Living Above The Flesh: Trained In Righteousness

I want to begin by saying that where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. However, it's important to note that simply being in a place where the Spirit of the Lord is present may not guarantee that you will experience that freedom. To truly experience that freedom, you must come under the covering of His lordship, which is defined by submitting to His authority.

May 1, 2023

I want to begin by saying that where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. However, it’s important to note that simply being in a place where the Spirit of the Lord is present may not guarantee that you will experience that freedom. To truly experience that freedom, you must come under the covering of His lordship, which is defined by submitting to His authority. Only then can you fully experience the freedom that comes from the presence of the Lord.

While it’s true that God’s presence is everywhere, it’s when you come under the covering of His lordship that you begin to experience true freedom.

Romans 10:9 – If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

So, it’s not just about acknowledging the existence of God, but about submitting to His authority and lordship in order to experience true freedom. Confessing that Jesus is Lord is a crucial step in experiencing a life-changing transformation. It’s not enough to simply attend church; you must surrender to the Lordship of Jesus in order to be truly free from the bonds that hold you back.

Just like going to the gym won’t automatically transform your body, attending church won’t automatically transform your life. You must come under the guidance of a trainer to see results, just as you must come under the Lordship of Jesus to experience true freedom. You can do as many pushups as you want, but without proper guidance, you won’t see the results you desire.

Attending the gym or going to the hospital won’t automatically lead to transformation or healing. You must be willing to listen to the trainer or doctor and follow their guidance to see results. Without obedience to their guidance, you’ll remain unchanged or sick. Similarly, in order to experience true freedom, you must come under the covering of the Lordship of Jesus. That’s what it means when we say “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” Only by submitting to His authority and guidance can you experience true transformation and freedom.

Imagine someone drowning in water and in desperate need of help. If you don’t know how to swim, you won’t politely ask for help. Instead, you’ll be screaming at the top of your lungs, desperately seeking assistance. In the same way, if you need help in your life, do you truly want God to come in and rescue you from your troubles? If so, don’t be afraid to cry out for help. The Bible promises that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved, not just some, but everyone.

So the question is, are you calling upon the name of the Lord? Are you willing to seek His help and surrender to His Lordship in order to experience true transformation and freedom?

“God, will you save me?” The question is often asked, but do we truly understand the depths of what we’re asking for? Salvation is not just a mere desire, but a true cry for help. It’s not simply a checkbox on a to-do list, nor is it a filler program before the sermon. Worship is a vital aspect of our faith, as it prepares our hearts to receive the word of God. By acknowledging His presence, we can surrender ourselves and cry out for Jesus to enter our hearts. We must recognize that everything we have is because of Him. Worship serves as a crucial foundation, allowing our hearts to become fertile ground for His message. This is why we prioritize worship before the sermon. It’s an act of opening ourselves up to receive and understand what He has to say.

If you’re not going to respond in worship, you can still leave unchanged. But I encourage you to respond to His presence, which is here right now. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. Receive His presence and be transformed. Check the posture of your heart. Are you open to receiving from the Lord? If so, then receive. Even a single word from God can completely transform your life. Believe that your life can be changed today.

The Whole Truth

Do you know what’s better than the truth? The whole truth. I’ve learned this the hard way, and I hope you don’t have to. When the devil can’t deceive you with lies, he can take one aspect of the truth to its extreme and deceive you. He’ll do this if he knows his lies aren’t working on you anymore. You’ll become blinded and shortsighted if he takes one dimension of the truth to an extreme. You’ll become puffed up and think everything is going well, even if it’s not.

But 15 years later, you might realize that something is wrong or missing. How many of you want the whole truth, the whole counsel of God, and not just one dimension of it? Say, “I want the whole truth.”

Before I begin, let’s pray the prayer from Psalm 139:23-24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Are you excited to receive the truth? If so, take a moment to pray this prayer over your life: “Search me, O God, and know my heart. Test me and know my thoughts. If there’s anything hindering me or causing blind-sidedness or shortsightedness, reveal it to me.”

Father, we pray that you will lead us in the way everlasting and correct us today. We are here to receive your corrections because we know that you correct those whom you love and discipline those whom you love. Even if it seems painful at the moment, we willingly and lovingly receive it because we know it’s for our long-term benefit and good pleasure. So we receive your correction in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Yes, so I hope your heart is open to receiving this message. This week, I’ve been reflecting on the privilege of being born into a Christian family. If you were born into a Christian family, you may not fully understand the blessings and privileges that come with it.

I’ve been reflecting on my own experience lately. As the child of godly parents who are also pastors, I was raised with a strong foundation of spiritual discipline. From a young age, I learned to pray, memorize scripture, and read the Bible every day. Family prayer was a natural part of our daily routine. As a child, it wasn’t always exciting, and I sometimes disliked it. However, as I grew up, I began to see the benefits of the values and culture that my parents had instilled in me.

I am truly grateful to my parents for instilling this godly discipline in me. However, when I went to college, I wanted to rebel and live life on my own terms. I didn’t want anyone to correct me or have a say in my life. So when I got the opportunity, I left Delhi. I wanted to escape the church atmosphere and spiritual fellowship. I studied engineering in Coimbatore and lived a completely rebellious life, indulging in worldly pleasures and neglecting my spiritual life. But the Lord pursued me and restored me, and the first thing to be restored was my spiritual discipline.

I began to earnestly pray and read the Bible every day until my faith got restored. Now, I’m not saying I did not struggle with sin. I did, and sometimes I even backslid. However, because of my discipline, I was constantly brought back to the presence of the Father. To make a long story short, in 2012, I had a personal encounter with Jesus that opened my eyes to the Bible. Before that, even though I read the Bible every day, it didn’t make sense to me. I even prayed to the Lord, asking if I was the only one who didn’t understand it. I could understand engineering concepts, but the words of the Bible just didn’t register. The New Testament was especially difficult to comprehend.

I always had a feeling that something was missing, so I continued praying. I prayed for two years straight until one day, I had a revelation. In that moment, everything changed. Now, if you were to ask me if it was those two years or the 20 years of spiritual discipline that led up to that one moment, I honestly don’t know. What I do know is that everything changed for me in that moment. The word of God came alive, and I started to look at it from a different perspective. My whole paradigm of thinking began to shift. I learned about God’s grace, sonship, dominion, and the finished work of Christ. I realized that I didn’t have to struggle anymore. Jesus had saved me once and for all, and I was living a life of freedom. In fact, in 2013, I spent a minimum of five to six hours every day studying the word of God.

Even though I worked for eight hours a day, I still found time to spend hours studying the Bible. That year, 2013, was like my own personal Bible School where God intentionally taught me. I started publicly speaking the gospel after 2014, which is something I never thought I could do as a child. I used to be so scared that I would literally pee in my pants. Public speaking was not my thing. I remember giving my presentation for my master’s thesis, where I was allotted 15 minutes to explain my thesis. However, I finished it in just 90 seconds.

I used to be super fast during my presentation because I just wanted to get it over with. However, when the word of God hit me, my entire life transformed from being an introverted, shy, and fearful person to becoming a bold and courageous person who preaches the word of the Lord. It was nothing short of a supernatural experience, a miracle that I cannot explain. When I look back at my life 15 years ago, I cannot relate to who I used to be. That’s how much the word has transformed me. So, I want to encourage you that the word of God has the power to transform your life as well.

However, there was a point in my journey where I started to believe a lie. I began to think that spiritual discipline was equivalent to religion. If you’ve been in the grace camp like I have been for a long time, you might still believe in God’s grace.

At some point, I was taught this lie that spiritual discipline is equivalent to religion. Unfortunately, I fell for it. If the devil cannot deceive you with a lie, he’ll deceive you by taking you to an extreme of one aspect of the truth. In my case, I was fixated on one aspect of the truth and believed that spiritual discipline was equivalent to religion. As a result, I stopped reading the Bible every day and praying every day. I only did those things when I felt like it and convinced myself that it was the Holy Spirit guiding me. But the truth is, the devil will not lead you to pray or to tithe or to be generous or to read the Bible. Because of this lie, my life gradually became undisciplined, and chaos entered my life.

Initially, my undisciplined life didn’t bother me, but it became a concern when those I led started exhibiting chaos. As a shepherd, I realized that the behavior of my flock was a reflection of my own heart, and I began to introspect. Was I teaching or doing something wrong that had led everyone astray? After much reflection, the Lord disciplined me, and I learned the hard way not to waste precious years. I got back into my routine and regained my discipline.

When I started prioritizing my spiritual life and maintaining discipline in that area, I noticed positive changes in other areas of my life as well. My finances were in order, my time management was efficient, my work-life balance was great, and my relationships were thriving. This was because I wasn’t living my life around my spiritual discipline; I was living my spiritual discipline around my life, giving it top priority.

It’s worth noting that a religious person may praise a spiritual person, and both may read the Bible. However, the difference between being spiritual and being religious lies not in the actions but in the heart with which those actions are performed. A religious person may pray and read the Bible out of obligation, fear, or a sense of duty, which reflects a slave mindset.

A slave is obligated to obey their master, but sons and daughters of the father love his instructions because they know that he has their best interests at heart. They trust him, so when he gives them guidance, they willingly follow it, knowing it will benefit them. For example, when Jesus told Peter to take the boat into the deep end of the sea and put the net on the right side, Peter was excited to obey. As a result, he caught a net-breaking catch of fish.

The difference between being spiritual and being religious is not in the activities themselves but in the posture of the heart. Are you motivated by faith or by fear? Do you act out of obligation or privilege?

Prayer is not an obligation, it’s a privilege. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to pray, and we should approach it with gratitude. Similarly, reading the Bible is not a requirement for salvation, but it can help us understand God’s will for our lives and live more effectively. Attending church is also a choice, but it can provide us with the chance to love and connect with others and carry out God’s plan for our lives. Let’s recognize these activities as blessings and opportunities, not burdens imposed on us. In fact, we should be excited to fulfill God’s agenda on earth. With that in mind, I want to share a verse that has been on my heart.

Before I share the verse that’s on my mind, I want to clarify that it’s intended for those who have put their faith in Christ. Once you confess Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that He was raised from the dead, you are saved. Your salvation is secure, and nothing can take that away from you. However, the message of the cross is not just about securing a place in heaven. It’s also about fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives on earth. So, this verse is for those who understand that they are saved and are here to carry out God’s plan. Without this context, the message may cause burnout.

Even if you do nothing, you are saved because God has saved you in Christ. Amen. However, the following words will show you how to fulfill the purpose that God has put in your heart to be accomplished during your time on earth.

Self Control: Mastery

1 Corinthians 9:25-27 – Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control,[a] lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Paul wrote this letter to the church in Corinth, using an analogy of an athlete. Have you ever seen a professional athlete? Athletes are individuals who struggle, contend, strive, compete, fight, and labor earnestly for a prize. Athletes are those who compete for a prize. There are various sports in the world, and every professional athlete, regardless of the degree of physical activity involved, competes for a prize.

Professional athletes spend five to six hours a day, six days a week training to win one prize. They are driven by their destiny and purpose. Paul uses this analogy to describe our lives as Christians. Are you a Christian? Then you are like a pro athlete. Paul says that every athlete exercises self-control. The word “self” means to limit yourself. I used to dislike this word, as it felt like being restricted when someone tells you what not to do, like your mom saying, “Don’t do this, don’t do that.”

“The meaning of self-control is mastery or dominion. Isn’t that amazing? Self-control gives you the ability to restrain strength. For example, when I have to open a packet of chips, I don’t give it to Ashish because he lacks self-control. He might break it open, and everything will spill out. We don’t need that much strength to open a packet of chips. Self-control means restraining your strength. A person who has mastered self-control knows when to use their strength to its full measure, half measure, or whatever is required based on the need of the moment.

Proverbs 25:28 says, ‘A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.’

A person who lacks self-control is like an unprotected city without walls, which can be easily broken into. Self-control is mastery, self-control is dominion.”

Paul says in Galatians 5:22 that self-control is also a fruit of the Spirit. Now let’s come back to 1 Corinthians 9. Every athlete exercises self-control or mastery in all things. The athlete only needs to perform a particular activity, but they exercise self-control in all things, not just the activity they’re supposed to do. They exercise self-control in all things. Why is that? If a person is supposed to run, they should just focus on running, right? But no, every athlete has to master all things. Their sleep pattern matters. How well they sleep defines how well they can perform. Their stress level and mental health matter.

He has a strict diet and requires mastery in all areas, which is something I find lacking in the body of Christ. We often fail to exercise self-control in all things. For example, some of us need to reduce our sugar intake. Every athlete understands the importance of self-control in all aspects of their life. If one dimension of their life, such as sleep or mental health, is not regulated well, it will negatively impact their performance. Therefore, every athlete strives to exercise mastery in all areas of their life. It’s crucial to remember that they do it to receive a perishable wreath, which represents a crown given as a symbol of glory in ancient times.

When Jesus took the cross, He wore the crown of thorns, bearing our shame, guilt, fear, condemnation, and mental afflictions so that we could receive the crown of glory. As an athlete faces adversaries, he must strive for excellence to receive the crown of glory. However, as believers in Christ, we are not competing with each other for this crown. There is a crown of glory reserved for each one of us if we finish the race and fight the good fight of faith. This crown of glory is an addition to heaven, not a substitution. While salvation is secure for those who believe in Jesus, receiving the crown of glory is a reward for finishing the race. By receiving this crown, we not only enjoy its benefits in the next age but also experience its blessings in this present age.

For those of you who are determined to finish the good fight of faith and complete your race, I want to encourage you. Some say that the richest place on earth is a graveyard, where many unfulfilled dreams lie buried. However, we are not meant to be like that. We are here to fulfill the dreams that God has placed in our hearts and to finish our race. Let us press on towards the goal with determination and faith, knowing that with God’s help, we can achieve all that He has called us to do.

Exercising self-control is crucial in fulfilling our purpose in life. As Paul says in verse 26, we must not run aimlessly or box as if we are beating the air. We have a clear purpose, and every distraction that takes us away from that purpose must be avoided. Sometimes, having too many dreams can hinder us from focusing on one true purpose. When we know our purpose, every punch we throw is aimed at defeating the enemy, which includes both the devil and our flesh. We must not shadow box but instead, fight with clarity and purpose.

I have a secret to share with you: to overcome our struggles, we need to drive out the demons and discipline our flesh. We shouldn’t try to discipline the devil or drive out the flesh. Instead, we need to drive out the demons and discipline the flesh. Sometimes, we try to discipline the devil, but in those cases, what we really need is deliverance. Other times, we try to drive out the flesh, but what we really need is discipline. Therefore, we need to learn where we need discipline and where we need deliverance. If we’re not sure, we can seek guidance from the church or a covering. We come together in fellowship to support one another in this journey.

Paul’s in 1 Corinthians 9:26-27 reinforce this idea. He explains that he doesn’t run aimlessly or beat the air like a boxer. Instead, he disciplines his body to prevent it from controlling him. If we don’t discipline our body, it will control us, and we’ll find ourselves reacting to situations with anger or jealousy without conscious thought.

It’s important to understand that discipline is the key to controlling our bodies and not being controlled by them. In today’s generation, we often prioritize our feelings over everything else. While it’s important to take care of our mental health, we must not let our feelings rule us. Instead, we should practice discipline in our daily lives. We should walk by faith, not by feelings. No matter how we feel, we should still do what needs to be done. For example, some of us may turn to food when we are feeling sad, but that’s where discipline comes in. We need to discipline ourselves to not overeat or eat unhealthy foods. By doing so, we take control of our bodies and avoid being controlled by our emotions.

It’s important not to let your feelings dictate your actions. Rather, use your emotions as a signal that something might be wrong and needs attention. Don’t let your feelings control you; instead, use them as an indicator to guide you. The key is to practice self-discipline. By disciplining your body, you can drive out negative influences and fulfill your purpose in life as intended by God.

Why should you spiritually work out?

In Genesis 2:15, When God created man, He placed him in the Garden of Eden to work and tend to it. The word “Eden” means pleasure, so God put man in a place of pleasure and instructed him to work to maintain it. We don’t work to attain pleasure, but rather we work because we already have pleasure. Our labor is meant to ensure that nothing obstructs what God has already given us. We work to maintain the blessings God has bestowed upon us. It’s not that we only experience God’s pleasure when we pray, but rather we pray to remain in the pleasure of God, which is intended for our lives.

God accepts, loves, and cares for you. However, for your experience to align with this reality, it’s important to pray and read the Bible. It’s not a matter of praying for something to happen or reading the Bible to make something happen. Rather, everything has already happened. That’s why we pray and seek to live righteously. We aren’t trying to become good so we can experience good things; we are already good, and that’s why we do good.

Recently, I have challenged myself to cut down on processed sugar for two weeks leading up to Ashish’s wedding. I’ve been researching how to reduce belly fat and get abs. However, I have learned that the abs I seek are already within me. I know it sounds like a great dream, but it’s the truth. However, the challenge is that the abs may not be visible yet. Why? Because there’s a layer of fat covering them. Therefore, the key is to work out and burn the fat to reveal the abs.

This is what Paul meant in Philippians when he urged us to work out our salvation. Salvation is already within us, but our flesh can cover it up. We need to work it out spiritually so that what is inside of us can be revealed. It’s not a matter of magically receiving something after we’ve done something. Just like abs, salvation is already inside of us, and if we work it out spiritually, it will be manifested and revealed.

Hebrews 12:11 – For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

We learn that discipline may initially seem painful and unpleasant, but it is only for a temporary moment. This illusion of pain can be compared to exercising, which may appear painful in the beginning, but as time passes, it becomes easier and yields peaceful fruit. The verse emphasizes that those who have been trained by discipline will eventually reap the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

Do you desire the fruit of righteousness? Just like an apple seed can only produce an apple fruit, the seed of righteousness can only produce the fruit of righteousness. Jesus has already sown this seed in you, but you must train yourself to reap its fruit. Even though discipline may seem painful for a moment, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness later on.

Therefore, remind yourself that discipline is training in righteousness. Like an athlete or warrior who trains themselves tirelessly, you must also train yourself in righteousness to see the fruit of God’s greatness within you. Although the seed of righteousness is already in you since the day you received Jesus, it’s only through training that it can bear fruit. You cannot eat a seed, so it’s essential to train yourself and turn the seed of righteousness into the fruit of righteousness.

To enjoy the fruit of the seeds within you, you must undergo training. Just like a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly, you too can transform into the best version of yourself by training and breaking out of your cocoon. External forces cannot break your cocoon; only you can do that because the seed of greatness is within you. Jesus gave you this gift, but you must train to turn it into fruit.

When you train, you shed the spiritual fat and reveal the fruit of righteousness within you. You can even speak to your mountains and see them move. However, sometimes things also need to be worked out naturally, as the Lord may reveal to you. Remember, this too shall pass, and you will emerge stronger and better.

Don’t become so heavenly-minded that you’re of no earthly use. Being overly focused on spiritual matters can make a person neglect their practical responsibilities and duties in the world. However, as supernatural beings, our goal is not to live solely in heaven or on earth but to bring unity between the two. It is our responsibility to bridge the gap between heaven and earth and manifest the fruit of righteousness. Therefore, just as we work to maintain our physical fitness, we must also strive for spiritual fitness. This involves disciplining our bodies and minds, shedding the unnecessary spiritual weight, and developing habits such as daily Bible reading and prayer. By doing so, we can align ourselves with the will of our Heavenly Father and fulfill our purpose as supernatural beings living naturally on earth. So, as you work to maintain your physical health, remember to also prioritize your spiritual well-being.

About the author

Samuel Thomas

Samuel is a second-generation pastor with a rich heritage in the Holy Spirit. He has been the pastor of Lighthouse Church since 2017 with a two-word mission statement: transforming lives. Samuel's priority in life has been to know Christ and to grow deeper in His love.

Recent Sermons