Monday, November 21, 2005

Back to Basics: "Filled". To Overcome and Become

In Back to Basics, Carl Palmer talked his "holy discontent" for church as usual. He and the elders wanted to get back to the root of God's desire for his people. That root is the Great Commandment:

One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, "What commandment is the foremost of all?" Jesus answered, "The foremost is, 'HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD; AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.' "The second is this, `YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' There is no other commandment greater than these."
Our pastors and elders developed this vision statement for our church:
We want to see God transform our lives and our world as we grow in a daily, practical experience of loving God and loving people.
We need transformation. This is not about knowing more; but about being changed from the inside out from an experience of becoming lovers.

In BtB: We Love Because, Carl explained that we must love like this because "God IS Love" and "God loved us first" - we are greatly loved.

In BtB: The Power to Love we saw that the power to we love the unlovable; our neighbors as ourselves; and God with all of our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all of our strength came from the power of the Holy Spirit (Christ, God) in us. Rules, religion, church and the Bible all have no power to make us love – unless the Holy Spirit is involved.

In BtB: How to be Filled With the Holy Spirit, Carl taught that: 1) you must believe you can be filled; 2) you must desire to be filled; and 3) you must submit to the leading of the spirit.

Carl had said he was going to talk about how to recognize the voice of God this week; but he didn’t. He felt God telling him to talk more about the filling by the Holy Spirit – and the struggle that comes with that. What is that struggle and/or battle?

Back to Basics: “Filled” – To Overcome and Become
Ephesians 5:18; Galatians 5; Romans 8
Carl Palmer, Pastor-Teacher; October 9, 2005

Carl points out that when we talk about being filled with the Holy Spirit some are going to go “huh?”; and some are going to think this is some kind of mystical experience, and that once we have it everything is going to be all right. There is actually a conflict and a battle that needs to be fought and won. We have a real problem in that some of us can be pretty persuaded one week that God is saying something to us; and by the next week forget all about it. We have to stop that.

We have asked that God do something about church as usual. One part of “church as usual” is having the capacity to be convicted by the Holy Spirit – to have God speak to you on some issue – and then do nothing about it – and then wonder why they are not blessed by God. We have to stop that.

Carl is not asking that we go to church and become some kind of “cookie cutter” Christian. This is fundamental: God wants us to become great lovers, of Him and of people. Your life is not a success as a Christian unless you greatly love God and greatly love people. You can evaluate yourself on this; and you must take some steps. You cannot continue to hear the truth and not commit to obey. So whatever God says to you this week – do it.

We pursue nothing less than having the character of Jesus - we want to be and do what Jesus would be and do. What a tall order that is. Only one person has fulfilled the Great Commandment, and that is Jesus Christ; and through His spirit He is going to teach us to do it too.

Is Carl saying to you that you can have the character of Jesus Christ? Your vision of the Christian life should be nothing less than having the character of Jesus Christ. The fact is that we are supposed to be His “hands and feet” in this world. Too many people see Christians as quadruple amputees – no hands and no feet of Jesus. We are going to get healed of this.

Here is the point of this sermon: this is a battle. That is the only point (instead of three) that Carl will repeat three times. The battle is inside us (within us) between the Holy Spirit and our sinful nature (NIV).

Some Bibles use the word “flesh” – the battle is between the Spirit and the flesh. “Flesh” is the more accurate translation for the Greek word sarx. The translators of the NIV realized that the word was used so many times, for so many different things. Sometimes it is used like in “flesh” and blood – our actual flesh; and sometimes it refers to our humanness that is twisted by sin: our sinful nature.

Do you have a sinful nature? Last week Carl talked about driving. Some of us see our sinful nature really well when we are driving. Or, let four or five things go really wrong in quick succession. Your sinful nature connects to your body; anger wells up; your heart starts beating faster and your face gets redder; and you might just hit something. Anger, lust, jealousy, conflict, arguments, self-defense, and revenge are examples. When someone does something to you that emotion of revenge and/or anger that wells up in you is your flesh, your sinful nature.

Does anyone not have one? If you do not you are dead; because you are going to have this one until you die. Once we die, we will not have any of the three enemies: we will not have the world to conform us to it; we do not have the devil to tempt us; and we do not have the flesh. We will have a new glorious body – God is going to fix us.

Carl wants to say that no where in the Bible does it say we are the “old man” and the “new man” at the same time. Some teach that, but Carl does not see that. When we become a Christian the “old man” is dead. We become a new creation in Christ. However, we still struggle with our flesh; and it just leads us down a pathway.

Galatians 5 and the earlier part of Romans 8 is where the battle with this sinful nature is primarily discussed. Carl is not able to go through all this and wanted to touch base on these verses to show us where they are. Start with Galatians 5:
13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF." 15 But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. 16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.
Do you see that? Do you know the conflict in your own life between the sinful nature and the Spirit of God. Does it keep you from doing what you want to do?

So, you go home to your spouse thinking (you do not say): “I am filled with the Holy Spirit and I am going to love you”. And they say (not think): “Why didn’t you change those three light bulbs I asked you to change? You never do what I ask you!” What happens to you? Some part of you wells up in defensiveness. Or you are committed to purity, and that stuff shows up in your computer again. What’s that? Some of you have been defeated in this battle for a long time. For a lot of men it’s anger. For some women it’s fantasy. For others it’s fear. The list goes on and on. Some of you know in a flash what your battle is.

Paul says you cannot do what you want. The Holy Spirit wants to lead you and the flesh just crushes you. Sometimes the flesh is leading you down a path, and because you are a believer the Holy Spirit will just start shouting at you – “Don’t go there again!” “Don’t do that again!”. You cannot do what you want to do.

Sometimes it works the other way:
18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.
Now Paul begins to name some of them:
19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, [this means the list goes on] of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Now that is a scary statement. These are indicators of an unchanged life; and an unchanged heart. That is why a Christian who is genuinely saved is one of the most miserable creatures on earth if they are controlled by the flesh. You can be a much happier pagan if you just think this doesn’t matter. If you have the Holy Spirit in you He just doesn’t leave you alone. Have you noticed? So He just makes you miserable. The battle goes on (and it is a good battle) and it is a battle God wants you to win – he wants you to beat it!.
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 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.
Some of you are thinking I am not guilty of any of the things in verses 19-21 – those are pretty gross sins.
  • You do not commit adultery (but you have a secret lust).
  • You do not hit anyone (but you abuse with your words when you control your children).
  • You do not worship false gods (but there are some things that are more important to you than anything else – you want bigger, and better, and richer, and newer and the list goes on)
1 Corinthians 6: 12 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.
We are not to be mastered by anything – in order to be free to be mastered by God. You have to do some self-evaluation and ask: “Is my life mastered by anything but Jesus?” You have to look at yourself and ask: “Wouldn’t I be happier if I was free of that?”

Maybe the more penetrating question would be: “Wouldn’t those around me be more happy if I lived a life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? Think of what your life would be like if you were characterized by that fruit. Is this impossible for us? Not just to have some inklings of this; but to be dominated by this fruit. To be controlled by the Spirit – to just be this kind of person. What if this was so much a part of us that ANYTIME we were not like this we repented, and grieved, and wept over it because it was so weird.

This is some of why our marriages break up. This is some of why our children go astray. This is some of why we do not have a dramatically different life among unbelievers – because we are no different from them. We should be. Not better – holy.

Here is the one main thing in your notes: God’s main purpose is for us is:
  • to overcome the power of “the sinful nature” – and
  • to become people who live in “the fruit of the Spirit.”
It is two words: overcome and become. If you think Carl is talking about people addicted to pornography, and not to people addicted to selfishness – you are wrong. Most of us (if we were honest) would say that we are addicted to selfishness. That is part of the sinful nature; in fact one of the primary powers of the flesh. That is why the Bible says to love our neighbor as ourselves – God just presumes we love our self. You may think you do not love yourself a lot and in fact you may hate yourself. Hating yourself still loves yourself by overly focusing on you.

God wants you to overcome. Carl is trying to convince you of one thing: every Christian has the power to overcome any fleshly sin – and become pleasing to God in every area of life.. Can you believe that statement? God’s purpose, design, and plan is for you to overcome it. Carl is not talking about all at once. He recognizes that some people were so crippled by the way they were raised; have so many false ideas about God; or they have been terribly traumatized – and that therefore they have all sorts of heartaches and problems. He still wants to say that when he reads the Bible he sees when can overcome any fleshly sin by the work of God. Nothing is helpless or hopeless for the Christian.

Some of these things are the things we are holding on to so tightly; and they are the things that are holding us back. We are not going to be able to really go to “loving God with all; and loving our neighbors as ourselves” until we gain some victory in this area :
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

2 Peter 1:3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust [epiqumia. NIV and Carl=”evil desires”].
This is something you could meditate on for a long time. Carl believes that Peter makes one of the most incredible statements ever made by any author, at any time, anywhere, in all of human history. Work from the bottom up: You can escape from the corruption in this world caused by evil desires because you have been made participants in the divine nature. Think about that: the Christian actually participates in the divine nature. We participate because God gave us great and precious promises.

Again, Carl is not talking about great and gross sins: he is talking about that day-to-day fleshly stuff we just hate about ourselves sometimes. Or we get to the place where we just do not care about them anymore – that is “just me” so get used to it. We need to change. God can heal us and set us free.

That main point again: By the power of God’s Spirit in us:
  • our “flesh” can be overcome
  • we can become like Jesus!
How do we do this? How do we overcome whatever it is in our life we need to overcome?
  • Know God’s truth for my life…
  • Choose to submit my will to His will…
  • Act in obedience – depending on His power.
You have a project. Go to that person closest to you in your life and place this list:
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control
in front of them and say: “Would you please tell me which of these things you would most like increased in me?” The correct answer is not “all 9 bozo”. They have to pick just one.

Carl is asking you to do this because God will speak to you through this person. The danger is you will find yourself a week from now still not having done this and have one more thing that would have helped you grow that you have ignored. Have a better idea? Do that; but do not just blow this off.


  1. Hi:

    Thanks for these posts on being filled with the Holy Spirit. They are very helpful.

    May God bless you, in Jesus' name.


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How to debate charitably (rules are links to more description of rule):
1. The Golden Rule
2. You cannot read minds
3. People are not evil
4. Debates are not for winning
5. You make mistakes
6. Not everyone cares as much as you
7. Engaging is hard work
8. Differences can be subtle
9. Give up quietly