These mortal bodies of ours are but mere shells and the life is not in the shell. It is a temporary confine that enshrouds an ever-growing, ever-maturing life force and acts as a transient guardian of the life inside. The shell is synthetic in comparison to the eternal life it clothes.
Every true Christian has been imbued with eternal life. It is planted as a seed in our mortal bodies that is constantly maturing and it must eventually break free out of the shell to become a new form of life. This glorious life of God in us exerts pressure on the shell, and, at the very moment resurrection life is mature, the shell breaks. The artificial bounds are broken, and like a newborn chick, the soul is freed from its prison. Praise the Lord!
As a child of God, at the precise moment our Lord decides our shell has fulfilled its function, we must abandon our old body. Paul said, “To die is gain!” (Philippians 1:21). That kind of talk is absolutely foreign to our modern, spiritual vocabulary. We have become such life worshipers that we have very little desire to depart to be with the Lord. But was Paul morbid? Did he have an unhealthy fixation on death or show a lack of respect for the life God had blessed him with? Absolutely not! Paul lived life to the fullest but he had overcome the fear of the “sting of death” and could say, “It is better to die and be with the Lord than to stay in the flesh.”
Those who die in the Lord are the winners and we who remain are the losers. I encourage you to refocus your attention on the glorious city that God has prepared for those who die in the faith (see Hebrews 11:16). Ask him to cut you loose from the ties of this world so that you might look forward with precious anticipation to being in his presence — whenever that may be.
Have you ever just wanted to run away from it all? But where would you go? And what would you do when you got there? You might be surprised if you knew how many good Christians secretly harbor momentary thoughts of walking away from everything. The thought of having no responsibilities and burdens sounds pretty enticing.
Christ has set a goal for his followers — a life of total trust, childlike faith, and victory over all the power of the enemy — but many are still going through struggles. Even though they enjoy peace with God, they endure family pressures, illness, heartbreak and trials.
God fully understands man’s impulse to run in time of crisis. That is why he provided Israel with cities of refuge where people in crisis could run for shelter and protection. Six cities were set aside so that any Israelite who was overwhelmed or in danger might “[flee] to one of these cities that he might live” (Deuteronomy 4:42).
In times of trouble, there is no place to run but to the Lord. “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” (Proverbs 18:10). When many of Jesus’ disciples were forsaking him, he turned to the twelve and asked, “Will you run away, too, like the others?” Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:67-68).
The child of God has a place to run to when he is bowed down with care. Hear the cry of the Lord, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me … and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).
You may never understand what you are going through at times, but when you feel swamped and fearful and deserted, flee to your secret place of prayer and pour out your heart to the Savior. Then do as Moses directed, “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord” (Exodus 14:13).
There is wonderful news for every Christian who is discouraged by the apathy and godlessness in this nation. Regardless of how wicked and corrupt this society becomes and how many Christians compromise and fall into sin, God still has a mighty remnant of holy, separated followers.
Christians may be deceived into thinking that Satan is winning the battle for the saints, and that the predicted “falling away” has touched all of God’s people. The Bible does predict that in the last days many will be turned aside; men will love pleasure more than God; the love of many shall grow cold; evil men and seducers will grow worse and worse; and Satan will declare war on the saints of the Most High.
It is also true that Satan is now going about as a roaring lion, with great wrath, seeking victims to devour. The enemies of God are going all-out in an attempt to deceive and seduce every true follower of Christ. But the truth is that not all of God’s people are falling away! Not at all — and the Holy Spirit has a glorious and encouraging word for his Church. God is right now raising up a multitude of sanctified saints who are standing against the idolatry of this age. They are so filled with love for Christ that they are ready and willing to be persecuted for their faith and devotion.
The call of Jesus is to be thoughtful and clear-headed. Paul told Titus, “Exhort the young men to be sober-minded” (Titus 2:6). And Peter admonished the Christians, “Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit” (1 Peter 1:13, NASB). As materialism eats away at our spiritual life and compromise erodes our standards, Christians are called to get deadly serious about the things of Jesus. Peter further said, “Be serious and watchful in your prayers” (1 Peter 4:7).
Jesus does not want you to go around with a long face or a lack of humor. But he wants you to live like people who are soon to leave this earth — to be with him!
Much has been written about the origin of sin: Where did sin come from? How did we get infected with it? What about Lucifer’s involvement in an insurrection against God? How was sin communicated from Adam to the rest of the human race?
The Holy Spirit wants to show us how to honestly deal with the evil that is right now present in us … our own sinful nature. Paul made a discovery that caused him to rejoice and say, “No condemnation now hangs over the head of those who are ‘in’ Jesus Christ. For the new spiritual principles of life ‘in’ Christ lifts me out of the old vicious circle of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2, Phillips). He talks about new principles of life in Jesus that actually stopped the sin merry-go-round, yanked him off the endless ride, and freed him once and for all from its power.
One of the new principles Paul talked about is that believers are no longer slaves to sin. We have no obligation to our sensual nature (see Romans 8:12, Phillips). Abraham Lincoln is said to have “freed the slaves” with the Emancipation Proclamation issued on January 1, 1862. This legal document declared slavery dead … and slaves were set free!
It may sound too good to be true, but Christ emancipated all the slaves to sin at Calvary. All can throw down their load of sin, walk away from Satan’s dominion, and enter into a new life of freedom. The Bible says, “For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him” (Romans 6:7-8). What that means is, since the matter of your slavery to sin is a dead issue, seeing that Christ has already declared you emancipated, you are now free to live as a new person in Christ — unchained.
“Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). When the Bible says we are free from sin, there is no more argument. The matter is not negotiable! Walk in victory today knowing that you are free from sin and death because of Christ.
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet” (Matthew 5:13).
If our only mission in life is to have a deep, personal relationship with Jesus, we will miss God’s larger objective. Jesus left us in a twisted, fallen world with another purpose in mind — to be lights in a darkened place and time. We may not desire to live in a sin-filled culture like America that rages more and more against God, but Jesus has a design for our lives. The reason we are here right now — the reason we exist — is for his glory! We are here to be his testimony, to make a difference, to be his living epistles to a world thirsting desperately for love.
Much of American culture has seeped into the church — including the exalted pursuit of happiness. We worship and behave as if God exists for us rather than the other way around. Our obedience to his Word is not to gain his favor and blessing but to grow in a relationship of love with him. We must not put the pursuit of material and fleshly satisfaction before a holy, loving God.
Paul said the Christians in Crete were “insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers … They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach” (Titus 1:10-11). In Crete, the church had become just as flesh-driven as the larger culture, and Paul had to confront the false doctrines that catered to people’s flesh.
Too often today the church seems more like the world than different from it. Determine in your heart to seek God’s face and have your life transformed by the gospel. You are here for a godly purpose: to hear from the Father and to reach out to others with Holy Spirit conviction and power. You are the salt of the earth!