by Mike Ratliff
Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:17-24 ESV)
Much that claims to be Christian these days is not if the standard used to determine this is the Bible. Perhaps this is why Emergents and Liberals refuse to acknowledge the Bible as the authoritative Word of God. What this proves is that they are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.
Below is a short story from MSNBC. Pay close attention to the very last paragraph. It is a quote from an unwed, yet engaged man named Tim. What is so very sad here is that to the world, this represents “Christianity.” Here is the link to the article.
For the love of God, get it on!
Pastor tells married couples to make time for hanky-panky every day
Feb. 19: A Florida church challenges its married members to have sex each day for 30 days. WFLA’s Katie Coronado reports.
YBOR CITY, Fla. – A southwest Florida church issued a challenge for its married members this past Sunday: Hanky-panky every day. Relevant Church head pastor Paul Wirth says the 50 percent divorce rate was the catalyst for The 30-Day Sex Challenge.
“And that’s no different for people who attend church,” Wirth said. “Sometimes life gets in the way. Our jobs get in the way.”
Oh, and the flip side of the challenge? No rolling in the sheets for the unwed.
Church member Tim Jones and his fiancée agreed to take on the challenge, though he acknowledges it’ll be a tough month. But he added: “I think it’s worth trying to find out other things about each other.”
Yes, I understand that the stated goal of this is to try to save marriages. That is a worthy goal, but is the answer to having a healthy marriage simply to have sex everyday? I challenge anyone to show me from scripture where that is. This challenge has a very large caveat. The text cannot be ripped out of context and cannot be eisgetically derived. No, the only “proof” acceptable in this challenge is from the Bible and it must be exegetically derived.
The Bible has very different standards than much of the professing Church in our time. Let’s take a closer look.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4 ESV)
What is the Apostle Paul telling us here? He is speaking to Christians. He states that the spiritual condition of all genuine Christians is that they have been raised with Christ. They are new creatures in Christ. At their salvation they were regenerated. This means that by God’s grace their faith was brought to life. They were saved by Grace through faith. (Ephesians 2:8-9) What this did for them spiritually outside of God’s work of Justifying them is that they were resurrected from spiritual death unto life. Before this they had no faith so that all they did was sin because without faith all acts are sin. After regeneration believers now have the ability to not sin. Why? They have faith. This faith is that wonderful gift of God that will be the conduit of their obedience to God from this time forward.
Paul states that if this is true then those raised with Christ should seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. What does this mean? This is speaking of having a godly focus rather than having an ungodly one. Paul then clarifies this for us by saying, “Set your minds on thing that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Why? For all genuine believers have died, and their lives are hidden with Christ in God. Our salvation is both a death of our old nature and a resurrection unto our new life in Christ. Christ is the genuine believer’s life. Many may be enslaved to their flesh and are temporally focused, but that is not what God desires for us. All genuine believers will be glorified when Christ appears. (Romans 8:30)
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you:sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practicesand have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. (Colossians 3:5-11 ESV)
I like the Geneva Bible’s rendering of v5. It says, “Mortify therefore your members which are on the earth, fornication, uncleanness, the inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness which is idolatry. (I modernized the spelling some.) The word concupiscence means “desire.” What are we told to do with these fleshly desires? We are to mortify them. That means to put the desires to death. Notice that the focus is on killing the desire not simply stopping the sin. Doesn’t that put a different focus on it? Here is a parallel passage from Ephesians 5.
But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. (Ephesians 5:3-4 ESV)
The goal is holiness and the action that will accomplish this is to mortify our desires which are of the flesh, but what are the means to do this? We must extinguish all the strength of the corrupt nature which resists against the Spirit that we may live in the Spirit and not in the flesh. Great, but how do we do it?
So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:12-13 ESV)
We must mature spiritually so that we live by the Spirit instead of according to the flesh.
Then he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts. (Zechariah 4:6 ESV)
To live by the Spirit we must have God’s Spirit in us.
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18 ESV)
Not only must we have the Spirit (all genuine believers have the Spirit), but we must be filled with the Spirit. Notice that this is a command.
I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. (1John 2:14 ESV)
We must know sound doctrine. Those who are strong against sin and error are those who have God’s Word in them. Satan’s efforts to make Christians sin and then doubt are in falsehood and deception. Those who live in the Spirit are those who are Spirit-filled because their lives are saturated by the Word of God. Their faith is strong. They have assurance and are content. They employ a conscious effort to mortify the remaining sin in their flesh.
Paul gave us a wonderful gift in Romans 12 that shows how all of this ties together.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2 ESV)
The Spirit-filled believer is actively seeking to mortify the sin in him or her. To do this requires them to be living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God. They present their bodies to Him. They give up their rights to them. They submit to His lordship over them. It starts here. It is maintained by not being conformed to the this world, but by going through a continual process of transformation through mind renewal. This is how we mature. This is how we mortify our sins. This is how God develops His holiness in us. Our breastplate of righteousness is forged here. (Ephesians 6:14). Those who are maturing this way will hold Christ near and dear to their hearts because He is their all in all.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:12-17 ESV)
This describes what those who live the genuine Christian life will be like. Their breastplate of righteousness is strong and in place. They are Christlike. They are not focused on the things of this world nor are they conformed to this world, but their hearts have a godly focus upon the things above. They have peace and joy. They forgive in humility and meekness. This does not mean that they do not stand firm in the battle never giving way to those Satan uses to attack the Church and them. No, they will not tolerate lies and evil being presented as good while that which is of God being called evil. Therefore, the wicked my see them as hypocrites, but they are doing exactly what God has called them to do.