Posts Tagged ‘Submit’


Paul concluded his doctrinal masterpiece to the Romans with this simple prayer,  “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.” (Romans 16:24).  To me, it states the obvious, that all the right doctrine in the world is worthless without the grace of Jesus Christ in our life. It also tells me that it is possible for Christians to miss out on the grace of Jesus Christ.

Over the next few weeks we will be discovering what I believe is the missing ingredient in most Christians, and thus, most churches. That missing ingredient is “GraceLife”. Too many Christians are trying to live their lives just close enough to Jesus to be “alright”. If we could really understand “GraceLife”, we would see how those ‘followers’ of Jesus are missing out on what Jesus is all about.

This writing will consider the following:

  1. Grace Preconceptions
  2. Experiencing GraceLife
  3. Obstacles to Experiencing GraceLife
  4. Who Can Experience GraceLife?
  5. Who Cannot Experience GraceLife?

Next week we will function as FBI behavioral profilers, building a profile of what “GraceLife” is all about, and how we can become GraceLife Christians and a GraceLife Church.

1.  Grace Preconceptions

Most of us think of an acronym when we consider grace, “God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense”. Perhaps you think along the ideas of the Preachers Outline and Study Bible:

Grace; God’s special favor; a special expression of God’s divine presence. Grace (charis) means the undeserved favor and blessings of God[1].

As a result, we associate grace with salvation, as Ephesians 2: 8,9 indicate: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.”

While these are all great beginnings for understanding “grace”, we need to see the depth of grace in order to understand “GraceLife.”

Let’s lay our preconceptions at the cross. Lay them before the Lord and confess that you do not really understand His grace. Confess that you have been lazy in seeking to know His grace. Ask God to reveal the reality and power of His grace to your hearts. Ask Him to open your eyes to the reality of GraceLife!

2.  Experiencing GraceLife

GraceLife is an Abundant Life because Jesus supplies from His riches.
  • John 10:9-10 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
  • John 1:16 (Phillips) Indeed, every one of us has shared in his riches – there is a grace in our lives because of his grace.
  • John 1:16 (ESV) And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.
GraceLife is a Reigning Life, because Jesus reigns.
  • Romans 5:17 Since by the one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive the overflow of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.
  • Ephesians 2:4 But even though we were dead in our sins God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, gave us life together with Christ – it is, remember, by grace and not by achievement that you are saved – and has lifted us right out of the old life to take our place with him in Christ in the Heavens.
Paul Paints a Portrait of a troubled church being a GraceLife Church

1 Corinthians 1:4 I am always thankful to God for what the gift of his grace in Jesus Christ has meant to you – how, as the Christian message has become established among you, he has enriched your whole lives, from the words on your lips to the understanding in your hearts. And you have been eager to receive his gifts during this time of waiting for his final appearance. He will keep you steadfast in the faith to the end, so that when his day comes you need fear no condemnation. God is utterly dependable, and it is he who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ, our Lord. (Phillips)

GraceLife is an Overcoming Life, because Jesus is our Overcomer!
  • John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

So the obvious question is why don’t most Christians “Overcome” and experience an “Abundant Life” of “Reigning with Christ”? Because they fail to clear four obstacles to GraceLife.

3.  Obstacles to Experiencing GraceLife

From George Barna and “Maximum Faith

There are four major OBSTACLES to most Christians experiencing the “Overcoming Life” or as I describe it “GraceLife.”

Obstacle #1: Fear of Commitment
  1. Only 18% of Christians claim to be totally committed to following Jesus Christ.
  2. Only 22% claim to be “completely dependent upon God.”
Obstacle #2: Lack of Godly Repentance
  1. 64% of Christians state they have confessed their sins to God and asked for His forgiveness.
  2. Only 12% state they are serious about abandoning the lure of sin and handing total control of their life to God.
  3. Only 12% admitted that recognizing and grasping the significance of their sins had been so personally devastating that it caused them to crash emotionally.
  4. Only about 3% of Christians in America have come to the place where they have surrendered control of their life to God, submitted to His will for their life, and devoted themselves to loving and serving God and other people.
Obstacle #3: Substituting Activity for Deeper Spirituality

Christians confuse religious activity with spiritual significance and depth.

  1. 39% participate in a combination of three “normal” religious activities in the past week (i.e., attending church services, praying, reading the Bible).
  2. Only 8% engaged in another trio of deeper faith expressions: talked about their faith with a non-Christian, fasted for religious purposes, scriptural meditation or had an extended time of spiritual reflection during the past week.
Obstacle #4: Lack of True Spiritual Community

A majority said they feel comfortable and connected within their church. However, most do not consider their church as a place where they can be open and held to biblical principles.

  1. Only 21% of Christians believe that spiritual maturity requires a vital connection to a community of faith.
  2. Only 35% claim to have confessed their sins verbally to another believer at some point during the past year.
Church life can be an obstacle to GraceLife!

Instead of churches encouraging people to engage in increasing religious activity along the lines of “programs” such as worship, evangelism, discipleship, stewardship, service, and community, we need to focus on our living relationship with the Grace of Jesus Christ.

Emphasize the Need for continuous Life-Changing Relationship with Jesus Christ.

  1. When activities are emphasized, people tend to focus on worldly accomplishments rather than developing the Character of Christ. God does not need us to achieve things on His behalf in order for us to become more acceptable or valuable to Him.
  2. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in finishing church programs or producing specific religious results that we lose sight of the purpose of our faith, which is to have a life-changing relationship with Jesus.
  3. It becomes easy to substitute significant religious activity for an intentional and simple relationship with Jesus Christ.

Recognize that sacrifice and suffering are essential for a Life-Changing Relationship with Jesus Christ.

  1. Believers must realize there is beauty and power in brokenness. Surrender and submission only happen after a struggle with the flesh.
  2. Brokenness is unappealing in a society based upon ego and bravado.
  3. Until such brokenness occurs, though, people’s transformation is hindered.
  4. The Church should raise those people up as champions, positioning such selflessness as victory rather than loss.
  5. If broken individuals are not found in a congregation, then it is time to rethink the disciple-making process relied upon in our church.

Provide the experience of a vital support system in the pursuit of a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.

  1. Studies show that most small groups and Sunday Schools produce a combination of knowledge and comfort more than commitment and application.
  2. While knowledge is important, without transparency and accountability, the information rarely gets converted into personal, congregational, or cultural transformation.

4.  Who Can Experience GraceLife?

(FICTIONAL, but based on actual families I know) – Before us is a man and woman in their late 30’s to early 40’s. They look succesful by all the worldly measures. Nice cars, nice house, good jobs. Nice vacations. They both grew up in conservative Baptist churches. They were active in the youth group, even going to youth camp where they both dedicated their lives to Jesus Christ. College happened, with all of the associated drinking and ‘hooking up’. Married in their later 20’s, they never found a church to connect with, going occasionally when a friend would ask. Now after 15 years of marriage, and three children, they are having discipline problems with their teenager. Their tweens are indifferent toward school, and one has gotten in trouble for stealing from another student. All the children nurse hurts from broken promises from parents who put their careers before their children. The wife feels no emotional connection with her husband, and because of past hurts, regards her husband with not so hidden contempt. She no longer respects her husband, and the children reflect that attitude. She barely manages to tolerate him. The husband feels unappreciated and longs for intimacy. He seeks the gratitude of women at work. In fact, he is in an emotional relationship with a grateful co-worker, and has toyed with the idea of taking their relationship to the “next step”.

Here is a family on the brink of disaster. Why? because they are nursing “wounded spirits”. They may have made a profession of faith in Christ, but never really experienced the power of Jesus. If they are Christians, they are defeated soldiers living behind enemy lines.

Is there any hope for this family? Is this the kind of family we want at our church? Would this family feel welcome in our church?

They would if we were a GraceLife church! GraceLife invites people and families with problems. GraceLife invites people who are wounded, hurt and even held captive by darkness and sin. GraceLife churches want broken people! GraceLife wants sinners! GraceLife grows and abounds in the face of hurt and brokenness! GraceLife overcomes impossible circumstances! GraceLife restores defeated soldiers and fallen saints.

Why is it our Responsibility to Reach out to the Wounded?

Proverbs 18:14 The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?

Because this is the foundation of Christ’s earthly ministry. As he quoted in Luke 4:

Isaiah 61:1-3 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.

If Christians are not focusing on the wounded and sick and hurting around us, we will not be on guard when our brothers and sisters are stricken with a wounded spirit.

Just as a wounded spirit can destroy any family, ruin any marriage, lead to an affair, or even result in juvenile delinquency, a wounded spirit can destroy or greatly diminish a Christians’ love for Jesus Christ. A wounded spirit can cause someone to stop going to church. A wounded spirit is infectious, and destruction is in its path. We must constantly be ministering to the wounded spirits around us, whether they are believers or not.

The only solution for a wounded spirit is to embrace “GraceLife”

Q: Why is a wounded spirit destructive to our relationship with Jesus Christ?

A: Grace (Jesus) grows from our spirit! If our spirit is wounded, grace will not be allowed to grow and empower us!

  • Galatians 6:18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.
  • Philippians 4:23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
  • 2 Timothy 4:22 The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.
  • Philemon 1:25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Consider the child Jesus. The Bible says the Grace of God was upon him because he grew strong in spirit! A wounded spirit is weak, and grace is blocked from having any effect!

  • Luke 2:40 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.

The Grace of Jesus Christ is administered to our spirit, the same spirit that has been regenerated and ‘born again’ by God’s Holy Spirit! Grace isn’t for our brain, it isn’t for our emotions, it isn’t for our muscles, it is for our spirit. It originates there and then desires to flow over our mind, will, emotions and strength. It does not bypass our spirit, for it is from the Holy Spirit of Grace. If we are wounded in our spirit, if we are weak in our spirit, if we are walking in the flesh, we will miss out on the full benefit of the grace of Jesus Christ. Grace is applied to broken and hurting spirits that are given to Jesus in humility, not in pride.

I had one son who really like to test me. He was the one who after I disciplined him corporally, had a tendency to look at me as if he was saying, is that all you got? I had to spend extra time with him until I could sense he was broken over his disobedience. Once I sensed a brokenness, I could wrap my arms around him and tell him I loved him. But until that pride was laid aside, I wasn’t inclined to show him grace. On the other hand, I had a daughter with a soft heart. When she disobeyed, only one spanking was sufficient, sometimes all it took was a stern look.

God pours out His grace upon those who need help with their wounds, not upon those who look at him and say, “is that all you got?”

1 Corinthians 1:4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus,

Our walk with Jesus Christ begins clothed in Grace! His grace consumes our spirit, and desires to encompass our life. However, in so many Christians, something happens that wounds our spirit, and grace is thwarted or dwarfed. The grace of God is applied in vain to one with a wounded spirit.

GraceLife can heal the lost, the broken, the wounded, because the Grace of Christ is healing, transformational and empowering. The Grace of Christ brings much more than salvation, it brings LIFE – overcoming life for everyday circumstances!

5.  Who Cannot Experience GraceLife?

Sadly, there is one major obstacle to experiencing GraceLife. As I have already alluded, Grace is for the broken, for the hurting, for those who realize their need before God. Grace is never poured out on the proud, upon those who think they can handle their problems, or who think they are OK, or a ‘good Christian.’ Self-righteousness, pride, false sense of righteousness, contentment with who you are, are all things which will shut your spirit off from the Grace of God. They will keep you from walking in GRACELIFE. Gracelife is not for those who think they are ‘good people’. GraceLife is not for the judgmental, GRACELIFE is not for Christians who can’t get along with other people. GRACELIFE is all inclusive, for it is for the sinful, the hurting, the broken.

One way to tell if you are missing out on GRACELIFE can be found in a little sermon that Jerry Falwell preached. He called the sermon “Feudin’, Fussin’ and Frettin”. He preached it one stormy Sunday morning in 1972. The mood of the nearly 3,000 people that morning was sour. You could smell the pickle juice. Concern was written on every face. Normally the people shouted rousing “AMEN’s” & “Hallelujah’s” when Doug Oldham sang “The King is Coming”, but that morning there was silence. Jerry reflected,  “I didn’t know if it was the weather, Vietnam, or if everyone had a lot of problems, but no one smiled.”

Something was blocking the Grace of God in the church that morning. So Jerry read from Psalm 37:1-9

Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither, as the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth (Psalm 37:1-9).

He began his sermon by saying:

“Life can be an adventure. Life can be a thrilling experience. Life can be one joy after another—or it can be a total and miserable failure.”

I believe the difference between life being a thrilling experience or a miserable failure is whether you are experiencing “GRACELIFE”

Whether you grow in Grace or Stumble Around in the Flesh is entirely up to you!

Everyone has problems. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone has messed up, some of us more than others. Whether you grow or shrink in the face of your circumstances is entirely dependent upon whether or not you allow the Grace of God to abound in your life. Whether you grow in Grace or Stumble Around in the Flesh is entirely up to you! The Grace is there for all Christians, yet our decision and attitude determines whether it has any power in our life. (We will see this more fully when we build our profile).

We don’t like problems. In fact, we try to hide them, or pass them off as no big deal. Christians think problems are a sign of sin or weakness, but really, they are an opportunity for God’s Grace.

Christian,  admit your, admit your weaknesses, admit your failings, and turn to God’s Grace. The problems are not the problem, our attitude toward our problems is!

God’s grace can never flow to the proud, arrogant and self-sufficient. God’s grace abounds for the humble, the weak, those that face heartbreak, disappointment and overwhelming burdens. Pressure and trials can be God’s design to keep us depending upon Him.

Too many Christians are guilty of what David called ‘fretting.’

What does it mean to fret?

The dictionary defines the word fret as “To give oneself up to feelings of irritation. Resentful discontent. Regret. Worry.” That pretty well describes many of God’s children, but it ought not to be so.

How to know you have given up to irritation.

We usually disguise our feelings with cute phrases (justifications).

  •  “I got up on the wrong side of the bed.” That means we got up full of the devil, but we say we got up on the wrong side of the bed.
  • “I’m in a bad mood today.” That means the devil has gotten control of our lives and our attitudes.
  • “Things are going bad; nobody has it as bad as I do.” That’s simply saying that instead of being on top of my circumstances, I’m under them.

We are not supposed to be under the circumstances, but on top of them. We are not holding on for dear life, we are reigning with Christ! This is what James 1:2 means when he says to “COUNT”

James 1:2-4 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

COUNT = hēgéomai: To be a leader, chief [2] We can ‘COUNT” it all joy becasue we are in the King, the Lord, the Leader! We can reign over our circumstances, because He reigns!

When things get tough so many people resort to fretting, fuming, and fussing, and they become typical Baptists. Most Baptists fuss when they shouldn’t. When you fuss and fret over your circumstances, you fail to see the abundance of God’s grace and your Christian walk becomes a flop. The adventure is gone. You are stuck in the mire of circumstance.

Why do Christians fret?

David tells us to quit fretting. Bad attitudes can keep you from enjoying life. They cut us off from God’s Grace. Your irritation can keep the people around you from enjoying life. No one likes to be around a sourpuss all the time. No one likes to be around a person who is always complaining—“nothing is ever right, everything is always wrong.”

Fretting is contagious. Negative attitudes attract positive attitudes and the negativity prevails. We become critical and judgmental in our attitudes. We don’t have to say anything, our expression says it all.

What causes a Christian to fret?
1. When you are determined to get your own way, and something goes wrong.

Christians can get so full of their self, that if we don’t get our way, no one will! Sometimes you’ll even hear “If I don’t get what I want, then I’m not going to do anything.” Ever hear “I’m my own boss, nobody’s going to make me do anything. I’ll do exactly as I please”?

When you start talking like that, the Lord is just about ready to cut you down. The very thing you say you will not do or the very thing you say you will do generally works in reverse, because God wants that old will broken and submissive to His will.

When you find a Christian fretting, you can mark it down, his plans are going wrong. He made some plans, he drew out a little blueprint of what he was going to do—and it did not work that way.

The world tells us to set goals, to “plan your work and work your plan”. But if you think that is the way God works, you don’t know God very well. When our plans come before God’s plans, we can expect problems.

Christian life is not plotting and scheming. It’s not “how to make a million before the age of 30.” The Christian life is surrendering and submitting. If you will learn the secret of surrender, as opposed to the futility of scheming, it will save you a lot of ulcers. It will keep you from being a sourpuss, a Christian weaned on a pickle. Surrendering to Christ will prevent you from being guilty of fretting, fuming, and fussing. When you think you have got to have your way, you are proving how immature you are. You can never experience GraceLife without surrendering and submitting.

  • No one plans to go to the hospital, and yet a lot of good people do.
  • No one plans to lose a loved one, and yet loved ones die.
  • No one plans to have an automobile accident, a financial reverse, or a disappointment.
  • No one plans to have some disastrous tragedy happen in his family.
  • No one plans those things, but they happen.

The Christian who would learn victory over fretting must learn the secret of God’s promise, “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). When you surrender to God, you discover the power of Phil 2:13

For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

We have no right to impose our desires on God’s will. God knows best. Some of you have a had a real rough week. Everything has gone against you. You think the world is sitting on your shoulders. You think nobody loves you. That is not true.

God loves you and a lot of Christians would love you if you gave them a chance. But, your problem is that you want your own way and God wants another way. So you are being like Elijah the Prophet, sitting under the juniper tree and pouting. Pout is another good Baptist word. Self centered Baptists are good at pouting. But pouting Baptists cannot experience GraceLife.

God has got to knock that pouting out of you before you can amount to something. When you pout, you cut yourself off from God’s Grace!

I’ve seen a lot of pouting Christians over the last 40 years. I’ve seen pouting wives, pouting husbands, and even pouting preachers. When someone gets to pouting because of their pride, because they didn’t get what they want, it’s hard to get them to stop pouting and look to the Lord. I think it is almost easier to get a drunk converted. You can easier get a drug addict off dope than you can get a pouter to stop pouting, because he enjoys it.

That is part of pride. That is the old selfish nature coming through. “I’m going to have my way. I’m going to do what I please, and if I can’t, I’m not going to do anything.” So we determine to have our way and as a result we fret.

2. When you life your live without God in view.

We make our plans and then we get on our knees and we say, “Lord, I want you to bless my plans.” God has to be taken into view. The Holy Spirit has to be a partner in your plans. God has to do the programming and computing. God has to give the direction. And if He does, you can be sure He will bless your work. God is not going to bless when you make the plan, you plot the course, you chart the way, and then invite Him in as an afterthought. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). But first seek God, seek His wisdom, seek His way, seek His purpose. Making plans without God in view will make us fret.

GraceLife is a Life TOTALLY dependent upon God and His leadership. I wonder how many of you have made some plans in the past week. You have plotted a course, you have made some decisions, but you have never prayed. You have never sought the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Too often we think the leadership of the Holy Spirit and God’s thoughts are only involved in a local church or soul-winning ministry. We have a false way of dividing the sacred and the secular.

We say, “Now, when it comes to my church work, I pray and I seek the face of God for teaching my class, but when it comes to running my business or working my job, I know what I’m doing.” You cannot be successful that way. God Almighty must be invited into your business, your home, your health, the raising of your family, your trips, your pleasure, your hunting, and your fishing. God Almighty must be invited into every area of your life or you need not expect the Grace of God to be actively at work in your life. God will not be relegated to a corner or a part of your activity. He is going to be Lord of all or He is not going to be Lord at all. GraceLife will bring us to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

We fret because we leave God out of our schemes and plans. Faith is living without scheming. If you invite God into the picture, you will not have to scheme. You will not have to throw a fit afterward,  because if your plans do not go through, you were out of His plan and He had a purpose in the failure. When your plans are His plans, you don’t get frustrated if things fall into pieces. Then, the only time you will get frustrated and have your fits is when God had nothing to do with the plans and you failed, because your pride got hurt.

David says: Fret Not, fret not, fret not. Three times he said fret not.

Do you want to Experience GRACELIFE? Then you need to lay your frets at the altar. You need to admit what a sinner you are. You need to admit your are hurting. You need to admit you are wounded. You need to humble all that you are before God, and surrender everything you want, even this church, to Him. Then you need to say God, I submit my will and my wants to you and your will and your wants. Then follow Psalms 37:3-8

  1. Trust  (Be Confident) in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.
  2. Delight (be willing to bend) thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
  3. Commit (Roll upon Him) thy way unto the LORD; trust (Continue to be confident) also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.
  4. Rest (be silent, motionless) in the LORD, and wait patiently for him:
  5. Cease (stop, desist) from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.

What kind of life do you want? Do you want to stumble along, fretting over your circumstances, rolling along out of control? Do you want to be confident in God’s control, in the Healing power of Jesus Christ? Roll your cares, roll your concerns, roll your life upon Him. Let His Grace fill your life!

To open the flood gates of God’s Grace upon your life, you must be willing to surrender and submit to God’s Word and God’s Will. You must be willing to wait upon Him. You must be willing to let Jesus Christ be Lord of all you are, all that you think, say and do.


[1] The Preacher’s Outline & Sermon Bible – Romans, (Chattanooga: Leadership Ministries Worldwide, 1991), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “E. Law: The Wrong Way for a Man to be Justified, 4:13-16”.

[2] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 707.

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I am always fascinated when I see a baby start to walk. Especially my grandchildren. Some have toddled and crawled for a couple weeks, but Laila stood up and started running and has not stopped yet.

Sure, it can be scary while they figure it out. You can try hard to keep them safe while they learn to walk. However, THEY have to learn how to walk. You cannot do it for them. They will fall. They will get bruises. They will have to decide that it is better to walk and run than to crawl around the rest of their lives. So must Christians discover how to walk and live the Christian life God designed for us. We have to decide that we do not want to crawl the rest of our Christian life.

It Is No Little Thing To Be A Christian.

Many people come to Christ and seem overwhelmed with ‘being a Christian”. If being a Christian seems too big for you, just say “That is very good” I would not have it if it were as small as I am. Being a Christian must be something really big if it is to get me anywhere!

The bigger being a Christian is, the mightier the dynamic force that is behind the Christian Life. The greater is the POWER to Walk the Christian Life!

Romans 1-7 is the Gateway into the Christian Life.

The word written across the portal of that gate is FAITH. On the Gate, is the Cross. Faith in the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ is the way in, and seven chapters are devoted to that way. In Chapter 8 you find what kind of life is on the other side of that gate, the other side of the cross.

Chapter 8 is the real nature of this Big Life into which we have come. In this chapter there is one word which stands out-it is the word SPIRIT. This whole chapter that describes this Big Christian Life springs from and centers on this matter of the Spirit!

This Big Christian Life begins there: The Law of the Spirit of Life IN Christ Jesus!

We are through the gate, we are through the Cross, and here we find what we call “The Life in the Spirit”. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the church, ushering in a new dispensation, the one we are living in now. It is the dispensation of the Holy Spirit. The Old Testament dispensation, the dispensation of God’s dealing with the Jews, is past. Now He is dealing with the church, the Body of Christ through the Holy Spirit. This is an entirely new and different age, marked by the coming of Jesus Christ, and concluded with His return.

The character and quality of this dispensation is entirely the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit has come; He has introduced a new order of things entirely; and, until we understand that order, we shall not make any progress in our Christian life. It is very necessary for us to understand that.

The effect of the Holy Spirit, simply but fundamentally, is that He joins us to Christ. He brings about a vital union with the Lord Jesus. “But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.” 1 Corinthians 6:17. To Live this Big Christian Life requires not our self-effort, but our walking after and relying upon the Holy Spirit.

So We must WALK…AFTER THE SPIRIT. That is what we will focus on in Romans 8 verses 5 – 15.

We found in the first four verses of Romans 8:

I. New Life in Christ – New Walk in the Holy Spirit

Romans 8:1  Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Vs 2: For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. Vs 3: For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, Vs 4: so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

We are One with Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit

  • In Jesus we are not condemned
  • In Jesus we live by a new law – freee from the law of sin and death.
  • We Walk Knowing what Jesus has done for us (vs 3)
  • We walk knowing what the Holy Spirit will do IN us (vs 4)

The Christian Life Is a Life Lived In Not In Our Flesh, But In The Spirit! Verse 3 reveals that God did for us what we could not do in ourselves-he removed the fundamental ground of our weakness-he crucified our old man, so that we could be free to walk in the new man of the Holy Spirit. Verse 4 reveals that the Law is fulfilled in us by walking in the Holy Spirit who indwells us.

What Does It Mean To Walk After The Holy Spirit?

1. Not a Work, but a Walk.

For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me. Colossians 1:29

We allow the Holy Spirit to work in us.

D.L Moody said, “I believe firmly that the moment our hearts are emptied of pride and selfishness and ambition and everything that is contrary to God’s law, the Holy Spirit will fill every corner of our hearts. But if we are full of pride and conceit and ambition and the world, there is no room for the Spirit of God. We must be emptied before we can be filled.” J. Kuhatschek, Taking the Guesswork Out of Applying the Bible, IVP, p. 153ff.

Paul contrasts the WORKS of the flesh with the FRUIT of the Spirit (Gal 5:19, 22)

  • Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Galatians 5:19
  • But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, Galatians 5:22

The Christian walk is not up to us, to our works, just as Salvation is not up to our works. Salvation is entirely of Grace, so the Christian Walk is to be entirely of Grace. The Spirit produces the fruit. We are merely the instrument.

2. To Walk After Implies Subjection/Submission

Subject means to be placed under the authority of another. We must willingly place ourselves under the authority of the Holy Spirit.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Galatians 5:16-18

  • No matter what the cost, or what the imposition.

When we follow after our flesh the Holy Spirit will shrink back.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:30

3. Walking After the Spirit Requires a Mind Set upon Him!

“to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace” Rom 8:6

Hurewicz was a mathematician noted for work in topology and being distracted. He was the original ‘absent-minded professor’.

While on the faculty at MIT he once gave a colloquium lecture at Penn State. Several colleagues from Boston schools decided to attend the talk and they took the train to Pennsylvania for the lecture. Afterward, as usual, they went to dinner had a nice discussion, then all boarded the train and returned to Boston. Hurewicz could not find his car at the train station. So he reported it stolen. A few days later, the police called and said that they had located his car. It was in a parking garage in ………….. Philadelphia.

In 1956 while attending the International Symposium on Algebraic Topology in Uxmal, Mexico he climbed to the top of a Mayan pyramid. The story is that he forgot where he was. He stepped nonchalantly and fell off to his death.

Jesus made it clear that what we set our mind on is critical to the advancement of His Kingdom:

Mt 16:23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

We are to have the mind of Christ, who set this self-less and flesh-less example for us:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:5-8

4. Minding the Flesh Produces Conflict With God

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. Romans 8:5-8

Walking after the flesh means I yield to the authority and dictates of the flesh. Romans 8:5-8 shows where fleshly walking leads me. It brings me into conflict with God. The word used by the King James is “enmity”. It means “the extreme ill will or hatred that exists between enemies.”

Paul uses a noun not an adjective for the word ‘enmity’. The reason is that walking after the flesh does not taint us, it shows WE are tainted!

  • It is not that we can be opposed to God, but that we ourself is opposed to Him!
  • We not at enmity, but enmity itself!
  • We are not black, but blackness!
  • We are not corrupt, but corruption!
  • We are not rebellious, we are rebellion!
  • We are not wicked, we are wickedness itself!
  • We are not just deceitful, we are deceit!

The fleshly walk does not submit to the Holy Spirit. The fleshly walk does not and cannot please God.

II. Walking After The Spirit Brings Me Into The Law Of The Spirit Of Life.

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. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:9-15

The Spirit must LEAD us. Not only Setting our Minds on Him, but also Following Him. (Not enough to only think about Him, you must obey). My kids usually minded me, but I don’t think their heart was in it all the time!

Much more than minding. It requires that you submit to His leading. You cannot be independent of Him.  You must be subject to the Holy Spirit. Only as we yield ourselves to obey Him shall we find the law of the Spirit of Life in full operation and the “ordinance of the law” being fulfilled.

  • Everything we have been trying to do to please God is now reality simply by our submitting to the Holy Spirit.
  • As many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the Sons of God. (Rom 8:14)

Why is it so important to be led by the Holy Spirit? Understand God’s design:

  • The Love of God is the source of all spiritual blessing
  • The grace of the Lord Jesus has made it possible for that spiritual wealth to be ours.
  • The communion of the Holy Spirit is the means whereby it is imparted to us.

What the Father has devised, the Son has accomplished, and the Holy Spirit communicates directly to us. If we are not walking after the Holy Spirit, we are missing out on all the Father hand the Son have for us!

III. We Walk as His Son

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

Imagine walking as His Son. You are no longer crawling, you are WALKING as the SON of GOD! This is the Normal Christian Life we are to lead!

  • 2 John 1:6 “And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.”
  • 1 John 2:6 “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.”
  • Ephesians 5:8, 9 “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)”
  • Romans 8:4 “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after theSpirit.”

Walking in the Spirit is not an option for the Christian – it is a command of God: “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.”

But, how do we walk as His Son?

A Son Believes His Father. A Son Trusts His Father.

  • See the Contrast

David vs. Saul and the Army of Israel

We see this in the contrast between the way the army of Israel approached the giant named Goliath and the way David did in 1 Samuel 17. The soldiers allowed did not believe in the power of their Jehovah God, for they did not see Him as their all-powerful Father. They all “ran away in great fear” while David, who knew the power of His God, and knew his special relationship with God, “ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him” in verse 48.

Your relationship determines your walk!

Joshua and Caleb vs. the Children in the Wilderness

This is the choice the Children in the Wilderness faced: Do we believe God or do we trust what we see? When the 10 spies told of the giants, the Israelites had no thoughts of their relationship with Jehovah God. They had no thoughts of His power, so they became afraid and disobeyed.

Joshua and Caleb knew the power of God, knew of their beloved relationship with Him, and knew they could go in and defeat the giants. Do you approach the giant fears of your life as a helpless orphan, or do you approach the giants as God’s beloved son?

A. We are a Son of God by the Holy Spirit

Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.

  • Not the works of the spirit! – Not the influences of the spirit, or the general character which comes form the indwelling spirit,…but the Spirit Himself!
  • “The difference between the regenerate & the unregenerate is not of degree, but of kind!” (Spurgeon at His Best; Rom.8:9)

The question you must ask yourself:

Does the Spirit of Christ live in me? What evidences of the Holy Spirit do I  see in my life?

  • Do I constantly worry?
  • Do I get upset at even the tiniest of things.
  • Do I have sins that you can’t seem to control.
  • Do I read the Word of God and know that God speaks to me as I read it?
  • Do I have times when you just need to talk to your Father?
  • Do I constantly think about Jesus, do I praise Him, do I ask Him for advice?

If you truly are born again, you will walk in the Spirit of Christ. If you do not, then you need to do a Spirit Check.

B. Enemy of Sonship: The Phony Christian Walk

If you do not have the Spirit, you are a phony. You start Minding the Flesh, because you can’t mind the Spirit.

Evidence of phonies are:

1. Cliché Christianity. A cliché is a phrase that is said too many times in a certain situation. Take sports for example. We hear: Take it one game at a time. Records are made to be broken. This team has overcome a lot of adversity. They control their own destiny.

Christians resort to clichés as well, and in many ways those cliché’s define the way they live. Some have sarcastically referred to this practice as “Jesus jargon”. These overused phrases convey little meaning because we hear them way too often. Unfortunately, many of us just repeat the expected vocabulary without really thinking about what the words mean. As a result, they lose their impact. Here are some that come to mind: Just have faith. God touched me. Let go and let God. God told me. I’ll pray for you.

Here is the danger. You and I can say the right sayings and yet our hearts can be far from God. And, since most Christians use these common clichés, it is easy to fall into a superficial spirituality. On top of that, we can fool others and even ourselves simply by saying the right words.

But none of this fools God as Isaiah 29:13 reminds us: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me…”

2. Right Rules. Some of you are trying to live the Christian life by a set of rules: “Do this, don’t do that!” The problem of living by rules is that it can lead to legalism. It also is walking in the flesh. On top of that, according to Colossians 2:22-23, it does not work anyway: “These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.”

God is not impressed either as the second part of Isaiah 29:13 says: “…Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.”

3. Formulaic Faith. Some of us are trying to live our faith by following formulas. These formulas are everywhere: Three Avenues to Answered Prayer, Four Steps to Spiritual Success and Five Ways to Walk in the Spirit. There are at least two problems with formulaic faith. First, it can lead to mechanical Christianity. Second, it doesn’t work very often.

4. Performance Posture. Way too many of us are trying to please God by our performance and some of us think that He will only accept us if we make ourselves acceptable. As the early chapters of the Book of Romans make clear, we will always fall short.

5. Extra Experiences. Some people try to live the Christian life by seeking deeply moving, life-changing, earth-shattering, emotional experiences with God. The problem is that experiences do not last because we must eventually come off the mountaintop and resume life in the valley. And, if you seek experiences, you will yo-yo in your faith, going up and down depending on the experiences you have. While God uses conferences, camps, mission trips, moving movies, and dynamic speakers, they alone cannot sustain our faith.

6. Coasting Christianity. Some of you have settled into a mediocre, lukewarm Christian life. You might be a coasting Christian because you think Christianity is too difficult. It is too hard to follow this unseen Holy Spirit.

Do any of these alternatives describe you? Let me say that there is some truth in each one. Most of the clichés we use represent real truth. Rules can be good. Formulas can be helpful. God is pleased when we obey Him. Ecstatic experiences with the Almighty can be life-changing. And finally, Christianity is too difficult – if you try to live it without the Holy Spirit’s power. The life of faith is impossible without the empowering and filling of the Holy Spirit. You cannot live the true Christian Life without following after the Holy Spirit. Anything less is PHONY!

WATCH FOR THE SIGNS OF PHONY WALK! Learn to talk tough to yourself. This may sound strange but it’s actually quite helpful to audibly attack error in your thinking.

  • Sometimes I say out loud: “This thinking is wrong. It’s from the pit of hell. I refuse to entertain those thoughts.”
  • This goes back to the word “set” in verse 5 as it refers to a “fixed mindset.”
  • We see this in Colossians 3:2: “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” A mind set on the flesh is death but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.
  • That’s exactly what Isaiah 26:3 in the New Living Translation proclaims: “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, whose thoughts are fixed on you!”
  • In other words, we must let the mind of the Master be the Master of our minds as Philippians 2:5 says: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”

C. The Holy Spirit Is Alive Within Each Christian.

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

If you don’t have the Spirit, then you don’t have spiritual life. That means every believer is home to the Holy Spirit. This denotes a “settled permanent penetrative influence.” You don’t need to ask Him to come in because He enters at conversion, you don’t need a “second blessing” or worry that He’s ever going to leave.

Jesus in John 14:16-17: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”

Galatians 4:6 describes the intimate relationship between the Holy Spirit within us and God the Father: “Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’”

The Holy Spirit desires to have control in each Christian’s life. Since the Holy Spirit lives within believers, you and I must give Him control of our lives. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”

The issue is not getting more of the Holy Spirit but allowing Him to have more of us. When we received Christ, we received all of God we will ever get. As born again believers, we don’t need to receive the Holy Spirit; we need to respond to the Holy Spirit whom we have already received.

When a toddler begins to walk he may revert back to crawling because it is still most natural to him. Walking is scary/risky. But there is some serious issues if your teenager keeps reverting back to crawling!!!

Is it more natural now in your walk with the Lord to walk in the flesh, or in the Spirit? Do you walk as His son, or as a phony?

D. Walking after the Spirit is a Life of Sonship

VS 14-15: For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:14-15

We have all benefited from the milled ridges that line our highways now. Driving over them produces a loud rumble that quickly wakes you up or tells you that you are drifting off the highway.

Well, the Holy Spirit works even better than those rumble strips when we start to do a mental lane change.

He ka-thump ka-thump ka-thumps upon our heart, warning us to get back in our Spirit lane, when we start crossing over into the flesh lane! We need to be reminde we are His son!

Galatians 5:16: “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” Another translation puts it this way: “Keep in step with the Spirit…” The key is to keep in step with the Spirit, not lagging behind and not racing ahead.

BY walking after the Spirit, you are walking in the New Law and you experience the Righteousness of Jesus Christ and THROW OFF YOUR WRETCHEDNESS!

  • So, go to bed tonight & say, “If I die before I wake, I cannot be condemned!”
  • Should you wake the next morning go into the world & say, “I am not condemned!”
  • When howls at you tell him, “you may accuse me, but I am not condemned!”
  • If your sins arise say, “I know you, but you are all gone forever. I am not condemned!” [adapted from Spurgeon quote]

Un-Believers: [Re-read vs.1] – This also means “There still hangs a most weighty condemnation upon all those who are not IN Christ Jesus!”

And what did verse nine say, “Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His”. Be His today!

Say “Yes” to the Spirit of God and you will live as His Son. The flesh will be of no power when you walk in the Law of the Life of the Spirit!


We are all innocent

I watch American Idol. I usually record it and watch an hour in about 25 minutes. But that show really defines what is going on in America. The songs, the way ordinary people get transformed into Pop Stars. How becoming an Idol is the dream of millions of people. Last Tuesday David Cook from Blue Springs, MO sang a song called Innocent. I was intrigued with the song’s catch phrase “We are all innocent” but I had to look up the lyrics to understand what he was singing about:

INNOCENT

Oh Tina’s losing faith in what she knows

Hates her music

Hates all her clothes

Thinks of surgery

And a new nose

Every calorie is war (He starts after this line)

And while she wishes she was a dancer

And that she never heard of cancer

She wishes God would give her some answers

And make her feel beautiful

I remember feeling low

I remember losing hope

I remember all the feelings and the day they stopped

One day you’ll have to let it go

You’ll have to let it go

One day you’ll stand up on your own

You’ll stand up on your own

We are We are all innocent

We are all innocent

We are, We are”

Now I may be misinterpreting this song but it seems to be about all those people who dream of being something they can never be. Like Tina, who wants to be a dancer, she realizes she isn’t attractive, she is probably over weight. Her clothes don’t fit right. Maybe she even has cancer. She wants some answers from

God. She is feeling low, she is losing hope. But the song says she’ll have to let it go, she’ll have to stand on her own. We are all innocent. We are all special in our own way.

This desire to be special, to “OWN” our destiny is inherent in men and women, boys and girls. We want to discover the reason we are here on earth.

God is crying out-hey it’s my way, I am God! But our ears are clogged up and we say, NO!, it’s my way, I’m am the important one. I can’t relate to you, I can’t get any answers from you! You didn’t create this world There is no sin. There is no hell. We are all innocent. We have to make our own life. I’m not going to ‘DO’ anything to please a God I don’t even know exists. I’m going to ‘DO’ to please me. Sometimes, just in case, we do a little to please God.

This desire to please ourselves is entwined in every aspect of our society. Our children are growing up with this and parents are encouraging it. Our schools are encouraging it. Even grandparents foster it.

This is why the story of Ananias & Sapphira in Acts 5 doesn’t make sense to most of us, especially the younger generation. Preacher’s don’t like preaching on this either. First of all we don’t like talking about a God who makes people drop dead in the middle of the church service. Second, we don’t want to discourage people who want to give money to the church. These verses seem to speak against what this world thinks Pastor’s are most worried about-more people and more money. So we ask “How could God do something like that to Ananias and Sapphira?” After all, they were doing something tremendous for the church They were “OWNING” their destiny. They were in control of their lives.

This is exactly the problem. This is exactly why we are losing the cultural war for the souls of our children today. There is a little verse that I skipped over last week and will be preaching on this Sunday. It contains a phrase that defines the battle we face for this coming generation. It defines the battle that I will face as I try to influence my grandchildren for Jesus.

Acts 4:32 simply says this:

Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.

That little phrase “neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own” defines this church that Jesus Christ gave His life to birth.

This is the key element of the Church-It is all about Jesus! It is not about us, it is not about what we have, it is not about what we do. The Church is all about what Jesus has done for us. Only the Son of God gave everything He had for us. Only the Son of God has the right to Redeem us from our sin. Therefore, He has the right to say what goes on in His church. He is more concerned about “WHY” we do rather than “WHAT” we do. When we come to Christ as our Savior, we come possessing nothing. Nothing we have or are is worth holding on to. We are saved by faith in Jesus and Jesus alone. When we give to Him, we hold nothing back. If we do we are lying to the Holy Spirit. We will die in our sins, for we have not been born again. Being “Born from Above” means that all things are new, we are a new creation. The old man has been crucified, we now walk in newness of life. To only go part way to Jesus means we have not truly been born again. There is no room for pretenders in God’s Church, the Bride He is preparing for His Son. Ananias and Sapphira had no part in Jesus Christ, they were still in the flesh. They were lying to each other and the Holy Spirit. Beware, your sin will find you out. We are, we are not innocent. Only Jesus Christ, who walked this earth as a sinless man, can lay claim to that truth. And unless we are willing to submit to Him, to find our identity in Him, to see Him as our Lord and Savior, we are condemned, for we are not innocent.