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Hopeless or Hopeful

Posted on March 21, 2018 at 1:40 PM

Dear Saints;

At the risk of sounding like a doomsday prophet it seems to me that our country is “going to hell in a handbasket”! I realize that old men in every generation have probably said something similar as they watch the cultural changes throughout their lifetime. And I know that a negative attitude about the future tends to rob us of the hope that is needed to sustain our love for one another. But when faced with such overwhelming evidence of corruption and decay in our social fabric it is difficult to come to any other conclusion. As Paul warned his disciple, Timothy, “In the last days perilous times shall come”.

 

In his second letter to Timothy Paul described those times saying, “As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God.” (The Message) Sounds like Paul was painting a pretty ugly picture of humanity! Is that really what our world is coming to? No, it’s the way our world has always been! The question is, “How are we going to deal with it?”

 

I don’t think the flesh (the natural human condition apart from God) is really getting any worse than it has been. It’s just that we are more aware of it and confronted more by it as our population grows. Since the time Cain murdered his brother, Abel, humanity has been plagued by inherent selfishness and dysfunction. At its root, there is nothing pretty about the flesh at any time in any human being. It has its own mind the Bible calls the “carnal mind” that is “enmity against God” and “not subject to the law of God”. Although we may try our best to “rehabilitate” the flesh through various self-improvement programs, the sad fact is that no one can change or eliminate the flesh. Of the three classic enemies of God (Satan, the world, and the flesh) the flesh is the most subtle and powerful enemy we face.

 

Does this mean that we are hopelessly doomed as a nation, a society, or as individuals? Not at all! While we may not be able to do much about our society or nation directly, we can trust the provisions God has made for us through his indwelling Spirit, the Comforter. God is not at all surprised by the ugliness of the flesh and its effect on our world under the influence of Satan. In fact, Jesus warned his disciples of the opposition they would face in this world on the night before he was betrayed and crucified. His answer for them and for us is found in the promise of the indwelling Spirit of God, the Comforter, whom he promised would lead, guide, teach and remind us. He promised he would not leave us as orphans at the mercy of the flesh, the world, and Satan.

 

Through his indwelling Spirit God has separated the new person he has made us to be in Christ from our own natural flesh produced by the old person we were. While we still have the flesh contained in these physical bodies, we are not “after the flesh but after the Spirit”. The new person we have been made to be in Christ now has a new mind, the mind of Christ, and is empowered by the Spirit of Christ so that we are “no longer debtors to the flesh to live after the flesh”. We are under no condemnation from God, have the mind of Christ, and can fully rely on the resurrection power of the indwelling Spirit of God to control the flesh. Through faith in the personal leadership of the Spirit of God we can deny the flesh and wait for the hope of righteousness. In addition to overcoming our own flesh, the same Comforter controls the flesh of others as well. No matter how sick and ugly the times may be, there is hope in believing through the power of the Spirit. “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit”. (Romans 15: 13)

 

John

 

 

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