This statement resonates throughout Christendom, yet I find very few who take their beliefs seriously. Do we blame the One Who is in charge? God forbid! Yes, the body is only as good as the head. No truer statement, knowing that our God and Savior is the head of His Church. However, He does separate the bad from the good. It seems that when our Lord God chooses those to lead His people many just sit back and coast along on borrowed time teaching what the people want to hear instead of instructing God’s people according to God’s precepts. This applies to the members of the congregation. All Christians are commanded to study the Holy Scriptures to show themselves approved before God, 15) Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 16) But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, 17) and their talk will spread like gangrene., II TIMOTHY 2:15-17; Proverbs 12:1 Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge: but he that hates reproof is brutish; Romans 2:13
For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.
I heard a minister once say that he was going to preach on a subject which he himself disliked. For that reason his congregation didn’t hear much about this particular theme. He, for years, skirted around this topic for so long he said he found it hard to find the precise language to use. On behalf of the interests of those who warm the pews in his church, and fill the coffers in the treasury, he felt compelled to lie to his flock by omitting strategic truths of God concerning their salvation. In II Timothy 3:1-8, the Holy Spirit gives a very detailed prophesy of the times we live in. I would venture to say that, and this is only a guess, a majority of Churches, large and small, are guilty to some degree. Our Lord God had always had to deal with His people. He dealt very sternly with those in Israel. The Almighty had declared in ISAIAH, chapter 29:8-16, that the very teachers that He chose would stray to teach doctrines that would satisfy the flesh, but ultimately destroy it. Jesus warned us about the infiltration of false doctrines, Matthew 7:15
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.”
The numbers of those following this kind of deceit is unfathomable. Some come to Church expressly to satisfy their spouse. And, others come to Church out of habit, then some come out of curiosity. Maybe the preacher’s voice is like a finely tuned piano sounding off a rendition of Amazing Grace. So caught up are they to congratulate him for such a melodic tune bellowing out of his throat. He undoubtedly enjoys the adoration he is receiving, and in turn will give to his congregation what they want to hear, in short, just give your heart to the Lord, and He will come in and clean you up.
This revelation had come out when our Lord God shook the very foundation of his life, placed him on the threshold of death, looked him in the eyes and in no uncertain terms that He was in control. God had told him that He was tired of His own child running around like a toddler expecting free handouts, although, just like a child, disobeying his Father’s instructions, he demanded that he and those he taught be saved from the Lake of Fire in accordance to a statement made by all, including God’s Son, Jesus; ” all those who call upon the NAME of the Lord shall be saved.” The Holy Spirit put the ” Fear of God “ into him and made him understand the meaning of ” pick up your cross “. Being a minister of the gospel this hit him like a ton of bricks. He, for once, saw himself for the man that he is. The word ” wretched ” in the Greek means: we are kept in subjection to the lusts of our flesh, dictating to our soul and intellect instead of our conscience and soul are to be in control.
Victory in the hidden warfare
IT IS AT THE ROOT ALSO OF ALL REAL EFFORTS FOR OURSELVES.
1. Every earnest man must, if he sets himself to resist the evil which is in himself, know something of the struggle which the apostle here describes; and if he would endure the extremity of that conflict, he must have a firm belief that there is a deliverance for him. Without this, the knowledge of God’s holiness is nothing else than the burning fire of despair. And so many do despair. They think they have made their choice, and that they must abide by it; and so they shut their eyes to their sins, they excuse them, they try to forget them, they do everything but overcome them, until they see that in Christ Jesus there is for them, if they will claim it, a sure power over these sins. And, therefore, as the first consequence, let us ever hold it fast, even as our life.
2. Nor is it needful to lower the tone of promise in order to prevent its being turned into an excuse for sin. Here, as elsewhere, the simple words of God contain their own best safeguard against being abused; for what can be so loud a witness against allowed sin in any Christian man as this truth is? If there be in the true Christian life in union with Christ for every one of us this power against sin, sin cannot reign in any who are living in Him. To be in Christ is to be made to conquer in the struggle. So that this is the most quickening and sanctifying truth. It tears up by the roots a multitude of secret excuses. It tells us that if we are alive in Christ Jesus, we must be new creatures. And herein it destroys the commonest form of self-deception — the allowing some sin in ourselves, because in other things we deny ourselves, because we pray, because we give alms, etc. And this self-deception is put down only by bringing out this truth, that in Christ Jesus there is for us, in our struggle with “the body of this death,” an entire conquest, if we will but honestly and earnestly claim it for ourselves; so that if we do not conquer sin, it must be because we are not believing.
3. This will make us diligent in all parts of the Christian life, because all will become a reality. Prayer, the reading of God’s Word, etc., will be precious after a new sort, because through them is kept alive our union with Christ, in whom alone is for us a conquest over the evil which is in us. So that, to sum up all in one blessed declaration, “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus will make us free from the law of sin and death.”
(Bp. S. Wilberforce.)
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The minister had been put in his place. His tongue, the feather that tickled the ears of all that heard him, had a burning coal placed on it and could no longer sing the pleasantries which so tantalized his audience. Not so scrupulous in the past about his very heritage, and position in the Kingdom of Heaven, he sung the ” love “ songs everybody paid their price to hear. He had no problem reproving all those his peers had grievience with. His portrayal of one chosen to prophesy even instigated a manner of delivery enticing even the very elect to contemplate his ballads, but having no affect on the behavior of anyone. Everything he studied reinforced the notion he was on the cutting edge of heavenly revelation. Love and peace certainly had the ingredients for an orchestrated symphony calling for all to come to the protection only God can provide from the woes this world hands to us.
Love as defined by our Redeemer is the laying down of your life for another. John 15: 13 “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14″You are My friends if you do what I command you. 15″No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.…”. Love and peace are great to preach, but acting on love to produce the peace you want to project may cost you your life. Jesus sacrificed His life to produce the peace He wanted the world to experience. After three years Jesus chose one-hundred twenty disciples. He always had those who never counted the cost to teach the gospel. Love for mankind had been shown to the world through the prophet, John the Baptist; Luke 7: 28, “I say to you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” Not self denial, but because you love humanity, and are willing to take no thought for yourself, and, if needed, lay your life down for someone else.
This style of teaching wasn’t part of his portfolio: ” HELL “. He heard a very small voice say to him, ” Who can send your body and soul to hell?”, Matthew 10:28. I can only imagine after hearing that within your being, you just might tremble knowing your life is hanging between life and death, and only One could say such words with so much impact. The excellence of the position he held in the Kingdom of God came crashing down upon him in it’s own nature that he could hardly breath. He, for the first time in his life, realized that his mortal life was slipping, but had no control over it. What came to his mind next defined his course that he would pursue.
Who could be closer to you than yourself. We stand before a mirror and perceive an image reflecting back and there is always a condition of that reflection that we want to attempt to change. It could be the way we positioned our hair on our head, or the pair of pants we’ve decided to array our legs with. Oh, our shoes just may not be right with colors of the entire covering of our body. The most minute of changes in our outward appearance could be enough to put our spirits into a tailspin. As we gaze at the image staring back at us, and the thought of peace may put in a wonderful state of mind; however, let one button fall off of a blouse, a zipper jam, a waistline not lining up with our imagination, and it goes on; someone not driving according to our standards, another not dressing the way you perceive that they should. It could be anyone’s guess what might set our disposition to an uncontrollable, and angered state.
In most cases, not all, but in most we are our worst enemies. The devil really has very little, if any, hold on us as Christians. ” Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you”, James 4:7. To say the ” the devil made me do it “, is a lie from the pit of hell that a multitude blame the devil for most what they do. They fail to take the responsibility of their actions. The examples are countless. Just like you, I am just as guilty. We naturally have sinful desires in our flesh, and hampers our affections towards God. We’ll pray in a manner to satisfy our aims and intentions which are misguided. There are consequences to be had with every decision we make. Too often the mercies granted us are abused.
The body of death
In Virgil there is an account of an ancient king, who was so unnaturally cruel in his punishments, that he used to chain a dead man to a living one. It was impossible for the poor wretch to separate himself from his disgusting burden. The carcase was bound fast to his body, its hands to his hands, its face to his face, its lips to his lips; it lay down and rose up whenever he did; it moved about with him whithersoever he went, till the welcome moment when death came to his relief. And many suppose that it was in reference to this that Paul cried out: “O wretched man that I am!” etc. Whether this be so or not, sin is a body of death, which we all carry about with us. And while I do not wish to shock your taste, yet I do wish to give you some impression of the unclean, impure, offensive nature of sin. And think — if our souls are polluted with such a stain — oh! think what we must be in the eyes of that God in whose sight the very heavens are not clean, and who charges His angels with folly.
Because of wanton greed for prosperity, our requests go unanswered. We live in this world, and we want things of this world, and God will just deny them. The problem with mankind is we put the things of this world before God. When we set our hearts upon things of this world we’re treading on very, very, paper thin ice. Being an enemy of God isn’t really a good place to be, especially if you have been called by Him to work to spread His gospel.
The living and the dead at his command
Were coupled, face to face, and hand to hand;
Till, choked with stench, in loathed embraces tied,
The lingering wretches pined away and died.
Doddridge is not by any means singular in his opinion that the apostle derives an allusion from this horrid punishment; although perhaps the text is sufficiently intelligible without the illustration it thus receives. Philo, in an analogous passage, more obviously alludes to it, describing the body as a burden to the soul, carried about like a dead carcase, which may not till death be laid aside.” (Kitto.) During the reign of Richard I, the following curious law was enacted for the government of those going by sea to the Holy Land — “He who kills a man on shipboard shall be bound to the dead body and thrown into the sea; if a man be killed on shore the slayer shall be bound to the dead body and buried with it.”
Undeniably there are those that have been blessed with many worldly things, but they only have their hearts on God; just as Abraham had. They don’t even give a thought of wanting, but of what they can give.
So we don’t want to upset our family, friends, and close acquaintances. Just like water, we follow the path of least resistance. The lies that perpetuate our lives encompass our every thought and action we set ourselves to entertain. Our natural compulsion to experience life, if entertained, will lead us to an early death, most assuredly. Everywhere on this planet the ground is shaken with another instance of diabolical destruction of humans by others following the self destructive path the world advertises to be the answer of all our dreams. We are told, and shown the niceties this world has to offer. Blindly, the ministers stand before the paying audience and give them what they want. Misery loves company. Tears are shed, but for the wrong reasons. The temptation is to, again, to follow the path of least resistance and cloud our understanding by telling ourselves, ” everybody does it “.
This is a hellish way to live; always following people who are already lost. Their sense of direction is non-existent. Take a well observed look at the double right, or left turn lanes at any given traffic light. There will always be one lane where a majority of vehicles will be in, although they can always merge into the lane they may want after they proceed through the intersection. Afterwards, the roads are their domain. People recognize that the power which the other drivers have, in the less congested lane, are more powerful than what they are only because they decided to follow the others. You would think the opposite, contrary to common thought. You’d think that there would be more power with more numbers. When reading the Holy Scriptures I’ve found the greatest works, and miracles performed by God are through the small quantity of participants in which they allow our Lord God to exhibit His power by His Holy Ghost through a select, countless few that He has chosen; “For many are called, but few are chosen.”, Matthew 22:14.
Now we come to that fork in our lives, just as the minister, and begin to understand, to live is Christ, and to die is gain: Philippians 1:21-26, 21 ” For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. 23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: 24 Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. 25 And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith; 26 That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.” There is a great charge given to us. It is a grand, and noble assignment to encounter. Whenever we respond, the entire host in heaven rejoice. At any given moment when we follow the Holy Spirit’s urgings to preach, teach, and pray for a soul, angels, as well as us, look upon that soul in anticipation, from the sidelines, to see if the reverence of that one’s heart is turned towards our Lord Jesus Christ. We are left in a state of anticipation of the decision which is ultimately God’s as to the destiny of the souls we reveal the gift of salvation provided to all who believe.
The law’s failure and fulfilment