Opportunity for the Flesh?

Called to Freedom
Galatians 5:13-15 ESV

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.”

Not one of us is saved by human effort and by man-made religion, whether that falls on the side of legalism or it falls on the side of libertinism. Both are just two sides of the same whole which is man-made religion which is of the flesh of humans and not of God. Thus, as followers of Jesus Christ, we are not to be followers of man-made religion.

Whatever God has freed us from we are not to return to. He freed the Jews from having to obey all the old ceremonial, liturgical, sacrificial, and purification laws of the Old Covenant, and neither do we have to obey those. He freed all of us from our slavery (bondage, addiction) to sin, and he freed us to become slaves (bondservants) of him and of his righteousness.

So, we are neither to try to earn our salvation through human effort nor are we to continue in deliberate and habitual sin once Jesus sets us free. Therefore, those who believe that Jesus delivered them from sin, they should in no way return to living under the control of that sin. But they should now live as servants of Christ and of his righteousness.

So, as those who have been set free from sin by the blood of Jesus Christ, we are to love and serve one another. For the law is fulfilled in one word (or phrase): “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” And such love as this prefers what God prefers, and it chooses his choices, and it obeys them in his power, and so it prefers (chooses) what is holy, righteous, morally pure, honest, faithful, trustworthy, submissive, obedient, and repentant.

Therefore, if we are loving others with this love, which prefers to live through Christ and to obey his will, we will not sin against them. We will not cheat on, lie to, be hateful toward, commit adultery against, steal from, slander, gossip about, betray, and be abusive to others who we are supposed to love, at least not or especially not intentionally, habitually, and premeditatedly.

Walk by the Spirit
Galatians 5:16-18 ESV

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”

Our walk is how we live our lives day in and day out. It is our conduct and our habits, but it also includes our thinking, attitudes, values and beliefs. So, if we walk by the Spirit, thus the Spirit of God will be influencing and guiding and directing our thinking, attitudes, values, beliefs, conduct and our practices, so that we will be united with God in heart and mind.

Thus, we will be living in moral purity, and we will be honest people, people of integrity, people who do not say one thing and live another. We will not have divided hearts, but we will be of one heart and mind with our Lord Jesus, desiring to do his will, and following him in his ways and in his truth, and we will be living holy lives, pleasing to God.

We will be singing the same song that Jesus sings, speaking his words, giving out his messages, sharing the gospel as he taught it, and living and teaching repentance, obedience, and submission to Christ as Lord. We will not be altering the gospel message to make it more palatable to human flesh and to the people of the world, but we will speak the truth in love.

If this is how we walk (conduct our lives), by the Spirit, then we will not be gratifying the sinful cravings of the flesh, but we will be walking in holiness and righteousness. But many people who profess faith in Jesus Christ are not walking by the Spirit, and thus they are gratifying the sinful cravings of the flesh, for they shut the Spirit out so that they can do what their flesh desires. So even though they profess to be free, they are still enslaved to sin and to giving in to the cravings of their flesh.

The Works of the Flesh
Galatians 5:19-21 ESV

“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Sadly, many people who profess faith in Jesus Christ are living just like this, for they are intoxicated to sin, living in self-indulgence and for sinful pleasure. Although they profess faith in Jesus Christ, they are not united with Christ in faith nor in heart and mind, for they are still living for self and not for the Lord. Their hearts are divided because they are not willing to yield control of their lives over to the Lord.

They may give lip service to the Lord, sometimes speaking the truth, but not from a sincere heart, for they are double-minded, pretending allegiance to Jesus Christ when their true allegiance is to their own sinful flesh. They may even claim to believe in the true gospel but by their own practices they reveal that they are living the cheap grace gospel.

As far as salvation is concerned, they are missing in action. They are “no-shows.” They are deserters of the true faith, forsaking the right way to follow after the sinful cravings of their flesh. Again, they may put on a show of righteousness, but it is a show, which is only for the purpose to try to mislead and to distract and to deceive and to hide what they are doing in secret when no other human can see. But God always sees!

Even though they may know the truth, that those who practice such things will not inherit eternal life, they ignore those warnings, and they convince themselves that God’s grace will cover all their sins. And so they tell themselves that certainly God will not punish them, and that he will still give them his salvation, even though they, by their actions, have rejected his salvation which delivers us from our slavery to sin and which empowers us to live godly and holy lives in the power of God.

Yet not one of us is worthy or deserving of God’s grace. We have all sinned and have come up short of attaining God’s divine approval. There is nothing we can do in our own flesh to be good enough for God and for his heaven. It is only by God’s grace, through God-given faith, that any of us can be saved from our sins and to have eternal life with God. So this isn’t about trying in our flesh to earn our own salvation.

But this is about living out the salvation that has already been provided for us, by God’s grace, and in his strength and power. This is about us yielding to Holy Spirit control and us allowing God to work his work of grace and heart transformation in our lives and us cooperating with him in his work of sanctification and us not resisting him. So, please don’t resist him!

[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10, 19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Matt 7:21-23; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10]

I Am Not Worthy the Least of His Favors

By Beatrice Bush Bixler

I am not worthy the least of His favor,
But Jesus left heaven for me;
The Word became flesh and He died as my Savior,
Forsaken on dark Calvary.

I am not worthy the least of His favor,
But “In the beloved” I stand;
Now I’m an heir with my wonderful Savior,
And all things are mine at His hand.

I am not worthy the least of His favor,
But He is preparing a place
Where I shall dwell with my glorified Savior,
Forever to look on His face.

I am not worthy this dull tongue repeats it
I am not worthy this heart gladly beats it
Jesus left heaven to die in my place
What mercy, what love and what grace!

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