282. Factors Influencing Mental Health. Human Enemy No.2. THE ENEMY WITHIN US. The Flesh. Our Fallen Human Nature. (Study 2 of 3.)

For centuries people have argued whether humans are born good or born evil. Some talk of the ‘innate goodness of humankind” meaning that humans are basically good at heart. But human experience would cast doubt on that theory. It is said that William Golding wrote his book “The Lord of the Flies” as a challenge to R.M. Ballantyne’s novel “The Coral Island” which painted a picture of the adventures of three boys marooned on a South Pacific island, the only survivors of a shipwreck. It was a wonderfully happy existence together on a tropical island. By contrast Golding painted a different picture of “innocent” schoolboys being marooned on an island without any adults being present. However it was not long before the ugly parts of human nature began to surface with murder eventually taking place among them.

Human nature as Jesus saw it

On one occasion some religious teachers asked Jesus a question about what makes humans impure. His answer shows that evil comes from within people, not just from their response to their external environment, “20 What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” Mark 7:20-23. It is interesting to see the emphasis on such behaviour as coming from out of a person, from within and from out of the heart. Interesting too to note that the list contains thoughts and attitudes as well as actions. Not only are many sins listed but they are described as being defiling in verses 20 and 23 and as being evil in verse 23.

 Human nature as St Paul saw it

Though Jesus did not use the word ‘flesh” in this context, the characteristics He described correspond to those outlined by Paul in his description of the “works of the flesh” in Galatians 5:19-21, namely “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these… .”  The “flesh” here refers to unregenerate human nature or the nature humans were born with.

The characteristics of the old nature are seen here in the realms of sex [sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality,], the realm of religion [idolatry, sorcery], the realm of society [enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy] and the realm of personal discipline [drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.]

There is an unfortunate over-emphasis in some church groups on the fact that believers have died with Christ and so they suggest that their sin nature no longer exists. They quote verses like those in Rom 6:6 -7 “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin.” The deeply disturbing aspect to this is that some boast that they no longer sin, saying that as the flesh nature is gone, then the Spirit alone has influence on them. What they fail to appreciate is that those verses have to be read in context and the verses following provide a warning to such an attitude. Paul is writing to born again believers in Rome and he warns them twice in successive verses, Rom 6:12 “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.” AND Rom 6:13 “Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.” He obviously saw it as a possibility that believers could let sin reign in their bodies and that they could present their bodies to do evil. The encouragement he brought was that believers could have dominion over sin by the grace of God, Rom 6:14 “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace”. Even then we need to realise that “grace” is not only a reference to God’s unmerited favour but refers to God’s enabling by His Spirit. To give way to temptation means they would not be drawing upon God’s grace or help.  While they kept on drawing on God’s grace and enabling, it would mean sin would not have dominion over them.

 Human Nature according to the 39 Articles of the Church of England (and Anglican churches worldwide)

Article IX on Original or Birth-Sin includes these words, “Original Sin …  is the fault and corruption of the Nature of every man, that naturally is ingendered of the offspring of Adam; whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the spirit; and therefore in every person born into this world, it deserveth God’s wrath and damnation. And this infection of nature doth remain, yea, in them that are regenerated”

The last phrase reminds us that when people are born again they do not lose their old fallen nature but it remains in them for as long as they live. However its power can be overcome when they continually and habitually choose to walk by the dictates of the Holy Spirit and not according to the dictates of their old flesh nature.

The inner battle in believers

The problem of our old nature, the flesh, is that it is opposed to the Spirit of God. Gal 5:16ff.  There is an inner battle in all believers for control of their lives. Either God has to be in control by His Spirit or else the old nature brings the desire to rule one’s own life. We need to decide to walk by the Spirit instead of giving way to our old nature. As Paul wrote, Gal 5:16 “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” Gal 5:17. This verse has the one command to “walk by the Spirit” and adds the consequence of doing so, namely that one “will not gratify the desires of the flesh” as one continues to walk by the Spirit.

He describes the inner battle or conflict in the life of the believer as due to inner conflicting desires, Gal 5:17  “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” Paul tells us in other places that the law is good but it cannot of itself produce goodness. It can show what is right and wrong but has no power to enable us to do the right. Only the Holy Spirit can bring that enabling. In Romans 8 he shows the relevant place of the law and the Spirit for Christian living. We fulfil the law’s requirements when live in the power of our new Spirit-given and Spirit-empowered nature rather than responding to the dictates of old flesh nature. Rom 8:3 “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit”.  Walking by the Spirit actually fulfils what the law has always required in terms of godly living in the will of God.

 Flesh or Spirit? That is the question!

The mind is involved in living the Christian life. One has to follow the dictates of the Holy Spirit and not those of the flesh. One mind-set brings life. The other mind-set brings death as Paul goes on to describe, Rom 8:5 “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 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. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” The flesh cannot be tamed to conform to the Spirit’s desires nor can it be integrated with the spirit nature to bring about one “nicer” nature in humans.

How the victory is won in the lives of believers

Paul wrote in Philippians that the desire and the empowerment to do the will of God and fulfil His purpose for us comes from the working of the Holy Spirit within us, “work out your salvation … for God is at work in you both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Phil 2:12-13. Salvation is a free gift in Christ. However, having accepted that gift, believers must work out the implications of receiving that gift, in their daily living. They are to “work out” in practice what God is “working in” them by His Spirit.

 How can we have victory over the impulses of our fallen nature? By allowing God to keep on filling us with His Spirit as Paul commanded in Eph 5:18, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.”  The verb “be filled” is actually a present [imperative] tense which means “keep on being filled.” It is also passive, meaning that we cannot fill ourselves. Only the Lord can do so as we ask Him to fill us.

The Christian life is not a once-for-all filling by the Holy Spirit. Rather it is an ongoing openness to the Lord to enable Him to keep on filling us with His Spirit.  Then and only then will the fruit of the Spirit be continually manifest in and through us, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” These characteristics remain as we remain open to His Spirit, as Paul describes in Gal 5:25 “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” Responding moment by moment to His leading and to His empowering by His Spirit enables believers to live as they should, for Him.

 Blog No. 282 posted on http://www.jimholbeck.blog on Friday 20th July 2018.

(PLEASE NOTE: Study No 1 in this series of of 3 is found in Blogs No. 278 [micro version] and 279 [macro version.])

Posted in BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Forgiveness, Prayer, Salvation, Sanctification, Temptations, TOPICS | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

281. The Incredible Rescue of Footballers in Thailand. A Prayer-Answering God. Some Thoughts On Psalm 139.

What do you do about a world increasingly getting into chaos? For example, you have climate and other scientists disagreeing violently with each other over the place of carbon dioxide in so-called global warming. That may be understandable but the decisions of the leaders of many nations as they act on some of the so-called scientific opinions is not so understandable and may prove to be counter-productive to the welfare of their people. In the USA you have a duly elected President who is being ridiculed and mocked by some actors, by some “neutral” TV presenters and by some so-called comedians (who are not humorous but humongous in their crudity.) The American people made a choice but there are some folk who will not accept the result of the elections and are advocating mayhem and violence in a bid to remove the President and anyone associated with him. In other countries you have dictators being elected because they insist they are working for the good of the people when their past actions lend no substance to their claims.

But there is hope. We were reminded of this as we just witnessed the release of 12 young football players and their coach from a flooded cave in Thailand.  Many experts thought it was an impossible situation and certainly many throughout the world were highly motivated to pray for their safety and release. It was an amazing recovery program by the Thai Navy seals helped by courageous volunteers from all over the globe who also risked their lives in the recovery process.  Many see the result as an answer to their prayers.

Does God answer prayers in today’s world? For those who have been in difficult situations and who brought their needs before the Lord and saw their prayers answered, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” However not everyone has a picture in their minds of a benevolent divine being. It is of little help if the picture in our minds is of a capricious god who has no desire to listen to nor care for their needs of those who cry out to Him for help. If you scratch some people deeply enough you find that there is a simmering resentment towards God for some perceived “failure” on His part towards them or towards members of their families. The writer to the Hebrews put it quite bluntly, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Heb 11:6. The writer saw 2 things as necessary in approaching God. The first is to believe that He actually exists. The second is to believe that His character is such that He wants to reward those who do seek Him.

This is similar to what Jesus taught when He said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” Mat 7:7-11. It is not enough to think God exists. Humans have to be proactive in asking, seeking and knocking to enable Him to bestow good things on those who approach Him in faith.

In some previous articles I looked at Psalm 139 which contains some of the most profound concepts of the characteristics of God one can find anywhere. In brief David describes God as the Searching God who knows everything about us. He then turns that statement about God [“O LORD, you have searched me and known me!” Ps 139:1] into prayer at the end of the Psalm, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!  Ps 139:23.] What David does is to base his prayer of openness to God in verse 23 on the attributes of God he has described throughout the whole Psalm.

I thought it might be helpful to have the links to those articles gathered in the one place in this article. You can open any of these articles by clicking on the number at the beginning of each subject.

139. An Outline Of Psalm 139. The Character Of The God Who Knows, Loves And Cares. Series No.1 of 7.

140. God Knows Everything About You And Still Loves You. Psalm 139:1-6. Series No.2 of 7

141. The God Who Is Present Everywhere. Psalm 139:7-12. Series No.3 of 7.

142. The Omnipotent God. He Can Do All Things. He Made Us. Psalm 139:13 18. Series No.4 of 7.

143. A Prayer Of Openness To God. Psalm 139:23-24. Series No.5 of 7.

144. Using The Truths Of Psalm 139 In Counselling Situations. Series No.6 of 7.

145. Applying The Truths Of Psalm 139 In Counselling Situations. Series No.7 of 7.

146. Praying To Bring About A Better World. Psalm 139:23-24.

(NOTE: Much of the same material can be found on my Kindle book ‘The Searching and Knowing God who Knows and Cares” based on Psalm 139, on this link (   )

Blog No.281. Posted on http://www.jimholbeck.blog  on Wednesday 11th July 2018

Posted in BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Creation, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Healing, Prayer, Real Life Stories, Studies in Psalm 139, TOPICS | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

280. An amazing, amazing story! An “insignificant” man who made a “SIGNIFICANT” contribution to this world. “Heaven tonight?”

Sometimes we wonder whether we have ever made any sort of impact for good in the life of another person. At a recent dinner I was reminded of the story of an ordinary fellow who tried to help others find faith in God but who didn’t realise the impact he had had directly and indirectly on multitudes of people.

It is of personal interest to me as I have met a couple of folk who were “accosted” in George Street, Sydney by the gentleman in question. One of them was in clerical gear as a clergyman. He was shocked to be asked whether he knew or not if he would go to heaven if he died that night. He knew he was right with God but was delighted that someone cared enough to ask him and others the question.

It is of interest for me too as I often walked down George Street in Sydney when I was doing National Service in the Royal Australian Navy in Sydney (Oh dear, some 63 years ago!) and sometimes was accosted by similar folk wanting to convert me. “Fortunately” I had a good side-step (honed by playing football in the Australian Navy Rugby Union team at that time ) and was able to go on my way unhindered. But how great is the Lord who touched my life just a few years later and eventually had me ministering for 18 years as the Leader of the Healing Ministry in St Andrew’s Cathedral in George Street just a short distance from where this man used to try to interest people in the gospel message.

Mention is made of the wonderful dynamic Gymea Baptist church where I had the privilege of being invited to do seminars on Healing. Little did I know then of the “insignificant” fellow in that fellowship who had made such a “significant” contribution to the Kingdom of God by his faithful ministry over many years.

Because most of my readers live in the USA it would be great for my USA friends to pass the link on to others. The fellow probably met up with thousands of U.S. servicemen and women and business folk over the years and it would not surprise me to hear that a friend of an American reader might say, “I remember that fellow” or “I knew someone he accosted in George Street many years ago.” With readers from over 180 countries there may be others around the world who might have met him in Sydney!

I know you will be moved by his amazing story and so will others with whom you share it. It is free to share being on You Tube.

Blog No.280. Posted on http://www.jimholbeck.blog on Thursday 31st May 2018.

Posted in Evangelism, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Real Life Stories, Salvation, TOPICS, Tributes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

279. Factors Influencing Mental Health. Human Enemy No.1. “The world”. THE ENEMY AROUND US. [Macro version].

In a previous article (No.270) I listed the 3 main enemies to the mental health of humans as being the World, the Flesh and the Devil. Believers are asked to renounce them as a means of coming out from under their negative and damaging influence. How do these enemies seek to influence us, and how can we gain victory over them? We begin with the first enemy, the “world’.

A). WHAT IS MEANT BY THE “WORLD?’

There are two main words for “world” in the New Testament. The first is the Greek word [oikoumenē] meaning the [planet] earth, the inhabited part of the world and the peoples of the world.  (We will not be considering this word in the present article.) The other word is [kósmos] which also means the created world and its inhabitants. However, it has a much wider meaning. It can also mean the following.

 In a positive sense it can mean the people of the world for whom Christ came to die and to save and who are meant to respond to Him in faith

God in His love sent His Son to save the world by dying for sinners, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.“ Jn 3:16-17.

Jesus gave as His reason for His first coming, “… I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.” Jn 12:47.

God sent His Son to take away the sins of the world, as John the Baptist declared when he saw Jesus approaching him, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” Jn 1:29.

Jesus taught that He came to bring life to a world spiritually dead through sin, “For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” Jn 6:33.

Paul wrote that Jesus came to reconcile the world to God, “that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” 2 Cor 5:19.

 In a negative sense it can mean everything and everyone alienated from God and antagonistic to His purposes in and for the world

It is the “world” in this sense that believers are meant to renounce in order to be free from its influence. Unregenerate humans (those not yet born again of the Holy Spirit) follow the world’s ways and are spiritually dead, blind, deaf until they are born again from above, as these verses indicate.

Eph 2:1-2, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—”

Eph 2:4, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—”

2 Cor 4:4, “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

Acts 28:27, “For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’

Even human wisdom is seen to be folly in the sight of God, “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness.” 1 Cor 3:18-19.

Humans can be conformed to the world’s values, the world’s ways of thinking and the world’s ways of behaving, “Do not be conformed to this world …” Rom 12:2.

Humans can be held captive by worldly thinking, “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” Col 2.8

Humans can have the wrong sort of love which is focussed on the wrong object (that is, on the world and not its Creator), “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” 1 Jn 2:15-17.

B).  HOW CAN PEOPLE OVERCOME THE INFLUENCE OF THE WORLD FOR BETTER MENTAL HEALTH?

i).         By recognising that the unbelieving world is our enemy. As it was for Jesus

The world would rejoice in the death of Jesus, Joh 16:20, but would also hate His followers following His death and resurrection. The world brings ongoing tribulation to the people of God, but there is victory in Him, Joh 16:33, “… . In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” AND 1Jn 4:4-5, “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them… .”

The world did not recognise God nor Jesus as His Son. Nor did they recognise His followers as the people of God. John encouraged his readers to  recognise their privileges as being loved by God and indeed as being His children,  1Jn 3:1, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”  Believers belong now to the family of God and need to keep on affirming that truth in a world that is hostile to God and to His children.

ii).        By understanding the blessings coming from our true identity in Christ as believers

Believers have died with Christ in their faith-union with Him and have become free from that which once held them captive, “If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations.” Col 2:20.

Believers belong to God and are able to recognise truth from error in a way that unbelievers cannot, “We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” 1Jn 4:6.

Believers are able to mature in wisdom and knowledge. Paul prayed for the Colossians, “that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”  Col 2:2-3.

Believers are “not of the world ” but belong to God as they live in the world, “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” Joh 15:19.  

Believers are hated by the (unbelieving) world but Jesus prays for His own that as they live in the world, they will be protected from the evil one, and be sanctified by His word, “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” Joh 17:14-16.

Believers are always being prayed for by Jesus, “Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” Heb 7:25. Believers are never neglected! They are always being prayed for! By Jesus!

iii).       By receiving a new attitude in our thinking as our minds are renewed

The process begins as we present all we are to God as Paul exhorted his readers, “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.” Rom 12:1.

In doing so, we allow ourselves to be transformed by Him, “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.” Rom 12:2. Or in the translation by JB Phillips, “Don’t let the world squeeze you into its mould.” That is an apt description of what takes place as we are pressured by the unbelieving world around us to conform to its values and practices. The solution is to have our minds transformed by the Holy Spirit to be able to recognise, know and do the will of God as we commit ourselves completely to Him and to His will for us.

iv).       By learning to operate with divine wisdom rather than the wisdom of the world 

Wisdom is the [new] birthright of believers. God chose us as “nothings” in the world to belong to Him and to impart to us His wisdom, in and through Christ, “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 1 Cor 1:27-31.

Believers are promised wisdom when they need it, provided they ask for it, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” Jas 1:5. However they need to ask sincerely, believing that God hears and answers the prayers of His people, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord.” Jas 1:6-7. 

The Holy Spirit imparts God’s wisdom and knowledge to His people. Paul prayed for his readers that they might receive a deeper personal knowledge of God Himself, “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,” Eph 1:16-17. He also prayed that his readers in Colossae might know the will of God and “be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” Col 1:9.

v).         By exercising faith in God and in God’s presence in us

John affirms the true identity of believers as belonging to God. They gain victory over the world because of God’s powerful presence in them, “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1Jn 4:4.

They overcome the world by believing Jesus is the Son of God, “for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” 1 Jn 5:4. It is faith in God that allows Him to accomplish victories in and through our lives.

SUMMARY: [Previously published separately in blog No 278 as the Micro version of this whole article.)

1). Every person ever born is a creature in this physical world.

2). Humans rebelled against God so God sent His Son into the world to save the people of the world.

3). The response of those in the world varied. Some in the world chose to reject Gods’ salvation in Christ. The Bible sees them as still belonging to the [unbelieving] world.

Others in the world chose to believe in Jesus and received Him as Saviour. They still live in the world but as John declares, they are “not of the world.” They are now “in Christ” [in a living personal relationship with Christ] as they live in the world.

4). The [unbelieving] world, influenced by Satan and the powers of darkness, is antagonistic to God and to the people of God. The unregenerate “world” is spiritually blind, deaf and dead and cannot understand spiritual realities or people of the Spirit.

5). Victory over the world is possible by recognising our identity in Christ and acting on it in the ways suggested in section [B] above.

6). It is the truth that is known to believers by the illumination of the Holy Spirit AND acted on in the power of the same Holy Spirit, that brings freedom and victory over the world to the people of God.

Blog No.279.  Posted on Friday 4th May 2018

Posted in BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Christmas, Creation, Evangelism, Forgiveness, Justification, Mental Health, Salvation, TOPICS | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

278. Factors Influencing Mental Health. Human Enemy No.1. “The World”. THE ENEMY AROUND US. (Micro version)

In a previous article (No 270) I listed the 3 main enemies to the mental health of humans as being the World, the Flesh and the Devil. Believers are asked to renounce them as a means of coming out from under their negative and damaging influence. How do these enemies seek to influence us, and how can we gain victory over them? We begin with the first enemy, the “world’.

The following is the [micro] Summary of the more detailed macro version which I will hopefully post soon.

SUMMARY:
1). Every person ever born is a creature in this physical world.
2). Humans rebelled against God so God sent His Son into the world to save the people of the world.
3). The response of those in the world varied. Some in the world chose to reject Gods’ salvation in Christ. The Bible sees them as still belonging to the [unbelieving] world.
Others in the world chose to believe in Jesus and received Him as Saviour. They still live in the world but as John declares, they are “not of the world.” They are now “in Christ” [in a living personal relationship with Christ] as they live in the world.
4). The [unbelieving] world, influenced by Satan and the powers of darkness, is antagonistic to God and to the people of God. The unregenerate “world” is spiritually blind, deaf and dead and cannot understand spiritual realities or people of the Spirit.
5). Victory over the world is possible by recognising our identity in Christ and acting on it in the ways suggested in section [B] above. {To be found in the forthcoming macro version.]
6). It is the truth that is known to believers by the illumination of the Holy Spirit AND acted on in the power of the same Holy Spirit, that brings freedom and victory over the world to the people of God.

Blog No.278. Posted on http://www.jimholbeck.blog on Tuesday 1st May 2018

Posted in Bible verses. Comments, Creation, Evangelism, Forgiveness, Justification, Mental Health, Mini Reflections, Salvation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

277. Time to elect a new Race Discrimination Commissioner in Australia.  I have a suggestion!

It would appear that our previous Race Discrimination Commissioners  have been very decent people. However, some of their decisions have left a lot of people wondering just how in touch with reality they have been. It is an important position and we have already seen with the death of the beloved cartoonist Bill Leak and the “less than appropriate” dealings (as many would see it) with some of the students at the University of Technology in Brisbane, how the powers of the Commission could be seen as leading to “less than desirable” outcomes.

So I have a suggestion.

Appoint NOBODY as the Race Discrimination Commissioner ! NOBODY is the most highly qualified and most suitable to take up this position. NOBODY has never made a mistake in any human relationship. No person has ever been able to lay a charge of discrimination against NOBODY.

NOBODY would never pursue brilliant, caring sensitive people like Bill Leak. Nor deal less than appropriately with university students for trivial matters [in the eyes of most fair-minded Australians].  It seems to me that the appointment of NOBODY would meet with wide acclamation by the whole Australian populace (except of course, for those who want to be Somebodies!)

With NOBODY in charge of the Race Discrimination Commission it could cease to function because the Race Discrimination Commissioner Office would have NOBODY in it. Then Everybody would rejoice that the appointment of NOBODY has had the desirable outcome of ceasing to waste time and finances trying to satisfy the whims of those who see themselves as nobodies but who are wanting to be seen as Somebodies.

Every time I go with my wife to the chemo treatment ward at our local hospital, where she, young people and  older folk line up to receive treatment (until it no longer works or they cannot afford new types of treatment), I think of the absolute waste of money that is being used to cater for those in this world who are trying to be Somebodies. How? By seeking what they think is justice for themselves.  None of course, I presume,  would be seeking notoriety or monetary gain for [what many see as] their “less than absolutely essential” (trivial?) complaints. Nor would they, I presume, seek to entice the Commission to play “more than Trivial Pursuit” by pursuing people they target with what appear to be disastrous results.

On this day after Anzac Day as I think of my father with thousands of other Australians in 1918 risking [and sometimes losing] their lives to protect the freedom of French and Belgian people in World War 1, I am wondering what he would make of the freedoms we are losing right here at home in Australia. They went all that way to protect the rights and lives of those they didn’t even know who were in grievous circumstances. Perhaps 100 years later we may need to do some protecting of every vulnerable person here at home and not support an ever growing “Grievance Industry.” We all need help and healing in dealing with a victim mentality!

The Australian way inherited from our forebears especially our service men and women who faced tremendous difficulties and dangers is to “give everyone a fair go”, to support one another “Can I help you mate?” We don’t need a Commission to tell us how to act as Australians!  The shed blood of thousands of young Australian service men and women over more than a century bears witness to the concern that Australians have to care for the individual, for groups of people or even for nations needing protection and care. The warm acceptance into our country of thousands upon thousands of migrants and fleeing persecuted folk since World War 2 is probably unmatched anywhere in the world.

We don’t need a Race Discrimination Commission to shame Australians nor to condemn them when they fail to meet some artificial politically correct standard imported from overseas, much of which is as un-Australian as you can get. Many of our forebears died to protect democracy in far-off countries. They didn’t give their lives over there, to have democracy destroyed here! To have a position known as a Race Discrimination Commissioner is really an affront to ordinary Australians who go out of their way to welcome, embrace and protect those from different backgrounds.

So my simple solution is to appoint NOBODY as the Race Discrimination Commissioner  and replace the Commission with Nothing.  Nothing in funding so that human lives can be bettered in other ways (such as more funding to medical research and affordable treatment) that add quantity and quality to life and do not threaten nor destroy precious Australian lives.

P.S. Someone suggested that it might be unwise to write something that could be seen as ever so slightly critical of a Race Discrimination Commission. Exactly my point! It would be entirely different if NOBODY was the Race Discrimination Commissioner!

Blog No.277. Posted on www.jimholbeck.blog on Thursday 26th April 2018

Posted in Forgiveness, Politics, Temptations, TOPICS | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

276.“FROM GLORY. THROUGH GORY. TO GLORY!” The Easter story in 6 words. (Expanded version!) Part 2 of 2.

“Oh, No!” might be the cry of some English language purists to see the phrase “through gory.” Some might object, “Don’t you understand that “gory” is an adjective? It is inappropriate to use it in this way.” Exactly!

  • Even as it was inappropriate for so many to cry out in answer to Pilate’s question about what to do with Jesus. They cried out, “Crucify Him!” and again “Crucify Him!”
  • Inappropriate to take the Son of God who had come from glory [to live a perfect human life in this world and to die for sinners] and crucify Him.
  • Inappropriate to take the Creator of the universe and nail Him to a part of His creation.
  • Inappropriate for some of His creatures to shame and mock their Creator as He hung on a cross, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” Mat 27:40. He was not there to save Himself but to save those who scoffed.
  • Inappropriate for them to demand He come down from the cross at their command. He wasn’t there to do their will in coming DOWN from the cross so that they might believe. It was in fact the opposite to what they demanded. He was there doing his Father’s will in being lifted UP on a cross so that people might look to Him in faith and be saved, “No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” John 3:13-15.
  • Inappropriate for them to continue their mocking instead of believing.

The Easter story has a wonderful ending. Jesus rose from the dead. However the process through which He achieved that victory over sin and death was messy, gory in the extreme, but necessary for the salvation of sinners.

This is how the writer to the Hebrews expressed these truths, “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb 12:2.

1). FROM GLORY. The Goal To Be Achieved By Jesus

Jesus. “who for the joy that was set before him.”  What joy?

  • The joy of returning to glory with the Father. Joh 17:1 “When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
  • The joy of knowing He had accomplished the work God had given Him to do on earth. Now He was about to return to His home in glory. Joh 17:4 “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.”
  • The joy of knowing that because of His work of redemption, His followers would be with Him in glory. Joh 17:24 “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”

2). THROUGH GORY. THE GOAL ACHIEVED BY JESUS THROUGH A GORY PROCESS

Jesus. “endured the cross”,

  • The Cross was part of God’s purpose for Jesus as “the lamb slain from foundation of the earth”.
  • He predicted it would happen. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” John 3:14.
  • He warned His followers that He was soon to die. Mat 16:21 “From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”
  • He humbled Himself to endure suffering on the cross. Php 2:8 “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
  • On the cross He bore the sin of the world. 2Cor 5:15 “and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” AND 1Pet 2:24 “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”
  • On the cross He, as the sinless One, was made sin, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”. 2 Cor 5:21.
  • By means of the cross, His death brought about the possibility of a reconciliation between God and sinful humanity 2Cor 5:19 “that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”

Jesus. “despising the shame.”

  • He knew He would be shamed. His parables foretold shaming and rejection of a son who was sent by the father. For example, in the Parable of the Wicked Tenants, Luk 20:13 “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ 14 But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours.’ 15 And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When they heard this, they said, “Surely not!” 17 But he looked directly at them and said, “What then is this that is written: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’? 18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” The parable predicted the rejection of Jesus, the Son of God and the Jewish Messiah.
  • Reviling Him was part of their shaming of Him, 1Pet 2:23 “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” He would not allow Himself to respond to their attempts to shame Him as He fulfilled the Father’s will for Him.

3). TO GLORY. THE GOAL ACHIEVED BY JESUS (for us as well).

Jesus. “and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

  • Jesus said He would rise again. We saw it above in Mat 16:21 “… and on the third day be raised.”
  • He said that he would return to be in glory with His Father, Mat 26:64 Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
  • Paul wrote that God showed His power in raising Christ from the dead and seating Him at His right hand, Eph 1:19  “and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20  that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.”
  • Jesus included His followers in His Good Friday to Easter Day activities. They too have died with Him in their faith-union with Him, Rom 6:8 “Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.” They too sit in the heavenlies with Him, Eph 2:6 “and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

SUMMING UP:

  • The title, (From Glory. Through Gory. To Glory!” The Easter Story In 6 Words) might sound a bit crude and a bit dramatic. However, we can never, in a lifetime of lifetimes, have any real appreciation for what Christ suffered on that First Good Friday. It was a “gory” mess as the Son of God who had come down from “glory”, was brutalised and crucified on that day.
  • It was through that “gory” death that sin and death was defeated and Jesus was raised to return to glory with His Father.
  • The marvellous thing for His disciples through the ages is that He wants us to see ourselves now as being “seated with Him” in the heavenlies, in the place of honour, acceptance and authority.
  • We may not yet be with Him in glory, but the process of our glorification has begun. As we remain focussed on Jesus an inner transformation is taking place in us by His Spirit, 2Cor 3:18 “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

Blog N0.276. Posted on www.jimholbeck.blog on Wednesday 4th April 2018. 

 

Posted in BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Evangelism, Forgiveness, Glorification, Prayer, Sanctification, Second coming of Jesus | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment