ARE WE THERE YET?
Text: Gal. 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”
Intro: when we were kids traveling to a far away place, we would often ask this question, “are we there yet?” Our parents might have told us to shut up and be quiet, we’ll get there soon enough. Nevertheless, in our minds we kept wondering were we ever going to get there or, “if we were almost there yet?”
Now, to the point. Have we gotten to the place that we recognize that we have demonstrated the crucifixion of our flesh with it passions and lusts? Can others see that we have crucified our passions and lusts? Are we there yet?
If we are not there yet, how will we know it when we do get there? What difference does it make? Since most Christians remain in stunted spiritual growth, why should I be concerned if I am not there yet? How will it benefit me to demonstrate the crucifixion of my passions and lusts, what will I get out of being there? Getting there means being totally surrendered to the will of Jesus Christ. Is this even possible? Yes, but the surrender may have its weak points still. While in our flesh, we will find it impossible to always do the will of Christ perfectly. But we can be submissive to doing it wholly.
I. WHAT IS CRUCIFIXION OF THE PASSIONS AND FLESH?
Crucify: to put someone to death by nailing or binding them to a cross. Here we must talk of recognizing our own crucifixion which took place when Jesus saved our souls. We didn’t realize fully what took place when that happened. We learn all about it as we grow in grace and the knowledge of the truth. Here’s what we need to know.
II. OUR OLD MAN WAS CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST.
Ro 6:6 “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”
What is that “old man?” Our sinful and corrupt human nature; the passions and evil propensities that exist before the heart is renewed. It refers to the love of sin, the indulgence of sinful propensities, in opposition to the new disposition which exists after the soul is converted, and which is called "the new man.
Eph 4:22 “That ye put off concerning the former conversation (ms. Conduct)of the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;” Col 3:9 “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;”
Why do we put the old man off? Because it is “dead.” Col 3:3 “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” We don’t want to drag around with us that old stinking dead corpse of the old life which was lived to the lustful satisfying of our selfish flesh. That corrupt, unsaved, sinful life is what we repented of when we got saved. Repentance means we must leave it behind. We now have a new life which is better. The old was corrupt; the new is glorious. The old filled with lusts; the new with joy in the Lord. Are we there yet?
III. I HAVE BEEN CRUCIFIED UNTO THE WORLD.
Gal 6:14 “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. This means that we have died to its pull and plans for my life. We owe nothing to the world; we owe everything to Christ who gave his life to CHANGE us and make of us a “new creation.” This is the REAL CHANGE you can believe in. Amen? ? This is our position in Christ, it is where we are as Christians. This is where we stand right now, but have we realized yet that we are already there? We don’t have to wait to be new, we are already in the new life. The question is: are we Determined to show it? Developing it? Dedicated to it? Demonstrating it in the crucifixion of the desires of our flesh with its affections and lusts?
What does that mean? It means when we got saved it was a commitment to forsake all in order to follow Jesus. “Oh, says one, I just thought of it as a way to escape hell when I die.” No, it means so much more than that. It means He has first place in our lives. It means we deny our flesh and let the Holy Spirit lead us. It means we no longer can dictate the terms of how we shall live out the rest of our lives in this world. Again may I ask, are we there yet?
IV. WHEN CHRIST DIED FOR ME, SOMEHOW I DIED TOO.
Ga 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
We learn four things from these words.
1. Recognition that I have already been crucified in and with my substitute, Christ. I account that my death to my old life took place in my substitute. I died in him. I am dead.
2. Realization that I have been crucified unto the world and it unto me, “nevertheless I live”. I am a dead man, but here I am alive! here I am living, breathing, walking and talking. Resurrected to a new life in Christ. Dead unto sin, alive unto God. Paul is saying, I am not literally physically dead. I am truly still physically alive; and I live a better life than I did before. I died a death to my old life; my old self; my old plans, my old lusts and my old false religious beliefs. This is my NEW LIFE.
3. Revelation of this truth that “Christ liveth in me.” Wow, hello Jesus, think of that! We may not always act like it, we may not always look like it, but nevertheless, we are the embodiment of Christ. Christ lives in ME! That is what being a “Christian” means.
Col 1:27 “To whom God would make known what [is] the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:” and folks, he is our only hope of glory to come.
4. A Redeemed life now means that “I live by the faith of the Son of God.” By confidence in the Son of God, looking to him for strength, and trusting in his promises and in his grace. There is no higher sense of obligation than that which is felt towards the Saviour; and Paul felt himself bound, as we should, to live entirely to him who had redeemed him by his blood. Okay, are we there yet? Are you? If not, when are you going to get there? When you get old, when you retire? Why not now while you have the strength or vigor of youth or middle age?
Question: how much of this do we see in ourselves? Perhaps another question we need to determine is this, do we know “that we are Christ’s” and what does that really mean? Nothing else in this verse matters if we cannot first establish that we “are Christ’s!” Oh, to know that, 1 Co 3:23 “and ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's.”
Song lyrics: “I am His, and He is Mine.”
Loved with everlasting love, led by grace that love to know;
Gracious Spirit from above, Thou hast taught me it is so!
O this full and perfect peace! O this transport all divine!In a love which cannot cease, I am His, and He is mine.
In a love which cannot cease, I am His, and He is mine.
1. Heav’n above is softer blue, Earth around is sweeter green!
Something lives in every hue Christless eyes have never seen;
Birds with gladder songs o’erflow, flowers with deeper beauties shine, Since I know, as now I know, I am His, and He is mine.
Since I know, as now I know, I am His, and He is mine.
2 Things that once were wild alarms cannot now disturb my rest;
Closed in everlasting arms, pillowed on the loving breast.
O to lie forever here, doubt and care and self resign,
While He whispers in my ear, I am His, and He is mine.
While He whispers in my ear, I am His, and He is mine.
3 His forever, only His; Who the Lord and me shall part?
Ah, with what a rest of bliss Christ can fill the loving heart!
Heav’n and earth may fade and flee, firstborn light in gloom decline; But while God and I shall be, I am His, and He is mine.
But while God and I shall be, I am His, and He is mine.
V. IT IS THE WILL OF CHRIST TO BE FORMED IN US.
Paul was concerned with agony of soul for these believers that the likenesses of Christ would be formed in them. He compared their spiritual condition to that of birth pains. Meaning that he would be in “labor” until he could see Christ formed in them. Gal 4:19 “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,”
It wasn’t that they had not been saved, but that they had NOT at this point grown up enough to evidence the traits of Christlikeness that he wished to see. This is where teaching is important in a church. This is where faithful attendance is important at church. People can’t be effectively taught if they are much absent from church.
Chronic absenteeism in the public schools would call for a conference with parents and pupil. It could result in detention and/or expulsion. Some kids might like the expulsion, but that would not be a wise choice to wish that for themselves. A good education is key to a better economic future which kids are often to naive to see.
Church members may also be too naive to understand that faithfulness is for their best good if they are SERIOUS about letting Christ be formed in them, and proving indeed that they are Christ’s. Missing church a lot may not bother them, but it is not for their good to do so. Those professed believers may have thought themselves just fine, but Paul had doubts about them. Ga 4:20 “I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you.”
Last Wednesday I was told of a church revival where 5 church members got saved. Are you saved? I don’t want to hear you say, “I think so or I hope so.” Are you sure of it? Upon what do you base your assurance? Think about it. Why?..... Ga 6:3 “For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.”
Gal 6:4 “But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another..... 6 Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.” I am your pastor/teacher. Have been for these many years. You pay me a salary so that I may study hard and present to you the “thus saith the Lord” of Scripture. This church, which is you members, pay me to keep you aware of your Christian Biblical responsibilities. Don’t get angry with me when I do my job, amen!
You are paying me to rebuke you when necessary, to exhort you when needed and to urge you to obey this Book, and YOU ARE TOLD TO FOLLOW THIS ADVICE, Heb 13:17 “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that [is] unprofitable for you.”
Paul somewhat ministered with grief to the Galatian Christians. He said, “I stand in doubt of you...” And “I travail in birth...” Such was Paul’s concern that he agonized about their lack of spirituality, their carnality and confusion about law keeping, and their general weakness in the truth.
My hope is that all of us today will DISCOVER some things about ourselves that we may not have considered before. Have we accepted the crucifixion of our flesh, its affections, its lusts? Are we there yet? Almost? Or have we even started on that journey?
I think Paul summarizes in Rom Ro 6 what it means to reach this destination of the crucifixion of our flesh.
A. OUR LIFE STYLE CHANGED FOREVER
1. “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?”
B. OUR BAPTISM PICTURED OUR DEATH TO SIN.
3 “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also [in the likeness] of [his] resurrection:
C. OUR BAPTISM PICTURED OUR RESURRECTION TO LIVE A NEW LIFE. 6 “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.”
D. OUR BAPTISM PICTURED OUR FUTURE WITH CHRIST. 8 “Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: 9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. 10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.”
E. BEING DEAD TO SIN CALLS FOR CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN. 11 “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members [as] instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members [as] instruments of righteousness unto God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.”
F. LET NO ONE DECEIVE HIMSELF ABOUT PERSONAL SALVATION. 16 “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? 17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.”
G. HERE’S HOW TO SUCCEED IN LIVING OUR NEW LIFE IN CHRIST. 19 “I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. 20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. 21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things [is] death. 22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.”
H. THE CONTRAST OF BEFORE AND AFTER IS CLEAR:
23 “For the wages of sin [is] death; but the gift of God [is] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.?”
They that are Christ's; that is, they that are truly his followers, and sincere disciples, they have crucified, that is, subdued, and in some degree mortified and put to death, their fleshly corruptions, their carnal lusts, and sinful affections and passions.
They did, by baptism, engage themselves to die unto sin; and the regenerate have done it in some measure: that have crucified the flesh; yet we must not understand this of a total, plenary, and final crucifixion, but initial only; and they are said to have done it, because they are daily doing of it in resolution, in desire, and endeavour.
And by affections, we are not to understand as natural total extinction of sin, sinless perfection, but a deposing of it from its dwelling and dominion over our soul; yet as death surely, though slowly, follows crucifixion, so likewise does sin live in a believer a dying life, and dies a lingering but certain death as we grow in grace and learn to deny the flesh and its appetite for lust and evil.
Learn 1. That there are a peculiar people which are Christ's, that have special interest in him, union and communion with him; They that are Christ's, not by an external profession only, but by an internal implantation into him by faith.
Learn, 2. That all such as thus have an interest in Christ, are daily crucifying the flesh with its affections and lusts. The death of sin is here compared to our Saviour's crucifixion;
1.To show the conformity there is betwixt the death of sin, and the death of Christ. Did Christ die a painful, shameful, lingering, and accursed, death? Yes, he did. So dies sin in the soul of a believer. There is a gradual weakening of the power of sin in us; sin is dying, as he did, but it is a long time a-dying., if fact it will take our entire Christian lifetime
2.To denote the principal mean and instrument of our mortification, namely, the death of Christ; by virtue whereof believers do crucify their corrupt affections; the great arguments to mortification being drawn from the sufferings of Christ for sin.
Learn, 3. That the work of mortification, (called here a crucifixion,) strikes not only at all sin, but at the root of all sins; it spares none, neither the flesh, nor any of its affections and lusts, do escape; root and branches, head and members; the old man is crucified, and the body of sin destroyed, and the axe of mortification laid to the root of every sin and sinful affection. In this manner do they that are Christ's crucify the flesh, with its affections and lusts. We have crucified the flesh; through grace, have overcome the reigning power of sin, and are now habitually weakening and destroying its influence.
Therefore, we don’t go to many of the places we used to frequent when we followed lustful practices. We have slowly but surely cut the ties which used to draw us to the wrong kind of places, but now are ashamed that we ever do so.
We have found that the desire to do right has become more powerful than the lust to do wrong. That it is easier to forgive than it is to carry a grudge. That it is easier to be satisfied in simple things than to think we must go deeper and deeper into life’ forbidden things to find what satisfies. We now know the peace of God which passes all understanding and we have that even in a world where peace is seldom found.
We have found that it has become easier to just say “NO” than it used to be when people would ask us to join with them in some sinful practice. Oh, have a drink... one little drink won’t hurt you!
We don’t mind it now when people think of us as Christians fools. They may tell us not to let our religion make a fool out of us. But wait, it too late! 1 Co 4:10 “We [are] fools for Christ's sake, ....” It is better to be a fool for the Lord, than for the Devil, amen!
If being a Christian is madness, bring on more of it. Ac 26:24 “And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad. 25 But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness. 26 For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. 28 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. 29 And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.”
Sometimes, like Paul, we are given a stellar opportunity to say some words for Jesus before an unbelieving audience. It is then that we Christians can show the world who the fools really are, and they are not us.
We nailed the flesh to the cross once for all when we became Christ's, on believing and being baptized (Ro 6:3-4): we keep ourselves now in a state of crucifixion (Ro 6:6): so that the Spirit can produce in us, comparatively uninterrupted by it, "the fruit of the Spirit" (Ga 5:22). Man, by faith, is dead to the former standing point of a sinful life, and rises to a new life (Ga 5:25) of communion with Christ (Col 3:3). The act by which they have crucified the flesh with its lust, is already accomplished ideally in principle. But the practice, or outward conformation of the life, must harmonize with the tendency given to the inward life. We are to be executioners, dealing cruelly with this body of sin, our old man, which was the cause for the laying of all cruelties upon the suffering body of Christ at Calvary.
We cannot walk after the flesh anymore because we have crucified our lusts. We have died with Christ, been buried, and risen, not to live our own lives, but Christ's. Baptism is supposed to mark a complete separation between the old life of sin and the Christian life of faithful service of righteousness.
Conc.: Ga 5:24 “And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.?
Are we there yet? Are we there, but just never thought much about it before?
Perhaps some of us need to rededicate ourselves to putting ourselves on the fast tract to getting there, amen? Everyone benefits from getting there. Nothing important is ever lost in getting there, and much is to be gained.
Mt 25:21 “His lord said unto him, Well done, [thou] good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”
There is a judgment day coming when Jesus our Master will call us up to account for what we have done with our Christian life on this earth and rewards we receive will be based in part on the degree our crucifixion of our flesh, lusts and affections. Of how whether or not we PUT HIM FIRST IN OUR LIVES. Of whether or not we surrendered all to Him.
Isn’t it true that church members expect their preachers to be surrendered to the Lord? Does this excuse the church members from being similarly required?
Here is what the Bible tells us all, Ro 12:1 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Jesus did not call us to be crystal chandlers for people to glory in as if we were something grand. He called us to be a single light bulb in a dark place to keep people from breaking their necks... to throw light upon the pathway so people can find the way to Christ, to make a difference in the darkness of this world, for in so doing He makes us significant and gives us impact and meaning beyond our natural ability. Yes, wherever we go, we either shed the light of the gospel, or we allow the gloomy darkness to prevail unchallenged. Are we there yet?
When we get there, we will know that we have arrived. Christ will be formed in us; we will have lived effectively under the influence of our crucified flesh. We will not live for ourselves alone anymore, but for JESUS WHO LOVES US AND GAVE HIMSELF FOR US.
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