Isaiah had prophesied many years earlier that the people would not believe or receive Jesus. Because their traditions and praise from men had come to mean more to them than God’s law and God’s approval, God had chosen to blind their spiritual eyes and close their minds to spiritual understanding. Many of the people did believe in Jesus but were afraid to say so. They were fearful that they would be put out of the synagogue. If this happened they would be ridiculed and treated as outcasts in the villages. Their fleshly desires outweighed their faith that Jesus was who He said He was. Jesus had told the people earlier that they would have to confess Him before men.
32 “All those who stand before others and say they believe in me, I will say before my Father in heaven that they belong to me. 33 But all who stand before others and say they do not believe in me, I will say before my Father in heaven that they do not belong to me.—Matt. 10:32, 33 (NCV)
How many of us have felt that little nudge from the Holy Spirit to speak out but we have remained silent? We were afraid of being ridiculed by society and our flesh wanted acceptance from our little clique. How did you feel after that happened? Guilty? Don’t let satan beat you up because you failed. We can take a lesson from Peter. If we feel condemnation, it is from satan. If we feel conviction, it is from the Holy Spirit.
1 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.–Romans 8:1 (NLT)
God is still in the forgiving business no matter how many times we fail Him.
8 If we say we have no sin, we are fooling ourselves, and the truth is not in us.9 But if we confess our sins, he will forgive our sins, because we can trust God to do what is right. He will cleanse us from all the wrongs we have done.—1 John 1:8, 9 (NCV)
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
When we repented of our sins and received God’s forgiveness, it was the first step of a journey that will eventually take us to heaven to spend an eternity with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Our salvation is secure because we are clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. The change in us, at this point, is internal. Unless that change in our hearts’ desires is manifested externally those around us may not know that we have accepted Jesus. True repentance changes our hearts and our minds. Jesus set the example of what our lifestyle should be. The Holy Spirit, which now dwells in us, inspired the writers of the New Testament to write verse after verse telling us how our lives should change. We now say “no” to those fleshly desires that were once our way of life. Now we say “yes” to the Holy Spirit. Every day is a battle between evil (our flesh) and good (the Spirit). We are in a war and there is no neutral ground. If we aren’t moving forward, then we are losing ground. So, every day, we must arm ourselves with the full armor of God and fight the good fight.
8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong,firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen — 1 Peter 5:8-11 NIV
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
God never tempts us. So, if God isn’t tempting us, then where do those temptations originate? That’s right, they come from our fleshly desires and from satan. We know that satan was allowed to tempt Jesus with promises of wealth and grandeur. Jesus, being human, yet perfect, did not give in to those temptations. Why? Because Jesus had one desire and that was to please our Father, God. We are not perfect, so when satan tempts us with his beautiful pictures of what could be if we only let him in, we give into those temptations. Why? Because our fleshly desires are stronger and more immediate than our desire to please God. We are enticed and we allow our desires to mislead us. We think that we can turn our desires off and on like a water fountain. But, we find that once we have compromised with satan, we lose control. Then that sinful idea or thought starts to happen more often and soon it takes on a life of its own. So, we grab a little pleasure here and a little pleasure there. Suddenly, those little pleasures have grabbed us and we can’t shake them. That is when sin latches onto us, takes us further than we want to go, and keeps us longer than we want to stay. Pride says “I would never”. But reality says we did and we must confess our sins.
When we accept Jesus as our Savior we confess all of our sins up to that point. But we still live in the flesh and all of the fleshly desires are not magically removed overnight. The Holy Spirit starts a process of sanctification in each of us. This process is designed to change our hearts’ desires so that we no longer choose to live a lifestyle of sin. However, there are times that we will fail and we will think, do or say something that is not pleasing to God. Perhaps we will fail to do something that the Holy Spirit urges us to do. Most of the sins that Christians are guilty of are sins of omission, not sins of commission. We rebel against God in refusing to follow His leading in our lives. The problem I have is agreeing with God that I am being rebellious and confessing it as sin. But God does not negotiate, He will stand firm and I must agree with Him and confess. We must get to the point the Psalmist got to — “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord” and He will forgive me.
1 For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. 2 A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. 3 A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up.— Eccl. 3:1-3 NLT
Our lives are divided into times and seasons. Since our finite minds cannot grasp infinite, eternal things in their fulness, God has divided time into seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years and lifetimes. There are good times and bad times, rough patches and smooth sailing, times of need and times of abundance, times of sickness and times of good health. There are valleys of despair and there are mountains of joy. This is true because we live in a sinful world and it will remain true until the Perfect One returns and restores us and all of nature to a perfect state. James tells us that when sin has conceived, it brings forth death. James 1:14, 15 There are more deaths than physical and spiritual that are brought on when we give into temptation and allow sin to rule in our lives. There is financial death when we spend foolishly. There is the death of abundance when we waste. There is the death of relationships when we are unfaithful to God and/or others. But not all death is bad. There is the death of anger and bitterness when we accept God’s forgiveness and forgive others. There is the death of guilt and condemnation when we accept Jesus as our Savior. That death frees us to live again. To really live as we have never lived before! Jesus showed us how to live free. He put everyone in heaven and earth above Himself and His desires and He died to set us free! Because He chose to do this, God has exalted Him above everyone and everything in heaven and on earth. Have we killed our fleshly desires and allowed our spirits to be free?
Today would be a good day to deny all of our “self” and allow God to heal every hurt, pain and all the bitterness in our lives so that we can soar like eagles and live free! I know, I know, we can’t. But God can! Matt. 11:28-30
13 If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. 15 For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. 16 For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind. 17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. 18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.—James 3:13-18 (NLT)
Earthly wisdom is the wisdom that leads to quarrels and chaos. It is based on our egos and leads us into all kinds of evil trying to satisfy our fleshly lusts. It leads us to make statements that are boastful and unspiritual. Earthly wisdom says “me first”. Earthly wisdom is foolishness to God. 19 As the Scriptures say, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.” 20 So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish.–1 Cor. 1:19-20 (NLT)
God has given us access to His wisdom. It is there just for the asking. This is the wisdom that is pure, peace-loving, gentle and full of mercy. Godly wisdom leads us to put Jesus first, others second and ourselves last. We are blessed because we become peacemakers and we will reap a harvest of righteousness.
1 Since you were brought back to life with Christ, focus on the things that are above—where Christ holds the highest position. 2 Keep your mind on things above, not on worldly things.3 You have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 Christ is your life. When he appears, then you, too, will appear with him in glory. 5 Therefore, put to death whatever is worldly in you: your sexual sin, perversion, passion, lust, and greed (which is the same thing as worshiping wealth). 6 It is because of these sins that God’s anger comes on those who refuse to obey him. –Col. 3:1-6 (NLT)
Paul tells us in Romans about the struggle he had with the flesh. He always wanted to do right, but found himself doing the wrong things. He knows what is right, but doesn’t always live up to that standard. We have the same struggle and as long as we are in this tent of flesh, we will always have it. We have to put to death our fleshly desires and focus on Jesus. The devil wants to keep us “sin-minded'”, but we need to follow after God’s Holy Spirit and be “Christ-minded”. If we have the mind of Christ, His attitude, and if we always try to see things through His eyes, then we can focus on things above and those fleshly desires will become less and less important. This does not mean that we live in some fantasy world, but rather, that the things of Christ become more real to us as we mature in our journey with Him.