Archive for the ‘works of the flesh’ Tag

We Are Guilty   Leave a comment

So now that I’ve pissed off my non-Christian readers by comparing them to The Walking Dead, I’m turning my attention to Christians.

When the apostle Paul talks about the works of the flesh, he wasn’t telling Christians to go out and condemn non-Christians for living like … well, non-Christians. They can’t help themselves and they don’t owe God a moral life because they have never accepted His gift of salvation. When Paul wrote about the works of the flesh, he was talking about us — Christians.

When we accepted Christ, our spirits were made alive. We are no longer the walking dead. Our old selves and our past sins were crucified and new spirits exist in us. There is no more condemnation for what we did in the past because we have been made new.

But ….

In Romans 7, Paul talked about how the flesh wars with the spirit so that we struggle to live a Christian life. Our spirits have been saved, but our bodies are still very much of this world.

So what do we do?

We are required to put to death the aspects of our nature that separate us from God. To make it easier for us, Paul identified them in Colossians 3 and Ephesians 4.

The works of the flesh are: fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiescence, coveteousness, anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication, and our “former corrupt way of life” that tended toward “deceitful lusts”.

Even Paul battled carnality. Our entire Christian lives deal with battling Satan, ourselves and society. Today, I’m focusing on ourselves.

Mark 7:21-23, Romans 1:29-31, Galatians 5:19-21, Colossians 3:5-8 list the following terms having to do with carnality (our fleshly weakness):

Adultery, an evil eye, anger, backbiter, blasphemer, boaster, covenant breaker, covetous, debater, deceiver, despiser of those that are good, despiteful, disobedient, disobedient to parents, drunks, emulations, envious, evil concupiscence, evil thoughts, false accuser, fierce, filthy communication, foolish, fornications, hater of God, hating one another, heady, heresies, highminded, idolaters, implacable, incontinent, inordinate affection, inventors of evil things, lasciviousness, lovers of pleasures, lovers of their own selves, maliciousness, malignity, murder, proud, revellings, seditions, serving various lusts and pleasures, sorcerers, strife, thefts, traitors, trucebreakers, unclean, unholy, unmerciful, unrighteousness, unthankful, variance, whisperers, wickedness, witchcraft, without natural affection, without understanding, and finally, wrath.

Every last one of the letters Paul wrote were written to Christians, so he was not talking to the world when he made these statements. He’s talking to US … YOU and ME.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus expanded on the commandments. It wasn’t just “you shouldn’t kill”, it was you shouldn’t think angry thoughts about your neighbor. Um, yeah, I’m guilty. It wasn’t “don’t commit adultery”. It was “don’t look at the opposite sex with lust in your heart.”

Now look at that list and ask yourself — does any of that exist in you in even the slightest amount? A drop of yeast leavens the whole loaf. You’re guilty. I’m guilty.

The list breaks down into some broad categories.

Attitudes: anger, covetousness, deceit, emulations (jealousy), envy, foolishness, hateful, incontinent (lacking self-control), lasciviouseness, lovers of themselves and pleasure, malice, proud, and uncleanness (immoral actions and motives).

Actions: adultery, blasphemy (speaking evil of either God or man), boasters, variance (contentious), fierce, filthy communication (foul language), fornication (which is a broad topic), heresies (wrong teachings), idolatry (putting anything before God), seditions (divisions), traitors, unmerciful, unthankful, wickedness (lawlessness).

1 Corinthians 10:12, Paul wrote that Christians should be wary because Satan is trying to trip us up. And, I would submit that every Christian in the world could not cast a stone at an unsaved sinner were Jesus standing there to observe. We’re all guilty and we should all recognize it because it will allow us to be better Christians.

Spiritual Zombies   Leave a comment

Let’s be perfectly clear about this — if you are a non-Christian of any sort, what I have to say in the next few posts is not for you. You’re certainly welcome to read it, but you are not part of the intended audience. If you mistakenly think you are, you will end up pissed off by what I have to say for no reason.

Why? Because God holds Christians to a different standard than He holds non-Christians.

If this offends you, I’m sorry, but this is the situation.

Non-Christians are dead in their sin. They have not accepted the salvation provided by Christ’s atonement on the cross, so have not been made alive in Christ through the grace of God, so they do not have anything to lose by disobeying God.

 

Now for the people I actually want to piss off ...

Christians — get this straight. Non-Christians already have a stake through their hearts. It’s no good you worrying about the  mud on their boots because they’re walking dead already.

That comes off as harsh, but it really is that simple. When we are talking about Christlike living, we can only talk to Christians, because non-Christians do not have Christ and so cannot live in a Christlike manner. They can be “good” people, they can have many admirable qualities, but until they accept Jesus Christ as personal savior, they cannot produce the fruit of the spirit and there is no use fuming about their works of the flesh. They are flesh. It is unrealistic to expect zombies to act like living people.

And, yes, I just used The Walking Dead as a spiritual illustration.

Fruit of the Spirit   Leave a comment

A lot of things in the Bible require a God-centered perspective to truly understand. The Trinity, for example, is a concept that develops through a Christian’s experience with Jesus. A non-Christian may acquire a head knowledge about it, but they will never truly ‘get’ it until they’ve spent time with Jesus, in the Bible and in prayer.

Other concepts can be explained by Christians and, I believe, this is one.

If you’ve ever tried your hand at gardening, you should be familiar with the following concepts.

You reap what you sow.

The branches are defined by their root.

If you plant tomatoes seeds, you won’t harvest peppers. If you are growing tomatoes under the conditions for cabbage, your  crop will die rather than produce.

Here in Alaska, apple trees do not grow naturally. The ground is too cold for too much of the year. But we have hybridized crab apple trees and graphed regular apples to that root stock so that we can grow small, edible apples here. The root must be adapted to our conditions for the rest of the tree to grow.

Christians are like God’s hybridized seeds. He has transformed us (with our permission) to serve His will. He plants us where He needs us to be and we are there to serve His purpose. We draw our spiritual sustenance from Jesus, the root of our faith.

As the apple trees here can produce fruit because their roots are adapted to our conditions, Christians produce fruit because we are nourished by Jesus.

love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. 

This is not ala carte Christianity. A faithful Christian will produce these fruits.

Remember what I said about growing tomatoes in conditions fit for cabbages?

Plants respond favorably to treatment that suits their needs and unfavorably to treatment that is harmful to them. Christians who choose to disobey God (and it is always a choice) won’t produce the fruit of the Spirit in any appreciable quantity, because we’ve chosen to divorce ourselves from the root of our faith and land ourselves in conditions that favor the works of the flesh.

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