Above All Things

“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” Proverb 4: 23

The writer of Proverbs warns us about the importance of what goes into our heart or inner person, the true ‘you’. “…with all diligence…” is also translated “above all things…”. Above all things we should watch over our heart for from it flow the springs of life!

He then goes on to tell us how to guard and examine our hearts. He uses such terms as “put away”, “put…far from you”, “watch”, “do not turn”, and then in another verse he tells us to “turn”. In other words, it is our responsibility to be pro-active in watching over our heart. A passive mind and will is the enemy of our heart and the welcome mat to our sinful nature and demonic intrigue.

First he warns us about our “mouth” and “lips”. “Put away from you a deceitful mouth and put devious lips far from you.” (verse 24) If we wish to know what is in our heart, all we need to do is listen to the words coming out of our mouth. The words of our mouth reveal the content of our heart. If we find evil (i.e. bitterness, deceitfulness, lying, boasting, etc.) pouring out of us, we need to find the root in our heart and remove it by repentance based on the word of God and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Secondly, he warns us about what we are paying attention to. Let your eyes look directly ahead, and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.” (verse 25) Paul told Timothy to play close attention to himself and we need to do the same. Does good and noble things have our attention or are we fixated on worldly and sinful things? Do we like to tip toe into satan’s territory, exposing ourselves to his snare. If our attention is drawn to worldliness and sin, we need to determine where this is coming from in our heart and deal with it.

Thirdly, he warns us about where our thoughts and corresponding actions are taking us, are we walking in fellowship with Lord Jesus or are we on the path of the wicked? Watch the path of your feet, and all your ways will be established. Do not turn to the right nor to the left; turn your foot from evil. (verse 26-27) If we look honestly at the fruit of our lives, what path does it show we are own? Are we becoming more like Christ or more like the world? Or are we just wallowing around in complacently, worldliness and lukewarmness?

Paul, a brother who once found himself on the wrong path, tells us in 2 Corinthians 7 that we need to be perfecting holiness in the fear of God. The healthy, profound, adoring, awed respect (reverential fear) of the Lord teaches us to hate evil and to keep His commandments. Obedience is how we show our love for Him. (John 14: 21). By removing evil from our heart we become more “holy” or “set apart” unto the worship and service of God. I Corinthian 1: 2 tells us this is what God the Father through Jesus Christ has called us to. We are “saints by calling”.

So above all things watch over your heart, that hidden person who you truly are. That is the person the Holy Spirit sees and we need to see ourselves as He sees us. Thank your heavenly Father that His goal is to cause us to walk in agape love that flows from a pure heart, a clear conscience and sincere faith (I Timothy 1:5). If we obey His word in the power of the Holy Spirit this will be accomplished and our heart will be purified (I John 3:3 & 1 Peter 1:22). Thank you, Father God.

Carl

God’s Rescue of Man (Part 2)

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“…the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might rescue us out of this present evil age….”

(Part One may be found at the end of this blog.)

Has the devil ever taken you “in tow”?  This is what the picture represents. Your love for God being “towed” away.  Read on to find out what in the world I am talking about.

Apostle Paul says Jesus came to be the substitutionary atonement for our sins. He took our guilt and the penalty the guilt required.  One reason He did this was to rescue us from this present pernicious age.  Because it is pernicious, this age has a corrupting influence upon the born again believer. Apostle Peter tells us in II Peter 1:4 that God has given to born again believers everything we need to live a godly life and become partakers of the divine nature having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.”

The corruption (phthora)  that we need to  escape is defined in the English dictionary as “to degrade with unsound principles or moral values” and “to change from good to bad in morals, manners, or actions”.  The Greek word means “a bringing or being brought into an inferior or worse condition, a destruction or corruption” (Vines).  Some authors refer to the effect of corruption as “inward decay and rottenness”. 

In other words, if we are not being led by the indwelling Holy Spirit, the corrupting influence of this age will cause our love for God (expressed in obedience to Him) to become infected with evil passionate cravings resulting in disobedience (sin). Our good morals or Christ likeness begins to rot or decay.  Another way to say it, is that our love for God is corrupted by a worldly love that considers something in the world more precious than God.

The effect of the  pernicious, corrupting influence of the age is to “carry away” or, as the original language says, “taken in tow”,  the believer from his steadfast love for God by “enticing him with his own lust” .  This is what James is saying in chapter 1:14:

“But each one is being solicited to sin when he is taken in tow and enticed by his own craving.” 
(Wuest)

Satan uses the things of this evil, pernicious age to “carry us away” or “take us in tow”.  The first thing he does is to get us distracted from God and focused on something  in his kingdom (the world) and he hooks us up to his Enticement Wagon, so to speak, so he can “tow” us further down the Road of Distraction where he entices you with things that you crave, i.e. attention, money, fame, power, liquor, fornication, adultery, homosexuality, drugs, rebellion, your way, freedom, etc.  And:

“Then when the aforementioned craving has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and this sin when it is full grown brings forth death.” (James 1:15)

It is “conceived” when we give our “will” over to do the enticement. When we say “Yes” to it. Satan knows what our passionate cravings were before we were saved and he will use the same passionate carvings to “entice” us to sin.  Plus new ones. I was never a drug user; therefore, he does not tempt me with illegal drugs but he tempts me with other  things that were in my life prior to salvation. Let us therefore, if possible, steer clear of areas of the world where we know our past and present temptations exist. Be wise as a serpent but as harmless as a dove.

In Mark 9:50 the Lord Jesus warns the twelve disciples “Have salt in yourselves…”  This is an important commandment and we will discuss salt and how it relates to this present evil age in the next blog. Hope you will join me.

Thank you for your time and God bless you and your family.

Don’t be taken in “tow” by Satan.  “…be keeping one’s self unspotted from the world” it says in James 1:27.  Stay free from the corruption of this age and stay steadfast in your love for God. Let us keep our minds full of the Word of God and our eyes fixed on His purposes in the earth.  Let us be led daily by the indwelling, powerful Holy Spirit who He has so graciously made to dwell in us!

Let us pay close attention to ourselves for the purpose of holiness.

Carl

 

 

 

 

God’s Rescue of Man (Part One)

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If you have been reading this blog, you probably know that “lust” in the Greek New Testament means either good or evil “passionate cravings”. Today we are starting a four  part blog on God rescuing us from this present evil age. I thought this picture was appropriate since the Pernicious One (Satan) and our flesh (old sinful nature) want us to follow our evil passionate cravings resulting in enslavement and destruction, ruining our Christian testimony and robbing us of God’s blessings.  May this study be a blessing and warning to you as it was to me.    Carl

“… Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age…”  Galatians 1:4

The Lord Jesus willingly gave Himself on the Cross for our sins. This scripture states that the purpose  was to “rescue” us “from this present evil age”.  The word translated “rescue” means “to pluck out, to draw out, to rescue, to deliver”.  In 1522 Martin Luther referred to this in the preface of the first German language New Testament:

This gospel of God or New Testament is a great message, good news, sounded forth into all the world by the apostles, telling of a true David who strove with sin, death, and the devil, and overcame them, and thereby RESCUED all those who were captive in sin, afflicted with death, and overpowered by the devil. Without any merit of their own he made them righteous, gave them life, and saved them, so that they were given peace and brought back to God.” (Emphasis mine)

As we will see, the gospel is truly emancipation from bondage.  Our opening scripture says He came to rescue us from the ethical characteristics of the present age.

“Age” (aion) is defined as a “period of time” and is sometimes translated “world” in the NT.  Here it is defined by its moral characteristics. Trench says the following about it:

“All that floating mass of thoughts, opinions, maxims, speculations, hopes, impulses, aims, aspirations, at any time current in the world, which it may be impossible to seize and accurately define, but which constitute a most real and effective power, being the moral or immoral atmosphere which at every moment of our lives we inhale, again inevitably to exhale.”

Notice that it is called an “evil” age. The Greek word for this evil is poneros as opposed to kakos.  A kakos man is satisfied to perish in his own corruption but a poneros man “is not content unless he is corrupting others as well, and drawing them into the same destruction with himself.” (Wuest).  The English word best describing poneros is the word pernicious,   “causing great harm or damage often in a way that is not easily seen or noticed”.  A perfect description of Satan’ activity.  He is known as The Pernicious One. Let us praise God The Father for sending the Lord Jesus to destroy the works of Satan in our lives, setting us free from the dominion of darkness positionally and experientially (I John 3:8 & Col.1:13).

This ends Part I of God’s Rescue of Man.  Part 2 will discuss the pernicious influence of the age and the Lord Jesus’ command to “Have salt within yourselves…” .

Thank you for your time and God bless you and your family.

Carl