Doing Only Good Sets Us Free!

God can afford to be free because He is love. What does that mean?

It means God does only good. When someone does only good, they are completely free. But when we are unable to do only good, we are not free.

God is love and love does only good. That is why the Bible says,

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (Jn. 3:16)

Imagine that goodness!!

When Jesus was here on earth, the Pharisees and other religious leaders tried to prevent Him from doing good. They tried to prevent Him by using scriptures which they did not understand.

But Jesus was love and for this reason He was free to do whatever He wanted to because whatever He did He did only out of love.

So Jesus healed people on the Sabbath despite prostestations by the priests not to ‘work’ on the Sabbath. He sat with lepers, tax collectors and was ministered to by former harlots. Nothing could deter Jesus from doing good. He was free in His spirit, for He was love.

That is why we need the revelation of the cross in our hearts, so that we can deny ourselves and live lives that conform perfectly to the will of God. Conforming to the will of God means doing only good, something which our fleshly nature is simply incapable of. The fact is that the cross is the only power that can crucify the flesh and bring about God’s perfect will in our lives. The Bible says of the flesh:

“7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Rom. 8:7-8)

For this reason, therefore, the Apostle Paul had only one message:

“But we preach Christ crucified…” (1 Cor. 1:23)

Moreover, he tells the Corinthians,

“1 And I, brethren, when I came to you… 2 I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1 Cor. 2:1-2)

The cross sets us free from the power of the flesh. When we are free of the flesh, we can be as loving, and hence free, as Christ was.

[The cutest niece in the world!]

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Those Amalekites!

1 Samuel also said unto Saul, The Lord sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the Lord. 2 Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. 3 Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.” (1 Sam. 15:1-3)

Many people have a problem with God on account of such scriptures. They cannot reconcile how a loving and merciful God can at the same time be so unforgiving and brutal. God told Saul through Samuel,

“I remember that which Amalek did to Israel…”

‘I thought He was quick to forget’, you say.

Forget about forgetting.

What we do not realize is that the Old Testament is a shadow of the New Covenant, which is the real thing. Hebrews 10:1 says,

“For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things…” (Heb. 10:1)

Yes, the entire Old Testament, upon which the law rests, was a shadow. The Bible states it right there. The real thing is the New Covenant.

I am glad the Bible uses the word “shadow”. Now, we all know what a shadow is. A shadow is less than a dead thing. It is not even comparable like, say, with vapor to water. A shadow is not the real thing; rather, it is simply an indicator of the thing that is there. And therefore here, in Hebrews, the Bible talks of:

“a shadow”; and

“the very image of the things”.

Two very different things: one real; the other, unreal.

All that happened under the Old Testament – that is, before Jesus came to earth – was a shadow.

So, under the Old Testament, the Amalekites were a shadow. What, pray, were they a shadow of?

The Amalekites and all the other enemies of the nation of Israel were a shadow of our fleshly lusts. Yes, the real thing that the Bible is referring to when it talks about the Amalekites here is the flesh. The Amalekites were a shadow of the same bodily lusts that you and I are subject to as men and women of the flesh. In other words, you and I have Amalekites living inside us! And, believe it or not, these Amalekites are more real than the ones King Saul went to deal with.

The enemy under the New Covenant is more real and deadlier than the enemies the Israelites encountered during the Old Testament times. That is why the gospel of Jesus Christ is about crucifying the flesh.

God is so merciful and loving, but when it comes to the flesh, He gives no quarter. “Giving no quarter” means no mercy. God has only one word for the flesh: extermination.

Why?

Once again, we reference the Amalekites.

“… he laid wait for him in the way”.

I have only one instinctive response to a snake, and that is to kill it. Any other response will come looong after I have killed the snake.

The Amalekites ambushed the Israelites along the way. They were determined to not let them pass and go on to inherit the good land that the Lord had promised them.

In the same way, the flesh – our fleshly desires – are determined to hinder us from inheriting the many good things that God has for us in the Spirit and even from making it to heaven.

Moreover,

“And he gathered an host, and smote the Amalekites, and delivered Israel out of the hands of them that spoiled them.” (1 Sam. 14:48)

Notice that the Amalekites “spoiled” the Israelites. They plundered them, they killed them; they were hell-bent on wiping them completely off the face of the earth.

In the same way, the flesh is bent on destroying us spiritually.

We see this also in 1 Pet. 2:11.

“Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul”.

Our fleshly lusts war against our souls. To what end? It is to the end that they might destroy us spiritually.

Need we ask any more why God would tell Saul,

“Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.”

Need we any more reason to understand why Paul would preach no other gospel other than

“Christ crucified” (1 Cor. 1:23).

The revelation of “Christ crucified” to the church is the revelation of the true gospel of Jesus Christ, for it enables us to wage war against the flesh.

And, finally, need we any more reason on why we should go out and wage war against the flesh – our own flesh and its lusts – bearing in mind that this was the same charge that God gave to King Saul?

But we are to do it through crucifying the flesh.

A Gospel And A Life – Part 1

Our key scripture for this new series of posts is 1 Cor. 3:1:

1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

As we read through this blog, we should always bear in mind that the message we are setting forth, which is the true gospel of Jesus Christ, is

“Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2)

I.

One time they were interviewing your favorite prophet from down south… Oh, did I say “your”? Sorry about that because he might not be your favorite prophet. But, just in case you dropped in from Mars, here’s the buzz: everyone today has to have their favorite prophet, one who can prophetically bring up images of their kids simply by tapping on an ipad, etc. The southern tip of Africa is heavily infested with these prophets. The interesting thing is that nearly all the top prophets peddling their wares in the south come from outside that part of Africa: they come from Congo, Malawi, Nigeria, etc. It is a virtual invasion of this country. Why this invasion?

Guess what? South Africa has the world’s greatest deposits of gold. This invasion is all about wealth, and it is not heavenly wealth we are talking of here.

In one of our neighboring countries also, they have the most mightiest prophet of God. He has to carry that pitifully slanted title because the English language has failed to provide him with an adjective that adequately describes his powers. This particular prophet would love the whole world to worship at his feet. Most of his countrymen already are.

Initially, it was thought that all this man wanted was a big-sounding title and nothing more. This was because he began by preaching forcefully against ‘pulpit thieves’ and even refused to take up offerings in his meetings. But it has now surfaced that the most mightiest of all prophets is a scammer of the worst sort who has specifically been targeting rich widows. He has clandestinely and systematically robbed widow after rich widow of their inheritances. After the initial daze wore off, some of his victims caught onto the man’s act and are now trying to reclaim their property through the courts.

The truth is that all these so-called apostles, prophets, etc., are nothing more than the worst form of scammers. Why? THE GOSPEL THAT THEY PREACH AND THEIR LIFESTYLES ATTEST TO THIS. The Apostle Paul’s description of them in 2 Corinthians chapter 11 is telling.

Paul first charge against them is on account of what they preach. He says that they do not preach the true gospel of Jesus Christ. He says they preach

“another Jesus, whom we have not preached”;

and that they carry

“another spirit”, and

“another gospel” (v.4).

In other words, they do NOT preach

“Christ crucified” (1 Cor. 1:23).

They preach everything else apart from

“Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1 Cor. 2:2)

But recall that the Apostle Paul stated what the true apostle and prophet ought to preach.

“But we preach Christ crucified…” (1 Cor. 1:23)

That is the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

II.

Paul then goes on to connect the gospel that these scammers preach with the lives they lead. For one, they

“desire occasion” (v.12).

In other words, they desire to be seen. They seek after worldly glory. These are the folks who love doing their stuff in front of cameras in order to be praised by men. They love titles, and fame. They love being adored by men (and women).

Paul calls them

“false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.” (v.13)

Deceitful workers?

If you thought that everyone who works a miracle is doing a bona fide miracle from heaven, think again. In reality, Paul says, these fellows are ministers of Satan (v.14, 15).

These false preachers

“glory after the flesh”. (v.18)

If you Google them, you will learn about their net worth, the watches they wear and the cars that their wives and children drive. One famous preacher in the U.S. once said, “I am one of a few billionaires…”

They are all about going up and up and up in this world.

Finally, Paul calls them

“fools” (v.19).

How do you view someone who walks on air? Must be very wise. Or a billionaire? Can’t even come up close to them. Another ‘prophet’ in Africa calls his henchmen “wise men” (an attempt to compare them to the true Biblical wise men). All these people appear incredibly wise in the sight of men. But in God’s sight they are fools who are headed straight for destruction. Anyone who subscribes to the flesh is a fool.

Just in case you thought people masquerading as ministers of God are a modern phenomenon within the church, scripture here reveals that it is not. This is a problem that has been there since the inception of the church. Paul himself confronted it.

And Paul tells the Corinthians what these scammers will do to anyone gullible enough to entrust themselves into their hands.

“For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face.” (2 Cor. 11:20)

Today, we witness too much of what Paul is saying here to write about it. But, strangely, believers will simply not heed scripture! The fact that these kinds of characters have not two or three but hundreds of thousands of followers attests to this. But it is also foretold in scripture. In 2 Timothy 4:1-5 the Apostle Paul gave his young disciple Timothy a mandate:

“1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”

Notice verse 3. Who are the “they”? It is as if Paul is saying that a time would come when the entire church would be taken in by these false prophets! Sadly, indeed, it appears so today.

But Paul also foresaw in the Spirit long into the future that a time would come when God’s people would cease to have a hunger for the things of God, but would use ‘God’ as a platform to fulfill their fleshly desires.

When the true gospel of

“Jesus Christ, and him crucified”

has been sidelined, people will become everything but spiritual. For this is the only gospel wherein Christ is: where the flesh is being crucified daily. Christ is to be found nowhere else; incidentally, not even in miracles. Christ is firmly settled in the crucifixion of the flesh.

We will see more about that later.

[Have you seen the light?]

A Heavenly Recompense

12 Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee. 13 But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: 14 And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just. Lk. 14:12-14

When was the last time that you made a dinner or a supper and invited in the poor, the maimed, the lame and the blind to eat of your goods? If you have, blessed are you.

But notice specifically that Jesus is concerned here that we do not seek after worldly recompense in the good that we do. On the contrary, we are to have an eye for a heavenly recompense, at the resurrection of the just. On that day, God will reward those who did not seek to be repaid here on earth.

But, pray, can a Christian desire worldly recompense rather than the heavenly one? The answer, unfortunately, is yes. More times than I can count, I have done good to someone and, if they did not thank me or take notice of it, I felt bad about it. That was the flesh, demanding worldly recompense and leading me to forfeit my heavenly reward.

Walking in the will of God is not a matter of one simply believing in Christ; more importantly, it is about one denying self and taking up their cross and following Christ. The Bible tells us that the flesh wars against the Spirit, and that if we side with it we cannot do the will of God in our lives. And for this reason, therefore, the Bible tells us to walk in the Spirit. (Gal. 5:16-17)

It tells us that if we walk in the Spirit, we shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

Have you noticed how we hunger for earthly recompense, including being thanked, noticed, praised and repaid back? The flesh demands worldly recompense. It demands to be paid in kind right here on earth. It has no heavenly agenda, for it is not of heaven.

But when the cross is at work in our lives, we “kill” these kinds of attitudes. We begin to care more about the only thing that really matters: the heavenly recompense. One day we will stand before God and be recompensed for the things that we did here on earth for which no man could repay us back.

It is in the light of this revelation that we can understand and appreciate Jesus’s other teachings.

“Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.” (Mat. 5:42)

In Lk. 6:30, Jesus made that even clearer.

Give to every man that asketh of thee…”

Give to every man. I overheard one brother say that he does not give money to street beggars. He had a grudge against what he called their “laziness”. But, in this scriptures, street beggars fall right in the middle of “every man that asketh of thee”.

Jesus went on to qualify His statements:

“32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. 33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. 34 And if ye lend them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.” (Lk. 6:32-34)

Notice the word “thank” there. What was Jesus talking about here? He was referring to the heavenly recompense. One day, God will thank you in a way no man could.

The heavenly stakes are incredibly high. But, again, it can only be that one is truly fighting the good fight of faith that they can do these things. The spiritual man/woman does not need to be recompensed in the natural.

Grace Through Humility

7 And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them. 8 When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; 9 And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. 10 But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them of them that sit at meat with thee. 11 For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. Lk. 14:7-11

It could hardly be supposed that Jesus here  was talking about a mere wedding, or that He was setting out the seating protocol at weddings for people to follow; so what is this all about?

Jesus was talking about the Kingdom of God! Notice that Jesus’s words here are a parable (v.7). Which means it is a teaching; a teaching for the Church. And Jesus’s message here was simple: when you come into the Kingdom of God, take the back-est seat possible. Desire to be the lowest person in God’s Kingdom.

Who do you think Jesus is referring to as “he that bade thee and him”? Who is the “he” here?

That “he” is God. Far from talking about a wedding in the natural, the Lord was talking about the totality of the Christian life. He was referring to the attitude that a Christian believer needs to have in his relationship with God; the attitude that the Church needs to carry in their hearts as children of God. It is this attitude that will cause God to raise us up.

Notice verses 8 and 9.

8 When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; 9 And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room.

In ministry especially, men are tempted to take “the highest room”. We want to be recognized! But the only person who counts is the “more honourable man”. And, pray, who is the “more honourable man” Jesus is talking of here?

We may not know this man. John the Baptist told the Jews,

“26… there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; 27 He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose.”

The Jews thought John was the greatest.

This is a wake-up call to preachers. Leave off all those high-sounding titles and desire to become common servants of Christ. Above all, do not despise others, for you never know who is coming after you.

Thank God, John knew.

The “more honourable man”  is the man whom God alone acknowledges. It is not the man who thinks of himself as honorable, or he who advertises himself. Ought that not make us want to become smaller still in our own estimation of ourselves?

Desiring to be a nothing in the Kingdom of God is an attitude of heart. All our proclamations to the contrary, this is one of the hardest things for us to do as children of God. And the reason for this is because the flesh is involved. The heart of man is naturally puffed up.

The flesh works in tandem with the devil, who tried to take the position of God. It is written of the devil in Isaiah 14: 12-15:

“12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations! 13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.”

But God answered Lucifer and said,

“Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.”

Thank God for He controls everything. He looks upon the lowly heart, and uplifts them. He causes the poor (in spirit) to become rich.

The Psalmist, David, had a lot to write concerning the poor. In Psalm 69:29, David wrote:

“But I am poor and sorrowful: let thy salvation, O God, set me up on high.”

David was not talking of material lack; the sorrow he refers to here is the sorrow of a man who seeks after the righteousness of God. Here he echoes the attitude of a broken man. That man, the Bible says, God will set “up on high”.

In Psalm 113:7-8 he writes also,

“7 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill, 8 That he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people.”

That scripture is talking about the “poor” and “needy” in spirit. God will always consider the humble in heart, and He will do something about it. But God will never consider the man who carries pride of any form in his heart.

During the charismatic era, I never really knew what this Psalm meant. Since I was poor materially, I thought it was referring to my natural state. But when we become children of God, God has better things for us. He desires to give the eternal things, which are spiritual, not the the material things, which are temporal. It is true He will also bless us with the material things if He so desires. But that is not where His heart is.

But the central point is that God gives the good things of the Spirit to the humble in heart.

Humility cannot be found in our hearts if we have not crucified the flesh. That is why the entirety of our Christian life revolves around the revelation of the cross in our hearts. The work of the cross is to crucify our flesh, for it is the flesh that desires to

“in the highest room”

But Paul writes in Galatians 5:24:

“And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.”

So what happens when God raises us “out of the dust” and lifts us “out of the dunghill” in the Spirit? Do we become rich materially, or wise and strong in the flesh?

As we already noted, the answer is no. On the contrary, it simply means that God enriches us with His grace. We become carriers of the grace of God. We become men and women who carry in us the crucified and resurrected life of Christ. It is for this reason that the Apostle Paul wrote,

“But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”

The Eminence Of The Cross – Part 2

Firstly, in 1 Cor. 1:17-18, Paul states,

“17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. 18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”

Notice what verse 18 is telling us. It is making a difference between being saved and taking up your cross and following Christ. These are two completely different things. In other words, you could be saved but not be under “the preaching of the cross”. You could be a believer who panders to his or her carnal lusts. One who is not fulfilling the righteousness of God in their lives. But the Bible declares that to those who have accepted salvation, the cross is “the power of God”!

In other words, when we are allowing the cross to work in us, the power of God is revealed in us! The power to do what? To defeat sin and to work the righteousness of God in our lives.

The Apostle Paul feared lest the cross of Christ should be made of “none effect” in the lives of believers.

Wow! What a mighty revelation!! But Paul goes even further and writes similar words in Philippians 1:29:

“For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake”.

The believer has two mandates. Actually, one – salvation – is not our mandate. The work of salvation has been wrought by God Himself; we were dead in sin, and God resurrected us in Christ Jesus. A dead person cannot resurrect himself, so we were not involved in any way in our salvation. Salvation is all of God’s grace (Eph. 2:5).

The singular mandate that we have been given is to crucify our flesh. God calls us, by the Holy Spirit that He has given to us, to crucify our fleshly lusts and desires. Galatians 5:24 puts it thus:

“And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.”

Again, this is of grace. According to His great mercies and love, God has decided to make us co-workers with Him. He makes us co-workers with Him in His fight against His enemies. And, pray, how do we fight God’s enemies?

It is not by screaming at the devil, as most believers have been taught. Nor is the believer’s victory in the thousand and one “steps” that fill most charismatic teachings.

On the contrary, there is only one way to defeat the enemy. It is by crucifying the flesh! God gives us His Holy Spirit for the express purpose of crucifying the flesh. Once we have crucified the flesh, we are done. Done, I said. That is what it says in Ephesians 6:10-20. Here, it is well documented how our spiritual warfare is waged solely on the battleground of the flesh. Just look at our armor (vss 14-18).

Truth. Righteousness. Peace. Faith. Salvation. The Word of God. Prayer. All these things require a denial of self.

It is all about crucifying the flesh! Once we crucify the flesh, the devil has nothing in us (Jn. 14:30). The devil fears a dead Christian! But when he meets a ‘live’ believer (i.e., one who is living for himself), the devil has a powerful weapon. We do the devil’s work when we fulfill the desires of the flesh.

Hence the cross. This mandate that we have from God – to crucify our flesh – was the reason the Apostle Paul held the cross in such esteem. You can see in his epistles that the singular thing that the Apostle Paul defended was the cross. Unlike many preachers in his time (but more so today), Paul did not boast in the great works that were done through him; nor in visions and heavenly visitations, all of which he had in abundance. On the contrary, Paul boasted

“in mine infirmities” (2 Cor. 12:5)

What does Paul mean by “infirmities”?

We shall see that in the next chapter of this series.

Your Heart! – Part 3

17 And when he was entered into the house from the people, his disciples asked him concerning the parable.

18 And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him;

19 Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?

20 And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.

21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,

22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride foolishness:

23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man. Mk. 7:17-23

The freedom that we have in the Spirit can only be accessed through the cross. The cross working in our lives, that is. Any freedom outside of the cross of Jesus Christ is of the flesh. True faith, whereby this freedom is found, states with the Apostle Paul:

“19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live to God. 20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:19-20)

Notice the things that Paul says about himself. He is

  1. “dead”;
  2. crucified with Christ”;
  3. “I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me”;
  4. “the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the Son of God”.

Paul’s life was crucified! Paul no longer lived! On the contrary, Christ lived in him.

What profound facts! What a profound place to be! What an entirely different lifestyle from the humdrum and tepid Christian lifestyle that most believers live. We are so carnal, so selfish and so self-centered, and therefore we are deprived of the beauty and the power of the Kingdom of God.

Notice Paul says that because he was crucified with Christ, therefore Christ lived in him.

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me”.

The two cannot exist together. You cannot be alive and at the same time have Christ live in you. If Christ is to live in you, you must go. That was the revelation that Paul received from Christ.

And yet, as we see here, the truly wonderful thing about Paul was that, as he says in Acts 26:19,

“I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision”.

It is all about obedience. Paul could have received the revelation and sit there and begin wringing his hands and mulling over how he would one day crucify his life. He could have said, “What a wonderful revelation! I am now going to lay me down and sleep and I can come back next year and look at this revelation in a different angle. After which I will work out how to approach the cross. Oh, what a wonderful revelation!”

But no. Not this man, Paul. When Paul received the revelation of the cross, he crucified his life. He crucified his life with Christ, to the end that the life of Christ might be found in his mortal body.

This reminds us of Abraham who, when God told him to circumcise himself and all the men in his house, the Bible says:

“23 And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house; and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the selfsame day, as God had said unto him… 26 In the selfsame day was Abraham circumcised, and Ishmael his son.” (Gen. 17:23-26)

On the very day that God told Abraham to circumcise himself, Abraham obeyed God and did so.

God is pleased when we obey Him instantly, as Abraham did.

The need for obedience is the reason why, in our key scripture, Jesus swoops in on the heart. It is such a waste of time, energy and resources to approach the things of God through form and the other natural avenues that we attempt to. The reason for all this preoccupation with these things is because we are nursing our disobedience. For this reason we will never arrive where God wants us to arrive at: His throne room of power, grace and wisdom.

But Jesus wants to help us to go directly to God and to receive from Him. We do this through obedience.

In speaking to His disciples about the heart, Jesus was in effect saying, “Circumcise your hearts; that is enough with God”.

When we fail to circumcise our hearts, we are just going round and round in the wilderness like the children of Israel. They did so for 40 years and in the end they all died there!

What a tragedy. But yet, again, what a lesson for us.

We are to look at our hearts. Forget about form. God’s attention is fully centered on our hearts.

If you take a toothpaste tube written “Colgate”, although the tube is beautifully and ‘loudly’ adorned with all kinds of writings and drawings, yet you know full well that the “Colgate” (the toothpaste) is inside. You have to squeeze the tube to bring out the real stuff – the “Colgate” toothpaste.

In the same manner, God allows many circumstances into our lives to squeeze whatever is inside us out. Whatever we have inside of us is the life that we have in us, and that is what comes out when God brings people and situations to squeeze us. And so it is that when we have not the cross working in us, whenever we are squeezed we give out the “evil things” that Jesus stated here. These are the things that you will find in an un-crucified heart.

evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride foolishness”. (Mk. 7:21-22)

Jesus said,

“All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” (v.23)

What troubles God, therefore, is not the food we eat but, rather, on the contrary, it is when we have these “evil things” in us. These things are the result of a disobedient heart, a heart that does not want to be circumcised. A Christian who does not want to crucify his/her life.

But when we are crucified with Christ, whenever a situation squeezes us, we give out the aroma of Christ.

God be praised for the Apostle Paul who could write,

“I am crucified with Christ”.

These are the most beautiful words ever! Whenever the Apostle Paul went through a situation, he left behind the aroma (the knowledge, the grace) of Christ. He did not leave behind the putrid stench of the flesh.

Like fighting for his rights, etc.

We are to crucify the flesh. We are to crucify the rights of the flesh. We are not just to understand the revelation of the cross as Paul and the other saints understood it; we are to get ahold of our flesh and actually crucify it. We will never really get anywhere in the Spirit until we do that. The Apostle Paul said,

“I am crucified with Christ”.

Paul was a man on the move.

[The Apostle Paul: a man on the move]

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