Overcoming Everyday by Dying Everyday

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I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:24 NKJV

While reading through Galatians again, the part of this passage about even our desires being crucified jumped out at me. I have studied with people who tell me that even though they stopped smoking, the desire to smoke always remains. One man told me, “I will always be a smoker. I just will always choose not to smoke.” That makes sense as we all have sinful flesh, but do not have to give in to the flesh.

I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. Galatians 5:16 NKJV

Still, do I take Galatians 5:24 to mean that our sinful desires are crucified once and for all never to return?  Can a born-again smoker live the rest of his life without ever craving to smoke the rest of his life? Can a selfish person be born again and never crave self again? Can a sexually promiscuous person be born again and never crave immoral sex again? Do we give people the idea that if they are born again and are walking in the Spirit, that it is not normal to be tempted? Do we teach once cured always cured? And if so, is that as dangerous as teaching once saved always saved?

After prayerfully pondering this, I think I found the answer in something Jesus said.

If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily,and follow Me. Luke 9:23 NKJV (emphasis on “daily” added)

Jesus did not teach once saved always saved, nor did He teach once “cured” always “cured.” Every day we wake up as sinners. Every day we must deny and crucify self. The passions and desires being crucified in Galatians 5:24 are not a one-time event. We continue to be cured only as we continue to crucify self.

Paul had a “thorn in the flesh” that he begged God to just take away. However instead of taking it away, God just said,

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV

Some have twisted this passage to mean that Paul could just keep on sinning and God’s grace would just keep on forgiving him, but that is not the case at all. Paul realized

when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10 NKJV

Paul knew that while God did not remove the weakness or temptation, he did not need to give in to it, because God supplies the strength to overcome. Of course many believe the thorn was a physical issue and not a moral temptation. even so, Paul says,

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV

Salvation and victory over sin continue, only as we continue to crucify the flesh along with its passions and desires every day. Every day we must deny ourselves. Every day we must pray “Not my will, Your will be done.” So not only are sinful habits crucified, but the very desire to sin can be crucified-daily.    

The Gospel versus Legalism

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I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

You know, there are probably plenty of valid reasons why God waited till He had created everything else, before He finally created man. Obviously the environment was not inhabitable for mankind yet, but I would like to suggest another reason. I think it has to do with why I was not around at Calvary either. If man had been around while God was creating the earth, he may have come up with the crazy notion that he actually had a part in creation. It is the same with thing with Calvary. Sure, mankind was there, but everything that was good was because of God. Think of all the things that could have gone wrong. Jesus could have turned Pilate to dust. He could have called for ten thousands of angels to set Him free. Yet everything concerning my redemption went absolutely perfectly, and you know why? Because I wasn’t there to mess it all up! Paul sums up sound Biblical theology for us in four words, “Not I but Christ.” Galatians 2:20. The theory of evolution is legalism, because it involves man bettering himself on his own. This is impossible. Yet some people have a theology where Jesus forgives us, but then we get better on our own. Some people have a “me plus Christ” theology instead of a “Not I but Christ” theology. Anytime “I” become a part of my theology, my theology becomes corrupt because “I” am corrupt. Legalism struggles to make “I” part of the solution but it simply is not, so much so that the only way pure theology can work is if “I” am crucified. The Sabbath is a sign of rest, both at creation and redemption to remind us, that we are not saved by the works of the flesh, and therefore the works of the flesh, known as legalism must be put to rest. Only God Himself could first create me in His own image, only God Himself can re-create me in His own image. Let’s take a careful look at the gospel as opposed to human legalism.

 

The Gospel versus Legalism

 

 

Legalism: We make sacrifices to obtain God’s love.

The Gospel:  God provided a sacrifice to obtain OUR love.    Romans 5:10-12:  “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.”

Note:  In pagan religions the sacrifice enables the god to love the humans, while in Christianity the sacrifice enables the humans to love their God.

Legalism: We keep the commandments in order to be saved.

The Gospel: We keep the commandments because we love Jesus.  John 14:15:  “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”

Legalism: We want to get sin out of our lives because of the investigative judgment.

The Gospel: We want to get sin out of our lives because sin crucifies Jesus.  Isaiah 53:4-6:  “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

Legalism: We want to give our heart to Jesus today because He is coming soon.

The Gospel: We want to give our heart to Jesus today because He loves us. 1 John 4:19:  “We love him, because he first loved us.”

Legalism: Good behavior is motivated by a hope of reward or fear of punishment.

The Gospel: Good behavior is motivated by our love for Jesus regardless of consequences.  2 Corinthians 5:14:  “For the love of Christ constraineth us.”

Legalism: God’s grace is a response to our faith.

The Gospel: Our faith is a response to God’s grace. Ephesians 2:8-9:  “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

Legalism:   Me plus Christ.

The Gospel:  NOT I, BUT CHRIST.   Galatians 2:20:  “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet NOT I, BUT CHRIST  liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

Legalism: Self- centered obedience according to my own standards, in my own power, for my own glory.

The Gospel: God- centered obedience according to God’s standards, in His power for His glory.

Legalism: All about pride and rewards.

The Gospel: All about love and humility.

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson on Origins and Creation here.

The Power of The Cross Revival-Seminar

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am very excited about my recent invitation to speak on the power of the Cross in Torrington CT.! I have never been to New England before and am really looking forward to meeting my brothers and sisters there. If you are in the area, I hope to see you there!

Also in the month of May I will be speaking May 5 at the Plant City SDA Church at 11am and for the first service (9am) at the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church. May 19th.

To schedule a seminar or workshop in your area please contact me at LayPastor@TampaAdventist.net