New American Standard Bible
For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,
The natural man, or unbeliever, knows nothing about carnality. The desires of the flesh warring against the Spirit, and the Spirit warring against the flesh, which began at rebirth, are what produce carnality and the awareness of it. But Paul said, “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). In other words, carnality will disappear.
Are you quarrelsome and easily upset over small things? Do you think that no one who is a Christian is ever like that? Paul said they are, and he connected these attitudes with carnality. Is there a truth in the Bible that instantly awakens a spirit of malice or resentment in you? If so, that is proof that you are still carnal. If the process of sanctification is continuing in your life, there will be no trace of that kind of spirit remaining.
If the Spirit of God detects anything in you that is wrong, He doesn’t ask you to make it right; He only asks you to accept the light of truth, and then He will make it right. A child of the light will confess sin instantly and stand completely open before God. But a child of the darkness will say, “Oh, I can explain that.” When the light shines and the Spirit brings conviction of sin, be a child of the light. Confess your wrongdoing, and God will deal with it. If, however, you try to vindicate yourself, you prove yourself to be a child of the darkness.
What is the proof that carnality has gone? Never deceive yourself; when carnality is gone you will know it— it is the most real thing you can imagine. And God will see to it that you have a number of opportunities to prove to yourself the miracle of His grace. The proof is in a very practical test. You will find yourself saying, “If this had happened before, I would have had the spirit of resentment!” And you will never cease to be the most amazed person on earth at what God has done for you on the inside.
“I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Matthew 16:18
There is a new twist in the war on terror.
The Pentagon is building a new breed of warships that are designed to fight terrorism. This new class of battleship will carry a crew of 360 sailors and 700 combat-ready Marines to be delivered ashore by helicopters and assault craft. But, get this: One of the fleet, the USS New York, has been built from 24 tons of scrap metal from the wreckage of the World Trade Center terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. Steel from the World Trade Center was melted down in a foundry in Amite, Louisiana, to cast the ship’s bow section. Talk about turning the tables on terrorists. The fallout of terrorism’s best moment is used to defeat it. What a great idea!
But it’s no better than the idea that our God had when He took us, scraped and trashed by the terrorism of sin, and processed us through a redemptive meltdown to re-tool us for war against the terror of hell. As Paul said, we are a new creation in Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17), having been delivered from the grip of darkness and placed into the kingdom of God’s dear Son (Colossians 1:13)! Why the meltdown and re-creation? To equip us to aggressively go against the forces of darkness in our world. To crash the gates of hell (Matthew 16:18)!
I remember my wrongheaded thinking about this verse. When Jesus said that the gates of hell would not stand against His church, I always pictured His words as a statement about how safe we are from the power of hell. It probably was a mindset leftover from the fortress mentality of my early days in church. Back then we spent a lot of time talking about how hellish our world was and encouraged each other to hunker down ’til Jesus comes. But Jesus never intended that we would hunker down. Christ’s words mean that we are to pummel the gates of hell by aggressively taking its territory with the superior power of acts of righteousness.
In a world where we have forgotten how to treat each other, we crash the gates of division and alienation with acts of kindness and the healing power of forgiveness. We cleanse the toxic dumps of prideful acts and self-serving agendas with the power of humility and servanthood. Into a world run by the hellish treachery of genocide, oppression, and greed, we are to become advocates for the abused and the poor. In the face of prejudice and injustice, the church is to rise up with open arms to all people regardless, and seek to bring justice to bear on behalf of the marginalized and maligned. And, for those captives still chained in sin, we storm the gates to set the captives free with the power of the gospel!
Amazing, isn’t it?! Taken from the scrap pile of hell, we former captives have been melted down and recreated in the likeness of Jesus, who as our champion leads the charge and guarantees the victory!
While the Pentagon is building new warships, Jesus is busy building His church. And while I don’t know if we can win the war on terror, I do know this—if we will follow our leader, hell doesn’t stand a chance!
Maintaining the House of God
From: Streams in the Desert
Out of the spoils won in battle did they dedicate to maintain the house of the Lord (1 Chron. 26:27).
Physical force is stored in the bowels of the earth, in the coal mines, which came from the fiery heat that burned up great forests in ancient ages; and so spiritual force is stored in the depths of our being, through the very pain which we cannot understand.
Some day we shall find that the spoils we have won from our trials were just preparing us to become true “Great Hearts” in the Pilgrim’s Progress, and to lead our fellow pilgrims triumphantly through trial to the city of the King. But let us never forget that the source of helping other people must be victorious suffering. The whining, murmuring pang never does anybody any good.
Paul did not carry a cemetery with him, but a chorus of victorious praise; and the harder the trial, the more he trusted and rejoiced, shouting from the very altar of sacrifice. He said, “Yea, and if I be offered upon the service and sacrifice of your faith, I joy and rejoice with you all.” Lord, help me this day to draw strength from all that comes to me!
–Days of Heaven upon Earth
He placed me in a little cage,
Away from gardens fair;
But I must sing the sweetest songs
Because He placed me there.
Not beat my wings against the cage
If it’s my Maker’s will,
But raise my voice to heaven’s gate
And sing the louder still!
From: Through the Bible
Deuteronomy 5:29 (NIV) 29Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!
The church of the last century took a giant swing from preaching the fear of God to preaching the love of God. Both are important and both are needed. We need to see all of the character of God, as a focus on only one aspect is sure to get us off balance. When Jonathan Edwards preached his famous sermon, Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God, the listeners had such a vision of hell that they clung to their pews for fear of falling in. Today we almost laugh at that image, but remember that people were coming to Christ and confessing their sins. When Moody began to be popular he preached along this same vein, until he heard a young evangelist preach on the love of God. He saw people accepting Christ and was upset. Then he began to realize what a wonderful drawing power the love of God has on man. “We love Him because He first loved us.” He saw it was true in the Scriptures. Gradually American preaching started to shift from hellfire and damnation to the love of God.
Neither emphasis is wrong, for both are true of the nature of God. God hates sin because it destroys us. He hates sin because it is contrary to who He is and because He is good. He is a just and righteous God that will give a just sentence to those who insistently rebel against His goodness. Hell is real and is perfect justice for all who will be sent there.
In today’s passage, we see again that God has good intentions for us. To disobey means to walk toward destruction and evil. That is why we need to fear the Holy One and heed His commands. We can love Him and fear Him when we realize His commands are out of concern and love for us, to keep us from the Destroyer.
Consider: Incline your heart to fear Him and keep His commands.
Matthew 23:5-8 (NIV) 5“Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ‘Rabbi.’ 8“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers.
The religious leaders of Jesus’ day had one motivating force, ‘what will men think of me?’ Their religion was about pride in being the spiritual elite. They prayed in public with flowery words, distorted their faces when fasting, and publicly gave their tithes that were accurate down to the last mint leaf. They wore boxes that contained Scripture, which the Law encouraged, but they made extra large. They believed the tassel of the Messiah’s garment would have the power to heal, so they made theirs extra long as if to say, “Perhaps I am He.” Jesus said their reward for such effort was the respect of man. They had the titles, the best seats, and the places of honor. That is all.
Jesus taught His disciples that the way of the Pharisee was not to be their way. They were to please God not man. They were not to seek after the title, Rabbi, which means teacher. Why? There is only one Master. We are all on equal footing as brothers. We are all being taught by the Teacher, the Holy Spirit. Man so desires to have a king, a hero, an elevated figure to look to. We have one King, one Hero, one elevated One. When we get our eyes on a man, we are taking them off of Jesus. The Apostle Paul said to follow him, but he is quick to add, “as I follow Christ”. Look past the leader to Jesus. If the leader is following closely in the footprints of the Leader, follow on.
This is not a word for us to judge others, but to search our own hearts. Why am I acting as I do? Who do I want others to observe my actions? Would I do this if no one ever knew? Jesus encourages us to act in secret so that only our Father will see. Then our reward will be entirely from Him.
Consider: As you do things for the Lord, make every effort to see that no one knows. Keep it between you and God.