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                                     Living the life of the Spirit
                                                                    St Michael’s Church BCP
                                                                                2nd July 2006

Galatians 5
   My friends, you were chosen to be free. So don't use your freedom as an excuse to do anything you
want. Use it as an opportunity to serve each other with love. All that the Law says can be summed
up in the command to love others as much as you love yourself. But if you keep attacking each other
like wild animals, you had better watch out or you will destroy yourselves.
 If you are guided by the Spirit (live by the Spirit), you won't obey your selfish desires (will ntoo
gratify the desires of your sinful nature). The Spirit and your desires are enemies of each other.
They are always fighting each other and keeping you from doing what you feel you should. But if you
obey the Spirit, the Law of Moses has no control over you.
  People's desires make them give in to immoral ways, filthy thoughts, and shameful deeds.
  They worship idols, practice witchcraft, hate others, and are hard to get along with. People become
jealous, angry, and selfish. They not only argue and cause trouble, but they are envious. They get
drunk, carry on at wild parties, and do other evil things as well. I told you before, and I am telling you
again: No one who does these things will share in the blessings of God's kingdom.
22                                                                              23
  God's Spirit makes us loving, happy, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-
controlled. There is no law against behaving in any of these ways. And because we belong to Christ
Jesus, we have killed our selfish feelings and desires. God's Spirit has given us life, and so we
should follow the Spirit. But don't be conceited or make others jealous by claiming to be better than
they are.

Luke 19
Zacchaeus the Tax Collector
1                                               2
 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he
was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man
he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him,
since Jesus was coming that way.
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I
must stay at your house today." So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
All the people saw this and began to mutter, "He has gone to be the guest of a 'sinner.' "
 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my
possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the
 Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of
Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost."
Good morning… it‟s good to be back…
Had a great weekend last weekend in Lymington in the new forest celebrating my Gran’s 100
birthday with all my extended family – really great time… amazing – 100…

She‟s a wonderful person, my gran… you know how as you get older you become more like you
– or the „you‟ that you are becomes more fixed… You know, if you are grumpy when you are old you
are very grumpy – if you are anxious – when you are old you are very anxious – if you are generous
when you are old you become very generous – if you are happy you are naturally happy even when
things aren‟t going so well… Well my gran‟s character is pretty well fixed… and she‟ amazing –
always open – always searching – always interested in others – always praying – always smiling
– always going ‘Oh darling’… I wonder what my character will be like if I get that far?

We‟ll talk more about character in a moment – but before I do, I think I wanted just to recap a bit to
hep us remember where we have come from and where we are heading in the series…

 The series started (if you can remember) just before Pentecost – and it‟s all about the work of
   the Holy Spirit – what he does and what difference he makes…
 and at the beginning we tried to iron out some of the more ‟theological‟ issues – who was the
   Spirit, is he a person or a force (he is a person) what’s he come to do…
 and I was really keen that we got hold of the idea that the Spirit is the personal presence of
 and I wanted us to get hold of the idea that having the Spirit in our lives is about having
   heaven in our lives – the Spirit is the foretaste of the future…

     A couple of weeks ago we looked at how the Spirit forms us into a community – we are not
      individuals – we are a temple of the Holy Spirit – we (together) are the body of Christ… (of
      course this has individual knock on effects but this is the secondary point not primary)

     And last week I we looked at how it is the Spirit that gives us a new life… it is not us that does
      the work – but it is Spirit that works on us – opens us up to God, convicts us of our need for him
      and enables us to let go of our control over our own lives handing it to him… The point being that
      it is the Spirit that does it all…

Ok… so we are in – we are „new creations‟ (by the Spirit) we are „citizens of heaven‟ right now (by the
Spirit), we are the „temple of God‟, God‟s „dwelling place‟, we are „children of God‟ and can call God
„Abba‟ (by the Spirit) and we are „free‟… what next…? How now shall we live? How shall we flesh
out the reality?

Let me cut to the chase…
I have said this before and will say it again… We need to know that - Salvation is a life not just a

Being ‘saved’ is not a destination after death – it is about living a particular way

Salvation is about being forgiven and healed and restored. It is about being made new. It is about
being a new person. It is about living differently. It is about walking down paths of righteousness…

How does the phrase ‘paths of righteousness’ sound to you?

Psalm 23
  The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
      he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he restores my soul.
       He guides me in paths of righteousness
       for his name's sake
That‟s a good summary of „salvation‟ – not being in want, a restored soul – walking down paths of
righteousness for God‟s glory…

The truth is that true satisfaction, true happiness comes from walking in paths of righteousness, for
the glory of God… If we do the right thing and live the right way and glorify God with our lives we get
life – we get saved…

Many people balk at the idea of paths of righteousness – they prefer their own way… in honesty we all
do… I prefer my way to God‟s… I am an addict in need of help… I can‟t „‟just be good‟…

‘Why can’t they just be good’!?’
My kids are great – and I love them but they are not perfect… they fight in the back of the car, they
don‟t go straight to bed at the right time… they need to be cajouled into cleaning out the guinieapigs…
they need to be nagged to lay the table and tidy their bedrooms and help wash the car… and I have
often heard myself say to Tory, “Why can‟t they just be good?!”

… I guess it‟s for the same reason I can‟t manage it…

I too am stuck „gratifying the desires of the sinful nature‟ (as Paul puts it)…

Be honest, which is it for you?
Which sinful desire is your favourite?

Food/ sex/ money (stuff)/ envy/ jealousy/ being important/ being noticed/ being better than others…

Take you time – have a think – which is it – you‟re safe here – we‟re all sinners – no-one’s going to
condemn you… we‟re all in the same boat – we‟re all full of sinful desires… me too…

And these desires lead to actions… thoughts always do… let‟s read what Paul said again (Galatians
           People's desires make them give in to immoral ways, filthy thoughts, and shameful
         deeds. They worship idols, practice witchcraft, hate others, and are hard to get along with.
         People become jealous, angry, and selfish. They not only argue and cause trouble, but they
         are envious. They get drunk, carry on at wild parties, and do other evil things as well.

That‟s exactly what happens – our selfish and sinful desires lead inexorably to us sinning and being
selfish – sinful desires lead us to sinful actions…

Now we might actually not feel that we are particularly „sinful‟… but being a Christian isn‟t simply
about not being sinful it is about being positively alive… Salvation isn‟t about escaping something –
it‟s about inheriting something – it isn‟t about avaoiding judgment – its about being given new life - the
issue is not how dead are we – a little or a lot – but how alive we are – a little or a lot…

You might not worship idols, practice witchcraft, get drunk, be very immoral or go to „wild parties‟
(although I guess we‟d all have a harder time with jealously, anger and selfishness)… you may not
do these things and I guess we might want to pat ourselves on the back about this – but that‟s not the
point. The point is do we have the fruit of the Spirit in our lives…

Are we
         “…loving, happy, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful,    gentle, and self-controlled”

And here‟s the crux of the matter – we are not talking here about trying harder to be good or trying
harder not to be bad… we are talking about living in a completely different way…

What Christianity is about
Many people think Christianity is about being good and not bad – that is, it is about Morality. But
Christianity is not about Morality… it may have the outcome of making people more moral but that is
not its point.
When we invite people to become Christians they often think that we are inviting them to become
moral people – to become good people. And they think that this sounds boring – not very fun – not
very attractive. But we are not. We are inviting them to belong to God and to be filled with his
presence (his Spirit) – to have God in their lives 100% of the time… this is a very different thing form
inviting them to be Moral…

The outcome (the fruit) of living in the presence of God will indeed be goodness and kindness… but
that is a fruit – along with happiness, peace and patience - that is the positive outcome – the way to
get these things is to have God in your life 100% of the time.

Do you see the difference?

   One way of looking at life is that we must try to convince people to be as good as possible – so
    that they might go to be with God when they die
   The other is that we simply try to convince people to live with God now – so that they might receive
    the truly good life which God promises nothing (not even death) will be able to take away from

We know this – Christianity is about relationship with God 24/7… and the fruit of living in the Spirit is
happiness, contentment, peace, kindness, gentleness…

Think about it… would anyone (any of us?) not want that kind of life – happiness, peacefulness,

The way to this life is ‘living in the Spirit’ – it is not a rule thing – it is a Spirit thing…

So how?
How do we „live in the Spirit‟ – Paul tells us to „keep in step with the Spirit‟ – what does this mean?

AA – Alcoholics Anonymous

What is the point of going to AA?
…The point of being a member of AA is not so that you can be a good person/ or that you might not
drink. The point of being a member of AA is that you might gain life – a life of peace free form fear
and shame and doubt and pain – and therefore you might also gain a life free from drink…

AA have 12 steps… amazing steps… and I think they are pretty much like the kind of thing we need to
use if we were to help us keep instep with the Spirit…


1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we
understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to
alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Can you see how someone who did all these twelve steps would be walking in the Spirit?
Can you see what the fruit of believing all these things and doing all these things might have on
someone? If they did all these things they would easily be able to stop drinking…

Now we need to see how walking with the spirit is the same kind of thing for us…
 We need to trust God (steps 1-3)
 We need to actively co-operate with him in his work of restoration… (steps 4-120

AA make a big thing about confession and accountability – making a fearless inventory of what we
do and why… excellent way of dealing with sin in our lives and keeping in step with the Spirit…

How can we keep instep with this Spirit? I would suggest the same stuff

   Make a rigorous inventory – get into journaling – admit to ourselves the stuff that needs to
    change (Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.)
   Then we could get into confession – James 5:16 (some offices introduce a swearing box – a fine
    box – which has the effect of stopping people swear…
   Praying/ reading the bible (step 11)
   Meeting together – being built up, looking out for each other… As the writer to the Hebrews said –
    “let us not give up the habit of meeting together as some are doing…”

We all long for life
Life is having the quality of life that comes from living in the Spirit
Life is having the fruit of Spirit in our lives
We all want the fruit of the Spirit
Let‟s commit ourselves to keeping in step with the Spirit

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