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The Dictates Of The Flesh

Rom 8:12-14 “Therefore, brothers, we are not debtors to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh, you shall die. But if you through the Spirit mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Modern KJV)

“So then, brethren, we are debtors, but not to the flesh [we are not obligated to our carnal nature], to live [a life ruled by the standards set up by the dictates] of the flesh. For if you live according to [the dictates of] the flesh, you will surely die. But if through the power of the [Holy] Spirit you are [habitually] putting to death (making extinct, deadening) the [evil] deeds prompted by the body, you shall [really and genuinely] live forever. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” (Amplified version)

The “dictates of the flesh” can be working in us in many subtle ways - even religious ways. We Are no longer “debtors” to the flesh…or to the law.

A debtor (ofeilethv). Common word from ofeilw, to owe for one who has assumed an obligation. See on Mat_6:12. See Gal_3:10. He takes the curse on himself. ( RWP)

Gal 3:10-11 “For as many as are out of works of the Law, these are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the Book of the Law, to do them." But that no one is justified by the Law in the sight of God is clear, for, "The just shall live by faith."

We are no longer obligated, debtors, or bound to the flesh… to live by it in any way, nor are we to the law. But we are bound to another, Jesus Christ, Who fulfills the law in us and overcomes, deadens, deprives of its power, our flesh and the power of sin.

Rom 7:4-6 “So, my brothers, you also have become dead to the law by the body of Christ so that you should be married to Another, even to Him raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit to God. For when we were in the flesh, the passions of sin worked in our members through the law to bring forth fruit to death. But now we having been set free from the Law, having died to that in which we were held, so that we serve in newness of spirit and not in oldness of the letter.”

As we walk by faith in this truth, of Jesus’ life in us, our hope of glory, trusting in his power, it soon becomes more and more evident how much our flesh has been “dictating to us” and the Holy Spirit begins to reveal it to us more clearly. Many times the flesh is even dictating how we live the Christian life so that we miss what the Holy Spirit would reveal to us and do in us. We may think we are not under the law… yet we are living under a principle of law ruling our lives, rather than by the life of the Spirit in us. There are many ways we try to better our flesh or control our flesh, or reform our flesh but to no avail. Oh yes, we can improve some things in ourselves, but this is not what Christianity is about. It’s about an exchange - His life for ours. Our flesh will always be just as sinful, just as deceitful, self-centered, etc. as it always was. There is no hope for it. It had to be condemned.

Rom 8:3-4 “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh; so that the righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

This is why so many commitments, programs, and all other efforts that are outward, of our human effort, fail to work inward and bring the life of Christ that can only be through what He Himself has given us to be our salvation… His very presence in us. In a sense, we are once again living as “debtors to the flesh” when we do this and fail to live by faith in Him to be our life, power for living, and righteousness. We are still then struggling under the law of sin and death, and condemnation. Try our best – fail – confess – struggle to do better – make more commitments – fail – etc. The cycle of sin and death rather than what Paul talked about - Rom 7:24-25a “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

We’ve been delivered! But we fail to take hold of, by faith, all that God has done, and the position He has given us in Him.

This is the way Darby explains it:

“This deliverance from the law of sin and death is not a mere experience (it will produce precious experiences); it is a divine operation, known by faith in His operation who raised up from the dead, known in all its power by its accomplishment in Jesus, in the efficacy of which we participate by faith. The difficulty of receiving it is that we find our experience clashing with it. That Christ has put away my sins, and that God has loved me, is a matter of simple faith through grace. That I am dead is apt to find itself contradicted in my heart. The process of chapter 7 must be gone through, and the condemnation of sin in the flesh seen in Christ's sacrifice for sin, and I alive by Him judging sin as a distinct thing (an enemy I have to deal with, not I), in order to have solid peace. It is not all that Christ has put away our sins. I live by Him risen, and am linked with this husband, and He being my life-the true "I" in me, I can say that I have died because He has. "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me… “

… “But the force of the thing is this: there is nothing in man that can resist the flesh or bring man out of it; it is himself. The law cannot go beyond this boundary (namely, that of man to whom it is addressed), nor ought it, for it deals with his responsibility. There must be something which is not man, and yet which acts in man, that he may be delivered. No creature could do anything in this: he is responsible in his own place. It must be God. The Spirit of God coming into man does not cease to be God, and does not make the man cease to be man; but He produces divinely in the man, a life, a character a moral condition of being, a new man; in this sense, a new being, and in virtue of the cleansing by Christ's blood. He dwells-Christ having accomplished the work of deliverance, of which this is the power in us-in the man, and the man is in Christ and Christ in the man."

May God continue to open our eyes to the wonderful full salvation He has wrought for us! And may He continue to open our eyes to see how much He has set us free and give us the faith to walk in that.


Sonship

Gal 4:4-6 “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, coming into being out of a woman, having come under Law, that He might redeem those under Law, so that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.”

Rom 8:15-17 “For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption by which we cry, Abba, Father! The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. And if we are children, then we are heirs; heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ; so that if we suffer with Him, we may also be glorified together.”

1Jo 3:1-2 “Behold what manner of love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God. Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be. But we know that when He shall be revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”

Will we, as Christians, live under bondage? Or will we live under sonship? There is a difference in how one lives the Christian life under each. Under the law there was always the fear of not measuring up - of unpardoned sin. In Christ we have sonship. We are no longer to live under the bondage of fear but by the Spirit of life that makes us sons and daughters of Jesus and by which we cry out “Abba, Father”. Many never find the life of sonship with God, but still live under a form of religion.

We must learn what our sonship means. By faith, we are made one with the Son, and the Father. His Spirit lives in us now as our rule of life. Just as Jesus lived in total dependency on the Father for all things, as our example on this earth, so we too are now to live by faith, in total dependence on the Him.

The pride of man tells him he must do it – and the nature of man clings to old forms.

Darby’s synopsis on Gal. 4: “But what were these Gentiles, become Christians, now doing? They desired to be again in bondage to these wretched elements, worldly and carnal, to which they had formerly been in subjection; these things of which the carnal man could form his religion, without one moral or spiritual thought, and which placed the glory due to God, in outward observances which an unbeliever and a heathen ignorant of God could call his religion and glory in it.

As figures, which God used to bear testimony beforehand to the realities that are in Christ, they had their true value. God knew how to reconcile the employment of these figures, which are profitable to faith, with a religious system that tested man in the flesh, and that served to answer the question, whether, with every kind of help, man was able to stand before God and to serve Him. But to go back to these ordinances made for man in the flesh, now that God had shewn man's incapability of becoming righteous before Him-now that the substance of these shadows was come, was to go back to the position of men in the flesh, and to take that standing without any command of God that sanctioned it. It was to go back to the ground of idolatry, that is to say, to a carnal religion, arranged by man without any authority from God, and which in no way brought man into connection with Him. For things done in the flesh had certainly not that effect. "Ye observe days and months and seasons and years." This the heathen did in their human religion. Judaism was a human religion ordained of God, but, by going back to it when the ordinance of God was no longer in force, they did but go back to the paganism out of which they had been called to have part with Christ in heavenly things.”

God has so much better for us than our own human effort can ever provide! He has sonship with all its privileges. He has a oneness with Him for His children. He has made us heirs of His. He has bestowed His love on us and given us His Spirit to live in the most intimate place of our hearts that we may truly know His heart, and He may share in all our joys and sorrows and struggles. Wow! He has made us His children! And we cannot yet fathom what that will be in the end. But as John says, we know when we see Him we shall be like Him for we’ll see Him as He is. And yet, even now, we are able to see Him more and more by faith and become more conformed to His image, sharing in just a small portion of His glory in our lives while we wait for His return and our full redemption. No human religion can bring about that oneness – that relationship as a son, that the Father intended for us. This is only accomplished by what the Son did for us, not we could ever do. His way is complete.

The enemy will continually try to bring man back to his own efforts, and keep us from realizing what we have in Christ Jesus as sons of God. Will you let him rob you? Make it your study to know Him as His own dear child, and not as one still under bondage. He has so much to share with His children! We must look carefully at all the ways man would have us to live by outward religion rather than by God’s Spirit. They are subtle ways and seem right and appeal to our carnal nature. But they rob us of the sonship that Jesus intended for us – that the Father intended for us when He gave His son on the cross to accomplish it. An heir does not work to receive his inheritance. It is given to him. We are heirs, not because of anything we do, but because we are children of God. He has done it all and continues to do all in us as we walk by faith in Him, daily.


Despair or Rejoicing, The Choice

Phi 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.”

Rom 5:2-5 “Through Him we also have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice on the hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we glory in afflictions also, knowing that afflictions work out patience, and patience works out experience, and experience works out hope. And hope does not make us ashamed, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit given to us.”

To despair is to give in to unbelief, to rejoice is an act of faith in God’s grace. Because of the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, which all true believers in Christ Jesus have, we have a hope – secure – not to be ever disappointed – and can rejoice in our tribulation.

When life throws circumstances at us beyond our ability, we have a choice in Jesus – Despair or rejoicing in the power of God He has given us to live in us and enable us to live through it. If we allow despair to take over, we miss the opportunity of God to show Himself to us, and those around us, through the impossibilities in our life. If we choose to rejoice, as the scripture tells us to do in all things, we allow ourselves to see something marvelous – resurrection power at work in us to rise us above our circumstances. It may not necessarily mean that the circumstances change for the better on this earth. It may not mean our physical suffering ceases. But it means we are free from them. They no longer control us and we are lifted up on eagle’s wings above where they can destroy us. We rejoice in seeing another moment where God will reveal Himself and reveal His glory and light and life. The more we find Him as our life, the more it becomes possible to rejoice in that life and every opportunity for Him to reveal it.

Jesus promised us that He would save us from the evil one, even though we are to live in this world where evil, and all that evil causes - pain and suffering - abound. Is it true? Is it possible that mere, weak humans can possibly have joy while in the midst of all this? Many have found it to be so in the midst of great suffering and persecution and lack, and they have found it so because of faith in the life of Jesus Christ living in them and all He is to them and promises for them.

“But we still have to endure all this!! It doesn’t go away! We still have all these things to try to overcome, and to deal with, and the heavy burdens!”

But we were never meant to carry the burdens. When we do we rob God. They, along with everything in our lives become His, once we become His. They are His for Him to show the world His salvation and His glory through.

“Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.” 1 Peter 5:7 (Amplified version) Don’t ever forget it!

Will you rejoice in His will for you? Will you trust it? Will you not be afraid, but rest in His guidance and provision for your life and even His chastisement (training)? Or will you despair? The choice is yours. Every believer must make it. It is a choice, not an emotion that we are under control of. We make a choice to look at scripture, trust our lives to His hand, no matter what, give up our own way, our own goals, and our lot in life, and rest in His plan for us, regardless of our emotion. Emotions we cannot always control, but we choose by an act of our will, not our emotions.

Don’t like the circumstances in your life? Don’t like the ill health you’ve been dealt? Don’t like the financial strain? Don’t like the persecution? You want things to change and you set about to change them however you can, get rid of this burden, this constant drain on you, and you burden yourself striving to no avail when again and again bad things happen to you. You pray for God to change it, but it seems things just get worse. Where is God? Does He really work all this for good? What does that mean? You are seeing no good!

Surrender of faith - not a human effort surrender, (striving to please God) - brings deliverance. It is turning away from unbelief of despair and choosing faith in Who God is and what He said. Surrender your cares to Him, your heart to Him, your lack of faith to Him, and your despair, in faith by taking Him at His Word, believing what He has provided for you in His Son, and learning to understand that you are seated in the Heavenlies with Christ above all… and that nothing in this life can touch you or destroy you. It can destroy your flesh, but it cannot destroy you. Your life is not your flesh, but is hid in Christ. A surrender of acceptance of all that Jesus now is in you is what will give you release. A surrender of rejoicing in Him and releasing of your search for happiness, security, and significance in anything else, will bring you peace. Acknowledging all He is and has done on your behalf, and believing it… that is truly surrender - there is no striving in it - believing He is your Shepherd to the end. God accepts your weakest surrender and He Himself is the power behind it.

Consider this – A man will give himself to what he truly believes. If you believe there is no God Who cares about your life, or Who is truly the Shepherd and guardian of your life, you will give in to despair. If you believe your life is truly never out of the hands of your perfect Savior and Shepherd and His Word is true, you will give yourself over to it and hold onto it in the times of deepest trial, and rejoice in Him and all His Word promises. Don’t react too quickly – think about it. It feels good to the flesh to pamper ones-self with self-pity. I know – I’ve been there too often – just this week infact! It is harder to deny ourselves that luxury and rejoice in what the Lord has said is true. It is a choice. What will we give ourselves to? The question isn’t, “where are You, God?” but “Do I trust You, Lord?”

When I first wrote this devotional, it came to me as I was studying scripture in the beginning of the week. A couple days later I had such a blow, emotionally that I almost deleted it, thinking I could not accept it in my own life, how could I give it to others. I was in despair! Yet when I went back to re-read it, the Lord spoke to my heart and convicted me once again that the words He gave me I must apply to my life by faith. I saw that the Lord gave me the message that I would need myself just hours before I would need to accept and walk in it to get through my own circumstances. I want to tell you that His Word is true, and if you trust Him, He’ll lift you up. Let us pray for one another, that we hold fast that which He has given us, through whatever testing of that faith this life brings!

Consider the following verses and take them to heart, pondering them and asking the Lord to speak to you and apply them to your life now:

Joh 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Mat 6:25-34 “Therefore I say to you, Do not be anxious for your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Behold the birds of the air; for they sow not, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns. Yet your heavenly Father feeds them; are you not much better than they are? Which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his stature? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They do not toil, nor do they spin, but I say to you that even Solomon in his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Therefore if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much rather clothe you, little-faiths? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, With what shall we be clothed? For the nations seek after all these things. For your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow; for tomorrow shall be anxious for its own things. Sufficient to the day is the evil of it.”

Rom 12:21 “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Eph 6:13 “Therefore take to yourselves the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

Phi 4:11-13 “Not that I speak according to need, for I have learned to be content in whatever state I am. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound. In everything and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Phi 3:7-8 “But whatever things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Ps. 23:1 “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.”


Saving Your Nuggets

Jos 4:1-9 – “The works of the Lord are so worthy of remembrance, and the heart of man is so prone to forget them, that various methods are needful to refresh our memories, for the glory of God, our advantage, and that of our children. God gave orders for preparing this memorial.” - Matthew Henry

Jos 4:1-9 “And it happened when all the people had completely passed over the Jordan, Jehovah spoke to Joshua saying, Take twelve men for you out of the people, a man out of every tribe, and command them saying, Take twelve stones from here, out of the middle of Jordan, out of the place where the priests' feet stood firm. And you shall carry them over with you, and leave them in the place where you shall stay tonight. Then Joshua called the twelve men whom he had prepared from the sons of Israel, a man out of every tribe. And Joshua said to them, Pass over in front of the ark of Jehovah your God into the middle of the Jordan. And every man take a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel, so that this may be a sign to you when your sons ask in time to come, saying, What do you mean by these stones? Then you shall answer them, The waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of Jehovah. When it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off, and these stones shall be for a memorial to the sons of Israel forever. And the sons of Israel did as Joshua commanded. And they took up twelve stones out of the middle of the Jordan, as Jehovah spoke to Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel, and carried them over with them to the place where they stayed, and laid them down there; even the twelve stones Joshua lifted up in the middle of Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests who carried the ark of the covenant, stood. And they are there to this day.”

All along our journey, through our trials, through our valleys, our wildernesses, and our mountaintops, God gives us nuggets of truth and blessing to hold on to. When we hold on to them they help us remember the things God has done in our lives, His promises to us, and the power of His Spirit that have parted the seas for us in the past and give us hope and faith that He will again do so for us now in our time of need.

A long time ago I began writing down in my Bible little nuggets of truth that God had given me that were lessons learned through my wrestlings and surrenders with God. Some of them were just little sayings I’d heard. Some were specific promises from His Word, or a clearer understanding of His Word that I had been given to walk through a time of testing and find His victory. Some of them were promises from Him that I held on to for many years before I saw fulfillment but I would have them there to remember His promise when I would get discouraged.

One of those nuggets I have is on a rock that is shaped like a heart that one of my children found for me on a trip to the shore of Lake Superior. Before this trip, when my children were small, and we had no idea yet what we would go through as a family with our son with Tourette’s syndrome, one day I was sitting at my dining room table with my husband. My Bible was open and I was not really reading it but glanced at it. There in front of me, a verse seemed to leap out at me. “Psa 147:3 “He heals the broken-hearted, and binds up their wounds.” Suddenly God’s presence came over me so strongly, and His Spirit spoke to my heart, “I’m going to heal your broken heart, and bind up your wounds.” I really did not know the extent of the broken-heartedness our family would go through at that point, but held onto God’s promise for the future.

Then when we went on our trip to Lake Superior, I told my sons that whoever found me a heart shaped rock would get a quarter. Soon one of them brought me a nice sized heart shaped rock, just right for painting, only it had one flaw. It had a gash in the side. I was a bit disappointed as it was otherwise a nice heart shape. Then suddenly the verse the Lord had spoken to me came to me and I remembered His promise to me and I knew He had given me this rock and the gash I saw on the side was the wound, to remind me that he would heal my wound. I took it home and painted on it Ps. 147:3 and have kept it ever since as a reminder. I can’t tell you how many times that I’ve been broken-hearted over some struggle my children are going through that seems devastating that that rock has been there as a reminder of God’s promise, and how often it’s given me the encouragement and faith I needed to keep going and keep praying. And I have seen the answers and healing come many times through God’s power working in their lives. I’ve seen a miracle in our son with Tourette’s since that first day. He is such a blessing to our lives now and God indeed healed the wounds as He said. Now I have my “nugget” to always remember and give glory to God, and to remind me to trust Him through each thing I face today that seems a hopeless situation. We saw another miracle as well in our oldest son who was a prodigal and have seen God work His grace in his life.

God gives us many nuggets in our journey if we pay attention. I believe He wants us to remember them. They are the very thing that will lift us over the next mountain. God had Joshua tell the children of Israel to keep stones to remember what the Lord had done, and to tell their sons so it would never be forgotten. How easy it is for us to forget the power God has worked in our lives and to give in to despair when we see the giants we have to conquer!

How often we need those nuggets of remembrance in our lives so that we never forget! Whether it be a stone, or something else, find some way to hold on to those nuggets of life God has given you along the way!


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