Life’s Healing Choices, Admitting the Need (Gen. 3:1-10; 2 Cor. 5:17)

Life’s Healing Choices, Admitting the Need (Gen. 3:1-10; 2 Cor. 5:17)

Video from Igniter media

Here’s some good news: if you’re like most people, you’re way above average—at almost everything. Psychologists call this the state of “illusory superiority.” (It’s also called “The Lake Wobegone Effect,” from Garrison Keillor’s fictional Minnesota town where “all the children are above average.”) It simply means that we tend to inflate our positive qualities and abilities, especially in comparison to other people.

Numerous research studies have revealed this tendency to overestimate ourselves. For instance, when researchers asked a million high school students how well they got along with their peers, none of the students rated themselves below average. As a matter of fact, 60 percent of students believed they were in the top 10 percent; 25 percent rated themselves in the top one percent. You’d think college professors might have more self-insight, but they were just as biased about their abilities. Two percent rated themselves below average; 10 percent were average and 63 were above average; while 25 percent rated themselves as truly exceptional.

Of course this is statistically impossible. One researcher summarized the data this way: “It’s the great contradiction: the average person believes he is a better person than the average person.” Christian psychologist Mark McMinn contends that the “Lake Wobegone Effect” reveals our pride. He writes, “One of the clearest conclusions of social science research is that we are proud. We think better of ourselves than we really are, we see our faults in faint black and white rather than in vivid color, and we assume the worst in others while assuming the best in ourselves.”[1]

Today, I begin a new sermon series Life’s Healing Choices, Freedom from Your Hurts, Habits and Hang-ups. I will be taking the sermon titles and chapter titles from the book by that name. We all have hurts, habits and hang-ups, don’t we?

Have you ever eaten too much?

Have you ever lost your temper?

Have you been anxious?

Have you dealt with greed?

Are you secure in anyone or anything other than Christ?

Are you addicted to a substance?

Do you drive faster than the speed limit?

Jesus said if people thought they were okay keeping the law, you can sin in your thought life (see Matthew 5:22 and 28). What about your thought life? Are you depressed? Please note, some of these hurts, habits and hang-ups are sin issues, others, such as depression, are not sinful at all. Most all of us have hurts, habits and hang-ups and God wants us to turn them over to him. But, how do you do that? That is what this series will be about.

I want to encourage you to turn your hurts, habits and hang-ups over to Christ. First you must recognize them. Some of you think that your hurt, habit or hang-up is just part of being human. That is NOT true. Listen, your hurt, habit or hang-up is part of your sin nature and if you are unwilling to turn it over to Christ then it is pride, which is another sin.

So, today, my theme is.

We are NOT God, we need help.

Some sermons are expository, walking through a passage. Today, and through most of this series, will be making a case from Scripture.

  1. Genesis 3:1-10 teaches us about our nature from the beginning.
    1. We have a nature that has fallen from grace, but this is not originally what it means to be human.
    2. Let’s read Genesis 3:1-7: Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make onewise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.
    3. Notice from this passage, God had already created man and woman. That was in Genesis chapters 1 and 2. God created. We did not create, God did. Now they are in paradise and the serpent is there. The serpent is possessed by the devil.
    4. In verse 1, the devil makes Eve question what God had said. The serpent questioned the Word of God. Take note: The devil has been asking us to question God’s Word since the beginning of time.
    5. In verses 3-4 Eve answers the serpent/devil. Notice in Eve’s answer she stretches the truth, but not in a bad way. Eve says they cannot eat from the tree in the middle of the garden (the tree of the knowledge of good and evil), or touch it or they will die. God never said they could not touch it.
    6. The serpent/devil tells her a lie: The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 
    7. Eve eats and then gives to her husband.
    8. From this account we get the idea of a sin nature.
    9. If you look at the next few verses we see they begin to blame one another and so sin entered the world.
    10. Now, many people will say, “I am only human” as they excuse sin. However, Adam and Eve were fully human before sin entered. We were not created to sin.
    11. In Genesis 9:6 it shows even after the fall we are still in God’s image.
    12. In Romans 3:9-23 we see that no one is good. Let’s read Romans 3:23: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
    13. Let’s read Romans 6:23: For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    14. Because of this nature we see it still affects us today. Romans 7:14-25 shows that even for the Christian we have a battle between the flesh and the Holy Spirit. We will come back to that passage another Sunday.
    15. Pastor Timothy Keller paraphrases an analogy originally used by C.S. Lewis (in his bookMere Christianity) to demonstrate the nature of sin in our hearts.
    16. Now if you want to know if there are rats in your basement, you don’t walk to your basement door, clear your throat, and say, “I think I’ll go down and see if there are rats in my basement,” then jiggle the knob, open the door and in a very leisurely way turn on the light, clear your throat, and walk down the steps loudly and slowly. When you get to the bottom you look around and say, “Well, what do you know: I have no rats in my basement.”
    17. If you want to know if you have rats in your basement, you sneak up to the door, silently open the door, flick on the switch, jump to the bottom of the steps, and look around and they’ll all be scurrying away. And then you’ll know if you have rats.
    18. Based on this analogy, Lewis wrote:
    19. The excuse [for most of my sinful moments] that immediately springs to my mind is that the provocation was so sudden and unexpected; I was caught off my guard [like a rat who didn’t get enough warning] … Now that may be an extenuating circumstance as regards those particular acts: they would obviously be worse if they had been deliberate and premeditated. On the other hand, surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth?[2]
    20. The Times once sent out an inquiry to famous authors, asking the question, “What’s wrong with the world today?” and Chesterton responded simply, “Dear Sir, I am. Yours, G.K. Chesterton.”
  1. We play God and we must not do this.
    1. We see in the passage listed above that we have a war going on within us. This war comes from our very nature. It is called the sin-nature. It started in Genesis 3. Adam and Eve sinned and then they felt shame. They immediately blamed for the sin. Eve blamed the serpent and Adam blamed Eve. Some 4000 years later Jesus came, lived, was crucified for our sin and then was resurrected. He then sent us the Holy Spirit. Since we have the Holy Spirit we do not have to sin. But our sin nature still makes us play God.
    2. We try to control our image to make us look better. This is thinking we are God.
    3. We try to control other people to cover up our sin and make us look better.
    4. We try to control our problems.
    5. We try to control our pain. We are playing God.
  • There are consequences of playing God
    1. Fear (Gen 3:10). Are you living in fear? You are always afraid someone will find out about your hurt, habit or hang-up.
    2. Frustration:
      1. John Baker Jr. writes: Trying to run the universe is frustrating: Have you ever been to Chuck E. Cheese’s? They have this game called Whac-A-Mole. You use a big mallet to beat down these little moles that keep popping up. But when you whack one, three more pop up. You whack those, and five more pop up. That machine is a parable of life. We whack down one relational conflict and another pops up. We whack down one addiction or compulsion and another one pops up. It’s frustrating because we can’t get them all knocked down at the same time. We walk around pretending we’re God: “I’m powerful; I can handle it.” But if we’re really in control, why don’t we just unplug the machine?[3]
      2. We cannot handle it. We need to admit we need help.
    3. There are at least two other consequences: Fatigue and failure.
  1. There is a cure, the cure.
    1. We need to admit weakness and accept God’s help. In 2 Cor. 12:1-10 Paul talks about a thorn in his side and God says that in weakness he is stronger because he is forced to depend upon the Lord.
    2. Admit that you need help.
    3. What does that mean? Right now it just means admitting there is a problem. Your anxiety is something God wants to help you with. Your anger is something God wants to help you with. Your fear is something God wants to help you with. Your abuse of alcohol is something God wants to help you with. Your abuse of drugs is something God wants to help you with. Your addiction to food, or tv, or video games or whatever it may be is something God wants to help you with.
    4. God does not want you to have to live in fear, or worry, or defeat. He wants to help you. But you have to admit it. You have to admit it and you must recognize it is not part of being human. It is not the way God wants you to live.
  2. Apply
    1. We are new creations in Christ. What does it mean to be new? 2 Cor. 5:17: Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he isa new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
    2. John 10:10: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have itabundantly.
    3. Jesus wants to give you life.
    4. We are new in Christ. Let God transform you.
    5. The first step is to pray about it. Admit you need God’s help and pray to Him about it.
    6. Write: Next write about it in a prayer journal.
    7. Share: Next share with a close friend about it. Ecc. 3:12 tells us we need each other.

There is help.

I know that some of you are dealing with major addictions and you are to the point of admitting the need. Awesome, let’s get you help.

I know that some of you do not consider your anger, or anxiety, or worry a problem, but you don’t need to live this way. In John 14:27 Jesus says He gives us peace. In Phil 4:6-8 we are told when we pray about something we can have the peace of God. Over the next several weeks I am going to preach about how to turn something over to God, but the first step is to admit you need help.

A while back I was on vacation and attended another church. The pastor shared about hearing the news of his wife’s cancer and he said he had peace through the whole process. How did he have peace? It came from his spiritual walk.

Maybe you don’t want to wait through this 8 week series to hear the other step. Then call me, email me or talk to me and we will get you help now. You can talk with me in total confidentiality, unless you are going to hurt yourself or someone else.



[1] Matt Woodley, managing editor,; sources: “Study: Self-Images Often Erroneously Inflate,” ABC News (11-9-05); Mark McMinn, Why Sin Matters (Tyndale, 2004), pp. 69-71

[2] Timothy Keller, Sermon, “The Two Great Tests” (1-23-2005); Submitted by Van Morris, Mt. Washington, Kentucky

[3] Baker Jr., John F.. Life’s Healing Choices Revised and Updated: Freedom from Your Hurts, Hang-ups, and Habits (pp. 18-19). Howard Books. Kindle Edition.

Final Warnings (Galatians 6:11-18)

Final Warnings (Galatians 6:11-18)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, May 19, 2019

We will be turning to Galatians 6:11-18 in a few minutes. Please turn their in your Bibles, tablets or smart phones.

Let me show this video as we begin.

Free to serve video:

We are wrapping up Galatians today and as we do so we will see the summary of Paul’s themes. Galatians is about Jesus. Galatians is about how we are saved by Jesus and Jesus alone. We are saved by faith in Jesus.

Today, my theme is: Paul’s final warnings

Application: boast in Jesus

Let’s read: Gal. 6:11-18:

11 See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. 12 Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh. 14 But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.

17 From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus.

18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen.

  1. Submit to Christ, boast in Him (verses 11-16).
    1. As we look at verses 11-16 that is theme that we see. We must surrender to Christ and we must only boast in Him. Only boast in Jesus.
    2. First, we see Paul’s signature in verse 11. This is Paul’s John Hancock
    3. The New American Commentary shares: It was a common convention of Hellenistic letter writing that a secretary or amanuensis would prepare the main body of the letter while the sender would append his signature and perhaps a few closing words of benediction as a way of attesting the contents of the letter and assuring the reader of his full endorsement. We follow much the same practice today when an attorney or legal secretary draws up an official document that requires the signature of a client for validation.[1]
    4. We gather from other comments in Paul’s letters that it was customary for him to dictate his letters orally to an amanuensis and then add a personal postscript and signature in his own hand at the end of the epistle (cf. 1 Cor 16:21; 2 Cor 10:1; 2 Thess 3:17; Col 4:18). Thus most commentators believe that 6:11 is the place in Galatians where Paul took the stylus from the hand of his secretary and finished off the letter in his own handwriting using, for some reason, unusually large letters to which he drew attention in this verse.153,[2]
    5. I imagine Paul dictating this letter, maybe over several sessions and then giving his signature right here.
    6. This is VERY important.
    7. We know that people would write in someone else’s name. We also know there was pseudepigrapha literature in that day and age (see 2 Thess 3:18 for an example).
    8. We see false motives in verses 12-13, the legalizers boasts in circumcision.
      1. It seems that verse 12 shows people are being persecuted for the Gospel. It seems that the Jewish people are persecuting Christians for the message of grace.
      2. The IVP Bible Backgrounds Commentary shares: The metaphor here is grotesque: Paul has been assailing those who live “by the flesh,” by merely human, mortal power, ignoring God; physical circumcision was commonly said to be “in the flesh” (so also KJV, NASB, NRSV here). Here Paul speaks of these culture-bound missionaries as if they want to take the Galatians’ foreskins back to their senders. See comment on 4:29 and 5:11.[3]
  1. We come to verses 14-16 and we see the theme only Jesus (verses 14-16), boast in Jesus.
  2. In verse 14 we see that Paul will only boast in Jesus. He will only boast in the cross. Paul had made similar statements in 1 Cor. 1:26-31 and 2:2.
    1. What matters is that you are a new creation (verse 15). Paul wrote about this in 2 Cor. 5:17. We are made new in Christ.
    2. John Winthrop wrote: O Lord, crucifie the world unto me, that though I cannot avoyd to live among the baites and snares of it, yet it may be so truely dead unto me and I unto it.[4]
  • Verse 16 is a blessing.
  1. Those who walk as new creation will have
    1. Peace: isn’t this nice? How nice it is to have peace? Remember the fruit of the Spirit in Gal. 5:22-23. What is it like to have peace? We have peace in Christ because we are not trying to earn our salvation.
    2. Mercy: we receive mercy in Christ because we do not experience the wrath of God.
  2. Also, the Israel of God.
    1. This is likely Jewish believers though he could be referring to the Gentile Christians.
    2. Some would say he is talking about all believers, but it seems as though he is referring to Jewish Christians.
  3. Final warning and benediction (verses 17-18)
    1. This seems to be a solemn warning.
    2. Paul talked about his scars. 2 Cor. 4:10 and 11:23 are examples of his beatings.
    3. I like what MacArthur points out: slaves were branded, military were branded, he is saying he is branded for Jesus. He is saying not to question him.
    4. Then verse 18 is a wonderful close.
    5. Paul affirms them in a loving benediction. He calls them “brothers,” or “brothers and sisters.”
    6. Paul extends grace.
  • Applications:
    1. We must be bold following Jesus even if it means persecution (verse 12).
    2. We cannot compromise the faith in order to avoid persecution (verse 12).
    3. We must only boast in Jesus and the cross (verse 14).
    4. We must be crucified to the world in living for Jesus (verse 14).
    5. We must understand what matters is that we are new in Christ (verse 15).
    6. We must be loving to people as Paul was in his final verse (verse 18).


The Comedian Louis CK has a routine in which he jokes about having the impulse to give up his first class airline seat to a soldier. Louis CK says,

[Service men and women] always fly coach. I’ve never seen a soldier in first class in my life … And every time that I see a soldier on a plane I always think, You know what? I should give him my seat. It would be the right thing to do, it would be easy to do, and it would mean a lot to him… I never have, let me make that clear. I’ve never done it once … And here’s the worst part: I was actually proud of myself for having thought of this. I am such a sweet man. That is so nice of me, to think of doing that and then totally never do it.

In June of 2014 Oscar nominated actress Amy Adams actually acted on that thought. Boarding a flight Friday from Detroit to Los Angeles where she was shooting a new movie, Adams noticed an American soldier being seated in coach. She decided to do something that she’s always just thought about doing. Jemele Hill, a reporter for ESPN and a fellow first class passenger, witnessed Adams quietly asking the airline crew permission to switch seats with the soldier, whom she didn’t know. Adams moved back to coach, and the surprised soldier, who didn’t know who his benefactor was, moved up to first class. Hill immediately got the word out on Twitter, and after their arrival in L.A. Adams told reporters, “I didn’t do it for attention for myself. I did it for attention for the troops.”[5]

That is how we should be. We must give up our seat to Jesus. We must give Him the spotlight.

When divers combed the wreckage of the Kursk (the destroyed Russian nuclear submarine on which 118 sailors perished), they found a letter written by Lt. Dmitri Kolesnikov. The handwritten note was addressed to his wife, Olga. It was penned after the explosion that sealed the sub’s doom on August 12, 2000, in the Barents Sea and confirmed speculation that all the crew had not died instantly.

A few hours after the submarine plunged to the bottom of the sea, Kolesnikov wrote, “All the crew from the sixth, seventh, and eighth compartments went over to the ninth. There are 23 people here. . . . None of us can get to the surface.”

The note included a deeply personal expression of affection to his beloved Olga, who admitted that her husband had a premonition of death when he bade her goodbye before sailing out to the Barents Sea. Eerily, the last lines of the letter indicated that death was closing in. The auxiliary power had failed. Kolesnikov wrote unevenly in the pitch darkness: “I am writing blind.”

What a terrible sense of approaching doom.

This sailor’s despair and foreboding isn’t all that different from what many people feel about this world.

The apostle Paul, blind and knowing that a martyr’s death was near, also wrote goodbye letters. His letters, though, were filled with hope in Christ.[6]

Let’s pray


[1] Timothy George, Galatians, vol. 30, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 430.

153 See Longenecker, Galatians, lix–lxi; Fung, Galatians, 300–302; W. P. Doty, Letters in Primitive Christianity, 40–41. Despite the strong internal evidence for Paul’s use of an amanuensis, we should not imagine that these helpers were given such great freedom and leeway as actually to compose the materials found in the Pauline Epistles. It is much more likely that he dictated to a secretary word by word. His signature at the end was his “apostolic seal” verifying that the foregoing content was precisely what he had intended to convey to his readers. For two different assessments of this feature of Paul’s epistolary practice, see G. H. Bahr, “The Subscriptions in the Pauline Letters,” JBL 87 (1968): 27–41, and R. N. Longenecker, “Ancient Amanuenses and the Pauline Epistles,” in New Dimensions in New Testament Study, ed. R. N. Longenecker and M. C. Tenney (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1974), 281–97.

[2] Timothy George, Galatians, vol. 30, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 430.

KJV King James Version

NASB New American Standard Bible

NRSV New Revised Standard Version

[3] Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), Ga 6:12–13.

[4] John Winthrop. “The American Puritans,” Christian History, no. 41.

[5] Adapted from Mark Tapson, “Amy Adams, Class Act,” Acculturated blog (6-30-14)

[6] Greg Asimakoupoulos, Naperville, Illinois; adapted from (Chicago suburban) Daily Herald (10-27-00)

Bear One Another’s Burden’s (Gal. 6:1-10)

Mother’s Day video from Ignite Media.  

Today is Mother’s Day and I wish to say Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there.

I want to continue in the sermon series on Galatians, but I believe you will see how this passage relates to mothers. The Bible relates to all of us in our context. Sometimes we try to divorce the Bible from our life, but that should not be. Today’s passage applies to the child and the parent, the employer and the employee. This passage is very applicable to mothers.

I want to encourage all of us to live in the present and be involved in ministry in the present. Serve in the present. I have been involved in a lot of ministry with people with dementia and Alzheimer’s. I have been through specialized training with that tragic illness and I have coordinated a few Alzheimer’s symposiums. During one particular symposium a chaplain from a retirement home was speaking and he talked about living in the moment. He said that very few of us live in the moment. People with Alzheimer’s live in the present. By way of application, do we live in the present? I cannot speak as a mom, but I speak as a parent, I speak knowing that we must live in the present. We will come back to that.

My theme today is: Bear One Another’s Burdens 

Let’s read Gal. 6:1-10:

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. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. For each one will bear his own load.

The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. 10 So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

  1. In verses 1-5 Paul talks about caring for one another.
    1. We all must admit that it is usually the mother who is the most caring, agreed? God has created women with the ability to be the most caring. Like a mother the church is called to care for one another. Like a good mother, the church is called to bear one another’s burdens. Let’s read the verse:
    2. 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.
    3. The Moody Bible commentary: This section gives more guidance as to what walking by the Spirit looks like. There is movement back and forth between responsibility for oneself (e.g., vv. 1b, 3, 7-8) and responsibility for others (vv. 1a, 2, 6).[1]
    4. The ESV Study Bible: Paul illustrates what he means by the life of love in the Spirit, which he described in more general terms in the previous section.
    5. Paul addresses them as brethren. Then Paul says, “even if.” The “even if” seems odd if we really think of this as a separate chapter; however, chapters were not in the original text. This follows 5: Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.
    6. So, then it seems that 6:1 jumps off of that, “even if…”
    7. This is the second part, or appendix of the letter of Galatians dealing with Christian living, Christian ethics.
    8. “even if” anyone is caught in any trespass… so if there is a trespass, then you “who are spiritual” restore…
    9. The NET Bible notes: Who are spiritual refers to people who are controlled and directed by God’s Spirit.[2]
    10. This likely could also be sarcasm from the Apostle Paul. He could be saying, “You say that you are spiritual, so restore them.”
    11. The passage does not say how they are to restore them. But the rest of the new Testament explains this. Matthew 18:15-17 instructs is with this: “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
    12. Verse 2: Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.
    13. This shows that bearing one another’s burdens is very important, Paul says that this fulfills the law of Christ.
    14. Paul says, “the law of Christ.” This is as opposed to the law of Moses. Paul had been saying that they are free and remember Gal. 5:14: For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
    15. We are to love one another. This is important.
    16. Once again, we can all learn from mothers in this way. Mothers are generally the most caring. They are the ones in the trenches caring for their children.
    17. Look at the next few verses:
    18. Verses 3-4: For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another.
    19. We are also encouraged to examine ourselves.
    20. Verse 5 shows that we are also responsible to carry our own load.
    21. Look at verse 5: For each one will bear his own load.
    22. This is straightforward with Christian living. We must bear our own load in our work. We must boast about our own work. The New American Commentary: On first blush it seems that Paul had flatly contradicted himself within the space of three short verses. In 6:2 he instructed the Galatians to “carry each other’s burdens.” Now in 6:5 he said that each one “should carry his own load.” This apparent discrepancy is easily resolved when we realize that Paul was using two different words to refer to two disparate situations. The word translated “burdens” in v. 2 (barē) refers, as we have seen, to a heavy load, an oppressive weight, which one is expected to carry for a long distance. But the word for “load” in v. 5 is phortion, which is used elsewhere to refer to a ship’s cargo (cf. Acts 27:10), a soldier’s knapsack, or a pilgrim’s backpack. Stott correctly delineates the difference between the two “loads” in Gal 6: “So we are to bear one another’s ‘burdens’ which are too heavy for a man to bear alone, but there is one burden which we cannot share—indeed do not need to because it is a pack light enough for every man to carry himself—and that is our responsibility to God on the day of judgment. On that day you cannot carry my pack and I cannot carry yours.130,[3] Here in v. 5 Paul placed the verb in the future tense (bastasei) to indicate that he was thinking not merely of an individual’s carrying his own weight or bearing his own responsibility here in this life but more particularly the future reckoning that every Christian must make before the judgment seat of Christ.[4]
    23. So, certainly, there are times we must bear each other’s burdens when one is facing a heavy load, or a spiritual weight which we must help them turn to Christ. But this does not negate that for smaller needs we must carry our own load.
  2. In verse 6 Paul gives instructions regarding teachers.
    1. Look at verse 6: The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him.
    2. This has to do with providing for, and supporting, teachers.
    3. Paul had taught in other places including 1 Cor. 9:13-18 about taking care of our leaders.
    4. This, by the way, can indirectly apply to taking care of our mothers. If Paul reminds them to take care of teachers, we certainly must take care of our mothers.
  • In verses 7-10 we see the principle of sowing and reaping.
    1. Verses 7-8: Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
    2. Paul begins with a warning that they are not deceived.
    3. This is especially applicable because they had been deceived. The Galatians were deceived by the Judaizers trying to make them keep the whole law.
    4. Paul says that God is not mocked! Wow! This is a warning.
    5. Moody Bible Commentary:
    6. Sowing to one’s own flesh includes such things as attempting salvation by works (3:2a) including circumcision (5:2), the evil deeds of the flesh (5:19-21), envy (5:26), and conceit (6:3) to name a Sowing to the Spirit includes such things as faith (3:2b), standing in freedom (5:1), the fruit of Spirit (5:22-23), bearing burdens (6:2), and providing economic support for those who teach the word in the church (6:6). If believers sow to the flesh, they will, in this life, reap the kind of moral decay Paul described, though their eternal destiny will remain intact.[5]
    7. à How often do we mock God in our thinking or actions?
    8. à How often do we mock God thinking we can get away with certain things?
    9. à How often do we mock God blaming Him for our predicament when it is the result of our own choices?
    10. à We blame God for not providing for us when we waste our money on lavish vacations, cigarettes, or many other things…
    11. à we blame God for not taking care of our health when we have eaten poorly and lacked exercise.
    12. à We blame God for our children not following Him when we did not raise them to follow Him. Or, we were hypocritical in the way we raised them. We only raised them to follow Him on Sundays. We did not pray in the home, we did not do family devotions, we did not study the Word in the home, and we lived for money.
    13. à We blame God for our marital issues when we refused marital counseling and married unequally yoked.
    14. à We blame God when our children are harsh with us when we were overly harsh with them.
    15. à We blame God for our children’s attitude and sarcasm when that is what they observed in us.
    16. à We blame God for our children yelling when that is what they observed.
    17. à We blame God.
    18. We reap what we sow.
    19. This is a true principle.
    20. This also applies to generosity: 2 Corinthians 9:6: My point is this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously.[6]
    21. Verse 9-10: Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.
    22. Paul is telling them not to be discouraged.
    23. We may think, “no good deed goes unpunished, but don’t lose heart.
    24. In due time we will reap…
    25. “if” we do not grow weary. This means we must keep going and persevere.

Do we live in the present? I am a hyper-planner. I like to plan. I like to have goals and I like to know what to expect tomorrow. However, one particular moment I faced some conviction. It hit me and it hurt a little. Something, or someone, maybe the Holy Spirit told me: “What are you rushing through life for? Some day you will miss these years with your young children. Some day you will miss these years. You look forward to a day when the pressures aren’t so great, but you will miss these years.” That thought was convictional to me. That thought encouraged me to live in the present. Serve one another in the present. Serve one another today, don’t wait for tomorrow. How much do we miss today by looking to tomorrow? How much have I missed today because I was looking for tomorrow? I cannot answer that.

A number of years ago I came home at about 10:45 pm. I was involved in ministry at the University of Mount Union. I came home from an exciting evening with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. After their gatherings I was always wound up and could not sleep. This night I walked in the back door and I was standing in the kitchen probably looking for a snack. Mercedes came out of her room, she was probably only 4 years old at the time. She looked at me and I looked at her and she said something like, “Is it time to get up?” For one split second I had a flash forward. I thought about a day when she will be, maybe 20 years old, and we are standing in the kitchen eating a late night snack talking about things. It was a flash forward as opposed to a flash back. Well, a lot of time has passed and a lot of parenting has passed since then. I must remind myself to live in the present. I hope to have great conversations with my daughters when they are in the future, but for now I must live in the conversations today. God has placed me here to be a servant today. Through living each day, I will get to the future.

The Christian life is a life of bearing one another’s burdens and mothers show that so well. We must honor our mothers; we must care for our children. We must all do our part, living in the present, serving where God has placed us. Don’t be so focused on tomorrow that you miss the service opportunities which God has given you today.



[1] The Moody Bible Commentary (Kindle Locations 76077-76078). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[2] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Ga 6:1.

130 Stott, Only One Way, 159–60. Cole has suggested that Paul may be here taking one final glance toward the Judaizers, reminding them that they should be less concerned with “counting scalps” than with their own standing before God on the coming day of judgment (Galatians, 175).

[3] Timothy George, Galatians, vol. 30, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 418.

[4] Timothy George, Galatians, vol. 30, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 418.

[5] The Moody Bible Commentary (Kindle Locations 76097-76102). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[6] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible (Biblical Studies Press, 2005), 2 Co 9:6.

Walk by the Spirit (Gal. 5:16-26)

Walk by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-26)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, May 5, 2019 

Moving backwards video clip

The Bible teaches that the ways of the world are different than God’s ways (Romans 12:1-2; James 4:4). We are called to be counter-cultural, but how do we do it? We need to walk by the Spirit. In this short New Testament letter of Galatians Paul has repeatedly emphasized that we are free in Christ. We are free to serve Christ. So, now what do we do? As we will see in today’s passage, they are NOT free to sin. They are free to walk by the Spirit.

In the last days of the Civil War, the Confederate capital, Richmond, Virginia, fell to the Union army. Abraham Lincoln insisted on visiting the city. Even though no one knew he was coming, slaves recognized him immediately and thronged around him. He had liberated them by the Emancipation Proclamation, and now Lincoln’s army had set them free. According to Admiral David Porter, an eyewitness, Lincoln spoke to the throng around him:

“My poor friends, you are free—free as air. You can cast off the name of slave and trample upon it …. Liberty is your birthright.”

But Lincoln also warned them not to abuse their freedom. “Let the world see that you merit [your freedom],” Lincoln said, “Don’t let your joy carry you into excesses. Learn the laws and obey them.”

That is very much like the message Jesus gives to those whom he has liberated by his death and resurrection. Jesus gives us our true birthright—spiritual freedom. But that freedom isn’t an excuse for disobedience; it forms the basis for learning and obeying God’s laws.[1]

My theme today is Walk by the Spirit.

Let’s turn to Galatians 5:16-26 and read it.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.17 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. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.

  1. Walk by the Spirit (verses 16- 24)
    1. I believe the theme of this whole passage is that we are free to walk by the Spirit. We see the phrase “walk by the Spirit” in verse 16 and 25.
    2. In verses 19-21 Paul lists 15 nouns to describe the worldly way. Paul calls it the “deeds of the flesh.” By “flesh” Paul means the sin nature.
    3. In Verse 17, we see the flesh and the Spirit are at war. So, we must walk by the Spirit. Some think that all we need to do is retreat like a hermit, but that is not entirely the answer.
      1. So long as we remain in this present life, we never outgrow or transcend the spiritual conflict Paul was describing in this passage. There is no spiritual technique or second blessing that can propel the believer onto a higher plane of Christian living where this battle must no longer be fought. In the early church Jerome, that hardy and stern disciplinarian, removed himself far from the lurid temptations of the city only to find that he had not escaped them at all. As he confessed:
      2. O how often I imagined that I was in the midst of the pleasures of Rome when I was stationed in the desert, in that solitary wasteland which is so burned up by the heat of the sun that it provides a dreadful habitation for the monks! I, who because of the fear of hell had condemned myself to such a hell and who had nothing but scorpions and wild animals for company, often thought that I was dancing in a chorus with girls. My face was pale from fasting, but my mind burned with passionate desires within my freezing body; and the fires of sex seethed, even though the flesh had already died in me as a man.76
    4. Verse 18: If we are led by the Spirit, we are not under law.
    5. Verses 19-21: Deeds of the flesh are evident
    6. If I were to group these, I see several, actually 9, that are almost synonymous having to do with human relation: Disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, outbursts of anger (I think of rage), jealousy, strife, enmities. Those are 9 nouns in the Greek
    7. Then we have 2 dealing with spiritualism: sorcery and idolatry
    8. we have 4 dealing with impure nature, mostly sexual: immorality, sensuality, impurity, carousing
    9. we have 1 dealing with excess: drunkenness
    10. People have grouped these differently, that is simply what I came up with. For example: Lightfoot, divided these sinful acts into four classes: (1) sensual passions, (2) unlawful dealings in things spiritual, (3) violations of brotherly love, (4) intemperate excesses.82,[2]
      1. I do not want to talk about each one of these sins because I do not think each sin is the point. The point is that we need to walk by the Spirit. In fact, it seems clear that this is not an exhaustive list. In verse 21, Paul concludes this list by writing, “and things like these…” which seems to show that he casually listed a catalog of sins. But notice:
      2. In verse 19: Paul begins the list with the what the NASB translates as “immorality.” This is literally “sexual immorality.” It is the Greek word Porneia. About that term one source shares: The word porneia originally meant “prostitution” (cf. the Greek pornē, “prostitute,” from the verb pernēmi, “to sell slaves,” since prostitutes were frequently bought and sold on the slave market), although by the time of Paul it had gained the more general meaning of sexual immorality or irregularity. Porneia is invariably translated “fornication” in the KJV although it denotes any unlawful sexual intercourse, including adultery and incest (cf. 1 Cor 5:1). Acts of sexual immorality, although often done in the name of love, are really the antithesis of love, which is the foremost fruit of the Spirit.[3]
  • Another in Paul’s list is translated in the NASB as “sorcery.” One source shares the following about that word:
  1. Witchcraft (pharmakeia). At the root of this word is pharmakon, literally “drug,” from which we derive our English word “pharmacy.” In classical Greek pharmakeia referred to the use of drugs whether for medicinal or more sinister purposes, e.g., poisoning. In the New Testament, however, it is invariably associated with the occult, both here in Galatians and in Revelation, where it occurs twice (Rev 9:21; 18:23). English translations usually render pharmakeia as “witchcraft” (KJV, NIV) or “sorcery” (RSV, NEB). These words correctly convey the idea of black magic and demonic control, but they miss the more basic meaning of drug use. In New Testament times pharmakeia in fact denoted the use of drugs with occult properties for a variety of purposes including, especially, abortion. As J. T. Noonan has written, “Paul’s usage here cannot be restricted to abortion, but the term he chose is comprehensive enough to include the use of abortifacient drugs.”86 In the early church both infanticide, often effected through the exposure of newborn babies to the harsh elements, and abortion, commonly brought about by the use of drugs, were regarded as murderous acts. Both are flagrant violations of Jesus’ command to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
  1. Most of the sins in this list describe gross excess. But we are supposed to walk by the Spirit.
  2. Verses 22-23: the fruit of the Spirit.
  3. I have preached on the fruit of the Spirit before, so I am not going to walk through each part. I do want to say a few things.
    1. First, notice that it is one fruit with many modifiers. It is “fruit” singular. This is the fruit that we expect a Christian to have. It is “deeds” of the flesh, plural, but “fruit” of the Spirit, singular.
    2. Some say the fruit is “love” and it is modified by joy, peace, patience, etc.
  • Either way, as a Christian, these are things we should pursue.
  1. Live by the Spirit, walk by the Spirit (verses 24-26)

There’s a story that has been told from Civil War days before America’s slaves were freed, about a northerner who went to a slave auction and purchased a young slave girl. As they walked away from the auction, the man turned to the girl and told her, “You’re free.”

With amazement she responded, “You mean, I’m free to do whatever I want?”

“Yes,” he said.

“And to say whatever I want to say?”

“Yes, anything.”

“And to be whatever I want to be?”


“And even go wherever I want to go?”

“Yes,” he answered with a smile. “You’re free to go wherever you’d like.”

She looked at him intently and replied, “Then I will go with you.”[4]

  1. Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh and its sinful desires (verse 24). Notice this, get rid of the fleshly desires. Put them to death.
  2. Instead, live by the Spirit and walk by the Spirit (verse 25).
  3. Paul closes this with an exhortation: “Get rid of boastful, challenging one another, envying one another” (verse 26).
  • Applications
    1. We must walk by the Spirit (verse 16).
    2. The desires of the flesh are against the Spirit. We must surrender to the Holy Spirit (verse 17).
    3. The desires of the flesh are numerous, and we must stay away from them (verses 19-21).
    4. Sexual immorality is a desire of the sin nature, we must beware of that sin (verse 19).
    5. We must guard against sexual sins, sins against humanity, sins of idolatry including spiritualism as well as sins of excess (verses 19-21).
    6. We must allow the Holy Spirit to reign in our life and produce this fruit.
    7. We must let the fruit of the Spirit push out the fruit of the world.
    8. We must have self-control. We must not be mastered by anything.
    9. We must have love for all.
  • We must have joy even in difficulty.
  • We must be patient, even in trials.
  • We must be kind
  • We must be gentle, submissive to the Word and to others.
  • We must have peace.
  • We must have goodness.
  • We must be faithful to God and to others.
  • We must crucify the flesh with its passions and desires (verse 24).
  • We must walk by the Spirit (verse 25).
  • We must not be boastful, challenge others and envious (verse 26).


In family life and in church life, there’s always a huge gap between the ideal and the real. For example, every autumn my family likes to go apple picking.

Here’s the ideal day of apple picking. The leaves are golden and rusty, the sky is beautiful, and it’s 75 degrees. We all pile into the van and start singing and laughing as we merrily drive to the orchard. We arrive early in the morning with plenty of time to enjoy the orchard. Surprisingly, the folks at the apple orchard say, “Today apples are free for families.” So our kids guzzle apple cider and stuff themselves with apple donuts—and they don’t even get a sugar high! Finally, after a perfect day at the orchard, we drive home as our children keep saying, “Wow, thanks, Mom and Dad!”

But the real day often looks like this. It’s a disaster from the start. We leave at least two hours late. The apple orchard closes at 5 P.M., we’re leaving at 3 P.M., and it takes an hour-and-half to get there, but I bark at everyone, “We’re going, so get in the car!” We missed lunch because we were scrambling to get everything done. With blood sugar levels plummeting, my wife and I start arguing. I think it’s her fault that we’re leaving late; she says it’s my fault. We keep arguing until the kids interrupt because now they’re arguing with each other. I turn around and snap at the kids, “Knock it off! I’m arguing with your mom.”

When we pull into the apple orchard, we only have thirty minutes before closing time. So we tell the kids, “Hurry up, so you can have some fun.” By this time of the day all the good apples are gone, and nothing is free. The entrance fee was outrageous because they know they can rip off suburban families who are trying to pretend they’re in the country for the day. When we get the kids back in the van, it’s already dark. On the way home, we finally get our apples: we stop at McDonald’s for an apple turnover.

Unfortunately, family life and church life aren’t always ideal. That’s why we have to practice love, acceptance, and forgiveness in the midst of real community among real fellow-sinners.[5]

We must walk by the Spirit.



[1] James L. Swanson, Bloody Crimes (William Morrow, 2010), p.46; submitted by Lee Eclov, Vernon Hills, Illinois

76 LW 27.68–69.

82 Lightfoot, Galatians, 210. We may ignore Lightfoot’s comment to the effect that the third class of sins would be especially enticing to “the excitable temperament of a Celtic people,” as well as his jibe that the mention of orgies and drunkenness was “not unfitly addressed to a nation whose Gallic descent perhaps disposed them too easily to these excesses.” Later commentators have tended to follow, with some modifications, Lightfoot’s fourfold division of Paul’s catalog of vices. See Burton, Galatians, 304–10; Fung, Galatians, 253–61; Matera, Galatians, 208–9. See also C. G. Kruse, “Virtues and Vices,” DPL, 962–63; E. Schweizer, “Traditional Ethical Patterns in the Pauline and Post-Pauline Letters and their Development,” in Text and Interpretation, ed. E. Best and R. McL. Wilson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979), 195–209.

[2] Timothy George, Galatians, vol. 30, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 392.

[3] Timothy George, Galatians, vol. 30, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 392–393.

86 J. T. Noonan, Jr., “An Almost Absolute Value in History,” in The Morality of Abortion: Legal and Historical Perspectives (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1970), 9. That φαρμακεία was a common term for abortion-inducing drugs is borne out by its recurrence in other early Christian writings. Thus the Didache includes the following list of negative imperatives Christians were expected to obey: “You shall not kill. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not corrupt boys. You shall not fornicate. You shall not steal. You shall not make magic. You shall not practice medicine (φαρμακεία). You shall not slay the child by abortions (φθορα). You shall not kill what is generated. You shall not desire your neighbors wife” (Did. 2.2). See further T. George, “Southern Baptist Heritage of Life” (Nashville: Christian Life Commission of the SBC, 1993).

[4] Tullian Tchividjian, Surprised by Grace (Crossway, 2014), page 182

[5] Stewart Ruch, from sermon “Shaping the World of Each Child,” at Church of the Resurrection, Wheaton, Illinois