Wednesday October 31, 2018
People in the world seem to be increasingly seeking to live life without God. When God is removed from a society, all fences come down, meaning the restrictions that divine morality places upon the Divine’s creatures. Marriage is redefined. Sex is redefined. Lust and passion are allowed more breadth and is labeled as freedom. Laws are redefined in terms of social justice instead of God given rights.
“Whenever you remove any fence, always pause long enough to ask why it was put there in the first place.” [G.K. Chesterton]
An old rabbinical saying is “God is like the light, blessing, success, and prosperity issues are like the shadow. If you walk towards the light the shadow will follow you. If you turn your back on the light and chase the shadow, you will never catch up to it.”
This is another way of saying what David wrote in Psa 23.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
This was a very real hope in the heart of David because PSA 23:4
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil; for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.
Spiritual over material: Obedience to God in all things is non-negotiable.
We are still looking at the spiritual blessings over the material and the subcategory of recognizing no man according to the flesh.
2CO 5:14 For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died;
2CO 5:15 and He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.
2CO 5:16 Therefore from now on we recognize no man according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer.
The context, shown to us in verse 12 is:
Recognizing no man according to the flesh means that we do not judge others on outward appearance.
We all have had an opinion of what might constitute a fulfilling and happy life for ourselves. We saw last time that any opinion of life that is not in conformity to full obedience of Christ is not going to give us happiness or fulfillment. We are to lose our lives for His sake.
God’s ways are higher than ours. Our lives are hidden with Christ and we are to set our minds on the things above and not on the things that are on the earth.
We also noted in Rom 5 and Tit 3 that happiness and fulfillment are based on the love of God being poured out within our hearts. “Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (ROM 5:5)
In Titus, the Holy Spirit has been poured out upon us richly and our hope is eternal life.
Combining Rom 5 and Tit 3:
Hope does not disappoint because the love of God and the Holy Spirit have been poured out in us and upon us and we are heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
These are some of the spiritual blessings from the Father. We all have to fully receive the love of God no matter what we may think of ourselves or what our past may declare about us.
There is nothing good in us without God. The world has been trying to live without God since the beginning. God said that if Adam and the woman ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil then they would die. Satan said that if they ate they would become like God. Who is going to play God; men or God?
CS Lewis in Mere Christianity puts it like this. “The Christian way is different: harder, and easier. Christ says “Give Me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. I don’t want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think are innocent as well as the ones you think wicked - the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.”
He goes on to say that this is harder than what most are trying to do and easier. Christ said, “Pick up your cross.” That is hard. Then He said, “My yoke is easy and light.” That is easy. He means both. Teachers will tell you that the laziest boy in the class is the one who works the hardest in the end. The lazy boy will do the minimum to get by. The astute boy will work in the beginning to understand the material. When the exam comes at the end, the one who understands finds the exam easy and enjoyable while the lazy boy has had to cram and memorize and struggles on the exam. The astute boy has become a person of character while the lazy boy has simply done enough to not be pestered and then went back to his lazy self. Laziness means more work in the long run.
Pick up your cross means to experience total death through crucifixion. Follow Me means resurrection life in complete submission.
MAR 8:27 And Jesus went out, along with His disciples, to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way He questioned His disciples, saying to them, "Who do people say that I am?"
MAR 8:28 And they told Him, saying, "John the Baptist; and others say Elijah; but others, one of the prophets."
MAR 8:29 And He continued by questioning them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered and said to Him, "Thou art the Christ."
MAR 8:30 And He warned them to tell no one about Him.
Peter has recognized one aspect of Jesus. With this aspect, Peter can continue to be the man he presently is, giving some of himself to the Lord.
MAR 8:31 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.
MAR 8:32 And He was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him.
MAR 8:33 But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter, and said, "Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's."
Peter and all of us have to accept Christ’s death and our own (all will and desire handed over) as well as His resurrection and our own (His life, love, and Spirit are ours).
MAR 8:34 And He summoned the multitude with His disciples, and said to them, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
MAR 8:35 "For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's shall save it.
Loosing our lives for the gospel would mean the proclamation of the gospel, and it would also refer to the fact that the gospel was my death and resurrection.
MAR 8:36 "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?
MAR 8:37 "For what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
His soul is his life. When Christ states in verse 35 “whoever loses his life” He uses psuche, which is the word for soul. It means both depending on the context, and if we carry the context to verse 36 we can look at it as: “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his life? For what shall a man give in exchange for his life?”
Peter at this point wanted Jesus as Son of God and King, in which he likely envisioned himself as one of the King’s close advisors and rulers. But what Peter did not see as of yet, that Peter would have to give his life, his desires, his wants, his personal plans; all away. He would have to take upon himself the whole life of Christ. Peter wouldn’t rule on earth. He would die at the hands of his enemies on earth. The kingdom and Peter’s rulership would come much later. That is complete acceptance.
MAR 8:38 "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels."
The transformation is through faith. Like Peter, I must by faith lay aside my erroneous ideas of life and by faith accept all of Christ’s ideas about it.
CS Lewis continues: “The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing, is to hand over your whole self - all your wishes and precautions - to Christ. But it is far easier than what we are all trying to do instead. For what we are trying to do is to remain what we call “ourselves,” to keep personal happiness as our great aim in life, and yet at the same time be “good.” We are all trying to let our mind and heart go their own way - centered on money or pleasure or ambition - and hoping, in spite of this, to behave honestly and chastely and humbly. And that is exactly what Christ warned us you could not do. As He said, a thistle cannot produce figs. If I am a field that contains nothing but grass-seed, I cannot produce wheat. Cutting the grass may keep it short: but I shall still produce grass and no wheat. If I want to produce wheat, the change must go deeper than the surface. I must be ploughed up and re-sown.”
It is important to remind ourselves that God did the replanting at salvation. Only God can do the work. We cannot change ourselves on our own. God changed us at salvation and we must allow Him to continue to change us through the transformation of our minds with the word of God. The transformation is through faith. Like Peter, I must by faith lay aside my erroneous ideas of life and by faith accept all of Christ’s ideas about it.
Happiness is a thought. It is a way of thinking. The way of thinking that God has all the time. It is supernatural and not at all of this world.
The spiritual blessings, you remember, are in the heavenlies. That is their source. They are from the Father and in Christ Jesus, our precious Savior.
In a word, happiness is agape love, the virtue that heads the list of the fruit of the Spirit.
Let go of what you thought would make you happy and fulfilled, if you are still in pursuit of it. Life is only in Christ. Love is being in Him, clothed with Him, walking with Him. Happiness and peace are being in Him, clothed with Him, walking with Him.
Peter deals with the pride of material adornment in women. Notice the spiritual vs. the material.
1PE 3:1 In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives,
1PE 3:2 as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.
Our behavior and submission to God given authority are spiritual.
1PE 3:3 And let not your adornment be merely external — braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses;
1PE 3:4 but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.
Gentleness and humility are spiritual. All that we are commanded to do is spiritual. When it comes to the material, we are called to be gracious with it and leave its management to the way of Christ and the authority of the Father.
The proper application of the spiritual life to the question of the use of materialism, of which dress is a part, is not to dress like a vagabond.
1PE 3:5 For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands.
1PE 3:6 Thus Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.
1PE 3:7 You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.