“Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires,” Galatians 5:24. How do we crucify the flesh? The Bible is very clear on this subject. “Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God,” 1Peter 4:1,2. We crucify the flesh by enduring the sufferings and by learning obedience.
As we walk by the Spirit one day at a time, our efforts to be obedient begin to become a way of life; a life in which we find that our flesh has less and less sway over us day by day. This is not dying to Self, it is learning obedience, and growing as we learn. It is the Lord training us up in the way we should go, teaching us humility, reverence, and all other godly virtues as we grow up into Him, our Lord Jesus Christ.
When we try to die to self, we place our attention on our shortcomings and sinful tendencies. This is not healthy to the Christian. As Christians, we are to think of good things, things worthy of praise. There is nothing worthy of praise in ourselves, so we must lose sight of ourselves and set our minds on things above, where our lives are. To do this, we rely on Jesus and walk by faith in Him. This is why He told us that to come after Him, one must deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Him.
We are sanctified at the new birth, set apart to God, and made holy by the blood of Jesus. Our Father then begins training us up in the way we should go by leading us through various trials in order to test us, — “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you…” 1 Peter 4:12. Peter exhorts us to rejoice in these trials for we are sharing in the sufferings of Christ, (vs. 13). He also instructs us to endure by humbling ourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt us at the proper time, (1 Peter 5:6). He goes on to say that we are to resist the devil, our adversary, firm in our faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by our brethren who are in the world. And after we have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish us, (vs. 9,10).
In speaking of things such as worldly chatter, quarreling, wrangling about words and wickedness in general, Paul said, “Therefore, if a man cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work,” 2 Timothy 2:21. How do we cleanse ourselves? We cleanse ourselves by turning and walking away from everything that pertains to ungodliness, and pursuing righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord with a pure heart. We both crucify the flesh and cleanse ourselves by living to God. And we live to God by faith that we were crucified with Christ, buried with Christ and raised with Christ. It is through faith in Christ that we walk by the Spirit in the heavenly kingdom into which we were raised. It is through faith in Him that we overcome any and all things the evil one tries to use against us. It is through faith that we live and move and have our being in Jesus. He is all in all.
Paul wrote to some Christians who had been quarreling with each other, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” He immediately followed with, “AND SUCH WERE SOME OF YOU; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God,” 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.
Paul was reminding them they also had been unrighteous, but had since become righteous by faith in the sacrifice of Jesus. We all need to be reminded of this very same thing from time to time, otherwise we could end up like these Corinthians, allowing our old natures to creep back in, or, even worse for some, getting stuck in a predicament of trying to save ourselves by works.
Please test what I have written by the Word of God, and not by what’s been handed down by man; for as the angel told Daniel, “…many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase,” Daniel 12:4b.
Rev. Jon Banks
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