Flesh is Death, Spirit is Life and Peace: Which Will You Choose?

Tonight,  I was represented with a choice. Either I could choose good and choose life in Christ and choose to have a great future relationship with my future wife. Or I could choose evil and choose perversion and choose confusion. But one thing that hadn’t become clear until now: There is no middle ground. The flesh is death, but the Spirit is life and peace. 


Throughout my life I have tried to balance my life between the “good” life and the “evil” life. It has been almost like a jekyl and hyde kind of deal. Just depending on “who” I was that day, or how I felt, one of those two egos would show up. But should it be that way? Should we be content with having both, while at the same time, this brings great confusion to our personality, character, thoughts, and actions?

The answer to this question is laid out straightforward in Matthew 6:24:

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other”  (Matthew 6:24).

We are given a choice as humans: Do we choose God and life, or do we choose evil and death. There is no middle ground. And I for one am tired of living confused by my own thoughts and desires. With each choice, comes huge distinctions and differences:

“The mind governed by the flesh is death, 
  but
 the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6).  


FLESH:
                                                                                   
1. Mind set on the fleshly desires (8:5).
2. Death (8:6). 
3. Hostile to God (8:7). 
4. Cannot submit to God’s Law (8:7)
5. Those in the Realm of the Flesh, cannot please God. 
6. Do not belong to Christ if they are in the realm of the flesh (8:9)



                                                                                                                    SPIRIT:

                                                                                              1. Mind set on what Spirit desires (vs. 5). 
                                                                                              2. Life and Peace (vs. 6). 
                                                                                              3. God lives in You (vs. 9). 
                                                                                              4. You have life (vs. 10).
                                                                                              5. Children of God (vs. 14). 
                                                                                              6. Coheirs with Christ (vs. 17). 
                                                                                      7. Are earthly suffering bring glory to God (8:19)
                                                                                      8. Can’t be separated from God’s love (8:38-39).                                                                                                             
Clearly, there is a massive difference, at least in the eyes of Paul, between the flesh and the Spirit. But do these other desires go away completely before the redemption of our earthly bodies in heaven?                                                   
Paul went on to say in Romans 7, that this other desire, is still there, no matter what choice we make:

For in my inner self I joyfully agree with God’s law. But I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body” (Romans 7:22-23). 

Paul appeals to his own depravity in this fleshly body and cries out for resolution for this problem:

“What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this dying body?” (Romans 7:24).

But Paul offers hope, twice:

First in Romans 7:

“I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh, to the law of sin” (Romans 7:25). 


And again in Romans 8:


“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us. For the creation eagerly waits with anticipation for God’s sons to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to futility—not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it—in the hope that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of corruption into the glorious freedom of God’s children. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now. And not only that, but we ourselves who have the Spirit as the firstfruits—we also groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. Now in this hope we were saved, yet hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with patience” (Romans 8:18-25). 

We will always have this desire to do evil. We were born with it. But we don’t have to give into it. Either you choose life and peace through the Spirit, or you choose sin and death through the flesh. Its your choice. Choose wisely. But remember, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. 




Blessings,
Joseph. 

Forgiving Ourselves: The Product of God’s Forgiveness

This week has been so tough. I’ve been filled with lots of regret and anger towards a decision I made. There was no one to blame but myself. I honestly didn’t want to feel God’s grace on this one. I didn’t want His forgiveness because I didn’t think I should be forgiven for what I had done. I felt great shame and self pity. Today, though I was able to finally forgive myself because of the realization and remembrance that Christ has forgiven me.

I’m so blessed to have friends and family around me that love me even through the darkness that I experience daily. They don’t condemn me.

This is just an example of the love that I’ve experienced throughout this week from friends, this one from my brother:

“Well if you confess and repent to God you are forgiven, even though none of us ever deserve it. But you will still have earthly consequences. I don’t know and I can’t tell you exactly what those will be but there will be some. I just pray that you won’t let Satan convince win by convincing you that you can’t be forgiven and have you live in shame. “There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

We serve a God that allows us to be open and honest with Him, even in our darkness and our total screw ups. We can forgive ourselves because He has already shown us an unconditional forgiveness by dying on the cross for our sins, while we were still sinners. (Romans 5:8). We can come to Him, with all our past and all our present, and ask Him unconditionally to help us forgive ourselves as He has already forgiven us unconditionally.

It is so much harder to forgive ourselves though. Most of the time, we only know, what we have done. We know exactly what was going through our minds and exactly what our motives were. Crazy thing is, God knows us better than we know ourselves. He knew really what our motives were and really what we were thinking. Its crazy that even though God knows us and our sin on a deeper level than even ourselves, He still loves us compassionately. He is the good shepherd that will go to all extremes to get that one lost sheep back. (Luke 15:4).

God’s compassion, is like the prodigal son’s father. He is waiting at the end of the road, waiting, looking, yearning, that we come home. He knows He is the only one that can truly redeem and heal us, so He waits. He doesn’t force us to forgive ourselves, but if we truly understand His love and how He has forgiven us already, forgiving ourselves will be a by product of His forgiveness.

This is how you may feel:

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ (Luke 15:17-19). 

You may feel absolutely worthless. You may have committed an abortion, cheated on a spouse, had a really dark past. But the blood of Christ covers all these things!

It is an amazing thing to know this is how our Father responds when He sees us coming back to Him:

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him” (Luke 15:20). 

Even in the midst of your forgiveness and redemption you still may feel like this:

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son” (Luke 15:21). 

You may feel unworthy of forgiveness, and that’s exactly right. God has no reason to forgive you, other than the fact that He loves you unconditionally and died for you, while you were still a sinner. You did not earn forgiveness, nor could you ever. Forgiveness is not even a byproduct of anything you have done. It is a byproduct of God’s love and forgiveness.

God’s response to our self pity:

But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate” (Luke 15:22-24).

Today I was finally able to forgive myself, as I remembered God’s forgiveness of my sin already. God knew this sin would happen. He died for this sin.

Forgiving ourselves is true repentance. Not forgiving ourselves is pride, in saying, that the God who has already forgiven us unconditionally, can’t forgive us. Let’s let God decide what He can forgive and let’s stick to submitting to His love. Sounds like a good plan to me.

Blessings,
Joseph.

Sin Destroys

Recently, I’ve been playing a game. A game that has both hurt me and others. This game is what I like to call, tiptoe. You strattle the line between sin and righteousness and its a balancing act. I was pretty good at it, balancing my responsibilities as a follower of Christ, while justifying the fleshly temptations and sin. My sin caught up to me, and like I am so prone to forget, sin destroys. 

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other” (Matthew 6:24). 

Even though this passage is talking about the love of money, I think it is very prevalent to dealing with the struggles of our flesh. We can not serve two masters. We can not try to tip toe around sin, it will kill not only your spiritual soul but your physical soul as well.  

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). 

Isaiah describes sin like a fire: For sin burns like a fire. It burns thistles and thorns. It sets the woods on fire, and they go up in smoke” (Isaiah 9:18). 

When you are tempted to please your flesh and you say to yourself, “its not hurting anyone” this is a lie. Sin is always hurting someone. It is always eating away at the Spirit and at the life that the death of Christ has provided us with. Sin is an uncontrollable fire. You wouldn’t just keep letting a fire, burn your skin, would you? We can not stand anywhere near the fire, we will get burned, we will burn others. 


So many times in sin we forget who it is we are truly sinning against. But Isaiah remembered:

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty” (Isaiah 6:5).

God recognized the uncleanliness of Isaiah. Actually, he recognizes our sin, before we do. This is His response to us:

“Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for” (Isaiah 6:6-7). 

When Christ died for our sins, he made atonement. In the book of Romans, Paul said that Jesus came to be a “sin offering” (Romans 8:3). 

That means even in our times of sin and times of sucking life up, He forgives. Just because we have been forgiven though, doesn’t give us an excuse to sin. 

“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:1-2). 

We have been set free from this flesh, so we strive not to sin. Not only strive, but live apart of this flesh. We no longer live according to the flesh, as Paul proclaimed, we live according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:9). 

I ask the Lord and this community for forgiveness. I am a man with many flaws, a weak man of flesh ridden disease. I struggle mightily and am too prideful a lot of times to ask for help. But I know that the Lord restores. I know that even in my brokeness, He weeps for me. The Holy Spirit is interceding right now through my groans and through my speechlessness. (Romans 8:26).  

Blessings,
Joseph.