28 June 2016

WHAT ARE YOU SOWING


Gal 6:7-10

John MacArthur said “The Christian has only two fields in which he can sow, that of his flesh and that of the Spirit.” See, to sow to one’s flesh is to ponder to it, give in to it and coddle it….which the opposite of crucifying it as we already read in (5:24)See, John Stott said “Sow a thought, reap an act, sow an act, reap a habit, sow a habit, reap a character, sow a character, reap a destiny.” Holiness is a harvest and every time we allow our mind to harbor a grudge, nurse a grievance, entertain an impure fantasy, wallow in self-pity, we are sowing in the flesh. Sadly many Christians sow in the flesh and wonder why they don’t reap holiness, victory and blessing. We need to be reminded who we serve and what we are to sow on this earth……… because the world is always sowing to the flesh. And this is the battle we face as well and we need to proceed with caution. Why? God will not be mocked! Unfortunately we live in a culture that only desires to sow in the flesh and they are blindly deceived by their works of the flesh. On the other hand! We serve an “awesome God” a God who has demonstrated and revealed Himself to us through His Son Jesus Christ and the Bible. This universe and world screams “Creator” this world “oozes” the handy work of a Holy God.

See, science is not our enemy! Science affirms the Word of God as truth. The bible is not only accurate when it relates to physical facts but it clearly teaches the universe is orderly and dependable and not by some accident or chance. The bible declares “He stretches out the north over the void and hangs the earth on nothing. He binds up the waters in his thick clouds, and the cloud is not split open under them. He covers the face of the full moon and spreads over it his cloud. He has inscribed a circle on the face of the waters at the boundary between light and darkness.” Job 26:7-10. Isaiah 40:21-26 says “Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is He who sits above the circle (sphere) of the earth, And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in. He brings the princes to nothing; He makes the judges of the earth useless. Scarcely shall they be planted, Scarcely shall they be sown, Scarcely shall their stock take root in the earth, When He will also blow on them, And they will wither, And the whirlwind will take them away like stubble. "To whom then will you liken Me, Or to whom shall I be equal?" says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, And see who has created these things, Who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, By the greatness of His might And the strength of His power; Not one is missing.

And as this Post-modern world preaches and argue that there is no moral absolute or a God…..this is very deceiving and dangerous for their souls. Many people groups are greatly deceived today! Sadly this is just as real as it was during the time of Jesus’ ministry. John 6:64-66 we a get a glimpse of this truth! “But there are some of you who do not believe." (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.” People walking aimlessly trying to ignore or deny there is a God who gives them air to breath and lungs to take in that air. We live in culture of people who claim they are their own gods and they are in charge of their own destiny. We live in a culture that makes up its own rules and morals to live by and anyone who tells them their wrong they cry out “intolerance”What I find said about this way of thinking is that they think they’re in control and there is nothing that WILL get in their way!

What about Nebuchadnezzar? God granted him sovereignty, greatness, glory and majesty to be a King, but because of his arrogant pride, that was easily taken away from him by the One who gave it to him in the first place. God made him become like a wild animal that ate grass. “While the words were still in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, "O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will." Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles' feathers, and his nails were like birds' claws.” Dan 4:31-33.

There have been many like Nebuchadnezzar who believe the same thing he did. I was reading about Ernest Hemingway in my MacArthur Commentary and it says Hemingway “was famous for snubbing his nose at morality and at God, declaring that his own life proved a person could do anything he wanted without paying the consequences.” Hemingway considered the scriptures as “outdated” and they were completely useless to modern man and a hindrance to his pleasures. Moral laws were to him a religious superstition that had no relevance. It is told Hemingway mocked the “Lord’s Prayer” it something like this…..”Our nada (Spanish for Nothing) who art in nada.” What I found tragic about this life is how it ended for him. Hemingway purposed to live his life according to himself and tried very hard to deny the clear evidence of an Almighty God. And at the end of this selfish indulged lifestyle lead him into complete despair and hopelessness as he put a bullet into his head. Famous authors like Sinclair Lewis and Oscar Wilde openly attacked the divine moral standard and thumbed their nose to God, mocking His Word and His Law. Sinclair life ended as a pathetic alcoholic in a third rate clinic in Italy. And Oscar Wilde ended up an imprisoned homosexual, in shame and disgrace. And near the end of his life he penned these words “I forgot somewhere along the line that what you are in secret you will someday cry aloud from the housetop.”

Sadly this will continue and there will be many who will be mockers! Christopher Hitchens who passed away of cancer, said this “What if I pulled through and the pious faction contentedly claimed that their prayers had been answered? That would somehow be irritating,” Mr. Hitchens wrote. Alexander Hitchens (son of Christopher Hitchens) said “I spent my father’s final weeks and days at his bedside and watched him draw his final breath and die, and can assure you that there was no hint of any sort of conversion (as I’m sure you have already guessed). In fact, we barely spoke about religion at all except for joint expressions of frustration at the god botherers who made the rounds in the ICU and other units where dying people could be preyed upon by vulturous Christians.” This is so sad, and that this how they see us who care for their soul. But as David wrote “The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” Ps 14:1 And as Jude penned "In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions." It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.” Jude: 18-19. So here is the warning to the church and those listening! What are we sowing? And who are we sowing to?

Paul continues in this letter that we are never to be “Deceived” means to be “bewitched” it’s the “Jedi Mind trick”…..as many were led astray not to believe the truth of the gospel.
“O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth…?” Gal 3:1. One of the dangers of this deception, are those who claim to say this in Jesus name” People who claim to teach in God’s name are most destructive. As Paul told Timothy “But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” 2 Tim 3:13. There is something else that is just as deceiving…… our own hearts at times. Some Christians sow in the flesh and never realize it or chose to ignore it…….. just as guilty as their unsaved neighbor.

For example: When a dating couple gets caught up in the sensuality of the moment and engages in sexual relations outside of marriage, then they are sowing to the flesh. When a man fantasizes about taking control of an organization or a church and decides to scheme and cheat to get to the top, then he is sowing seeds of destruction, not only for others, but for his own soul. When a woman secretly despises another woman in the church, without ever seeking reconciliation, she is sowing to the flesh, hurting her own soul and the fellowship of the church. When a husband and wife allow bitterness and resentment to build in marriage without ever trying to resolve their differences and forgive one another, then they are sowing seeds of the flesh, hurting themselves and the whole family. John Stott said “Holiness is a harvest; whether we reap it or not depends almost entirely on what we sow”"
  
So what are you sowing? Because according to Paul watch out you’re not being deceived with thinking you’re sowing in the Spirit….when in reality your sowing in the flesh. And according to Paul it’s destructive “from the flesh reaps corruption”Listen carefully though! Though a child of God is saved from spiritual death, a sinning believer can “reap corruption” meaning suffer physical death and many other tragic earthly consequences as did some in the early church. “For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. “1 Cor 11:29-30

Act 5:1-11 gives us a clear warning of this sowing in the flesh “But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God." Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things. And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him. Now it was about three hours later when his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter answered her, "Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?" She said, "Yes, for so much." Then Peter said to her, "How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out." Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband. So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things.”

God will not be mocked! We might be able to hide our motives and our sowing to one another, but God see’s all. God will not be mocked and be sure your sin will find you out as Numbers 32:23 say so clearly. We are to be sowing thoughts and deeds of the Spirit, not the flesh.

For example:

The books you read
The people you hang out with
The things you do for entertainment
The thoughts you possess moment by moment. 
All these things are acts of sowing; and they are to be done in the Spirit.

The question we need to ask ourselves! Are my acts of the flesh or the Spirit? Because to be sowing in the Spirit is a Christian who is preoccupied with the things of God rather than fleshly things of the world. And this produces the fruit of the Spirit. To sow in the Spirit, is to walk in the Spirit and to be led by the Spirit and filled with the Spirit. This is the same idea as to walking in Christ! “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,” Col 2:6. As Colossians 3:2 says “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” When we lose focus of this truth …this is where deception comes in and we are easily led to sowing in the flesh. See the product of sowing to the Spirit is eternal life! Why? Eternal life is primarily a quality not a duration. The moment of genuine salvation you begin to participate in eternal life. It’s not that only Spirit filled believers go to Heaven. Every believer goes to Heaven, because every believer is forever a child of God and child of the Kingdom. But as John MacArthur said “Just as his life does not always perfectly reflect the righteousness he has before God in Christ, neither does it always perfectly reflect the eternal quality of life he has in Him.” Sin and our sowing of the flesh corrupt our reflection and enjoyment of this eternal life (this promise) we have in Christ. This is why some Christians are most miserable people on the planet. Some are even more miserable than most unsaved people.

This is what sin and sowing in the flesh does to a believer. We forget this truth “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Gal 2:20. The believer who sows in the flesh does not lose the Spirit but he loses the fruit of the Spirt which is love, joy, peace and so on. And when this happens the first thing we should be doing is confessing our sin to a holy God……… but also praying like David did“Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.” Psalm 51:12. Restore, renew and refresh my soul to thirst and hunger after you. Restore my soul to sow for your glory and the good of your people. What does that look like?

We are to use every opportunity to sow in the Spirit. (v10) We are to be marked by practical goodness by going out of our way to serve, help, restore, encourage, build up for the glory of Christ and any time and any hour.
  
We are to do good to everyone …yes EVERYONE! (v10) Universally we must love our neighbor as ourselves. We should be sensitive to those these fortunate then us in our community. We are to look for ways to show mercy to ALL PEOPLE! Whether its urgent physical need to not so urgent need.
  
We are to make the local church our first priority. (v10) We are to pay close attention to those within our church family, as we pick up, hold up and build up one another.

That may mean we are to help….. 
Restore a broken brother or sister who has been entangled in sin.
Bear one another’s burdens and show compassion for the hurting.
Supporting your pastor and Sunday School teachers and leaders
Helping with transportation for those who can’t make it on their own.
Paying a bill for someone who lost their job or spouse.
Discipling or coming along-side that struggling teenager or young person.
Baby-sitting for parents in the church, so they can have a date night or something.

We are to be looking for ways to bless those in Calvary Baptist Church. And while you do this never grow weary when you see no results or fruit. (v9) When we sow with a heart of adoration towards God because of what Jesus did for us …Paul says “we will reap, if we do not give up.” We must never get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up. Take it from your pastor! Compassionate ministry can make you weary. Contending for the gospel can make you exhausted. Every one of us, me included can become very discouraged in doing good deeds outside and inside the church walls. So listen to the Apostle Paul, who knows what that feels like better than anyone in this sanctuary…….

Keep sowing in the Spirit.
Continue loving one another and those outside the family of God.
Keep resisting backbiting with one another.
Keep rejecting false teachers and the false gospel they preach.
Keep baring one another’s burdens until He calls us home.
Keep preaching the gospel to others and yourself.
Keep doing good for His glory and your good.

And watch God do an amazing work in and through you. We reap what we sow even though it may take years before you see fruit. If you don’t believe that read the autobiography of William Carey. We are called and set apart to sow in the Spirit, and not in the flesh.
  
The Sunday Question: What are you sowing? Remember what Paul said “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.” Col 3:23-25


CORRECTION ON AUDIO: It is Christopher Hitchens…not David. Sorry for the mistake on my part.

20 June 2016

THE MORTIFICATION OF SIN


Gal 5:24-35; 6:1-6

John Owen wrote an amazing book called “The Mortification of Sin” which is where I took my title from for this message. It’s a wonderful book that talks about the dangers of sin and how we are to avoid such acts of the flesh. He got the title for his book by preaching a number of messages on Romans 8:13 “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death (mortify) the deeds of the body, you will live.” Why? Sin is a deadly and it kills and John Owen said in his book “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.” As we’ve seen over the past few weeks that the flesh is at war with the Spirit that indwells in us. (v17). We need to be alert to the dangers of sin. Why? Sin is deceitful “but exhort one another daily, while it is called "TODAY," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” Heb 3:13. Sin is dehumanizing……sin dismantles relationships and corrupts the human soul. The less we bear the image of God due to the presence of sin, the less human we really are. Sin is damning…..the greatest threat to the soul is sin. Sin threatens the eternal soul of the unsaved. Sin leads to death and judgement and eternal punishment in Hell.

"But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— where 'THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.'” And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— where 'THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.' And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire— where 'THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.' Mark 9:42-48
Hell is a final destination and it involves both pain and eternal punishment. That’s how severe sin is in the life of a person. But we sometimes we tend to treat it like it’s no big deal……. because I’m under the blanket of Grace. But we need to be careful with that kind of thinking! It’s contradictory and deceiving according to God’s word. For example: A man named Cory Byrne, 34 years old, died in 2010, at a local hospital after being strangled by his 9-foot, 25-pound pet boa constrictor. Byrne had been showing the snake to a friend as he had the snake draped on his shoulders. An officer was called to Byrne's apartment around 5:40 p.m. The officer found Byrne on the ground with the snake still around his neck. Paramedics soon arrived and helped get the snake off Byrne and into a cage. The Nebraska Humane Society in Omaha has taken custody of the male red-tailed boa constrictor. Spokesman Mark Langan said “The snake appears to have been well-fed, added he did not know what might have led the snake to strangle its owner. “The sad reality is, whether it’s a dog or a cat or snake, no matter how much you trust an animal, they react unpredictably in certain situations," Langan said. "Once a snake clamps down like that, they're extremely strong. It would have been very difficult for one person to remove that snake."

See, some animals cannot be tamed. You might call a snake your pet and give it a cute name, but it doesn’t take the wild out of it. It much the same with sin. You may cuddle sin like a pet, but it doesn’t take the wild out if it or make it less dangerous. Sin and evil cannot be domesticated, sin poises to attack your faith at all cost. “the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh” Gal 5:17

This is where we need to take sin seriously! Not only privately in the closet of our own hearts, but corporately as well, we fight this battle together. We are God’s children who He purchased with His Son’s blood and death on the cross. And if we are His children we have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (v24-v26). Why? Sin is a deadly killer and it will not stop until it has consumed whatever it attaches itself to. And our responsibility is to one another….keeping each other accountable for how we live our Christian lives and to be aware of the sin that lurks around the corner when we least expect it. Why do I say that? Look how Paul starts chapter 6 for us. “Brothers” fellow Christians, God’s elect, God’s adopted children, please listen to what I’m about to saying to you! “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load. Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.”
Gal 6:1-6. 
Paul gives us 3 things we are to do to help those fallen in sin. Three things that “those who are spiritual” are to do to help the fallen brother or sister in Christ. “those who are spiritual” are those who are walking in the Spirit, filled with the Spirit and are demonstrating the fruits of the Spirit. They are seasoned and spiritually strong (not perfect and exempt from sin) but demonstrate a virtuous lifestyle towards the Lord. God has places this responsibility on us, the ones who are stronger to come alongside the weaker brother or sister and help them. So the first thing Paul tells us to do “those who are spiritual” is……

Pick Him Up (v1) 

When a person stumbles, his first greatest need to is to get up, and often they need assistance to do that. By doing this you’re helping that brother or sister get back on their feet spiritually and morally. “Even if a man is caught in any trespass” they deserve help…you deserve help! “caught in any trespass” is the idea that they are guilty without a shadow of doubt. And as the KJV renders this passage “overtaken in a fault” helps us to understand that this is not premeditated, but rather he or she fails to guard or perhaps flirt with temptation thinking they can withstand whatever is before them. It’s that idea seeing how close you can get to the edge before falling off. There’s a story about a group of coach drivers applying for a job. One of them would be chosen to carry the king’s children up and down a narrow, winding road leading up to the king’s mountain-top castle. With dozens of steep drop-offs and no guardrails, it was a daunting assignment. The king’s chief liveryman asked each candidate this question: HOW CLOSE CAN YOU GET TO THE EDGE WITHOUT GOING OVER? The applicants offered various responses indicating their confidence in skill! One man boasted he could drive the horses at nearly full speed for the entire length of the road, always keeping within 6 inches from the edge. The interviewer was unimpressed. Finally, one driver stepped forward and responded, “Sir, if it’s the king’s children, I want to stay as far from the edge as I possibly can.” This man was hired for the job....

This should be our answer when we are faced with a decision that will affect our walk with a holy a merciful God! Shouldn’t it? This would be what “those who are spiritual” would do and that is why we are to help those who have fallen or become careless in their spiritual walk. Because! When a person is fallen or caught in sin…..they have a tendency to lose confidence, their inner joy, peace and all the other fruits of the Spirit. They tend to doubt the grace that has already been given to them and doubt the truth of God’s promises and His word. Sin in the life of a believer tends to weaken their anticipation of Christ’s return. Their sin has caused them to shrink back and be less anxious to see Jesus. As John wrote “And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming” 1 John 2:28. We who are more spiritual are to come alongside them and help by not say “I told you so” and then proceed to walk away. We are to be sensitive towards someone’s sin and deal with it with gentleness as whenever and wherever it may appear in the body of Christ. (v1) Prime example for us to follow! “The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?" This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her. “And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more." Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:3-12. A spiritual brother seeks to restore a sinning brother, by first helping up out of the mud of his sin with Christ-like gentleness. 

Hold Him Up (v2-v5)

Once you’ve helped by picking up a brother in sins and trespasses we are to help hold them up. It’s not enough to simply help them turn from sin and leave them alone. Usually a person like this who has victory over that sin for season …Satan usually turns around and attacks harder and faster. Paul said “we are to bear one another’s burdens” “Bear and burden” are the key words…. ”Bear” refers to endure or endurance as in a race to the finish line. “Burdens” is the load one carries and sometimes those loads are more than we handle. We think we can handle them, but in reality we can’t. A persistent and opposing temptation is one of the heaviest burdens a Christian can have. This is where “those who are spiritual” come into play. We endure with them as they fight the battle of the flesh. As James said “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16. Peter said “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 
1 Peter 5:6-8

We are to stand with our fallen brother and hold him up as we fight this battle together. When we do this we are “fulfilling the law of Christ” (v2). What is that Law? Jesus said “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:34-35. Even Paul elaborated on this in his letter “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Gal 5:14. The question for you and me is…. Wouldn’t you want someone come alongside you as you battle a certain sin that tears at your soul and your relationship with Christ? Don’t you desire restoration as opposed to separation? If not, maybe you need ask yourself! Do you love your sin more than Christ? Does your sin bother you at all? There is one thing to fall into sin, but another to premeditate it and love it. It’s the idea I know it’s wrong but He’ll forgive me later. That is a very dangerous place to live and assume everything is ok. Why? Hell is knocking at your door and he wants to take up residence in your heart.

Build Him Up (v6)

Not only are you pick him up, hold him up, but we are to build him up through sharing and the precious word of God. “share” has the idea of sharing equally. This is commonly translated “fellowship” it’s a mutual arrangement…not one person serving or providing, but both parties sharing together. Keeping one another accountable in the fellowship of the family of God. What are we to share? “All good things” this primarily means spiritual and moral excellence. A way to do that is founded in Phil 4:8-9 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

It is our goal and desires to see those around us strive for holiness and godliness under the Spirits leading and directing. Kevin DeYoung said “The biggest threat to the church in any generation is not the government, not some other religion, nor enemies of the faith. It's us with our own waywardness, our own wandering, our own hard heartedness, and our own love affair with sin.” Sin is a lot like leprosy…..because Leprosy affects the nervous system. It gradually numbs the person’s extremities to the point at which pain is no longer felt. One would think “having no more pain would be good.” Rightfully so, if you were getting a tooth drilled and filled or if you were having surgery on your broken leg.  You wouldn’t want to feel the pain. This is where you would want the gas or a shot of Novocain. But what if that feeling never came back ever again? It would be very difficult to chew your food without realizing you are doing possible damage to your mouth or tongue. Or you had no more feeling in your leg after surgery you wouldn’t know if it’s healed properly.

See, pain serves a purpose! Pain tells a child not to touch a hot stove. Pain tells a carpenter to aim skillfully with a hammer. Pain warns and guides. And that’s the problem with Leprosy. You loss all feelings to pain. And sin does the same thing to the Christian who is “caught or entangled” in sins and trespasses. Having a spiritual numbness is more horrible than leprosy and I’m not minimizing how terrible that is. We who are “spiritual” need to help our brothers and sisters in Christ, who can become defeated and somewhat numb to the causes of sin. We need each other otherwise we can become numb to our own sin. NUMB! Like Raynold the 3rd, a fourteenth-century duke. Who was grossly overweight was commonly called by his Latin nickname, Crassus, which means “fat. “After a violent quarrel, Raynold’s younger brother Edward led a successful revolt against him. Edward captured his older brother, but did not kill him. Instead, he built a room around him in the castle and promised him he could regain his title and property as soon as he was able to leave the room. This would not have been difficult for most people since the room had several windows and a door of near-normal size, and none was locked or barred. The problem was Raynold’s size. To regain his freedom, he needed to lose weight. But Edward knew his older brother, and each day he sent a variety of delicious foods. Instead of dieting his way out of prison, he grew fatter. When Duke Edward was accused of cruelty, he had a ready answer: “My brother is not a prisoner. He may leave when he so wills.” He stayed in that room for ten years and wasn’t released until after Edward died in battle. By then his health was so ruined he died within a year … a prisoner of his own appetite.

Did he really help his brother?
Did he help by picking him up?
Did he help by holding him up?
Did he help by building him up?

The answer is NO! We are to pick up, hold up, and build up before it gets too late. Remove the blinders and be Christ to one another and fulfill the Law of Christ……by being His hands and feet to the family of God.

06 June 2016

THE BATTLE WE ALL FACE (PART 1


Gal 5:16-21

As we have been studying this book together the underlining theme and the truth of this letter is that Jesus is the primary person behind our justification and the Holy Spirit is the primary Person behind our sanctificationAs John MacArthur said in his commentary “A believer can no more sanctify himself than he could have saved himself in the first place. He cannot live his Christian life by his own resources any more than he could have saved himself by his own resources.” What is John MacArthur trying to say? The simplest answer is that the Christian life is a life lived under the direction by the power of the Holy SpiritYour life is and must be governed by the power of the Holy Spirit. Your life must constantly need to live by the power of the Spirit. Why? For this reason we need to submit to the Spirit. “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.  You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” Rom 8:8-17

Ray Pritchard said “To many Christians, the Holy Spirit is a mystery. He is the “hidden” member of the Trinity. The Father we know; the Son we know; but what about the Holy Spirit? Few believers understand Who He is, why He came, or what He does in the world today.”
And this is a major problem in the church today. Some weld the Spirit as some kind of essence you spray on yourself or some kind of force as if your Luke Skywalker picking up his X Wing Fighter in the swamp with Yoda. The last time I checked, I tried to raise my SUV to fly over the traffic on the 401 during rush hour on our holidays and I couldn’t do it. The Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity, is all glorious, life giving and sustaining in the believers life founded in the gospel of Jesus Christ. We tend to forget or ignore the infinite sovereign power of the Holy Spirit. We forget

The Holy Spirit brings conviction to the sinner. (John 14:8; Acts 2:37-38) 
The Holy Spirit regenerates the sinner. (Titus 3:5; 1 Cor 6:11) 
The Holy Spirit resides in the believer permanently. (John 14:16-18; Rom 8:9-16) 
The Holy Spirit baptizes and seals the believer at the moment of conversion. (Rom 6:1-4; Eph 1:13; 4:30) 
The Holy Spirit fills the believer to live for the glory of Christ. (Eph 5:19; Gal 5:22-23) 
The Spirit gives us the ability to not fulfill the desires of the flesh.

But the problem is…. our flesh tends to fight the Spirit and it’s a battle we face daily, some more than others. So, here is the battle we all face every day until Christ calls us home. The battle of the flesh (your stubborn self-righteous wants and desires versus the Holy Spirit the giver of grace and truth to keep us from our flesh. (v17-v21). This is quite a list isn’t it? And this list pertains to us…you and me! The church…..Paul not talking to the unconverted man or woman. So please don’t ignore or flip pass this portion as if you have it all figured out and this portion doesn’t apply to you at all. Because it does, and this is the battle we face as we declare war on our flesh through the Spirit that sanctifies. This list of FLESHLY SINS seems to fall into 4 groups

The breakdown of the home and society in general: Sexual Immorality, fornication, impurity, sensuality.

It’s interesting that Paul notes sexual sin first and this isn’t the first time he starts the list off this way. Eph 5:1-3 “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints;. 1 Cor 6:9-10 “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. Col 3:5 “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” Sexual immorality and fornication- all illicit sexual activity, including adultery, premarital relations, homosexuality, incest, and prostitution. Even the common practice of living together without being married. Impurity – originally meant the state of being dirty referring to someone who is either morally or ceremonially unclean. This is person who is open and reckless of moral purity; basically anything that prevents you from approaching God. Sensuality or Lasciviousness - any excessive behavior or lack of restraint (especially sexual excess and indulgence) its unbridled lusts of the heart. From filthy words to indecent bodily movements of both male and female, such as seductive dancing or drawing attention to body.

Unlawful things in the spiritual realm: Idolatry, sorcery.

Idolatry - Worshipping anyone or anything other than the one true God. It’s anything that comes between man and God. It’s the sin of worshipping man-made images as a god. Or better yet it’s anything that occupies the place in the heart of man that God should occupy. Witchcraft - the original Greek word used here is “pharmakeia”, from which the English word “pharmacy” comes from, this word originally referred to medicines in general, but in this context it refers to mood and mind-altering drugs, as well as the occult, witchcraft, and magic. Many pagan religious practices required the use of drugs to aid in the communication with deities. This is very dangerous for the soul by the way! Necromancy which the act of consulting with the dead for the purpose of receiving information through a Medium or Sorcerer. Astrology the pseudo-science which treats of the influence of the stars upon human affairs. This is where people make individual decisions, plans, future and fortunes by charting the stars and planets. Mind-reading is the effort to tap some power or spirit so as to discover hidden knowledge, especially to be able to foretell the future or to obtain some special information. Observing times, or interpreting omens, signs and chance events belong under mind-reading. 

Methods of disharmony and breakdown: enmities, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy.

Hatred or enmities - hostility and bitter conflicts. A wrong attitude habitually brings wrong actions. It is at the root of every conflict. Strife - quarreling and hostile debate, to have a contentious temper. (Rom 1:28). Jealousy – Wanting something that someone else has. This usual leads to other sins like bitterness and violence. Those who are jealous display a lack of gratitude to God for His providence and lack of love for others. Fits of anger or Wrath - outbursts of anger or fits. This refers to the eruption of the person with an uncontrolled temper. And we should never excuse this sin by making it a personal trait or a cultural trait….it’s the works of the flesh! Strife or selfish ambitions- contention and conflict. Having impure motives and not sincere at all, but like to quarrel with others. Dissensions – denotes a state of affairs in which men are divided and feuds flourish in the church. And we need to be extremely careful as Gal 5:15 says you don’t “bite and devour one another” Divisions or factions- this is closely related to the previous term and in some instances stands for false teaching. Here Paul emphasizes those who are causing division where there should be no division with false teaching.  Self-willed opinions substituted for truth. Envying – this is very similar with jealously. The envious person is not happy with God’s gifts and cannot stand it when others succeed.
  
Wild unrestrained overindulgences: drunkenness, orgies and things like this.

Drunkenness 0r indulgences - literally means intoxication which usually ends in a rowdy or crude behavior. This demonstrates a life dominated by the flesh not the Spirit. Orgies – though we can take this in a universal sense when those cannot control their own appetites; it’s more than likely a special reference to the orgies that so often characterized the pagan worship ceremonies that many of the Gentile converts of Galatia had once participates in. And things like these – indicates that Paul’s list of deeds of the flesh represented is not an exhaustive list but a starting point to the immorality of the flesh, and the soul crushing destruction it brings. The ugliness of the flesh and the destruction it brings to you and me if we habitual practice such things.

“Those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” (v21) The key word is “practice” present action or the ongoing action. It is the continual habitual practice of these things that mark the unregenerate man or woman. The end result is devastating! They will not inherit the kingdom of God. Do you recognize what kind of war you are in? You face Satan’s temptations and the flesh’s temptations. We are never to let our guards down for millisecond or have a Christian life that’s complacent or ignorant to the things around us and before us. Why as Paul says “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” (v17). We all face the world’s temptations and sometimes those temptations feel good for a season but in the end it only leads to a path of great heartache and pain to the soul (a calloused heart, unrepented heart and damnation).

Heb 11: 25 tells us that there is "pleasure in sin for a season" The truth is that this pleasure never lasts and there is no joy, contentment or lasting fulfillment in a lifestyle of sin. And a life lived in the flesh leads to destruction. So what is Paul waring us about? If you are living your life according to you, then it’s of the flesh. If your life is controlled by your old human nature that is what it will produce. Meaning, if your desire, longing, or craving for something that is forbidden and if you yield to it you will produce a lifestyle and behaviors that are not pleasing to God. It is that element of man’s nature that has been corrupted at its source. (The Fall). The flesh refuses to acknowledge God and leads to doing evil instead of good. It is our fallen human nature, which was inherited from our fallen parents, which is self-centered and prone to sin. This body of sinful impulses seeks to governor our mind and will, and when it does it produces its own behaviors called “works of the flesh.” When this nature is left unchecked, it produces the “works of the flesh.” And Paul gave us clear warning to this destructive behavior. So in a nut shell! Paul is telling us that the Christian life is a war. For us to ever conqueror the flesh, we (you) must see the seriousness of this battle and resolve to walk in the Spirit. Notice what Paul says at the end of (v21) “I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” 

The problem is not simply “out there” meaning the world; the problem is “in here” meaning the flesh. But this also doesn’t mean we hidden in the cleft of the rock and wait it out or hid in a cave until Christ calls us home. "The church father Jerome described how removing oneself from the culture does not remove temptation from one’s heart: Oh, how often I imagined that I was in the midst of the pleasures of Rome when I was stationed in the desert, in that solitary wasteland which is so burned up by the heat of the sun that it provides a dreadful habitation for the monks! I, who because of the fear of hell had condemned myself to such a hell and who had nothing but scorpions and wild animals for company, often thought I was dancing with a chorus of girls. My face was pale from fasting, but my mind burned with passionate desires within my freezing body, and the fires of sex seethed."

Jerome was in the desert alone and his fleshly desires still churned within his heart. What does that say to you and me then? “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” 1 Cor 10:12. We cannot escape this battle completely until the one who justified us Jesus Christ our Lord, calls us home. See we need to understand we are not alone in this battle….the Third Person of the Trinity resides in the true believer to guide and restraint our fleshly desires. God does this by changing us from the inside out through the Holy Spirit. What’s required of you and me is that we submit daily to Him, so that we do not gratify the desires of the flesh. How do we fight the battle or the war of the flesh? “walk by the Spirit”

“walk by the Spirit” indicates the need to yield to the Spirit every day, at work, at the playground, in the home, at school/University…..Basically everywhere! It’s a habitual way of life for the Christian! This is not an opinion but a command that Paul is giving us and the Galatian believers. The word “walk” means to walk around after someone or to walk in a particular direction. To walk by the Spirit means to depend on Him consciously for everything we do. We depend on Him to resist temptation. We ask Him for insight into His Word. We rely on Him for the right attitude in the midst of our trials. We seek Him for wisdom in difficult decisions.

We as God’s children don’t just walk aimlessly in this world not knowing where we are going! God has promised us Heaven, and that is our persevering joy and aim every minute by minute and day by day. “Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.” Phil 3:17-21. Walking is a progression…. going from one place to another and it requires perseverance and submission to God and His sovereign authority over your life through the Holy Spirit. As Paul said “how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:20-24
If we walk with this in mind as Paul said…..submitting to the Spirits leading, then you will not gratify the flesh. (v16) “Gratify” to carry out or fulfill those fleshly desires. It’s not rocket science…. this is the simple truth for simple people like me! But understand! Conquering the flesh does not merely come from theological knowledge. For example: A professor of theology can be addicted to pornography or fly off the handle in rage just like a younger believer with little theological knowledge. Growth does not happen because of your ability. It comes by yielding to the Sprit by walking in the Spirit. Chuck Swindoll explains that "we must “be filled with the Spirit” before we can “walk by the Spirit.” A Spirit-controlled Christian is comparable to an airplane on the runway that is pilot-controlled, empowered, and ready for takeoff. The airplane taking off and flying under the pilot’s control depicts a Christian functioning under the Spirit’s control or walking by the Spirit. We must listen to the Spirits Word, discern His will, and follow His guidance. This is not a deeper life or higher life; this is the normal Christian lifeSo (submit) walk in the Spirit and flee from your selfish desires of the flesh which is your old nature, your fallen nature. As Charles Spurgeon said “Walk under the Spirit’s power, following His guidance. The Spirit never leads a man into sin. He never conducts him into self-indulgence and excess. Be obedient to that great principle of the Spirit that goes with the doctrine of grace and salvation by faith, and then you will not be obedient to that lusting of the flesh that is in you by nature.”