Thursday, January 15, 2009
--''LOVE, JOY, PEACE''-- One of the most illuminating words of Jesus concerning the work of The Spirit is this;''He shall glorify Me'' [JOHN 16;14]. He will magnify Christ in human living. Whatever Christ desires a follower of Him to be, The Spirit will set about to make him. He will produce Christ-flavored fruit. He aims at Christ-likeness in the child of God. ''THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT IS LOVE.'' It is bound to be. ''God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God., and GOD IN HIM'' [I John 4;16]. Was Jesus concerned about our loving one another/ ''A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another''[John 13;34]. But what makes it new/ ''As I have loved you, that ye also love one another.'' That is, His love is setting a new standard for love that outmodes all others. Love, not those who love you, but those who hate and despise you. Do you say, ''I CAN'T DO THAT/'' A good confession. ''Very well,'' says The Spirit, ''I will supply the love; I will love that way in you.'' I go into churches where they seem free to ''bite and devour one another.''One would think this command of Jesus was not in their Bible. How can they/ Only because they are living on the human side, dependent upon human affection that fails,cut off from the supply of divine love that never fails. A man confesses to cherishing ill-will in his hrart. He says,''That nan wronged me, and I hate him.'' There are many such wrongs, and life is pretty much that way. Let's analyze the matter. Who does the hating/ Would you say, The Holy Spirit/ Would you dare lay it to Him/ No. Then it is I, myself, the self life. Put the blame where it belongs. ''I'' have failed. Why/ Beause I was not abiding in him; I got back on our side where such feelings can be cherished. Gladly, thankfully, I yield myself to the Holy Spirit to work His love in me, that the lustings, the tendecies of the flesh under whatever provocation--anger, ill-will, envy, quarrelsomeness, may not be fulfilled in me. ''THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT IS JOY.'' And you don't have joy/ What are you doing / Surely refusing The Holy Spirit His freedom to do what He came into your life to do. That is extremely serious; far more than a mere defect in Christian character. Christ expects it; ''These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that, your joy might be full'' [JOHN 15;11]. God commands it; ''Rejoce alway'' [I Thessalonians 5;16]--at all times, under all circumstances. ''The JOY OF THE lord''--His joy, ministered by the Spirit--''is your strength [NEHEMIAH 8;10]. Then, the lack of it is our WEAKNESS. ''But,'' someone says, ''I am so difficultly circumstanced; I am discouraged-- I can't help.'' Very well. Ask yourself, who is discouraged/ Is it The Holy Spirit/ Is He havimg such a hard time that HE HAS GROWN DISCOURAGED/ Never. You are discouraged. YOU are consulting your feelings, your fears, your circumstances, and your failure, to abide. The Holy Spirit can't have His way and produce HIS FRUIT. Have we considered the paradox of Christian living; naturally, we sorrow; supernaturally, we have joy. WHERE WAS JESUS WHEN He bequeathed to us His Joy/ Under the shadow of the cross, with the sorrows of the world's sin about to engulf Him, ''a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,'' His face ''so marred more than any man''; yet He says, ''MY JOY.'' The Holy Spirit, faithful to Him under trial, kept ministering strength to hIM, EVEN His joy. Paul experienced this paradox and demonstrated joy under great trials [II Corinthians 6;4-10--[Turn]. He says, ''As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing''--Paul practiced the joy he preached--then he adds, to enlarge upon the paradox, ''As poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things'' [V. 10]. Friend, read your Bible for its joy. I recently went through the Psalms, marking every note of joy and gladness. WHAT A REBUKE TO SADNESS... Paul from the Roman prison writes the Philippians a prolonged appeal to rejoice. ''REJOICE IN THE Lord; and again I say, Rejoice'' [4;4]. But the Greek is, ''I will say, Rejoice.'' Circumstances may be against it, but since the Lord expects it, ''I will say, Rejoice,'' in the strengthening of The Spirit. A sad, long-faced Christian only advertises himself and the fact that he is failing; therefore ''I will rejoice.'' ''THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT IS PEACE.'' And you don't have peace/ What are you doing/ Frustrating the express purpose of the Spirit in coming to live in you. Jesus left us His peace saying,''Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you'' [John 14;27]. It is a proven peace, persisting under great trials; ''These things have I spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world'' [JOHN 16;33]. UNQUESTIONABLY Christ expects us to have peace and display it; but, knowing human failure, the Spirit says, ''I will make it MY BUSINESS TO PRODUCE PEACE.'' Read your Bible for its peace. Talke Philippians 4;6-7, to heart, and practice it. Peace is the twin sister of Joy; one can't live without the other. Peace is the badge of a Spirit-indwelt believer. Christian, you were called to peace, the opposite of worry; called to perpetuate Christ's peace on earth; called to display His peace as evidence of your loyalty to Him.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
THE POTENTIALITIES OF THE FLESH The variety of ways, in which the self-life expresses itself, or may find expression for itself, is given a full listing, in a catalogue, not complimentary to human nature in Galatiand 5;19-21. It is a startling list; we are ashamed of it before we read it. It begins with the baser sins of sex and passion, but it takes full account of the more refined sins that ''get by'' in polite society. A more comprehensive arraignment of fallen human nature is found in Romans 1;26- 32. Another is in 2 Timothy 3;1-7. They are a valuable part of the ''all scripture'' that is inspired of God and ''is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness'' [2 Timothy 3;16]. Dear Friend, If you would understand yourself and the workings of your nature that so often have baffled you and even alarmed you, study your Bible; know what it has to say about YOU, apart from the Spirit. Paul did not invent these charges, but was only following our Lord, Who had this searching word for the men of His day; ''That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness,wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness; all these evil things come from within, and defile the man.'' [Mark 7;20-23]. In these 4 lists, the children of Adam are charged with sex sins, social sins, and spiritual sins. Not that any one person would be guilty of all of these; they are the potentialities of human nature, the evil channels through which it may find expression. I have never been a drunkard; but I have a nature capable of drinking. I have never murdered; but I share with the race a nature that is capable of murder. I do not get angry; but if my nature were not disciplined, I would. Thank God, we of America did not commit the atrocities, laid at the door of the Germans and Japanese in WWII, BUT WE SHOULD HUMBLY ACKNOWLEDGE THAT WE HAVE A NATURE THAT APART FROM THE RESTRAINT OF CHRISTIAN IDEALS IS CAPABLE OF SUCH DEEDS; for God ''hath made of one blood all men'' that live on the earth [Acts 17;26]. We are left no room for boastfulness, but much reason for thankfulness. ''BUT'' [Galatians 5;22] What God can put in ONE WORD... BUT.... It stands here, between the flesh and the Spirit,as the focal point of the Galatian antithesis. If we have ever doubted that the teaching of this epistle is essentially and sharply antithetical, this crucial ''but'' dispels such doubts. It is this antithesis that largelly characterizes Scripture; there is no middle ground. Read the 1st Psalm; its 3 ''but's'' carry the whole teaching. There are many ''buts'' of salvation, notably, John 1;11-13; Romans 6;23; Philippians 3;7; I Peter 1;18-19; Romans 3;21 [the turning point from condemnation to Justification]; so likewise Ephesians 2;4. Here we are facing the ''but'' of sanctification. Christian living is an equally sharp transition from the old to the new, from trying to make the flesh behave to allowing the Spirit His full freedom to work. Again we face Paul's crucial question; ''Are you so foolish/ having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh/'' Have you, my friend, had a clear-cut ''but'' between your former and present way of living/ Not to have, spells defeat. Vital to our problems is the distinction unfolded in the two words, ''fruit'' [singular] as against ''works'' [plural]. The flesh provokes a wide-range gamut of works; the Spirit produces a blended whole of Christian character. The flesh has its variety of expression, destructively working this and that, with no necessary connection between them. A man be a thief, but not a murderer; a liar, but not a drunkard. He may experience anger, but not envy; passion, but not pride. Some of these works are in disrepute among us, such as adultery, drunkenness, murder, and the like. Others are quite respectable. One may be quarrelsome, and retain the full esteem of his fellows. Yet, let's note, they are all, in the same class. They are all equally in disrepute with God. They all remind Him of man's fall away from Him; they are the outbursts of life ''in Adam.'' So He warns us, ''that they who practice such things''-not just a few of the worst--''shall not inherit the kingdom of God'' [Galatians 5;21]. Is there no remedy/ Yes, indeed. God has provided a way out. ''Walk in the Spirit,'' Stay, ''abide'' every moment on His Side, and these things of Our Side will never have a chance. Abide ''in Christ,'' and you will be overjoyed at the ''much fruit'' resulting [John 15;1-5]. The Fruit of The Spirit, reproducing Christ in us, is Christ-flavored fruit. Galatians 5;22 tells us that the FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT IS LOVE, JOY, PEACE, LONG SUFFERING, GENTLENESS, GOODNESS, FAITH, MEEKNESS AND TEMPERANCE. What are these qualities/ Not the nice exhibition of Christian character, nor yet the casual result of the Holy Spirit living in us. They are the dead-in-earnest product of the Spirit's setting about to checkmate the works of the flesh. This is His way of doing it. This is the Spirit lusting against the flesh so that we do not fulfill its lusts. These traits are His answer, HIS ''BUT,'' to the cravings of the flesh. They are His means of keeping us ''0n side.'' Suppose we are lacking in these qualities. It is not merely a lack of Christian character; we are sinning against the Spirit;we are defeating His declared purpose in coming to live in us. Suppose we still have the workings of the flesh. It is not merely that these things are wrong and we ought to get rid of them. FAR FROM THAT. We are grieving the Spirit; we are blocking His New Covenant program; we will not let Him carry out the purpose for which HE CAME TO LIVE IN US. [TO BE CONTINUED]
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
''This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh'' Galatians 5;16]. These are the two antithetical ellements of life, the two opposing resources upon which life must depend. If we are living OUR life, it's flesh; if we are living HIS life, it is Spirit. These are the basic terms of our identification with the human family and with the divine family. ''In Adam'' we all inherit the flesh; ''In Christ'' we all inherit, by covenant right, the Spirit. The flesh has its way of living and expressing itself. The Spirit has His way of expressing Himself. The two are ''contrary.'' Now our antithesis becomes a sharply drawn antagonism. These words are addressed to Christians, to those who have undertaken to live the Christian life, for only believers have the Holy Spirit; but such, also have the fllesh--persistently so. IT IS EXPLAINED THAT ''THESE ARE CONTRARY THE ONE TO THE OTHER.'' Their aims and purposes are diametrically opposed. eACH SAYS ''No'' to the other. Each checkmates the other's moves. The result is a stalemate for the Christian--''ye cannot do the things that ye would''--until this problem finds a solution. Evidently, in one sense, the Christian has a harder time than other folks. If I am an unsaved man and want to do a thing, I go ahead and do it. If I am a saved man, I may want to do it, and the Spirit may say,''No, you are not to do it.'' WHAT A MISERABLE WAY TO LIVE. . . Is there no solution/ The solution, our way out is, ''Walk in the Spirit.'' Give the Spirit a free hand, the full right of way. Let YOUR life be the practical day by day expression of HIS life. ''Flesh'' is the Bible's word for human nature. Leaving off the ''h'' and spelling it in reverse, we have ''self.'' Flesh is the self-life. It is what man is, left to himself. At times self behaves itself very commendably; again, it behaves very SELFISHLY. When not well in hand it shows itself off. evening TV NEWS reveals that human nature is out of hand much of the time. Man tries to educate it, to train it, to discipline it; he passes laws to compel it to behave. But God/--God unsparingly condemns it. He says it is incurably bad. The flesh has a mind of its own and that mind is ''not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be'' [Romans 8;7]. God makes clear that He has no confidence in the flesh. Therefore His children are described as those who ''have no confidence in the flesh'' [Philippians 3;3], but rather join Him in self- condemnation, saying, ''I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing'' [Romans 7;18]. It is a great thing for a Christian, especially one reared in the church, Who has never been, as we say, ''deep in sin,'' when he humbly and whole-heartedly accepts God's estimate of his inheritance ''in Adam,'' thus to be thrown in complete dependence upon the Spirit, his inheritance ''in Christ.'' His gain is that, being now ''Led Of The Spirit'' and under His control,he has no need of being ''under the law'' [5;18]. The Holy Spirit has come into his life to take the self-life in hand and keep it under complete control. [TO BE CONTINUED].
Sunday, January 11, 2009
GALATIANS 1;4--Who gave Himself for us, that He might DELIVER us from this present evil world.'' DELIVER.... If ever you feel depressed, or discouraged, and need a thrilling uplift, trace the use of ''DELIVER''through the Bible. In the Hebrew and Greek some 40 words are used to get the idea across to us. Sin has created such an ''evil world'', with so many by-products of suffering, physicall, mental, spiritual, circumstantial--yes, financial, that men are its victims at every turn. How gracious that our Saviour delivers from such ''according to the will of God and our Father.'' The Psalmist says, ''Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the Lord delivereth him out of them all'' [34;19]. The Lord invites us, saying, ''Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me'' [Psalm 50;15]. When the 3 faithful Israelites were condemned to the fiery furnace they testified,''Our GGod whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of thine hand, O King'' [Daniel 3;17]. The result/ The seven times hotter fire, while leaving hair and clothing untouched, burned off their bonds as they walked free in the flames of their affliction. WHAT A DELIVERANCE.... And the same Lord is able to deliver you. Similarly Paul, faced with death testifies to a past, present, and future deliverance; ''Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver; in whom we trust that He will yet deliver us'' [II CORINTHIANS 1;10]. Jesus seeing men under the power of death, bereft of life, said, ''I am come that they might have life;'' ''I give unto them eternal life'' [john 10;10,28]. Seeing men in darkness He cried,''I am the light of the world; he that followeth Meshall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life'' [JOHN 8; 12]. Seeing men hungry and thirsty, He cried, ''Iam the bread of life''; ''If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink'' [John 6;48; 7;37]. Seeing men in bondage--though they vehemenly resented the implication--He cried,''If the Son, therefore, shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed'' [JOHN 8;36; see VV. 32-34]. How can we adequately thank God our great Deliverer for so all-inclusive a deliverance and transference/ ''Giving thanks unto the Father . . .who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son'' [COLOSSIANS 1;12, 13].