Watch Yourself!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014, 8:00 a.m. – the Lord Jesus put the song in mind, “He Lifted Our Burdens.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Galatians 6:1–18 (NIV84).

Don’t Abuse Your Freedom

The Lord first drew my eyes to Galatians 5:13 (NIV84) where it says:

“You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge in the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.”

So, what were we called to be free from? Jesus died so that we who have been crucified with him, by his grace, through faith, have been set free from sin, and have become slaves of righteousness. When we were slaves to sin, we were free from the control of righteousness. We have also been set free from the curse of the law, which is death, i.e. from eternal separation from God and eternal punishment in hell. Our sins have been pardoned by his grace, so that, through faith, Christ’s righteousness is now credited to our account. Yet, just because we have been freed from the curse of the law, and Christ’s righteousness has now been accredited to our account, we should not abuse that freedom.

We, as believers in Christ, still live in flesh bodies, and thus we are still subject to temptation to sin and we are still capable of sin, otherwise we would not be given these warnings in scripture to not use our freedom to indulge in the sinful nature. So, what this means is that, although we have been set free from sin, it is still possible for us, as believers in Christ, to still sin, and even to be captivated by sin once again. Thus we have been given the instruction (exhortation) in Hebrews 12 to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles us so that we can run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, and not on our flesh. Yet, some believers will ignore those exhortations and will allow themselves to be engrossed in sin all over again.

Each Other’s Burdens

Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, 5 for each one should carry his own load.

So, what is our responsibility to our brothers and sisters in Christ if we have knowledge that they are engrossed in sin once again? First of all, we should examine ourselves and we must make certain we are walking in faith and that we are not giving way to the flesh so that we don’t make a hypocritical judgment, and so that we don’t try to remove a speck from our brother’s eye while we have a log in our own. The next step is that we should restore the person gently. This means that we don’t condemn the person, we don’t write him or her off, we don’t get even, but we are humble in our approach with them by realizing our own sinfulness, and that it is only by God’s grace that we have been set free. Our object is not to put the person down but to lovingly confront him or her with their sin, and then to show them the way out of their sin, as well as to be there to support, encourage, strengthen, and love them along the way so that they do not become discouraged and give up.

Yet, when trying to help a drowning person, we must be careful that we are not pulled down with them. We have to have our own guards up so that we don’t get sucked in to the same or a similar sin. We must daily put on the armor of God so that we can stand against the devil’s schemes. We must be engrossed (immersed) in Christ. Christ and his word must be at the forefront of our lives, like a shield or an armed force with which to fight off Satan’s attacks against us. We live in the world, but we should not be part of the world’s system. We should come out and be separate, even if it means being mocked, lied about, mistreated, rejected and forsaken in return. We must find our refuge in Christ, not in the things or the people of this world or even in the worldly church. Yet, we should do so with all humility and with love and with a desire to serve and to minister to people’s needs.

Lastly, we must carry each other’s burdens. A burden is an excessive weight. In context, this could be a direct reference to the burden of sin that a believer in Christ has brought upon himself (or herself). If the sin is against us personally, until the person repents of sin, we may bear the weight (results) of that sin against us, but we should do so by responding with love, forgiveness, humility, servanthood, by speaking the truth in love, and by finding our rest, hope and source of strength and encouragement in Christ. We may also do so by carrying that person’s burden of sin to the Lord in prayer, or by empathizing with him or her in their entrapment to sin, feeling compassion upon them, and grieving over their sin through tears and prayers to the Lord, who is the only one who can remove that burden from them as they willingly forsake their sin and choose to walk in Christ’s righteousness.

Reaping What we Sow

7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Scripture teaches us that if, after we have professed Christ as Savior and Lord, we still continue to walk in the flesh (in darkness), then we don’t really know Christ/God, but we have just made a superficial confession of him. So, don’t be deceived! We are not saved by a mere confession or profession of faith, but we are saved by the blood of Christ, and by his offering for our sin, and by his grace, but also by faith which submits itself to the cross of Christ and willingly allows the Spirit of God to transform us away from slavery to sin to new life in Christ, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (See Eph. 2:8-9; 4:17-24; Ro. 6; Tit. 2:11-14; Ac. 26:16-18; Gal. 2:20; and 1 Jn. 1-5, et al). When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, we die to sin. How can we live in it any longer?

The Lord Jesus gave me an encouraging word here with regard to not becoming weary in doing good, doing good to all people, and reaping a harvest if we do not give up. He gave me a picture both of a humble, submissive and loving response to being mistreated, i.e. due to being the object (target) of other people’s sins, but also of continuing to speak the truth in love - in loving confrontation, through humility and servanthood, putting my security and refuge in Christ, putting on his armor daily, and encouraging and exhorting the body of Christ to do some housecleaning (spiritually), i.e. in ridding themselves of the works of the flesh, the weights of sin and idolatry, and the ways of this sinful world. He said that if I do not give up, I (we who serve him in this way) will reap a harvest! Amen!

Trying to Compel You

12 Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 Not even those who are circumcised obey the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your flesh. 14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. 16 Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God.

17 Finally, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.

We, in the United States of America, and in the 21st Century, are not being faced with this specific issue of adding circumcision to our faith, yet there is still a lesson to be learned here, for this symbolizes putting our confidence in the flesh, or adding the works of the flesh to our faith or to our daily walks with Christ. So, are we, as believers in Christ, being pressured into a walk of faith based upon the flesh of man? Most certainly! We are being bombarded with all kinds of materials written by human beings, supposedly of Christian origin and purportedly Biblically-based, which have little to do with the word of Truth, and which frequently teach what is in direct opposition to God’s word, but they do it so smoothly so that it looks good and sounds good, but it is full of pitfalls, lies and deceptions. And, yet the people of God oftentimes follow the materials blindly without any thought to challenge what is being taught to see if it is consistent with scripture. So, beware false teaching, for it comes in sheep’s clothing! We must examine everything we hear against the word of God.

Many of these materials give a script for us to follow, but we must make certain that the script is written by God and not by human beings who are following other human beings. We are to be led of the Spirit in what we do, not led of man. A lot of what is passed off as spiritual food is unclean. We need to examine the “food” we are given to see if it is of God, and we need to reject what is not. The Lord Jesus gave me a picture here, though, that the pure word of God (food that is clean) is becoming scarce, i.e. it is rarely being offered anymore, as so many have gone to following the teachings and philosophies of human beings over the teachings of Christ and his word.

Yet, we must be prepared that if we stand for what is right, and we deliberately examine what is being taught in today’s church, and we don’t readily accept whatever we hear, i.e. we don’t accept a gospel which pleases the ears of the masses, but we hold strong to the gospel as taught by the apostles, that we may be paraded as the apostles were before us, put on display, condemned to die, made a spectacle of and treated like garbage to be thrown out and discarded. We must be prepared to be despised, rejected, hated, persecuted falsely, have lies told about us, suffer false accusations and to be made to look like fools before the world. Yet, we must remain constant and patient in battle, realizing that, though the world or the worldly church forsake us, God will never leave us or abandon us. Though the worldly church may cast us off as garbage, we are precious to God! Amen! We should never shrink back from bearing the cross of Christ in order to receive the approval of men.

He Lifted Our Burdens / An Original Work / February 15, 2014

Based off Isaiah 9:2-7

People walk in darkness.
They abide in their sin.
It has power o’er them.
True belief escapes them.

Jesus Christ came to save them.
He gave His life up for them;
Crucified; died for our sin,
So we might be forgiven,
And have life up in heaven.

Many come to know Him.
God’s love now o’erflows them.
They rejoice in vict’ry.
Their sin is but hist’ry.

We were once bound in slav’ry.
Jesus lifted our burdens;
Set us now free from Satan,
So we now walk in freedom.
Sin has no more dominion.

Praise be to our Savior!
He showed us His favor.
He took all our burdens;
Cast them all upon Him.

He is our mediator;
The Light which shines in darkness.
Counselor in our troubles;
He gives peace now in our hearts;
Joy which is everlasting.