Once again I find myself in a role of Political Activist. Something of which I am unfamiliar. However, I do believe someone needs to take the lead in matter of such importance. The one who would be president must assure us that the safety of women and girls is more important than being politically correct. A follow-up of yesterdays: Sign the Boycott Target Pledge.
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It is rare when I become politically active. I feel, however, that there is an inherit wrong in such policies as these by corporate America. I especially do not want these types of policies entering our school systems or public gathering places such as public swimming pools and beaches. Target’s store policy endangers women and children by allowing men to frequent women’s facilities.
Source: Sign the Boycott Target Pledge!
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One of the most difficult parts of the Christian life is the fact that becoming a disciple of Christ does not make us immune to life’s trials and tribulations. Why would a good and loving God allow us to go through such things as the death of a child, disease and injury to ourselves and our loved ones, financial hardships, worry and fear? Surely, if He loved us, He would take all these things away from us. After all, doesn’t loving us mean He wants our lives to be easy and comfortable? Well, no, it doesn’t. The Bible clearly teaches that God loves those who are His children, and He “works all things together for good” for us (Romans 8:28). So that must mean that the trials and tribulations He allows in our lives are part of the working together of all things for good. Therefore, for the believer, all trials and tribulations must have a divine purpose.
As in all things, God’s ultimate purpose for us is to grow more and more into the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). This is the goal of the Christian, and everything in life, including the trials and tribulations, is designed to enable us to reach that goal. It is part of the process of sanctification, being set apart for God’s purposes and fitted to live for His glory. The way trials accomplish this is explained in 1 Peter 1:6-7: “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which perishes, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” The true believer’s faith will be made sure by the trials we experience so that we can rest in the knowledge that it is real and will last forever.
Trials develop godly character, and that enables us to “rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5:3-5). Jesus Christ set the perfect example. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). These verses reveal aspects of His divine purpose for both Jesus Christ’s trials and tribulations and ours. Persevering proves our faith. “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
However, we must be careful never to make excuses for our “trials and tribulations” if they are a result of our own wrongdoing. “By no means let any of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler” (1 Peter 4:15). God will forgive our sins because the eternal punishment for them has been paid by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. However, we still have to suffer the natural consequences in this life for our sins and bad choices. But God uses even those sufferings to mold and shape us for His purposes and our ultimate good.
Trials and tribulations come with both a purpose and a reward. “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. . . . Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:2-4,12).
Through all of life’s trials and tribulations, we have the victory. “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord, Jesus Christ.” Although we are in a spiritual battle, Satan has no authority over the believer in Christ. God has given us His Word to guide us, His Holy Spirit to enable us, and the privilege of coming to Him anywhere, at any time, to pray about anything. He has also assured us that no trial will test us beyond our ability to bear it, and “he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
No matter what our discouraging situation, there are encouraging verses in the Bible that can give us hope:
When you’ve lost something, or someone, who has been very precious to you:
Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
Revelation 1:18 “I am alive forevermore.”
John 11:25 “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies’”
When excruciating waves of chronic pain and weakness are crashing over your head:
2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Hebrews 4:16 “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
When your cupboard is bare, and your last crumb has been scraped up:
Matthew 6:33 “Seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Psalm 23:1 “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18 “… give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
When no one seems to understand, or even to care:
Psalm 55:22 “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.”
Isaiah 40:11 “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”
When you are being persecuted for your faith:
2 Peter 2:9 “the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment.”
John 15:18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.”
When the nation, the world, and even the family and the church, seem to be disintegrating:
Isaiah 14:24: “The LORD of hosts has sworn, saying, ‘Surely, as I have thought, so it shall come to pass, And as I have purposed, so it shall stand.’”
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
When life’s fears and insecurities gang up on you:
Psalm 27:1 “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?”
Luke 12:7 “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
Romans 8:1 “There is, therefore, no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”
When your mood is dark:
Psalm 118:24 “This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice, and be glad in it.”
Romans 8:29-30 “For those whom God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”
When worn out and worn down to the point of giving up:
Hebrews 12:2-3 “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and completer of our faith, who, for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
When abandoned by everyone meaningful:
Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Hebrews 13:5-6 “… God has said, ‘Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’”
When friends and even family seem to be abandoning God:
Psalm 100:5 “God’s faithfulness endures through all generations.”
2 Timothy 3:1-4 “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God”
When under powerful temptation:
1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
James 4:7-8 “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you.”
2 Timothy 1:12 “He is able to keep what I committed to Him against that day.”
Hebrews 2:18 “Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.”
When stung by your enemy’s false accusation:
1 Peter 3:14, 16 “But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. … keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”
Matthew 5:10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs in the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad, because great is your reward in heaven”
Romans 8:31-34 “What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”
When circumstances lead you to doubt God:
Psalm 42:5 “O my soul, why are you downcast? Put your hope in God: for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.”
Mark 9:24 “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
When gripped by unrelenting anger and even hatred:
Ephesians 4:31 “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
James 1:19 “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”
1 John 4:20 “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.”
When defeated with guilt, shame, and remorse:
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Romans 8:1-2 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”
When about to go over the edge with overwhelming demands, pressures, and expectations:
Matthew 11:28 “Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
John 15:5 [Jesus said] “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
When the road forks unexpectedly, or when the multiplied factors of a crucial decision bring darkening confusion:
James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”
1 Corinthians 14:33 “God is not the author of confusion.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your path.”
When you are famished of soul, longing for purity and righteousness:
Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
Psalm 23:3 “He leads me in paths of righteousness, for His name’s sake.”
When all roads have been cut off so that only despair seems left:
1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
2 Corinthians 4:8 “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair.”
When the grave opens before you:
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
John 11:25-26 “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.
Hebrews 2:14-15 “Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”
A blessing for all circumstances:
Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
The Bible has a lot to say about our motives. A motive is the underlying reason for any action. Proverbs 16:2 says, “All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the LORD.” Because the human heart is very deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9), we can easily fool ourselves about our own motives. We can pretend that we are choosing certain actions for God or the benefit of others, when in reality we have selfish reasons. God is not fooled by our selfishness and is “a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
Human beings can operate from a variety of motivations, often negative. Pride, anger, revenge, a sense of entitlement, or the desire for approval can all be catalysts for our actions. Any motivation that originates in our sinful flesh is not pleasing to God (Romans 8:8). God even evaluates the condition of our hearts when we give offerings to Him (2 Corinthians 9:7). Selfish motives can hinder our prayers. James 4:3 says, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” Because our hearts are so deceitful, we should constantly evaluate our own motives and be willing to be honest with ourselves about why we are choosing a certain action.
We can even preach and minister from impure motives (Philippians 1:17), but God is not impressed (Proverbs 21:27). Jesus spoke to this issue in Matthew 6:1 when He said, “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” Those involved in ministry must stay alert to this tendency toward selfishness, because ministry begun for pure reasons can quickly devolve into selfish ambition if we do not guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23).
So what is the right motivation? First Thessalonians 2:4 says, “Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts” (NLT). God is interested in our motives even more than our actions. First Corinthians 4:5 says that, when Jesus comes again, “he will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.” God wants us to know that He sees what no one else sees. He knows why we do what we do and desires to reward those whose hearts are right toward Him. We can keep our motives pure by continually surrendering every part of our hearts to the control of the Holy Spirit.
Here are some specific questions to help us evaluate our own motives:
1. If no one ever knows what I am doing (giving, serving, sacrificing), would I still do it?
2. If there was no visible payoff for doing this, would I still do it?
3. Would I joyfully take a lesser position if God asked me to?
4. Am I doing this for the praise of others or how it makes me feel?
5. If I had to suffer for continuing what God has called me to do, would I continue?
6. If others misunderstand or criticize my actions, will I stop?
7. If those whom I am serving never show gratitude or repay me in any way, will I still do it?
8. Do I judge my success or failure based upon my faithfulness to what God has asked me to do, or how I compare with others?
Personal satisfactions, such as taking a vacation or winning a competition, are not wrong in themselves. Motivation becomes an issue when we are not honest with ourselves about why we are doing things. When we give the outward appearance of obeying God but our hearts are hard, God knows. We are deceiving ourselves and others, too. The only way we can operate from pure motives is when we “walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16, 25). When we allow Him to control every part of us, then our desire is to please Him and not ourselves. Our flesh constantly clamors to exalt itself, and only when we walk in the Spirit will we not gratify those desires of our flesh.
This world is a battleground. Since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:17-19), the world God created has been in conflict with Him (Romans 8:20-22). Satan is called the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), and due to Adam’s sin, we are born on his team (Romans 5:12). John Bunyan pictured this conflict in his allegory The Holy War. Prince Emmanuel besieges the city of Mansoul to wrest it from the power of Diabolus. Unfortunately, the citizens of Mansoul are blindly committed to Diabolus and fight against Emmanuel, to their own detriment.
When we reach the age when we can make moral choices, we must choose whether to follow our own sinful inclinations or to seek God (see Joshua 24:15). God promises that when we seek Him with all our hearts, we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). When we find Him, we have a choice to make: do we continue following our own inclinations, or do we surrender to His will?
Surrender is a battle term. It implies giving up all rights to the conqueror. When an opposing army surrenders, they lay down their arms, and the winners take control from then on. Surrendering to God works the same way. God has a plan for our lives, and surrendering to Him means we set aside our own plans and eagerly seek His. The good news is that God’s plan for us is always in our best interest (Jeremiah 29:11), unlike our own plans that often lead to destruction (Proverbs 14:12). Our Lord is a wise and beneficent victor; He conquers us to bless us.
There are different levels of surrender, all of which affect our relationship with God. Initial surrender to the drawing of the Holy Spirit leads to salvation (John 6:44; Acts 2:21). When we let go of our own attempts to earn God’s favor and rely upon the finished work of Jesus Christ on our behalf, we become a child of God (John 1:12; 2 Corinthians 5:21). But there are times of greater surrender during a Christian’s life that bring deeper intimacy with God and greater power in service. The more areas of our lives we surrender to Him, the more room there is for the filling of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we exhibit traits of His character (Galatians 5:22). The more we surrender to God, the more our old self-worshiping nature is replaced with one that resembles Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Romans 6:13 says that God demands that we surrender the totality of our selves; He wants the whole, not a part: “Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.” Jesus said that His followers must deny themselves (Mark 8:34)—another call to surrender.
The goal of the Christian life can be summed up by Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Such a life of surrender is pleasing to God, results in the greatest human fulfillment, and will reap ultimate rewards in heaven (Luke 6:22-23).
To shun is to deliberately avoid something or someone. In the Bible, the word shun is applied to evil. The Lord said that His servant Job was “blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil” (Job 1:8). Job himself confessed that “the fear of the Lord—that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding” (Job 28:28). The Bible advises us, “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil” (Proverbs 3:7–8). “A wise man fears the Lord and shuns evil” (Proverbs 14:16). So, shunning evil is good.
In religious and ecclesiastical contexts, shunning is a form of church discipline against a person who has violated church rules. Shunning involves a formal decision by a church that bans interaction with the person being shunned. The extent and duration of the shunning vary among the various groups that practice it. Shunning is often associated with Amish and Mennonite groups, but it is also employed by other churches. Certain cults and traditional societies (such as in Bali) practice severe forms shunning that can lead to whole families being ostracized from all aspects of society.
In Amish shunning, church members are not allowed to eat at the same table as those who are shunned, do business with them, or receive anything from them. Shunning is only applied to baptized, adult members who willfully violate their vows to the church. Non-members and those who never took the vows are not eligible to be shunned.
Although shunning is related to excommunication, the two practices are not synonymous. To be excommunicated is to lose one’s membership rights in a church; the excommunicated person may no longer vote in the church, teach a class, etc. Shunning goes beyond excommunication: to be shunned is to be denied personal interaction with church members even in social, non-ecclesiastical settings. It is possible to be excommunicated without being shunned. While shunning may connote legalistic tendencies, and shunning can be misused in spiritual manipulation, there is a proper place for breaking an association. The Bible teaches excommunication as a form of church discipline. Further, 1 Corinthians 5:11 refers to what can easily be interpreted as a form of shunning: “I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.” In this context, Paul is dealing with a man involved in gross immorality (verse 1). The command is to excommunicate the man for his own spiritual good (verses 2 and 5) and for the church’s own purity (verse 6). The apostle’s counsel to “not even eat” with the man is based on two things: the man claims to be a Christian, and he is consistently involved in public, unrepentant sin (verse 11). After excommunicating such a person, the church must be careful not to give the impression that everything is all right. As long as an unrepentant sinner claims to be a child of God, he can have no real fellowship with the body of Christ.
Other passages of Scripture also teach excommunication and the breaking of close association (Matthew 18:15–17; 2 Thessalonians 3:14). However, besides the command not to eat with the man in Corinth, no specifics on the practice of shunning are given in the Bible. Even in 1 Corinthians 5:11, the extent of the shunning is not entirely clear: was Paul referring to the Lord’s Supper, which he discusses in 1 Corinthians 11? Was the command a cultural reference to showing acceptance and fullness of fellowship? In any case, it would seem that extreme forms of shunning, such as considering someone “dead,” utterly ignoring him, or refusing to acknowledge his existence, go beyond what Scripture commands. After all, Jesus said that, when someone is put out of the church, he should be treated as “a pagan or a tax collector” (Matthew 18:17). In other words, treat an intractable offender as an unsaved person. How are we to treat the unsaved? With love and grace. The “pagans and tax collectors” need to be evangelized. We are to love even our enemies (Matthew 5:44).
The goal of excommunication and any form of shunning is restoration (Galatians 6:1). The purpose of any type of discipline is to prompt repentance and, ultimately, to reunite our fallen brother or sister with the church body. Being officially ostracized from the church, the sinner might be brought to repentance. When the man in the Corinthian church later realized that he had sinned against God, he repented and came back to the church for forgiveness and reinstatement. Fellowship with the Corinthian believers was restored (2 Corinthians 2:6–11).
Now listen carefully: Scripturally, excluding a person from the church is preceded by admonition and counsel; it is only employed in cases of bona fide heresy, obdurate divisiveness, or blatant, unrepentant sin; and it is a last resort. After excommunication, the relationship between the former member and the church naturally changes, and the “shunning command”—not to eat with such a person—may come into play. However, the church still has the responsibility to pray for the one being disciplined and to extend forgiveness when repentance is evident. Shunning, as defined as a refusal to speak to someone or a total severing of all ties, goes beyond what the Bible advocates.
More and more I see believers shunning Christians who backslide or are struggling with temptation or sin. Is this what Christian’s are to do? Where would the church be today if Christ would have held that same attitude and shunned the backslider and sinner? Let’s explore today what it means to “Exhort”?
Exhortation is defined as “an urging done by someone close beside.” Paul instructs Timothy, saying, “Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching” (1 Timothy 4:13). The word most often translated “exhort” or “exhortation” comes from the Greek word paraklésis, which means “to call to one’s side; to summon, encourage, admonish, entreat.” To exhort is to develop relationships with other believers for the purpose of encouraging them in their spiritual growth. Part of Timothy’s job as a young pastor was to encourage and admonish those within his flock. God holds pastors responsible for the spiritual well-being of those in their care (Hebrews 13:17), and exhortation is part of keeping them spiritually healthy.
Exhortation is also one of the spiritual gifts listed in Romans 12:6–8. “Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: . . . he who exhorts, in his exhortation” (NASB). The Holy Spirit gifts believers with different supernatural abilities to serve Christ and one another. The gift of exhortation is a person’s unique ability to encourage and edify others. This person delights in finding Scriptures that apply to a situation and teaching others how to apply them. People with this gift are often involved in teaching, counseling, and discipleship training ministries within the church. Exhorters are among the first to find believers who are floundering in their faith. They come alongside the weaker ones to encourage, confront, if necessary, and model victorious living.
People with the gift of exhortation do not merely proclaim truth, as prophets often do. They develop relationships, often taking time to do those little extras that make the difference when someone is struggling. Rather than say, “You should begin reading the Psalms every day,” an exhorter might say, “Let’s start a Bible study together on Psalms. How about coffee Tuesday morning?” We are instructed to earnestly desire spiritual gifts, which implies that, as we are faithful with the ones we have been given, God will entrust us with more (1 Corinthians 12:31; 14:1). Regardless of our primary gifts, all Christians should desire to become better at exhortation to build up those who are weaker, encourage those who lead, and strengthen the Body of Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:14; 2 Corinthians 1:4).
In his letter to the Galatians, the apostle Paul wrote that he had been “crucified with Christ,” and, as a result, Paul no longer lived. Does this mean that Paul hung on the cross with Jesus and was crucified along with Him physically? Obviously not. What, then, did Paul mean by “crucified with Christ”? The life and death alluded to here are spiritual, not physical.
In the previous verse, Galatians 2:19, Paul states that in Christ he became dead to the Law, insensible to it in the same way that physical death makes a person insensible to all surrounding objects and influences. Paul says that he became insensible to the Law as a means of justification. It lost its power over him and ceased to influence him. Paul was also dead to the world, to ambition and the love of money, to the pride of life, and to the dominion of evil and hateful passions. They lost their power over him; they ceased to influence him. They, too, were crucified with Christ.
When we are crucified with Christ by faith in Him, we are to completely surrender every selfish desire and ambition to the perfect will of God. Self-promotion and self-pleasing desires are the greatest obstacle between man and salvation because it is the nature of man to want to please himself, and this self-recognition is a building block for sin. All sin erupts from the desire to please self, and this is what must be crucified with Christ in surrender to the will of God before salvation can bear fruit. This, as Paul attests, is an ongoing process because the spirit, which has been crucified with Christ, still resides within in the flesh, which is still very much alive (Romans 7:18–25).
Man cannot overcome his inherited sinful nature on his own and needs the power and assistance of the Holy Spirit to make this happen, but the surrender of his own will to that of God’s will is essential for the elimination of his own desire’s powerful motivation and enslavement. This is part of repentance. True repentance is not just asking for forgiveness of sin but is also a willingness and desire for change that conforms to the will of God. It is surrender of one’s own control and will to the power and will of the Holy Spirit that is the beginning of being crucified with Christ.
This beginning brings a quickening of the Holy Spirit within man, which brings forth a new spiritual life in him as he is born again of the Spirit of God. Old, corruptible desires are replaced with a new and more powerful motivation to experience the holiness of God. Temptation for the former corruptible ways that enslaved him to sin are defeated, not by man’s own effort to battle his corruptible nature, but in surrender of his own will to God’s will (1 Peter 1:23). This proves to be a great challenge for many people because we attempt to control our sinful nature on our own with the result being repeated falls into the same old, sinful ways they are attempting to escape. If it had been possible for man to overcome his sinful nature by his own power and will, there would have been no need for Jesus to die for our sins. Man could have simply overcome his sinful nature, obeyed the Mosaic Law, and stopped sinning on his own by the power of his own will. But because man is not capable of denying his sinful nature on his own, by the grace of God man has been given this victory through the gift of spiritual rebirth if he is willing to fully surrender in repentant contrition to God’s will. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8).
Many Christians want to be obedient but continue to stumble in sin because they try to hang on to parts of the old self they think they are able to control. This is a self-defeating rationale that relies on the idea that man saves himself by his own works. The Bible teaches us that nothing a man does can save his soul, and salvation is only by the grace of God (Ephesians 2:8–9). Through this gift of grace, man can be born again and be given a new nature to replace the old, sinful self. He must be born again if he is ever to see the kingdom of God (John 3:3), and if he is to be born again, his sinful nature must be crucified with Christ, and he must be filled with the Holy Spirit of God.
Yesterday evening I placed this young man on my facebook time line. Today I want to present him to the rest of the world. This young man has literally blown me away with his “Jesus in Every Book of the Bible”. Please give this young man your undivided attention. I am sure you will not be disappointed. Thank you for watching.