerusalem healing people. You know the apostles had those sign gifts that followed them, Jesus and the apostles. And it was for a reason; Hebrews 1 tells you that. They’re not a pattern we look for today, but they were going on in that time to validate who these men were. And He was healing those who were sick through the apostles. In Acts 5:16 Luke records, “Also the people from the cities in the vicinity of Jerusalem were coming together bringing people who were sick or afflicted with unclean spirits and they were all being healed.” Watch: “But the high priest rose up along with all of his associates, that is the sect of the Sadducees, and they were filled with jealousy.” And look what they had to do. They had to put these people in jail to shut them up. It says “They laid hands on the apostles and put them in a public jail.”
The moment we choose not to walk by the Spirit, the moment we’re not willing to be led by the Spirit of God is the very moment we become jealous of God using somebody else. “Well, I wanted to teach that class. Oh, my feelings are hurt.” That’s flesh. It says it’s hostile, it’s hateful. Now we must deal with it if it’s there. It’s not going to heal. It’s not going to get any better. Only Jesus can cleanse and bring the healing. Well, when this hostile attitude in the flesh is present it causes one to discredit his brother. He has to tear him down to make himself look good, when God’s moving on him or on her. Jealousy is the fountain of everything that’s unstable. If you find a person that’s full of hostility and strife and jealousy you’ve got a very unstable person. They don’t know who they are. They don’t know whose they are.
James 3:16 says, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition” —by the way, that’s a great definition of jealousy; it just adds to it—“there is disorder and every evil thing.” Now the word “disorder” there is the word meaning unstable. Do you realize jealousy is the symptom of instability in the church? A person’s unstable in their walk with God. A person’s unstable in their understanding of themselves if they have to be jealous that God choosing somebody else. Can you imagine a church where people were fleshly, hateful and hostile, full of strife, babies that are always wanting their own way, arguing and quarreling over nothing, jealous of each other and totally unstable? Can you imagine? But that’s what he’s dealing with in Galatia. Boy, flesh is not a very pretty picture is it?
You say, “Wayne, I will be really glad when you get to verse 22.” Me too! I’m the one that’s got to preach this stuff. Like I said, I didn’t write it. Don’t get mad at me, get mad at Paul. Well, flesh, strife and jealousy, once again when flesh is on the throne of our life; I want to make sure you get a mental picture of this. When we buy into religion; the Galatians didn’t set out to be bad people. My goodness, they didn’t have a committee meeting and say, I’ll tell you what, how can we take a course on how to be jealous, you know? And I’ll tell you what. Let’s get into immoral living and impure thinking. They didn’t set out that way. They just simply bought one side of the flesh and didn’t realize they got the whole package with it. When flesh is on the throne of our lives there are no true relationships possible.
If you’re a father and want to love your children you better get in love with God, because whatever love you give to your child is not a valid love; it’s conditional. But the love He produces is unconditional. There are no true relationships possible. We’re suspicious of each other, don’t trust anybody. We’re jealous, we’re constantly trying to tear our brother apart. We’re full of contempt. We’re always having to win over our brother and we trust, like I said, nobody.
Ephesians 4 says, “Put on the garment of Christ. Put on the garment of Christ.” A garment’s what you wear. A garment, when you put on, it’s your behavior. But you have to be dressed from the inside out. And he says in Ephesians 4:27, “And do not give the devil an opportunity.” The word for devil is interesting. There are several words for him in Scripture, but this one is particularly germane to the context. The whole context of Ephesians 4 is unity that the Spirit brings. But his word here is diabolos. Diabolos is dia, through, and bolos, to cast. Listen to this. To cast in between and divide; he’s the great divider where Christ is the great unifier. He draws us together when we bow and walk by the Spirit. The devil, however, has an opportunity when we choose to walk after the flesh.
Now listen to me. The devil can’t be but in one place at one time. If you’ll just study Scripture you’ll see that. He’s not co-equal with God. He was a creation and fell and now he’s against Him, yes, he’s an adversary. But God has him on a leash, jerk his neck any time He wants to. The devil never does anything God doesn’t let him do. He’s not co-equal to God. No sir, not in any way, shape or form. If you put him next to Jesus on a scale he wouldn’t even show up. So he doesn’t have to be around to have an opportunity. What gives him an opportunity is when believers wear the wrong garment, when believers will not walk by the Spirit, when believers will not be led by the Spirit. They are doing his work, they’re dividing, they’re dividing, they’re dividing, they’re dividing by what they say and by how their jealous of one another, hateful and hostile. In the body of Christ? Oh yeah. We’ll have a divided hostile hateful environment when we choose to walk after the flesh and the devil wins, the devil wins in a sense, temporarily.
Are you walking by the Spirit or are you walking after the flesh? What evidence of hatred or hostility is in your life today? Are you part of the problem or are you part of the solution? Do you understand that when God begins to surface sin it’s a beautiful thing? He wants to show mercy. He told Jonah, He said, “Go and preach to Nineveh. Their sins have come up before Me.” He didn’t say go condemn them. He said go preach to them, because God wanted to show mercy. God always wants to show mercy.
This past week I had a real gift from God. I went down to the Baptist College of Florida. They asked me to do their spiritual awakening week. So I did. Preached the same message I preached right here, no different, and God taught me something. Wayne, don’t get discouraged, it’s not the word. I preached the same message down there out on a Wednesday morning. We had so many people at the altar broken before God they couldn’t even get them in the aisles down the way. And the President said, we’ve been praying for this for years. And God said, “Wayne, don’t stop preaching My Word.” It’s not in the preaching and it’s not in the word, it’s in the hearing and the receiving of that word.
What’s in your life today? Going home in the car what would your wife or your husband say? Do you see any hostility, hatred? You want to deal with it? You want to be free? This is the beauty. This altar’s open. You don’t have to tell me. Don’t tell me a thing. I’m not going to embarrass anybody in this place, and never will. You come down here, that’s between you and God. If you want to do it in your seat that’s fine. And you bow your head and say what I had to say the other day when I blasted my wife with things I should never have said, and I said God thank You for showing me the sickness of my flesh. God, I thank You for cleansing that was won for me at the cross. And God, I just ask You now to replace me because I know now how sick, one more time You’ve taught me, my flesh is.
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Dr. Wayne Barber
Wayne has taught the message of “Living Grace” around the world. He is president, founder, and principal speaker of Living Grace Ministries and Senior Pastor of Woodland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He learned to exegete Scripture by studying for 10 years with Spiros Zodhiates, one of the leading Greek scholars.