Hope – the Spirit and Flesh are opposed


Biblical Text: Galatians 5:1,13-25
Full Sermon Text

There are three theological virtues: faith, hope and love. We like to talk about love a whole bunch, but at least from my view we don’t understand it, at least not as a theological virtue compared to a pale emotion. Lutherans love to talk about faith, and when we talk about faith grace is right behind it. But Hope gets left to Star Wars and stale political campaigns. What is Hope?

The text from Galatians for the day revolves around the proclamation that you are free (grace and faith), but that freedom is not a pretext for the desires of the flesh but to Walk in the Spirit. And Paul contrasts what the desires of the flesh are with the fruits of the Spirit. One thing that we must understand is that our sex addled culture only hears more sex when Paul says the desires of the flesh, but Paul means a much wider view of our corruption. The desires of the flesh are everything that we would naturally do given free reign. And that is what we have been given. The law has no penalty in Christ.

If our adversary can’t attack grace and faith, he will immediately attack hope. “Sure, you are saved, but you can’t actually change who you are or what you do.” Such a hopeless grace is a submitting back to slavery – a slavery to the desires of the flesh which are natural in our fallen condition. Just as much as trying to add something to faith, trying to subtract from the extent of what God is doing is a denial of the gospel. Christ has placed His Spirit within us, and that Spirit opposes the desires of the flesh. The Christian has hope that we might crucify the desires of the flesh because it is not us but the Spirit of God with us.

Don’t live a hopeless life submitting to the desires of the flesh – which is submitting to death itself. But live in hope, walk with the Spirit, learn to carry the cross, to lose yourself to find life. Hope – the Spirit within us ensures the victory, because we are being made a new creation. In the resurrection we will put away the flesh that troubles us, until that day we struggle. And the struggle itself proves our hope.