Jude 1:23

Verse of the Day: Jude 23

“save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.” – Jude 23

The book of Jude is the shortest book in the Bible, but says a lot about what we, as Christians, need to do as well as be careful of. He wanted to write about their ‘common salvation’, which was a very positive idea, but he felt compelled, by God, to encourage his brothers and sisters to stand firm in the faith. “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.” Jude 1:3. This was important because people were sneaking in to speak against what the Christian faith was all about. “For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” Jude 1:4. These are dangerous people who have secretly entered the Church fellowship with the purpose of deceiving believers to believe the same ungodly things they did.

Jude then uses a term that fully explains what he meant. Licentiousness or lewdness is not a sign of weakness but one of willful disobedience. Licentious people do things that are really wild. Some look upon God’s grace and kindness as an excuse to sin, saying, in effect, His kindness does away with law, so we are free to do as we please. Essentially, they suppose that, somehow or other, the more they practice sin, the more grace they will receive. And they also deny Christ. It is not that they say Christ never existed or is not the Savior. It is that everything they say and do, everything they believe, contradicts God’s way. If one denies a statement, he is contradicting the person who says it. Jude is using “deny” in this sense. The false teachers contradict Jesus Christ in all things. They can appear to be doing what they are supposed to, but inside deny the truth of God.

However, Jude knew this was happening. Therefore, instead of writing, at this time, about their ‘common salvation’ he felt it important to help them contend for the faith, to come against what the false teachers were teaching, and remind them of the truth of the Gospel. He was not saying to speak against the false teachers, but their teachings. He gave several examples of similar actions; the angels including Lucifer, the unbelievers in Sodom and Gomorrah, and those who were rescued out of Egypt and denied God, the one who rescued them. Jude then tells them “It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him. These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.” Jude 1:14-15.

Then Jude encourages them to keep themselves in a manner that is pleasing to God. “But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, ‘In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.’ These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.” Jude 1:17-19. He is telling his readers that these activities described above were prophesied by Jesus’s apostles. It simply means they foretold it before it came to pass. In essence, it was inevitable. Paul was quoted by Luke in the Book of Acts, “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves’ men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.” Acts 20:29-30. But he told them to keep themselves in God’s love. “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.” Jude 1:20-21. Jude has finished what he had to say about the ungodly, and now turns to more positive teaching. For the second time he calls them dear friends, and on each occasion, it is in contrast to the false teachers. He encourages them to build up the faith they have in Christ, pray in the Holy Spirit, and wait anxiously for Christ’s mercy and the eternal life He has promised.

But he also reminds them of their mission here. “And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.” Jude 1:22-23. Having exhorted his readers on how to behave in general and encouraging them as to their hope, Jude now turns back to the issue of the false teachers and their followers. How should they treat these people? Are they to be hated, fought, feared, or simply shunned? Jude implicitly rejects all of these approaches toward teaching considered to be false and thus misleading many Christians. But also, as said so clearly in our focus verse, we are to rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives, but loving those trapped in those beliefs and practices. While the doubters may not have been sure who was right and thus may have held back from committing to either set of practices, some were already getting involved with the practices of the teachers Jude is opposing. Jude’s counsel is to “snatch” them ‘from the fire’ and ‘save them.’

This is what we are called to do, help the doubters understand the truth and accept it, and declare the reality of what they are doing to those who are purposefully practicing what is wrong, knowing that it is wrong, so they can stop their sinful practices. Chuck Smith wrote this regarding this idea. “You can’t witness the same way to everybody. People are different, people have different temperaments. Some you’ve got to scare the hell out of them. Others are drawn by love. Some with compassion, making a difference, others, by fear, pulling them out of the fire. I mean, what does that mean? Now, it means that we have got to be led by the Spirit as we deal with people, hating even the garment that has been spotted by the flesh, pull them out of the fire. But hate the garment spotted by the flesh.

Our purpose is to bring people into the faith of God and help them to grow such that they can then do the same. We are not called to simply do the do’s and not do the don’ts. We are called to help people become believers, and believers that spread the truth of the Christian life, helping others to grow in the faith.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.

Psalm 73:25-26

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Psalm 73:25-26

“Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” – Psalm 73:25-26

Psalm 73 was written by Asaph.  Asaph was a Levite and as a Levite he ministered in the Tabernacle of Meeting – in the Sanctuary of God.  From what we know he was only one of three Levites specifically asked by King David (I Chronicles 6: 31, 39) to be in charge of the singing in the house of God.  He was keenly aware through his experience in this ministry of the hypocrisy that took place within the house of God at times as well as, the vanity of vanities of a man seeking refuge, peace, and fulfillment through the riches of the world.  Not unlike a true believer in our Lord and Savior today, at times we cannot

comprehend why the wicked and ungodly in this world prosper materially and have an abundance of earthly wealth and pleasures seemingly without any consequences.  It was not just the outsiders of the camp that Asaph is writing. It was the unfaithful within the encampment of Israel that he is referencing as well.  “Behold, these are the ungodly, who are always at ease; they increase in riches” (VS 12).  In contrast, Asaph saw that there are true, faithful, and righteous-living believers who are oppressed and do not have much in the way of material/earthly blessings.  This caused a conflict within his heart and within his ministry.  But Asaph writes: “When I thought how to understand this, it was too painful for me – until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end” (VSS 16,17).  

If you are a true believer in the finished work of Jesus Christ upon the Cross; His burial and His resurrection, you very well might be experiencing at times what Asaph did.  Maybe concerning earthly wealth and prosperity and/or the ease that appears to come with riches has never been at your doorstep.  Maybe you have said to yourself: “I’m doing everything I can to live rightly but why do those who don’t live rightly have more than me?  And like Asaph within the house of God, should I listen and believe the many prosperity and faith teachers of today’s church that I have a ‘right’ to expect material and earthly blessings and wealth as a believer in Christ?”  No.  Do not!   As new creations in Christ through faith, you have been placed into the Body of Christ.  Your blessings so abundant come to you by being ‘in Him’, not by being ‘in the world’ nor receiving from the world’s abundance.   “And blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,…” (Eph 1:3).   Does our Lord care about what we have materially to meet our needs?  Absolutely.   But to demand or expect God to be indebted to give us riches and wealth and obey our prayers or commands (prayers) for what we seek materially is wicked to the uttermost.  Those that solely grind after this world’s wealth to satisfy their needs are on a slippery slope (Ps 73:18) that will lead to destruction and desolation – like living in a dream and then suddenly awakened to reality (vss 18-20).   Therefore, what can we learn from Asaph’s experience?  In VSS 25-26, there is an encouraging summary of Asaph’s heart-felt prayer. 

#1.  “Whom have I in heaven but You?”  Technically, the phrase ‘but You’ is italicized which means it is inferred but not in the original text.  The question can read: “Whom have I in heaven?”   You do know that there are other created beings of God ‘in heaven’.  Angelic beings of all different roles and ranks are there.  There are beings that are evil in the ‘heavenly places’ and there are beings that adhere to the Word of God.  As believers our fight is not first and foremost against flesh and blood (the human realm), “…but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12).  So’ to answer Asaph’s question “Whom have I in heaven?”, the answer hopefully is clear to you as it was to Asaph.  It should ONLY be God. 

#2.    Not only is God our answer when looking toward the heavenly realm, He is our answer in our earthly realm as well.  “And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You” (VS 23b).  Oh, that you and I can have this kind of perspective, longing, and reality in our hearts.  Ironically, our Christmas season is here.  I desire that my heart would be like Asaph’s during this season; that I ultimately only desire Him – not the presents I might get or anything else offered from this world to try and fulfill only what He Himself can fill.  Be reminded that every TV commercial you will see this Christmas season will offer you the peace, prosperity, ease, comfort, and abundance that the world can give.  But while on this earth, there is none besides Him.  See, Asaph was a real man with real life before him.  Just like you today.  He expresses what many of us might feel at this very moment.

#3.  “My flesh and my heart fail;…” (VSS 26).   Asaph does not say ‘My flesh and heart MIGHT fail at times’.  No.  As a human being and even as an assigned singer in the house of God serving the One Living God, Asaph humbly admits to his readers of this Psalm that in his own strength (his flesh) and through his own efforts deep within his heart to do it right, he fails.  All ‘your’ efforts will fail you.  All ‘your’ self-determination within your own heart will come short of what you really, really need.   There are hundreds if not thousands of methodologies and self-help philosophies available in the world or within religious systems that promise to meet your most inner needs.   Listen here to the Word of God.  What you deeply need will not come from your own strength and your own heart-felt determination.   The answer once again is God Himself.  The Person. The Person is Jesus Christ.  “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me?” (John 14:10).  It is worthy of repeating.  What you deeply need will not come from your own strength and your own heart-felt determination.   The answer once again is God Himself. 

#4.    “But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (VS 26b).   Do you need a measure of strength to get through whatever phase in life or challenges or questions you are experiencing now?   When you see the world around you, even within the church on some occasions, seemingly prosperous people who are at ease and at comfort within their riches, and you ask that question: “How am I supposed to live as I view these things around me?”    Let your answer be the same as Asaph.   ‘BUT GOD…..’.  But God is the strength of MY heart – not the material world around me, not some angelic spiritual beings. No way.  God is MY strength and MY portion forever!!    Call out to Him.  Cling to Him.  He is right here.  As believers in the Lord Jesus, thank God that we can instantly turn to Him for real comfort, strength, peace, and hope that will deeply satisfy our most challenging times.   Thank you, Lord!

Jaca Kier, Board Member, True Devotion Ministries, Inc. 

Galatians 2:20

Verse of the Day Devotion: Galatians 2:20 

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” – Galatians 2:20

Paul, in this passage, is laying out a distinction of our new life in Christ in opposition to our old life of sin.  In the verse just before this, he states that the law by which He lived under in his past he no longer lived under.  “For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God.” Galatians 2:19.  The ‘law’ referenced here is the Mosaic Law. He has come to the realization, through his conversion to The Way (Christianity) that salvation did not come through obedience to the law.  There was no hope in being saved through his own deeds.  In our focus verse, we see the reality he has come to understand.

When Christ died on the cross, it was not that we died physically with Him.  It was that He died for us, and the penalty for our sins was paid through His death.  Paul puts it this way in his letter to the Church in Rome.  “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23.  When He died, our sins were paid for because He had never sinned and therefore His death was for our benefit.  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” John 3:16-17.

Because of this, we are to set aside our old life and put on our new life.  “if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” Ephesians 4:21-24. 

We are to put away those things from our old life that is sin and displeasing to God and put on those things which are good.  “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another. BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”  Ephesians 4:25-32.

It is important to understand that we are saved completely by the work of Christ on the cross: His death, burial and resurrection.  And this is purely the work of God and not by anything we could ever do.  It has nothing to do with following any rules. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:9-10. All that is required is that we accept the work He did for us. 

True acceptance of what He did is shown by loving Him above all else.  We are called to love the Lord with everything we have: all our heart, soul, mind and strength (see Luke 10:27).  And how do we show that love?  “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” John 14:15.  We are not to keep His commandments because they will save us, we are to keep them to show our love for Him. And this love shown by the keeping of His commandments is proof that it is no longer we who live, but it is Christ who lives within us.  It was not us who saved ourselves, it was God’s sacrifice that saved us.  Put another way, it was not the keeping of the law, or following specific rules that saved us, it was Christ.  The keeping of His commandments is only the proof that it is no longer us who live, but Christ who lives in us.  Paul wants to make this very clear here in Galatians 2.  Remember, one sin condemns us.  We all have sinned; therefore we cannot save ourselves.  So the following of the law is of no effect, except to show our love for Jesus because of His salvation we have accepted.  What a beautiful picture of the grace and mercy of God.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

Philippians 3:3

Verse of the Day Devotion: Philippians 3:3   

“For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” – Philippians 3:3

It is quite amazing to me how much truth is revealed to us by the Lord into one simple short Verse of Scripture.  Within the context of these words is hidden a reality that probably most sincere believers in Jesus’ deal with and maybe are not even aware of it.  Preceding this Verse, Paul warns the believers in Philippi to “…Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation!” (VS2).    Back then, just as today, there are more than enough ‘religious’ teachers and so-called ‘Christian teachers’ that are like spiritual watchdogs and actually evil in their work ‘in the name of Christ’ and they probably don’t even know it.   How can that be?  In a nutshell, within all their sincerity and conviction, I think they ‘add’ many things to the completed work of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection and promote those ‘works’ to be absolutely necessary in all regards towards a person, both in considering one’s salvation and in their being in right standing with God on a daily basis.  In very practical terms they just honestly do not believe that what Jesus did for us was enough. 

In the Philippians case, one of the sincere teachings they were hearing from the pulpit and within the larger circle of Christians was to ‘be physically circumcised’ if you REALLY want to be pleasing with God.   But this is not the truth.  “Indeed, I Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing” (Galatians 5:2).  These believers in Philippi were hearing from people within their own congregation the opposite of what Paul had taught them!  And those well-meaning law-abiding religious teachers were wrong.  Circumcision in Christ is of the heart, not of the flesh, and the surgery is done by Christ’s power – not yours.   In Christ, circumcision is a spiritual cutting-off of the power of the flesh nature.   Physical circumcision for a believer profit nothing at all to change a heart or have the possibility of being a ‘new creation’ in Christ.  If you are truly circumcised within your heart by the Lord, the next two statements in this Verse become a reality and a consistent desire within your life.  Be encouraged greatly by these two statements.

Number one, you will “…worship God in the Spirit…”.  Did you know that it is possible to try and worship God apart from the Spirit?   Unfortunately, I think we fall into this trap more often than admitted.  You sincerely just want to do better ‘next time’ and so you pull up your bootstraps and hunker down a little more and make a few more ‘I Promise’ statements to yourself.   I have fallen into this trap more than once, believe me. But folks, any attempt to being a worshipper of the Lord apart from the Spirit’s presence, leading, guiding, and prompting will be of the flesh.  “Are you foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3).   We do not have to walk in the Spirit – we GET to!    By God’s power in Christ and by His grace, we GET to and that is a cause for great rejoicing.  

Number two, you will “…rejoice in Christ Jesus…”.    Your times of rejoicing will not come about because of your successes compared to your failures throughout a day or week.  Your times of rejoicing will come about when you recognize that any and all of the good things that develop out of your life in Christ are BECAUSE of Christ.   Just because of Him.  Of Who He is.  You will rejoice within your heart in what He has already done for you in His completeness.   You are already spiritually blessed in Christ beyond calculation and imagination.   “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who HAS blessed us with EVERY spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ…” (Ephesians 1:3).  Yet thousands of well-intended Christians are seeking more spiritual blessings – from proclaimed Christian leaders leading the masses falsely saying you can have ‘more’.  Ummmm?  Yet, God in His Word has already told us that in Christ, the Father HAS (past tense) already blessed us with EVERY spiritual blessing!    Oh, how wonderful this is!   This is why Paul can say to the Philippians to rejoice in Christ Jesus.  You do not have to jump through additional religious hoops to attain God’s favor anymore!    Therefore, Paul instructs these Philippians in a very pointed, direct, profound, life-changing and universe-altering statement what they must be aware in their Christian walk: “….have no confidence in the flesh…”!    Do you hear that??   Do you ‘really’ hear that?   “BUT what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ” (Vs 7).   Doing religious (Christian religious) “things” in the flesh is simply loss.  The ‘more’ of whatever it is that you might be seeking is already in HIM.    Be encouraged and admonished.  Do NOT place any of your confidence in your flesh.   Place your confidence in the completely work of Christ that He has done for you already.    Be with Him.   Spend time with Him.  Talk with Him.   Listen to Him.         

Jaca Kier, Board Member, True Devotion Ministries, Inc. 

Romans 3:20

Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 3:20  

“Because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.” – Romans 3:20  

This is an important verse because too often, people look at their actions to denote whether they are saved or not saved.  This was what the Jews believed throughout the old and new testament and in our present times.  And unfortunately, many who call themselves Christians also fall into this trap.  In the time of Christ, the Jews believed that following the Mosaic Law was the way to salvation.  If they just did the things the law said to do and did not do what the law said not to do, then they were, in essence, saved. 

However, Micah laid out what the Lord required of man.  “With what shall I come to the LORD And bow myself before the God on high? Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings, With yearling calves? Does the LORD take delight in thousands of rams, In ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts, The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” Micah 6:5.  Micah starts by asking the question, how shall I approach the Lord?  How shall I come to Him to address my sin?  Is it through sacrifice?  Does the killing of many animals address my wrong doing?  No, and he explains what the Lord does require.  “He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8. He does not delight in sacrifices.  What He desires of us is to act with justice in all we do.  To be merciful to all and walk with humility with Him.  When we look at these three things, we do not necessarily see actions but character.  They are things we do because it is who we are.  Looking at these three again, what God desires is for us to be just, merciful and humility.  It is not the works of the law.

Now, we read in James the following.  “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” James 2:24.  It seems from this verse that works is part of what justifies us.  However, this is made clearer in a previous verse.  “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.”  James 2:17.  What this clarifies is that it is not works that matter but faith.  However, true faith is proven by works.  Therefore, faith is what Christ is looking for in us, however, if not in conjunction with works, do we have true faith?  We are saved by faith, but our works shows our faith.  Paul comes right out and states it like it is.  “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9. Nobody can be justified in the sight of God due to the works of the law.  The reason for this is that no one has ever kept the law completely with no deviation.  “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23.  Therefore, we cannot be justified by the law; meaning our works.  However, this does not mean we are without hope.  “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” Ephesians 1:7.  We could not pay the penalty, but Jesus could, through His perfect life. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21.  He gave His life for us because He loved us. 

In closing, does this mean we do not need to keep His commandments because He paid the price for us?  Absolutely not.  For by keeping them we prove our love for Him.  “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” John 14:15. The idea is that salvation is based on the work of Christ, and we accept this work because we love Him and desire to give our everything to Him.  “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” John 14:21. Our salvation is based on Christ’s work on the cross, and not by our works. But our works show the love we have for Christ and our acceptance of that work.  He loves us and pays the penalty, thus we should love Him because He did what we could not do.  What a loving God we serve.   

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

Romans 8:6

Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 8:6  

“For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,” – Romans 8:6 

This verse speaks of the most extreme dichotomy we can imagine.  This dichotomy results in either death or life.  However, this does not refer to physical death or life but to the spiritual.  Looking at our focus verse, the choice we make that highlights this difference regards what we are focused on.  Is it our fleshly desires that lead to spiritual death, or is it on the Spirit that results in life and peace?

In verse five, Paul says there are essentially two contrasting ways of living life.  “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” Romans 8:5.  And each of these depend on what we focus our minds on.  The first one is to follow the dictates of our flesh.  Later in this chapter, he explains why this is the case.  “because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Romans 8:7-8.  The one who’s mind is on the flesh is contrary to God, in fact, he goes as far as to say it is hostile to God.  The reason being they are more interested in what they desire as opposed to what God does.  They have placed themselves in a position which puts them as more important than God.  As an example, if you have two friends who are very important to you, and they ask you to choose between two different restaurants, you will probably choose from the one which you desire to please the most.  The same idea is seen here.  Who do we find most important in our lives and wish to please: God or ourselves?

The opposite of those whose’ mind is on the flesh are the ones whose minds is on the Spirit.  The idea here is that we place ourselves under the control of the Spirit of God.  When we do this, we desire what God wants as opposed to what we want; that we love God more than ourselves.  Jesus put it succinctly when he said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” John 14:15.  So, this basically leads to a question that we need to honestly answer, do we love God more than ourselves.  The answer to this question decides whether we will set our minds on the flesh or the Spirit. 

Paul lays out in his letter to the Galatians the difference between the actions that come about by our decision.  “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”  Galatians 5:19-23.  Let us always strive to follow the fruit of the Spirit and eliminate the deeds of the flesh that may creep into our lives.

And finally, as I intonated above, we should always examine ourselves to see if we are focused entirely on God and His ways.  We should pray and ask Him to show us where we may fall short so we may get back on track.  As David said in calling out to God. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me and lead me in the everlasting way.” Psalm 139:23-24.  We  may not always know where we stand, however He knows everything about us.  Let Him guide us in His ways and be who He desires us to be.  This is life lived beautifully for God.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

Galatians 5:13

Verse of the Day Devotion: Galatians 5:13 

“For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” – Galatians 5:13 

The salvation that Christ brought to us is a salvation of freedom.  Freedom from the law and the requirements to do certain works in order to guarantee our salvation.  His is a complete freedom from all the burdensome rituals and ceremonies of the Mosaic law.  His is a salvation of grace. 

Now, one verse above this we see that there were people, probably teachers, who were positing thoughts into their minds regarding the law.  The main idea he brings up is circumcision.  It appears they were trying to get new converts to submit to being circumcised.  “Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.”  Galatians 5:2-4.  In those days, if a Jewish man, or one who is converting to Judaism via becoming a proselyte, was not circumcised, then in essence they were not accepting the covenant with God.   This was no doubt the part of the law that was pushed upon the new Galatian, believers by these false teachers.  Paul then, in verse twelve, in a sarcastic manner, tells the church he wishes these teachers would cut themselves off from the Church.  “I wish that those who are troubling you would even mutilate themselves.” Galatians 5:12. 

Back to our focus verse, after he informs the church that for freedom Christ set them free, he then warns them that this is not a freedom to sin.  Back when I lived in Central North Carolina, I met a young man in a church who was married with one young child.  During a discussion with him, he admitted to having an affair with another woman.  When I questioned him about this, he told me that because he was saved, he was free to do anything he wanted.  It was OK to sin because Jesus already forgave him.  This idea is known as Antinomianism.  It means ‘against the law’, which is the belief that since we are under grace, the moral law is of no use.  The verse often used is “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9.  They obviously do not know what this mean.  However, they ignore a clear verse in Paul’s writing to the Romans where he says, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” Romans 6:1-2.  And we are to keep the commands of God.  Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” John 14:15. 

In verse one we read, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore, keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”  Galatians 5:1. He set us free from the yoke of slavery to the law and saved us through grace.  However, we are not at liberty to satisfy the desires of our flesh.  It is by grace we are saved.  However, Paul tells us that instead of being a slave to sin, we should, in love, be a servant to one another.  We should help each other in many ways, including their physical, emotional and spiritual needs.  This is not to aid in our salvation, but a way to share and express our love for each other.  This is what we should be about.  Salvation is by grace, but our calling is, in love, reaching out to the lost and helping and teaching our brothers and sisters in Christ. 

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

Galatians 5:16

Verse of the Day Devotion: Galatians 5:16 

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” – Galatians 5:16

Paul sets forth here a dichotomy.  We either walk by the Spirit of God, or we will walk according to our own desires.  These are in opposition to each other.  Paul states here in the next verse. “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.” Galatians 5:17. We either do one or the other.

Paul lays out how we can deny our fleshly desires.  God has given us His Spirit to live within us, and we are to live under His influence and obey His will.  We are not to resist His leadings but accept them and resist where our desires could lead us.  If we would yield our hearts to the Spirit, we would be able to overcome all our corrupt and carnal propensities.  If we find ourselves resisting the Spirit, then we find ourselves being led in the other direction, following the ways of our flesh.

This situation laid out here is why it is so important that we fully submit to God and all His ways.  Satan is the great tempter.  He first tempted Eve in the garden, convincing her to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and then she gave the fruit to Adam who also ate of that tree.  What the devil did was stimulate the desires they had to be in control.  And he does the same thing today.  We, as Christians, desire that God be in control.  However, there are times when we let down our guard and we take control ourselves.  We listen to ourselves and our desires rather than the Spirit inside us.  Lacking self-control, we can succumb to the temptations the Devil brings our way.  Instead, we should always listen to and follow the Spirit of God and He will give us wisdom in our situation and guide us in His ways.  Instead of resisting the Spirit, we should resist the devil and his temptations. As James put it, “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7

Too often we go the other way, submitting to the devil instead of God.  It is important that we examine ourselves and see where we are, especially when we find ourselves giving in to our fleshly desires. Instead of following God, we find ourselves subconsciously resisting Him.  Often times we do not realize we are doing it.  That is why we are to consistently resist the devil because when we do, he will flee, and we will then be open to hearing God.

Be in prayer about this.  It is important that we seek the leading of the Spirit at all times.  It is easy at times to let our guard down.  But we must remain committed to God and His ways.  This is the only way we can resist the enemy of our souls and defeat him.    

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.