Tuesday, March 19, 2019 -
“But those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the flesh, but those who are of the Spirit, things of the Spirit. For the mindset on flesh is death, but the mindset on the Spirit is life and peace. Because the mindset on flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. And if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the Spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life through His Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh – for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will love, for all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the Sons of God.” (Romans 8:5-14)
When Jesus calls people to follow Him, they must be willing to give up everything to do so. He called Peter and Andrew, and they immediately abandoned their nets, which they were in the midst of using, and followed Jesus (Matthew 4:18-20)! The same with James and John (Matthew 4:21-22). Jesus walked into the tax office where Matthew was working and merely said, “Follow Me!” Matthew rose, and followed Him (Matthew 9:9). A true disciple of Jesus Christ must be willing to give up everything for Christ, even his life and his livelihood (Matthew 16:24-26). It is why the rich young ruler in Matthew 19 was unable to enter into eternal life – he wanted to hang on to his riches. He was unable to give up everything for Christ!
Many who profess Christ with their minds refuse to give Him their hearts, and this is what Paul is speaking about in Romans 8. I see many like that here in prison. Many cannot give up what is in their sinful nature that has ruled in their hearts. It is why Jesus told Paul on the road to Damascus that He was sending Paul to “open their eyes so that they might turn from the darkness to light and from dominion of Satan to God, in order that they might receive forgiveness of sins and inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me” (Acts 26:18). This, in Jesus’ words, is the gospel in a nutshell. And it means turning from our sinful ways. That is what repentance is all about. It is not merely recognizing with your mind who Jesus is, and what He has done on the cross for you. It involves a true heart change, which means genuine repentance of your sin, and a surrender with a complete abandonment of your own desires to a life with Christ. We make Him the master of our life, and we become the slave – yet He frees us from all sin and our desire to sin.
And it’s only then that one finds true joy and peace – no matter the circumstances. Jesus left us with the Holy Spirit, and when the Holy Spirit controls our life, the result is the “fruit of the Spirit,” which Paul defines as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23)! You can’t get any better than that! And “we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness” (Gal. 5:5). And that is eternal life! I heard a good definition of faith the other day as “a logical belief of the occurrence of the impossible.”
If anything remains on the throne of your heart other than the Lord Jesus Christ, I encourage you to repent of that and ask Christ to take its place. It may not be something blatantly sinful or fleshly, but God doesn’t want anything else to take priority over His lordship.
Pray, as I meet many men who profess to be Christians, either with merely their minds, or genuinely with their hearts, that God will give me wisdom in showing them that they must be willing to give it all to Christ. My friends Chris’ catch-all word is “OBEDIENCE.” In everything, we must be obedient. And being obedient to Christ means laying everything on the altar for our Lord.