Spiritually-Minded

Romans 8:6   (KJV)  6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

As God’s children, we think godly thoughts. We enjoy life and peace now, and we’re looking forward to life and peace with our Father for eternity. We understand we still have choices. We believers don’t lose our free will even after surrendering the throne of Competitionour lives to our Lord Jesus. We choose the focus of our thoughts. We’re also very much aware of the huge implications and repercussions of our choices. Our heavenly Father doesn’t spoil His children.

I pray that this won’t be an issue of intrigue; my prayer rather is that it will be a thought to at least ponder on. Jesus has already borne the penalty of our sins on the cross. In fact He Who knew no sin was made sin for us. That Jesus has taken the death penalty for us is an absolute truth. What is this death then that results from being carnally minded? It’s easy to choose one and reject the other. In doing so, others explain away whatever they prefer to reject.

Forbid the thought that they would question the efficacy of the Lord Jesus’ sacrifice, so the trend is to deal with the death that results from carnal-mindedness. We’ve heard others interpret and teach that as death of a physical kind. And there’s no doubt, some sinful or even wrong choices can reap physical death as a consequence. But although there’s truth in it, it also misses the fact that physical death also comes even to the spiritually-minded people.

On the other hand, if the consequence of our godly thinking is life of the physical kind, what’s the necessity since we’re already physically alive? Unless it simply means continuation of our physical existence in our present condition, the other and I believe the more logical conclusion is that it also refers to life of spiritual kind. This becomes obvious when looking at the context of the passage. The entire chapter deals very much with our spirits. Without disrespect or preference of any denominational distinctive, we can safely conclude: 1. It’s absolutely and undeniably true that Jesus paid the sin-penalty of death; 2. It is also absolutely true that to be carnally minded—having our sinful nature control our mind—is or leads to death.

Whatever each of us believe; we may not all agree on one line of understanding, but the non-negotiable mandate or exhortation we can all agree and focus on is this: shun sinful nature that produces sinful thoughts, and yield to the precious Holy Spirit Who produces good, spiritual, right, and godly thoughts.

Justified

Romans 3:24   (KJV)   24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

We all have hope of forgiveness, cleansing, and salvation—this despite the truth that all of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious standard of holiness. It’s a Romans 3.24 - Justifieduniversally acceptable cliché: “No one’s perfect.”  We don’t take that truth for granted, and it’s important to see its more serious side.  We make mistakes; that’s part of our imperfection; not all mistakes are sinful.  But we’ve all sinned, and we walk away from God when we sin—we separate ourselves from Him—knowingly or not. That’s a consequence that can lead to a terrifying eternal condition. We don’t underestimate the unimaginable horrors of such existence.

Hope—that’s what we find in our precious Lord Jesus—hope that has become a reality for those of us who have placed our full dependence on Him for our salvation, us who have surrendered to His Lordship. How blessed we are really for having our offenses not counted against us, for having our sins forgiven.  Happiness—or even joy, can’t describe what we feel in our hearts.  Imagine having the Son of God paying the ransom price for our freedom.

We can stop imagining. This isn’t a wishful thinking either.  It’s more real than many people think.  We’ve sinned; we still do, but to be counted just as if we’ve never even sinned is a blessing beyond measure.  Don’t get me wrong; the Bible never teaches a time when God ever stopped being just; He won’t ever because He can’t not be Himself.  Being just is His nature. He can justify us freely despite our sins because our precious Lord Jesus paid for all of them.  Yes, our sins didn’t go unpunished.  We may have gotten “off-the-hook,” but only through the loving-kindness, mercy, and grace of Him who took the punishment (even death) in our place.

Strongly Deluded

2 Thessalonians 2:11   (KJV)   11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

For God to send strong delusion for people to believe lies sounds very “unGodlike.” But the statement isn’t a point blank no-context declaration.  The people God causes to be greatly deceived are those who refuse to love the truth.  They refuse the truth that saves.  2 Thessalonians 2.11 - Strongly DeludedWe may ask, why doesn’t God send them stronger convincing proofs and truths?  He already has, and He knows no greater revelation will convince them otherwise.

As sad as it may be, there are people we lovingly and sincerely pray for, but they’re just implacably set in their ways.  No amount of dialogue, conversations, love, reason, or evidence will make them change their minds.  They pursue their godless ways, influence others to doing the same, and even invent new ways to do evil.  In God’s patience, wisdom, justice, and gentleness, He lets them be, and turns them over to reprobate minds.

We won’t give up praying for everyone, no matter how hopeless, hardheaded, and hardhearted they may seem.  We don’t know if they’re unyielding; only God does.  We’ve often been surprised by God’s Spirit.  We’ve witnessed the most hardened criminals and even the most “hell-bent” terrorists come to their senses, humble themselves before God, and bow their knees to Him in full trust and surrender.  Most of us probably didn’t believe the first time we heard the Gospel.  We can’t really count the number of times Jesus through His Spirit knocked on the doors of our hearts before we finally opened up and invited Him to reside in us.

Praise God, He didn’t give up on us. Praise God, people didn’t stop praying for us.  We may have been considered cold, hardheaded, hardhearted, and inconvincible as well, but the “Hound of Heaven,” with His stubborn love, didn’t let go of us.  But here we are now—fruits of God’s love, patience, grace, and mercy, enjoying the blessings of those who met Him heart to heart, Spirit to spirit,” and soon, face to face.

On Pleasing God

1 Thessalonians 4:1   (KJV)   4 Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.

It’s easy to understand our brothers and sisters who teach us and assure us that God loves us so much and is already pleased with us just as we are.  Some believe this in the light of our relationship with our precious Lord Jesus, i.e., the Father loves His Son and is 1 Thessalonians 4.1 - On Pleasing Godperfectly pleased with Him, and because we’re in Jesus, He’s also pleased with us.  Others take it a little farther, i.e., with or without Jesus, He already loves us and is already pleased with us.

What’s my humble take?  I believe God’s love for us is from everlasting to everlasting—this is even before our saving relationship with our precious Lord Jesus.  It was because of His love that Jesus willingly came to save us and reconcile us to our heavenly Father.  His pleasure is different. He has always loved us, but He’s not always pleased with us.  I believe that if God is pleased with us in a constant and an unchanging way, meaning, He always loves us, it is only because of His pleasure in His Son.

Scriptures like the one above encourages us as His people to walk in a manner that pleases God.  In fact, even when we already do, we’re encouraged to keep growing in it—to do so even more.  This has to do with our practical daily living or walk with and in God.  This makes it very clear that it’s possible, even for us believers, to displease God.  In Christ, He’s always pleased with us; in our walk, we restfully and diligently strive to please Him.  This isn’t a burden; as I’ve repeatedly stated:  as children of God, we find our greatest pleasure in pleasing our Father.

Redeemed from Death

Psalm 49:15   (KJV)   15 But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me. Selah.

Everyone needs redemption—physically and spiritually, except the saints who will be alive when our Lord Jesus returns. There are at least two major pernicious human conditions that Jesus alone can remedy: sin and death; one is a result of the other. God alone can Psalm 49.15 - Redeemed from Deathforgive and erase our sins. He already paid for them through the death of the Lord Jesus on the cross. In and through Him, although we die, we will live again,

We’re not the ones without hope and assurance of forgiveness and salvation. Although it’s true that there will still be times when we sin, even as believers, even as saints, we’ve already placed the hope for out eternal salvation in Him. He’s perfect and will forever be perfect. He loves us so much that He gave us His Son Jesus Who willingly let go of His glorious existence to live a perfect life and die a sacrificial death—for us. We continue to depend on Him and Him alone.

We have peace because we know our Lord won’t fail. When the time comes, He will call us from the grave, and up from there we will rise to die no more. That’s a reality based on His dependability. Our total and absolute redemption through our bodily resurrection is more valuable than anything this world offers. Others pursue riches, fame, relationships, and even the fountain of youth. They even succeed in some. But everything here is fleeting—like a flower: no matter how pretty, they eventually wilt away.

We don’t envy them; those things may be important from the perspective of a temporal life, but we possess the greatest riches in eternity, or shall we say, the true riches.

Good News for All

Acts 8:13   (KJV)   13 Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.

Simon was a sorcerer acknowledged by the people as someone great. But even this great man was captivated by the manifested or visible power of God. He believed; He got baptized. No one is beyond the reach of the Gospel. Leaders and followers, rich and poor, acts-8-13-gospel-for-allyoung and old, man and woman—people from different walks of life, spheres of existence, and status in society have been and are being saved through the Gospel. God woos them; He shows He’s real, He cares, He’s present, and He’s powerful through miraculous signs and wonders.

God’s love reaches all. Not all are saved, but all are loved, and He desires all of humanity to be saved and come to repentance. From the very first fall of the very first human beings, until now, our just yet absolutely loving God has continually and persistently reached out to us—rebellious humanity. Through the repeated cycles of sin, repentance, and restoration, our gracious and merciful Creator repeatedly and willingly corrected, disciplined, judged, forgave, and restored.

We’re never without a chance. There’s none of us exempt from His love and His salvation. We walk with confident knowledge and assurance that we’re loved. As an apt and natural response, we love Him too, and we desire to grow more passionately in love with Him. We also naturally love everyone; we don’t discriminate; the Lord never does; we ought not to. In love, we sow the seed of the Good News. Though not all soils or good, we get know which is which after we’ve sown the seed.

Follow Jesus

Luke 5:11   (KJV)   11 And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.

When these apostles decided to follow Jesus, they forsook everything. Their call occurred just right after they brought their ships to land. What’s interesting is the fact that they just witnessed and experienced an astonishing miracle from the Lord. From not catching a luke-5-11-follow-jesussingle fish the night before, to catching so many that they needed help from another boat. Both boats were so full, they were on the verge of sinking.

It was after this eye-opening miracle that Peter recognized his sinfulness before Jesus. But now, another interesting part follows. Jesus called them and they left everything—that, I would presume, includes all the fish they caught. The miracle wasn’t a miracle of provision after all; it was a miracle of revelation and conviction: it revealed Jesus more; it revealed the true spiritual condition of Peter; and it convinced them that Jesus was worth leaving everything for.

God is a miracle working God, and yes, He’s worth following and forsaking everything for. Leaving everything sounds like a very huge sacrifice but it isn’t necessarily. He supplies all our needs according to His inexhaustible riches in glory. He does miracles so convincing that material provision no longer worries us. Our priorities change; we understand that even miracles, though they may answer our physical or material needs, serve a much deeper spiritual purpose: it leads us to a greater revelation of who our Lord is and a closer relationship with Him.

We joyfully follow Him: no retreat, no surrender, no regret.