Tag Archives: death

FLESH OR SPIRIT

FLESH OR SPIRIT

“Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on death, life and peace, what the flesh desires but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.” Romans 8:5-8.

But, for Paul, it’s not all good news!

The bad news is that all have sinned. The good news is that Christ died for all. The bad news is that not all people are saved. The good news is that all who believe in Jesus Christ are no longer under condemnation. The bad news is that those who are still following the desires of their fleshly nature are under the sentence of death. The good news is that those whose minds are focussed on the Holy Spirit are alive and at peace with God.

Once the distinction had been between Jew and Gentile because the Jews thought they were better than the Gentiles. They had the law of God and they didn’t worship idols like the Gentiles did, so they thought, so they were favoured by God and the Gentiles were not.

But now the distinction has shifted from race group to faith group. There are still two kingdoms at work, not Jew and Gentile but the kingdom of God and the dominion of Satan. How do we know to which kingdom we belong? It depends on who controls our minds. With who or what are our thoughts preoccupied? Since what we do and who we are begins in the mind, what we think in the end determines our destiny.

The person who is focussed on self; self-indulgence, self-fulfilment, self-gratification, is clearly still living in the realm of the flesh. Selfishness dominates; the world is very small, consisting only of self and those who can contribute to the pleasure and satisfaction of his selfish desires.

The person who has escaped from the clutches of the flesh through believing in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and receiving the salvation He bought for us through His death, has a new focus – the Spirit of God who lives in his heart and enables him to set a new direction in his life. Instead of pleasing himself and satisfying every fleshly whim, he now wants to please God and enjoy God’s peace and do His will.

Life and peace – isn’t that what everyone wants to enjoy? However, the pursuit of life and peace takes people down different paths depending on what they believe. The woman Jesus met at the well outside the village of Scar in Samaria believed the life was about being loved by a man. The path she took to fulfil her desire, however, took her into more and more guilt and shame and left her lonely, dissatisfied and despised by her fellow villagers.

Jesus gently revealed to her that the love she thought that a man would give her, would never satisfy her inner need, because only God’s love and a life lived for Him would bring her the love and peace she craved. Jesus called it “living water”. Drinking deeply of God’s love revealed through the gift of His Son would satisfy her thirsty soul forever…but she had to make a choice. She could not carry on with her old life. It was killing her. She had to turn her back on what she believed and embrace a new faith, a faith in the Messiah she had just met, who came to lead her out of her slavery to sin and into the realm of a new Master

We all have to make the same choice if we are to experience the life Jesus made possible for us, and the inward peace that will hold us steady as we navigate all the stresses and demands of this mortal life. It is impossible to have one foot in each kingdom. It’s either God’s kingdom or the devil’s domain. It can never be both…and…

When you choose God’s way and trust the Lord Jesus, you are on the way to everlasting life!

Acknowledgement

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

CAUGHT IN THE SPIDER’S WEB!

CAUGHT IN THE SPIDER’S WEB!

“Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! Nevertheless, in order that sin might be recognised as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful. We know that the law is spiritual, but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate, I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.” Romans 7:13-17.

The path of understanding how helpless we are without the Lord Jesus Christ is quite a tortuous one. Paul was obviously aware of his own spiritual journey from thinking that his law-keeping efforts were quite successful to realising that he fell very far short of God’s standards when he was honest enough to evaluate himself against the inward requirements of the law.

Paul came to realise that the law of God was only a measure, like a ruler, which accurately measured us against God’s holy standards. Therefore, the law had no power to do anything else but show him whether his life measured up or not. Therefore ,the law had no power to kill him. It only showed him whether he was worthy of death or not.

Sin is a factor of human life, but different religions define sin in different ways. For most, sin is defined by the values people attribute to their gods. If we keep in mind that people who reject the one true God create gods in their own image, the character and requirements of their gods depends on how they want to live their lives…which, of course, accurately reflects Adam’s rejection of his Creator in the beginning.

Satan offered him the alternative; you don’t have to obey God because He is short-changing you, keeping you from partaking of the fruit of that one tree. If you listen to me, you can make your own rules. However, Satan did not tell him to read the small print, the part that said, “If you follow my way, you will be my slave. You won’t really be free because you will be in my power and I will see to it that you utterly destroy yourself!” So, Adam fell for the devil’s little scheme and lost the freedom he had, to become a slave of sin.

God’s standard did not change. What changed was Adam’s ability to live up to it because his Helper, the Holy Spirit, had left him. He was on his own and helpless, like an insect caught in a spider’s web. The more he struggled, the more he became entangled in its death grip. He knew what was right because God’s law was written within his conscience, but he could not do anything about it.

All the law could do was to show him how far away from God’s ways he really was. Like the insect in the spider’s web, he could see the big wide world out there but he was powerless to get out of the web and fly free as he was created to do. Release from the silk’s sticky grip could only come if someone intervened and set him free.

A battle raged within him. He knew what was right because his conscience spoke loud and clear, but he could not do what was right because his natural bent towards sin was too strong. Like a bowling wood, he always veered off the straight path towards satisfying the demands of his selfish nature. He could neither silence his conscience by defending himself, nor appease it by living the right way. The very fact that his conscience accused him was an indication that he knew and agreed with what was right.

Guilt and self-loathing tormented him. But most of all, he was in despair because no amount of law-keeping could undo his past or give him hope for his future. Like the insect, he could only wait to be devoured. The same law that showed him how holy God is, would judge him and condemn him to eternal death. His problem was on the inside and no amount of trying to do good things would change his heart.

That’s the problem with man-made religions. Every ritual people perform, every regulation they adhere to cannot change their hearts. Washing their bodies, wearing special garments, eating or not eating certain foods, offering animal sacrifices, putting food in front of idols, bowing down to wood or stone, being nice to animals – are all in vain because none of these things can pay the debt of sin or change the heart.

Acknowledgement

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

A PLAN GONE AWRY

A PLAN GONE AWRY

“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned – to be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one who is to come.” Romans 5:12-14.

The Bible is an amazing book! Here is Paul, explaining something that happened some four thousand plus years before, and it all makes sense.

The evolutionists tell us that the universe came into being through a big bang. Eventually, over billions of years, life forms evolved and became what they are today. From the beginning, it seems, death was a part of life, but there is no explanation as to why creatures die, and how the earth and everything in it can be evolving upwards and at the same time running down. There is incontrovertible evidence that the earth is slowly deteriorating and cannot last forever, just as stars eventually burn out.

On the other hand, the Bible tells us exactly what happened and why, and what will happen in the end. The universe did not just “happen” – it had a Designer, a Creator and a purpose. God was both Designer and Creator, and His purpose was to create something that would show off His glory and give Him pleasure. How else could the universe function as a unit, be interdependent and be so majestic and splendid that man cannot fathom the depths of its wonders?

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will (for your pleasure) they were created and have their being.” Revelation 4:11. 

But why is there death and decay in the world? Something must have happened to upset God’s plan and throw the entire universe off track. Once again the Bible gives us a sensible explanation. God created human beings in His image to live in harmony with Him, but He also gave them a dangerous gift – the right and freedom to make choices which could lead them off in the wrong direction.

There was already an enemy living on earth – to which he and his followers were banished because they had rebelled against God and tried to take over. God deliberately planned to put man in the middle of enemy territory, to see whether he would love and obey Him in spite of the enemy’s attempts to lure him away.

Why did He do that? He wanted human beings to choose Him in the face of testing, because only then could He prove to the rebel spirits that He was worthy to be loved and trusted. He gave them one test – leave that one tree alone; the fruit of all the other trees are freely available for you to enjoy. God said, ‘You can have them all, except one.’ The enemy said, ‘Why is God so mean to you? Why can’t you have that one as well?’ and they fell for it!

God said, ‘Death!’ The enemy said, ‘God is lying. No death.’ Who was telling the truth? And so, sin came into the world through one man’s disobedience and death through sin, just as God had warned. Although death came through Adam because of his disobedience to one law, the extent of human rebellion was revealed through the whole law given to His people through Moses at Mount Sinai.

God’s law, which was intended to show them how to live God’s way in order to enjoy His favour and blessing, became the reason for judgment because it showed them just how far they were from loving and trusting Him. Adam set the ball rolling and everyone, including those whom God had set apart to be His own people, followed suit. Man’s nature had been so corrupted that it was impossible for him to live in union with God as He intended from the beginning.

Not only human beings, but also the entire universe was corrupted because God had created it to function as a unit, man and all of creation joined together. The creatures turned on each other, killing or being killed, as we see it today. Without God’s intervention, it could only go one way, to ultimate destruction.

Acknowledgement

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

REMEMBER HIS DEATH

Dear Family
And here we are again, at the end of another year. The snowball of time has once more been relentless in its purpose and velocity. “Time waits for no-one”, a phrase without clear origin, probably best sums up our passage upon this earth. Blink, and time has gone. Blink again, and there’s very little left. Phew!
One constant that we have as believers in Jesus Christ, is the truth that God lives in us and with us, permanently. One glorious day, around 2000 years ago, the angel of the LORD appeared to Joseph and reminded him of Isaiah’s prophecy in 7:14 regarding the baby which Mary was carrying:
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Emmanuel.”
Emmanuel, God with us! What a concept to get our heads around. Not only that the Creator of this entire universe is keeping all things together as He fills the universe with His presence, but that He is also God with us. What a gift!
Which brings me to my actual point: When we celebrate Christmas (which Jesus did not, the apostles did not, the early church did not, the Biblical record does not, the reformers did not and which I do not), then we can easily miss the reason Jesus actually came — to seek and to save the lost. We are instructed to remember His death, NEVER his birth. Surely it figures that we should just stick to what the Bible says and not be so keen to jump into a commercial con of gobbledegook mixed with a few biblical passages and celebrate a festival of obvious occultic and pagan origins? Adding a mix of the Bible to the world does not make something biblical.
I keep hoping that the church would grow up out of its slumber and realize that God is not pleased with our man-made celebration which He never instituted and which we love to use human wisdom to attempt to justify. By remembering His death, we are focused on His salvation bought for us, His resurrection and His coming again. Friends, Christmas is not of God. Do not allow the allure of nice tunes, family get-togethers or excessiveness in any area, to compromise your beliefs in our Saviour. Let’s remain faithful to His call, “Come follow me.”

The Agony Of The Hour

THE AGONY OF THE HOUR

They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’ He took Peter, James and John along with Him, and He began to be deeply distressed and troubled. ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,’ He said to them. ‘Stay here and keep watch.’ Going a little farther, He fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from Him. ‘Abba, Father,’ He said, ‘everything is possible to you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’ (Mark 14: 32- 36).

It is painful to eavesdrop on a moment like this. How can we ever know what Jesus felt like as He agonised to the Father over the coming ordeal? Up to this point, His announcements to His disciples concerning His death were matter-of-fact and philosophical, but here, in the garden, the reality and inevitability of it all came rushing towards Him like a freight train. He had spent His last precious hours with His disciples. In a few minutes He would be ripped from them and dragged through the streets of Jerusalem to face the hostility and hatred that had festered for so long but was now coming to a head.  

He was human. He needed the reassurance and love of the men into whom He had poured His life for the past three years. He needed their nearness, even if they could do nothing for Him. He needed to know that they were there for Him when He looked around for them in the hostile territory of the enemy. He needed to know that they were still for Him even if the whole world was against Him.

As they walked together through the garden, the full moon lighting their way and casting eerie shadows across their path, Jesus became restless and agitated. They had never seen Him like this before. His usually calm and placid demeanour gave way to anguish and distress. Stopping a moment among the trees, He motioned for His men to stay there while He and His three closest companions went on ahead. Puzzled, they sat down to await His return.

Leaving the three behind on guard while He went a stones-throw from them and dropped to the ground in an agony of groaning, He entreated the Father to save Him from the coming horror. He could feel the hot breath of His betrayer on His cheek as he kissed Him, signalling to the mob that came to arrest Him who the “criminal” was. When they had Him in their clutches, there would be no escape. He would have to decide, then and there, whether He was willing to go through with it or not. There was still time for Him to slip away, as He had done in the past because His hour had not yet come. This was His hour. What would He do?

In characteristic fashion, Jesus turned to the Father. He had never acted outside His will, not for a second throughout His sojourn on earth, and He was not about to do so now. It must, as always, be the Father’s decision. He ached for release, but He would bow to the Father’s will, no matter what. Perspiration dripped from His brow, staining the soil around Him red with the bloody sweat.

Addressing His beloved Father in the most tender and intimate terms of endearment, ‘Abba,’ He pleaded for release. “Let this cup pass from me.”  What cup? There is a “cup” which everyone must drink. It is either a cup of suffering – a cup of God’s wrath, or a cup of salvation. For Jesus, it was the cup of God’s wrath, not just a cup, but the cup, the one that must be drained to the dregs for the sin of the whole world so that those who believe in Him would have no other cup to drink but the cup of salvation.

What was the cause of Jesus’ agony? Was it the thought of the physical pain that lay ahead of Him? Perhaps, but I believe that He faced something far worse than that. For the holy and perfect Son of God to be made sin for us must have filled His soul with revulsion. For Him to falter through the ordeal for even a second, to take His eyes off the Father and react like a mere man, would have doomed Him to eternal death like the rest of mankind.

During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, He offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverent submission. Son though He was, He learned obedience from what He suffered and, once made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him. (Heb. 5:7-9)

This was the moment! It was now that He had to decide, and with the decision, seal His own eternal destiny and the destiny of all mankind which hung on His choice. Listen to His heart. Yet not what I will, but what you will. The Father said nothing, and Jesus knew what His answer was. It had been planned from the beginning of creation.

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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