AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH - FEBRUARY 19, 2006
Contraries, Contrariness and the Crucifixion of Christians
Contraries, Contrariness and the Crucifixion of Christians
Paul continues his exhortation with the piercing question, “Who hindered you from obeying the truth!”
This at once brings out a crucial point in Christian life, that truth is not only something you believe, but DO! It is an ACTIVE INGREDIENT, being indeed exhibited as the Lord Himself in His revelation, instruction and word. To be sure, sexual deviation is these days high on the agenda of making refuse of the word of God; but there is deviation in politics, in commerce, in friendship, in kindness, pride ousting humility, madness dismissing meekness and self-glorying and fulfilment, banishing both the giving to God the glory, and seeking His will as something more precious than water in the desert.
After all, in Matthew 7:21, those told to go away as unknowns, are those who merely mouth 'Lord, Lord', and it is not those who are received.
I The HINDRANCE, the PROCESS and the Offence 5:7-15
How then do you DO the will of God ? You first GET PLANTED, by faith receiving the gardener of your soul, and then GET GOING AND GET TO BE GROWING, through the power of His Spirit and the grace He provides. The term 'means of grace' was once used much more than it is, for now the need of it and reliance on it is less obvious to self-fulfillers who puff their paths to vainglory. It included all the ways in your home, on your own, in Bible Study, in the Church, choir, outreach mission, communion, intense private prayer, church prayer meeting, willing giving of yourself with kindness and graciousness.
You GO to the Lord in prayer, CONTINUE in His word with zeal (John 15:7), seek out WAYS of working to His uttermost glory (Colossians 1:10-11, Philippians 1:19-21), whether at meetings for prayer, works of love, of compassion, help to His missions, testimony of His Gospel, kindness of tongue, or fearless standing for and applying the truth in a perverse and corrupted generation. This is driven by “earnest expectation” of which Paul speaks in Philippians.
A little leaven leavens the whole lump! says Paul in Gal. 5:9. He is not wandering from confidence in them, however, merely ensuring that it is well placed! (5:10). The medicine is not just something for them: it is for him also. WHY is HE SO MUCH PERSECUTED ? Assuredly it is not because he preaches some nice man-elevating doctrine, in such terms as this: let God do this and you do that and you will be saved.
In fact, there are paths IN salvation, ways that conform it it, but He ONLY saves, who alone paid, obtaining eternal redemption. You are regenerated and with that cleansed to serve, the order of salvation (Titus 3:5-7, Hebrews 9:12-15, 10:10-14). By ONE offering, being granted eternal salvation, you are 'sanctified for ever'.
To be sure, there is much to be done, but it is not at all in order to be saved, since there is but one Saviour and His name is Jesus Christ, and God has appointed to salvation His friends (I Thessalonians 5:9-10), already; but rather is it that sincerity rings like the Church bells so popular of old, before this land in so much began to drift into its multicultural sea.
Alas, that is unsound in this: for that one forbear and avoid racism is merely commonsense, where passion does not rule; but to bear and allow the nation freely and without protest to move from Christian past to the religions of violence and protest, wanting to run this land in order to satisfy immigrants; that is something else altogether. That is merely the use of the tolerance and kindness aspects of Christianity as a basis for dismissing it from the nation. Such will never exalt Australia, which grew by other means, and is a confusion of great weight, ceaselessly pushed by the devil.
To LOVE someone (5:16), for example, do you have to allow his preferences to displace those of Christ, as though this were really strong politics ? Of this world, of the flesh, it is exactly that, for many religions are so concerned with themselves or their own inventions, that having them all in a broth is fine for them, until some one rule the rest, whether by scimitar or protest or whatever other weapon.
With Christ, we DO NOT use force; and while we do not wish to facilitate movement from Him, knowing that this helps destroy the nation with indifferent righteousness or forceful methodologies, or aids the import of such, we DO provide freedom. Yet this is not so given that others may IMPOSE on our culture where it is Christian, by mere minority complaints, as if they would rather live in a place where their own religion is to force things to be what they are, rather quite often, than in their own lands, where liberty languishes. That way in the beginning is neither democratic nor wise. It makes for instability and vulnerability. By now, Australia may have passed to the point of no return, where its Christian foundations, from 1788, are yielding to pagan or antithetical, even anti-Christian superstructure.
This is common among many nations now; and in the end, devastating, leading not only to confusion and weakness, but to the just and due rebuke of the Lord. But if care should be the path of nations, how much more that of Christians who follow the word of God, the Bible. These do NOT seek to RULE everyone, but to provide for everyone, while seeking for righteousness of conduct, integrity, purity, honesty and helpfulness, one for the other, on the part of all. That, and not surrender weakly to every intrusion that wreaks havoc in the land, is wisdom. In the Church, it is the royal law, and in the nation for the Christian, the gracious mode.
No, it is not because he yields to the self-help, self-centred, self-made religions of man that Paul is persecuted; if he did, he could escape that. Called to liberty (5:13), Christians are; but for their own part, in Christ, they are to LOVE ONE ANOTHER. That is the law that really counts, and not yield to prickly pollutants. Christians for that matter are to BE a leaven, not a lump of bitterness or clangour.
II War : FLESH and SPIRIT 5:16-23
HOW can such wonders of living be wrought ?
WALK IN THE SPIRIT, say Paul. Then the desires of mere bits and pieces of your being will not be satisfied, but the righteous living for all of you, spirit and mind, body and soul, in the Lord. Actually, he proceeds, there is a war on, that of flesh versus spirit, the former filled with every sort of uncleanness, like fornication and adultery, lewdness and idolatry, the spiritual poison, murder and drunkenness, rioting and being riotous, all lost to the dead end syndrome. The spiritual walk however is filled with joy, peace, goodness, temperance and love, faithfulness, goodness: things against which there is no law! As you LIVE IN THE SPIRIT, so does He work (Gal. 5:25).
III Conclusion: CRUCIFIED with CHRIST 5:24-26
If you are Christ's, says Paul, then there is a basis for this spiritual action and divergence. It is this: YOU HAVE BEEN CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST. How can you BE HIS, when you abhor His way, ignore His place and do not take up your Cross to follow Him ? Luke 14 tells us the answer to this: it is impossible. Nail by nail, your former nature has to be despatched: that old nature an abhorred residue which humbles you by trying to affront and assault you. It is however one which you provide as victim for the cross, identified in this with Christ (I Cor. 9:26-27, Galatians 2:20). Here, Paul is not only crucified with Christ (in Greek it shows a permanent state, already present, reaffirmed continually as the call comes), but declares,
"The life that I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me."
FAITH WORKS by love! (Galatians 5:6).
Romans 8 tells us that those who are Christ's have life given to their mortal bodies, through His indwelling Spirit, by whom they “put to death the deeds of the flesh." To be “spiritually minded,” he proceeds, is "life and peace". You do not merely hope these things; you work out your own salvation WITH FEAR AND TREMBLING (Philippians 2), not fear of being lost (I John 5:11ff.), but of failing to satisfy God by indifference, carnality or self-satisfaction, like a lost cause.
If, however, you MEET and KNOW God, it is far more than a triple heart bypass operation; it is the road for re-institution of the heart in His ways, and if you move into His covenant, it is an eternal result, wrought in time with divinely engendered regeneration (John 3, 1-10, Titus 3:5-7) and its undimmed vitality.
The SPIRIT of God is vitally far more real - bringing Christ to your whole being, than any tonic, pep talk or exhortation; for HE LIVES within you, constraining, enabling, refreshing (Colossians 1:27). You have to, indeed are moved to STIR up the gifts given to you, SEEK His face continually (Psalm 27), WAIT on Him closely, SEEK His face as a dog His master, YEARN for His wisdom as one who learns constantly, PRIZE Him above all, and rejoice in His resurrection (I Cor. 15).
That, it is a criterion of current power (Ephesians 1:19), so that what you now have by ACCESS in current trial, then you will have by DYNAMIC PROCESS in future state, yes in the twinkling of an eye: now converted, then transformed even in body. Meanwhile then, resist the devil and by faith, relish the work and power of God in you, so that you may abound in goodwill, grace, love, in peace of heart and holiness of living.