Arm Yourselves

Thursday, December 05, 2013, 6:02 a.m. – When I awoke this morning, the Lord Jesus put the song “Myopic” in my mind. Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. I read 1 Peter 4 (ESV).

Done With Sin

Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.

Jesus Christ, God the Son, came to earth, took on human flesh, suffered as we suffer and was tempted as we are tempted, yet without sin. He was severely persecuted, called crazy or of the devil, accused falsely, treated unjustly, betrayed, forsaken, despised, rejected, beaten, mocked and then hung on a tree to die as though he was a common criminal, although he had done no wrong. Yet, his death had a purpose. When he died, he took upon himself the sins of the entire world. When he died, our sins were crucified with him. When he rose from the dead, he conquered Satan, hell, death and sin. He did this so that you and I could go free, not only from the ultimate penalty of sin (eternal damnation), but also so we could be free from bondage to and the control of sin over our lives on a daily basis, and so we could walk in Christ’s righteousness and holiness in the power of the Spirit of God within us. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection he provided the free gift of salvation to all who will receive him by faith, yet what is faith?

Many people give the impression that faith is a feeling or an experience or even some type of intellectual acknowledgment of what Christ did for us in dying for our sins, so they often describe faith and salvation as merely choosing heaven over hell, and that through “faith” they are now on their way to heaven with little indication of what that means for them in the “here and now.” Yet, the teachings of Christ and of the apostles make it real clear that faith in Jesus Christ means death to sin, not just in what Jesus Christ did on the cross for our sins, but because of what he did we are able to die to living according to the flesh. And, we must daily arm ourselves with this attitude of death to sin so that we can live and walk according to the Spirit. We should no longer live the rest of our earthly lives for evil human desires which war against us. In other words, we should be DONE WITH SIN. It should no longer rule our lives. We should no longer give ourselves over to lust, drunkenness, sensuality, fleshly passions, idolatry and the like. We should not partake in these in any way, including we should not be entertained by them via TV and movies and the Internet.

Instead, we should live the rest of our lives for the will of God in the power and strength of the Spirit of God living within us. This means that daily we seek to know his will through the careful study of scriptures, especially the teachings of Christ and of the apostles, through prayer, and through obedience to what he shows us. It means that we daily resist Satan, flee (run away from) temptation, and we draw near to God through submission to his will and surrender to his purposes for our lives. And, it means that we also willingly choose to suffer unjust treatment from those who do not understand why we don’t join in with them in their fleshly pleasure driven way of living. And, it is not just the world which might heap abuse on us, either. Jesus’ greatest enemies were the religious. Our greatest opposition, thus, may come from the worldly church which will treat us as though we are somehow abnormal because we don’t participate in worldly things as they do. And, we may be regarded by them as obtuse because we choose to follow the ways of the Lord instead.

In All Things

The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

With the view in mind that our lives on this earth are temporal, that this is not our permanent home, and that of Christ’s soon return, we should be serious-minded about our relationships with Jesus Christ and our walk of faith, and not take God’s grace for granted (lightly). We read in Titus 2:11-14 that God’s grace, which offers salvation to all people, “teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” It also says that Jesus Christ gave himself for us “to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” In other words, Jesus Christ died for our sins, not just so we can go to heaven one day, but so we can walk in freedom from sin and in his righteousness day-to-day while we still live on the face of this earth (Cf. 2 Co. 5:14-15). He died, in other words, so that we would no longer live for ourselves, but for him who died and rose again on our behalf. Are we living like this is what we believe? Or, have we bought into a lie which teaches that salvation does not require that we die to sin and live for God?

With this view (above) still in mind, we should love one another, because love covers over a multitude of sins. This must be understood in context here. It is not saying that we overlook or ignore sin in our brothers and sisters in Christ or in our own lives. That type of action does not love others! True love speaks the truth in love with gentleness and respect. And, it addresses sin in a Biblical manner; always with the goal in mind of restoring our brother or sister in Christ back to a right-relationship with God (See Gal. 6:1). Yet, this may involve some tough love in order to see our loved ones truly restored. The word “restore” actually means to “complete, prepare, mend, equip, to get ready, fit (join) together, perfect, and/or to bring into its proper condition” (Strong’s). So, true love will help to bring a brother or sister’s relationship with Jesus Christ into (or back into) its proper condition. It will forgive, but it will not ignore continuous and willful sin. We should love each other enough to help each other to walk uprightly. Yet, we should never return evil with evil, but with good.

Fiery Trials

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And

“If the righteous is scarcely saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

Jesus Christ said that we would be hated as he is hated. He said that the manner in which he was treated, if we are his true followers, we will also be treated. So, it should not surprise us when we suffer for doing what Christ and his apostles did. In fact, if we are not hated or persecuted for our testimony for Jesus Christ, we have to ask ourselves “Why?” Maybe there is nothing to hate or persecute because we don’t live like we say we believe, i.e. we are still living like we did when we were pagans, separate from Christ, only maybe a little more “cleaned-up” now. If we don’t stand for anything, what is there to hate? If we don’t preach the true gospel, why should we be persecuted? If we don’t ever confront sin in sinful man, and call for repentance and obedience (in the Spirit), then why should they insult us? Why should they mock us if we don’t stand out as different from the world? Yet, if we do stand for Christ, and the truth of his word, and we give testimony to the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and we call people to repentance and to godly and holy living, we will be treated as though we are strange, odd, different and unacceptable in today’s world. Yet, we should rejoice that we share in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings.

God disciplines those he loves. Sometimes he disciplines his church in order to mature us, purify us, draw us closer to him, build godly character within us, and move us to do his will and to love others as Christ loves us. The discipline is painful at times, yet, if we respond correctly to it, it should produce a harvest of righteousness in our lives and in the lives of others. This divine discipline is often used as a motivator to spur us on to follow our Lord Jesus Christ in full submission and surrender to his will for our lives. It also serves, I believe, to instill within us godly passion toward getting out the gospel of salvation to as many people as possible, because the time is short, and none of us knows if we have tomorrow. This discipline can come in many forms, yet the one talked about here is mainly in the form of persecution for our faith and testimonies for Jesus Christ. It helps to keep us from getting “soft,” lazy, complacent and/or apathetic about our Christ-like walks of faith. So, although painful and unpleasant, these trials are for our good.

Yet, God also disciplines (judges) his rebellious, adulterous and idolatrous church for the purpose of bringing their relationships with Jesus Christ back into “proper condition.” This would not probably come in the form of persecution, though it may, as there may be those external forces that might persecute Christians merely for the fact that they call themselves Christians, yet as I read scripture, and as I read about the beast and the dragon persecuting the saints of God in the last days, I read that persecution comes to those who keep God’s commands and who hold fast to the testimony of Christ and who do not deny his name. So, they are persecuted because they are doing what Christ and the apostles did, and thus they are treated unjustly because they walk in the Spirit and they don’t live to gratify the passions and desires of the flesh (see 1 Pet. 4:4). Thus, they serve as a threat to Satan’s kingdom.

Yet, with regard to the idolatrous, adulterous and rebellious church of the last days, God will judge them in various forms (See Rev. 2-3) according to what he has against them, and because of their refusal to repent. And, many who think they are saved but are not, because they believed the lies, will be condemned to eternity in hell. So, make sure today that you have received the grace of God which teaches you to say “No” to “ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.”

Myopic / An Original Work / August 19, 2013

Based off 2 Peter 1:3-11

Jesus has given ev’rything
Needed for life and godliness.
His great and precious promises
Free us from our sin and distress.

Add to your faith His goodness;
Knowledge; patience; godliness;
Brotherly love and mutu’l affection;
Kindness and unselfishness.

If you possess these qualities,
Growing in your maturity,
They will keep you from vanity.
You will bear fruit effectually.

Nonetheless, if you lack them;
Forget you’ve been cleansed from sin,
Nearsighted are you; you can’t see Jesus.
You have closed your heart to Him.

Therefore, beloved, confirm, then,
Your calling and your election.
Do this by showing diligence:
Obey your Lord; be repentant.

Practice all these qualities
God provided on a tree.
He died for our sins so we’d be given
Life with Him eternally.