1 ¶ Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; 2 That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.
The hardest thing about studying the Bible verse by verse is when you realize you have completely and utterly failed in virtually all of its admonitions and yet, feel compelled by God to warn others of the muck and mire in which they are unknowingly treading.
The Christian must be willing to suffer in the flesh as Christ was willing to suffer. We cannot continue to cling to our current flesh and the lusts that emerge from it if we are to live in the will of God. As Paul said;
Romans 6:12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
Romans 13:14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
This, taking the rest of the letters written directly to Christians with it, shows that there are certain characteristics of actually being a Christian that are often overlooked. These include self-discipline and self-control.
Like an athlete Paul wanted to exercise bodily self-control, in the context of the following verse like a runner or a boxer.
1Corinthians 9:27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
And mental self-control.
2Corinthians 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
They also include a willingness to put off self-gratification for a future reward. In life this willingness is characterized by being frugal with money, investing in the future, and not being wasteful, putting off pleasing one’s flesh. Spiritually, this involves storing up treasure in heaven, not on earth. A Christian is not as concerned about a temporal reward for something he or she does but is looking forward to an eternal reward.
On one level, the most temporal and earthly, the parable of the talents in Matthew 25 gives us a pattern for investment and savings which was once part of the so-called Protestant work-ethic in this country. We also have an economic lesson in the parable of the unjust steward in Luke 16. However we must remember that we cannot be slaves to the economic system and still be God’s servants. Here, Mammon is the Syriac language’s personification of wealth.
Luke 16:13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
We are warned even, even in the Old Testament, that becoming wealthy is not the goal of any of God’s people, or rather, shouldn’t be.
Proverbs 23:4 Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.
And that greed will destroy a Christian.
1Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
This does not justify slothfulness or being a sluggard.
Proverbs13:4 The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.
Proverbs 20:4 The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.
Romans 12:11 Not slothful in business….
But, for the Christian, this principle honors hard work and gives it a purpose.
Ephesians 4:28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
And it is better for the Christian spiritually to produce something with his own hands than making a living by being clever or manipulative.
1Thessalonians 4:11 And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;
Taking care of your family.
1Timothy 5:8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
Always remembering where you are supposed to actually being storing up wealth.
Matthew 6:19 ¶ Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Personal integrity and trustworthiness are essential to being a Christian. A Christian’s word must be honorable and something you can trust. This doesn’t just mean you have to do what you said you would do but you must be careful in what you promise. Writing checks with your tongue that you can’t cash with your actions is just as unprofitable to the Christian as not doing what you promised.
Ecclesiastes 5:4 When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. 5 Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.
Deuteronomy 23:22 But if thou shalt forbear to vow, it shall be no sin in thee.
The things of the world the Christian must not honor.
1John 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
These are the three things that were presented to Eve by Satan in Eden that encouraged her to defy God.
Genesis 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food [lust of the flesh], and that it was pleasant to the eyes[lust of the eyes], and a tree to be desired to make one wise[pride of life], she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
And so it will be for you if you forget that what is adored by the world that man has created, the culture, is not pleasing to God.
Luke 16:15 And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.
And when we look at all of the things that Paul, Peter, John, and James write about regarding how we are to treat others in the church and in the world, plus the gospel record of Jesus’ own admonitions, we see that this is also to be held in our own families as an example to others. How we treat our spouses and children is a testimony of our faith to others. You are not acting as a Christian when you fight with or curse your spouse in front of your children. Indulging your anger and feeding your wrath all has its roots in ingratitude to God and the covetousness produced, the dissatisfaction cultivated, in your buying into the world system mentioned above.
Try practicing the following instructions within your family as an example not only to them but to others and a testimony for Christ. Look at this section of instructions for the church and see how it can be applied to your family. What a wonderful testimony of your faith would it be if we treated even those closely related to us this way and our family dynamics weren’t so fraught with mean-spirited behavior that leaves a dreadful legacy for generations.
Romans 12:14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. 15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. 16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. 17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
1Thessalonians 5:14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. 15 See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.
16 ¶ Rejoice evermore. 17 Pray without ceasing. 18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 19 Quench not the Spirit. 20 Despise not prophesyings 21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.
Imagine the testimony to the world if these things were practiced within a Christian family. Too many times I hear of family being treated by someone who considers themselves a conservative or a Christian as being nothing more than something to wipe their feet on which legacy follows on for generations. Ingratitude and pride are the bane of any Christian’s testimony.
Let Christ’s mind be in you. Humble yourself.