June 6, 2018
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.
What tempts you? We all have our weak points and quite often fail in our walk with the Lord. Temptations can cause us to wrestle with ourselves as to whether or not to give in to the lust or be strong and resist the temptation. If that temptation involves sin, giving in shouldn’t be an option in a Christians’ heart. It’s natural for a person to want certain things, but those “things” shouldn’t rule our lives. Hollywood is filled with people who want fame and fortune but are never satisfied and crave more. So many of them commit suicide. I’ve heard many interviews in which these rich and glamorous people have stated that they had sold their soul to the Devil to gain their celebrity status. Some interviews are even interrupted by the demon who possesses the star. How sad. In reality, these people have gained nothing. “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Mark 8:36-37. The temporary riches of this life aren’t worth the price of eternity in Hell.
To our human minds, there are some people who are beyond salvation. Many people come to mind who just seem evil. Maybe they are. Maybe they have lusted after the things of this world, which is run by Satan, for so long that they are consumed by their lust. Satan’s lie hasn’t changed over the years. When he deceived Eve he accused God of lying and repressing her and Adam. “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:5. Today we see movie stars, rock stars, sports stars, and others who are idolized and worshipped. They have money, fame, and are as gods. When they die, and they will, they leave it all here. Those who lust after the riches of this satanic world have paid the price of eternal death. Is there any hope? Nobody is beyond the love of God. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8. Jesus met a man in Gadera who had a legion of demons possessing him, but cast those demons into swine and released the man from their power. There are only two eternal choices and they must be made on this side of the grave: Follow Satan or follow Christ. Satan wants you to die, but Jesus Christ gave His life for you to live. No matter what you’ve done and no matter how long you’ve lived in your sin, the blood of Jesus will cleanse you and give you eternal life. When you accept His sacrifice you need to turn away from your sin and move away from the temptations of lust. Take up your cross and follow Jesus.
What does it mean to take up your cross? Many people think it means to face problems in life without stumbling or grumbling. That could be. Jesus certainly faced the challenges He encountered and didn’t stumble or grumble. Maybe it means to take responsibility for what you’ve done. People who were crucified usually had committed one crime or another and paid the price by being crucified. For instance, the Gospel of Mark says Barabbas faced crucifixion because he committed murder among other crimes, but the people voted to free him and crucify Jesus instead. In that day and time, people saw many people carrying their cross on the way to being executed and were well aware that the cross meant death. Jesus had made it clear that those who followed Him had to take up their cross. “And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me” Mark 8:34. Jesus didn’t mean that anyone who follows Him must be crucified, but it does mean that we must deny “self”. Denying self is not the same as self-denial. Self-denial is when you choose to fast for a day or deny yourself certain things. Denying self is when you turn the lusts of the flesh that cause you to sin over to Christ and turn away from them. When we accept Christ for salvation all our sins are forgiven, but that’s not a free pass to continue in sin. Satan knows how to cause a person to stumble. If alcohol addiction, drug addiction, pornography addiction, etc. is your sin, you’ll find strength in Jesus to turn from it. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life is not of the Father, but is of the world.” 1 John 2:16. When Jesus gave His life it was a once for all sacrifice for sin. He paid the price to redeem your soul. Take up your cross, deny self, and follow Him.
The longer we walk with Jesus and deny our carnal lusts, the easier it is to stay on that narrow path and follow Him. You have to choose to grow stronger by keeping your eyes on Jesus. Athletes have their eye on the goal of winning a race and train to win. They know what’s required to reach that goal and are willing to deny themselves. They go to bed early then rise early to train for their race. They exercise to strengthen their muscles even if they don’t feel like it. They eat a diet that’s designed to help them gain strength rather than cheeseburgers and fries. This is all part of the training to succeed. Christians also need to train. “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-25. When a person accepts Christ, their goals in life should change. Instead of lusting after a shiny new car or a prettier girlfriend, the goal should be to honor Christ. Maybe you have a goal to get rich. God doesn’t have a problem with a Christian having money, but what if His will for your life isn’t that you be rich? Then you take up your cross and deny self and submit to the will of God. His plan is always the best.
You train to walk your Christian walk by knowing Christ. We learn to know Him better by studying Scripture. From Genesis through Revelation we need to study Scripture. Do you have time to study God’s word? You do if you take up your cross and deny self. Most people find time to watch TV or spend time with friends. Most of what you watch on television is not of God and can cause you to stumble. Commercials put temptation in front of you…buy a new car, drink that beer, buy those fancy clothes. If you spend time with worldly friends they won’t help you walk in the ways of the Lord. “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: but chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.” 2 Peter 2:9-11. News programs are filled with people who despise the government and who are self-willed. These things aren’t edifying to a Christian and we need to look at all things through the lens of Scripture. Make a habit of praying. Not the “name it and claim it” prayers, but the Lord’s Prayer type of prayer. Seek His will in Scripture and through prayer. Then deny self and walk His path. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:1-2. Present your body and self-will to Christ and don’t be swayed by the ways of the world.
You’re valuable. No matter who you are, how old you are, or where you live, you are valuable in the eyes of the Lord. When Adam sinned God could have washed His hands of humanity and just let Adam and Eve die in their sin and started over. That’s not the nature of God and eternal separation from His creation wasn’t His plan. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23. God didn’t want Adam to sin but knew he would. He doesn’t want you to sin but knows you will. That’s why Jesus took up the cross and shed His blood. Accepting His sacrifice is the only way to gain eternal life. Stop choosing sin and choose righteousness through Jesus Christ.
The temporary pleasures found in the lust of the flesh will never bring happiness nor peace. “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16. Jesus paid the price to redeem your soul on the cross. Take up your cross, deny self, and follow Him.
God bless you all,
Ron and Nathele Graham’s previous commentaries archived at our Home Page under the Newsletter Archive tab.
All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed.
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