Liberty Not Libertine!

In Galatians 5, Paul tells the churches at Galatia to, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”

The Galatians were being persuaded by the legalizers to add circumcision as a means of salvation to the finished work of Christ. Paul told them if they tried to add circumcision to Christʼs finished work, “Christ shall profit you nothing” (v.2). He goes on to say, “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace” (v.4). They are “fallen from grace” in the fact they are trying to add something to what Christ perfectly accomplished for them. In other words, Christ plus something equals nothing, but Christ plus nothing equals everything! There is absolutely no justification in the law. The message still rings true today whether you are a Jew or a Gentile. Christ, and Christ alone, is still the only way to God!

Now look at verse 13, “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh…” Lets look at the word “occasion.” It is the Greek word “aphorme” (ah-for-MAY) which means “a place from which a movement or attack is made, a base of operations; metaphorically, that by which endeavor is excited and from which it goes forth; that which gives occasion and supplies matter for an undertaking, the incentive; the resources we avail ourselves of in attempting or performing anything.” In other words, donʼt make liberty the base of operations for the flesh to operate! Donʼt use liberty as an excuse to be a libertine (a person who behaves without moral principles or a sense of responsibility, especially in sexual matters).

Verse 16 tells us “Walk in the Spirit and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” Verse 17 tells us, “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” Verse 24 says, “And they that are Christʼs have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” Verse 25 says, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”

We have liberty in Christ in the sense we donʼt need to add anything to the perfectly completed work of Jesus Christ, yet we are not to use that liberty as a base of operations for the flesh to operate in its affections and lusts. As Paul said in Romans 6:1-2, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?”

Blessings to you!

Donʼt Allow Challenges to Stop You!

I love to read biographies and see the challenges people have had to overcome to accomplish great things. One thing I have noticed is very few people ever succeed in life who haven’t faced great obstacles along the way.

Booker T. Washington, in his autobiography “Up From Slavery” wrote, “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.”

I read a biography of a man whose father passed away when he was eleven years old, who had the modern day equivalent of a grade school education, whose mother never extolled or even acknowledged his public triumphs, and was estranged from her in the later years. Who was this individual? The first President of the United States…George Washington!

Washington could have made numerous excuses. He could have said, “I didn’t have a father present in my life.” He could have said, “I donʼt have a great education.” He could have said, “I didn’t have a great relationship with my parents.” He could have had a victim mentality. He could have had a bad attitude and simply viewed himself as a pawn on the chessboard of life. Instead, he became the first President of the United States! Even all the great men of the era: Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, etc…all considered him their superior!

What challenges are you facing? What obstacles are you confronting? Get rid of the victim mentality and get a victor mentality! Refuse to be a pawn on the chessboard of life! Some succeed because they are destined to, but most succeed because they are determined to!

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9).


Living Exemplary Lives

Out of one hundred men, one will read the Bible, the other ninety-nine will read the Christian.

D.L. Moody

The Puritan Thomas Brooks said,

Example is the most powerful rhetoric.

The single greatest tool of leadership is the power of an exemplary life. We teach what we know but we reproduce what we are. For this reason, the New Testament has much to say about the crucial role of example.

To the Corinthians Paul wrote, “I exhort you therefore, be imitators of me” (1 Cor. 4:16; 11:1). In Philippians 3:17 he said, “Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.” In Philippians 4:9 he wrote, “The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you.” He reminded the Thessalonians that “…our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit (1 Thess. 1:5-6; 2 Thess. 3:7-9). The writer of Hebrews exhorted his readers to “remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith” (Heb. 13:7). The New Testament is replete with instruction critical role of example

The preacher is to take heed to himself lest his example contradict his doctrine; lest he unsay with his life that which he has said with his tongue. Those who teach by their doctrine must teach by their life, else they pull down with one hand what they build up with the other.

My prayer is that we all finish our course well in order that we leave a godly legacy not an ungodly liability.

Blessings to you.

Grace Teaches Us!

Titus 2:11-12 says, “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.”

Notice that Grace Teaches us. The word “Teaching” is the Greek word “paideuo” (pi-DO- o), it means “to train children; to be instructed or taught or learn, to cause one to learn. To chastise; to chastise or castigate (reprimand severely) with words, to correct. It is used of those who are moulding the character of others by reproof and admonition” (Thayerʼs Lexicon). So Grace instructs us and causes us to learn, chastises and reprimands us severely with words when we stray, and corrects us for the purpose of moulding our character by its reproof and admonition.

Grace Teaches Us. Now what does Grace “teach” us? “…that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.” Grace teaches us to deny “ungodliness and worldly lusts.” Ungodliness is the Greek word “asebeia” (ahs-AY-bah-ah) which means “want of reverence towards God, impiety, ungodliness” (Thayer). “Worldly” is the word “kosmikos” (kos-me-KOS) which means “of or belonging to the world, having the character of this present corrupt age.” When we walk in ungodliness, following the character of this present corrupt age, we walk in a manner that fails to “reverence” God properly. We are dishonoring and disrespecting God. Grace would NEVER teach you to dishonor and disrespect God and fail to reverence Him by living a lifestyle of ungodliness!

Grace teaches us to live “soberly” (Greek: “sophronos”–“with sound mind, soberly, temperately, discreetly). “Righteously” (Greek: “dikaios”–“just, agreeably to right; properly, as is right; uprightly”). “Godly” (Greek: “eusebos”–“piously, godly”). Notice the Word says, “We should” live this way! Grace is very interested in how we live. “Jimmy, are you teaching sinless perfectionism?” Absolutely not! What I am saying is your affections should be toward godliness, not ungodliness. If we are seated with Christ in Heavenly places, as Ephesians tells us we are (Eph. 2:6), shouldnʼt our affections be upon Heavenly things? If we are “new creatures” in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:17), shouldnʼt there be a difference in the new man and the old man?

When we think Grace teaches us we can live however our flesh dictates, we donʼt understand grace. Grace is training, instructing, and molding our character into the image of Christ. 

Blessings to you!