Live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God

by Mike Ratliff

1 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. (1 Peter 4:1-2 ESV)

Even though genuine Christians are new creations and have been purchased out of the world through the redemptive work of Christ on the Cross, as they attempt to live godly lives in the temporal, they will come under tremendous pressure to compromise by reverting back to the fleshly way of dealing with life. This way of reacting to circumstances, both good and bad, has emotions as its catalyst motivated by a form of self-righteousness that is manifested through self-exaltation and self-protection. Here we witness ourselves reacting to the good and bad in a way that is little different than we did prior to our salvation. We may even attempt to justify our actions by proclaiming that we are only seeking justice. Pride is the culprit behind this and when we stumble into these sins it is because we are not spirit-filled and, therefore, not humble.

In late 2012 my wife and I relocated from Kansas to the Oklahoma City area. We bought a home in a neighborhood that was being developed. On our street our house was the last completed one in line and there were none across the street. Now that has changed a lot. In any case, there is a show home a few doors down from ours that has been for sale for over a year. It sold today. It was pointed out to me by a relative though that it appeared that whoever had purchased it was driving a car with a U.S. Government plate on it and the on the door it said “Department of Homeland Security.” Now why does that put a chill through us? However, as I examine my reaction to this I can find nothing in it that is not self-protective and self-focused and all of it motivated by pride with a temporal focus. It is as if I totally forget who is totally in charge of the Universe and that the Christian’s focus must be eternal.

Living in this age, prior to the age to come, is the proving ground for the believer. God uses this life to mature His children, growing them in Christlikeness. We err when we become so temporally focused that we view these sorts of things as if the eternal is not awaiting us. How are we to then live in this evil age?

1 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. 3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. (Titus 3:1-3 ESV)

The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to Titus is a short letter, but it is filled with some very deep teaching about how the Christian is to live and minister in a difficult time and place. In the passage above we read Paul’s instruction to Titus to teach to his congregation about living holy lives in the world. It begins with a exhortation for each of us to be submissive to rulers and authorities. This principle is taught throughout the New Testament. The Christian is to obey the government authorities God has placed over them to the extent that their commands are not to disobey God. This is part of a Christian’s testimony (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:12-17). The obedience spoken of in v1 is referring to the believers obeying magistrates.

What does it mean that the Christian is “to be ready for every good work”? This is a contrast between the genuine believer who is saved unto good works and the false teachers who are “unfit for any good work” (Titus 1:16). One of the purposes of the cross is to create a people “zealous for good works” (2:14). These good works then would be those done by the Spirit-filled Christian (Ephesians 5) because no one can do them who operate in the flesh.

The Christian is “to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people” (v2). Christians are to exemplify these godly virtues in their interactions with all people whether they are fellow believers or not. In fact, the emphasis in the way this phrase is worded in Greek is that Paul is telling us to be this way to mankind in general.

All believers were once lost sinners. We have all committed heinous, sinful acts. Therefore, we should be humble in our interactions with the unsaved. Without God’s grace, we would be just as wicked as the worst sinner.

4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7 ESV)

Here we see that we are in Christ because of God’s mercy, not because we somehow earned or deserved it. We were spiritually cleansed through the “washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” What does this mean? The Greek word translated as “washing” is λουτρόν or loutron. It literally means “bath.” In Ephesians 5:26, it is used metamorphically of the Word of God as the instrument of spiritual cleansing. Here in Titus 3:5 we see the close connection between cleansing from sin and regeneration. Other passages which speak of this are John 3:8, Romans 6:4, and 2 Corinthians 5:17. Salvation brings divine cleansing from sin and the gift of a new, Spirit-generated, Spirit-empowered, and Spirit-protected life as God’s own children and heirs. The Holy Spirit is agent of the “working of regeneration” (Romans 8:2). At salvation, believers are blessed abundantly, beyond measure (Acts 2:38, 39; 1 Corinthians 12:7, 11,13; Ephesians 3:20; 5:18).

8 The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. 9 But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. (Titus 3:8-11 ESV)

Christians should devote themselves to good works. These are works of spirit-filled compassion. These are works of obedience to God with a joyful heart. These are denying self in humble Christlikeness. This requires one to become Spirit-filled (Ephesians 5). The Greek word used in Ephesians 5:18 for “filled” carries two connotations that both apply to the Holy Spirit filling the believer. The first describes the sail of a boat being filled with wind so that it can move as directed by the pilot. The Spirit-filled believer is filled with the wind of the Holy Spirit to move in obedience through each day as directed by God. The other connotation is that of salt permeating meat through the preserving process. The Spirit-filled believer becomes full of the Holy Spirit as they live self-denied and obedient lives full of joy and humility. This is the Spirit-filled walk and this is the requirement to live holy lives in this evil age.

The Spirit-filled believer will not be involved in the foolishness Paul listed in the passage above, however we do need to learn how to deal those who do. In vv10-11, we read of the one who stirs up division. At least once each week I receive an email or comment that the sender obviously meant to cause me to become discouraged or defeated or both. Most of these people sending these at one time or another were allowed to comment here, but lost that right when they refused to repent of the false teaching or their attempt to divide us through whatever they were trying to say. I dealt with them and then prayerfully put their emails on the block list. There is a way that seems right unto man, but it is not God’s way. Most think that what I did there was wrong, but according to vv10-11 above this is how we are to deal with those who refuse to repent of their destructive words and actions.

My brethren, let us devote ourselves to good works, to be ready to do them as the Holy Spirit fills our spiritual sails to move us in obedience to our Lord and God.

Soli Deo Gloria!

11 thoughts on “Live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God

  1. Hi Mike, although i fully agree with your post, does that mean christians like Bonhoeffer were wrong to speak and act against Hitler?

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  2. Bonhoeffer was right in speaking against evil as we all are when we do that, but I am still wrestling with the second part of that. What do you think George?

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  3. Hi,

    I’m not George, but I do have a good answer! ( ;

    There are many bible verses that address dealing with others in word and deed. When we put them all together in reference to each other, and interpret the verses in light of each other and by the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, this is what comes out:

    1. Everything should be done with a motive of love and for reconciliation with God (leading the lost to God).
    2. We should always be prepared to state the truth of God’s word in love.
    3. We should always be ready to do the right thing.
    4. Some circumstances call for us to be gentle, and others do not. Even the Lord called the religious leaders “a brood of vipers!”
    5. Speaking the truth with the motive of love calls for exposing false teachers/teachings, and people in error (national leaders, unbelievers, believers, etc.) as circumstances arise. Yet we are always to reflect goodness and righteousness and of course be as gentle as we can. Our speech is part of our example as well as our deeds.
    6. We can never go along with an evil leader like Hitler in word or deed, obviously that would contradict most of the bible. Remember Daniel’s 3 friends?
    7. Everything should be done as one is lead of the Holy Spirit. He gives us the right words and course of action in each situation. It is what I call the ‘derivative’ of the situation to best meet the need of that case.
    8. When it comes to reacting to violent situations, I feel here that there is a spectrum of possible responses that God uses all for good. For example, when Christians are persecuted, some boldly face all of this without hesitation and God uses that mightily. Some, usually with small children, run to surrounding nations, as with the early believers, thus spreading the gospel like a seed to surrounding areas. Some get timid but repent of this and become bold as lions later (like the Apostle Peter). God leads people at that time and in those circumstances to the right actions and gives them the right words through the Holy Spirit. See Matthew 24.
    9. We must of course always be obedient to God above anyone else and when a contradiction arises, we side with God in obedience. A good example is exactly what people did in resisting the holocaust and evil governments and such things. We must obey God rather than man. ~Acts 5; 29.
    10. I lean towards nonresistance in most cases but I do feel there is leeway there. Suppose the new gestapo comes to arrest you because you are a Christian. If you find out in advance and flee to safety across a border, fine. If they knock down your door, and there is no escaping, I would not fight it. Jesus did not fight back at His arrest either. I’m not saying one shouldn’t, but just that I wouldn’t. As the rest unfolds that remains the same.
    11. Now when it comes to questions, as long as you don’t deny your faith and belief in God’s word, it is fine. Take a believer in a hostile nation. They can proclaim every verse of the bible from the rooftop with a loudspeaker until someone comes for them, or they can keep quiet and share and spread the gospel in quieter, strategic ways for a longer time. Neither is wrong but both are good in different ways. If no officer stops them on the street and asks them anything, they are fine in not saying anything. But, if one does stop and ask them of their faith however it is phrased, and they say ‘no,’ it is a denial, like that of Peter. They are worried for their flesh and life and such and a quick denial jumps out. If you are asked anything that in any sense holds the question; ‘do you believe in Jesus’ (are you a Christian, do you condone such and such, etc.), your answer is always to affirm your belief and not deny it. That is carrying our cross daily. Remember what it says about those who deny Him before men… and those who confirm Him before men. It is no insignificant matter.

    God bless you and I really enjoy your ministry here!!!
    ( :
    Let me know what you think!

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  4. Pingback: OF INTEREST: Independent Thoughts from around the Internet July 2, 2014 | End Times Prophecy Report

  5. Very well done Mike. As to the Homeland Security neighbor, he will be your canary in the coal mine, as you observe his daily continence! LOL

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  6. My “relative” who told me about the car is a gunsmith. You should have seen the look on his face and heard the tone in his voice when he told me. We are starting to develop an “under siege” mentality about a lot of this stuff and I find it very unsettling.

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  7. Has anyone here been following the current development of the police state (here)?
    Something worth googling for sure. Priorities definitely need to shift to line up with all parts of that verse. “It” could happen any day.

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  8. These are exciting times Mike! Every Christian thinks they want to be here for Jesus’ return, yet few consider the ramifications of such a blessing.
    The gunsmith understands from an historical perspective, that tyranny always follows gun confiscation, which always follows gun registration. History also defines for us the definition of Fascism, which is the marriage of corporations and government. The Nazi’s also were the National Socialist Party. Huge debt and debased currency preceded the rise of Hitler as hyper-inflation crushed the Weimar Republic. The occult influences drove the Nazi’s, who used Tom Watson’s IBM keypunch machines to run everything from the trains to the ovens to knowing Jew to 1/16 by blood, not to mention the gypsies, and Christians as well. Populations were herded into cities and then specific areas known as ghettos to control them and later eliminate them. Do any of these descriptions sound remotely familiar today? But be of good cheer, for Jesus has overcome the world! Amen!?!?

    Here are some links to some eye opening pieces of the puzzle.

    http://www.mrctv.org/videos/heritage-foundation-panelist-radical-islam

    http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=15611 Compare this to the Joel’s Army/Kingdom Now/Latter rain crowd and their fixing the earth before their Christ can come…

    http://fcmagazine.s3.amazonaws.com/Volume%208,%20Issue%206.pdf With the worlds combined debt at a number greater than all their assets/resources, truly the whole world can collapse economically in one hour today.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WQtRI7A064 Bill Gates talking about using immunizations to reduce global populations! Pay particular attention at the 2 minute mark!

    http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=ibm+and+the+holocaust Take your pick there are short and long versions…

    http://www.trunews.com/trunews-exclusive-pope-francis-meets-evangelical-delegation/ Daughters returning to their Mother…

    http://vimeo.com/85267101 Momma worships Lucifer?

    That should suffice for now. But never forget, Jesus has overcome the world, and we who are in Him, are seated with Him in heaven. Further, that He delivers His own, and never loses one…THROUGH the fiery furnace, THROUGH the flood, THROUGH the plagues and the sea and the desert, and He delivers His Witnesses/Martyrs through their Roman Candle experiences purified! The second death has nothing on us, no sting! Amen!?!? But the Virgins, both wise and foolish are asleep! Behold the Bridegroom commeth!!! Come quickly Lord and avenge the blood of your Martyrs under the alter in heaven! (Just google the slaughter of Christians today in Africa, China, and the near east to see how rapidly it expands.)

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  9. Amen Mickey!

    My thoughts exactly! I’ve been following these developments too. While most are asleep in front of the TV. Christians, that is. ( ; I’m a post tribber too and good luck on waking them up to that one, but I try! He will preserve us through it and just like martyrs of ages past, it is actually a glorious thing. I don’t hesitate dying for Him for one instant.

    I have also seen the parallels with the rise of the Nazi state and what is happening today. Even in the church, imagine, the government in Germany deceived the masses in church into going along with the Holocaust? Same thing today. The Joel’s Army, and company, etc. They had a mob rise up before the Holocaust also, just like this ‘army’. Only, in their own words, this time they will come for us, their stated goal is to ‘cleanse the church.’ Interesting, no? But oh no, those deceived will never admit they are deceived. It is a spiritual blindless, the great delusion. The sequence is even laid out in 2 Thessalonians 2; 1-12, but they won’t see. Brothers and sisters, we have the best role of all on this end times stage in the final act of human history! It is a reason to rejoice!

    God bless you all!

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