Becoming a Spiritual Sherlock Holmes: How to Grow in Grace

[Click HERE for the MP3 Audio Recording]

Text: Galatians. 4 – 5

In past weeks, we learned that the law was a school master to bring us to what we all anticipated:  Christ. With growing in grace and in experientially knowing Christ comes full and mature spiritual life, as God intended before the Law (Gal. 3:16-18). So, why go back to the confinement of a nursery crib and screaming nanny, once have been freed to explore and navigate the wonders of the world? What do you want? Slavery to your crib (law-living) which keeps you from growing up in grace (even though it comforts and pacifies you)? Or, do you want to come into the blessing of maturity in Christ?

“Elementary, my dear Watson, elementary,” is a quote by none other than Sherlock Holmes. It is immediately recognizable. The investigator’s powers of observation often out-shined those of Dr. Watson. Saying “Elementary” was Holme’s way of shaming Dr. Watson — implying that a mere toddler could have deduced what Watson overlooked.

In the same way, those who cling to the Law as the measure of “right standing with God,” are kept in the weak and useless spiritual principles of this world [i.e. knowing right from wrong cannot possibly take away sin or the desire to do sins]. The law cannot solve the problem of sin; and also, constantly measuring one’s self by the Law produces only shame and stunts spiritual growth in grace. Instead of being like a spiritual Sherlock Holmes who goes beyond the elementary things, one is stuck being a spiritual Dr. Watson.

Before grace came, we could tell if we were right with God by either keeping or breaking the law. So, now, how do we tell if we are right with / walking with God? We compare and contrast flesh vs. Spirit.

Proposition: Comparing flesh to Spirit and then following the Spirit is how we grow in grace.

An Allegory – Gal. 4:8-31

Those who want to keep the law should recognize God gave us an allegory in Ishmael (i.e. fleshly means of obtaining a promised blessing) and Isaac (God’s provision by a gift, which is the promised blessing received through faith — Rom.4).

  • Mt. Sinai : Hagar (bond woman) :: Jerusalem [in bondage to the Law]
  • Mt. Zion (New Jerusalem) : Sarah (free woman) :: Above [free in the Spirit]
  • Ishmael hated Isaac : Judaizers (law lovers) hate Grace Saints

Falling from Grace – Gal. 5:1-6

Want to get circumcised? Then Christ is no advantage.

  • Either Law or Christ
  • If you choose circumcision (law), then you are fallen from Grace: to be circumcised in the early century Christian culture would be to outwardly show distrust in Christ as Savior and to show trust in the Law.

The Proper View of Grace – Gal. 5:7-15

To God, both circumcision and “not-circumcision” are nothing. BUT, God honors faith which functions because of love. The freedom from the law that we have in Christ is not to be used as an excuse for living according to fleshly desires and impulses; but rather, we serve one another (view of others as better) through LOVE (agapé — selfless, loyal, seeking the building up of another even before one’s own needs are met; meeting needs).

FLESH vs. SPIRIT – Gal. 5:16-26*
Immorality                    Love
Impurity                       Joy
Pleasures of Body          Peace
Idolatry                        Patience
Sorcery                        Kindness
Hostility                       Goodness
Quarreling                    Faithfulness
Jealousy                       Gentleness
Outbursts of Anger        Self-Control
Selfish Ambition
Wild Parties


*Inheritance in the Kingdom of God (v. 21) = Station and Position in the Millennial Kingdom (2 Peter 1). If one lives according to the flesh now, he/she is saved; but when Jesus sets up his kingdom, there will be no rulership or position of influence or honor for such ones. They will be among the saved, but they will be paupers, like they went through a house fire (1 Cor. 3).

“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. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.”

Through keen powers of self-observation, we can tell if we are letting the flesh win or the Spirit win. Once you know what the flesh looks like and what the Spirit looks like, then you can know when you are following either one or the other. God tells us that our Flesh (selfish existence with all corruptive works) was crucified with Christ. Therefore, consider it dead to you, off limits, “no go.” But, since you are alive to God by the Spirit, then walk by the Spirit — that is, follow his leading (promptings) to think and act out of love; which is THE fruit of the Spirit.

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