— Brother Phil Enlow: God’s purpose is not just to tell us what to do, it is to give us His Spirit that makes us a different person from the inside out. Laws are imposed from the outside, trying to get people to change their behavior. It does nothing to fix what’s in here. So what God’s purpose is, is to give us a new heart, a new life, a new spirit from the inside and then let us learn to have that come out.
So, what was the answer to Paul’s question? Did they gain this gift of God’s Spirit by obeying the law? No, God gave them a message, and they believed it. They yielded to it. They allowed the seed of the Word to be planted in their hearts and to grow into life. And they found out that God accepted them, not because they earned it, measured it, measured up for it, deserved it. No other purpose but God’s love and His mercy and His grace, and they came to Him, and they found they had the gift of God’s Spirit living in them.
Jesus spoke of the river, coming to Him, and there would be rivers of life flowing from the inside. “…This spake he of the Spirit, which they…should receive.” (KJV). That happened on the day of Pentecost and from then on.
But here are people that have entered into that. Here are people…so the question is obvious, isn’t it? No, it was not any kind of effort on my part to deserve this. I simply believed the promise of God. I didn’t have to qualify myself to get this. Okay?
“Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?” (NIV). It’s like, okay, He let me in the door freely, now, I’ve got to earn it. You know, doctrinally, we know that’s not right! But emotionally, I would guarantee there are people here who live that way, and God wants to set people free.
He wants you to walk out of here and realize that He loves you because He is a God of love. The greatest joy He gets is to take the most broken person He can find and put them together, and give them His life and set His love upon them, and give them a hope and a future, without there being any merit on their part other than surrender, and trusting His promise. That’s the hope of the Gospel!
But God doesn’t want us to fall into this trap of ‘doing,’ because you can do all the right stuff, and think you’re…and always, you’re trying to say, oh, if I just do it right, if I say it right. Oh, I did that wrong. Oh, God! I’ve got to get it right, and then I can come, and I can gain His favor again.
I’ll tell you, God isn’t like that. You have His love. Yes, there are times we need to humble ourselves and repent for sure. But you can’t outlive God’s love, and His mercy toward you. It never ever is based upon your performance. You don’t ever have to climb up to get to Him. You just come. You come when you’re in need!
How many times have we said that? What it says in Hebrews, chapter 4…we come to Him, to the throne of grace, to the very throne of the universe! Forget the Supreme Court! Forget all the courts of this world! We can go right past every one of them to the supreme court of the universe, and know that we’ll be accepted, not because we deserve it, but because Jesus gave His life for you and for me. And we don’t go when we deserve to go. We go when we’re in need, and we know we’ll be received.
Oh, may God set His people free from trying to qualify yourself to be loved, and accepted, and approved of, and all of that. Oh, how much we try to earn His favor. God, help us to let that go.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you just…you know, that means okay, like He accepts me so I can do as I please. Yeah, that’s not where this is going. This has got to be the operation of the new nature in us.
I’ll tell you, if the new nature operates, do you think it’s gonna be doing that stuff? No. If we learn that it’s not by trying and struggling and striving in the flesh to do anything. It’s by believing His promise and saying, oh God, I see this need in me. I’m facing something where ‘I can’t.’ We talked about that recently.
So, what do I do about it? Do I try harder? How do I handle it? Do I sit there and just feel sorry for myself? Do I give up, throw up my hands? How do I handle all that? I bring it to You and say, God, Your promise is that You have come to live in me, that what I cannot do in myself, I can do in You! And so, I begin right now with this particular situation. Lord, strengthen me. I will, by Your grace, do what You say, but I’m depending on You. It’s not in me to do it.
I believe God will take us through issue after issue after issue in our lives, in our daily journey and take us to places we might not want to go. But I’ll tell you, for everyone that’s willing go and to look yourself in the mirror and say, God, I need You, there’s a God who is looking for that.
Oh, how the Devil paints a picture of how we’ve got to somehow qualify and earn His love. You don’t have to earn a thing. God chose to love you when you were unlovable. You weren’t even thinking about Him, and He planned for you from all eternity. He knew then, every need you have in the depths of your being, the ones you don’t want anybody to know about. He knew about every one of them, and His plan was not to teach you how to live a better life, it was to give you His life in place of this.
Oh, I’ll tell you, I pray if there’s somebody here who’s never been born of that Spirit, I pray that the thing that will drive your heart right now, more than anything in this world….what could be more important? What, possibly, could be more important? You’re part of a creation that’s already marked for destruction.
You look at the cross, and you know how God feels about it. That’s when the judgment of God was manifested in the death of His Son. That’s the destiny of this world you’re a part of. If this is all you have, you’re gonna perish with it. God doesn’t want that.
God has opened a door of hope for you, and I pray that if you’re not sure, if this is an issue in your heart, you will cry out to God until He brings you to that place, where your heart is opened and surrendered, and He comes in and you become His, because then, your destiny is entirely different from everybody else in this world.
You know, pray! Is this something…believers, is this something we need to be praying and saying, God, do this? Does this matter? Yeah. Destinies hang on this. I don’t care what your lot in this life is from that standpoint. This is the thing that matters. One thing matters. Here were these people trying to work it out.
But, as I say, one reason we try to work it out is for our own benefit. We want to feel like we qualify and deserve His favor and all that kind of stuff. We’re trying to impress ourselves.
But the other thing that we do, when it comes to the ‘what we do,’ is that we’re trying to appear right before everybody else. We know that there are people who can see us, who observe us in their interactions with us, and we want them to think well of us. We want them to consider us to be fellow believers, and doing stuff right, and oh, how concerned we are with saying it right and doing it right.
You know, from time to time, you’ll hear somebody talk about how common it is for church people, basically, to wear a mask. We’re all wearing one. We all want people to see us in a good light, and so, we’ve learned how to ‘do’ Christianity right. Is that where it’s at? No, it’s not where it’s at, is it? Do you think God just might want something more than that?
You know, I was thinking about this from another point of view. We talked last week about the characteristics of Kingdom nature and how they’re complete opposite of human nature. But you know, Paul gets into the fact that God has called us to a place of freedom, but we’re not to use that freedom just to give vent to our flesh and do whatever the flesh wants, but to rather to serve Him. The whole point of Him giving us His life is so that we’d be able to live out that life.
And so, let’s see…verse 13 of chapter 5. Let’s just pick it up there. “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: Love your neighbor as yourself. If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”
So, obviously, this business of being born of God’s Spirit is not something that automatically fixes everything, is it? This is a life that we then need to learn how to live out, and the problem is we’ve still got a nature that wants to be in charge.
“So I say…” Paul said, “…live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.”
You know, you don’t need a moral code to tell you what to do and what not to do if Christ is living in here, and you’re living in harmony with Him. Is He gonna lead you to go rob a bank? No! That’s the key. We need to be living out a real life. There is Somebody who wants to live through us. It’s not what, it’s Who. You see, do you get that?
So now, he’s going to identify these characteristics of the two natures. “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immortality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy….”
Now, we need to point out, we tend to think in our idea of what a Christian life is supposed to be like, we identify these gross, outward sins of the flesh, right? It’s obvious…that’s bad, we want to stay away from that stuff. But what people don’t realize is that the same nature that drives people to do those things, drives these things as well. There are sins not just of the flesh but of the spirit, and how easy it is for those to still be in operation. All right?
“…Idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissentions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.” That’s quite a list, isn’t it? “I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this…” that’s the defining characteristic of their life, they, “…will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit…” Now, is this not talking about…I mean, put this in the context of the new creation. Is this not what the result of the new creation being born in us is meant to be? Are these characteristics not meant to be expressed in our lives? “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” And he goes on to encourage that we need to walk in these things.
Of course, down in chapter 6, he talks about the fact that if you go the wrong way, you’re gonna reap what you sow. But here’s how this principle of, not what, but Who, comes into play with a lot of us. What is the evidence that every one of us deals with, that we’ve got a little too much of the what and not enough of the Who? Something like that.
How much of this internal stuff that he describes as acts of the sinful nature, how much of them exist on the inside when we’re doing the right stuff on the outside? Oh…that’s why we need a mask. I don’t want people to see the real me.
Do you think, just maybe, the Lord wants us to be authentic…that the more He gains the rule in our hearts, the more we’re like Him, the more He changes us, are we not supposed to come, more and more to a place where what we are on the outside is the same as what we are in here?
How many of us can smile and say and do the right things, and inside, there’s turmoil, there’s dissention, there’s jealousy, there’s envy? There are all these things that just…oh, they just don’t want to go away. They’re there, and we’re covering them up, and we’re pretending they aren’t there. We’re pushing them down and saying, I won’t give into that, but it’s there. It’s gotten quiet. Is this relevant?
( congregational response ).
Yeah. I believe, with all my heart, God wants us to experience this new creation in a deeper way. And the way we get there is, often painful, because it means that we’re gonna have to come squarely, face to face with the realities of what is in here, and what literally operates on the inside, the part that we don’t want people to see.
And we’re gonna have to come to the place where we bring that to the Lord, and as I said earlier, how do you deal with that? We’re gonna have to bring it to Him, honestly and repent of it, but how do you go forward? Do you just say, I’ll try harder, or do you just say, oh God, this is beyond my capability? I cannot do, I cannot be what You want me to be.
A simple example that we’ve used many times, I guess, is forgiveness. Somebody’s done something, and you just cannot let it go. And, I think many times that’s a real problem that people cannot let it go! But does God want us to let it go?
So, what’s the solution? Think about that. Where do we go for the answer to something like that? Lord, I can’t. I don’t even know if I’m willing, but I come to You, Lord, with this need. I know what You want. I want what You want. I just can’t, but Lord, I’m willing, if You’ll just…I’m willing to be made willing to be made willing.
I mean, wherever you have to start. It’s just coming to Him with an expectation. Has He not given promises on these things? Has He made no provision for this? That’s what the new creation is about. It’s His life being reproduced in us and beginning to grow in the very presence of these, or within these bodies, and learning how to use these bodies as instruments of the new creation and not the old one.
Man, there’s a lot of learning, there’s a lot of growing, there’s a lot of dying in order to live, that has to happen in all of that. Man, I need the Lord. None of this is in me. I run into stuff every single day, and if you’re honest, you do, too, where I have to look inside and say, you know, the stuff, the turmoil, the things that go on in here, that’s not the fruit of the Spirit.
God, I want my inside to match. I want to be right on the outside. I want to treat my brothers and sisters right. I want to treat people right. I want to be an expression of Your Kingdom. But God, I don’t want to be an actor. I don’t want to be a pretender. I don’t want to just put on a form and a fake smile and pretend to be something that I’m not. I want You to change me down here so that I am what You want me to be.
And not only that, I believe that’s what You want, and I’m asking You, I’m coming to You, because You have told me that’s what Your purpose is in my heart and my life. Lord, deliver me.
We need Him in these issues that come up day to day as much as we needed Him when we entered the Kingdom, when we had to surrender and leave our sins behind us. Thank God we could do that, but He has a provision for this.
That’s what Paul came to when he said, it’s no longer I that lives. When I look at the cross, I don’t just see what Jesus did for me, I see me. That was the end of me, and I’m going by that. That’s what God did for me back then. I want to experience that right now. I know I haven’t arrived.
You know how he talks in Philippians. I haven’t gotten there. I’ve still got a lot of territory to gain, but that’s my goal in life, is to learn how to live out this new creation, to be a part of that and not a part of this. Would that not change everything? What’s the answer to that?
( laughing ).
Anybody awake? It’s a lot to think about. There are a lot of implications to the simple principle where Paul says, really essentially, there’s one thing that matters. What counts is the new creation. You could do or not do all these other things, but the one thing you cannot do without, is the new creation.
But oh, that has got to be the thing that is defined, the defining characteristic of our lives. God is going to bring every one of us down whatever road it takes, whatever it takes, whatever’s necessary, to bring us to that place, and He’s gonna do it because He loves us. I thank God I don’t have to earn this. I don’t have to try to be what I’m not.
That’s the point. I come to Him because I can’t. I come to Him because I’m in need, and I don’t deserve a single thing. Oh, God, help me. I’ve gone around this mountain so many times, and I just need help. I need the new creation to come and just take charge of my heart and be reproduced. It’s your life that has the power be and to do. It doesn’t matter how right or wrong I do stuff. It matters Who does it.
I’ll tell you, do we not have an awesome Savior? Think about this. Your life and mine, your Christian life and mine, does not consist of just ‘the what’ we do. It’s about ‘the Who’ is doing it. And when you run up against yourself, don’t just pretend it isn’t there. When you run up against the bad stuff that still wants to rule in here, we need to come and say, Lord, this is the truth. This is where I’m at, but I need You.
And I come to You knowing You love me, knowing You planned for this, knowing You have the answer that I need, that Your Spirit is not like this. And so, if I learn how to yield myself to that and operate in that, I’ll be free.
God wants His people to be free. God is getting us ready to stand in an hour of darkness, and this is the key! The what you do kind of stuff and doing it right will not get us through. We’re gonna need Jesus living in His people, and then, we will have everything that we need. To Him be the glory. Praise God!