The Apostle Paul said we should put no confidence in the flesh, and then he went on to list the ways in which he had done that (Phil. 3:3b-6). But, I would like it if we could think of the ways in which we put confidence in the flesh, not just in our own flesh, but in the flesh of humankind, in general.
First off, what does it mean to put confidence in the flesh? Confidence is assurance, certainty, self-reliance, belief, trust, and support, etc. And, the flesh is what is of our physical bodies, or what is of our earthly sinful nature, or just what is of humanity, in general.
It can be our intellect, our health, our finances, our reputations, our status, our popularity, our possessions, our knowledge, our accomplishments or our religious beliefs and practices. Or, it can be people – politicians, preachers, sports figures, actors and actresses, CEOs of corporations, etc. Or, it can be institutions such as incorporated churches, denominations, the government, certain religious or charity organizations, or support groups, etc. And/or it can be our sins we hold on to and depend on to satisfy our sinful cravings.
The Lord Jesus led me to read Philippians 3:7-16 (NASB).
But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Vv. 7-11
But, in Christ, our confidence (dependence, reliance, certainty) should be in Him, and not in flesh, for flesh will fail us, but God will never fail us. If we are relying on our own intellect or plans to save us, we can give that up right now. If we are relying on our nest eggs, if we have them, to support us through our old age, we may be in for a big surprise if the stock market crashes and we lose everything. If we are depending on our health, we may get involved in an accident, and we could be paralyzed the remainder of our lives. In other words, our confidence can’t be in flesh, but only in God!
We have to consider all these worldly and fleshly things, or people, as loss for the sake of Christ, i.e. we must not hold on to them thinking they will save us or satisfy us or meet our needs, because they may not, and holding on to them or depending on them may backfire on us, too. We are to look to the Lord to meet our needs, for he is the only one we can depend on, and he is the only true source of help and salvation for the sin-sick soul. Everything else is just a cheap substitute for the only one who can fill the emptiness inside of us.
Jesus said that if we hold on to our lives, to try to save them ourselves, we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives for his sake, meaning we die with him to sin, then we have the promise of eternity with God. Following Jesus is a commitment to leave our old lives of sin and self behind us to follow him in obedience to his will and to his ways. He said if we look back, we are not worthy of him. The Christian life is not about adding Jesus or his salvation on to our old lives, but it is about dying to our old lives so that we can be given new lives in Christ, to now be lived to his righteousness.
Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained. Vv. 12-16
But, when we do this, i.e. when we believe in Jesus, and we die to our old lives, and we count them loss for the sake of knowing Christ, this is just the beginning of our Christian walk. We don’t become instantly perfect, but we also don’t continue walking in our sin, either. We now walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh. Daily we take up our cross and follow Christ. Daily, by the Spirit, we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh. We put off lying, and we tell the truth. We put off stealing, we work, and we give to others, etc. It is a life-long process.
We don’t keep going back and repeating the same sins over and over again with full knowledge that what we are doing is wrong and then excuse them away, either. But, we forget our former lives, and we press on in faith, in the strength of the Lord, empowered by the Spirit, in walking in obedience to our Lord and in moving toward maturity in Christ. For, to this we were called, to walk in holiness and righteousness, and to live godly lives pleasing to God, to do what he says, to go where he sends us, and to say what he commands. We are not put here on this earth to live our lives to ourselves!
So many people excuse away sin, and I am talking about Christians here. They claim ignorance, when they are not ignorant. But, Jesus died to free us from slavery to sin, not to give us carte blanche to continue in willful sin against God. So, we need to walk in the truth, and we need to live by the standard which our Lord set down for us, which we can find in his Word. We must listen to him, follow him, and go where he leads us instead of going our own stubborn ways while claiming heaven as our eternal destiny.
My Sheep / An Original Work
June 24, 2012 / Based off John 10:1-18 NIV
My sheep hear me. They know me.
They listen to my voice and obey.
I call them and lead them.
They know my voice, so they follow me.
They will never follow strangers.
They will run away from them.
The voice of a stranger they know not;
They do not follow him.
So, I tell you the truth that
I am the gate, so you enter in.
Whoever does enter
Will find forgiveness and will be saved.
Nonetheless whoever enters
Not by the gate; other way,
He is the thief and a robber.
Listen not, the sheep to him.
Oh, I am the Good Shepherd,
Who laid his own life down for the sheep.
I know them. They know me.
They will live with me eternally.
The thief only comes to steal and
Kill and to destroy the church.
I have come to give you life that
You may have it to the full…
They know my voice, so they follow me.
Thursday, December 21, 2017, 5:51 p.m. – Thank you, Jesus, for this lesson from your Word. Help us, Lord, to walk in obedience to your truth always.