The Flesh

December 10, 2023 Preacher: Michael Clary Series: The Victory of Christ

Scripture: Galatians 5:16–24, Romans 7:15–25, Romans 8:5–11

Good morning church. It is great seeing all of you here today. second Sunday of Advent and we have the candles lit.

That's always fun. And while we are doing this series of Advent, we're taking a break from first Peter where we've been doing a shorter series called the victory of Christ. And this is a Like a four-week series that we'll be doing that we'll finish on Christmas morning. And some of the content is based on this book called Spiritual Warfare by Carl I. Paine. Spiritual Warfare, Christians, Demonization, and Deliverance by Carl Paine. Spiritual Warfare. This book is very helpful. I commend it to you. So, some of the material that we're working through in this series has inspired by this book. But the series is about how we can experience victory, the victory of Jesus over our sins and temptations.

And there are three different sources of temptation, and I will So, this, this is a, are we up here? Okay, so I've got this this little image here. If it's oh, there we go, okay. So, the, there are three different sources. So, there's external solicitations to sin, and that's what we looked at last week.

That's the world where just this. World system and rebellion against God will tempt us to sin. And then there's internal solicitations to sin, and that is the flesh. That's what we're going to be talking about today. Next week, we're going to look at supernatural solicitations to sin, which is the devil.

But these three overlap, so it's not like any particular sin or temptation has a singular cause. Usually, there's going to be a multiple number of things that are triggering that, that sin or that temptation. But it is helpful and useful for us to look at these individually so that we can better understand how we're tempted and better be able to fight.

And just like we talked about last week, this will be the theme throughout, is that regardless of the source of the temptation, we are given a victory in Christ. So, we have resources that we are, that Jesus has given us through his victory and in the power of his spirit to overcome any sin and any temptation.

We've got a lot of work to do today, so let's go ahead and dig in. I'm going to cover a lot of scripture and hopefully this will be, this will be helpful for you. So, to begin with, we need to distinguish between the lust of the flesh, which is what we talked about last week, and then just the flesh, which is our topic for today.

So, lust of the flesh, we talked about this last week as part of the world system that entices us to sin. So, the lust of the flesh will be external solicitations to sin triggered by the world. So, it could be I gave an example of a billboard that you might see, or there's something that you encounter in the world that would, because of the external stimuli, activate something within you that would tempt you to sin.

So, Eve, she is a classic example of this in the Garden of Eden, the serpent came to her and tempted her to sin by some external thing. And he lied to her and deceived her. And so, she took the fruit and she ate. Another example would be Joseph, also in the book of Genesis, where Potiphar's wife lured him in and propositioned him sexually and tempted him to sin.

And of course, he escaped that temptation by fleeing the house. Both of those are external temptations to sin. Today, the topic is the flesh, which is different from the lust of the flesh as a biblical category. And these are internal solicitations to sin. So, these are temptations that arise from within our own desires.

The Greek word for flesh is sarx. So, we spell it S A R X. But sarx, and in the Bible there's many uses and many meanings. And I won't go over all of those now. But for our purposes today, the flesh refers to simply indwelling sin. And I'll, this will make, I'll, I'll explain more as we go along, but the flesh is indwelling sin that's at war with the spirit.

So even though as a Christian, your spirit is regenerated by the Holy Spirit, your flesh is still active within you. It's the old man that's still there, even though we are made alive in the spirit. And so, we, while we desire to walk with God and obey God, the flesh that is still there right with us, tempting us and, and we're, we have this struggle with our desires.

So, an example of this could be the apostle Peter on the night before Jesus was crucified. Peter denied Jesus three times. Now, there wasn't any external proposition for him to sin and deny Christ. It, it was his own fears that, that elicited that, that temptation. And because he was afraid, he did not want to suffer.

He didn't, whatever the fears were, but that, but that's why he fell into that particular sin and temptation. There's always overlap. There's always going to be multiple sources and causes of our sin. But sin arises, some sin does arise primarily from within our own desires. So let me look at, let's look at some scripture here.

And what I want to give you is four truths about the flesh and then four tools for fighting the flesh. So, four truths and four tools. Let's start with the four truths about the flesh. The first one, our flesh is at war with our spirit. Our flesh is at war with our spirit. So that means there's an, there's an inner struggle and that will play out for the rest of our earthly lives.

So as an example of this I'll, this is a from James chapter four and he says, what causes quarrels and fights within you or fights among you rather? Is it not this that your passions are at war within you? So, within us, we have conflicting desires. We want one thing, but we also want another thing.

And because our order, our, our loves, our desires are not ordered properly, according to God and His standard and His word, then there is this friction, this conflict within us. So that's the first one. Our flesh is at war with our spirit. Number two, second truth. Our Christian duty is to mortify the flesh and live to the spirit.

So, mortify means we put to death the flesh. We put to death the flesh, mortify the flesh, and then we live to the spirit. Basically, that means we fight sin and we pursue holiness. Let me read to you several texts here in the book of Galatians. Galatians 5:16-17 is going to show us this contrast between the spirit and the flesh.

But I say, walk by the spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Walk by the spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh for the desires of the flesh are against the spirit. And the desires of the spirit are against the flesh. There's the conflict. For these are opposed to each other to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

So, we have this conflict, we have within us, there are these, these desires that pull us in two different directions. So, the spirit within you, if you're a Christian, the spirit within you desires and is cultivating desires for the things of God and for you to walk with God obediently. And yet there's the old man that is still within you, that is the flesh.

And those inner desires tempt you to sin. Paul goes on verse 19, he describes what these, what these acts are like. So, the works of the flesh are evident. So, here's what one part of you might desire. The fleshly part, sexual immorality, impurity. Sensuality, Idolatry, Sorcery, Enmity. Now, so far, you're thinking, okay maybe you're, you're good so far.

You know, maybe it's like, well, I'm not, I'm not into sorcery or I'm not into those sorts of things. Well, let's keep going because it hits a little bit closer to home for some of us, the further we go on. Enmity, Strife, Jealousy, Fits of Anger, Rivalries, Dissensions, Divisions. Envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.

So, you might see yourself somewhere on this list. That means there's, there's a part of us that is pulled in these directions and it's whatever the particular flavor of temptation or desire is within you, there's the, the old man wants to pull you in that direction because there's still that flesh that is operative.

Now, hear this, this is a sober warning. We talked about this last week. Paul says, I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. So, I mentioned this last week. If you love the world, remember 1 John 2 15:17. If you love the world or if you love the things of the world, the love of the father is not in you.

So, I want this, we want it to land, and we want to hear it, but we also want to make sure that we're hearing the grace of God that is communicated also through the text. If your life is characterized by these sorts of things, if your life is characterized by the, the flesh, then he says like, you will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Which is another way of saying you're not a Christian, you're not saved, you're not regenerate, you would not anticipate going to heaven. So that's a sober warning that you can't call yourself a Christian and live like this and expect, oh, I'm going to heaven when I die because I'm saved. Well, if you live this way, then Paul's saying you're not actually saved.

Well, then what does it look like to walk by the spirit? Well, Paul keeps going. Verse 22 through 24, the fruit of the spirit. Now, you may be much more familiar with this. There's nine of them. The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace. Patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control against such things.

There is no law, meaning that these are the sorts of things that you can do without limit. There's no law. There's no cap. There's no, there's no upper limit to how much love you can have or how much joy you can have. It's like, there's no law against those things. These things are available to us in abundant supply, and then throughout all eternity, we will experience these in ever increasing measure.

So, this is what you have been given by the spirit if you're a Christian. Now if you look at your life on any given day or at any given moment, the conflict will be something that you could probably identify. There are parts of you that you love Christ, you love your neighbor, you, you experience joy in Christ.

And there is this patience and kindness, goodness, faithfulness, you, you experience some of these things in some measure. And yet at the same time, there are temptations. You do have angry outbursts. You do have a lust, sexual lust. You do look at pornography. You do have temptations to steal, or to lie, or to whatever.

Be jealous, envious. So that's the conflict. Now, throughout the Christian life, what we would expect is for a brand new believer, then there's probably going to be a greater proportion of the works of the flesh. But over time, because this is an ongoing struggle where we mortify the works of the flesh, and we live to the Spirit of God, so over time we would see the spirit grow in increasing measure and we'd see the works of the flesh diminish over the course of our lives.

So, mortifying the flesh involves putting sin and evil desires to death. And it's a daily struggle. It's a daily struggle. That's number two, our Christian duty, mortify the flesh, live to the spirit. Number three, the battle with the flesh can be intense and difficult and painful and confusing, but keep fighting.

Keep fighting. The battle with the flesh can be intense, and it's meant to, I mean, it's, it's not meant to be easy. We should not expect everything to just, just naturally fall into place, and we're just, you know, just naturally sanctified. It's like, there will be, there will be times when there is a desire, a sin, a temptation that is so intense, and that you feel like, man, I don't know how I'm ever going to beat this thing.

That's, that's, that's to be expected. But it is also to be expected that you're going to keep fighting. Now let me give you what, what has been for many, one of the most encouraging scriptures in the Bible. Because we see even the apostle Paul describe a similar experience in his own life, his own testimony.

This is Romans chapter 7, 10 verses here, so it's a bit lengthy. So, Paul says, for I do not understand my own actions. Do you ever feel that way? You ever feel like, God, why do I, why am I such an idiot, Lord? Why do I keep doing all this stupid stuff? Well, you could say with Paul, I do not understand my own actions for I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate

Ever felt that way? Now, if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law. That is good. So, if you do some sin and you acknowledge it as sin, then you're saying, okay, God, I'm acknowledging this sin, which means I'm acknowledging with what your law says, that this is sin. And in my heart, I'm acknowledging the sinfulness of the thing that I do, but I don't want to do it.

Right? For I know that nothing good dwells in me, meaning that there's nothing within you personally in your flesh that is good and righteous. It is not. We don't generate goodness ourselves, that it comes from the spirit that is at work within us. For I know that nothing good dwells in me that is in my flesh.

For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good that I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Amen. Now if I do what I do not want it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. Now this, I who do it, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

He's, he's not saying that you're not culpable or responsible for the act. He's saying that it is there, there is something that is tempting you to where the old man is at work. But the real you, who you really are, is by the Spirit. It is something that God defines you. So, there's this old dead man that Jesus crucified.

The spirit, the old, the old man, he, Jesus, he died with Christ. So that's not you in the ultimate eternal sense. So, it's not you that, who you really are doing that, but it is this old man that isn't who you are. And that old man is, is, is, is tempting you and you're, you're, you're being pulled by these desires.

So, I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. Fright to light in the law of God. I mean, we're Christians. We love God. We love his word, and we look in his word. I'm like, yes, I see this is right. This is good. This is the way we should be. This is the way I want to live. So, we say, I delight in the law of God.

It's right in my inner being, but I see in my members, my, my body, the things that I do, the things that I think and feel those things in my members, another law waging war against the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. So, there's this feeling of being imprisoned by these desires and temptations.

And I'm sure some of you feel that way. You know, an extreme version of this would be something we would call addiction. It's like, I can't stop. I want to, but I can't stop. Why do I keep doing this? I'm an idiot. I'm so stupid. And you can relate to this because you've experienced this yourself.

Don't you love that? Wretched man that I am! You, you wretches! That's, that's where Amazing Grace. I once was Amazing Grace, how sweet to sound, that saved a wretch like me. Wretched man that I am, but Jesus saves wretches. Jesus saves people who are sinful, rebellious, wicked, hard hearted, stubborn men and women.

Who are enemies of God, and he, he rescues us, he regenerates us, he, he puts his Holy Spirit within us so that we can become alive and be made new by the Spirit of God, and then by the Spirit that is alive within us, we kill and mortify the old man. That wretch that is still within us, we mortify him.

Wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. So, then I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. Meaning that this is an ongoing process of progressive sanctification throughout the rest of our lives.

There's more. Romans 8. One chapter later. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh. He's talking about unbelievers here. But those who live according to the spirit. That's you Christians. Those of you who are believers in here. Those who live according to the spirit set their minds on the things of the spirit.

For to set the mind on the flesh is death. But to set the mind on the spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God. For it does not submit to God's law. Indeed, it cannot. For those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Don't miss this. Those who are in the flesh I cannot please God.

Just a little side note here. Anybody who is not a Christian, that sweet little old lady that lives next door to you, she may be sweet, if she doesn't know Jesus, she cannot. Please God. That doesn't mean she's not sweet. It means that whatever you see in her is not produced in her by the spirit of God. It is produced by her own flesh and her own fleshly desires that produce some illusion of goodness in her life.

But spiritually speaking, eternally speaking from God's perspective, God is not pleased with that because we're not saved by works, are we? We're saved by grace. And God is pleased by His grace, Jesus Christ that saves us, and His grace at work by the Spirit that sanctifies us. That pleases God. Human work, human effort, our flesh, our works, apart from the Spirit, doesn't please God.

He's never impressed. You, Christians, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit. If in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. So, that's a good caveat. If the Spirit of God dwells in you. So, the definition of a Christian is, is a man or woman who is indwelt by the Spirit, and we're indwelt by the Spirit by faith.

So, you place your faith in Jesus Christ, and you do that because the Spirit indwells you, regenerates you, gives you life, and when He takes a hole of a soul, He never lets go. So, if in fact the Spirit of God within you is within you, you're not in the flesh but in the Spirit. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him.

But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead, that's the flesh, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of His righteousness, not yours. But Jesus is righteousness. If the spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, and he does, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his spirit who dwells in you.

So, there is a, a new life that we have. In the spirit that prior to eternity, the spirit is alive within us because he dwells in us and he's giving us power over sin. And then in eternity, we will be given glorified bodies where there's no longer a mortal flesh that is waging war, but rather we will have glorified bodies where we'll have a glorified flesh that is no longer at war.

We'll have bodies that are sanctified, purified, glorified, and eternally able to obey God without any mixture of sin whatsoever. That's what we look forward to. So let me show you what this looks like visually. Here we have the unregenerate man. That's a non-believer. He lives in the flesh. And it's mortal.

He will die. She will die. And the spirit is also dead.

I messed up.

So, there's, there is death here. The flesh will die. The spirit is dead. This is an unbeliever. Regenerate man. This is a Christian. So, Christians. There, we still live in the flesh, so that's the mortal part and that's the dead part of us. But there's also the spirit who is alive and that's the alive part of us.

And so now we have this, this battle that takes place here within our lives. And so, our job is, by the Spirit, we mortify the flesh. That doesn't mean you hurt your body, or something. It means that spiritually we put to death the deeds of the flesh. So, this man, unregenerate man, cannot please God. This person does please God, can please God by his obedience, empowered by the Spirit.

That's number three. Number four, fourth truth, is through the power of the Holy Spirit, you have already everything you need to mortify the flesh and to overcome sin. There isn't any additional thing that you need to receive from God. There isn't some higher blessing or anything like that you have because of the spirit of God that is within you right now.

And we know the spirit of God was within you because that's the definition of a Christian. So, you have within you what you need to mortify sin. And this is, get this promise, underline it in your Bible or highlight it in your app or whatever. But this is, this is a wonderful, powerful promise. 2 Peter 1:3-4, his divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.

Through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence. By which he has granted to us his very, his precious and very great promises. So that through them, these promises, through these promises, you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

So, his divine power, the same power that rose Jesus from the dead, the same power that fed the 5,000 and walked on water, and that's, that is the power that is at work with you. It's a divine power, and he has granted to us, it's a gift. All things that pertain to life and godliness. So just that, just let that soak in your life.

Do you feel powerless? Do you feel empty? Do you feel weak? That's okay. That's the flesh. You gotta, you gotta be realistic with where you're starting from, but what is within you? It's a seed that has been planted in your soul and that seed will grow and sprout and bear fruit. And we call that fruit of the spirit, but the seed is there.

The divine power is there. It's in you. And that divine power is giving you all things that pertain to life and godliness. You lack nothing. And again, I'll give the caveat I gave last week. I'm not saying we'll reach some complete sanctification. We're not perfected this side of heaven, but we should expect because of the divine power to work within us, steady growth throughout the Christian life.

That's four truths. Let me give you four tools. Four tools. Number one, trust God to give you victory over sin. This should be obvious from what we've said so far. Trust God to give you victory over sin. You're more likely to overcome it if you believe you can. Right. You know, the sports cliche, you got this underdog team, but they're hanging around.

It's a fourth quarter. Time is running out and they're still hanging around. What are the commentators say? They they're starting to believe. And what they mean by that is you got an underdog team. They're outsized. They're, they're, they're shorter, they're slower, but if they believe that can overcome a lot.

And so, you need to be like that underdog team in the fourth quarter of the time running out and you're starting to believe. You've been believing all along, that's what got you to the fourth quarter. But you believe that, you know, I, I can overcome this. I don't have to be hooked on porn. I don't have to be an angry grouch.

I don't have to be a gossip. I don't have to lust all the time. I don't have to be a deceitful liar. I don't have to be a thief. I don't have to be any of those things because there is divine power at work within me. I don't have to just lay down and let defeat overrun me and say, well, thank God for grace.

No, we can overcome. Can you not? But you've gotta believe it. And if you don't believe it, then you're gonna not experience the victory that you could. So, you need a victory mindset, not a defeat mindset. And the victory mindset comes from the promises of scripture, Romans 6:11-14. So, you must also consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Jesus Christ.

Therefore, or let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body to make you obey its passions. You don't have to obey your flesh. You don't have to obey the sinful desires and inclinations. Don't present your members to sin as instruments for righteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.

Here's your promise. You ready? Romans 6:14 for sin will have no dominion over you since you are not under law, but under grace,

think of it this way. Whenever you sin, you're being ruled. Do you wanna be ruled by sin? Do you wanna let sin have dominion over you? I don't. I don't want to be ruled by sin. I don't want to be ruled and enslaved to whatever, whatever inclination or passion or sinful desire that I have within me. I want to mortify that desire because Christ is alive in me.

And Christians, Christ is alive in you too. So let not sin reign over you. Sin will have no dominion over you. You don't have to lose. Christians can sometimes have this dignity in defeat kind of mindset. And we abuse the grace of God and use it as a license for sin. But God promises victory. We have to apply the victory.

And it takes effort. It takes faith. It takes discipline. It takes all the tools that we can muster. But it is, we, the belief that we can have, like the underdog team in the fourth quarter, the belief that we have is the victory of Jesus. It's at work. He's at work in us. God promises victory wherever we choose to apply that victory over our temptations.

It doesn't happen all at once, and it's never happened. It never happens completely and perfectly, but we should expect incremental victory. The spirit within you is alive, and that should give you confidence. It might be a nail biter. It might come down to you know a heave into the end zone and the bottom, you know, the end of the fourth quarter, but we should expect victory.

So, trust God for victory. That is a tool. That's a tool. That's your faith. We talked about this last week. Who is it that overcomes the world? You know, what is it that has overcome the world? Our faith. Remember that from first John five, look it up, but that is what we can believe for a victory. Number two.

This might be unexpected. Take responsibility for your emotions. So, whenever we're talking about sinful desires, the flesh inside, we're talking about desires. We mentioned this a good bit last week, but I want to hit it again today. Our desires. We need to take responsibility for the desires, which, which often we experience as feelings, tastes, inclinations, appetites, right?

The battle for sin, battle against sin is won or lost at the level of desire, and that includes our emotions. A big lie that many Christians believe is that our feelings are involuntary, and so therefore we cannot control them. Some even believe that our feelings and emotions are the truest part of us.

In fact, we might even believe that what we feel is the Holy Spirit speaking to us. You can detect this whenever people say things like, I feel the Spirit leading me to. And then whatever it is they say at the end of that sentence is not a good thing. I don't think the Holy Spirit was leading you to do that.

I think you wanted to do that. And you mentioning the Holy Spirit is a way to avoid accountability. And it makes your desires unrebukable, unquestionable. It's just whatever you say automatically is baptized by the Spirit. And you just, you can do whatever you want if you say, I feel the Spirit's leading me to do this.

It's a Disney style follow your heart theology where we believe our feelings are more real and more reliable than God's Word. That's Disney. Follow your heart's Disney theology. The world and the devil will lie to you and tell you that following your heart and just going with the inclinations of your emotions is, is okay.

And not only that, that's, that's actually good. And you should be ruled by your emotions. You should follow your heart and just do whatever you feel like. And what you end up doing as a result is psychologizing sin. You redefine sin in therapeutic terms. And so, following your heart is the standard, then what is sin?

Sin is not expressing yourself. It's not following your heart. It's not going with what you feel is right. And a lot of people, that's how they feel about sin. They think sin is not, not following my heart and not just doing whatever I feel in the moment. And that person doesn't have the self-control or the emotional discipline to see that they're being ruled by their emotions and their emotions are a tyrant and their emotions are still unmortified sinful desires.

Our feelings are indicators of desire and God's word tells us our feelings can be sinful or deceitful. You might know this verse: the heart is deceitful above all things. And desperately sick. Who can understand it? So very often, these feelings are unmortified desires that need to be brought under the Lordship of Christ.

Now remember what we looked at from Galatians a moment ago. The last fruit of the Spirit. You remember that one? What's the last fruit of the Spirit? Anybody know? Self-control. That means control of your emotions. At the very least it would, it would include that control over your emotions, and you don't have to be ruled by your emotions and you shouldn't be ruled by your emotions.

Now I'll grant that we don't always control how we feel. Sometimes feelings are just reflexive. They do just happen to us, but you can control what you believe and how you behave. And a lot of times as you control how you believe and how you behave, your emotions catch up. So, the starting point is taking responsibility for your emotions.

Take responsibility for how you feel, and you do that by confessing it. You, you can confess your, your, your sinful desires. You can confess, you know, negative emotions to God. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Number three.

Enjoy the gift of a good conscience.

This one may be a little unexpected too. And, and I'll just say at the outset, as I explain this point, this may not apply equally to everybody, but I know it applies to some of you. And actually, I asked a couple guys yesterday, I ran this point by them, and they're like, yeah, you need to include that. So, here you go.

Enjoy the gift of a good conscience. And we do this because we're forgiven. So, here's the text I want to point you to. Hebrews 10:22-23, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. I think that's a reference to baptism.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering for he who promised is faithful.

I think some Christians have overburdened consciences and that robs them from their freedom and joy in Christ. So, what, how this looks is that they feel that it's more godly to feel guilty about greater and greater degrees of minutiae in their spiritual lives. And I know this because this is my own testimony too.

But it can make a person morbidly introspective, and they try to uncover layer upon layer upon layer of hidden sinful motives. And so, this is, so I know this. Because this is me, and I've, this is my own testimony, and I'm, this is one of those things, those areas of my life where I've consciously decided I don't want to be ruled by a guilty conscience, and I have been, and I can be, and so in my life, I have, I have at times, and I'm still tempted to define godliness by how guilty I feel.

Now, I'll call it conviction. Because conviction is a really nice spirit word to put on an ugly thing whenever you feel guilty about something that isn't actually sin. But I'll feel guilty about it, and it can become this doom spiral, right? So, what will happen with me is I can dismiss any victory by pointing out some hidden motive or some sin that tainted the victory.

So, it's like I can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by looking for sins to discredit the work of God that he's doing in my life. And the net effect of this is inaction because you're waiting to not move out because you want to make sure that moving, when you take action, you're doing the right action.

You're doing something that you won't later feel guilty about. So, it becomes this crippling introspection that can keep you from taking action because you're afraid of what sin might result from the action, the action that you take. And I've lived my life like this for a long time. And it's, it's just, it's one of those things that.

I'm tempted to think, well, that's just kind of how I'm wired. And I mean, I could just be like, well, this is kind of who I am, but if I believe what I'm preaching this morning, then I want to say there can be victory over that. I don't have to live that way. I don't have to live with a guilty conscience because what Jesus purchased for me is a clean conscience.

One of the things that changed this for me is noticing how often the New Testament speaks of a good conscience. Let me give you two examples. For 1 Timothy 1:5, it says, the aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. If you look at how the New Testament often speaks, they don't, they don't usually speak with this sort of self-loathing uh, morbid introspection.

But this is Paul saying, Hey, here's our charge. It's love. It issues from a pure heart, good conscience, sincere faith. Another one is Hebrews 13, 18 pray for us for we are sure that we have a clear conscience desiring to act honorably in all things. What he doesn't say is like now there might be some sin deep down that we didn't desire to act honorably, and you know I want to make sure that I acknowledge it.

They don't speak that way because they don't speak with this morbid introspection this navel gazing Always like there's got to be some sin around here somewhere if I just look hard enough, I'll find it and then I can feel good about uncovering some hidden sin deep down.

So don't misunderstand me There is a place for self-examination and we talk about that and that's a good thing. There is a place for self-examination, but it can turn rotten if you push it too far. So, Christ has purchased for you a, a new heart and he sprinkled it clean so that you can enjoy a clean conscience to where you're not burdened by whatever sin might be lurking in your heart.

A good conscience is a blood bought gift of grace and Jesus didn't die for us to walk around overburdened by a guilty conscience. Now some of you, there's sin in your life and you need to feel guilty about it. So don't, don't misunderstand. If there's some big sin in your life, don't, don't disregard that.

But for some of you, and I know you. There, there's, there's nothing glaring that would cause you to feel the way you feel. And what it is, is that it is a way for Satan to corner you and pummel you with accusations. And accusation is his specialty. Because a man with a, with a guilty conscience is easily manipulated because that man will believe any negative thing you say about him because he feels morally obligated to agree with it because he's always looking for more sin to confess.

And that man will be cornered, and, and, and you can take him out of commission. So, Satan will corner you and tell you what a rotten, filthy, scum skunky, sucking bottom feeder you are. And you're totally worthless, and then you feel a bit like, yeah, that's right, that's right. And you feel a bit like, okay, I've done my duty.

I've mortified sin by feeling bad about myself. Self-loathing is not a virtue.

So, morbid introspection is not godly. If there is a significant sin in your life, confess it, repent of it. I'm not, I'm not addressing people that have significant sins that you need to address. I'm talking to those of you that have matured to a degree to where a lot of these, a lot of the big sins that you would expect to be mortified, you've mortified them and now it's time for you to take action.

It's now time for you to do something, but the temptation is for you to sit around thinking about how terrible you are. And so, this morbid introspection can actually feed and fuel your sin because you're focused on yourself. It can become this self-focused pity party that will rob you of your victory.

So, the bottom line is this. Yes, examine yourself. No, don't put yourself under this microscope always looking for more and more ways to beat yourself up. If you're focused on yourself, that's going to feed your sin. And we don't want to feed our sin, we want to starve it and suffocate it and kill it.

Number four. Cultivate godly affections by focusing your attention more on Christ.

Cultivate godly affections by focusing your attention more on Christ. So, repentance involves turning away from sin, but also a turning to. So mortifying sin is not merely the bad things that you stop doing. But it is also living to Christ and that is cultivating godly affection so that way we're pursuing and drawing near to Christ always.

Colossians 3:2 says, set your mind on things above, not on things that are on earth. So, we, there is a part of looking to Christ, setting our heart on things above because the battle is won or lost at the level of desire. And if Christ is what you desire, then you're going to win. There's a sermon by Thomas Chalmers.

He's a Puritan guy. The, the sermon is called The Expulsive Power of a New Affection. And if you ever want to look it up, it'd take you maybe 20 minutes to read it. So, it's not long. It's a sermon. But the, I want to read you a little quote from this and then we'll, you know, we'll wrap up right after that.

But the main argument of the sermon is that if you merely put off sin and mortify sin, if you just leave a vacuum, then you're not actually defeating sin. It's like you have to replace sinful desire with better desire. And so, he says a new affection has expulsive power.

It can expel sin. So, the more you desire Christ, the more you pursue Christ, the more sin will look ugly, and Christ will look beautiful to you. And that changes your affection. Here's the quote. There are two ways in which a practical moralist May attempt to displace from the human heart, its love of the world, either by a demonstration of the world's vanity so as that the heart shall be prevailed upon simply to withdraw its regards from an object that is not worthy of it, or by setting forth another object, even God as more worthy of its attachment so as that the heart shall be prevailed upon, not to resign an old affection, which I'll have nothing to succeed it, but to exchange An old affection for a new one.

My purpose is to show that from the constitution of our nature, the former method is altogether incompetent and ineffectual, and that the latter method will alone suffice for the rescue and recovery of the heart from the wrong affection that domineer over it. Two things we do at the same time, we, we have a growing hatred for sin, but also growing affection for Jesus.

And they belong together. You do them together. You know, a non-Christian can hate alcohol abuse because they see the pain that it causes. A non-Christian can hate porn because they see the pain that it causes and the exploitation that is involved in it. But only Christians by the power of the spirit can hate sin because we love God.

And because we see Christ is beautiful and because we, we, we hate and loathe anything that would offend our Lord and displease the one who died to save us. And that's a big reason why we can have confidence that we will be victorious in our fight for sin because as our love for Christ grows, our tastes and appetites will change and be more conformed to Christ.


You know, Psalm 34, Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good. And tasting the Lord's goodness, that does change you.

Affections change slowly, but over time, the things of God get sweeter and sweeter and more wonderful and beautiful and glorious. And that's the path of sanctification. As we pursue the goodness of God and our love for God grows and increases, the things of earth, the world, we see them more for the ugliness of that they are.

And that's how the battle against sin is won or lost at the level of desire. Our desire for Christ is greater. All right let's pray. We thank you, our Lord Jesus, that you have put before us a beautiful picture of yourself. You've shown us who you are in your word. You've shown us who you are at the cross.

And it is beautiful and sweet and glorious and amazing. And Lord, I pray that you will cultivate within each of our hearts and affection for the goodness of God, the beauty of God. And Lord, I pray that through that desire, that increasing desire for the goodness of God, that you will show us the ugliness of sin so that we can mortify it and so that we're transformed by setting our hearts on things above evermore into the image of Christ.

By your spirit or give us confidence in that victory and now pray that you will feed that affection for you Now as we come to the table, we pray these things in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit Amen.

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