Scripture: Galatians 5:24
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
The contrast between the carnal man and the spirit man is one of Paul's key messages.
21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. (Rom 7:21-25)
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. (Mt 16:24)
Thrust: We must take seriously the responsibility to crucify our carnal man in order for our inner life to be developed to greater maturity and intimacy with God.
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law... 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Gal 5:16–18, 24-25)
I. The Carnal Man Must Be Crucified
What crimes has the carnal man committed against God that deserves the punishment of crucifixion?
A. Crimes of Selfishness
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Gal 5:19–21)
The acts of the flesh all have to do with satisfying personal pleasure, achieving personal satisfaction, establishing personal rights, achieving personal glory, embracing personal freedom. Compare this with the fruit of the Spirit:
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Gal 5:22–23)
Every single part of the fruit of the Spirit is manifested in relation to someone else. It is not self-seeking, it is others-focused. It is not seeking personal gain, it is focused on building relationships with others by the molding of the self, it is seeking the betterment of others above the self.
B. Crimes of Rebellion
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. (Gal 5:16–17)
The Holy Spirit prompts and convicts us when the flesh tries to have its way, and the flesh is constantly rebelling against the Spirit, disrupting and hindering us when we want to do what God desires.
If you look study the stories in Numbers 11-21, we see the brilliance in how God inspired the author to portray the rebellious nature of humanity through the Israelites in this chiastic structure:
- A: Rebellion due to Hardships and Fire in the Camp (Num 11:1-3)
- B: Manna and Moses’ Complaint against God (Num 11:4-35)
- C: Rebellion against Moses' Leadership (Num 12)
- D: Rebellion against the Exodus (Num 13-14)
- C’: Rebellion against Moses' and Aaron's Leadership (Num 16-17)
- B’: Water and Moses’ Rebellion against God (Num 20:1-13)
- A’: Rebellion due to Hardships and Fiery Snakes in the Camp (Num 21:4-9)
II. The Responsibility Must Be Ours
Justification: God's responsibility to forgive and cleanse us from our sins when we confess Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour.
Sanctification: Our responsibility to respond to the love of God by obeying His commands and living according to His law, will and purpose.
A. A Daily Commitment
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross DAILY and follow me. (Lk 9:23)
B. A Serious Commitment
“Crucifixion … produced death not suddenly but gradually.… True Christians do not succeed in completely destroying the flesh while here below; but they have fixed it to the cross and they are determined to keep it there till it expires.” - Prof. John Brown
It is our responsibility to daily crucify our carnal man and to make sure that it remains nailed to the cross.
Two challenges for us today:
1. Commit to Crucifying Your Carnal Man Daily
2. Commit to Surrendering Your Life Daily