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Watch 2022 online sermons » Dr. Charles Stanley » Charles Stanley - The Troublemaker Within Us

Charles Stanley - The Troublemaker Within Us


Charles Stanley - The Troublemaker Within Us

I used to wonder if the Christian life really and truly worked. I don't mean I wondered that soon as I was saved. I even wondered that after I'd been a pastor for a while. Because I would look at the scripture and then I'd look at my life and they didn't always match. It wasn't because I didn't want it to match, it was somehow I didn't understand how do I live this Christian life with all the difficulties and the hardships and the trials and temptations, how do I do it?

Well, I began to look around and realize that some other people felt the same way. In fact, what I discovered was this. That most people's idea was really doesn't work like the Bible says it does. And so what you do is you just relax and just live it out. And so what they considered the normal Christian life, everything in me said, No, that's not it. Because I saw their life like a roller coaster. The reason I could identify it in them is because that's what I felt. Somehow, I was up today and down tomorrow, in today and out the next day. I knew there had to be something better than this. Because I would stand on Sunday morning and tell other people who Jesus was and what He was like in the Christian life and finally I came to this conclusion.

I said, God, I can't keep telling these people something that deep down inside I know is not working for me. I have to have an answer, I have to have a solution. I can't keep doing this. I have to have an answer to this. And I was desperate. And it wasn't that I did not try because I would fast and pray and read the scriptures and confess and repent and try to come up with something to repent, maybe I couldn't even think of. And somehow it wasn't working. And you see it really, the real reason it wasn't working was because I didn't understand a very basic truth. And more than likely most Christians don't understand it. And they keep feeling defeated in their Christian life, doing the things they don't want to do, failing to do the things that they know they should do and can't figure out why. So they just settle down for what I call a "settled-for life", which is a life God never intended for any one of us.

So, what I want to do in this passage of scripture, I want to answer the question why? And I am certain that many of you feel the very same way I used to feel. And it was only when I began to understand what I want to share with you today that God changed my life. He absolutely gave me a joy and a happiness and a peace and a contentment in my life that I had not known before. You can have the same sense of contentment and joy. Because before that, the Christian life was a burden to me, certainly not a buoyancy. It was a burden. It was difficult. And I used to think, "Now I understand why lost people don't want to go to church. Because they've already got enough troubles. Then they become a Christian and you've got more troubles. I did understand that".

And then when I discovered what I want to share with you, all of that burden lifted, and my life changed. I want you to turn if you will to Galatians chapter five. Galatians chapter five, the Apostle Paul has been talking about the freedom that we have in our life once we trust the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Savior. And so one of the things he says in this thirteenth verse, he gives a little warning of this fifth chapter. He says, "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".

Then beginning in verse sixteen, he says, "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh. 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. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envyings, drunkenness, carousings, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit".

Now, what the Apostle Paul is really saying is this. That is, our greatest troublemaker is within us. Our greatest troublemaker is the flesh. Now I can remember looking around and thinking, Well, it must be this problem and that problem or this person or the other person. Finally, I had to conclude whatever the problem was and whatever was causing me to be defeated was not something outside of me, it was something inside of me. And so I want to begin by simply defining what the flesh is. Because usually when people think of flesh, they think of this, you know, our skin, blood vessels and so forth, this is the flesh. And certainly, Paul uses the word "flesh" to indicate that sometimes, but he also uses it to indicate a spiritual truth.

So, what is it that he means when he says, "the flesh"? Well, let me remind you that when you and I trusted Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, He saved us. He forgave us of all of our sins. He broke the power of sin in our life. He redeemed us as He says, sanctified us. He justified us, declared us no longer guilty. He wrote our name in the Lamb's Book of Life. We are forever His children. But still remaining in us is something that we all have to acknowledge. We still have a propensity toward sin. There is something within us that still leans in that direction at times. Somehow within us there is, there are desires that crop up within us that we know do not fit who we are as children of God.

And so when we think about what that is, some people call it an old sin nature. Some people call it propensity to sin. Whatever people call it, the truth is the scripture says you and I have within us those desires that are gonna be there for the rest of our lives. And that is things that come and go. It isn't who we are. That is, we have a new nature and so our desire is to be obedient to God. We want to do what's right. We try to do what's right and yet in spite of that, there are those times we have this desire to do what we know is not right.

Where did that come from? Well, it's part of our inherited nature from Adam. We came into this world, we came into this world, every single one of us with an old sin nature. That sin nature works every bit the best it can in order to do what? To detract us from God, move us away from God, distract us from those things that are godly and holy. To upset us in our Christian walk, to detract us in our relationship and our mind upon Him. And so we have within us this propensity, this leaning, this yearning at times that causes us to want to do the wrong thing.

Now, let me say this about it. We inherited it. It isn't something we chose. But let me remind you of this. You cannot clean it up. You cannot change it. You cannot, listen, you can't wash it away. You can't pray it away. You can't repent it away. You cannot educate it. You cannot eradicate it. It is there as long as you and I live. Somebody says, Well, that is very encouraging. Well, I'm just telling you the truth. It's there, it's going to be there, it'll always be there. As long as you and I are living in these bodies of ours, it's going to be there. God, listen, when He sent the Holy Spirit, He broke sin's power, He broke the power of the flesh. But when you and I agree with these attitudes that we have, then we find ourselves in trouble.

Listen to what he says. Because what he does, he divides, now watch this carefully, he divides the work, that is the work of the flesh in us in three different categories. And the first category, listen, now watch this. Turn if you will now to verse nineteen. First category are sensual sins. Sensual sins. Listen to what he says. Now this is the way the flesh operates in people's lives. This is, now watch this, this is natural and normal. This is just human. Look, verse nineteen. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality. Every type of immorality. Whether it is fornication, whether it's adultery. Every type of immorality.

Now listen, impurity. That means dirty, filthy thinking. So, people who say, Well, sure I'm a Christian but there's nothing wrong with telling a dirty joke. Yes, there is. You know what's wrong with it? It's flesh. That's what it is. And flesh is hostility toward God. Look, he says immorality, impurity, sensuality. That is, all kind of lustful appetites. And notice there's nothing wrong with eating, but there's such a thing as gluttony. There's nothing wrong with sex within the bounds that God has given us. There's nothing wrong, listen, with power when submitted to the Living God. So you and I could take every single appetite or desire that we have and as long as it is subdued and brought under, subjection to the Holy Spirit in our life, there's nothing wrong with those things. It's when they get out of control.

Now watch this. So he says the first set of sins here are those sensual sins. Then he says the second are superstitious sins. Look, idolatry and sorcery. Now somebody says, "Well listen, those other things I may be guilty of once in a while, but never idolatry. Don't have any images in my house. They're not wood, they're not stone, not any of those things. So, count me out on idolatry". No, count you in. How do I count you in? Simply this, because idolatry is anything. Whether it is a person, whether it is something you own, whether it is yourself, your self-image, or whether it's your children, whatever it is. Whatever, listen, stands between you and the living God. Whatever you place above the living God in your life is an act of idolatry and it's hostility toward God. It is of the flesh.

And one of the deceptive things about the flesh is we think, Well just because we don't have some wooden or gold, silver, brass, bronze, stone image that we're not idolaters. In this country we're probably one of the greatest idolaters in the world. We've got so many different gods. And people never think about them as gods. Idolatry is anything that you place before the living God in your life. Then if you'll notice he says sorcery. What does that mean? Witchcraft, all kinds of occult, all of the occult business, all the witchcraft, all of that is absolutely flesh in the eyes of God. And then there are those social sins, the things that relate to other people. Look at this. He says, for example, he says now there is enmities, deep hatred toward other people that looks to express itself. Strife is one of the ways enmity expresses itself. Jealousy is an act of the flesh.

Somebody says, Well but now you just don't understand. I don't have to understand. Jealousy is a work of the flesh. How do I know that? Because here's what he says. The deeds of the flesh are jealousy, outbursts of anger. Somebody says, Well now I have a temper. That's the way God made me. No He didn't. God did not make you with a temper. You developed it. You know how you developed it? Out of self-centeredness and selfishness. That is the heart and the root of a temper. I don't have my way, not getting my way, I'm gonna express myself. That's just pure flesh. When you say, as you fly off the handle, you flew right out of the Spirit right into the flesh, because you're living in the flesh when you fly off the handle. Outbursts of anger. Then he says disputes, dissentions, factions. Then he says envying.

Now you say, "Well does that mean that I'm not to desire anything?" No. The only way progress is ever made in life is somebody has a desire to build a bridge, somebody has a desire to build a computer, somebody has a desire to fly. So, we have many, many wonderful, wonderful things because of desires. Nothing wrong with desire but what's the difference between desire and envy? Here's the difference. I may desire that and be nothing wrong with having that. But when I desire yours and I want what you have, then all of a sudden, I've gone from Spirit to flesh. We never have a right to desire what somebody else has, something like they have, fine, but not what they have. And then if you'll notice he says the flesh is also expressed in drunkenness.

Let me ask you a question. How can you justify drinking? You know what he says? He says drunkenness is flesh. Where does that start? It doesn't start with a fifth, it starts with a taste. And my friend, what you do when you start to drink, you're choosing a dangerous pathway. Why do you do it? Don't you know that God can satisfy any hunger of your heart? He can, listen, whatever is motivating you, to think that you've gotta have a drink over here so you can have a little peace and quietness, that's the flesh. Look, you cannot have peace and quietness and contentment in your life without Christ. And this is why people take one drink, keep drinking. Why? Because they're still looking for, maybe a little bit more will help. Won't help. Then he says carousing. Now you know what a carousing is? Act natural, just do your thing, just have a big time.

You see, none of those things fit who we are. It doesn't mean that we're less than anybody else. We're the sons and daughters of the Living God. We have God living on the inside of us. We're not perfect, we are so imperfect. We have our weaknesses, our frailties, and we sin against God. We confess it, we repent of it, we move on because we don't want that in our life. Do we have those tendencies? Yes. Will we always have them? Yes. Do we have to yield to them? No, unless we choose to. So, you see, you can't ever say, Well, the devil made me do it. He can't make you do anything as a child of God. We sin, we get in the flesh because, listen, we are tempted by something, and we choose to yield. We don't have to.

You say, Well, do you ever reach a stage you don't? Nobody I know of ever has. It's not gonna happen. Long as we're in these fleshly bodies of ours, we're gonna hit those moments of weakness and frailty and we're gonna yield. The difference is we deal with it. We know it doesn't fit us. We step out of that back into the Holy Spirit. You say, Well, how long does it take you to get from the Spirit to the flesh? Or for how long does it? Well, takes you just a thought if you choose to follow that thought. How long does it take you to get from the flesh back in the Spirit? Father, thank You for showing me that was not right. Forgive me of my sin. I truly repent of that, God. You're on. God isn't gonna say because you sin, Well, well, well, well, now let's stir that up and you've gotta just feel bad enough and you have enough pity-party, and you've got to wallow in that long enough till I think you deserve to be forgiven.

You know why I know that I'm instantaneously forgiven? The cross. He took our sin-debt in full once and for all at the cross. I don't have to wallow around in sin. Rather, to step back into relationship with God because he says the blood of Jesus Christ His Son is continually cleansing us from all sin. Now how do we deal with this? So, I want you to listen carefully now. With that in mind, I want to give you three words. If you will jot down these three words, and if you will understand how simple, but how profound and how meaningful and powerful they are, you will find your Christian life taking on a whole different perspective. And what you'll find is this. You'll find, listen, you'll find less defeat, fewer defeats. You'll find more peace, more contentment, more success, more joy, more self-control in your life than you've ever experienced.

So that the Christian life's no longer a burden. It becomes a buoyancy in your life to lift you up every day. Three words, are you ready? Number one, persuaded. What do I mean by persuaded? You have to be absolutely persuaded you cannot live the Christian life in your own strength. Once you start doing it in your strength, you're gone! Persuaded, persuaded that I am, listen, persuaded that I cannot live the Christian life myself. I can't do it. I don't have the strength to face that kind of temptation. I can't, I can't do it. He says I can't. Now I'm coming to the place I realize I can't. You say, Well, I think I can handle it. Then you know what? Your flesh will present you with something you cannot handle.

This is why people come to counselors and this is why they come to pastors saying, I never would have believed it of myself. I never would have, I never thought I'd do, I just can't believe I would do that! Sure you can. Anything you try to do in your strength, you're gonna blow it. Not gonna work. You've gotta be fully persuaded that you cannot in your strength live the Christian life. The second word is a tough one. Surrender. Surrender what? Surrender your mind, your will, your emotion, your conscience, your consciousness, your body, your soul, your spirit. Surrender yourself to the Holy Spirit. You say, Well how do I do that?

Let me tell you how you don't do it. You don't run down some church aisle and say, I just want to yield everything. No. If you want to yield everything, this is the way you yield everything. And it takes courage. You have to say to the Spirit of God, Holy Spirit, reveal to me every aspect of my life. Show me my areas of weaknesses and my frailties. Because I want to yield every aspect of me. I yield my mind to You to think Your thoughts. I yield my will to You because I want to do Your will. I yield my emotions to You and You know how many emotions that I have, Lord. I yield my consciousness to you that I'm conscious of those things You want me to be conscious of in life. Of Your presence, for example, all the time. I yield my body to You, every aspect of it. My eyes, what I look at. My ears, what I hear. My lips, what I speak. Every aspect of my body is Yours to guide, to control, to discipline anyway You see fit. I want to walk and to live in absolute submission to Your will.

Now that I'm persuaded, I can't live the Christian life, I turn myself completely over to Him. Now watch this. And this is the real, the real catcher right here. You say, All right, you mean to tell me that I'm fully persuaded. Okay, I get persuaded. I lay it all before Him. Now, not only have I laid those things before Him but Lord, my possessions, all of them. My position and my job, all of it. Or my prominence or my prestige or my power. In other words, my place, my abilities, my talents, my gifts. God, give it all. I submit all of that to the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

Now what will make all of that happen? One thing, the third word is trust. I've got to believe that He will do exactly what He says He will do. Listen to what He says. Walk by the Spirit, submit it all to Him, fully persuaded that only He can do it. You will not carry out the desires of the flesh. You know what'll happen? When you're fully persuaded and you're surrendered to Him and you trust Him, what you're saying is, God, I do believe that You'll do what You say. You don't want me living with the flesh. And I don't want to live that way. I want to live a godly life. And therefore, I'm surrendering everything I am and all that I have to You so that You have absolute control of my life.

Now watch this. The last thing you want to give up is the final control of your life. Nobody likes to give up control. You lay it all down and then you say, Lord, I'm trusting You to be the God You say You are. To do for me what You know I can't do for myself. I'm gonna trust You and see what You can do in my life. And my friend, your life's gonna change. You're gonna begin to experience that love and joy and peace and goodness and gentleness and self-control. You're gonna begin to experience the things you've been looking for in life and searching for and couldn't find. You know why? Because you've told God your life belongs to Him now.

Now watch this carefully. Say do I just do that once? No. You do it today. And it's a wise thing every morning to wake up and just say to Him, Father, today I'm totally Yours. I can't live the Christian life today. I can't do the things that I'm facing today. Because is it not true that there are things in your life that you can't, that you feel inadequate? And what do you do? You, Oh-h-h God, I can't handle this. Lord, if You don't help me today it's gonna blow it bad!

You know what He wants you to say? You can't do anything very well apart from Him. The truth is, listen, think about this. Here's Almighty God who is willing to live out in your life every single day what is necessary in order for you to become the person you ought to be and to accomplish the work that God has set out for you to accomplish in your life. And it's yours for the asking. And all you have to do is to make that decision. Will you ever fail again? Yes! But now you're gonna know the difference. And you know what? You'll never be satisfied hanging around and lounging around in the flesh, once you have decided and once you have experienced what it means to walk in the Spirit.

And Father, how grateful we are for Your long-suffering and patience and forgiveness. How grateful we are that You put up with us year after year after year. You know how ignorant we are and then you know how some things we learn and yet often times we find ourselves slipping right back into what we know does not fit who we are. We praise You that the precious blood of Jesus is continually cleansing us from all sin. Thank You that You've not allowed us to be satisfied with what the world thinks is a normal Christian life. We want it the way You made it to be. And I pray the Holy Spirit will sink this message so deeply into every life. Not a soul who hears it will ever be satisfied any longer living in the flesh. In Jesus's name, amen.

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