Marks of Maturity

In the latter part of Galatians 5, the apostle Paul urges the Christians of Galatia, to practical godliness and he also warns against the snares of the false teachers. Paul wants to be clear. Christians are not to live by flesh. And they are not under law. Instead they are to live by love and live by the Spirit (v. 13-26). Paul wrote Galatians because Judiazers or Christian-Jews were coming in and teaching the churches in Galatia that in order to be saved, Christians must continue to follow the law. Paul’s main purposes in Galatians were to establish his authority as an apostle, re-establish the true meaning of the Gospel, warn against these Judiazers, and establish the place for the law.

Paul says that we are to love each other as ourselves. We can only do this by living by the Spirit. By the Spirit we are no longer under the works and desires of flesh: “sexual immorality, impurity, depravity, idolatry, sorcery, hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish rivalries, dissensions, factions, envying, murder, drunkenness, carousing, and similar things.” Instead we are filled with: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (v19-21).”

It is only through and because of Christ that we can live in the Spirit. For, “those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also behave in accordance with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, being jealous of one another” (v. 22-26).

I will examine three of these fruits more closely: Self-control, peace and patience. (I chose these three because they are most difficult for me.) Self-control is rendered from the Greek word, “ejgkravteia” and the Latin word, continenia. Self-control is a concept that is difficult to pin down and grasp exactly and completely. Self-control is the ability to restrain impulse, set up boundaries, or control actions. The only real “self-control” comes from the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit is living in a Christian, then the Christian is able to resist temptation to sin, choose words wisely, and is able to control thoughts and actions that are fleshly or ungodly. Having self-control is a mark of spiritual maturity. Solomon writes in Proverbs five that “An evil man is held captive by his own sins; they are ropes that catch and hold him. He will die for lack of self-control; he will be lost because of his great foolishness (v. 22, 23).”
According to this verse, evil and foolish men do not have self-control. Self-control is a characteristic of the Holy Spirit and spiritual growth.
Peace is resting in relationship w God. In John 14:27, Jesus says “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid (NKJV).” Again in Matthew 11, Jesus speaks of the true source of peace, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (v. 28-30).” Jesus is saying that he gives peace. He wants you to find rest in Him. In our own power we will not be able to handle the stress and sins of this world, but in Christ we can.

The word “peace” comes from the Greek word “eirene”, the Greek equivalent for the Hebrew word “shalom”, (and Latin word, “ pax,”) which expresses the idea of wholeness, completeness, or tranquility in the soul that is unaffected by the outward circumstances or pressures. This peace is rule of order in place of chaos. When a person is dominated by peace, he has a calm, inner stability that results in the ability to conduct himself peacefully, even in the midst of circumstances that would normally be very nerve-wrecking, traumatic, or upsetting…Rather than allowing the difficulties and pressures of life to break him, a person who is possessed by peace is whole, complete, orderly, stable, and poised for blessing. This is a mark of maturity because it is a command by Paul and Jesus to let the peace be a part of our lives. Phil. 4:7, “And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” It is also a mark of maturity because when outsiders of Christianity see our peace, they will be curious about it. They will want it. They will see Jesus in our lives.

This peace is difficult for me and many other Christians because we like control, or at least I do. I want to make sure I have everything under control. I want to do things my own way. So I try to do things on my own power. When I do things on my own power, I forfeit this peace that Christ offers. But when I let go of my own control and let Christ control everything, this is when I truly have peace!

Patience, which in some translations is “longsuffering” or “endurance,” is defined in Strong’s by two Greek words, “makrothumia” and “hupomone.” In Latin it is the word, “longanimitas.” Trying to give an English equivalent is a little more difficult. The words: lenience, forbearance, fortitude, patient endurance, forgiving tolerance, mercy, and longsuffering – come to mind. It describes a person who has the power to exercise revenge but instead exercises restraint. The person who is patient can endure suffering, stand during difficult circumstances, and tolerate unpleasant things, such as persecution or simply annoyances. Hebrews 10:36 says “For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise.”

Patience is a mark of maturity in the same ways as peace is. In Eph. 4, Paul calls us to patience and tolerance towards each other as Christians to preserve unity in the Spirit. In 1 Tim. 1:16, Paul says, “Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.” We are following Christ’s example when we have patience. We are following Paul’s example in Antioch and the prophets example of old (James 5:10, 2 Tim. 3:10). Ecc. 7:8, “Patience of spirit is better than haughtiness of spirit.”

As Christians we are to live life in Spirit. Right before Jesus ascended into Heaven he spoke about the Holy Spirit, which he left for us. Act 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Both Paul and Jesus commanded us to live by the Spirit. When we surrender our fleshly will to God’s will in the Holy Spirit then all of the characteristics, marks of maturity or fruits written about in Galatians 5:22–26, Colossians 3:12–17, or Psalm 15 will be evident in our own lives. I would like to close with 2 Peter 1: 5-8. See how these fruits build on each other. We start with faith and we grow into creatures of love! “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith excellence, to excellence, knowledge; to knowledge, self-control; to self-control, perseverance; to perseverance, godliness; to godliness, brotherly affection; to brotherly affection, unselfish love.

For if these things are really yours and are continually increasing, they will keep you from becoming ineffective and unproductive in your pursuit of knowing our Lord Jesus Christ more intimately (NET).”

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Put off Flesh, Put on Christ

* What, practically, does Paul mean in Gal. 5?

Basically Paul is giving us a basic lesson on Christian living. This short passage is very consistent with Paul’s teaching through-out the New Testament as well as with what Jesus taught. As Christians we are to live in Christ and not in the flesh any longer. We have a choice to live in obedience or disobedience. Paul is calling Christians to unity in obedience to Christ. The text also means that it is not enough to attempt to stop sinning. The truth is that we must replace our vices and sinful habits with Christ, or we will just get caught in another sin or vice.

Paul’s other teachings that are very similar include his teaching on the “fruits of the spirit” (in Galatians 5:22, 23), his teachings on a right mind (in Philippians 4:8, 9), his teaching on spiritual warfare and the armor of God (in Ephesians 6:10-20), his teaching on reconciliation (in 2 Cor. 5), and his teachings on life according to the Spirit (in Rom. 8, 1 Cor. 6).
Jesus‘ teachings also lined up with what Paul is saying. Jesus was radical in his teaching. He was very clear that he wanted all of us. Not only did Christ want people to stop sinning, or to obey the law completely, but he wanted men to chose Him as their first priority completely (Mat. 6:19-24,33, 22:37).

* What is Paul instructing us to do?

First he asks us to put aside our old nature of disobedience. Verses 5-9, tell us what not to do. Second, Paul tells us to clothe ourselves with the fruits of the Spirit. Verses 10-16 tell us what we should do.
More specifically, in Christ, we are dead to the sins of our disobedient nature (immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, greed, idolatry, anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech). We do not have to live this way, as we used to before Christ. Now we are to put on our new self, which is the image of God (holy and beloved, heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, love, and unity in Christ and the Word of God.) Christ set the ultimate example. And through Him, Christians can find unity on how to live.

* How can one do it (Put off >Put on)?

There is a paradox. Only through Christ can one put off the flesh and put on the Spirit/Christ. It is about Christ making us right and righteous. On man’s power alone, man will fail. This is what makes Christianity unique from all other religions. God reaches his hand down to man. Man can do nothing to save self! Sanctification is only through Christ Jesus. Man cannot help themselves. Man has choices to make, sure. Some scholars will say that man has the ultimate choice. That man has to do something to be saved and to be sanctified, this is not completely true. Man chooses daily to obey Christ by simply putting on Christ or to disobey Christ by sinning. This is true, but it takes some examining to fully understand. The issue is more complex than that.

Yes, man makes the choice to obey or to disobey, sin or not to sin, but there is the issue of surrender. If man surrenders his will to Christ, then it is Christ’s power that sanctifies man. If man surrenders his will to Christ, then and then only will man truly obey. My point is that on man’s power alone this is not possible. Man on his power will fail into sin and flesh. But man surrendered to Christ’s will can put on Christ and live as Christ, sanctified in His image. The biggest choice is for man to let go and let Christ make Him.

* How do you do it?

I personally surrender daily through prayer. I am by no means perfect. But I have made it a goal to let go before I let the day begin. As I wake up, – to the sound of the alarm, wet lick of my dog to my face, the smell of coffee, or feel the heat of the shower water – I begin praying. I begin by asking for the Holy Spirit to help me in this new day. I thank the Lord for it; everyday is a gift from Him. And I imagine putting on the whole armor of God. I try to think through situations where the Lord will need me and people who need the Lord. I ask for opportunity to serve Him.

As the day continues, I attempt to “pray without ceasing.” Of course, my life is not a piece of cake without problems and without temptations. Surrender is a continual process. It is not a one-time event, but on-going. Will I let go and let Christ or will I try to run my own life? I attempt to follow God’s will. When temptations come, I could choose to sin or obey God. I sometimes say a quick prayer and flee from the temptation. (James 1:13-18, 2 Tim 2:22) But sometimes I fail. Sometimes I sin. Just goes to show that man will fail, but in Christ we are free (Gal 5: 1-5, Rom 6:18, 8:2). Amen!

Sealed w Holy Spirt

Eph 1:13-14
13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,
14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
(NKJV)

These two verses are encouraging to me. And I like to use them in the P of the “tuliP” argument.
(P is for
“Perseverance of the saints.”) On this issue I agree with John Calvin.

The argument is that none who are truly saved can be condemned for their sins or finally fall away from the faith. The idea in sum is “once saved, always saved.” And people who “fall away” from faith, were NOT ever truly saved in the first place.

Now this is a very controversal topic and again it is one of the non-essentials. What you think about this toppic in the end does not really matter, we are all going to live and get along together when we reach Heavan and have full understanding of the topic as God reveals these things to us.

I have recently read an interesting thought-provoking, but not convincing argument, “can the seal be broken?”
The more I read about their positions, the more I am confused by their understanding of Scripture…
Thet try to say that you can lose your salvation with one sin, but not all sins are of equal degree and then they try to examine scriptures and determine who is in Heaven and who is not due to their sins. King David is a good example. Based on his adultery is the “man after God’s own heart” not in Heaven?

Some intersting reads, that is for sure…..

beautiful thing about the Trinity

The Trinity is a amazing….
(Okay so the “Trinity” is not found directly (say word-for-word) in the Bible as I am directly calling it, the Trinity…but the Biblical evidence for the Trinity is real and hard to deny. )

Finding a way to explain the Trinity to someone who does not have the same background knowledge is difficult.
The concept of the Trinity is complex and complicated…but it is amazing, beautiful and supernatural.
There are quite a few website I was reading that tried to simplify the concept of the Trinity by using real life examples and analogies.

These are great because they help wrap our minds around the concept of the Trinity…but they are not enough. They all fail in truly explaining the Trinity and it is difficult for me to use these analogies because they sell the Trinity short! The truth is that we cannot ever really truly wrap our heads around the idea of the Trinity. We are human.

Another danger in using these cute (sometimes neat) analogies is that many times they are just illogical and wrong!

So what is my definition of the Trinity? (you are asking)…okay:

The best way I have heard, understood, and explained the Trinity concept is this:
There is only ONE God. God, though, has three distinct persons that co-exist. God is not like man, in that we only have one form of our being that exists at one time. As men, we operate on the physical. But God lives beyond the physical. It is a three-in-one union or Godhead.

Again:
The Father is not the same person as the Son; the Son is not the same person as the Holy Spirit; and the Holy Spirit is not the same person as Father. They are not three gods and not three beings. They are three distinct persons; yet, they are all the one God.

I was not originally planning on spending so much time on this section of this post, but this is good stuff! (and important too!)

What I wanted to post about is this verse in the Bible:

“Let us make people in our image, like ourselves ” (Gen. 1:26)

Notice it does not say…’Let me make people in my image, like myself’

They (the three beings) are having a conversation with themselves.

We see that they (The Father, the Son, and The Holy Spirit) are
1. Self- sustaining and sufficient
but yet also
2. Relational.

They are relational within themselves…they love each other but they are also want to be relational outside of themselves! they did not have to create man, but they wanted to! They wanted to love us. They wanted us to be like them! This is a beautiful thing!

evangulism and personality

Ideas From evangelism coach

Each of us have our own personality, that God has given us. In the same way we also have “evangelism styles.” Even in the New Testament we see how personality plays a role in evangelism. This is not a bad thing at all. God has made us a certain way. And we can glorify Him through being ourself, even while sharing our faith. This is Biblical:

In Acts 2: 22-41, we see a Confrontational approach by Peter.
In Acts 17:15-34, we see an Intellectual approach by Paul.
In Luke 5:27-29, we see a relational approach by Matthew.
Acts 9 shows us Dorca’s servant approach.
John 9 – We hear of a blind man’s testimony.

This is just a few of the many examples in the Bible. You can probably think of more from the Bible or in your own life. I know of a man, whose approach is love. In all of his actions, there is a feeling of love behind his actions. It is hard to explain. It is the Holy Spirit.

Other people have a very Intentional approach, they go out of their way to share the Good news of the Gospel to everyone they know, somehow, someway – whenever the Holy Spirit allows.

Gen Y Christians are exciting to watch. They have several ways of engaging the culture, but yet still remaining true th the Gospel and “glorify God in whatever they do.” Gen Y engages the culture and relates to the lost on their turf. They reach out creatively and spread God’s Word this way.

Another awesome thing about Gen Y Christians is that they engage not only to saving souls (which is important to them) but also in literally changing the world. Literally. Gen Y Christians in America are beginning to realize that here in America we have it well. We have it all. They are sharing not only the Good News of the Gospel, but sharing food, water, education, money, and resources to the people in less fortunate situations around the world. Today we as Christians should be interested in both of these things. God has given us responsibility and good fortunes. We are commanded to share and to glorify Him more throughout the earth. This is a chance to share His love love and it is our responsibility to share our surplus. Showing love and sharing in our riches leads to us also sharing our faith in the first place.

** Most books posted on this blog, I have read, but I have not read any of Bill Hybele’s book (Holy Discontent and/or Being a Contagious Christian) but now I want to read them, since this post is based on this readings apparently. 🙂

Co-Resurrection – My Utmost For His Highest, Oswald Chambers

Here is a devotional from My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers
My take on the issues are in italics.

Co-Resurrection –
The proof that I have been through crucifixion with Jesus is that I have a decided likeness to Him. The incoming of the Spirit of Jesus into me readjusts my personal life to God. The resurrection of Jesus has given Him authority to impart the life of God to me, and my experimental life must be constructed on the basis of His life. I can have the resurrection life of Jesus now, and it will show itself in holiness.

I have been reading Chamber’s Utmost for His Highest, as part of my devotional this year. There is some mind-blowing stuff in here. Some days I get absolutely nothing out of them, because I simply just do not understand what Oswald is trying to say. Some of this devotional is difficult reading, but I think that this is beautiful and challenging. We are so dependent upon Him! You see the beauty of Christianity is that God reached down to us, to save us, to heal us, forgive us. Without Him we cannot experience forgiveness, holiness, or grace. The resurrection, that we had nothing to do with, we get to claim and experience with Him. He saved us! How humbling it is to think about it as a co-resurrection!

The idea all through the apostle Paul’s writings is that after the moral decision to be identified with Jesus in His death has been made, the resurrection life of Jesus invades every bit of my human nature. It takes omnipotence to live the life of the Son of God in mortal flesh. The Holy Spirit cannot be located as a Guest in a house, He invades everything. When once I decide that my “old man” (i.e., the heredity of sin) should be identified with the death of Jesus, then the Holy Spirit invades me. He takes charge of everything, my part is to walk in the light and to obey all that He reveals. When I have made the moral decision about sin, it is easy to reckon actually that I am dead unto sin, because I find the life of Jesus there all the time. Just as there is only one stamp of humanity, so there is only one stamp of holiness, the holiness of Jesus, and it is His holiness that is gifted to me. God puts the holiness of His Son into me, and I belong to a new order spiritually.

This is so good and so true! This so awesome, yet again- challenging. The Old is Gone and the New has Come. We are alive to Christ and dead to Sin. We are new creations. We have redemption through Christ’s blood. It is a fresh start! But it is through the Holy Spirit. And we must let go of our pride and remove stumbling blocks that get in the way of letting the Spirit take over. Not everyone is willing to let go of their self and their pride and simply let God take control. The Holy Spirit will work and it will invade…how sad it is when my lost friends know the truth and they close their heart off from the truth. They are not set free by it. they harden their hearts and they run from reality.