CHRIST’S MINISTRY AMONG MEN BEGINS

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Mark 1:14-15 

BRIEF INTRO: In our study of Mark’s gospel so far, we have been introduced to John the Baptist, his message, his purpose, and then his baptism of Jesus (1-11). Mark begins telling his story of Jesus at the beginning of God’s preparatory works for God, the Son, to minister among men, not at the incarnation as Matthew and Luke do. This is only one “obvious” difference from Mark’s message compared to the other gospel writers.

Another striking difference relates to Mark’s lack of any information regarding John the B’s ministry after the baptism of Jesus, so, for that layout, I included this chart to help us with a “timeline” of sorts relating to what we read in v.14 of John being taken into custody. 

In these following two verses (14-15), I have a few things that I want to emphasize. The first is Jesus starting to proclaim “the Gospel of God” and what that is. Second, I want to think through what “time” has been fulfilled and what it means that “the kingdom of God is at hand.” And, lastly, I want to focus on the only response to this preaching of the gospel of God that saves!

Are you ready to jump in with me? Let’s begin!

14 Now after John was [a]taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, [b]preaching the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God [c]is at hand; repent and [d]believe in the gospel.”

FOCUS ONE: Jesus came preaching (v.14)!

Mark doesn’t share anything about John’s ministry. He just moves on to his imprisonment. But what he does share with us is the emphasis of Christ’s ministry: the preaching of the gospel of God (Mark 1:38; John 18:37). For that information, look a John 1:15-37; John 3:22-36; Matthew 14:3-5.

That verse above, Mark 1:38, clearly expresses that Jesus intended to proclaim this gospel in Galilee and other places. Yes, He did perform many miracles, but those, as much as they helped people with physical maladies and removed demons from some, were meant to provide validity of His authority, and also His message. One commentator notes as much: 

“In spite of all the miracles evidenced in Christ’s life, the predominant characteristic of His ministry is described by the words Jesus came . . .preaching.

What did He preach? This is probably a more important question to answer than you might currently think. Why? Because it has implications for us today and all succeeding generations if the Lord tarries! Such as:

  1. Is the gospel of God for the Jew only or gentile as well?
  2. Is the gospel of God the same as the gospel of Jesus Christ or the gospel of the Kingdom or the gospel of the grace of God, and other “gospel” uses throughout scripture (Matthew 4:23; Mark 1:1; Acts 20:24)?

So, let’s begin by addressing these questions in order. Is the gospel only for the Jews or only for the Gentiles? The answer:

“But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for ALL those who believe; for there is NO distinction; for ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. . . (Romans 3:21-23; vv. 28-30).

I could cite more references, but I won’t at this time because I want to encourage you to search the scriptures and see if these things are so.

The next question could have severe implications for humanity if the references I cited above are different gospels. Romans alone uses the phrase “gospel of God” approximately 60 times, and its definition is good news! It is the message that God will forgive sins, deliver from sin’s power, and give eternal hope” (Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

The next term, “the gospel of the kingdom,” is used often in connection to the Lord Jesus and His work on the earth. We already know from above that the word gospel means good news and hear; the word kingdom (basileia) implies the realm in which a sovereign king rules. “Throughout the New Testament, the word kingdom consistently refers to the rule of Christ in the hearts of believers, since, for the time being, Christ’s kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).

So, to sum this definition up with the help of one commentator who is more precise than I could be: “The gospel of the Kingdom is the good-news message of repentance, redemption, and restoration offered by God to all who will receive Christ. It is by grace alone that this offer is available to those who will receive it! Those who accept this offer become part of His eternal Kingdom (John 1:12).”

Our last term to look at (I am aware that I am not citing Paul’s “my gospel” in this section) is the gospel of the grace of God. Excitingly though, we find Paul’s concise definition of that very term my gospel in Acts 20:24. 

2But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of God’s grace.

This makes me reflect on what Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:8-9. It is by His grace that we are saved. He imparts to us the gift of faith to believe in the finished atoning work of the king of the Kingdom, Jesus. And he draws us near the father by His shed blood (v. 13). 

All of these terms speak of the same gospel and its effect on those who receive it! I hope you have.

FOCUS TWO: The time is fulfilled

When we read these words, the question that should arise in our minds is: what time has been fulfilled? How exactly is the “kingdom of God at hand?” So, let’s begin by answering the first question.

Mark is emphasizing a point in time of God’s decisive action, in which, in the past, He foretold what would happen and by whom. In this case, the coming of the Messiah, the king of the eternal, heavenly Kingdom! In the gospel of Luke, Luke testifies to an event in Christ’s public ministry, in which He went to Nazareth and into the synagogue, as His custom, and stood up to read. The book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him, He opened it to where He wanted to read from, and read this: (Luke 4:16-21)

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,

Because He anointed Me to bring good news to the poor.

He has sent Me to proclaim release to captives,

And recovery of sight to the blind,

To set free those who are oppressed,

19 To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”

Paul rightly understood what was meant by the statement of Mark “fullness of time,” He used it as well. Take a look at what he says: And then, so as not to be misunderstood, He say’s: “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (v. 21).

But when the fullness of the time came, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under [a]the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under [b]the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons and daughters. Because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba! [c]Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir [d]through God.

There was a God-appointed time in history for the preparation and expectation of a people to be fulfilled. The Old Testament era was that time. When that appointed time, according to His providence, was complete, Christ came into the world, the incarnation! And He would fulfill all things (Ephesians 1:9-10). Don’t. Miss Paul’s usages of “fullness of the times” in those scriptures as you read it!

Hopefully, the above makes sense to you as you read scripture. But along with that question is another; how is the “Kingdom of God at hand?  The Kingdom is a big slice of Christ’s message, and this statement is a key feature of that message. Remember that word kingdom (Basileia)? We touched on it early on in this study. It means “kingship” or “royal rule.” This term also involves the sovereign authority of a ruler, the activity of his ruling, and the realm and rule, including its benefits (Theological Dictionary of the NT).

The concept of Kingdom was familiar to the Jews of His day. In light of all the Old Testament prophecies they were aware of, they expected a future messianic (Davidic) Kingdom to be established on earth (Matthew 20:21; Mark 10:37). Jesus’ statement in verse 15 informs them that the long-awaited king, the Messiah, has arrived. Jesus, the king of the Kingdom, the one with authority, has come, as John states in John 1:1!

FOCUS THREE: Christ” s imperative: repent and believe the gospel.

Repentance and faith are not as hard to understand as some people make them out to be. Repentance is when we come to understand that we are not as good as we thought we were, which can be very troubling to our hearts. This “acknowledgement” of our sinfulness before God is not merely a cognitive reality but involves the heart and will as well. 

The Holy Spirit convicts sinners of their guilt, danger, helplessness, and the way of salvation through Jesus Christ. When a sinner understands and agrees with God regarding their sin and turns to Christ, the only one who can save them, for His mercy and grace, they receive it because God does not lie or change His mind!

8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and [a]this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

9 “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

10 “For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance [a]without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death” (2 Corinthians 7:10). 

The word believe in this verse is (Pisteuo), meaning to believe or to put our whole trust in something. In this case, the text directs our belief, our faith, to be in the good news of Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith can be seen as two sides of the same coin. They can not be separated. “Both these must go together: we must not think either that reforming our lives will save us without trusting in the righteousness and grace of Christ, or that trusting in Christ will save us without he reformation of our hearts and lives. Christ has joined these two together, and let no man think to put them asunder (break apart).”

This is the message Jesus proclaimed. This is the message Peter proclaimed, Paul proclaimed, and preachers, missionaries, and everyday Christians declare today. 

This work is a supernatural work accomplished by the Holy Spirit in the hearts of sinful creatures. A “new nature” is given by Him a divine nature (John 3:3-8). Genuine salvation is manifested in the lives of those who proclaim faith in Christ. The way they now live their lives, the way they think, talk, and act, will evidence that they genuinely have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit within. And such a walk of faith and obedience will cause the believer to be increasingly like His savior: “conformed to the image of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 3:18)!

But the simple fact remains that sin fallen people cannot respond. In some manner, divine revelation must be made known to us before we can respond to it and agree or reject it. Paul wrote in Romans 10:14-17 of this very truth. God uses people like you and me to share the gospel that saved us with others. Just like us, they need to hear this divine truth before responding to it. And friends, there is only one thing that God uses to do this work of bringing repentant faith into our lives: “So, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (v. 17).

EXEGETICAL FALLACIES: BY D.A CARSON 


I have been trying to read this book for some time but have often found myself laying it aside amidst the ever-present pressures of priorities. Finally, I did it! I have finished Carson’s book and have now sat down to type my thoughts about this writing into my IPad.

I assume that many of you know who D.A Carson is, but I insert this brief bio from the back of this book for those of you who don’t.

“D.A. Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (book written in 1996, 2nd ed.). He has written or edited a variety of contributions, including commentaries on both Matthew and John and The King James Version Debate.”

This book is well written and easy to read, but I would have to read through it possibly two more times thoughtfully to grasp all the wisdom in it. If you are a pastor or teacher, I strongly recommend reading this 148-page paperback. I say that because correct hermeneutics, including but not limited to word studies, grammatical studies, and correct or incorrect presuppositions, are extremely important in faithfully expositing the Word of God accurately.

Honestly, I know that I have made many mistakes in my approach to exegesis over the years in my attempt to “rightly divide the Word of truth.” D. A.’s book reminded me of several. Sadly, many of those were from trusting some commentator’s conclusions, which may not always be wise, as this book points out. Everybody has a theological structure they work from, and sadly, some have to make sure everything lines up with what they believe, thereby falling into some of the fallacies that D.A Carson is writing about.

D.A includes a small but comprehensive index of subjects, authors, and scriptures cited.

In the introduction, the writer clarifies how vital a study like this is for those who want to understand God’s Word and relate it clearly and accurately to others. “Exegetical fallacies are painfully frequent among us-among us whose God-given grace and responsibility is the faithful proclamation of the Word of God.” He rightly opines: “A critical interpretation of scripture is one, that has adequate justification-lexical, grammatical, cultural, theological, historical, geographical, or other justification” for our interpretation of the text.

The writer states that this book has limits: “this is not a highly technical discussion.” However, it was designated for seminary students who take their responsibility seriously. So, since it is not a “technical” study, the writer has not provided extensive bibliographical information. 

This book studies exegetical fallacies, not historical or theological ones. I did appreciate his attempt at even-handedness when he used examples of other’s fallacies. D.A included his errors as well. One I quickly remember is on page 41 relating to his careless appeal to background material. 

Under the heading “word study fallacies” he includes:

  1. The root fallacy
  2. Semantic anachronism
  3. Semantic obsolescence
  4. Appeal to unknown or unlikely meanings
  5. Careless appeal to background material
  6. Verbal parallelomania
  7. Linkage of language and mentality
  8. False assumptions about ethnically meaning
  9. Problems surrounding synonyms and componential analysis 

10. Selective and prejudicial use of evidence

11. Unwarranted semantic disjunction and restrictions

12. Unwarranted restrictions of the semantic field

13. Problems relating to the Semitic background of the Greek New Testament

14. Unwarranted neglect of distinguishing peculiarities of a corpus

15. Unwarranted linking of sense and reference

Chapter one, by far, is the longest chapter in the book. For example, chapter two is only half as long as chapter one, 22 pages.

Chapter two is a discussion on “grammatical fallacies,” Chapter three “logical fallacies,” and chapter four “presuppositional fallacies.”

The book closes with D.A’s “concluding reflections on what he has just presented. I appreciated his encouragement as he completed his writing. I was encouraged because such writing can lead us to the false conclusion that we are wholly inadequate and may want to sit down and shut up. Perhaps we should if it weren’t for the Lord Jesus Christ and His effectual calling upon our lives; first, in our salvation, second, in our service! Listen to D.A:

“but I do not want to end on so negative a note. There is a danger that readers will conclude their perusal of this little book enslaved to deep fears about their own inadequacies for the task of exegesis. A little self-doubt will do no harm and may do a great deal of good: we will be more open to learn and correct our mistakes. But too much will shackle and stifle us with deep insecurities and make us so much aware of methods that we may overlook truth itself.

I have no easy answer to this dilemma. But we will not go far astray if we approach the Bible with a humble mind and then resolve to focus on central truths. Gradually we will build up our exegetical skills by evenhanded study and a reverent, prayerful determination to become like the workman “who correctly handles the word of truth” (1 Timothy 2:15).

With that encouragement in mind, I commend this book for your reading list. I have had this book in my library for several years, but I recently saw it on Amazon, the second edition, for $13.79.

This book has been helpful to me in three ways:

  1. D.A reminded me how important humble discernment is in my attempt to interpret scripture correctly. Sometimes we can fall into the pitfall of “just going through the motions,” which is detrimental to our well-being and others as well. 
  2. No matter how blessed we may be with the many theologians, commentators, and professors available to us today, no one is more important to inquire of than the Holy Spirit. You have heard the quip, “discernment is key;” well, the Holy Spirt is the One who gives wisdom to those who ask for it. Much more time in prayer will allow greater interpretation accuracy than much more time in our inquiry of others.
  3. I am inadequate. Left to myself and my wisdom, I will not be able to divide His Word rightly. I need help, His help, and an abundance of it! Preaching and teaching God’s word to others is holy work. It is a heavenly work; it is a work that we who are called to preach and teach are compelled to do: “for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:16). I want to get it right in so far as His Spirit leads me, and I trust you do as well.

This book can help in more ways than just meditating on exegetical fallacies! 

My reading suggestions

I thought it might be helpful to give you some reading ideas for the new year that may help expand your bible knowledge and foster a greater application of the truths taught. So, here are some of my recommendations:

Relating to the Doctrine of God:

  1. J.I. Packer; knowing God (A classic)
  2. Arthur W. Pink; The Attributes of God (one of my favorites, very helpful).

Relating to the Inspiration of the Scriptures:

  1. Edward J. Young; Thy Word is truth (very readable)
  2. Theodore Engelder; Scripture cannot be broken

Relating to Divine Providence:

  1. Calvin’s Calvinism: Treatises on the Eternal predestination of God and the secret providence of God. Translated by Henry Cole

Relating to the incarnation:

  1. Calvin’s Institutes are a great go-to for an overview of theology. In this case Book 2 chapters 12-14.

Relating to Justification:

  1. Charles Hodge; Justification by faith alone
  2. R.C. Sproul; Faith Alone: The evangelical doctrine of justification.

Relating to the Gospels:

  1. Tom Weaver; The Gospel Dilemma (helps to explain the transitional nature of the NT).

Hopefully, you find these suggestions helpful. Happy reading!

INTRODUCING MARK

NOT SO BRIEF AN INTRODUCTION: I am excited to begin this Bible study with you. Thessalonians and Philippians are both epistles that we previously studied. So I felt compelled to pick another type of genre for us to meditate on and the gospel of Mark is where I landed.

Mark is an amazing book, counted among the “Synoptics,” and as we go through it, we will learn more of Christ the servant and Christ the sacrifice! We will witness the beginning and growth of His ministry and the growing opposition to it by the religious leaders. But ultimately, we will be reminded of His triumph! Jesus rose from the grave and was “received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19).

I will not be spending much time presenting who the author is. There are many commentaries that you can read for the various argumentations that exist. I will say this, however, I believe that Mark, a close companion of the Apostle Peter, penned these words. This is the testimony of the early church fathers. Mark was most likely written sometime in the early ’50s (AD). Again, if you are interested in a deeper survey on the author and date of the writing, I would encourage you to begin with the notes in your book introductions in a solid study bible (The MacArthur Study Bible, for example). From there, you can locate various theologians that have written on this particular book or even “introductions to the New Testament.”

Mark appears to have been written to gentiles, specifically Roman believers. We see this in several ways: “He reckoned time according to the Roman system (6:48; 13:35). He carefully explained Jewish Customs (7:3,4; 14:12; 15:42), He omitted Jewish elements such as the genealogies found in Matthew and Luke, and Mark includes less material that would be of particular interest to Jewish readers” (Macarthur Study Bible).

What is interesting in this gospel as compared to Matthew and Luke is that Mark. He is more interested in sharing what Christ had done MORE SO than what He taught with his readers. Also worth noting is the observation that Mark does not open with any ancestry information, he instead “jumps out of the gate” with John the Baptist and Christ being baptized!

“Mark uses an uncomplicated and vivid literary style. He also writes in such a way that the discerning reader feels addressed or questioned often. Mark does not aim merely to convey information. He seeks rather to furnish grounds for our decision to follow and keep following the main character of the gospel: Jesus Christ” (Liberty Annotated Study Bible). By Jesus Himself.

This study will benefit believers and unbelievers alike. So, if you are new to the faith or have been a Christian for many years, This study will encourage and strengthen you as you visit the life and sacrifice of Christ afresh for you. If you are not a believer in Jesus Christ, don’t go, stay, read, think upon what you are reading, and let Jesus disclose Himself to you. The most important question you have to answer is this: “Who do men say I am” (8:27-30)?

BUMPER STICKER THEOLOGY

While shopping online for some Christmas gifts these past few days, I had come across many quaint and quippy slogans or mantras that have been pasted on everything from pens to cars. You know what I mean, you have been seeing these things in your holiday shopping as well. And it’s not just something new that retailers are doing this year, they have been doing it for as long as I can remember.

Some of these slogans are cute or funny. Some are true, some false; some political, some apolitical. Some are religious and therefore deserve a bit more scrutiny than the others because they invoke scripture in many cases. So, I began looking at these slogans with a more biblical focus, rather than entertaining eyes and here are a few that unnerved me the most.

NUMBER 1

This is a play off of the ”got milk” slogan from a few years back. This one makes me twitch because RELIGION never saved anybody! Untold millions of people ”got religion” of one stripe or another, and they are going to hell. Why, because they don’t have Jesus Christ! A better sign would be ”IN Christ?”

Number 2

This one just makes it appear that Christians may not be able to come all the way and love like Christ Jesus loves. That forgiveness with Christ is possible but perhaps not with us! This sticker fails in portraying the ”love your neighbor as yourself” teaching of scripture.

NUMBER 3

Need I say anything? Try Jesus? Like we try different food items? Like we try out various sports? Try Him out like we would the millions of self-help theologies out there? The bible says: ”Look unto me and be saved.” ”That whosoever believeth in me.” ”repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.”

We do not try Jesus out to see if He fits our choosing. We humble ourselves under His mighty hand so thankful HE CHOSE US!

NUMBER 4

This one is a play off of the Coke logo. Just what does it mean that enjoying Jesus Christ relieves thirst? I have been In Christ for 30 years and I have been thirsty everyday of my life! Spiritually speaking the statement is more confusing. ”Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matthew 5:6). Do I believe the bible or the bumper sticker? Just joking, the Bible always!

NUMBER 5

This one appears to be using the Christmas story, and in particular, the wise men from the east who arrived in Jerusalem looking for the ”King of the Jews” (Matthew 2:1-2). The problem that should be obvious with this sticker is that the Bible tells us that ”there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God” (Romans 3:11).

Paul is speaking about sin fallen human beings lefts to themselves and without divine intervention. I do not think the writer of this bumper sticker had that in mind!

These are a few that irked me more than most. Perhaps you have some you would like to share, I would be happy to hear from you.

Wishing you a very merry Christmas.

Faith and its substance

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Scripture reference ( Hebrews 11:1-6)

Illustration: Imagine for a moment you are standing on the seashore, gazing at a large ocean liner. The sun is shining, there is no wind and the sea is calm. Suddenly, to your amazement, about 30 people dive off the end of the ship and cling to a lifeboat.

You shake your head in disbelief at their foolishness. Then, without warning, that great ocean-liner strikes an iceberg and suddenly sinks, taking with it all on board.

Those who looked like fools in abandoning the ship were actually wise, and those who seemed wise by staying on board, were in truth, fools!

We don’t have to have to much perception to see that this great ocean liner, mother earth, is slowly sinking. Economically, politically, and industrially, she is reeling to and fro. We have enough major problems to sink a ship—inflation, unemployment, starvation, violence, corruption, population explosion, drug addiction, etc.

The first words from the “captain of our salvation” in Mark 1:15 are to abandon ship (repent and believe the gospel), before judgement falls. In that day, those who have obeyed His word (exercised faith) will be seen by the world to be wise, and those who refused to obey the command will —sadly—–but surely—- perish.

11 Now faith is the certainty of things [a]hoped for, a [b]proof of things not seen. For by it the people of old [c]gained approval.

By faith we understand that the [d]world has been created by the word of God so that what is seen has not been made out of things that are visible. By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he was attested to be righteous, God testifying [e]about his gifts, and through [f]faith, though he is dead, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for before he was taken up, he was attested to have been pleasing to God. And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for the one who comes to God must believe that He exists, and that He proves to be One who rewards those who seek Him.

Those words in Hebrews tell us that faith is the assurance of things hoped for. The conviction of things not seen. They tell us it is impossible to please God or be saved by God without faith. Faith it seems, is very important, not just in this life, but the one to come. So, let’s take some time and look into what the word of God says about faith and how it applies to us.

FOCUS ONE: The nature of faith 

 Genesis 15:1-6 (Abraham and the promise)

Almost ten years had passed since the original promises were given. Neither Lot his nephew nor Eliezer his steward could fulfill the promise. Who then is going to be his heir? That’s the 50 million dollar question on Abrams mind.

Questions abound, but here we see God graciously revealing Himself as the Lord of the covenant. God, more explicitly, makes the promise clearer to Abram. The heir would be his very own son who was yet to be born. Greater than that the Lord tells him that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the heavens. God reaffirms His oath to Abram and Abram believed! His faith, we read, was “accounted to him as righteousness,” that is, a God righteousness, not a works righteousness.

Abraham exercised great faith, and that is amazing considering the lack of evidence for those promises being fulfilled. So, it appears that there is a vital difference between knowledge and faith, so, lets explore that a bit further.

FOCUS TWO: Hebrews 11:1-3 (faith the substance)

Here we can quickly gauge that there is a difference between (knowledge) and (faith). Knowledge is based on experience while faith is based on testimony. We exercise faith ever day in our society. For example, a check is accepted by faith (the issuer promised that he has the money in his account). one commentator explains: “Gospel faith rises above this everyday type of faith in one major essential: belief in the divine testimony. We have never seen God, heaven, angels, etc. The divine word, however, testifies to their existence. FAITH takes this divine testimony and acts upon it. Faith appropriates all the promises of God and proceeds on the basis of those promises. Faith gives substance to things that are not yet seen. By faith we apprehend the presently invisible and gain greater assurance of its reality.”Faith is taking almighty God at His word, asking no questions. That is what Abraham did and that is what all these people in the hall of faith recorded here did!

But faith also has many benefits.

  1. Jeremiah 17:7-8 (Blessings of)

These words remind me of Psalm one, they are almost identical. Here as in Psalm one the writer is describing the blessedness which comes to the person who trusts in the Lord. The basic idea here in a life of faith is stability (like a tree planted).

“The tree that has found a source of sustenance by putting down deep roots also yields its fruit in season, even though drought surrounds it. The roots of the life of the blessed man are found in God, in whom is his trust. Such a life, such faith, produces holiness and righteous deeds.”

  • Philippians 1:6 (God will complete what He started)

Another wonderful benefit and great encouragement is found in these words. God is the originator of our faith in Him, He is also the completer of this walk of faith (cr. Rom. 8:28-30). But faith in check writers or governments no matter how trustworthy, can never save us from our sins. That is why:

3. John 20:27-31 (Faith in Jesus is essential)

Thomas struggled with believing the Lord rose again. He did not believe the testimony of his fellow disciples and he made the statement that he would not believe unless he could See His hands and place his finger in them(look at verse 25).

8 days later the Lord appears again and Thomas is with them. The Lord gives him the opportunity to “touch and see,” but he doesn’t, he cries out “my Lord and my God.” Please take notice to what Jesus says in verse 29. “Because you have seen me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”

Faith in the word of God saves. And that is even more blessed, according to Jesus, for those who do not have the opportunity to touch Him and walk with Him!

God’s word tells us how to be right with Him. It tells us how we can be forgiven and reconciled to Him. One place we see this is in John 3:16-18, 36:

God so loved the world

He gave His only Son

The one believing

Should not perish BUT have everlasting life!!

The one who believes (trusts in His promise) is born again, forgiven, justified.

The one who does not trust in His promise will not be forgiven or justified and will suffer the wrath of God for all eternity. I hope each one of us here today are trusting in His promise of salvation through Christ Jesus.

If you could imagine a place on earth that never saw the sun. Day in, day out, it is covered with a thick cloud. From the time a person was born, until the time he died, he never saw even a tiny glimpse of the sun.

Now, suppose you visited this place and tried to convince the inhabitants of the reality, beauty, and power of the sun. “where I come from,” you say, “a huge yellow ball rises up over the sea each day and floats across the sky, no strings attached, giving warmth and light to those upon the earth.”

“The reason you don’t experience it, is because you are cut off from it by the clouds.”

Although the thought may seem fantastic to those people, the fact that they don’t believe in it, does not change the reality that it exists.

Friends, each of us are born separated from the reality of God’s love by our sins. The cloud of sin cuts us off from the warmth and light of God’s love. The love of the unseen God may seem somewhat unbelievable to us, nevertheless, it is a reality.

Let us look to Christ who saves us by faith Let us walk in this life by faith not sight And one day our faith will be made sight!

Illustrations by Ray comfort

THE SECRET OF CONTENTMENT (pt.2)

Photo by Tara Winstead on Pexels.com

BRIEF INTRO: In our previous study, Paul was rejoicing in the Philippians revived ministry to him. For various reasons, they could not support him financially or even send anyone physically to “share in the cause of the gospel” with him. But now Epaphroditus had arrived, and Paul is greatly encouraged by their great benevolence towards him for the sake of the gospel.

In this study, we will be focused on some essential lessons that Paul had learned during this time in his apostolic ministry.

11 Not that I speak [a]from need, for I have learned to be [b]content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know how to get along with little, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things [c]through Him who strengthens me.

 FOCUS ONE: The value of learning (4:11-13)

At first glance, it is self-evident in our reading of this part of the letter that Paul “wasn’t all that and a bag of chips,” as an apostle. He was a man, redeemed by grace, like all repentant sinners, and in his Christian walk and ministry experiences, he had to be taught some things. Contentment in life’s circumstances is not innate within us; it is a character trait that has to be learned and honed in the day-to-day experiences we face.

Paul shared with the Corinthians precisely what the life of an apostle looked like daily. He wrote to them of the ever-changing circumstances that he faced in his effort to proclaim Christ crucified and risen (2 Corinthians 11:23-33)! 

23 Are they servants of Christ?—I am speaking as if insane—I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, [a]beaten times without number, often in danger of death. 24 Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent adrift at sea.26 I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers at sea, dangers among false brothers; 27 I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and [b]exposure.28 Apart from such [c]external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak without my being weak? Who is [d]led into sin [e]without my intense concern?

30 If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, He who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 In Damascus the ethnarch under Aretas the king was guarding the city of the Damascenes in order to seize me, 33 and I was let down in a basket through a window [f]in the wall, and so escaped his hands.

Through such things as these, Paul matured in his faith and learned what it means to be content in “any and all circumstances.” We do not like adversity; we would rather not experience danger and hardships in our lives. To truly be hungry is an experience that we have not had to endure in our western culture. Honestly, how many if any of these terrible things have we had to endure in our lifetimes?

I believe that our western Christianity in general suffers, and our personal growth in Christ is impeded because we are so blessed in America. Currently, we are not being hunted down and stoned or experiencing starvation. We have warm homes and comfortable beds to sleep in, and the vast majority of us are not experiencing sleepless nights because of our constant journeys around the globe.

But even so, we all experience troubling circumstances in our lives that are “God’ ordained,” things that are “granted” (1:29) for Christ’s sake in our lives to grow us and conform us more and more into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ!

It is through these experiences that Paul learned contentment (autarkes). The philosophical sense of the word among the Stoics was that of self-sufficiency. “Man up,” we say these days, but in the NT, we find this word is given a new dimension as part of godliness (1 Timothy 6:6). Paul finds its ultimate defining quality NOT in himself but in “the One who strengthens me” (4:13).

FOCUS TWO: 

Paul progressed in His Christian walk by moving 

A. From wondering to knowing

We begin our walk of faith with a sense of optimism and excitement. We may even believe, at first, that blessing upon blessing is coming our way now that we are in Christ and that no evil thing will hurt us. God is love, right? And a loving Father will certainly not allow hardship and persecution to befall us.

Saul, now Paul, went from persecutor to persecuted (Acts 9). From social and religious privilege to understanding all of that was “rubbish” and not helpful in “gaining Christ” (Phil3:8). He “grew up” in his knowledge and application of faith in Christ, no matter what circumstances he found himself in. 

B. From concern to contentment

God in His kindness, allowed Paul to experience such things. He learned that no matter what trial and tribulations he faced, no matter what hardships he had to endure, no matter what benefits he had to forgo, and no matter who would betray him, he could be content. Paul could still move forward serving His God, strong in his faith, and accomplish things independent of perceived necessities because his satisfaction was not found in men but in God! Paul’s satisfaction and sufficiency were in Christ (2 Corinthians 12:9; Philippians 4:13).

C. Anxiety over circumstances to confidence in Christ

“Paul has such strength as long as Christ keeps pouring the power into him. A living Christ on the inside is more than sufficient to endure the circumstances on the outside. What Christ wants Paul to do, Christ enables Paul to do. Where the finger of God points, the hand of God provides the way.”

This is the” secret” to contentment. It has to be learned in the school of life, not in any self-help books or talk shows.

D. The value of giving goes beyond the gift and extends to profit or fruit, evidenced growing in a believer’s life (v.17).

Based on Paul’s previous statements (4:11-13), his interest in the Philippians was not merely what he could gain from them, rather the profit (fruit) which would grow in their account. 

Paul has been using the language of financing throughout this section, and that language continues. In other words, Paul speaks of their faithful generosity as something that will provide interest growing in their “spiritual” account. Their spiritual growth was Paul’s constant concern, and he knew that God keeps good records! The “heavenly” deposits, if you will, that God “the good bookkeeper” will add to their account.

So, he concludes this epistle with much rejoicing in his heart and encouragement to these believers to continue trusting their Heavenly Father (v. 19,20).

FOCUS THREE: Benediction: (4:20-23)

From verse 10 forward, Paul wrote in the indicative (Explication verbi dei), simply stating facts and explaining what was going on in his life and mind—reminding them of past events. In verse 20, he moves into the exclamation mood because he is expressing an element of emotion. It is like he Pauses in his thinking for a moment and praises God!

But in verse 21, interestingly, he uses the imperative mood when he tells them to “greet every saint in Christ Jesus.” It is a command. It is in the aorist middle, which relates to their action only, not timing. 

The apostle wanted all the saints at Philippi to receive his greeting without partiality. Timothy and Epaphroditus, who were with him and others serving in the cause of the gospel in Rome, would be included in the “brethren who are with me.”

Those in Caesar’s household most likely refers to a significant amount of people, not just Caesars’ immediate family (cooks, food tasters, princes, soldiers, etc.).

Paul concludes this epistle as he begins, desiring the grace of God be upon them!

I hope you enjoyed this study as much as I did. I am thinking about doing a study through the gospel of Mark, and so I am in need of some time for study and preparation. I will post some random studies for a brief time and then go through Mark with you. God bless.

THE SECRET OF CONTENTMENT (CHRIST!)

PHILIPPIANS 4:10-23

BRIEF INTRO: At the beginning of this letter to the Philippians, the apostle had written about their “participation in the gospel from the first day until now” (1:5). He acknowledged that they consistently cared for, prayed for, and participated with him as much as they could over the years regarding the gospel ministry. In the verses that we will be looking at in this study, the apostle again picks up on that theme, if you will, and expresses his great joy at their “revived concern” for him.

I have broken down this section of our text into three parts: The value of giving, The importance of learning, and then conclude our study with the benediction. I will be looking at this section like a sandwich: The bread is about Christian giving from the top and bottom of verses 10-19. The filler will then be what we learn in verses 11-13. Let’s begin! Are you ready?

10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now, at last, you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked an opportunity to act.

14 Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my difficulty.

15 You yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the [a]first preaching of the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving except you alone; 16 for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs. 17 Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek the [b]profit which increases to your account. 18 But I have received everything in full and have an abundance; I am [c]amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus [d]what you have sent, [e]a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.

FOCUS ONE: The value in Christian giving (4:10, 14-18)

Paul now reveals to these believers the great joy he experienced when their messenger, their “missionary” to him, arrived with all their varied gifts and supplies that Epaphroditus brought. This incredible act of benevolence towards him and subsequently to Christ (v.18) was a cause of joy to his soul.

He says that this was a “revived concern” for him. He means that those circumstances, perhaps many and varied, kept them from sharing with him what they wanted to for some time. Take notice that this lapse of support was not intentional on their part, rather than they “lacked opportunity.” Whatever hindered them from showing their concern for him has now apparently been removed, and with great joy in their hearts and renewed vigor, they send one of their own, one whom they love dearly, Epaphroditus, to minister to Paul. This is not a rebuke but a recognition of their faithful care and concern for him.

Paul reminds them of several things regarding their ministry to him: First, they were the only church that shared with him at the beginning of his preaching the gospel (v.15). Perhaps some were unable, maybe he was duly supplied and not in any immediate need, maybe some were able but didn’t meet his needs at times as 2 Corinthians 11:9 seems to suggest (The Macedonians referred to are the Philippians Acts 16:12)!

But these folks faithfully sent gifts towards the apostles’ needs (v.16). Their giving was abundant and well-pleasing to Paul and God, whom they ultimately serve (v.18). Please don’t be thinking that Paul was only in it for what he could get from these churches, not at all. He was a humble, faithful, selfless servant who thought MORE about the benefit their giving would be to them than he did of any help it would be to himself. 

Paul was not looking for any more from them. He felt that he had received everything from them possible and was “made full,” or amply supplied (v.18). their generosity was above and beyond what he could have asked for, and he was delighted with their sacrificial giving as a church on his behalf as an Apostle of Jesus Christ.

“Paul looked beyond the most recent gift (vv. 10,14,18). He indicates that such gifts are spiritual investments that pay eternal dividends” (v.17). With much joy in his heart and thanksgiving on his lips, Paul encourages this church by telling them, “what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well- pleasing to God” (v.18).

Paul uses this type of OT phraseology elsewhere in His writings. In Ephesians 5:2, he used it in speaking of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We see this as well in Leviticus about an offering that pleased God. It seems that he wanted to express to them his great praise and acceptance of their gifts and sacrifices on his behalf. Our great God is ultimately the One who meets the needs of His children. He uses other people at times to be His hands and feet, but ultimately, He is “the giver of every good and perfect gift” (James 1:17). He is the One who provides for our needs “according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (James 1:19)! God indeed used this church to meet someone else’s needs, and He will do the same for them (v.19).

There is a wellspring of application here:

  1. Our hearts challenge us as it applies to our giving. 
  2. Are we giving to “the cause of the gospel” as we should?
  3. Are we consistent at it?
  4. Are we sacrificially investing ourselves in those who sacrificially give of themselves in gospel work (missionaries)?
  5. Are we trusting God to supply all our needs as we give to other’s needs?

I admit that these questions challenge me; how about you? Perhaps we need to be in prayer over these things. Maybe it is time for “a revived concern” on our part. I will be praying with you.

We will continue with this study next week.

WALK WITH WISDOM (2)

BRIEF INTRO:

In our previous study, we looked at positive, godly influences that a believer needs to have in their life. People like this live in “a manner worthy of our Lord,” indifferent to the circumstances of the day. Such people stand out in our congregations, and it is such people Paul urges us to look for and follow their example.

In this study, we will be looking at the opposite of godly influences, enemies of the cross!

18 For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even as I weep, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ, 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their [a]appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who have their minds on earthly things. 20 For our [b]citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;21 who will transform the body of our lowly condition into conformity with [c]His glorious body, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself. Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, [d]whom I long to see, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.

FOCUS ONE:

Unworthy examples (18-19)

Some people live their lives as “enemies of the cross.” The Apostle is weeping as he writes those words. Brothers and sisters, does such rebellion in the lives of those around you cause you to cry? Does it cause you a-n-y distress of soul? Paul is not speaking of believers who stumbled into sin or who may be facing tough challenges in life and are dealing with doubts, depression, or things like that which they will inevitably work through. No, he is speaking about non-Christians.

These non-believers can be found inside a church, just as well as outside it. These were people who were adding works to their faith for salvation (2,3). Christ isn’t enough, they say, so they are constantly pursuing some form of fleshly merit to gain righteousness. Another group Paul may have been speaking about would be the “antinomians.” These were people who were a law unto themselves. They confessed Christ with their lips but denied Him with their lives. They practiced loose living; they were religious but denied the cross, loved the world, and lived for their flesh.

These are examples we are to turn away from, even call them out!

Such lives patterned after the flesh, living for this world and then adding religion to it, are lives that are destined to destruction (v.19). 

                       But, it is not likely that all these people Paul is speaking about are out-and-out pagans. 

One commentator says: “In all probability they were “professing” Christians, but whose lives were so profligate (recklessly extravagant, wasteful and amoral), that it was clear to Paul that they had never been regenerated, probably not even members of the Philippians church. Think about it. This entire letter would have been much different if “many” such people were in that church. These were people in the Christian community as a whole and therefore posed a danger to every church.”

But dear Christian, we have been changed, have we not? We have been transformed by the renewing of our minds and therefore ought to have nothing to do with the ways of this world. To do so is nothing short of compromise!

Our God has graciously saved us from this perverse generation (Acts 2:40). We now have the mind of Christ, so we can think, act and behave like Him (1 John 2:6). God has given us a new spiritual and moral capability, which continues and matures throughout our lives- as we obey His will, His word, with the help of the Holy Spirit.

We are eagerly awaiting our savior to return for us. This expectancy should spur us on to a higher and holier manner of conduct as we await His return. 

This is the goal, the prize that we are to be running the race for, as we will see in our next point!

FOCUS TWO:

The goal and prize (20-21)

 Dear Christian, our citizenship is in Heaven. 

  As citizens of heaven, longing to see our king, King Jesus, we are eagerly waiting for Him to return for us, because as Paul wrote the Corinthians, “he shall also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:7-8). This is what Paul meant when he wrote back at the beginning of this letter that, “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (1:6). This is our goal; Christ is our prize! “So Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him” (Hebrews 9:28).

“In these early days of the church the doctrine of the last things had three great points of focus,” Boice comments: “The return of Jesus Christ, the resurrection of the body and the final judgement. Of the three the most significant was Jesus Christ’s return, This was the blessed hope of the Christians; it was for this they prayed. With this thought they comforted one another in the face of sorrow, persecutions death and martyrdom. We can imagine that as they lay in prison, suffering and tormented, often near death, they looked for His coming and thought that perhaps- – – in an instant – – – -and without warning – – – -Jesus would appear and call them home.” 

“As they entered the arena to face lions or looked up to the face of their Executioner, many would have thought with joy in their hearts, “perhaps this is the moment in which Jesus will return; even now, before the beasts can spring or the ax can fall, I shall be caught up to meet him.” 

But this is not the only place in our Bible that teaches us of this blessed doctrine of our Lord’s return. The return of Jesus is mentioned in every NT book except Galatians and the much shorter books of 2nd and 3rd John and Philemon. 

Peter called it “our living hope” (1 Peter 1:3). Paul called it our “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13). John wrote, “look, He is coming with the clouds and every eye will see Him” (Rev. 1:7).

Such truth ought to impact our lives in profound ways and be manifest in the ways we relate to the world around us and the things and people in this world. Christian, are you honestly expecting the Lord’s return? Is that evident in the way you are living?

“If you are motivated by prejudice against others, black, white, rich, poor or whatever, than the return of the Lord has not made a proper impression on you. If you are contemplating some sin, perhaps a dishonest act in business, sex outside of your marriage, cheating on a test or tax return, or whatever, then the return of the Lord has not made a proper impression on you.” 

John wrote, “dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, Just as He is pure” (1 John 3:2-3).

Perhaps you are reading these words, and you are not “eagerly” awaiting the return of Jesus Christ. You think that you are a pretty good person. After all, you haven’t killed anybody, YET! You give money to charity, attend church sometimes, and are better than many people around you. So, you may be thinking, why do I need a savior? Why do I need this, Jesus?

Let me share this illustration with you from Ray Comfort because it is very telling:

“What if I were to offer you a handful of $1 000 bills or a glass of water, which would you choose? The $1,000 bills, of course—anyone in his right mind would. But, what if you were crawling through a desert, dying of thirst, and you were offered a glass of water or a handful of $1,000 bills, which would you take? The water, of course—anyone in his right mind would. We call that “circumstantial priorities.” Your priorities change according to your circumstances.

Friend, If there were a way to find forgiveness of sin and life everlasting, would you want to know about it? The answer is “yes,” of course it is—anyone in his right mind would. The Bible speaks of riches beyond our wildest dreams—the riches of “everlasting life”—and they are offered in the form of cool, clear water: “Let Him that is thirsty come, and whoever will, let him take the water of life freely (Revelation 22:17).” 

Right now, you may not be interested in the offer, but if you reject it, on judgment day, your circumstances will radically change, then it will be too late.”

So, please, turn to Christ Jesus; he is the wellspring of living water!

Can you see the importance of this doctrine? One commentator has said that: “the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a bit like a clothesline that supports the clean wash. If the line falls, the doctrines of the faith fall. Where the resurrection stands, everything else stands with it” (Boice Com. Pg. 221).

The resurrection of Jesus Christ proves all the essential teachings of Christianity. 

1. It proves the deity of our Lord (Romans 1:4)

2. It proves our justification before God (Romans 4:25)

3. It proves that the believer in Christ can have a supernatural victory over sin in this life (Hebrews 7:25; Jude 24).

And dear Christian, it is also the un-shakeable evidence for our resurrection!! Because He lives, we too shall live! That is the testimony of Jesus Himself (John 14:19)!

This is why Paul says what he does in this scripture in our text. The truth is, there is an encouragement to press on despite the many obstacles in our way:

1. Jesus is living

2. Because He lives, we shall live

3. And take note: because He was transformed, we shall be transformed! (21)

Jesus is going to transform this body, your body, “in its humble state into conformity with the body of His glory.” (21)

This should encourage those folks to press on and comfort them and anyone who has lost loved ones that were believers.  Death is a scary thing. Attached to the thoughts of it are thoughts of wasting away in sickness, the terror of a sudden accident, its connection to our sinfulness.

But friends, in none of those horrific thoughts, in none of those circumstances, does death have the final word, Amen? That is not the end of the story for those who are in Christ! 

Here and in many other places in our bibles, we are taught that we will meet again in the presence of our savior, Jesus Christ. We will meet in transformed bodies— and sin, sickness, sorrow, and the like will all fade away— and be no more in light of the renewing, holy work of Christ on our behalf.

Jesus said: “I am the way the truth and the life, nobody comes to the Father, but through me.” (John 14:6)

What an encouragement for these believers in Philippi. What a powerful exhortation to “press on to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.” (Phil. 3:14)

So, because of these things, Paul says: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, whom I long to see, my joy and my crown, so stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.” (4:1)

We have a glorious savior, the aid of the Holy Spirit to grant us spiritual victory in this life and ultimately the one to come. And, we have a fantastic future with Christ! 

So let us walk with wisdom. Wisdom from the word of God, as we pursue the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

WALK BY THE SPIRIT

Extended reading: Galatians 5:16-25

Devotional: Verse 16

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”

In life, whenever we want to accomplish something, we have to first attempt whatever it is, and second, be diligent in our effort at it. Think of when you were a child, and you wanted to learn how to ride a bicycle. It didn’t just happen, did it? No, you had to get on it and learn how to balance yourself. Your mother and father helped you by holding onto the bicycle until you yelled, “ok, let me go.” 

By not giving up and persevering through the many falls and the bruises that came with them, you eventually learned how to ride that bike! All analogies break down at some point, and this one is no exception.

In our text, Paul explains how our flesh (old man), and its desires, are set against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh. There is a war going on within us, and we often lose many of the battles because we do not grasp and exercise this great truth. It seems so simple, doesn’t it? Walk by the Spirit, and the flesh loses! We’re all in, right? 

The problem is, though, just like learning to ride a bicycle, we need help. We can’t do it alone. Paul tells us to “walk by the Spirit,” or keep in step with, live by, or be occupied with the Spirit. In other words, the ONLY way to defeat the flesh and its wicked desires are by being so preoccupied with the Holy Spirit that there is no time for us to give sway to those temptations that want only to destroy us.

For us to “walk in the Spirit,” we have to first be “led” by the Spirit (Romans 8:13-14). This means that we are sensitive to His will for us and are actively cooperating with Him to fulfill it in our lives. It means that we are “putting to death,” or adamantly fighting against anything in our hearts that is at odds with the Spirit’s will for us.

The difference between the two, walking in the flesh, or walking in the Spirit, is as different as night and day. If we walk in the Spirit, we are led by Him, walking in obedience to Him, encouraged and strengthened by Him, and will enjoy unimaginable blessings. And, WE WILL NOT carry out those things that bring us guilt and shame before Him. Suppose we walk in the flesh, satisfying its evil desires. In that case, we grieve the Holy Spirit within us, are working against His good and perfect will for us, and have to face the guilt and consequences of yet another unnecessary defeat by our arch enemy.

Here is where my analogy breaks down. Once you learn how to ride your bicycle, you no longer need your mother and father to help you. You will go through life riding your bike without their help. It is quite the opposite, however, in the Christian walk of faith. WE ALWAYS need the help of the Holy Spirit. He is divine, and we are not. He sanctifies, empowers, and indwells each person He graciously saves! So, let us walk by the Spirit. It’s the only way to defeat our old nature.