Make No Provision for the Flesh

Romans 13:13-14

Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts” (Romans 13:13-14).

When Paul told the saints in Rome to “make no provision for the flesh,” his admonition had a specific context. He was not warning them about food and shelter for the body. These are necessities (1 Timothy 6:8) and Christians must make provisions in regard to these things (Acts 20:34; 2 Thessalonians 3:8-10). Neglecting such things does not make one more spiritual and righteous. Instead, when Paul addressed this sort of “severe treatment of the body,” he called it “self-made religion” that was “of no value against fleshly indulgence” (Colossians 2:23).

Rather than warning against the necessities of this life, Paul warned the Romans about the lusts of the flesh. James explained why lust is so dangerous:

But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death” (James 1:14-15).

Continue Reading

Bringing Up Children in the Lord (Part 5): Raising Children in a Wicked World

Bringing Up Children in the Lord

Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).

It would be difficult to find a society that was as corrupt as the one in the days of Noah. This society was so wicked that “every intent” of man was “only evil continually.” This degree of wickedness caused God to be “sorry that He had made man” and decide to “blot out man…from the face of the earth” (Genesis 6:6-7). Yet Noah found favor with the Lord because he was righteous (Genesis 6:8-9). He raised three sons in this wicked world (Genesis 6:10) and they were saved with their father.

Is it possible to successfully raise children in a wicked world? Yes! It has been done before and can be done again. However, that does not mean it will be easy. Parents must be diligent and trust in God’s plan, no matter how corrupt the world becomes.
Continue Reading

New Year’s Resolutions: Start, Stop, Improve

2014Often when people make New Year’s resolutions, they begin with the words start, stop, or improve (or synonyms of these words) – start exercising, stop smoking, improve spending habits, etc. As we grow and mature, it is good to improve in all areas of our lives; but it is particularly important to improve our spiritual lives. So as we begin a new year, I want to suggest some resolutions for all of us to consider as we seek to please the Lord.
Continue Reading

The Abundance of One’s Possessions

Christmas giftsDuring the holiday season, it can be easy to become distracted by the “things” of this life. Instead of focusing on one’s blessings and being grateful to God for them, many people choose to focus on the things they do not have. There is certainly nothing wrong with enjoying the blessings of this life. There is also nothing wrong with giving gifts to friends and family. However, we need to keep everything in the proper perspective. We must avoid jealousy, discontent, and materialism. Failing to avoid these attitudes can ultimately lead to eternal destruction.

Jesus warned about such a misplaced focus when he spoke with a man who was jealous of his brother. Afterward, He used the opportunity to expand upon the issue in a familiar parable.

Someone in the crowd said to Him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.’ But He said to him, ‘Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?’ Then He said to them, ‘Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions’” (Luke 12:13-15).

Continue Reading

“Consider Your Ways!”

Haggai 1:7

Haggai prophesied during the reign of King Darius (Haggai 1:1). This man was referred to elsewhere as “Darius the Mede” (Daniel 5:31) and “Darius king of Persia” (Ezra 4:24). He was the head of the Medes and Persians when they overthrew Babylon (Daniel 5:28, 30-31).

Haggai prophesied about the need to rebuild the temple. This was necessary because the temple – as well as the city of Jerusalem – had previously been destroyed by the Babylonians (2 Kings 25:8-9). Later, God called Cyrus king of Persia to allow the temple to be rebuilt (Ezra 1:1-2). However, these reconstruction efforts were stopped by threat of force (Ezra 4:4-7, 23-24). Work on the temple would not resume again until the reign of Darius (Ezra 4:24; Haggai 1:1).

As the people were instructed to rebuild the temple, they were also told to consider their ways (Haggai 1:5, 7). It is important for us to consider the lessons revealed by the prophet Haggai.
Continue Reading

“What Am I Still Lacking?”

Jesus and the Rich Young Ruler

When we begin reading the account of the rich young ruler who came to Jesus (Matthew 19:16-22), we read of one who seemed to be a good man with a good attitude who showed a lot of promise in becoming a disciple of Christ. Notice the good qualities we are told about this man:

  1. He was spiritually minded – He was interested in eternal life and came to Jesus in order to find out how to obtain it (Matthew 19:16).
  2. He was religious – When Jesus listed some of the commandments that he needed to keep, the young man said, “All these things I have kept” (Matthew 19:20).
  3. He was interested in improving his service to God – After affirming that he had been keeping the commandments that Jesus mentioned, he asked, “What am I still lacking?” (Matthew 19:20).

Unfortunately, despite the promise that he showed initially, in the end he “went away grieving” (Matthew 19:22), presumably because he was unwilling to do what Jesus told him to do – sell his possessions, give to the poor, and follow Him (Matthew 19:21).

We need to be like the rich young ruler in the sense that we desire to grow and improve our service to God. However, unlike the rich young ruler, we must also be willing to do the work that is necessary to improve or fix what is lacking in our lives.

We might ask the same question as this man: “What am I still lacking?” Let us notice some things that might be lacking in our service to God so we can see the areas in which we may need to improve.
Continue Reading

Our Entertainment Culture

Darth Vader

Our society is saturated with entertainment in various forms – movies, television, music, internet videos, professional and collegiate sports, etc. Even during a time of economic hardship and uncertainty, Americans are paying billions of dollars a year in movie ticket sales alone. While occasional entertainment may be fine, we need to let our consumption of entertainment be regulated by the Scriptures.

In evaluating our entertainment consumption, we should ask ourselves some basic questions:
Continue Reading