Galatians 5:16-25 Sermon – Life in the Spirit vs Life in the Flesh

In this sermon Chris continues our series by looking at Galatians 5:16-25 and how the Spirit helps us to grow and develop a family likeness in the Family of God. Chris encourages us to walk in the Spirit rather than indulging the life of the flesh, and that this produces good fruit in us that helps us look like Jesus! Are you walking in the flesh or the Spirit this week?

Sermon preached by Chris Roberts on Sunday July 17, 2022.

27/11/22 – 2022 End Of Year Sermon – by Tim Giovanelli Manly Life Church Podcast

In this sermon Tim recaps an amazing year at Manly Life and calls us to remember what we have been taught and put it into action, do we look any different as a church or as individuals since the beginning of the year – have we grown in our faith? Let's end the year well and join with what God is doing! SERMON NOTES click here: For more information about Manly Life check out our website: You can also find us on Facebook:
  1. 27/11/22 – 2022 End Of Year Sermon – by Tim Giovanelli
  2. 20/11/22 – Romans 2 Grace and Truth – by Tim Giovanelli
  3. 13/11/22 – Exodus 20:8 Sabbath and Rest – by Victoria Giovanelli
  4. 05/11/22 – Mustard Seed – by Tim Giovanelli – 10th B'day Celebrations
  5. 30/10/22 – Romans 1:1-17 Not Ashamed Of The Gospel – by Tim Giovanelli – Glorious Gospel Series


  • Good morning everyone, if I haven’t met you yet my name is Chris and I am full time here at Manly Life coordinating all things Kids, Youth and Scripture. We have had such a wonderful term, I think some highlights for me included hosting our first ever combined youth night where other youth groups came to us for the first time, as well as launching our Kids Church Band and getting Kids back in here for once a month worship. I’m also so excited for this winter festival so get excited for that! So it is such a privilege to be here and to be speaking to you this morning, so 
  • I have always wanted to be a parent! As you may know now I have been a dad for around 8 months, with my beautiful daughter Elsie growing up very fast! It is a special and beautiful time of life and Beth and I had 9 months of dreaming what our little baby might be like. Would she look like us? Would there be a family resemblance? Would she look more like Beth, or would she look like me? 
  • Well of course we weren’;t just dreaming and wondering if she would have a family resemblance in terms of appearance, we were also wondering if her personality would be like ours, what about her interests, what she was good at? Would she inherit our skills, our hobbies, our love of food?
  • But the work doesn;t stop there for Beth and I, over the years Elsie will be shaped by how we parent. We want to raise Elsie to be all that God made her to be, and we want her to resemble the family in that way too, her faith, her character, we want to be a family who is known for loving others and loving God! 
  • Last week Tim preached on how the Spirit assures us that we are adopted into God’s family and pours his love into out hearts. We are in God’s family and are unconditionally loved, so what does it mena to start looking like God’s family and develop the fmsily likeness? What does it look like to be in the likeness of God’s family and how does the holy Spirit help us? What role does the Holy Spirit have in helping us grow? What we will discover today it is the Spirit that develops the likeness in us!
  • Yes and as you may know, we are well into our series on the Holy Spirit called God’s Empowering presence, its been great hearing from the Word about the Holy Spirit but I’m sure you’re like me and have also been enjoying hearing each person’s personal stories about the Holy Spirit, they are so encouraging to me and I’d love to share a bit about my journey with the Holy Spirit today as well as we dive in. I’ve also loved the extended worship at the end of each service and the chance to encounter the Holy Spirit in a fresh way, there will also be a chance for that at the end of the service.

So why don’t you open your Bibles to Galatians 5:16-25

16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit!

  • 1. Two Ways Spirit versus flesh – two ways of living no middle ground 
  • So very quickly, Paul is writing this letter to the churches in the region of Galatia, many scholars believed it was to be passed along so all could read Paul’s message inside. The story of the churches in Galatia is that Jewish Christians were preaching a false gospel of following the Law, including physical circumcision to new Gentiles believers, ie. people who weren’t Jews. So Paul spends the whole letter of Galatians directly speaking against physical circumcision or following the law to find freedom in Christ, but instead to follow the way of the Spirit which brings true freedom.
  • Paul was adamantly clear that because of everything Jesus Christ had done on the cross, his resurrection and his gift of the Holy Spirit of Pentecost, there was a completely new way we can live our lives and was for Jewish and Gentile Christians alike. And this way is still for all Christians today.
  • So we arrive to our passage. 
  • Let’s look at verse 16-18 – 16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
  • You’ll notice two ways of living mentioned, the way of the flesh and the way of the Spirit. What does that exactly mean. Let’s very quickly unpack it because it’s vital to understand this message of liberation and freedom that Paul is trying to tell the churches in Galatia. 
  • Firstly, the Flesh. Simply put, the flesh is our ‘sinful nature’ our human brokenness that is weak, lured by the world and by the temptations of the devil, that rebels against God. Tim spoke about this last week when he mentioned what Paul says in Roman 7:19, lets read: verse For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.
  • This is our human struggle, we are incapable of defeating our flesh. We need help.Well the good news is that Paul tells us of the life of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a person in the trinity, God himself living inside of us who provides a new way of life to live where the Spirit produces good fruit in us.
  • And I want to take the time to mention my journey with the Spirit. I gew up in a fantastic Church with many wonderful friends and it realy established my faith. But the life of the Spirit was rarey, if ever, mentioned. It was only went I wnet to a new church after high school wa sover that I first heard about the gifts of the Spirit! 
  • Up until then I had been living a spiritual double life, I was trying to have the life of God and the life of the flesh but it was a disaster I kept hidden from everyone. On the outside I was achieving in my sport life, academic life and leadership in school and at church, but inside I was struggling with sin and lies I believed about myself that held me back from experiencing life in the Spirit. Particularly an onoging sin of lust, and a diagnosis of mild aspergers as a child where I believed  lies about my ability to have friends, feel belonging, be liked and even what I felt I couldn’t do in my future career and calling. 
  • It was at this new church I heard about Bible College and where I discovered the work of the Holy Spirit in changing my life. I confessed my sins in a safe and nurturing place and found incredible freedom and forgiveness as I begun the journey of growth. The Holy Spirit healed those places where I believed lies about myself, revelaing his truth to me and giving me calling into ministry. It involved being vulnerable, confessing, repenting and doing that all paver again when weakness struck, but this past decade of knowing the Spirit has been profound in experiencing growth and breakthrough. Yes I have all kinds of seasons and setbacks, but writing this semron has reminded me HOW MUCH I NEED THE SPIRIT IN MY LIFE to keep the transforming work going! 
  • So that’s the instruction of this passage:. WALK BY THE SPIRIT, We willt lak more pactcially about that later. Read verse 17, these two lifestyles are in direct contradiction to each other. There is no middle ground. You are either walking in the Spirit or indulging the flesh. We can’t follow the Spirit in half of your life and let the flesh run wild in the other. It just doesn’t work that way. Neither does trying to follow the rules on your own. but you’ll read in verse 18 there’s a solution to that too. If you are led by the Spirit, you fulfil the law. No need for a rulebook, or to memorise 600 rules, if you are living by the spirit. The job is done!
  • So where does Paul go next, well he is  led by the Spirit is called to give us some examples. To get specific, to really get to the nitty gritty of the outcomes of living these ways. Because we can sit in church and loom around and not really know where everyone’s spiritual life is at. But Paul says we can see people’s lives in what they do. Firstly he gives us 19 terrible words to describe the acts of the flesh: we read in verse 19-21.
  • 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
  • Oof. That is a hard-hitting list. Paul knows that we know what this stuff is. They are obvious. You don’t need me up the front telling you how you fall short and sin, because you know it already. But Paul is specific for a reason, he deliberately calls out these things to force us to have to cinfornt these things in our lives!
  • I won’t go through all of these, because most of it is pretty self-explanatory. But there are in four categories of sins mentioned in this list sexual sins, religious sins, relationships and sins of excess. And Paul says “and the like” there are more he hasn;t mentioned! I encourage you this week to take a closer look and reflect on where you are at with these.
  • I want to mention a few that I think are particularly relevant to us today. Firstly, sexual immorlaity and impurity. Our world is sex-saturated, there are websites where you can organise to have an affair, access to secual material is as easy as its ever been in the history of mankind. The world has perverted God’s gift of sex and when we live in the flesh, we pervert it to. The Holy Spirit has never led anyone to cheat on their wife, watch porn or have be sexually impure in our mind or actions. 
  • Idolatry. On the Northern Beaches and in the western world we have an idolatry problem. It is so easy to worship and live for money, to worship and live for our careers, our lavish lifestyle, our property portfolio and investments, our children, our cars, our houses, or another person, or it could even be the things we watch, listen to, our hobbies. The enemy wants us to take God from his rightful place as lord of our life and replace Him with something that cannot be God. All these things are good but they will ultimately fail us one day, something God will never do. 
  • What about factions? This is an act of the flesh we must be on guard in the Church. Are we people who form factions, cliches or ‘inside’ groups? Do we divide people with our words or opinions? Do we leave people out or are so inward focused in our friendship groups that no one can break in? We risk becoming a petty landscape of warring factions rather than a united Church if we allow ourselves to form factions. Of course there is nothing wrong with having a group of friends, and we won’t hang out with some people as much as others, and that is okay, but God’s Church is to be as welcoming and loving as Jesus himeself, who welcomed and ate with the sinners while the religious Pharisees sneered at him. 
  • Maybe you’re all good with these three acts of the flesh. Maybe something else is on the list you struggle with more. So what does the result of the life of the Spirit? What maybe the most important thing is Paul’s words in:

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 

  • Everybody wants these things right? As Paul says there is no law against these things. And they all revolve around characteristic – love. The other fruit of the Spirit all come from this, so if you forget everything today you can remember one thing: love.
  • Also notice that it is not the ‘fruits’ of the SPirit. It is the fruit of the Spirit. We can’t say, oh I’m just an impateint person or I’m just not self controlled, this fruit is produced by the Spirit in all believers! So every believer will grow in all these areas by the work of the Spirit. 
  • So in my previous examples,  To counteract sexual immorality, the Spirt produces Godly love so that we express our sexuality in healthy and Godly ways, we have self-control to manage temptation.
  • For idolatry, when we love God and love others, have faithfulness, we aren’t tempted to put other things above God.
  • The Holy Spirit’s kindness, patience, love and goodness in us will help us not to from divisive factions or cliches but instead show God’s love to everyone.
  • So follow the Spirit, and God promises the fruit will start to grow in your life. 
  • 2. Keeping in step with the Spirit (application) how do we crucify theflesh and live by the Spirit?
  • So its all well and good to know this, but walking out the door today and moving into your week, how do you actually reject the life of the flesh and embrace the life of the Spirit?

24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit!

Crucify the flesh

  • Paul says that those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. I think Paul uses the word crucified to remind us of Jesus’s crucifixion, death and resurrection. It reminds us of Jesus words to take up our cross daily. Part of our daily practice as a Christian is to put our sinful passions and desires on His cross. Where they belong. Where Jesus has paid the price. We can do this in prayer. Right from wake up to ehever we feel tempted, instead of indulging, nail it back to the cross instead. 
  • We also have to be careful what we are feeding our hearts and minds as Christians. The reson it can be SO HARD ro resist temptation is that we have fed the life of the flesh and made it strong, whereas we allow no room for the Holy Spiirt, spend no time strengthening that relationship. 

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. PHILLIPIANS 4:8

  • So what are you watching? Listening to? Thinking about? Feed your spiritual ife instead! Strenghten your relationship with the SPirit! He will help you until that sin is no longer tempting. Be careful not to feed the life of the flesh!
  • Remember that the practice of these sins is condemned, we will sin out of weakness, so that begs the question, are there any sins that are a practice in your life? Clinging on to these sins is a sign that you might need the help of  a trusted friend, mentor or counsellor to help- and that is okay! 
  • What is your daily pracxtice with the SPirit? Readinding, prayer, worship, life groups ect?

Keep in step with the Spirit 

  • Going on a walk with my extended family is really fun, but we all have to accommodate each other’s walk, we have to keep in step. There’s the person walking Penny, the dog. Then there’s the person carrying or wheeling Elsie in the pram. Some walkers are faster than others. To enjoy a walk together we all have to stay in step. And you probably don’t even consciously have to think of that when you go on a walk, you just do it. 
  • So the goal is to have our lives in step with the Spirit. Imagine if it became so natural we did it without thinking? 
  • If we’re in doubt about where the Spirit is guiding us and what the Spirit is saying to us: remember these things:
  • Everything the Spirit will lead us to is in line with the Bible – the Spirit will never lead anyone to those works of the flesh – check your Bible!
  • Get our mind off ourselves – start serving and loving others! Ultimately the Spirit wants lead us into a Christ-like that is others focused. So if we’re in doubt, we can show love to someone. Make someone a meal, catch up with someone you know is struggling, welcome a new person, call someone with encouragement, write a thankyou note, volunteer at church or helping others. Love is the fulfillment of all things, so let’s start just doing it!
  • Baby steps – no mother or father is upset at their son or daughter who is learning to take their first steps, wobbling about, falling over and only able to do a short distance. They know their child is heading in the right direction. The same thing applies here – its your walk with the Spirit. COMPARISON doesn’t matter here! Let’s not look at your neighbour and think how ahead they are or how behind we think we are. Focus on your own steps. You might be taking the very first baby steps in your walk with the Spirit, or crawling even. Because if you keep that up, the Spirit will make you stronger. You will grow the fruit. 
  • The good news is that there is no waiting to be done! Don’t be stuck trying to keep the rules all by yourself, you will fail and it only leads to self-hatred and de[sair. Also don’t disrespect Jesus by using this freedom to do whatever you want. You also are NOT FREE if you do that, you remain a slave to sin! Tonight you can nail those habitual sins to the cross. Jesus has paid for them. The invitation is always there, He is waiting to receive you with open arms. Confess, repent and experience the joy and filling of the Holy Spirit as he forgives you, cleanses you and begins to produce His fruit in your life. 

Choose the life of the Spirit Many Life. 

Published by timgiovanelli

My wife Victoria and I are planting a new church in Manly, NSW

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