Intro. We have been looking at the characteristics of the men that God uses to accomplish His eternal purposes on this earth. We have found that they are men of prayer, they are men of faith, now we come to a very important characteristic, they are men who have come to the cross in their own life, and have reckoned the old nature to be dead, crucified with Christ.
I. ONE OF THE GREAT DANGERS OF THE MINISTRY IS ACCEPTING THE GLORY THAT COMES WHEN GOD BEGINS TO USE YOU AS HIS INSTRUMENT IN ACCOMPLISHING HIS PURPOSES.
A. Many people are unable to distinguish between God and His instrument and thus begin to give glory to the instrument.
B. In the case that we have before us here in Acts, the crowd began to look at Peter and John in awe and wonderment because of the great miracle.
1. They were looking at them as though the power originated with them, or it was because of their great holiness they were able to make this lame man walk.
2. They were ready to worship them for the miracle that was wrought on the lame man.
C. The great danger exists when the instrument God has used begins to take the glory that should be going to God alone.
D. If you have not come to the death of the self life, this is a very easy trap to fall into.
1. Satan often offers the subtle suggestion that you can let them be drawn to you and then you can later turn them to Christ.
2. Many ministries have fallen by the wayside because the instrument was lifted up with pride and was no longer usable by God.
3. One of my main prayers for myself is that God will keep me usable. I have seen too many who have fallen.
4. Paul the Apostle was concerned about this very thing, he spoke of beating himself to keep his body under, lest having preached to others he be cast aside, as an instrument no longer usable.
5. The body wants to rule your life even as the spirit wants to rule your life. They are at war with each other striving over which will sit on the throne of your life.
a. If you sow to the flesh, your flesh will rule.
b. If you sow to the spirit, your spirit will rule.
c. A mistake that so many make is to think that they can sow to the flesh and reap of the spirit.
E. It is important that I have no ambitions for greatness. No ambitions to be known, to have my name in print, to run with the in-crowd.
1. As Paul said, "God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which I have been crucified to the world.
2. As the song goes, "Forbid it Lord that I should boast save in the death of Christ my God, all the vain things that charm me most I sacrifice them to His blood.
F. Paul faced the greatest peril in his whole ministry when he was in Lystra, not when they had stoned him and drug him out of the city thinking him dead, but when the priest of Jupiter was dragging an ox down the street to sacrifice it to Paul because the people thought he was a god.
G. The self life desires worship and the admiration of the world.
1. This caused Satan's fall. "I will be like the Most High."
2. It is just a part of the old, fleshly nature that manifests itself quite early in life, and as long as we live in this body of flesh, it will always be there.
a. This is so universally manifested that we just call it natural. Yes natural, a part of the old nature.
b. The child about to jump from the wall calling, "Watch me daddy." The little girl in the dress up clothes. I am not saying that it is wrong in the child, but only a demonstration that we are by nature the children of wrath.
H. The problem is that I have a redeemed spirit living in a body of flesh.
1. As long as I am living in this body, I will have to contend with the desires of the body.
2. Paul spoke about how that we and all creation are groaning together until now as we wait for the manifestation of the sons of God, to wit, the redemption of the body.
3. In the meanwhile I must deal with my fleshly desires reckoning the old nature to be dead, crucified with Christ.
I. In a few chapters we will see how severely God dealt with this problem in the early church when a couple named Ananias and his wife Sapphira lied about their donation to the early church in order to get recognition and praise.
J. We see how severely God dealt with the two sons of Aaron when they offered false fire before the Lord.
1. God had manifested His awesome presence before the people by sending his fire from heaven to consume the sacrifices that had laid upon the altar.
2. The people began to shout and fall on their faces before God.
3. The two sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, grabbed their incense censers and put fire in them and started to offer the incense before the Lord. It was quite possible that they were just seeking the recognition of man.
4. God had to whittle Gideon's army down to just 300 to give them the victory over the enemy for as God said unto Gideon: The people that [are] with thee [are] too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me.
II. WHAT IS MEANT BY THE OLD MAN, OR THE OLD NATURE?
A. The natural you is you as you were born of the flesh. Jesus said, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh.
1. From the moment you were born, you began to let the desires of you flesh known, and if you were not catered to you let everyone with ears reach know your displeasure.
2.That same trait remains with you up till the moment you are born again. With some it becomes it becomes a bit refined, but with others it remains about the same.
B. It is insisting that things go my way or I won't cooperate.
1. Sort of like the child who if he cannot be the king in the child's play is going to go home and not play with you any more.
2. It is putting my opinion above everyone elses.
3. It is like Johnny's mother watching the whole regiment of Marines marching by in the parade and declaring, the whole regiment is out of step but my Johnny.
4. Everyone else is wrong, I am right.
C. It is talking about my rights. I have a right to do so.
D. It is putting my needs about the needs of others. "If they do not like it, that's just too bad.
E. It is a me first attitude.
F. Frank Sinatra probably expressed it well in his song, "I Did It My Way."
III. IT IS INTERESTING THAT GOD HAS JUST ONE REMEDY FOR THE FLESH LIFE.
A. It is not reformation.
1. This is the problem with all of the man-developed programs dreamed up by the sociologists.
2. They are trying to reform people.
3. When I was a kid, they used to have what they called reform schools for the bad kids.
4. My mother's cousin was in charge of the system of reform schools for the State of California. He finally resigned his position in despair for their inability to help the vast majority of kids that went through the program.
B. God's remedy is kill it by the power of the Holy Spirit.
1. Paul said,
For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
2. God's remedy is to reckon it to be dead, crucified with Christ. We are told to:
Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to [fulfill] the lusts [thereof].
IV. WALKING IN THE SPIRIT MEANS THAT:
A. I am walking in love as is defined in 1Co. 13
. For the fruit of the Spirit is love.
1. It means that I suffer long and am kind.
2. I am not envious.
3. I do not vaunt myself.
4. I am not puffed up.
5. I do not behave myself in an unbecoming manner.
6. I do not seek my own way.
7. I do not get provoked.
8. I do not harbor evil thoughts.
9. I do not rejoice in iniquity.
10. I do rejoice in truth.
11. I bear all things.
12. I believe all things.
13. I hope the best.
14. I endure all things.
B. When the Lord can help us to root these things out of our lives, then He can begin to manifest His power through us.