Dependent Freedom

August 20, 2014 at 12:44 pm | Posted in Galatians | 10 Comments
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The evidences of a flesh-driven life are works – dead things which produce nothing living.

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

Galatians 5:19

The evidence of the Spirit-led life is fruit. Fruit does not come about by “working.”

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

Galatians 5:22

Fruit has life. It brings joy. It feeds others, not the plant that produces it. This is, practically, how to walk in the Spirit:

1. Admit that the flesh is stronger than your will power.
2. Go where the Spirit wants to go. The Spirit wants to go to church, to Sunday School, to the Bible, to prayer time, to go soul-winning, to visit the nursing home. The Spirit doesn’t want to go to the nightclub, the worldly party, the gossip session.
3. Don’t go easy on the flesh. Crucify it.

And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

Galatians 5:24

Don’t try to beat the flesh on your own. You will only strengthen it even more. Do not go where the flesh wants to go – where it gets fed. Stay with the Spirit, having a grand time of joy. Starve the flesh. Make it weak. Remember, at the moment of salvation you were “baptized into Jesus Christ.” He died for you, and you died with Him. Your flesh was crucified, buried, and you were raised with Christ – to walk in newness of life. You became something fundamentally different: a new creature. You were rescued from hell.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking grace is insufficient. We can’t add to it with our show-offy, better-than-the-next-person rule-keeping or legalism. You weren’t saved by the Law; don’t act like you were. God will never be fooled into thinking you’re more holy than anyone else. Attempting to do so is just a form of self-worship.

Don’t fall into the other trap, either, though. Don’t “presume” upon grace as an excuse to sin. Grace brings freedom from sin, not freedom to sin. The freedom to act like an idiot and destroy myself, or to bring shame to the very thing that helped me to get free, is not the kind of “freedom” that grace delivers.

Ours is a paradoxical freedom of dependence (upon God), rather than independence. He’s the Master with free servants. He’s the Father who makes His servants His children.

Scorn, Schemes, Scoundrels, Schizophrenics, and Scares

September 25, 2013 at 1:30 pm | Posted in Nehemiah | 3 Comments
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And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers’ sepulchres, that I may build it.

Nehemiah 2:5 (emphasis added)

Moreover I said unto the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the river, that they may convey me over till I come into Judah;

Nehemiah 2:7 (emphasis added)

Nehemiah’s “send me” became his “give me.” Perhaps it would be good for us to sometimes pray as volunteers before praying as beggars. “Let my friend be saved” becomes “give me an opportunity to share the Gospel with him.” “Heal my eyes” becomes “Lord, I repent of using my eyes to look with lust; help me to use them to see people’s needs.” I’m not saying we should try to bribe God. He knows our hearts. But Nehemiah had been fasting, praying, and planning for four months before his emergency prayer to God in the presence of the king.

Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven.

Nehemiah 2:4

The journey to Jerusalem took approximately two months, and Nehemiah traveled with a military escort, including some of the king’s officers. It must have been discouraging for him to see that there were enemies waiting for him when he got there, but there will often be enemies waiting when we set out by faith on a journey to do the will of God. We must not mistake the successful arrival at the place of battle for the victory itself. Recovering from an illness is not the victory; it’s only the successful trip to get back into the fight.

These were Nehemiah’s enemies:

But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king?

Nehemiah 2:19

Sanballat held an official position in Samaria, and it is very common for worldly officials to oppose the work of God when money is at stake. Tobiah was an Ammonite: a sworn enemy of the Jews (Deuteronomy 23:3-4). The devil opposes anything and everything Godly. Tobiah was related to some of the workers by marriage. Therefore, he had a “foothold” to try to interfere with the work, and he gathered intelligence. The devil is in the intelligence-gathering business. He can’t read our minds, but he doesn’t need to do so. He can learn everything he needs just by hitching a ride in the back seat on our way home from church. That’s why it’s important to prepare your weapons for battle in church, not just to have a party. The devil can spoil a party, but he can’t overcome a vigilant Christian warrior. Too many professing Christians are like dogs after a bath. They feel like they’ve been scrubbed clean during church and they can’t wait to get back in the mud.

wet dog shake

Geshem represents the flesh. The devil and the world will always try to enlist the flesh. Our flesh is weak, and it is a burden which must be borne and battled throughout the life of a believer.

Notice the tactics of opposition in which the world and the devil enlist the flesh to help attack the work and the workers of God:

Scorn

But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews. And he spake before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, What do these feeble Jews? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned?

Nehemiah 4:1-2

Mockery and ridicule must not deter the work of God.

Schemes

But it came to pass, that when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth, And conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it.

Nehemiah 4:7-8

In spiritual warfare, our enemies will set traps. They spend time and effort planning and plotting.

Scoundrels and Schizophrenics

And Judah said, The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wall.

Nehemiah 4:10

A scoundrel is someone who is deceitful and unreliable – someone who will lie to get out of work. A schizophrenic is someone who is afflicted by the coexistence of disparate or antagonistic elements. Christian workers can be infiltrated and influenced by lazy and double-minded enemies of the work of God.

Scares

And our adversaries said, They shall not know, neither see, till we come in the midst among them, and slay them, and cause the work to cease. And it came to pass, that when the Jews which dwelt by them came, they said unto us ten times, From all places whence ye shall return unto us they will be upon you.

Nehemiah 4:11-12

Fear of God is the friend of faith. Fear of failure is the enemy of faith. Nehemiah and his helpers had started a project so big and so daunting that only God could finish it, and they trusted Him to use them to do so. Don’t be ignorant of the devices of your enemies. You know who they are (world, devil, flesh), and now you know their tactics.

Seeing and Following Instead of Scratching and Stabbing

August 11, 2009 at 8:24 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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Christians are called to live at a higher level than the world. The principle of the world, when dealing with someone who treats you well, is, in general, treat them well in return. We call this theory, “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” On the other hand, the world’s principle for dealing with someone who treats you badly, is that it is now acceptable for you to treat them badly in return. We might call this theory, “You stab me in the back, you had better not turn your back on me.”

However, the Bible contains God’s principles for God’s people. And His standards are always higher, and always better.

See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.

I Thessalonians 5:15

This is a standard that requires vigilance, for our flesh finds it repulsive. Who can tread such a narrow path of righteousness, and not fall? Only the Christian who “watches” always where he is going (I Thessalonians 5:6; Hebrews 12:15). Thus the reminder to, “See that…” Keep your eyes open, and fixed firmly upon Christ and His Word, and you will always follow that which is good.


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