Cheap Substitutes Introduction pt. 3

Steve Viars March 4, 2000 Galatians 5:16

- This morning I’d like to begin by asking you a question.
- How many of you have ever been taken in by a “cheap substitute”?
- where it looked like a great deal, “almost too good to be true” you told yourself....
- but a few weeks later, after it broke, or failed, or under-performed...you realized that what you got was just a cheap substitute.

1)  Maybe it was a pair of shoes.
- they looked just like the more expensive brands....
- same color, same shine, shoes are shoes.....
- then you’re walking down the hall and the heel falls off...
- or the genuine leather starts flaking off like paint chips....
- or your feet start screaming because of the inferior product....
- all of a sudden your great deal doesn’t look so great....

2) Maybe it was an appliance....
- so maybe it wasn’t a top of the line brand....
- after all, a toaster’s a toaster....
- it’s a simple appliance that can’t possibly malfunction....
- until exactly 30 seconds after the warranty expires!  (I’m convinced some of them have little timers where something is set to self-destruct right after the warranty period)
- I’m talking about cheap substitutes....

3) Maybe you made the colossal mistake of buying something from one of these late night TV ads....
- a vegamatic, and if you buy right now, they throw in a set of knives, a porcelain statue, and a chance to win a Hawaiian cruise!
- this world is filled with cheap substitutes....

- now part of the challenge is, just because something is different, or inexpensive, or requires less work, doesn’t mean its bad.
- if the solution here was, just buy or do what you’ve always done before, or what’s most expensive, or what makes the most amount of work...decisions would be easy.
- but what’s most familiar, or most expensive, or most difficult isn’t always best.
- Last fall when Andrew had surgery someone from the church brought us a meal and part of the meal was this great cake.
- you could just tell that it had been baked from scratch from someone’s grandmother’s recipe and the person had undoubtedly put a lot of time into it....
- so my wife Kris asked this person for the recipe.
- a week later the person saw me first so she hands me a brown paper lunch sack that was tied at the top with a ribbon and said, “please take this to Kris, this is her recipe”
- I thought “OK, this recipe must have a lot of steps to require a whole bag”

- I took it home and Kris opened it up and it was a box cake mix.
- we all got a good laugh out of the fact that what we thought was a cake baked from scratch was in fact a substitute.

- so just because something is different, or because its less expensive....doesn’t automatically make it bad.
- but we still have the problem of cheap substitutes.
- and many people in this auditorium would say something like....
- I long ago decided to stay away from things that look too good to be true....
- I’ll wait a little longer....
- or I’ll work a little harder....
- I’ll save a little more....
- but when I buy something, I want to be sure its the real thing.

- now, I’d like to ask you an additional question....
- are you that choosy when it comes to the products in your spiritual life?
- or when it comes to the subject of the Fruit of the Spirit, is your attitude, any old fruit will do?

- with that question in mind, I’d like to invite you to open your Bible to Galatians chapter 5:16.
- if you’re new to studying the Bible, Galatians 5:16 is on page 149 of the back section of the Bible in the pew in front of you.....
- two weeks ago we began a new series entitled “Developing the Fruit of the Spirit”
- we’re talking about this delightful list of character qualities that are found in Galatians 5:22-23.
- we decided that before we launch into a study of each individual component of the Spirit’s fruit, we would take several weeks and think about this concept in a more introductory way, studying other places in the Bible that teach us about fruit-bearing.
- Today, we’re looking at “Avoiding Cheap Substitutes for Genuine Spiritual Fruit.”
- I’d like to suggest to you this morning that for each component of the Spirit’s fruit, there are at least two kinds of substitutes...and Galatians 5:16-26 has evidence of both.

- READ Galatians 5:16-26.
- from these verses, I’d like us to see three principles to help us avoid cheap substitutes for genuine spiritual fruit.

- so far in this study we’ve concentrated on the word “fruit”, and the phrase “in the spirit”, and we’ve also looked at some very important parallel passages like Psalm 1, John 12, and John 15.
- this morning I’d like us to especially zero in on this phrase in both verse 16 and verse 25 --- “walk in the spirit.”
- the first principle we can draw from this emphasis is:
I. Human Effort Alone Cannot Produce a Spiritual Christian.
- the Bible says a lot about this business of “walking”.
1) We’re to walk in good works.
Ephesians 2:10 - For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
2) We’re to walk properly.
Romans 13:13 - Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy.
3) We’re to walk by faith.
2 Corinthians 5:7 - for we walk by faith, not by sight.

4) We’re to walk in love.
Ephesians 5:2 - and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
5) We’re to walk as children of light.
Ephesians 5:8 - for you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light.
6) We’re to walk worthy of the Lord.
Colossians 1:10 - so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;
7) We’re to walk as Jesus walked.
1 John 2:6 - the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.
8) We’re to walk worthy of our vocation.
Ephesians 4:1 - I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,

- so the Scripture says a lot about this matter of how we walk.
- I believe we should take great encouragement in this for a couple of reasons....
1) This can always be regular progress....the picture of walking implies the idea of getting somewhere----
- and I hope you would say this morning, I don't want to just be marking time....I want to be getting somewhere.
2) There’s also encouragement because the progress is gradual, one step at a time....
- I’d glad God doesn’t expect us to lace up our spiritual shoes and race down to Indianapolis today....
- its a walk....progress?....yes.....but gradual progress.

- we’re talking about a day by day dependence on Him...a day by day trust in Him...day by communication with Him.....day by day learning of Him....
- walking in the Spirit.

- I came across an illustration of this concept this week that I found to be helpful.
- do you remember when telephone repairmen used to climb up telephone poles?
- I think you use bucket trucks any more....
- but back when they used to literally climb the poles....do you remember the two pieces of equipment they had to have?
- a belt that would go around them and the pole, and a pair of spiked shoes.
- and they used that equipment both to go up the pole, and go down.
- but the only way it would work was if you trusted your belt.
- you had to hang out with your weight against the belt.
- otherwise the spikes wouldn’t dig in and you’d exhaust yourself trying to climb the pole in your own strength, or you’d splinter yourself trying to come down.

- the point is --- you had to be willing to trust that belt, to rely on that belt....
- it didn’t mean you had no work to do, but it meant the work your were going to do would be most effective.

- the same is true when we talk about walking in the Spirit.
- and the danger is, trying to develop the fruit of the Spirit with human effort alone.
- I repeat the point....


I. Human Effort Alone Cannot Produce a Spiritual Christian.


- now, let me ask you to think with me about a very important question....
- why is this statement true?
- why will human effort alone invariably fall short?
- let me suggest four quick reasons:

A.  Because God’s standard of excellence is too high.
- can I ask you to turn back in your Bible to the Gospel of Matthew for a moment.
- we’ll be back in Galatians 5....
- Jesus is giving the Sermon on the Mount and He makes a statement that is astonishing.
- Matthew 5:48
Matthew 5:48 - Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

- now, did I read that correctly?....yes, I did.
- of course we always have to consider verses in their context....what are verses 43-48 about?
- the way Christ wants those who follow Him to love.
- and what Christ is saying is, I want you to love completely, wholeheartedly....even those who are difficult to love.
- now please lock onto this, because this is an important part of what we’re trying to accomplish this morning.
- human effort can conjure up loving people who love me first...
- human effort can conjure up being nice, maybe even to people who test us....
- human effort can conjure up pity, or feeling sorry for someone....

- but Jesus expectation goes far beyond that....
- let me try to illustrate that....
- think of a picture of a poor child from another country, and a request is being made to help feed that person....
- when an individual responds to that need (which is a perfectly appropriate thing to do), is that the height of biblical love?
- is that the climax....the fullest possible expression?
- no, to complete the picture being drawn here, that little child would have to be screaming obscenities or anti-American slogans....
- and still, even in that condition, God calls upon us to respond to such a person with biblical love.
- human effort alone will never produce that kind of fruit....
- God’s standard of excellence is simply too high.

- by the way, since the political season is in full swing, like it or not....and Evangelical Christianity seems to be a major player again, like it or not....
- let me suggest that any Christian involved in any way better be sure they are walking in the Spirit.
- which means we have to respond to politicians who make nasty comments about Christians and Christianity with biblical love.
- and if you say, I don't like that, you’re not walking in the Spirit.
- it also means we have to respond to certain members of the Christian community who take positions that are inane and biblically indefensible with biblical love.
- that doesn’t mean we don't communicate, that doesn’t mean we don't correct....
- but it does mean this....if the way Christians participate in the political process is no different than those who don't know Christ, the church has simply become another political action group operating in the flesh instead of an army of people who are walking in the spirit.

- here’s a second reason that Human Effort Alone Cannot Produce a Spiritual Christian.
B.  Because our sinful flesh is still too powerful.
- the apostle Paul said in Romans 7:22-23 - For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.
- when an individual comes to Christ, they become a new creation [II Cor. 5:17], and the old man is put to death [Romans 6:6].
- so you’re not some sort of a spiritual schizophrenic or a person who has two dogs living inside trying to master you.
- a significant aspect of what you’re fighting against is described in the Bible as your flesh....that is, the composite of sinful habits you bring into the Christian life...and unfortunately, the ones you may even develop after you come to Christ.
- and what Paul is saying here is, if all you have is the law, and your flesh---you’ll fail every time.
- because when you’re told you can’t do something, that just makes you want to do it more....and you’ll fail....the flesh is too strong.
- without the power of the Spirit, its impossible to please God.
- so a person trying to grow by human effort alone is underestimating the power of the flesh.
- that’s why in our key text, Galatians 5:16, we’re told - walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
- you could say it this way --- a self-made man has a poor architect.

- a third reason that human effort alone cannot produce a spiritual Christian is:
C. Because self-sufficiency is too divisive.
- if you’ll turn back to Galatians 5 [if you’re not already back there], we can clearly see this emphasis.
- what was happening in the Galatian church is that they had taken their eyes of God and His Spirit, and put their attention on themselves and their own righteousness....and the effects in the church were devastating.
- please look at verse 15 -- READ
- look also at verse 26 -- READ

- that’s why so many of the deeds of the flesh listed in verses 19-21 deal with one’s relationship to people....[look in verse 20], enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions envying....
- in self-sufficiency, everyone invariably ends up with their little list of what really constitutes spirituality....
- and invariably they want to impose their extra-biblical list on everyone else in the group....
- and that leads to fighting and division and rancor and bitterness.
- the point of all of this is....human effort alone will not produce spiritual fruit.
A.  Because God’s standard of excellence is too high.
B.  Because our sinful flesh is still too powerful.
C. Because self-sufficiency is too divisive.
- and while we’re not going to take time to study it this morning, we could also talk about how our adversary is far too powerful, and he will chew up in a heartbeat the Christian who is trying to live / walk apart from the Spirit of God.

- now, we need to push this one step further....


II. Human Effort Alone Results in Two Extremely Poor Substitutes.


- if a person is not walking in the spirit, and faithfully developing the fruit of the spirit---there will be one of two things happening instead.
- you could say it this way, either there will be nasty weeds, or artificial fruit.
- in other words, there will either be the exact opposite of the nine components of the fruit of the Spirit [nasty weeds], or there will be lame and shallow substitutes [artificial fruit].
- in this message, I am especially concerned about any of us who may have tendencies in either area [and most, if not all of us do].
- let’s think first of all about:

A. Nasty weeds.
- there are 7 major lists of “weeds” in the NT.
- Galatians 5:19-21, Matthew 15:19-20, Romans 1:29-32, Romans 13:13, I Corinthians 5:10, II Corinthians 12:20, I Timothy 1:9-10.
- these are characteristics that are the exact opposite of the components of the fruit of the Spirit.
- and just like weeds in your garden, you don't have to cultivate them, you don't have to plant them, they’re just there---and if you don't do something about it, they will choke out the fruit in a heartbeat.

  Fruit      Weeds
  Love      Hatred
  Joy     Sorrow & Despair
  Peace     Anxiety, Strife
  Patience    Impatience
  Kindness    Malice
  Goodness   Evil, Wickedness
  Faithfulness   Infidelity, Undependable
  Meekness   Arrogance, Pride
  Self-Control   Lack of Control, Irresponsibility

- and I hope every one of us would take an honest look at how things are going in these nine key areas that the Word of God identifies, and ask....are any of these things true of me?
- is there any sense in which I have allowed nasty weeds to grow in my character and choke out the Spirit’s fruit?

- and the first step for the Christian on this point is, “Get out the Round-up”
- do you know what “Round-up” is?
- its that chemical you put on things in your garden or lawn that you want to kill.
- it kills it right now.

- that’s what the Bible would say to you and me.....we are to mortify such things, to crucify them to put them to death.
- we’ll say more about this in a minute....but I hope each of us will take an honest look at this list the Scripture lays out.
- but there’s another side to this discussion.
- and there’s a sense in which I’ve been pushing all morning to ask you to consider this idea.
- what about the:
B. Artificial Fruit.
- its the cheap substitute.
- its a shallow version of the real thing, that doesn’t require walking in the spirit for its cultivation.
Fruit      Weeds        Artificial Fruit
Love      Hatred       Conditional love, lust
Joy     Sorrow & Despair      Temporary Joy
Peace     Anxiety, Strife      Numbness, Carelessness
Patience    Impatience       Laziness, Insensitivity
Kindness    Malice         Manipulative Kindness
Goodness   Evil, Wickedness    Hypocrisy, Misrepresentation
Faithfulness   Infidelity, Undependable   Half-hearted
Meekness   Arrogance, Pride      False Modesty
Self-Control   Lack of Control, Irresponsibility Control when Convenient

- we’ll think about these in more detail when we study each component of the spirit’s fruit, but I wonder how many of us have settled for a cheap substitute that requires little genuine, practical reliance on, and involvement in walking in the Spirit.

- you know, cheap substitutes usually catch up with us.
- I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this, but I used to build in-ground swimming pools.
- since many times you built a pool in an established subdivision, a lot of our jobs involved taking the concrete from a truck in the street to the pool in the back using a wheelbarrow.
- I’ve spent a lot of hours on the back end of a wheelbarrow....and you learn to buy a good one, that has the strength and endurance to hold up under that kind of weight.
- well, when Kris and I moved here, I had sold all my construction equipment, and it wasn’t long until we were buying our first house which needed a lot of work, so I was down at the store picking out a new wheelbarrow.
- and they had ones exactly like the ones I had used in the pool business....construction grade wheelbarrows...but boy were they expensive.
- and then they had the cheaper version.....
- they looked almost identical....
- both had wheels, but this one was a cheaper wheel....
- both had handles, but this one had cheaper handles.....

- do you know which one I bought?
- the cheaper version....
- and it wasn’t long before the wheel was going flat....
- and it wasn’t long before the metal in the front was starting to bend.....
- and I distinctly remember the day I put a little too much in it, picked it up, and one of the handles broke off in my hand.
- have you ever tried to push a wheelbarrow with one handle?...cheap substitutes usually catch up to us.
- now, the third principle that wraps all of this together is....


III. God’s Children Must Evaluate Whether They are Walking in the Spirit.


- and that leads to three very important questions:

A.  Do you have the Spirit of God?
- friend, you may be wrestling with what we’ve labeled this morning as “nasty weeds” or “artificial fruit” because you’ve not yet come to Christ.
- as I’ve said, this is going to be our last introductory message to this topic...Lord willing next week we’ll begin studying the different components in the list.
- but walking in the Spirit begins by getting on the right path.
- it begins by admitting one’s need...admitting your inability to be reconciled to God in and of yourself....
- and then repenting of sin, and accepting Jesus Christ as savior and Lord.
- friend, I ask you this morning...are you sure you know Christ?

B.  Are you putting the weeds to death?
- fruit cannot grow along side of weeds.
- the deeds of the flesh must be put to death.

- in some cases, that might require “radical amputation” [develop if time]

C. Are you committed to not being satisfied with artificial fruit, but only with the real thing?


- final conclusion --- person wanting to be an American -- camps at Ellis Island

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video