Saturday, June 24, 2017

Nail Them!

“And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Gal 5:24)

Passion and desire have become the driving force of life in this age. We see it in nearly every advertisement, television show, movie … we hear it in every song on the radio, we read about it in nearly every book. You’ll have to agree that life in the 21st century is all about passion and desire. That is, except for those who “belong to Christ Jesus” and “have crucified the flesh”.

I’ve been on a mission since the first of the year, going through the Bible, verse by verse, and making sure I am not pulling familiar verses out of context. Rather, I’m looking for context related to familiar scriptures (if that makes sense). What I am looking for is areas where traditional or contemporary teachings (either or both) have been built based on a pick-n-choose approach to the Scriptures rather than taking the time to understand the context, setting and audience. To me, this has become important and a must if I am to “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15), not only for myself but for the benefit of those whose lives I may influence.

Actually (and unfortunately) we find this happening more and more as people try to discredit God’s Word and/or attempt to use it to promote ideas that are simply unscriptural. If we look closely at some of today’s hot social issues, we’ll find this chop-and-choose approach being used to justify the very behavior we, as believers, are to crucify.

This morning, as I read Galatians 5 and 6, I had to stop and ask myself some questions about Paul’s admonition concerning the works of the flesh. There are so many people who believe you can continue living in sin and still go to heaven. But, Paul’s admonition in Galatians 5 says otherwise: “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires”. In other words, they have put to death those passions and desires. What are the passions and desires he’s referring to? “Immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.” He goes on to state emphatically, without hesitation: “those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God”.

The use of the word “crucify” relative to the works of the flesh — those passions and desires we continue to allow in our lives — is interesting. It literally means to nail our ungodly passions and desires to the cross of Christ. They are to be put to death with Christ, voluntarily just as our Savior willingly yielded to the suffering and rejection — the horror of the cross. Paul wasn’t referring to a simple “it’s under the blood” declaration so many use when justifying their choice to continue in a sinful lifestyle. He literally meant to crucify our passions and desires — the works of the flesh — in the same manner as Christ bore our sins on the cross.

Something else struck me when considering what it means to crucify the works of the flesh. When Jesus was experiencing the most painful form of execution known to man at that time, he refused the stupefying drink to alleviate the pain. He was determined to remain conscious and alert, to feel every element of pain caused by the willful sin of mankind for whom He so willingly surrendered to the horror of the cross. Yet, for most of us, we look for ways to alleviate our pain when we consider our sin. We search out the stupefying drink so we don’t feel the impact of our sin. We look for excuses, we look for justification, we look for people who will soften the blow by accepting sin as “natural”, we claim we have no control or we were born “that way”, we look for ways to appease our sinful choices. In fact, we’ve gone so far as to chop-n-choose God’s Word in a way that renders it powerless to convict a sinner’s heart—to convict OUR hearts.

Paul said, “I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (v.21). Few there be who will cite this part of Paul’s admonition concerning the works of the flesh. Even fewer will heed this warning when it comes to appeasing our sinful lusts.

Our flesh is weak and resists the cross. However, our glorious Redeemer is victorious over the cross, conquering death, hell and the grave. If we are truly “in Him” and willing to subject our flesh to crucifixion, His grace is sufficient; His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Cor 12:9).

While I would love to say that I’ve successfully crucified all my sinful passions and desires, I will confess that it is a daily walk, a moment-by-moment decision to choose righteousness and deny my flesh it’s sinful pleasures. If you are honest too, you will confess the same weakness. That’s not an excuse, it’s a confession that is coupled with my constant prayer, “Lord, give me the strength to die to all that is not of You and to live in a way that allows Your glory to be seen—the glory of the Resurrected Christ.”

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(c) 2015 Jan Ross
All Rights Reserved

 

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