“And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” Galatians 5.24
This verse follows the two verses that we refer to often that describe the fruit of the Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, (23) Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” “ … they that are Christ’s … ” That is talking about you and me. Paul’s message here to the Galatians and us is this: if we belong ro Christ, as we say we do, then we have the responsibility to crucify the flesh and begin to manifest the fruit of the Spirit in our lives daily.
I think all of us would agree that the purpose of crucifixion is to put something to death. We are to put to death the flesh “with the affections and lusts.” Everything our flesh craves we need to put to death because it will only want those things that will satisfy its fleshly desires. We don’t like to talk about the things we lust after, but we can lust after more things than just something sexual. People lust after power, prestige, position, and the list could go on. Paul calls on us to put those lusts to death.
If we are to put to death all the things that the flesh wants, in the words of Francis Schaeffer, “How should we then live?” The answer is given in vs. 22-23. The opposite of that which the flesh craves is the fruit of the Spirit. Paul reminds us that we are engaged in a great spiritual battle in v. 17: “For the flesh listeth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” Read again the verses that describe the fruit of the Spirit and ask God how you are doing with each one. That is a good place to start. Just my thoughts …
“Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find? (7) The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.” Proverbs 20.6-7
We are pretty good at telling others how good we are. That is the human side of us wanting to be acknowledged. But if there is anything that I want to characterize my life it is this … faithfulness. I don’t know if there will be anything on my tombstone other than my name and the dates of birth and death, but if there is anything, I would like it to be the words, He was faithful. I don’t have much else to offer God, but I can offer Him my faithfulness. God didn’t ask me to be successful. He asked me to be faithful. God didn’t ask me to be rich. He asked me to be faithful. God didn’t ask me to be influential. He asked me to be faithful. Faithfulness is something that every one of God’s children can give Him. It becomes a choice based on the focus of our daily lives.
Integrity is a word that is often thrown around when talking about leaders, but we seldom take the time to consider its meaning. It is defined as the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. No one ever questions the honesty or moral uprightness of a man of integrity. I think everyone reading this wants to be a person of integrity. Our daily choices of words must always be marked with honesty. Our daily decisions must always be above reproach. Our model of a just man must reflect the control that God has on our lives. My prayer for you is that God will direct your every word and your every action so that others will see your life and declare, “that is a just person and God is at work in their lives.” Just my thoughts …
“Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith. ” Proverbs 15.16
There are times when I read something that Solomon wrote and I wonder why he didn’t practice what he wrote. But at the same time, there are times when I think about what I know God wants of me and then wonder why I do some of the things I do.
Let’s take a closer look at Solomon’s words: “Better is little with the fear of the Lord … ” I think most of us would agree that we are living in a world where people seem obsessed with “stuff.” That is true of believers as well as unbelievers. We seem to think that if we have “the latest” of everything, we can make it. But, isn’t that mindset a reflection of not thinking that God knows what we need and will supply what we need? If I have “little” and that is what God wants me to have, that is enough. There is one thing that will guarantee that I am content with God’s “little” and that is “the fear of the LORD.” I have explored with you before what the fear of the Lord is, but in case someone missed it, here it is. It is standing in awe of who God is and realizing who I am in His presence. It is not a fear that if I step over a certain unseen line God will arbitrarily zap me with a bold of lightning.
Why is it that “great treasure” brings great trouble? Could it be that when we have great treasure we always want a little more? Could it be that when we have great treasure we attract to ourselves those who want something for nothing and when we don’t give it to them, we have trouble. I am not exactly sure how Solomon would answer that but this I do know … I want what God wants for me … nothing more and nothing less. Just my thoughts …
“The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe. ” Proverbs 18.10
A couple of things stand out to me in this verse: (1) strong tower and (2) safe. The words strong tower suggest to me that at some point in my life I will be engaged in a battle and will need a strong tower for protection. That is not just a nebulous concept, but a truth that I must remember daily. I am engaged in a battle with Satan, whose only goal for me is to keep me from being successful in my walk with the Lord. God’s promise of a strong tower – a place of absolute protection – is an offer that I readily accept, but I must learn to take advantage of God’s offer of protection.
The second word, safe, speaks of the sense of security that I will have in that strong tower. When one has the sense of being safe, the focus of life changes. We can concentrate on acting confidently on what God has told us. When we don’t feel safe, we are constantly wondering when the next attack will come and will we be crushed in that attack.
Now, where is this strong tower? “The name of the LORD is a strong tower … ” What does the Lord’s name mean to you? Is it something you merely mention in a prayer, or maybe in a casual, off-hand remark? Or is His name really your strong tower? I love the words of Philippians 2.10-11: “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; (11) And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” The power in this name is something that the whole of the universe recognizes. Take advantage of what God has offered you! Just my thoughts …
“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. (2) Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6.1-2
There is no one reading this who has not been “overtaken in a fault … ” So all of us need the words that follow. “ … ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness … ” It has been my observation over the years that sometimes I am the one overtaken in a fault and sometimes I am the one who is spiritual that God wants to use to help restore one who is overtaken in a fault.
There are two issues at stake here: (1) being overtaken in a fault, and (2) being in a position spiritually to help one who is overtaken in a fault. When one is overtaken in a fault, he or she has allowed Satan to lead them away from what they know the will of God to be and into something they know is not the will of God. Most of the time we are not confused by this issue, but more often than not we are frustrated by it. We need help getting back on the right track. That is the time when God wants to bring someone into our lives who is in a position to help us. Being spiritual does not mean that someone is a super saint. It does mean that at that point in their life they are walking in close fellowship with God and are willing to be used by God to help another believer.
Verse 2 speaks to us as well: “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Sometimes a fellow believer just needs someone they can “unload on” and get the spiritual junk out of their heart and mind. A listening ear and a praying heart can put us in the place of fulfilling the law of Christ. I think all of us want to be all about that. Just my thoughts …
“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.” Proverbs 21.2
I don’t think any of us disagree with this statement. We generally think our way is right when we are only thinking about what we want. After all, we are wired to want to satisfy ourselves in the things we do. In a previous chapter of Proverbs Solomon made this statement: “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Just because something seems right to us doesn’t make it right. I believe that far too many times we are guilty of checking with ourselves to see if what we want to do is ok. And what kind of answer do we expect? We are always going to agree with ourselves because it seems right.
But let’s take a closer look at what Solomon is trying to convey to us. As God’s child, my first obligation is not to my own desires. My first obligation is to God’s plan for my life. So any day that I forget or forsake that understanding, I set myself up to fail. The longer God lets me walk with Him, the more I am understanding that my life is not about me at all. It has always been about Him. It took me far too long to come to this understanding. I don’t want to abandon it now.
There is a valid reason for wanting to do that which is right in God’s eyes and not my own. The reason is found in the last phrase of the verse: “the LORD pondereth the hearts.” God is examining what is in your heart and mine and He is assessing the vale of what we are thinking and considering. Does that bring a sense of urgency to what is in your heart? It certainly does to me. So let’s make a deal with God. Let’s agree to stop doing what seems right to us and ask God what He wants us to do. Just my thoughts …
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. (2) Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:” 1 John 4.1-2
We live in a world that is religious but that does not mean it is Christian. In John’s day, the first century, there were false teachers and in our day, the twenty-first century, there are false teachers. Religion is man seeking after God. Christianity is wrapped up in Christ and the undeniable truth that God is seeking after man. He has been seeking man since Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve sinned. He is still seeking men today and He does it through His children, His church, His Word, and His Spirit.
Religion may have an element of truth in it, just enough to get someone’s attention. But Christianity is nothing but truth. There is no error at all in the message of God to this lost world. When scripture says, “God so loved the world … ” that is the ultimate truth that mankind needs to know. Can we agree that you and I have an eternal responsibility to share this message with those who do not know it or have never heard it? Our churches send missionaries to the far flung corners of the world to reach the unreached or the unengaged. But here at home, are we careless about reaching out to our neighbors, or friends, our families, or others whom God may send across our paths?
John makes it clear how we can spot man’s religion. He says: “Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God.” Simply referring to God without mentioning the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ should be a red flag. God loves us but He demonstrated that love through His Son. Let’s carry that message boldly, bravely, compassionately, and lovingly. Just my thoughts …
“Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: (27) Neither give place to the devil.” Ephesians 4.26-27
When anger is left unchecked, it becomes a cancer called bitterness. No one likes to deal with cancer in their body, and no one wants to have to deal with bitterness. So the right prescription is to follow what Paul tells us in these verses. We often hear someone say, “You made me angry”, but that is not a correct statement. No one can make you angry, because anger is a choice. If anger is a choice, then I can choose not to be angry. The ability to assess a situation and make a choice not to be angry demonstrates a level of spiritual maturity. Anger itself is not the issue, but the object of our anger becomes the issue. We become angry at the person rather than the issue that caused us to choose to be angry.
I hear people say things like, “That’s just the way I am. I can’t help it” and they are talking about their anger. The truth of the matter is, they can help it. They just haven’t made that choice yet. To choose to be angry with a person is a sin according to the verse above. Should we make the hoice to be angry, we need to deal with it before we go to bed that night. Letting something go on for days merely exacerbates an already difficult situation.
When we realize the source of our anger, we can begin to do something about it. Verse 27 gives us a hint: “Neither give place to the devil.” Satan says, “Go ahead. They deserve it. Get even with them.” God says, “Be ye angry, and sin not … ” I think I will take God’s words over the ideas of Satan. Just my thoughts …
“Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.” Psalm 119.2
Throughout the 119th Psalm, David emphasizes the importance of giving heed to what God has said. He uses a number of words to address the same idea: testimonies, commandments, law, precepts, statutes, etc. The teaching seems simple, but unfortunately, because we have read these words so many times, we gloss over them and fail to give heed. So let’s take a fresh look at what David is saying here in this second verse of the Psalm.
“Blessed are they that keep his testimonies … ” immediately I am drawn to this word blessed. I realize that no only do I want to be blessed, I need to be blessed. So if I can expect to be blessed, I need to give heed to what will bring that blessing. I believe the word keep here is essential to our understanding. Keep means more than mental assent. Children hear what their parents say and give mental assent to what is said, but that doesn’t mean that they have obeyed. To keep means to do whatever is necessary to carry out what has been said.
So what is it that I am to keep? “His testimonies”. I can hear the question now: “So how do I know what His testimonies are?” That is a legitimate question and the answer is one that is simple and yet complex. It is simple in that I simply need to read what God has said … His Word. It is complex in that I might need some guidance in implementing what I know into my life. This is why the family of God is so important. In a regular family we are able to learn from each other. In families where there is more than one child, they are able to learn from each other and both can learn from their parents. In the family of God we have fellow believers who can help us and we have a church family where we can learn, and where we can get training and have opportunity to implement what we have learned. So let me challenge each one of us to “seek him with the whole heart” and use the resources we have to be who God wants us to be. Just my thoughts …
“Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.” Proverbs 16.3
For most of us, the daily struggles in our walk with the Lord lie in the area of accepting what Scripture says and then applying or implementing what Scripture says. The struggle is not so much what are we to do, but how do we do it. Solomon gives some instruction here that may seem simple, but when you examine it, it is a call to life change with major proportions. “How so?” you ask.
OK, Here it is: “Commit thy works unto the Lord … ” The broad scope of that statement takes in every area of life. Everything we do falls into the realm of “our works.” So what Solomon is calling for here is a commitment on our part to do everything as unto the Lord. We may think that we are already doing that, but I dare say most of us are not. There are still elements of selfishness or self-gratification in some of the things we do daily. The old flesh says to us, “God ahead. You deserve it. It won’t hurt anything.” And God’s Spirit is whispering to us, “Ask me. Let me help you. Don’t listen to your flesh.” And so the battle is on. In Galatians 5 Paul warns us about this battle. “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. (17) For the flesh listeth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” (Galatians 5.16-17)
Paul knew this struggle. Solomon knew this struggle. And if we are honest, we know this struggle all too well. If we want our thoughts and plans to be established by the Lord, then we need to make the decision daily to commit our works to the Lord. Just my thoughts …