Thursday, June 30, 2016

Sex and Marriage

Read 1 Corinthians 7.

The Corinthians had written Paul first with some questions.  He addressed at least a couple of them in this chapter.

The Apostle Paul was a single man.  He could have married (Peter did, Matthew 8:14) but Paul chose to remain as he was when God called him.  It is crucial not to blaspheme the Holy Spirit, as some have done, by dismissing these Biblical statements as "Oh, that was just Paul talking."  Not only did he write these instructions "as (he) was carried along by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:20-21), but, in addition, he had Apostolic authority to give such specific instructions.  Indeed, this is the word of God.

Marriage Defined 
The only ones endeavoring to redefine marriage are those who reject God's word and seek to justify their sin.
Marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman.  (v.2)

Marriage is a singular union comprised of one man and one woman.  The term "each" does not allow for polygamy.

Marriage is a submissive relationship, in that each lovingly gives up personal rights and authority over their body (vv.3-4).  Ephesians 5 describes the attitude of believers in this regard.  In the same way Christ loves and sacrificed Himself, so a husband is to demonstrate that kind of sacrificial love to his wife.  In the same way, a believer submits themselves to a loving Savior, so a wife is to give herself to her husband.

Sexual intercourse is truly an act of marriage.  Intentionally withholding intimacy from a marriage partner is a violation of verses 3-4.  Engaging in sex outside of marriage is strictly condemned as the behavior of unbelievers who are subjecting themselves to God's judgment.  This was made clear in 6:9-10.  "Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous." (Hebrews 13:4)

There are two overarching statements for all of us.
1. Be self-disciplined. (v.5b)
To engage in sex outside of marriage is a temptation from two sources.  First, Satan is a tempter.  His aim against every believer is to lure them away into sin.  "Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (James 4:7)  The second is our own lust.  James 1:14, "But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire."    "...walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh." (Galatians 5:16)

2. Be content where you are. (v.35)
Single?  That is okay.  Married?  That is okay.  Widowed?  That is okay.  At best, all earthly relationships are temporal.  "For the present form of this world is passing away" (v.31b).  Whatever your state in life, make it your focus, then, "to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord."

Monday, June 27, 2016

3 test questions for a follower of Christ

Read 1 Corinthians 6.

Should a person who claims to be a Christian do ________________?  (You may fill in the blank.)

Questionable activities spring up in every culture and some of the answers may change with time.  But the Scriptures do not change.  Here in verses 9-10, as in other passages, sin is named explicitly.  These are not negotiable.  The only ones debating these issues are merely seeking justification for their sin and probably revealing they are not true believers at all.

When God says "no" it is because He has something better in His plan for us.  Often times, selfishness and fear get in the way of our thinking and doing what is right.  We fear that God will not provide what we want or perceive we need.  So, we take matters into our own hands and go our own way.  Trusting the Lord to fulfill His promises toward us (Matthew 6:25-34) and waiting for God's timing to act is the challenge of faith.

Beyond the facts of right and wrong in God's word, there are three positive questions that should guide our lives.

1. Is it helpful? (v.12a)
Yes, we have freedom in Christ, but we do not have the freedom to sin or violate Biblically stated behaviors.  "Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God." (1 Peter 2:16)  How is this behavior pleasing to God and helpful to my Christian growth?  How is this behavior helpful others in their coming to faith in Christ?

2. Am I controlled by it? (v.12b)
Does this dominate my life?  The Apostle Paul wrote, "All things may be "lawful for me, but I will not be dominated by anything."  Can I easily live without it?  When others think of me, is this what comes to mind?  Am I presenting a lifestyle that others can follow as I follow Christ?

3. Am I demonstrating that Jesus is truly the Lord of my life? (v.13)
When a person comes to faith in Christ, they renounce their sin and selfishness to become a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17).  Life is no longer about me, nor about defending my rights.  It is about personal surrender, living to please the One who loved me and gave Himself for me (Ephesians 5:2).

Therefore, we are to behave as those who "were (past tense) washed, you we sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of God" (v.11b).  As a temple of the Holy Spirit we are to make decisions based upon the fact that we are not our own.  We have been bought and paid for by the precious blood of Christ.  "So glorify God in your body." (vv.19-20)

Friday, June 24, 2016

When acceptance is not Acceptable

Read 1 Corinthians 5.

The church at Corinth was proud of the fact that they were accepting of everyone and all behaviors. This incestuous relationship mentioned here was open and well-known in the congregation.  "Your boasting is not good." (v6)  Scripture does not mince words when it comes to sin.  Sexual behavior outside of the marriage between one man and one woman is consistently condemned in the Bible.  "Let him who has done this be removed from among you." (v.2b)   But the bluntness of this passage goes on: " are to deliver this man to Satan..." (v.5)  "Purge the evil person from among you." (v13)

Who are we to judge?
God is the Judge and He has given His word to be implemented by His people.  This and other passages (see chapter 6) make it clear that the church is to be a place where godly people protect from false teaching and to deal promptly with wrong behavior.

Why is this so important?
Like yeast in a lump of dough (vv.6-7), sin is a cancer.  If not dealt with decisively and correctly, the sin will spread and kill the ministry of that church.  This symbolism is carried over into the Lord's Supper, or Communion.  The bread used for that celebration is to be unleavened. (vv.7-8) as a sign of purity, "sincerity and truth".

What is the ultimate purpose of such church discipline?
It is not to embarrass people into submission to church authority.  It is not meant merely to rid the local church of unrepentant people.  There two purposes of such discipline:
1. The process is to be conducted in love by those who are committed to restoring the sinning believer to full fellowship in the congregation.  Any other motives are illegitimate and unbiblical!  Matthew 18:15-20 provides a step by step process, including the Lord's confirmation of the judgment of the two to three witnesses.
2. The wayward congregant is to express repentance and demonstrate they have forsaken the sin.  This is the requirement for restoration.  If there is no admission of guilt and no willingness to change, then the church must let the person go.  In the context of false doctrine, 1 John 2:19 states: "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us.  But they went out, that it might be plain that they all are not of us."

Why are most churches failing to follow the commands of church discipline?
1. It is a sorrow-filled process.  Those who are committed to the person's restoration carry a huge load of brokenness over the situation.  Galatians 6:1-5 cautions those who would do such ministry.
2. It is a time consuming process.  Bearing one another's burdens is not accomplished in a single meeting.  Restoring one's relationships takes consistent trust-building interactions.
3. It is based upon voluntary accountability.  Without the willingness of committed people in the church and the willingness of the sinning person, restoration is not possible.

Fortunately, in this case, it appears from 2 Corinthians 2:5-11 that the church and this individual listened and followed God's word.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

3 evaluators of effective Ministries

Read 1 Corinthians 4.

In teaching and correcting the problems that existed within the local church at Corinth, Paul presented himself as a servant of Christ and a steward of God's word.  This is how he wanted them to think of him.  How are we to evaluate this in ourselves and in others?  Paul admonishes us in three areas concerning such judging.

1. Be faithful in what we do. (vv.1-5)
Outward behaviors are important.  It is how we evaluate people in regards to their consistency.  Am I/are they dependable with responsibilities?  The evidences of our true commitments can be seen in tangible ways.  Punctuality, task completion, thoughtfulness, etc. are measureable indicators.  Two records reveal personal commitments to what we say we believe: our financial records and our personal calendars.

Outward behaviors of faithfulness are important to God, as well.  However, His judgment of individuals goes beyond what we may see.  In addition, the Lord evaluates "the purposes of the heart" (v.5).  Inward faithfulness is something He alone can judge.  The evaluation of a person's motives overrides what we do and is the basis of God's commendation of us.

2.  Be focused in what we say. (vv.6-14)
Fast talking, entertaining, intellectually stimulating, creative presentations may draw crowds.  The servant of Christ is a steward of the message.  A key evaluator of ourselves and the ministry of others is "not go beyond what is written".  This requires one to know the Scriptures and understand them.  Then, it is required that we faithfully discipline ourselves accordingly.  Phrases and verses taken out of context have led to multitudes of erroneous beliefs.  Being duped by false teaching is a sign of spiritual immaturity.  " that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes." (Ephesians 4:15).  We will be judged by the word of God.

3. Be factual in what we think. (vv.15-21)
Some in the Corinthian church had become arrogant in their thinking.  Being full of themselves, they thought their judgment had become superior in wisdom and authority.  But the facts are very different.  God provides each believer with the spiritual ability to serve Him effectively.  He, then, opens doors of opportunity.  And, He gives the spiritual results.  Our attitudes should be filled with humility and gratefulness.  The Apostle Paul deliberately used sarcasm in these middle verses not "to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children" (v.14).  Paul possessed all the authority of an Apostle.  He led these folks to faith in Christ and established this church.  Yet, the effectiveness of his ministry to them was not in what he did or said.  Let the arrogant people talk.  But, the fact is "...the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power" (v.20).

Yes, there may be great crowds and large followings.  Sales may break records.  Outwardly, every indicator may be deemed successful in our human judgment.  However, without humble dependence upon the power of the Holy Spirit, no lasting ministry takes place.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

On what are you Working?

Read 1 Corinthians 3.

In chapter 2, the Apostle Paul wrote of two kinds of people in the world: natural and spiritual.  The natural person has only experienced a human birth and is limited to eyes, ears and intellect.  The wisdom of God may seem unintelligible and even foolish to them.  The spiritual person, having received Jesus as personal Savior, is indwelt by the Holy Spirit.  It is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to reveal and help the believer to understand and apply God's word.

Now, in chapter 3, Paul addresses a third type of person.  Those in the church at Corinth were believers, but they were behaving like unbelievers.  He called them carnal or fleshly.  They were thinking, speaking and acting as though Christ had not changed their lives.  Throughout this book, Paul will address many specific illustrations of their unspiritual behaviors.  Here, their lack of Christian maturity was evidenced by the "jealousy and strife" in the congregation.  The divisiveness came as they chose sides on which preacher they followed.  Who was more important and who was better?  Was it the one who founded their church or the one who continued to teach in the church?  Paul's terse answer, "So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth." (v.7)  They ended up working on each other, instead of why God raised up the church in Corinth.

Looking at the birth and life of a local church, we are given two comparisons.  The church is like a field that needs cultivation, planting, tending, and harvesting.  The church is like a building that has a foundation, a structure, an appearance, and occupancy.  Each area requires multiple workers with different skills and giftedness to labor.  The ministry is W-O-R-K.

At the Judgment Seat of Christ, when each individual believer in Jesus will stand for an accounting of their Christian life, two things will happen.  The work we have done will be tested.  What did we do with the gifts, time and opportunities God gave us?  All the temporal and material facades will be removed and only what we did that has lasting, eternal value will remain.  Based upon that evaluation, the worker will be rewarded for their service for Christ.

Note that the reward is based upon the quality of labor, not the quantity of the results.  The farmer has no control over the weather and other unforeseen conditions.  He cannot make a harvest.  He is held responsible for doing his personal best in working to do all he can.  It is "...only God who gives the growth."  The builder is responsible for the quality of the materials selected and the quality of work that was done in construction.

The encouraging aspect of serving the Lord is that, in addition to the Holy Spirit, God has already given us "all things" to be effective for Him.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Why don't they Understand?

Read 1 Corinthians 2.

Paul was highly educated, intellectually capable, multi-lingual, and a trained debater.  To the more experienced in the faith, Paul communicated insights into the Scriptures and the "wisdom of God" (vv.6-7).  But when he taught in public, he kept it simple.  The message centered on the implications of "Jesus Christ and him crucified" (v.2).  His ministry was even accompanied by the "demonstration of the Spirit and of power."  Lives were being transformed.  People experienced forgiveness of sin and the freedom of a clean conscience.  Some behaviors changed.  What took place was undeniable!

Even though the message of Jesus was so simple a child could respond in faith, and though the power of God was evident, still many did not get it.
"None of the rulers of this age understood." (v.8)
"No one comprehends..." (v.11)
"He is not able to understand..." (v.14)
And, the question is why?

Everyone has family members, dear friends, neighbors and acquaintances who do not know Jesus as their Savior.  It is a heartache the believer carries daily in prayer.  Why don't they understand the urgency and the loving kindness of God?

The truth about God and His word can never be fully understood by natural means.  Jesus said, "God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth." (John 4:24).  In other words, eyes, ears and intellect will prove useless in fully comprehending spiritual truth and spiritual things.  Because it is spiritual and not natural, one must have the help of the Holy Spirit to understand and appreciate the wonderful work of Christ and His offer of salvation by grace.  To the natural person these things may sound foolish and optional.

This is clearly explained in verses 9 and 10.  Often only verse 9 is quoted and misapplied regarding some future plans of God.  However, the rest of the sentence continues in verse 10 by saying "these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit."  Notice the verb tense.  Those who personally know Jesus already have the indwelling Holy Spirit alongside to help them.  Understanding and obeying God's word is evidence of what Paul called having "the mind of Christ" (v.16).  

Even the number one Rabbi in Jesus' day did not understand this.  In John 3, Jesus compared it to a birth.  A physical birth alone will not result in a relationship with God and eternal life.  "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of Spirit is spirit.  Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'"  When one is born into God's family through faith in Jesus, the Holy Spirit then does a work of unlocking our human understanding.

Friday, June 10, 2016

How foolish is the message about Jesus?

Read 1 Corinthians 1.

The basis of the redemptive message is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).  It is personal faith in His sacrifice for one's sins against God that saves from eternal judgment and results in eternal life.  Such forgiveness cannot be earned.  It is a gift from God for simply believing in what the Bible calls the Gospel (good news).

In this chapter, the Apostle Paul uses at least four descriptive phrases for the Gospel.
1. "The word of the cross." (v.18a)
If there is no cross, there is no Gospel.  That is how the full, final, once and for all payment for sin was mad.  It is only through the substitutionary crucifixion of the Son of God that we have any good news concerning our being reconciled to God.

2."The power of God." (v.18b)
It is the same term in Romans 1:16.  Humans are powerless to gain God's forgiveness and spiritual life.  Salvation is an act of God.  1 Timothy 6:16 could not be more clear.  Concerning Jesus, Paul wrote, "who alone has immortality."  There is no alternative.

3. "The folly of what we preach." (v.21)
The Gospel message asks a person to believe in a God they cannot see nor figure out.  By faith alone, one is called upon to commit their lives to Jesus and live with complete confidence in Him.  This sounds absolutely foolish to those who view life as "seeing is believing" and who would rather trust their own reasoning over the word of God.  The Scripture is consistent in its teaching that "believing is seeing."

4. "The wisdom of God." (v.24)
The wisest man who ever lived wrote, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death." (Proverbs 14:12)  When a human heart rejects the knowledge of God, it will turn to any and every false explanation.  These false ways may salve the rebellious conscience for a time, but at the end of life there is no "good news."  Only what the Bible calls the second death awaits them (Revelation 21:14-15) .  "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction." (Proverbs 1:7)

At the root of all rejection of God's word and the Gospel is the sin of pride.  It is shear hubris for a person to think they know better than their Creator and the One who desires to be their Savior.  Why has the Lord chosen such a plan that sets aside all human effort and depends solely on His grace?  " that no human being might boast in the presence of God."  And, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."  At that point, our only response can be "Thank you, Jesus!"

Thursday, June 9, 2016

A time to say Thank You

Read Romans 16.

This letter was written from Corinth.  Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul dictated the words to Tertius (v.22), and it was delivered by Phoebe (vv.1-2) to the believers in Rome.  Quite a number of Paul's friends had moved there, increasing the reach of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  In concluding this hallmark book, Paul began thanking and acknowledging 26 people by name and others in a general manner.

The ministry of introducing people to a saving faith in Jesus and then teaching them the word of God requires much more than sound theology.  Building and maintaining healthy relationships is vital to the process.  Here is a great example of how personal Paul's ministry was.  More than merely mentioning those whom he knew by name, he commended many for a specific reason.

Phoebe was a servant (Greek=deacon) in her local church and generously supported Paul and others.
Prisca and Aquila, mentioned before in Acts, had risked their lives for Paul.
Epaenetus was the first convert in Asia.
Mary was a hard worker in the church.
Andronicus and Junia were well-known believers and had been in prison with Paul.
Ampliatus.  Paul loved this man as a brother in Christ.
Urbanus also worked in the ministry.
Stachys, like Ampliatus, was a dear personal friend.
Apelles had endured a time of testing and come through strong in faith.
Aristobulus may have been the grandson of Herod the Great.
Herodion, not necessarily a family member but more likely of the tribe of Benjamin as Paul.
Narcissus' family was greeted, if they knew the Lord; evidently, not all did.
Tryphosa and Persis were women who also worked hard for the Lord.
Rufus showed he obviously belonged to the Lord and his mother had shown special care for Paul.

A couple of insights:
We need to thank those who serve in our local church, by name and with specificity for what they do for the Lord.

If Paul had written this to our local church, what could he have said about us?

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Who is responsible Here?

Read Romans 15.

Paul's instructions about accepting one another began at the end of chapter 12 and continue into this chapter.  We are to "Love one another with brotherly affection.  Outdo one another in showing honor" (12:9-10).  But what happens when there is a disagreement on a non-essential opinion?  The essentials would certainly include what is the Bible, who is Jesus, and how is a person saved from their sin.  Each person coming into the local church family brings personal experiences, individual preferences, and differing levels of spiritual maturity.

To simply the understanding, two categories of spiritual growth are mentioned from chapter 14 and into chapter 15: the weak and the strong.  Some may consider certain foods, celebrations, etc. to have importance that others do not.  The point in chapter 14 is that each individual must do whatever they do "in honor of the Lord" (14:6) and with complete confidence that they are pleasing God in that conviction (14:23).  If we are not allowed to quarrel about varying opinions in the church (14:1), what are we to do?  How can we truly accept one another when there are some obvious differences?

"We who are strong (Greek=capable) have an obligation to bear with the failings (Greek=inabilities) of the weak, and not to please ourselves."  A person new to the faith, or one with differing views, may lack the experience, teaching, or ability to appreciate a certain non-essential issue as others do.  The strong are those with a broader understanding and experience to be able to "pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding" (14:19).  Since the "weak" are not able to do so, it is the responsibility of the "strong" to  bear with, endure, and help others to protect unity in the church.  It is an opportunity for the "weak" to begin to mature as the "strong" exercise loving acceptance in the process.

No little humility is required.  This means serving each other's needs more than our own.  Why should we lay aside our rights for the sake of others?  Now, Paul presents the supreme example--because that is how Christ treats us.  If Jesus had held on to His rights, He would have never left heaven in the first place.  At the Last Supper, it was Jesus who took upon Himself the role of a servant and washed the disciples' feet (John 13) and said, "I have given you an example."

There are only two places in the Bible where Christ is called our example.  In John 13, Jesus is our example of servanthood and, in 1 Peter 2:21, He is our example in suffering.  Both of those can cause great abrasions to our human instinct of self-protection.  But they are part of our calling in Christ.

Therefore, we are "to live in such harmony with one another...and welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God." (15:5 and 7).

Sunday, June 5, 2016

3 Standards, 2 Problems, 4 Responsibilities

Read Romans 14.

A believer in Jesus lives by three standards.
Scripture-The written word of God.  
This standard does not change with time or culture or people group throughout the world.  "Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens." (Psalm 119:89)  It is by the clear teaching of God's word that we are and will be judged.  Though it may not be deemed politically correct and though denominations may vote against it, the Scriptures stand sure.

Conviction based on Scripture.
The major doctrines of the Bible are clear.  Where the Scripture speaks but may seem unclear, two believers who love Jesus and submit to the Scriptures may come to different points of view on some finer points of teaching.  Often our individual backgrounds and experiences cause us to come to a conclusion that others may not share.  Paul mentions wine in verse 21, as an example.  In many cultures, this is not an issue; it is accepted.  But if a person is an alcoholic, or has experienced the trauma of abuse, or ministers to people with problems in this area, then they may have a strong conviction of total abstinence.  Both may point to Romans 14 for justification of their conviction.

Personal preference.
This has to do with the area of style and how we live out our convictions.  God created us an individuals with our own likes, tastes, and views of what we enjoy.  Our gifts and abilities are varied and God has given great latitude in the freedom of expression throughout history.  "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."  It is true of art, clothing choices, appearance, and music styles.  Such is not right and wrong in themselves but personal choices within the will of God.

Problems arise when one of two things happen.
1. A person confuses Scripture with personal preference.  In the last few decades, evangelical churches experienced the so-called music wars.  Some wanted to only sing hymns, as if those songs somehow were equal with the Bible.  Others preferred an updated sound using multiple instruments in worship.  The truth is that music styles have always changed among believers over time (the beloved hymns were once new to Christian worship).  Second, what is pleasing to the ears of some American churches may not be deemed worshipful at all in third world countries.  If King David played today one of the Psalms as he sung in his generation, would any one of us enjoy the style?

2. A person confuses their personal preference with freedom in Christ.  Liberty is not license.  The word of God is our guardrail and must  not be violated.  Feelings do not trump the facts of Scripture.

We have a responsibility to each other in our choices (v.7).  What are we to do?
1. Do not quarrel over opinions but accept one another. (v.1)
2. Do not despise or judge someone else's personal preferences. (3)
3. Do not put a hindrance in the way of someone else by your liberty. (vv.13-16)
4. Be confident that what you are doing honors the Lord and "makes for peace upbuilding." (vv.6 and 19)

Friday, June 3, 2016

Timely tests of our Faith

Read Romans 13.

This passage continues Paul's admonitions from chapter 12 on how we are to treat other people and our personal behaviors.

1. Responding to authorities over us. (vv.1-7)
Here are three test questions to measure our faith in the word of God:
Do I believe "there is no authority except from God" governing me?

Do I believe "those that exist have been instituted by God"?

Do I believe those over me in authority are truly "God's servant for your good"?

The Bible is crystal clear on our required attitudes toward parents and employers.  We in the Western World have, perhaps, been too quick to condone wrong attitudes toward some authorities by using a few exception examples.  With our constitutional rights and voting privileges, some have considered themselves equal to or above any governmental authority.  Fortunately, Westerners may change their employment and may vote for change.  However, it is easy to fall prey to disrespect and even rebellion against those with whom we disagree or for whom we did not vote.  In doing so, some have dismissed the very intent of these verses.  Most of the world has not enjoyed such freedoms.  It is crucial to understanding this passage that the ultimate governing authority at the time was Nero.  If these are the expectations of Christians in the context of the Roman Empire, what does that say to us?

Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle reminded the Roman believers (and us) that unduly resisting God-assigned authorities over us means that we will violate our conscience of what is right and stand to incur God having to deal with us.  Most often, the Lord will use that resented authority to implement His judgment.

Paul listed three required responses: pay your taxes, show respect, give honor.  Not because we believe they deserve it ("owed") but, looking beyond the person, we believe and want to obey God's word.  As stated above, this is a test of our faith.

2. Responding to those around us. (vv.8-10)
Before Paul became a Christian, his life as a Pharisee centered on fully obeying the Law and then some.  But way beyond trying to keep the Ten Commandments outwardly is the statement from the Law in Leviticus 19:18, "but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD."  Jesus quoted this in Matthew 22:37-40 saying that loving God and loving people fulfills all the intent of the Old Testament Law and Prophets.

3. Responding to what is in us. (vv.11-14)
As Paul wrote in chapter 7, "when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand."  Believers must be vigilant and disciplined about attitudes and behaviors.  We must be alert to the fact that at any moment we could be taken out of this life and ushered into the presence of the Lord.  So, we must be ready.  Therefore, stop doing things that displease the Lord and lead to sin.  "Make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires."  Put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6) and shine as a true believer in every circumstance.