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But keep away from youthful passions, and pursue righteousness, faithfulness, love, and peace, in company with others who call on the Lord from a pure heart. But reject foolish and ignorant controversies, because you know they breed infighting.
The term “youthful lusts” implies that there are temptations that come with the territory of being young. We all must recognize that, throughout all stages of life on this earth, temptation will be knocking on our door. Evil is crafty, and if it finds one door closed or locked, the search will continue for an open door, or a door it has the key to. Romans 12:1 says that we ought to “offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship". Romans 12:2 continues, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”. As our minds are renewed, doors to strongholds and footholds in our lives get closed and locked, and the Holy Spirit leads us to flee the passions that flooded from those doors. Sometimes fleeing is standing firm in Christ Jesus.
For many live, about whom I have often told you, and now, with tears, I tell you that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is the belly, they exult in their shame, and they think about earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven—and we also eagerly await a savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform these humble bodies of ours into the likeness of his glorious body by means of that power by which he is able to subject all things to himself.
Enemies of the cross of Christ have chosen a losing battle of seeking their own glory, and bowing in worship to the idols that have ensnared them. “Their god is their stomach, and their glory is their shame”. The problem begins when something becomes a replacement for Jesus Christ. Who saves you on a daily basis? Is it a comfort or a coping mechanism that you have developed over the years? When you are hungry, do you search a fridge, then a pantry, then a grocery store for what you want? Idols can capture the throne of our hearts whether in want or in excess. Breaking their power means looking to Christ, who prayed in Luke 11:3 and Matthew 6:11, “Give us this day our daily bread”. This is daily denial of self, knowing Christ as sufficient. Surrender and choose Jesus for all you need.
Be devoted to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving.
Devotion to prayer applies to our everyday lives and is vital to our relationship with Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Through prayer we share our hearts with God, and He wants to speak to us as well. It is a two way conversation, and a lifeline of our faith. In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”.
For sadness as intended by God produces a repentance that leads to salvation, leaving no regret, but worldly sadness brings about death. For see what this very thing, this sadness as God intended, has produced in you: what eagerness, what defense of yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what deep concern, what punishment! In everything you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter. So then, even though I wrote to you, it was not on account of the one who did wrong, or on account of the one who was wronged, but to reveal to you your eagerness on our behalf before God.
You can tell what kind of sorrow you are experiencing by looking at the fruit produced because of it. Sorrow that produces death deceives us. It captures us in confusion and doubt about ourselves, about God, about everything. Anxiety and fear often accompany worldly sorrow, and the result is a spiritual paralysis that corrupts all areas of our life. Godly sorrow, on the other hand, brings conviction and leads us to repentance. This type of sorrow is a tool the Holy Spirit uses to confront us about sin and enact change in our hearts and minds. Keep careful watch over the sorrow that you experience, and let God lead you down the path that brings life.
You foolish Galatians! Who has cast a spell on you? Before your eyes Jesus Christ was vividly portrayed as crucified! The only thing I want to learn from you is this: Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? Although you began with the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by human effort?
We receive the Holy Spirit by believing the message about Jesus Christ. Romans 10:17 (NKJV) says, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”. Only in obedience to the gospel will we be able to remain in Christ and not fall captive to judgment according to the law. It is by grace through faith in Christ Jesus that we are saved and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. No amount of “following rules and traditions” has drawn the Holy Spirit to live in us. God loves us, and He wants relationship with us. It is the work of Jesus Christ upon the cross, His life, death, and resurrection. It is because Christ Jesus succeeded in His mission and took His rightful place at the right hand of God that we are able to share in communion and community with the Triune God. It is only by His blood, and only by His mercy.