Deuteronomy 29:29 The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
Anyone who’s ever tried to understand the triune nature of God knows that it’s a difficult task. It’s even harder to describe than it is to understand. People have attempted many different ways of describing God over the centuries and all of them fall short.
The water analogy (God is like water: it exists as liquid, solid and vapor) fails to capture the nature of God because H2O cannot exist as water, ice, and steam simultaneously and each of these three has different properties. God is simultaneously Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Each contains the same essence. The candle analogy (Father=candlestick, Son=light, Spirit=flame) is even worse as each fail to coexist with each other in a way that would even come close to a picture of the Trinity. Likewise analogies like the courtroom (which gives a good idea of the roles of the Trinity in judge, bailiff and defense attorney) cannot capture the triune nature of God because saying that all of these make up “one court” is nothing like the oneness of our God. Analogies fall short because God is above our understanding.
We have a tendency to think that we need to figure everything out, that there is somewhere out there a perfect analogy to show just what our God is like. But God is not like anything in creation. He is God. And it’s ok to not understand the mysterious things about Him. But when He reveals something about Himself, it’s worth taking note. Through the Scriptures, God has revealed that He is Three in One, and we do well to believe it to be so. All of the details of this fact may remain a mystery, and we need to be willing to accept that God is more complex than we could ever understand with our finite minds. If He wasn’t, He wouldn’t be much of a god.
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the spirit is love…
Paul starts out the portion of his letter to the Galatian Christians on the fruit of the spirit by stating that love is one of the quality traits we should bear as followers of Christ. One should think there is no coincidence in the fact that this is the first trait listed in the fruit of the spirit. Love is a major theme in God’s Word.
Why is it that love is so important in the life of a Christ follower? Why would love be so important to be listed first among the fruit of the spirit, mentioned so many times throughout the scriptures, and spoken of so often by Jesus Himself? Because without love, everything else is worthless.
Many wedding ceremonies include a reading from I Corinthians 13. We call it “the love chapter”. A wonderful chapter it is, but we often hear it quoted starting in verse 4. This is where the characteristics of love are given. Look just before that verse to find what Paul says on the importance of love. “…if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned; but have not love, I gain nothing.“(2b-3)
Did you catch that? If we have the faith to move mountains, but don’t have love in our hearts, it’s worthless faith! All too often we place more importance on faith and works than on love. The fact is, that those works and that faith ought to be based in love. When we perform kind acts, it should be out of love, not duty. When we sing songs of praise to the Lord, it must be out of love for Him, not obligation.
When Jesus Christ was questioned as to the greatest of the commandments, He listed near the top “love your neighbor as yourself“(Matthew 22:39). If we can keep this commandment, almost everything else we’re instructed to do will come as a natural byproduct.
They will know we are Christians by our love. Let it show.
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Ephesians 4:23-24 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
When you surrendered your life to Jesus Christ, you became a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). A major transformation occurs when someone takes this step. Along with that transformation comes a new heart. With a new heart comes new desires. With new desires comes renewed thinking.
The thing about obedience to God is that it all begins with right thinking. If we have any hope of following Christ we can’t do it on our own. We need His help to obey and we can only know what it is He wants us to do if we have been transformed by the renewal of our minds (Romans 12:2). We have to seek after the truth that’s only found in Him.
At some point in time the truth of God’s Word really penetrates your soul and you just know the truth for what it is. It becomes so clear that you can’t believe that you never embraced this truth before. This truth sets you free! (John 8:32) With a new heart and a new mind there’s a new life, one free from the burdens of this world and from the taskmasters of fear and shame.
A new mind is a clean slate to start over with. Instead of allowing your mind to be consumed by the things of this world, you have the opportunity to allow the Holy Spirit to fill it with what is right and good and pure.
Romans 8:14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
There are two types of people in this world. There are those who are led by the Holy Spirit and there are those who are lost. There are no other options. When left to our own wisdom to guide ourselves, we get nowhere. Only by the Holy Spirit can we talk in the way God has for us.
To some, this may seem a ridiculous notion, pointing to the achievements of secular mankind who has not consulted God or been Spirit-led in their discoveries throughout the ages. It is an interesting observation, however, those who think that mankind has the potential to know all there is to know, thus disproving the existence of God, are disregarding the fact that God created all there is to discover. The achievements of man are of no eternal consequence.
But those led by the Spirit are children of God, adopted into His family. We have been the recipients of the greatest gift of all time: God himself. There is nothing of greater eternal significance. It doesn’t matter what we accomplish in this temporary life in regards to greatness because true greatness is only found in one place. It is God’s to give.
Romans 8:12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.
It may seem, as we read Romans 8, that Paul drones on a bit about the same thing. You’re not dead in your sin anymore once you’re in Christ. If the Holy Spirit dwells in you, you’re not dead any more, but alive in Christ. Flesh is death, Christ is life.
Yet, even as the chapter goes on, Paul digs in even more on the issue – it must be important. The new life that begins with salvation means the end of the old life. We often agree with that intellectually, but don’t embrace it in reality. Paul probably faced the same thing with his original audience and he emphasized once again that in your new life you’re not a slave to sin. It doesn’t own you anymore.
Christian, get it. You don’t have to give in to all the things that call your name. You don’t belong to them, you belong to the King of Kings. Yes, of course we’ll all still sin because we’re flawed and broken. But that doesn’t mean we have an excuse to live like we did before we became a new creation. You don’t owe anything to your old life. Leave it in the past and put on Christ.
Romans 8:11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
Let’s recap: Every single one of us has sinned. We’re all guilty before a perfect God and have no chance at perfection. But there’s a hero to this story. There’s a Redeemer who sets us free from the condemnation that’s owed to us. We have been forgiven if we’ve put our trust in Christ Jesus.
The work of Jesus Christ on the cross accomplished what you and I could never achieved for ourselves. Under the Law, we could never reach the expectations of a holy God who requires perfection. The Law is restrictive, Christ is freeing. We’ve been freed from sin and empowered to obey, but we’ll still never make it to the perfection the Law requires. We’re still human. God knew we would never live up to the Law. It’s why He sent His Son to fulfill the Law that we might be freed from it’s bondage. Now it serves as a reminder that we need Him every single day.
We all have that choice to make. Just because we have been saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ doesn’t mean we live effective lives. We have to choose each day to listen to God’s voice as He directs us. The only way to truly be effective for God’s purposes is to set aside the many pleasures this world has to offer for the sake of doing what we’re called to do. Love. You want to please God? Love. You want to do what’s right? Love. Freedom from the Law is freedom to walk in love, and in doing so to fulfill the Law.
Submission to God means seeking first what He wants. The truth that isn’t always communicated in the church environment is that following Jesus is hard. It’s not all about how you can get what you want and live like there’s not a care in the world. There are struggles and battles to be faced. The good news is, He knows better than we do what’s good for us anyway.
God’s children live differently than the rest of the world. We’re not concerned with the things that burden the lost. We’re able to walk in a godly confidence because we know that the Lord is all-powerful and He is good. When you surrender your life over to Jesus Christ. God takes what was once dead and makes it alive (Ephesians 2:5). If you are His, He’s brought you to life because now it’s no longer you who live, but Christ in you (Galatians 2:20).
In case it hasn’t been clear: It’s only God who gives life to our mortal bodies. We’re incapable of living on our own. Without Him we’re the walking dead, going through the motions but not really living. With Him there’s no end to the possibilities.
Romans 8:9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
If you’re God’s, you’re God’s. If you’re not, you’re not. There is no in-between. There is no such thing as a part-time Christian. You are either in the flesh or in the spirit.
We’re all born once into the flesh. Our mothers carry us for 9 months and give birth to us, little tiny human infants. But to be of the Spirit requires a rebirth (John 3:6). When you claim the promises of God by being saved through faith in Jesus, you are born into the Spirit. Then, and only then, do you become part of God’s family.
It’s common to hear someone spoken of as a “child of God” and this is true in some regard. God did create every person who walks the earth, but they are not all His children. Only those who have been adopted are His. And those who are His are His forever. Are you His? Is the inheritance He’s promised yours to claim? Do you know Him as your Father?
God’s children live differently than the rest of the world. We’re not concerned with the things that burden the lost. We’re able to walk in a godly confidence because we know that the Lord is all-powerful and He is good. We’ve got what the world is looking for in all the wrong places. But there’s always more room in God’s family for another.
Romans 8:8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
Where is your allegiance? What team are you on? You might say that you’re on God’s side, but would He say the same? Are you living as someone who is fully committed to one master? Or are you, like so many others, fooling yourself by saying you’re following Christ while in reality following every whim of your fleshly desires?
The truth that isn’t always communicated in the church environment is that following Jesus is hard. It’s not all about how you can get what you want and live like there’s not a care in the world. There are struggles and battles to be faced. When those times come it’s often the test of where your real allegiances lie. When you have the choice to be comfortable in your flesh or be uncomfortable for the Lord, which do you choose? It’s so easy to pick the easy path, thinking that later on we’ll settle some sort of deal with God. But the reality is that it’s impossible to please Him if we’re living only for ourselves.
Even Jesus was tempted in this regard. The Word says He was tempted just as we are so He can sympathize with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15), but He never gave in. We’re much weaker than Him, so it’s easier for us to cave. It’s much harder to choose the ways of God than it is the cushy ways of man. But in the end it’s always worth it.
If you’re having a hard time in this area, don’t feel like you have to do it all on your own. It’s not about what you do for God, it’s about giving your life over to Him in submission. Stop trying to please Him by doing things and give Him what He really wants – you. Jesus paid the price so that you can have a relationship with the Father. You just have to trust Him instead of yourself.
Romans 8:7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.
When we live for our own desires, we won’t let anything get in the way of what we want when we want it. That includes God. It’s impossible to choose worldly pleasure as a way of life and also submit to God.
The truth is, if life is lived for self, then God is an enemy because He calls us to lose ourselves for His sake. We can’t hold on to everything we desire and still seek to please Him. Let’s visit that thought again with a new emphasis. We CAN’T hold onto the selfish desires of our heart and still follow God. It’s not possible!
Yet, so many people try to do this. So many Christians who have truly been saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ still try to live according to their own wants and perceived needs. The very thought of putting aside those desires to seek out what God wants is offensive. Do you see how this makes one hostile toward God? When you think God is trying to take your stuff away, you fight Him. That’s not the way of the Christ follower.
Submission to God means seeking first what He wants. The good news is, He knows better than we do what’s good for us anyway. The things we hold onto are nothing compared to what He has for us if we obey and let Him lead. If you’re holding on, give this a try: let go and ask what God wants for you.