Freedom and Responsibility

Romans 8:5

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.

Romans 6:5-7 – For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin.

Romans 6:13-14 – And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

Galatians 5:1 – Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

Galatians 5:13 – For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

  • Setting our minds on what the Spirit desires is not something that happens automatically after salvation.  Following the Lord is still an act of our will.  Remember that Jesus does drive His sheep; He leads them.  When we are being driven, we have no choice but to move.  But when we are following, we can choose to move or not.
  • After we are saved, after the Holy Spirit takes up lodging within, we have a kind of “barometer” at our spiritual core.  This barometer senses any decrease in fellowship with God, warning us that something is amiss.  We can make things right again by asking Jesus to expose our old bad habits or whatever is disrupting our fellowship with Him.  This is called daily confession.  As we allow ourselves to be refined our communion with Him is restored on an even deeper level.  No earthly pleasure is worth losing that communion—not even for a short time.
  • Things may be difficult.  Things may be hard to understand and at times things may seem like they are going nowhere but down, down, down.  Put your trust and confidence in Jesus and they will change.
  • Don’t give up.  God says, “I will bring to pass what I have promised.”  God says, “Don’t’ be discouraged by the enemy.  His is a defeated foe.  You will be victorious.  You must stand in Christ.

Wages of Sin vs. Gift of Eternal Life

Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

  • Wages – something worked for and expected to receive; earnings received for work accomplished.
  • Sin – the job or the thing done whereby wages are expected.
  • Death – sin’s ultimate retirement plan; eternal separation from a loving God.
  • Gift – gratuity, something we did nothing to receive; something freely given.
  • Eternal life – the gift itself.

1 Peter 1:4 – to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Exodus 20 lists very clearly and plainly the Ten Commandments.  Our permissive society has tried to water down, to dictate, to expand, read between the lines what is/what is not allowable under the Law, undermining God’s Word.  If this was done in the political realm, it would be akin to treason against the law of the land.

In Matthew 22, Jesus narrowed these Ten Commandments down to only two.

Matthew 22:34-39 – But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”  Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

Can we say we obey these laws?  At various places throughout the Word of God we see specifics about obedience, about the Law, about “thus saith the Lord God,” but all the additional things related by writers in both the Old Testament and the New Testament refer back to the original ten commandments given by God to Moses to give to the children of Israel. 

  • Commandment #1 – You shall have no other Gods before me.  (Exodus 20:3)

You have to ask yourself, according to the Word of God, what constitutes a god?  (Exodus 20:4-5)

  • Commandment #2 – You shall not make for yourself a carved image – any likeness of anything that is in the heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them.

You have to ask yourself, according to the Word of God, what makes something an image, or an idol that would fall in this category?

  • Commandment #3- You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. (Exodus 20:7)

Do we take the Lord’s name in vain when we call ourselves Christians or Christ-like and then behave otherwise? 

  • Commandment #4 – Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.  (Exodus 20:8)

You have to ask yourself, according to the Word of God, what is it that breaks the law of the Sabbath?

  • Commandment #8 – You shall not steal.

Stealing includes stealing from God.

Malachi 3:10-11 – “Will a man rob God?  Yet you have robbed Me!”  But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’  “In tithes and offerings.  You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation.  Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,”
Says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.  And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, so that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,” says the Lord of hosts;

  • Commandment #9 – You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

What is a lie?  Stretching the truth; falsifying any record (income tax, expense reports); implying something that is not true; swearing to factual events.

Matthew 22:37 – Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’

  • Hypocrisy will not do
  • Lip service will not do
  • Half-hearted service will not do
  • GOD WANTS YOUR ALL

Sin is sin; a lie is a lie; stealing is stealing, adultery is adultery, disobedience is disobedience.  You cannot justify your life before God if you have sin in your heart.  You cannot explain away sin when you stand before Him.

Isaiah 53:6 – All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

This is My Bible

Psalms 119:105

Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path

My Bible tells me what I was:

  • A sinner, lost, undone, chained, condemned, bound for hell, bound for separation from God’s love, eternal torment, without hope.
  • Dead in sin and trespasses.
  • Without hope, eternally lost.

Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

My Bible tells me what I am:

  • A blood-bought child of God
  • Free from sin
  • Pardoned
  • In right standing with God – In God’s favor
  • Changed (not chained)
  • Access to all the power of God
  • With faith I the redemptive work of God
  • I’M SAVED AND I KNOW THAT I AM

Romans 5:8 – But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 6:17-18 – But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

1 Corinthians 1:30 – But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption

Hebrews 10:10 – By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

My Bible tells me what I shall be:

  • It tells me what I shall be
  • Forever free from temptation
  • Forever free from sin
  • Reunited with loved ones forever
  • With Jesus
  • Have a home

John 14:1-3 – Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 –  For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.

Sin’s Wages – God’s Free Gift

Romans 6:16-23

Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.  For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

  • Slave – no rights/required to obey/death imminent

Romans 12:1 – I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

Genesis 2:17 – but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.

  • Welder – dollars/wages
  • Waitress – dollars/wages
  • Lawyer – dollars/wages
  • Doctor – dollars/wages
  • Farmer – dollars/wages
  • Sin – Death

1 Corinthians 9:7 – Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock?

  • Who goes to war at his own expense?  Somebody has to pay the cost.
  • While we were yet sinners Christ died for the ungodly! – Christ’s expense!
  • E – Every
  • V – Vile      
  • I – Indecent
  • L – Liability
  • S – Selfishness
  • I – Indifference
  • N – Negligence
  • G – God’s
  • R– Riches
  • A – At
  • C – Christ’s
  • E – Expense

He paid a debt He did not owe. I owed a debt I could not pay. I needed someone to wash my sins away. But now I sing a brand new song, Amazing Grace – all day long. Christ Jesus paid a debt I could not pay.

  • Whatever you sow you shall also reap.  God’s justice is under obligation to give sinners their wages.

Galatians 6:7-8 – Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. I owed a debt I could not pay.

Hosea 10:12 – Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the LORD, till He comes and rains righteousness on you.

  • A free gift  = eternal life
  • Grace – charisma – a blessing of salvation upon sinners

1 Peter 3:4 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,

Give Me Freedom

Romans 6:16-18

Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.

Show me a person who is not a slave!!!!

“One is enslaved to passions, a second to profit, a third to status and everyone to fear.”  Seneca, first century Roman philosopher.

What are you a slave to?

Romans 6:16-18 – All of us were ( “were”) slaves to sin for Christ saved us by the shedding of His blood on the cross when we finally got around to recognizing that we had been a slave to sin.  We came as sinners to the foot of the cross and acknowledged our need of a Savior.  He forgave us.  Yea!  Hallelujah!

There is no moral authority today – if it feels good, do it!

Proverbs 30:12 – There is a class of people who are pure in their own eyes, and yet not washed from their own filth.”

Isaiah 5:20 – Woe to those who call evil good and good evil.

Romans 12:1-2 – I urge you by the mercies of God to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not confirmed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Some of us, still knowing we were forgiven, remained in slavery, bound to some of our sin or at least some of the beggarly elements of servitude.  What should have been a radical transformation and total about-face seemed partial or non-existent.

Oh yes, we were saved but we certainly had not been really transformed in the way we thought, talked and behaved and continued to live our life.

Story is told of a young man who had an addiction to donuts, eating six or seven at a time.  He was very overweight.  He worked on it and lost a lot of weight.  He woke up one morning craving a donut.  When he arrived at work with a donut, his coworker questioned him, saying “I thought you had given up donuts.” 

His response:  “I prayed and told God if there was an open parking spot right in front of the donut shop when I went by, I would know it was okay for me to stop and get a donut”  What he did not tell his coworker was that there was an open parking spot on his eleventh time around the block.  That’s about the way we treat temptation.

We read our Bible when we thought about it and did not have anything else to do like a favorite TV program, shopping, watching a football game, watching “As the Stomach Turns”,  going to Olive Garden or McDonalds or whatever else was transient gratification.  (That’s a big word for “current need for self-satisfaction.”)  We prayed, especially when we got into trouble.

A Christian is someone who changed – transformed – made new in His image – set free from slavery.  That’s really the crux of this whole thing.  We had gone through the motions of being set free, but we were still in fact enslaved.  Christ had forgiven us up to that point (repeat) of our asking for forgiveness.    

The Bible say “For He (Christ) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  We had, so to speak, by asking forgiveness, emptied the backpack of sins on our back.  Sins we had carried around, or was it a duffle bag full, or maybe it was two duffle bags full or maybe it was a wheelbarrow and a duffle bag.  For me it was a dumpster – not the kind sitting out back, but the kind they drop off at a house getting a demo job. (sins)

Actually we were still enslaved, though forgiven.

Don’t misunderstand me – Christ did forgive us when we asked Him to – no more guilt from all the baggage of sin.  No real change, however, we just started stacking up the whole rotten, stinking load again.  We were still enslaved – saved from our sin of the past but now we are like a totally irresponsible person and our enslavement begins all over again in a life of guilt and shame.

We had prayed – maybe we shed a few crocodile tears, maybe some minor course correction but really still enslaved.  If we are to be Christ-like there should be some change in our life.

The book of Jeremiah is a book of doom in so many ways; a tale of God’s wrath and judgment for man’s failure to follow Him.  But hope is intermingled there.  Jeremiah 29:11 says  “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

 That scripture is the promise of hope that even in our sin, our turning away, our rejection of Him who loves us, even in the midst of His judgment He offers hope.  He offers us the best that we could ever hope to have.

That’s what Jeremiah is about….that sums it up.  It’s not about simply turning from sin because it is wrong.  It’s not about simply turning from sin because it means a turning back to God.  God wants these things, but He wants them because, like any good father or husband, he does not want us suffering the consequences of sin.  You may be forgiven from your sin but that sin put a scar on your memory that you may never forget and Satan will taunt you over it even though you are now a follower of Jesus.  Believe me, I know from a personal standpoint and I’m old.  He wants to provide something far more wonderful than our dreams and hopes could imagine.  He wants His people to be in good marriages (remember – we are the Bride of Christ) not just because it is right, but because it is through marriage, through our relationship with Him that He can shower upon us love, security, purpose, hope.  It is where He can demonstrate what the union between god and man is meant to be.  Paul used marriage as a way to explain the church’s relationship with God.  God wants us to avoid sin and turn to Him, because he has been planning since the foundation of the earth to give us good things. 

We turn away from God’s commands out of fear, anger, rebellion, stupidity  and we miss not simply heaven, but in the here and now we miss an abundant life.  There is hope amidst the judgment, joy among the bitterness, grace amidst the sin.  God promises in Jeremiah that “when we get serious about searching for Him and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you are not disappointed.”  God is not a lover that disappoints; He is not a shady salesman or politician.

This passage of hope in Jeremiah comes after he says in the preceding verse that “As soon as Babylon’s seventy years of captivity are up and not a day before, I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home.”  This promise does not negate His judgment of the consequences of sin, but God, knowing the rejection of Israel (and of us) having dealt the punishment we deserve, He gives His people a second chance.  He says He has plans for them, to take care of them, to not abandon them, to give them a future, a hope.  The people who so poorly treated Him are offered the keys to the kingdom, so to speak.  It is proof that God’s wrath and judgment are not enough to extinguish His love or His belief in His people.

Jeremiah is a book of judgment laced with hope.

There is a consequence for sin but we have hope. 

We simply were not free.  We were still enslaved.  We had experienced

Christ’s free gift of grace, but it was like we were – in spite of His grace – bad, bad, bad.

Romans 6:1-4 says “What shall we say then?  Shall we continue in sin that grace may more abound.   The answer – No – No – No

Romans 6:3-6 – Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.  Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.

Galatians 5:24 – Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.

We have been set free.  Let us walk in that freedom in obedience to God.

I’m free!

Emblems of the Holy Spirit

Many think the Holy Spirit only came on the Day of Pentecost in the New Testament but as these Scriptures show, the Holy Spirit has been active since the beginning.

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

FIRE:  Zeal and refining power

  • Luke 3:16                                                                    Holy Ghost and fire
  • Isaiah 4:3-4                                                                 Spirit of burning (judgment)
  • Psalm 104:4                                                                A flaming fire
  • Malachi 3:1-3                                                              Refiner’s fire
  • Genesis 3:24                                                               A flaming sword
  • John 2:17                                                                    Zeal
  • Acts 2:3                                                                      Tongues like as of fire
  • Matthew 3:11                                                              Baptize with Holy Ghost and fire

DOVE:  Gentleness, harmlessness and comforting power

  • Luke 3:22                                                                    Holy Spirit descended like dove
  • Luke 3:23                                                                    Began to teach
  • John 1:32-33                                                               Spirit descending/witness of the Spirit

WATER:  Life-giving and infinite power

  • John 7:37-39                                                               Rivers of living water – quenching thirst

WIND:  Resurrection power (Spirit gives life)

  • John 3:8                                                                      The wind bloweth/a blowing, a blast
  • Acts 2:2                                                                       A rushing, might wind
  • Ezekiel 37:9                                                                Come from four winds, o breath
  • Genesis 2:7                                                                 Big wind

OIL:  Consecration and anointing power

  • Isaiah 61:1-3                                                               Oil of joy
  • Hebrews 1:9                                                                Oil of gladness
  • James 5:14-16                                                            Anoint with oil of Holy Spirit
  • Luke 4:16-21                                                               Anointed to preach
  • Psalm 45:7                                                                  Anointed with oil of gladness

SEAL:  Redemptive, keeping power

  • Romans 4:21                                                              Being fully persuaded
  • Ephesians 1:13                                                           Holy Spirit of promise
  • Ephesians 4:13                                                           Till we all come
  • 1 Peter 1:5                                                                  Kept till the end of time

EARNEST:  Ownership and guarantee power

  • 2 Corinthians 1:22                                                       Conviction, knowledge
  • Ephesians 1:13-14                                                      Collateral is Holy Spirit
  • 2 Timothy 1:12                                                            He is able to keep

DEW:  Refreshing, invigorating power

  • Psalm 72:6                                                                  Showers of blessings
  • Hosea 14:5                                                                  Watering, life giving
  • Zechariah 8:12                                                            Time of prosperity
  • Job 29:19                                                                    Fed by dew all night
  • Jeremiah 17:8                                                             In time of drought and want

RAIN:  Life-giving, quickening power

  • Joel 2:23-32                                                                Plenteous, bountiful
  • Psalm 1:3                                                                     Abundant growth, lush vegetation
  • Zechariah 3:7                                                              Ways to walk in
  • Job 29:23                                                                    Prosperity
  • James 5:7                                                                   Rains due, hold steady
  • Hosea 6:3                                                                    Refreshing of water, growth
  • Hosea 10:12                                                                Seek for the outpouring of love

GIFT:  Joyful, gracious, liberating power

  • Acts 2:38-39                                                                Power freely given for all

The Gift of Love

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.  Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part.  But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.  When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.  For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.  And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Love – what does it mean?

  • Strong affection
  • Attraction based on sexual desire
  • Affection based on admiration
  • A warm attachment
  • Enthusiasm
  • Devotion
  • Unselfish, loyal and benevolent concert for the well-being of another
  • An embrace
  • A score of zero in tennis
  • Last, but not least – it means God

In the Greek there were three words for “love.”

  • Phileo – brotherly love like that of David and Jonathan.  This is where we get the word “Philadelphia” – “city of brotherly love”
  • Eros – the love between a man and a women like that of David and Bathsheba.  This is where we get the word “erotic”
  • Note: (Everywhere in the Bible where this kind of love is spoken of it is a love between a man and a woman.  The sexual love of man to man is an abomination in the Bible.)
  • Agape – love of God as in John 3:16

1 Corinthians 13 speaks of love, not lust, not control, not manipulation.  Try substituting the word “Christ” for the word “love” everywhere in this chapter, and you get a greater feeling of the definition of love. 

Another way to check your own attitude of love is to read it and insert your name.  Then, ask your self if that can really be said of you.

There are many who have gifts, but they lack grace.  The exercise of their talents is spoiled by the absence of the loving spirit that can only come from a genuine love of Christ in us.  The gift of love is one that should be permanently manifested fully in the life of, and the relationship of, believers.

Paul states that in all the gifts, in God’s eyes, nothing can match love.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 – Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;  does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;  does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;  bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Dare we measure our lives against the test of these verse?  Should we pray in repentance?

Faith, hope, love

  • Faith is the eye by which we see the loveliness of Christ.  When we see Him face to face, faith will not be necessary any longer
  • Hope enables us to look beyond the present.  Once we are with Christ we will not have any more reason for hope.
  • Love, however, will abide throughout eternity becoming greater and greater as God’s glody unfolds before us.

Running the Race

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.  And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.  Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.  But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

  • What is right and what is wrong?
    • Right – those things that bring glory to God
    • Wrong – those things that go against the very nature of God’s holiness
    • Gray area?
    • Acquired sin factor – those things taught, believed, culturally identified with wrong, but in and of itself was not wrong.

2 Timothy 2:15 – Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

1 Corinthians 9:19-22 – For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more;  and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law;  to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law;  to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

These verses speak of freedom but are followed by verses 24-27 which emphasize a life of strict discipline.  The Christ walk involves both freedom and discipline.  The goals of Paul’s life and our life are to bring glory and honor to God and bring people to Christ.

So then…glorify God, honor God, and bring someone to the knowledge of the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

You might ask yourself, “Can I do this?  Can I participate in this?  Can I go there?  Can I say this?  The Bible states that we are to “abstain from the very appearance of evil.”

Paul compares the Christian life to a race.  Someone who is getting ready to run a marathon will be very careful of their diet, will exercise and get needed rest before the race.  They will not sit up watching movies until the wee hours of the morning and indulge in a huge meal the night before the race.  There is nothing wrong with sitting up late watching movie or indulging in a huge meal in and of itself.  But if they want to win, they discipline their body.

So it is with our Christian walk.  They are things that in and of them self are not wrong, but we must ask our self  will they sidetrack us or someone else?  Will they cause us to be entangled in the cares of this world?

if they hinder us from spending time in God’s Word, in being in fellowship with other Christians, in showing to our community, we need to reject them.

Freedom and discipline are both important.  We can have varied opinions on a lot of things but we must discipline ourselves and also care about how our freedom will affect others.

! Corinthians 10:1-6 – Remember our history, friends, and be warned. All our ancestors were led by the providential Cloud and taken miraculously through the Sea. They went through the waters, in a baptism like ours, as Moses led them from enslaving death to salvation life. They all ate and drank identical food and drink, meals provided daily by God. They drank from the Rock, God’s fountain for them that stayed with them wherever they were. And the Rock was Christ. But just experiencing God’s wonder and grace didn’t seem to mean much—most of them were defeated by temptation during the hard times in the desert, and God was not pleased.

The same thing could happen to us. We must be on guard so that we never get caught up in wanting our own way as they did. And we must not turn our religion into a circus as they did—“First the people partied, then they threw a dance.” We must not be sexually promiscuous—they paid for that, remember, with 23,000 deaths in one day! We must never try to get Christ to serve us instead of us serving him; they tried it, and God launched an epidemic of poisonous snakes. We must be careful not to stir up discontent; discontent destroyed them.  (The Message Bible)

Free is fine, but do not use your freedom to stray, to walk in those areas that could lead you into wrong doing. 

Take care that your freedom does not cause you to rebel.

Are Tithes and Offerings Required Today?

Tithes

  • The tenth part of agricultural produce or personal income set apart as an offering to God or for works of mercy, or the same amount regarded as an obligation or tax for the support of the church, priesthood, or the like.
  • Any tax, levy or the like, especially of one-tenth.
  • A tenth part or any indefinitely small part of anything.

Offerings

  • Something offered in worship or devotion, as to God.
  • A contribution given to or through the church for a particular purpose, as at a religious service.
  • Anything offered as a gift.

Where did this concept or belief begin?

  • Tithing is 400 years older than the Law of Moses.  Abraham, the father of the nation of Israel, gave tithes to God through Melchizedek, the king-priest. 

Genesis 14:18-20 – Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said:  “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”  And he gave him a tithe of all.

  • Jacob promised a tenth to God in return for His blessing.

Genesis 28:22 – And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”

Deuteronomy 14:22-29 – You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year. And you shall eat before the Lord your God, in the place where He chooses to make His name abide, the tithe of your grain and your new wine and your oil, of the firstborn of your herds and your flocks, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always. But if the journey is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, or if the place where the Lord your God chooses to put His name is too far from you, when the Lord your God has blessed you, then you shall exchange it for money, take the money in your hand, and go to the place which the Lord your God chooses. And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household. You shall not forsake the Levite who is within your gates, for he has no part nor inheritance with you.  “At the end of every third year you shall bring out the tithe of your produce of that year and store it up within your gates. 29 And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.

  • When the temple was repaired and cleaned up to be used by Israel after a long period of decline under the reign of King Hezekiah, a storehouse was set up for depositing the tithes and offerings of the people.

2 Chronicles 31:11 – Now Hezekiah commanded them to prepare rooms in the house of the Lord, and they prepared them.

Why?  What was the practical purpose for tithing?

  • It was instituted by the Law as a way to support the priests who served in the tabernacle/temple of God.

Numbers 18:20-32 – Then the Lord said to Aaron: “You shall have no inheritance in their land, nor shall you have any portion among them; I am your portion and your inheritance among the children of Israel.  “Behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tithes in Israel as an inheritance in return for the work which they perform, the work of the tabernacle of meeting. Hereafter the children of Israel shall not come near the tabernacle of meeting, lest they bear sin and die. But the Levites shall perform the work of the tabernacle of meeting, and they shall bear their iniquity; it shall be a statute forever, throughout your generations, that among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance. For the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer up as a heave offering to the Lord, I have given to the Levites as an inheritance; therefore I have said to them, ‘Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.’”  Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak thus to the Levites, and say to them: ‘When you take from the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them as your inheritance, then you shall offer up a heave offering of it to the Lord, a tenth of the tithe. And your heave offering shall be reckoned to you as though it were the grain of the threshing floor and as the fullness of the winepress. Thus you shall also offer a heave offering to the Lord from all your tithes which you receive from the children of Israel, and you shall give the Lord’s heave offering from it to Aaron the priest. Of all your gifts you shall offer up every heave offering due to the Lord, from all the best of them, the consecrated part of them.’ Therefore you shall say to them: ‘When you have lifted up the best of it, then the rest shall be accounted to the Levites as the produce of the threshing floor and as the produce of the winepress. You may eat it in any place, you and your households, for it is your reward for your work in the tabernacle of meeting. And you shall bear no sin because of it, when you have lifted up the best of it. But you shall not profane the holy gifts of the children of Israel, lest you die.’”

  • Tithes were mandatory – offerings were optional.

Are tithes necessary today for a Christian?  If we are no longer under the law, but grace, then does the principles of paying a tenth still apply?

Let us take a look at what the New Testament says about giving.

  • The Apostle Paul indicated that the church should function now by means of giving from His people.

1 Corinthians 9:1-14 – Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? If I am not an apostle to others, yet doubtless I am to you. For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.  My defense to those who examine me is this: Do we have no right to eat and drink? Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working? Whoever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock?  Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also? For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” Is it oxen God is concerned about? Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more?  Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ. Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar? Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.

Galatians 6:6-10 – Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.  Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

So we give to help support those who labor in the ministry.  Of course, having a church building also requires funds for practical needs such as:

  • Building payment/insurance
  • Salaries/allowances
  • Telephone/electricity/gas/water/sewer/trash removal
  • Snow removal/lawn maintenance

However, scripture indicates that our giving should also be to help those in our community in need.

2 Corinthians 9:10-15 – Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.  This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.  Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

Hebrews 13:16 – And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

While the New Testament clearly indicates we should be generous and give of our financial means, it is not clear what percentage that should be.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8 – But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.

Paul’s letter to the Corinthians indicates that our giving should be from a willingness not because it is a duty.  Some have suggested that to put a percentage on our giving is to make it just another law of man.  There are those who God has blessed and they have become very successful in life.  For them, God might desire more than ten percent.  For others, ten percent might be a hardship. 

I think Jesus showed this when he pointed out to his disciples the give of the poor widow.

Mark 12:41-43 – Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two small coins. So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury;

I think the key in giving today is to recognize that all we have is a gift from God and that He desires to give so that the work of the church can be done and that those less fortunate can be helped.  Giving should be an act of love and worship on our part.  When it becomes just an obligation it has lost its true meaning.

Our ultimate example is Jesus.

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Our God is a giving God.  So his children should be givers. 

Sanctity of Life

1 Corinthians 6:19

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?

Webster’s dictionary describes “sanctity” as “Holiness of life and character:  Godliness.”

Life is Holy…why else would He say “You are the temple of the Holy Spirit.”   If His game plan was to live in you, why would He not want a dwelling that was holy? 

We are to be God-like.  That is the way He intended us to be.  To be God-like or godly we must be Holy.

Did He not say “Be holy as I am holy?” – 1 Peter 1:16

We often think about the sanctity of human life in relationship to the Roe vs. Wade decision that was made several years ago.  There is more to the sanctity of human life than the issue of not aborting babies.

Life begins in the womb.  God intended that the act of creating another human life would happen between husband and wife, but whether or not that life begins by way of rape, incest, pedophilia, failure to abide by God’s rules, sexual promiscuity or by way of a married couple, that life created is still holy.   The means to become life may have been accomplished in an unholy way, but that new life, make no mistake about it, is holy.

All life is holy in God’s eyes.

Life is a Trinity.  It is physical, it is spiritual, and it is social.

  • Physical body: 

Way back in the Garden of Eden in Genesis, chapter 2, we find the creation of man by God Almighty.

Verse 26 of that chapter states, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.’”  Verse 27 continues, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

In verse 28 it says, ”God blessed them and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over’”  He meant there to be a physical union between man and woman. He designed us that way, to come together and produce off-springs.  That was His first command to mankind.  He could have duplicated all down the land one Adam after another and taken a rib out of every one of the Adams and created an Eve, but that was not His intention.  He created us to be truly physical and do the further creation of human life on our own.  And if you look around you, I believe we have done that.

The physical body was created to bring honor and glory to God.  Any violation of God’s intention of the man and woman coming together in sexual union would have corrupted God’s original and only plan for mankind.

Psalms 139:14 – I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.  My frame was not hidden from You.  When I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.  Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.  And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.

Did you hear that last phrase “the days fashioned of me, when as yet there were none of them.”   God knew how many days you were going to live when you were still an embryo in the womb.  You are Holy.  

  • Spiritual Body

Our Spiritual Being…that is the real me, the real you.  When this body is laid in the grave and decays, your spirit will live on forever.  If you are a child of God, the moment you draw that last breath, your spirit goes to be with God.   At His coming “the trumpet shall sound, the Lord shall descend.”  “Behold, He comes with ten thousands of His saints.”  He will come with the saints…those spirits of the ones who have followed Him in this life and their bodies shall come forth out of the grave incorruptible and their spirits who have been with the Lord will be reunited in their glorified bodies and “so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

But what of our spiritual body now?  What is it, where is it and what is its purpose?  It is in fact the breath of God within you and what God intended you to be.  Your spirit resides within you and is you, and directs your path because it is your God given directional compass that guides and directs you in all manner of life.  Now, being a free moral agent you may decide to go your own way and ignore the direction of God, but His Spirit belongs to you. You may insist on rejecting Him, and in that case you will be fulfilling that portion of scripture found in Paul’s letter to the church in Rome.

Romans 1:21 – because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Our spiritual body was ordained to have a relationship with the Creator.   All that is within me, within you, cries out to the living God for a relationship.   Job had that relationship when He exclaimed “I know that my Redeemer lives.” 

That part of you that is God is Spiritual.  It desires to worship and praise Him.  It is designed to maintain and lift up the glory of God.  

My prayer is that all I think, say and do will bring glory to the living God.  If in our spiritual walk with God we do that very thing, we will have a happier, more enjoyable life, here on this earth and throughout all eternity.  Jesus said, “I have come to give you life, and that more abundantly.”  Have you partaken of that abundant life?  If you have made Jesus your Lord and Master, you have abundant life.   We tend to think on the mediocre but God wants us to focus on the abundance that He has blessed us with.  “Blessings all mine and ten thousand beside.”     

  • Social Body

Man is a physical, spiritual and social being.  Man was made for fellowship with God and his fellowman.

We all love fellowship.  We love to eat and talk and interact with each other.  God is good and as we fellowship one with another as a body of believers we are finding out a little more about our neighbor across the table and we begin to know them better.  The better we know them socially, the more we know of their spiritual life and their likes and needs and prayer needs.  We begin to interact with one another and become the social being we were meant to be.  Then at the close of the service we pray for one another’s needs and concerns.   That is socialization of the body of Christ as it was meant to be.

One verse says, “We are not our own, we are bought with a price.”  If we are not our own, then whose are we?  Well, we belong to God first, then to each other.  The Word says that “when you come together, let one have a song, let one have a testimony, let one have a praise.”  I Corinthians 12:25-27 “There should be no division in the body, but the members should have the same care for one another.  And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it, or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.   You are the body of Christ, and members individually.”

There is unity and diversity in the body for we are all different.  We all have needs physical, spiritual, and social.  Let us minister one to another and thus fulfill the will of God.  Amen and Amen.  Now, go forth and be the man or woman of God you are called to be.  May God be praised.