Friday, 21 August 2015

The Carnal Mind And The Spiritual Mind.

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are [children] of God.--Romans 8:14
In Romans 8, Paul contrasts a life lived under the dictates of the flesh with a life lived under the influence and control of the Holy Spirit. He argued that, “we[children of God] are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.”(Rom 8:12). To be a debtor to the flesh, is to be under  bondage to sin and controlled by the desires of the flesh.

Living under bondage of the flesh, Paul says leads to death; “For if you live according to the flesh you will die”(vs 13).

In life we are all driven by a specific desire: success, fame, money, power, influence, pleasure etc. But as believers, we should be driven by the glory of God. The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever (WSC).

Where is your desire? (Ps 42: 1-2, Matt 6:33, Phil 3:10, Col 3:1). The difference between those driven by the desires of their flesh and those submitted to the Spirit is simply that, the latter are regenerated, born again and indwelt by the Spirit of God. They are sons–children–of God.

If the Spirit of God lives in you and you are truly converted, there must be a growing evidence of victory over the desires of your  flesh. If there is no evidence of change and transformation in the dispositions of your heart which of course shows in your way of life, then there is a legitimate  reason for your conversion to be questioned. You must be yearning and desiring to please God in all you do.

For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him" (Rom 8:7-9).

There is a Litmus test for who is a child of God! Is yours a mind set on the flesh or a mind set on the Spirit? The best judge is you if indeed you belong to Christ: “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!(2 Cor 13:5).

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Christ Our Living Bread

1 Kings 19:4-8, Ephesians 4:25, John 6:41-51
The Bible draws many analogies from the natural world to teach lessons about spiritual reality. Light, darkness, water, etc. Bread is one of the commonly used analogies from the natural world which speaks to spiritual reality. Jesus indicates in John 6:51 that He is “the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

Bread in the natural signifies food. We eat to to live. We eat to have strength. We eat for nourishment. We eat to satisfy hunger. In the wilderness, after Elijah has run away from Jezebel’s threat for fear of his life, he was constantly supplied with food for his physical nourisment and strength.
And the angel of the LORD came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.”And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.(1 Kings 19:7-8).
Note vs 8 carefully. Elijah “went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights”. Physically, he was strengthened by food. He was nourished by food. He ate to live in order to continue his assignment. If bread gives nourishment and life to the physical body, the “the living bread” who is Christ gives  the spiritual food we need for spiritual life, strength and nourishment. He is the “living bread” because He gives eternal life to sinners who are separated from God by sin. He reconciles sinners dead in sin to God.(Rom 3:23, 2 Cor 5:19).

Spiritually, without Christ, there is a gulf between us and God. We all deserve eternal damnation. But “the living bread”—Jesus Christ– administers life to all who through faith in Him will come to God to satisfy their spiritual hunger. In Matthew 4:4, Jesus said “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God. Then in John 1:1, we are told Jesus is the Word incarnate.

Saint Augustine rightly described this spiritual gulf, void and hunger when he said in his Confessions, 
You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you.
Indeed our hearts are restless till they find rest in God. Because God created us for Himself and for His glory. The only satisfaction we will have in life is satisfaction derived from the source of our lives — the Word of God, the Fountain of Living Water, the Living bread, our sin Bearer, our Advocate and the Mediator between God and man.

It is to Jesus we must turn, for without Him, we can do nothing(Jn 15:5). In Him we live and move and have our being(Acts 17:28). We are the sheep of His pasture(Ps. 100:3). We are the branches abiding in the True Vine(Jn 15:4). All other sources of satisfaction are pale in the face of God’s immense provision for satisfaction of our souls.

O! may our hearts be nourished by God’s Word: The Living Bread. Sex won’t do. Alcohol won’t do. Illicit drugs and relationships won’t do. We will find true and lasting satisfaction only if we will turn to God who loves us and came down in human form in the person of Jesus Christ to die to reconcile us to himself. He is the living bread. He is the one with authority given to Him to forgive sins and justify all who will come to Him.

Don’t fill up that void with anything else apart from a lasting, loving relationship with the Living Bread; Jesus the Son of the Living God.

Guide me, O Thou great Redeemer.
Pilgrim through this barren land. I am weak but Thou art mighty. Hold me with Thy powerful hand.
Bread of heaven, bread of heaven.
Feed me till I want no more. Feed me till I want n

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Create In Me A Clean Heart

2 Samuel 11,12. Psalms 51:1-12
We live in a fallen world in a fallen body. A world broken with pain and heartaches. A world inundated with sin. Believers have been separated from sin to righteousness, yet we struggle with sin and fail sometimes if not often. Unbelievers are called unto repentance from their sins. Sin is the root of all our predicaments.

Every now and then a scandal breaks making news headline. Apart from those making the headlines, numerous, equally scandalous, go unnoticed; they occur in “secret places”. However, though removed from the public eye, God sees all that is done in “secret places”. (Ps 139:7,  Heb 4:13)..One of such scandals took place in the palace of an ancient king. The story is narrated in 2 Samuel 11 through to 12. David commits adultery with Bathsheba. She takes seed and in an attempt to cover up, David connives with his army general, Joab, to assassinate Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband. The plot was well executed. Uriah is dead, David marries Bathsheba. Done and dusted! No one knows what has transpired. But wait, though done in secret, the Bible tells us an “Omnipresent eye” was watching:

But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD.(2 Samuel 11:27b).

God, displeased with David’s sin, sends Nathan, a prophet to confront David. After the “charge sheet” has been read out to David; Scripture records “David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has put away your sin; You shall not die” (2 Samuel 12:13). Fast forward to Psalms 51 and David penned his prayer of repentance on a musical note.

The effects of David’s sin on his relationship with God and himself can be seen in Ps 51:8-12 His joy was gone. He senses a gulf between himself and God. Spiritually, unrepentant sin separates humanity from God. Naturally, the first  reaction many of us take, when we sin, is to hide and pretend. This also, we inherited from our first parents. Their first reaction when they fell was to hide themselves from God:
…the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. (Gen 3:8).
You see, sin has ramifications. Psalms 51 gives us a picture of the weight of sin. Sin is first and foremost against God; an infinitely Holy God: “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.” (vs4). To be bothered about sin in your life is to be bothered about a good cause.

At this point I will offer three suggestions to undergo a “heart cleansing”

1: Acknowledge Your Sins.

Hiding our sin is a great deception. We must bring our sins before God to be healed and forgiven. The first verses of Psalms 51, i.e. vs 1-3 opens with David acknowleding his sin. In 2 Samuel 12:13, we see this same truth. When Nathan confronted David with his sin, he didn’t debate, deny or justify his sin. He admitted to his sins immediately.

In our age of self-esteem and self-aggrandisement; we will do everything to ignore our sins, cover it up with activity; more activity eventually drowning the voice of our conscience. When we mourn over our sins, we are told not to be hard on ourselves. But sin is ubiquitous. In theology, the universal presence of sin is termed Original sin. Ps 51:5 tells us the origin of sin; “I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Sin is natural with us as a result of the fall.

The whole world, without saving faith in Christ, lies dead in sin.(Eph 2). The dispositions of our hearts are evil. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer 17:9). When Isaiah encountered the holiness of the Lord, his depravity and sinfulness stared him in the face: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”(6:5).

When Peter encountered Jesus, his sinful nature couldn’t stand the presence of The Holy One. Falling at Jesus’ knees, he exclaimed: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” (Luke 5:8). Paul, in deep anguish, I believe over indwelling sin, cried out; “[O] Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”(Romans 7:24). The tax collector who showed up in prayer with the self-righteous Pharisee is also worth mentioning. He, “… standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’(Luke 18:13).

2: Repent: Look To Jesus

“God be merciful to me, a sinner”. This prayer, devoid of eloquence and “empty phrases” got God’s attention. Hear Jesus’ commentary. “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified…”(vs14). God hears the prayers of the penitent who looks up to Him in humility and true repentance for forgiveness of their sins: “…a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”(Psalms 51:17).

A renunciation of the presence of sin is probably the worst predicaments that has happened to the human race. Instead of addressing sin as sin; we live in denial, replacing sin with psychological words aimed at drowning and soothing our conscience.

Sin has eternal ramifications and must be treated as such. We  must not live in denial of the presence of sin in our lives. We are all sinners from conception and having inherited the consequence of Adam’s disobedience, Scriptures accuses us and places us distanced from the glory of God (Psalms 51:5, Romans 3:23).

Sinner, will you do the noblest thing of your life by acknowledging your sins? Run to the outstretched arms of the Saviour Jesus for forgiveness and remission of your sins. Come just as you and receive pardon for your sins. (Pro 28:13Matt 11:28-30, Jn 1:12-13).
3: Submit To The Holy Spirit

“Go and sin no more”: I think on two occasions, Jesus pronounced these words to people who have been forgiven of their sins. The woman caught in adultery (Jn 8:11) and the paralysed man who was healed by Jesus (Jn 5:1-14).

When we come to saving faith through the regeneration of the Holy Spirit, God requires from us a life of holiness and separation from sin (Eph 1:4, 1 Pet 1:15-17). We are called out of the world not to be friends with the world–lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and pride of life.

This, left on our own is a daunting task, because as long as we live on this side of eternity, our struggles with the flesh and with sin will continue(Gal 5:17, Matt 26:14).

However, despite the struggles, we are not victims of our flesh. We are not left on our own  to suffer under bondage of sin. God works in us to will and do of His good pleasure, while we, with the help of the Holy Spirit also work out our salvation with fear and trembling. We need not be overcomed by sin once we have been regenerated.

The Holy Spirit renews and gives us strength to be victorious when we submit daily to Him by taking advantage of the means of grace available to us.

Broken and sinful, we all need grace and forgiveness of sin.


Blessed, merciful, Jehovah, Lord, my sin, You have forgiv’n. Now I’m filled with joy eternal, Now I’m satisfied in faith. O my soul, give thanks with praises, Great is God’s blessings we have. Merciful, He loved, redeemed me, Evil dungeon saved me from.~~Presbyterian Church of Ghana hymn 462, Author:Philipp. Friedrich. Hiller 1699-1769. Scripture:Matthew 18 vs. 27

Saturday, 1 August 2015

May The Lord Be With You

The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.(2 Timothy 4:22).
2 Timothy 4:22 is a benediction. As is common with all the epsitles, the Apostles conlude their letters with a benediction; invoking divine help, blessings and guidance. Here is one common one:
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.(2 Cor. 13:14).
Benedictions are not a mere pronouncement of blessings. Rather, they are pronouncements of blessings based on the truth of God’s word and His providence in our daily, even mundane routines of life. God is not distant. He is not removed from the struggles of our lives. He is “a very present help in trouble.”(Ps 46:1).

Through benedictions, we receive comfort and encouragement in every situation. Our spirits are lifted. It is of great comfort to also note that pronouncement of  benediction is God ordained:
The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them, The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.(Numbers 6:22-26).
There are indeed many promises in the Bible from which we can draw strength and comfort in difficult moments. One of such promises is the promise of the ever abiding presence of God. He has promised He will never leave us nor forsake us. David, in the very popular Psalms 23 said “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” He continued: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life”.

Whatever dark moments life presents this month, God is able to empower us to override those dark moments. His presence is more than a thousand demons set in array against us. In his presence there is fullness of joy and at His right hand there are pleasures forever more (Ps. 16:11).

Today, as you go through this new month, “May your spirit know the presence of the Lord”.