Acts of the Flesh

Acts of the Flesh 

Daily Reading: (Galatians 5:16-21):

“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

“Freedom in Christ” is the main point of Galatians chapter five. When we reach verse sixteen we have are introduced into the sub-header: “life by the Spirit”. So we have freedom in Christ expressed through life by the spirit.

Which what Paul is saying is “do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”

“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” The question really becomes, “how are we to walk by the Spirit and what does it mean to walk after the flesh?” Most people actually read this verse the other way around. “Do your best not to fulfill the desires or lust of your flesh, and then you’ll walk in the Spirit.” That is not what Scripture says or teaches us here. The Scripture teaches this not in the negative but in the positive. “walk by the Spirit, and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” As you walk by the Spirit you won’t have to worry about the lust of the flesh.” Our focus has to be on walking in the Spirit. If you are focused on trying not to fulfill the desires of the flesh that is living your life under the Law. And if you live this way you’ll end up walking after the flesh. Walking after the flesh is an attempt to meet any of your needs apart from God.Romans 8:13 tells us this is a disastrous way to live.

So, how do we walk by the spirit or what is walking by the spirit? John Piper says, “It is “being led by the Spirit” and it is “bearing the fruit of the Spirit. You allow the Spirit to control you by keeping your heart happy in God. Or to put it another way, you walk by the Spirit when your heart is resting in the promises of God.” [1]

George Müller learned the secret of walking by the Spirit: meditate on the precious truths of the word of God until your heart is happy in God, resting in his promises.[2]

“Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” You will have victory over temptation and know the guidance of the Lord if you keep your heart happy in God by resting in his promises.

We get a better understanding in the Greek for the word “walk” (peripateō) which means to be led around. This brings us to Psalm 23:3, “He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake.” This is what it means to walk by the Spirit.

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God” (Romans 8:14). “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). Habits of the flesh will all fall off as we walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16).

The Spirit of the Lord will move you to a place of rest and refreshment where you cast your cares on Him. Troubles and stresses will come, but walk by the Spirit to the place of lying down in green pastures. Enjoy the feast God prepares for you in the presence of those plaguing enemies that have risen up against you. 

“Let us therefore give diligence to enter into that rest, lest anyone fall after the same example of disobedience.” (Hebrews 4:11 WEB)

 Rest is not inactivity—it is Spirit-directed activity. The opposite of being in God’s rest is being in unbelief.

“For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh.” They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. I wanted to point out that the fight is not between you and the flesh, the fight is between the flesh and the Spirit.

Here is the good news: you are not under the Law any longer because we have freedom in Christ, freedom to live by the Spirit that He has placed inside us. Live as the new creation we have become. Live out of our new God-given nature that reflects His glory. Galatians 5:16 promises victory over the desires of the flesh, not that there won’t be a war, but that the winner of that war will be the Spirit.

[1] John Piper. The War Within: Flesh Versus Spirit. June 19, 1983.

[2] George Müller. Autobiography 152–154.

Made to Lie Down

Daily Reading:

Psalms 23:1-2: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:

The Lord leads us to a place of rest (to lie down in green pastures).

In the Gospels, the theology of rest is most clearly articulated in the words of Jesus: “Come to me and I will give you rest and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-30 ). The rest Jesus promises is certainly for the world to come, but it is also for this world. It is the sense of security and peace that flows from a right relation with God through Jesus the Son.

It takes faith to enter into God’s rest. ““Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.” (Hebrews 4:3). God’s rest is more than setting aside one day a week to cease from labor, it is placing our entire trust and confidence in Christ to save us. God’s special relationship with Israel was not fulfilled because of their disobedience, so it stands to reason that this rest through relationship is still available for all who believe. If unbelief keeps you out, then faith brings you in.

Adam and Eve were created, dwelling in the rest of God. There was no labor involved. Sure they had jobs to do, naming the animals and overseeing the garden, but God’s rest has nothing to do with taking a break from work and activities. It has everything to do with trusting God as our source. They walked and talked with God enjoying His fellowship and trusting in Him for everything. God created mankind to dwell in this rest right from the start, this was always His plan.

Jesus is the Sabbath rest for the people of God.

The Jews missed out on this promise because they chose not to trust in God after they heard the good news of their deliverance. He wanted to take them into immediate possession of the land He promised to Abraham. Instead unbelief kept them out (Hebrews 3:19). So, it stands to reason that if unbelief keeps you out of this promise, faith brings you in. Faith placed in Christ and what He did to restore this relationship. Only you can keep yourself out of this rest. But entering in allows you to cease striving and working out your own salvation. Instead it allows you to dwell in relationship knowing that God has provided everything for you with a wonderful promise to sustain you every day of your life.

However, the fall of mankind did not catch God off guard; He had made provision long before there was a problem. 1 Peter tells us, “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God” (1Peter 1:18-21). Christ was chosen, foreordained and destined for the cross from the beginning of time before the world existed because God knew that sin would separate us and remove us from the resting place in which He created us to dwell.



Journey of the Miracle

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Daily Reading: (Exodus 14:1-4)

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon. Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.’ And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” So the Israelites did this.

In the previous chapter Exodus 13:17: (we are told)- When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” Meanwhile, (as in) before Saul received the grace of God, he was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples (Acts 9:1).

A few quick observations- 1) God knew what His people needed, faith to take hold of the Promise- so He led them the longer way, to encounter more things to build trust and confidence to face the Philistines (Exodus 13:17-18). 2) The journey to the miracle was a God-led path- the parting of the Red Sea (Exodus 13:20-21; 14:21).

They encamped Pi Hahiroth which means place where sedge grows or a place adorned with green grass.  Boy, does this sound a lot like Psalm 23:1-4.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, (Pi Hahiroth- a place adorned with green grasses Exodus 14:2).

I use to always think “why would God need to make me lie down in something so beautiful?” Wouldn’t I want to volunteer to lie down in green pastures.  Maybe not so much, when it involves me turning back toward a powerful foe. When we lie down in green pastures it says; God’s has got this.  I trust Him. I will rest in Him and believe He is orchestrating something amazing because He lead me here.

he leads me beside quiet waters, (encamp between Migdol and the sea Exodus 14:2).

   he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths (By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night Exodus 13:21)

for his name’s sake (But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord (Exodus 14:4),
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. ( Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground (Exodus 14:16).

Moses has a message for God’s people (Exodus 14:13)- “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

The thing is that this is not what God said at all. Did God ever tell them to stand firm? Is salvation found in your own ability to do anything or is salvation found in the One who was stronger than us came and defeated our enemies and won the war against the army of sin and death.

Don’t stand still-

15 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.  Move on in faith. I brought you to the place where you lied down in green pastures, you camped out and rested, now it is time for faith in action, move forward in faith. Rest in Christ to move forward in faith.

The journey to the miracle took the long desert route leading to a dead end against a stronger army so that God might get the glory and the world might know who God is.

The story ends with the Egyptians dying- verse 28 not one of them survived. 29 But the Israelites (on the other hand) went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. Israel’s crossing the Red Sea represents the Christian’s baptism into Christ (1 Corinthians 10:1-10).

31 And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.

The people (yare’) stood in awe, in reverence and put their trust in God.  The journey to the miracle led the people to a place where they put their trust in God (Exodus 14:31).  If not for sin entering in and fear filling their hearts, they would have been in a place to claim the promise and see God defeat the Philistines too.