Monday, September 26, 2011

Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity

Galatians 5:16-24 (ESV) But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. [17] For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. [18] But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. [19] Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, [20] idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, [21] envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do 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] And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. We have. We have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. This is what baptism is all about. When we were baptized, we were baptized into his death, Romans. 6:3. His death was a crucifixion it is there that we crucified the flesh, putting to death the old Adam. Easy for you to say. Perhaps, like me you are now asking yourself, if we have crucified the flesh, We have such a hard time walking by the spirit, you know walking in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. You might be wondering why it is that we are so tempted to those things listed as being of the flesh, Sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I don’t know about you. But whereas I don’t see me being described by all of these together, I do find that some of them apply to me. And love, joy, peace, patience, kindness don’t always get the best of me. I presume the same goes for you. Do you ever find yourself hating yourself for that? I do. Of course the world would say you shouldn’t hate yourself for these things. The world uses the same argument as it does for the legalization of Marijuana on these things. It’s Natural. I guess it missed the memo about sin corrupting nature, especially man’s nature. It’s natural is just not a good argument. Nature can be quite harmful. Earthquakes and Tsunami’s are natural, especially if you don’t believe in God. Poisonous berries are natural. There are naturally occurring toxins in a variety of mushrooms that will kill you quite fast. The venom of a snake bite is natural. Yes indeed, that is the problem. It is natural, it is of our nature, our sinful nature that has been crucified, to be tempted towards sexual immorality, impurity, and sensuality. It is amazing what we will let people do to us in the search for loving companionship. And I used to think this was an affliction that happened more to girls than it did to boys. Boys are so often the aggressors. But then boys and men so often let themselves be victimized by fear. I know guys that refuse to marry the woman they have 5 children with because they are afraid of divorce. The let the woman live with them, but won’t marry her. If you can’t trust to marry, don’t have children, don’t engage in the activity that leads to children. But there is something worse there. In this case we have let paper, and the courts define way too much what marriage and divorce is, and what the problem of divorce is. Way too much. It isn’t any less of a problem for you to be shacked up then for you to be divorced. It is just as traumatic on your children. They go the whole time wondering why mom and dad can’t trust each other enough to commit, which trust is an essential element of love. And then when you split, you are still dealing with all the same emotions and legal problems. But enough of that. If we weren’t drawn to this sort of Sexual immorality, T.V. would not be as interesting, advertising would be completely different. And that is one thing, I can’t seem to fathom. The amount of T.V. I actually watch. The extent to which I actually get hooked on the drama in other peoples lives, rather than enjoying what little peace and joy I have in the confines of my own house after work. Don’t we have enough drama in our own lives? But there I am watching T.V. I do think I’d be richer and have more money in savings, if I just shut the thing off. If I finally indulged my fantasy and took the thing bowling, or for target practice. We think we are immune to advertising. Hah! Yes, they sell us on counter-cultural, telling us it is counter-cultural to where such and such, and we fall for it, even as everyone in the mall is wearing the same thing we are, eating the same thing we are, driving the same cars we are. And you know what advertising appeals too? Sexual appeal, jealousy, idolatry, and they use those to sell drunkenness, immorality, etc. Oh we would like to think those things aren’t part of our life, but they seem to be alive and well in us who have crucified the flesh and belong to Christ. It was, though, honestly no different in Paul’s day. It might have been worse. People are people. And Paul knew to whom he was writing. And he doesn’t have any if clauses in here. That is what we like to read in there. We belong to Christ if we do such and such and avoid such and such. There is no if clause. Paul says you belong to Christ, and you have crucified your flesh. Do you feel guilty for your sins? Do you find yourself hating yourself for those things? Trust me, the world doesn’t. The world might know a bit of remorse now and then, when they find they can’t have their cake and eat it too. When they find themselves on the bitter end of dissension, rivalry and so forth. But the world doesn’t really know to feel guilty, they think guilt is the problem. That is why they excuse the behavior that brings about guilt as natural. It is all they can do. Know guilt, self loathing, is more a result of self perception. It can actually be a healthy thing. To be sure, we don’t want it to be that which characterizes us. But it does alert us to the fact that we are yet sinful. We still have sin that needs to be gotten rid of. For the Christian guilt can be quite intense at times. That is the work of the Spirit in you. The one given on the day you were baptized. The one who sanctified you, and to this day sanctifies you, and working with the word, and the tentatio, the temptation and torture of the world to bring about that sanctification within you. And every day bringing about more love, teaching you to walk in joy and peace, for the flesh in you has been crucified, and is being crucified. For, we were baptized into Christ’s death, where he was crucified for the sins of the world. And as the collect of the day, emphasizes because of our frailty we cannot but fall, yet with his help, we are led from those things hurtful into all things profitable not only to our salvation but the salvation of our neighbors. As we shed that guilt in the forgiveness of sins, and from there learn love, experience joy, know peace, react in patience, and kindness, faithfulness and self control. For we hear the words of him who crucified and he says, your faith has made you well, go in peace.

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