Studies in Galatians – Wayne Barber/Part 31
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2004|
|The sensual deception of the flesh. What is it that makes me feel good and it so deceives us we get off the path?|
The Sensual Deception of the Flesh
Galatians 5, and I am so excited, because we’re finally going to get out of verse 21. Praise God! I don’t like this side. I didn’t write this. Thank God it’s a backdrop for us to see what we’re going to see next week, verses 22-23. So far in our study we have seen sexual deception mentioned in verse 19, when he says, “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, and sensuality;” and also superstitious deception which is found in verse 20, which adds “idolatry and sorcery;” and also social deception which is found in verses 20-21, which says, “enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, and envying,” and then the King James even adds “murders.”
We have found that all of these deceptions are a result of people who don’t understand that when you buy into religion you’ve just bought this whole package. That’s part of it. The goal, as we study this, we have to keep connecting verses 19-21 with verses 16-18. It’s all tied together and we’ve got to understand that. In verse 16 he says, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 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. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.”
Now what Paul is saying is when a believer chooses not to walk by the Spirit, not to be willingly led of the Spirit, then he’s bought into this whole package. The garbage that he would have never chosen intentionally, but he’s bought into it because it comes with it. The Galatians never set out to be bad people. I want to make certain we understand that. The sins of the flesh in verses 19-21 would have horrified the Galatians if they had known that this was part of the package they bought when they listened to the false teachers that came to Galatia. You see, when they chose to exchange the truth of God’s living grace, Jesus being Jesus in us, Him living His life through us, when they chose to exchange that truth for the lie of working harder for God, for the lie of religion, then they bought this whole package.
You see, flesh is flesh. Flesh can’t be any different. If you choose to do the things your way, then you get the whole package. You immediately lose your rest and the gospel message becomes distorted as Paul told us in 1:7 . When you choose not to walk by the Spirit you have done a foolish thing and as a result of that you have become bewitched as 3:1 tells us. You begin to live as if you’re under a spell. It’s almost as if you’re being controlled by an unseen power. You’re so deceived that now you think that you can sanctify yourself. You know, people begin to think that they can in their own efforts they can perfect themselves as 3:3 tells us. As a result, the experiencing of God’s miraculous power working in our midst is gone, in 3:5.
The fact is that you’re no longer free. When a person chooses not to walk by the Spirit he has just chosen slavery as 4:9-10 told us. As a matter of fact, you’ve lost all sense of God’s blessing when you choose not to walk by the Spirit as 4:15 tells us. You’re so deceived that those who seek to tell you the truth of God’s living grace, those who seek to preach it or teach it, become your enemy and you have to fight them as 4:16 told us. You have become a follower of men as 4:17 tells us. By choosing not to walk by the Spirit you’ve taken yourself out of the sphere of God’s grace, His enabling grace, as 5:4 told us. You’re no longer obeying the truth and therefore 5:7 brings that out. You now see that your relationships are ruined in your family, at your work and even at church, you begin to bite and devour one another with unkind words and cruel ways you treat one another. That’s 5:15. And as we have just studied and gone over, you’ve fallen into the trap of either sexual deception or superstitious deception or social deception. Now, other than that everything else in your life is fine. This is what Galatians is all about. Galatians is trying to bring some sensibility back to what Christianity is, some integrity back into what our walk is all about.
Well, there’s one more area of deception that Paul brings up. I’m going to hit it in our introduction, then we’re moving on to something else. And that’s the area of sensual deception. He adds in verse 21, “drunkenness and carousing.” Now, by sensual I don’t mean sexual. It’s incredible how many people don’t understand the difference here. We’ve already talked about the sexual in verse 19. By sensual I’m talking about that which simply pleases the flesh and makes it feel good. And, by the way, if you’ve ever studied Psalms and Proverbs the flesh is never satisfied. It is never satisfied. The word “drunkenness” is the word methe. It means intoxication or drunkenness. It’s when somebody chooses something on the outside to try to solve a problem on the inside. That’s why Paul says in Ephesians 5 we’re never to be drunk with wine. You don’t go outside to find your answer. You go inside because Jesus lives within us. We’re to be filled with the Spirit of God. The word “carousing” is simply the word komos, which refers to drunken partying and crude behavior.
Now here’s what you have to understand. There are not just two words that Paul said, “Oh yeah, by the way, let me throw these in.” Oh no, no. Every word that’s here is germane to their culture. Every word is germane to the things they are having to deal with. Because they have bought the religious package, now all this other garbage has come along with it. Both of these words are associated with the immoral orgies that were performed with pagan worship ceremonies in Galatia at the time of the writing of this epistle. And it’s so interesting to me. What started these rallies and these orgies and these things that they would come together would be a certain style—I did not make this up; you’re going to say “Wayne, you did too.” No, I didn’t—it was a style of music.
Now, listen to what I’m saying. Now listen to me. Don’t get mad at me. I’m just telling you something. It was a style of music that appealed to the flesh of the people that started this whole thing. And as a result it led them into all kinds of activity that is absolutely heinous before God, all kinds of drunken acts and immorality. But it was started by a style of music. I just thought that was so interesting because you know the devil himself knows what music’s all about. Remember he was kicked out of heaven. He was the most beautiful, and in charge of the music. You think he doesn’t know what he’s doing down here. Anyway, it appealed to their flesh and that’s what Paul throws these two into the mix.
The sensual deception of the flesh. What is it that makes me feel good and it so deceives us we get off the path? Paul doesn’t even finish the list. Verse 21 he says “and things like these.” He didn’t have to finish the list. He started in verse 19. He said I’m going to talk to you about deeds that are evident to everybody. Deeds of the flesh are evident. In other words, you already know these things, but I’m just going to bring them back to your attention is what he was saying. Well, what we’ve seen in verses 19-21 is a sad picture. It’s what happens to lives of people who never intentionally said I’m going this way. They started off this way. “I’m going to do something good for God,” instead of letting God do something good through me. And then when you exchange that one piece of the puzzle, and as a matter of fact in Colossians Paul says “I preach the word of God fully. I don’t leave any piece of it out,” and then he points to the pieces being left out, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. And he says when you leave that piece out, like the Galatians walked away from it, the Colossians just didn’t even adhere to it, and as a result this is what happens.
This is what happens to churches that go the religious route. This is what happens to Christians who choose not to walk moment by moment surrendered to God. When they fail they run back to Him and they deal with it as God told them to deal with it. This is the result and, sadly, it characterizes churches even in the 21st century. Churches that seem on the surface to be doing great things for God, but everything they’re doing is in the energy of their flesh and will burn at the judgment seat of Christ, the bema, the judgment, not of us, but of our works. It’ll be tested by fire and it will not last.
And how do we know that churches that are doing things like this, that look good on the outside, are so corrupt? You look at relationships. Relationships are the litmus test that tells all of us whether or not we are walking by the Spirit or whether or not we’re walking after the flesh. When you begin to see the griping, the complaining, the manipulating to get your own way, the gossiping, the slandering, all that we have just studied in Galatians 5:19-21, it’s obvious that people have bought the package of the flesh. When you leave out the truth of living grace this is the mess that you end up with, and it’s everywhere.
One more time, sexual deception, superstitious deception, social deception and sensual deception; that’s the package right there.
Now, what I want you to see in this message is the warning that Paul gives in the last part of verse 21. If you’ll look down at verse 21, he says, “envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these,” and then look what he says, “of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Now here’s the question: is Paul saying that if a believer participates in any of those things, if he ever commits these sins at any time, does that mean he will not inherit the kingdom of God? And a fear begins to cloud over us.
Well, let me just share with you that is not at all what he’s saying. However, let the Word of God encourage your hearts this morning. Three things that I want us to see that I think will help us. And Paul’s warning is very strong. Let’s make sure this morning that you truly are a believer. He’s not saying if you’re a believer and if you sin in any of these areas you’ll not inherit the kingdom of God. That’s not what he’s saying. You cannot lose your salvation as you’ll see. Three things; first of all, I want you to look at the struggle that is common to all believers.
Now, it doesn’t matter what age you are. I’m only 68. Some of you look at me as your son. That’s alright. And I appreciate that, because my mom and dad are dead. I’ll take you on any day. I’m glad that you’ve taken me on. I love that. Some of you maybe could be my grandparent; I don’t know. But it does not matter, if you are a 150 years old you’re still going to have this struggle. It is a struggle to every believer until the day he sees Jesus or of the day that Jesus calls for His church when we get a glorified body. This is a struggle that is common to all believers. Verse 21, “of which I forewarn you,” now watch the wording, “just as I have forewarned you.”
Now, the term “of which I forewarn you” is the word prolego. It means to tell somebody something in advance, to give them a heads-up. The word pro is before, lego means to tell or to speak or to say. Now Paul uses this word as a warning. He’s saying don’t play around with this list that I have just given to you. It’s no fun. Don’t you go back to this type of thing. Now Paul wants them to know something before it’s too late, before they’re in the trap and then they’ve lost the joy and the sense of blessing that they’d had. The word prolego is used in 2 Corinthians 13 to help you understand. It means to tell somebody in advance. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 13:2, “I have previously said when present the second time and though now absent I say in advance,” he says, “to those who have sinned in the past and to all the rest as well, that if I come again I’ll not spare anyone.” Oh, Paul’s a little upset. And he goes on to finish his thought. But that little phrase “I say in advance” there’s your word prolego. I’m telling you something beforehand. I’m coming and buddy you, here’s my warning to you.
The word is used in 1 Thessalonians 3:4 when it says, “For indeed, when we were with you we kept telling you in advance that we were going to suffer affliction and it came to pass as you know.” So it means to tell somebody something that you want them to know to spare them. It’s a warning that you’re giving them in their life. So Paul warns them in advance.
Now listen, but it’s about something that he had previously warned them about. He says, “Of which I forewarn you,” now look, “just as I have forewarned you.” Now by saying, “just as I have forewarned you” indicates that the sins listed in chapter 5:19-21, now listen to me, are the same sins he had to warn them about before. Now we don’t know when the before was, but I believe it’s before they got saved. And what he’s saying is in the culture of the Galatian people these sins used to dominate your life. Now I’m having to come back and warn you about the same sins again, all because they wouldn’t walk by the Spirit of God.
Now I want us to understand something this morning. The sin that you struggled with before you were saved is going to be the sin that you’ll struggle with after you get saved if you choose not to walk by the Spirit. Now remember what I’m saying. If you walk by the Spirit you won’t fulfill the desires of the flesh. You can forget everything I’m saying right now. But if you walk by the flesh then you’re going to struggle with the same sin that you struggled with before you got saved if you choose not be willingly led by the Spirit of God. Our flesh does not change one bit once we’re saved. Now, I wish it would, but it does not. What changes is that the power of sin is shifted into neutral when Christ comes to live in us. The power of sin is disengaged, but it’s potentially just as evil as it once was.
Now this is the common misunderstanding. Turn with me to Romans 6 and I’ll show you. Romans and Galatians are commentaries on each other. And Romans fills in the blanks. You see, Paul’s writing Galatians and he’s mad. And so it just takes him six chapters to say what he’s going to say. Romans, he wrote the same message, but it took him 16 chapters, so the teaching is really in Romans that fills in the gaps of Galatians. Romans 6:5, “For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.”
Now what Paul says in verse 5, when we’re saved we are totally identified with Christ’s death and with His resurrection. And as Christ has come to live in us He has taken the power of sin and literally broken its power. He has unplugged that plug. And it’s a beautiful truth. And how did He come in? He came in by faith. Now the power of sin by faith is disengaged. When we choose to surrender to Him, when we choose to bow before Him that disengages the power of sin at salvation. Now Paul shows us in verse 6 that, but he brings out a point we need to see. “Knowing this, that our old self”—and as the King James says, “old man” —“was crucified with Him in order that our body of sin might be done away with so that we should no longer be slaves to sin.”
Now let me explain some terms there. The term, “old self or old man” is what you and I were as believers in Adam. You see, when you go out into the world people are in two classes. They’re either in Adam or they’re in Christ. There’s no middle ground. And if a person’s received Jesus, he’s in Jesus. If a person hasn’t, he’s still in Adam. And if you’re in Adam it means you’re devoid of the Spirit of God. And, you see, a lot of religious people are still in Adam. They have never been born from above. And that’s part of the problem. They can’t see; they can’t understand; they can’t walk, because they’re still in Adam. Now he says that’s the old man. But when we become a believer, Christ comes to live in us, which makes us in Him a new creature. So all of that old man stuff is gone as far as you and I are concerned. We can never be what we used to be. That’s over with. The moment Christ comes to live in us He completely revolutionizes our life and we can’t go back and say that we’re the old man anymore.
Well, verse 6 continues however, and shows us about the body of sin that we still live in. It says, “In order that our body of sin might be done away with.” And to me that’s a very unfortunate translation. King James does it even worse. He says, “It’s destroyed.” It gives us the idea that the power of sin completely ceases to exist when Christ comes to live in our life. I take issue with that. You always check me out. The word for “done away with” is katargeo. Kata, down, argeo, to idle: to idle down. It’s to disengage. It’s to unplug the power. It’s to be put into neutral. But it does not mean cease to exist as if it’s blown away in oblivion. That’s not what he’s talking about.
I’ve used the illustration so many times of a person driving a straight shift car. And most of you know very well what I’m talking about. When we first started driving they didn’t have automatic transmissions. I mean, you were a sissy if you had an automatic later on. But they had that straight shift. And I remember trying to start my daddy’s car without the clutch being pushed in and being in gear. It’ll jerk a knot in your neck, you know. And you finally learn after a while, push the clutch in. Why do you do that? So that you unplug, you can disengage the power of that transmission.
Now when Jesus comes into our life He pushes the clutch in and puts the power of sin into neutral. Now He lives within us. He has given us His divine nature and as long as we walk by faith, walk by the Spirit, willingly led by the Spirit the power of sin stays in neutral. And that’s what Paul’s trying to say, that our fleshly body is a body of sin. He said “that the body of sin might be done away with,” or shifted into neutral. Now when you wake up in the morning—I’m telling you, I didn’t write this—look in the mirror and say, “Good morning, body of sin.” And you’ve just understood where your problem is the rest of the day. It’s not going to be your preacher. It’s not going to be the music at church. It’s not going to be somebody that you work with. It’s not going to be your wife, your husband, or your children. It’s going to be your flesh that you’ll deal with. It’s going to be my flesh that I will deal with. It’s a body of sin.
So our flesh is not eradicated in its power. It’s simply shifted into neutral. There’s been a new nature to come to live in us. Our heart and His heart have become one heart. But the tendencies of the flesh are still there, very potentially harmful. If we choose to obey our flesh instead of walking by the Spirit then what we have just done, we have shifted it back into gear, let the clutch out, pushed the foot down on the accelerator and now sin is operating once again in our lives. You say, “Wayne, I don’t believe that.” Then throw Galatians out of your Bible. Throw 1 Corinthians out of your Bible. These are believers who have shifted sin back into gear.
The Galatians were learning now the hard lesson, what happens when you don’t walk by faith. It’s going to happen in your life. We need to understand this. Don’t be confused when your flesh is tempted by the same things that once controlled it. Your flesh hasn’t changed. Temptation is not sin. Now we understand that. Temptation is not sin. Sin is when we yield to the temptation. We’re going to be tempted till Jesus comes back. Sin’s going to roar in our ears. But if we’ll walk by faith then it can roar all it wants to. It has no power in our life. The only time sin can have power in our life is when we choose to do things our way. Then we have fallen into its trap. So don’t be surprised when you struggle with the very thing that you were delivered from. But here’s the problem. When you fall into its temptation, when you yield to it, as we’re going to see in 6:1, how to deal with brothers who do that; when you yield to it then that’s God’s way of letting you know you’re no longer walking by the Spirit of God. You have chosen to exchange that truth for that which appeals to your flesh. And as a result of it now you have bought the package.
Paul, in talking about the lifestyle of sin that he calls the garments—and it’s the lifestyle; it’s not the old man, it’s the lifestyle of the old man—inn Ephesians 4 makes this statement in verse 22, “that, in reference to your former manner of life,” not your former nature, your former manner of life, “you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted, in accordance with the lusts of deceit.” You see, my flesh today is not only potentially evil, if I choose to shift it back into gear, it’s worse today than it was back then. It is consistently being corrupted by the lusts of deceit.
So Paul warns them about the same sin that once dominated their lives. “I forewarn you, but I’ve already forewarned you.” And it’s the same thing now as it was then, because when you choose flesh it does not change. It’s the same thing. It’s a struggle we all have. Now, if we choose not to walk by the Spirit, it’s the struggle we all have—make sure you hear me—if we choose to walk by the Spirit then Christ replaces us and we walk in the victory He’s already bought for us. We don’t have to get it. We receive it. We enter it. And you can throw the rest of what we’ve been talking about away because it won’t bother you. But if you’re not walking by the Spirit these things are going to start appearing in your life. And we need to understand that it’s a common struggle to all of us when we choose not to walk after the Spirit, not to walk by the Spirit.
Okay, the common struggle to all of us. But the second thing I want to show you in this verse is the common confusion to all of us, the confusion that is common to all believers. He says, “of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you,” now watch, “that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Now, that’s an interesting statement. “Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” has caused confusion to the whole body of Christ, at one time or another, it’s caused confusion to all of us. To better understand this, the word “practice” is our key word. As we study it, remember that context always determines a word. There’s another word that can be used and it means the same thing, but it’s a little different. But the context will always tell you where you’re going with a word.
The word “practice” is the word prasso. It’s very important for us to understand. This is the word that simply means to habitually practice something or a host of things as a lifestyle. That’s all it means. Now, it can be used a good way; it can be used in a bad way. It is used in positive sense of how we should all live in Philippians 4:9: “The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Now practice these things. It should be the lifestyle. It should be the habitual lifestyle of a believer, and Paul has to encourage them to live this way.
However, the most I have found the use of the word is in a negative sense. And it’s used to describe the lifestyle, not of a believer, but of an unbeliever, one who is lost, does not know Christ. Let me give you an example. After giving a similar list to what he does in Galatians 5 Paul does this in Romans 1, beginning in 18, and he starts going through a list of conditions, or characteristics of lost people. And he gets down to verse 32 and it says “and although they know the ordinance of God, that those,” here’s our word “that practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.” It’s used twice there, “practice them,” prasso. This is what Paul’s talking about in our text. He’s saying, if this is the lifestyle of a person then that person doesn’t know Christ. That person doesn’t know.
You what the biggest fear I have is that we may have people in one of our services that they come and they come and they do and they do, but they have never bowed to receive Jesus in their life, and their lifestyle is habitually lawless. And that’s what he speaks of when he uses that word prasso both in Romans and also in Galatians.
Paul is speaking of the lost man in 5:19-21 who practices these sins. This is the characteristic of his lifestyle. And, you see, he said this lost man will not inherit the kingdom of God. The continual ongoing deliberate practice of the sins listed in Galatians 5:19-21 mark the unregenerate man. Scripture always assesses a person’s character not by occasional actions, but by habitual actions. That’s how you know if somebody is saved or he’s not saved. Those who habitually indulge in sin show themselves to be enemies of God and they will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Now this is the heart; even though John uses a different word in 1 John 3, this is exactly what he’s getting at. So many people read this and don’t understand it. It says in 1 John 3:4, “Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.” He means practice habitually, a lifestyle. “You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.” And I think it’s interesting here, “No one who abides in Him [habitually] sins. Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin [habitually], because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.”
Now, Paul has the exact same thought that John had in his epistle over in 1 Corinthians 9. And he says there in 1 Corinthians, “Or do you not know that unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived neither fornicators, nor adulterers, nor idolaters, nor effeminate” —and by the way, effeminate does not mean that he doesn’t drive a pick-up truck and chew tobacco. That is not what it means. And I will not tell you what it means in here. You’ll have to look that one up for yourself—“nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
Now does God love a person who has swindled or been a homosexual? Yes, He loves the homosexual. But does He hate the sin of homosexuality? Absolutely, and with a vengeance. And the person who habitually lives in any of these lifestyles, he says, is not going to inherit the kingdom of God. And I didn’t write this. I don’t know how many times people have gotten mad at me for what I’ve said when I didn’t say anything except what thing, this Book says and it’s almost as if, well, “Wayne, we’re mad at you.” Don’t be mad at me. Get mad at God. This is His Word, folks. It ought to rattle us where we sit.
It’s a serious thing to call yourself a believer. And people that live habitually in a lifestyle of sin will not inherit the kingdom of God. But there is a difference in a person who is struggling with a sin in his life than a person who lives lawlessly in sins in his life. Do you see the difference? In fact, if you don’t, then you need to study Hebrews 12. It says “lay aside the [singular] sin that does so easily beset you.”
Okay, now, we’ve got a pretty good group here this morning. Let’s go down and find out what sin easily besets you. You say, “Well, I don’t struggle with immorality.” Well, big deal. What do you struggle with? “Well, I don’t struggle with covetousness, no sir.” Well, I’ll tell you what your problem is, it’s pride. And you’re going to have to deal with it. You’ve already told me what you’re sin is. All of us struggle in an area of sin. Why? Because the flesh wars against the Spirit, and the Spirit wars against the flesh.
But there’s a difference in a person who lives lawlessly and a person who struggles with a sin in their life. John says in 1 John 5:16, “If anyone sees his brother” that’s a believer “committing a sin” committing, not once, but repeatedly, present tense. But John refers to a sin, singular, not the lifestyle of lawlessness. The lawless man who lives habitually in the characteristics of what we’ve seen in 19-21 does not know Jesus from a hole in the ground. In fact, Paul is going to say in 6:1, if you don’t understand this, “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.” The warning is that any believer can fall into the trap of any sin at any time if he chooses not to walk by the Spirit.
But what Paul has been referencing in 19-21 is not a believer struggling with a sin. He’s been telling you the characteristics of the lost. The word poieo is the normal word used for a believer, although in 1 John he chooses to use that word and the context, as I said, renders the meaning for doing a single act. Normally poieo is a single act, but prasso is a habitual act. So Paul is not saying that if any of these sins have ever been committed in your life since you were saved, that you are not lost and will not inherit the kingdom of God. He is warning them—and this is my understanding; this is my take of Galatians 5, and you just take it and weigh it yourself—he’s saying to these Galatian people trying to wake them up, “if you continue not to walk by the Spirit, not be willingly led by the Spirit of God, having an intimate relationship with Him moment by moment, day by day, understanding that you can’t and only He can, then you’ll have a lifestyle or you’ll have something in your life that makes you no different in appearance than the lost man who lives next door.”
And I’ll be honest with you, this is what’s killing our churches. It’s not the people out there; it’s the people in here that will not live what they say they are. And when you go out there they could care less. They could care less. The thing that ought to draw people into this church is not what style we have of worship or anything else. What ought to draw people in this church is the changed lives of believers who walk by the Spirit of God and somebody standing in a restaurant, as they did to my wife the other day, said “Listen, I’ll be at your church next Sunday.” This is what ought to draw people.
We live in a day when numbers are everything to people and we’ve given up the very thing that draws people. The thing that draws people is a surrendered life, not anything else. You use a gimmick to get people here, you’ll have to use a gimmick to keep them. I’ve said that before. So the answer is still walk by the Spirit. What’s the answer? Walk by the Spirit. Walk by the Spirit. Be willingly led by the Spirit of God.
But there’s one more thing I want to add to this message. And this is from my heart to yours. I want to encourage your heart. The struggle that is common; we’re all going to struggle with sin and we’re going to have a particular sin we’re going to struggle with. And it was the same one that defeated us before we got saved. I guarantee you it comes full circle when we choose not to walk by the Spirit. But the common confusion is that Paul is talking about the fact that if we do struggle with it, and we do fall into its trap, we’re kicked out of the kingdom. No sir! No sir! But the final thing I want to share with you I think it’ll balance it all. The promises that are common to all believers. This is my heart to yours. I just love you and I’m not here to beat anybody up. I’m here to raise a red flag and say, guys, we’ve got to understand how to live in these days.
All through Scripture we see that we have assurance of our salvation. I’ve been challenged on this everywhere I’ve ever been, so it doesn’t matter. Somebody says, well I want to challenge. Well, get a number and get in line. I mean, they’re everywhere. They follow me around, have since I’ve been in the ministry. Those who try to confuse us will use certain passages to throw us off track. For instance, they’ll use Hebrews 6. I’ve spoken at the Cove for four years, and when I got there they said, “Wayne, will you be willing to take questions from the people at a certain session?” And I was stupid enough to say yes! Bad mistake. You ever noticed when you have an open question and answer session it’s never germane to what you’re talking about? It’s always going to be in about five different areas with the most controversial questions ever been asked in Christianity and you’re supposed to answer them.
One person stood up and said I believe in Hebrews 6 that is says you can lose your salvation and he read the verses and you’ve been very familiar with them. I’m not going to get into that. And I thought to myself, how ridiculous. Do you understand when you study Scripture it’s observation, interpretation, application? Have you ever observed the book of Hebrews? So the book of Hebrews is not how you can lose your salvation. The book of Hebrews is about who Jesus is and I’m glad we don’t even know the author. And when you get to chapter 6 you’re in a context of chapters 4-10 that’s talking about the high priesthood of Jesus. It has nothing to do with a person losing their salvation. It’s talking about the fact that He when He died, friend, this can’t happen. This is totally hypothetical. You cannot lose your salvation if you’re in Him. He can’t come back and die again. In fact, the author of Hebrews even turns and says I’ve even got better things for you people. He clears it up.
Some people even take Galatians 5 that we’ve already studied where it talks about the fact that those who seek to be justified by law or circumcision, have fallen from grace. And they say, see there, you can fall from grace. That’s ridiculous, the sphere of grace. What he says is Christ cannot help you if you’re going to choose to go the way of the Law. The way of the Law is the way of the flesh. That’s why he says in chapter 5:18 if you’re walking by the Spirit, then you’re not under law. But you choose the Law, you’ve just nullified the enabling power of God in your life. He’s not talking about being kicked out of the kingdom of God. I’ll tell you, the verses are a dime a dozen and they’re everywhere. Buddy, we better start getting honest with what Scripture teaches. Grace is grace. And if you can lose your salvation throw grace out the door, because you don’t even understand it.
But I want to share this with you. Are there any verses we can rest on, Wayne? Is there something I can take home with me today and stand on that gives me assurance of my salvation? Now I just want to answer you first of all, are there any verses? In fact, if you cut out all the verses that assure you of your salvation you will truly have a “holey” Bible. Let me give you a few that God has ministered to my heart, just from me to you, as a love gift to you. This is what God has spoken to my heart about my assurance of salvation. And I read the verse a while ago, but didn’t emphasize this word.
Romans 6:5, “For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection.” That word “united” has a little preposition. Eighty percent of Greek words have a preposition in the front of them, not like English words at all, and that determines what that word means. There’s two prepositions for “with,” and the “with” that is used here is not the “with” of association. It’s not that word meta, because if it was we could lose our salvation; you could use this very verse to show that you could lose your salvation. But there’s another word, sun, and it’s the first word of the preposition that’s used put right in front of the word phutos. Phutos means two people, or two things, are grafted together and they come up as one. And the word sun, by being put in the front of that word, means they can never ever be separated. God has so baked Himself into our life nothing can separate us from the love of God. I will never leave you, nor forsake you. I’m a part of you. You’ve been born from above. That’s one of the things that spoke to my heart.
The devil tries everything he can do to make me doubt my salvation. I don’t know about you. Another verse is Romans 8:1. Paul in chapter 7 has talked about his struggle, the same struggle we have, the struggle with his flesh. And in Romans 8:1 he says, “Therefore, there is now,” now that you’re a believer, “no condemnation for those who are,” and what’s the last three words? “In Christ Jesus.” You’re either in Adam or you’re in Christ Jesus. If you’re in Christ Jesus there is therefore no what? Condemnation. Now quit worrying about it. If you’ve received Jesus He’s come to live in you. Not only are you in Him, He is in you, Romans 8:1.
And one more. Ephesians 1:13. I want to show you this: “In Him you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, having also believed you were” what? “sealed in Him with” what? “the Holy Spirit of promise.” And what is He? “Who is given as a pledge” the earnest “of our inheritance with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession to the praise of His glory.” You know what that word “sealed” means? It can be a barrel or a container, that’s got a top on it and they’ve sealed it around, but you can break that off. The better word for sealed, and the better understanding, is the authentification it gives when you brand somebody. You ever try to take a brand off a cow? Once you are branded, you are branded, you are authentic. What makes you authentic? The Holy Spirit of God has come to live in your life. The Spirit of Christ has baked Himself into your life and is never going to leave you.
Now how long can you be sealed for? Ephesians 4:30. “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” I’ve already been redeemed. I know and you’re being redeemed. I know. And you shall be redeemed. And when you see Jesus one day and you get a glorified body that’s when you don’t have to worry about being sealed anymore cause you made it all the way through.
Hey, this is just three passages. We could do a series on assurance of salvation. So Paul is not talking about losing your salvation if you fall into the trap of sin. What he’s talking about is you’re not going to look any different than the pagan neighbor that lives next door and you’ll have no witness whatsoever.
Manly Beasley made the statement one time. He says, you know, if the devil could somehow rip me out of the kingdom of God, then first of all the devil would have to pry the hand of Jesus off of me. Remember, it says we’re in His hand, because we’re hidden in Him who was in God. He says if he could somehow pry Jesus’ hand off of me—because He holds on to me, friend; it’s not me holding on to Him, He’s holding on to me—if you could pry that hand open, then he’d have to move, he’d have to go through the blood to get to me because I’m covered by the blood of Jesus. And he said if the devil could get through the blood you wouldn’t have to worry about him anymore because now he’s a saved devil. Anybody that’d go through the blood is cleansed by the blood. He said, buddy, do you know, because you know, because you know that you’re saved today. And if you do, don’t you dare let somebody else or an isolated verse challenge that.
That’s what grace is all about. I want to encourage you. I love you. Keep on walking by the Spirit and you won’t even have to worry about anything I’ve just said. The only time you worry about not being saved is when you’re not walking by the Spirit of God. You’re not letting His Word renew your mind and His Spirit transform your life. It’s the only time.
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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.