Monday, September 28, 2015

STUMBLING BLOCKS - PART 3

(Please scroll down to first read parts 1 and 2, or click on the titles on the right side of your screen)
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How to Crucify Your Flesh

Referring to something else that Paul said, this is how he put it. ”Take off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires. Instead, be renewed in the spirit of your minds. Then put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and in holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24).

Paul spoke of the old manner of living almost as it if were a garment that we can take off ourselves. When you think about it, this is more than simply an analogy, since we accept that these bodies of ours are not what constitute our true beings. Our true selves are our inner selves, our spirits. Our spirits are clothed in our bodies.

Paul tells us to take off that old self. He does not mean, of course, that our entire physical body will change so that we have a different physical body, but spiritually speaking, that is exactly what he means. “Take off that old body,” he tells us, “so that you can put on your new self that is created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

This is to be complete change over. We do not change the pants but not the shirt. It is to be a complete transformation into the person that God has created you to be. There is to be no corruption that comes from the world. “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me,” Paul said.

This means that when we see something about our former manner of life that has come from the corruption of the world, we are to take it off like an old, ragged garment. We are to cast it away. These things are the stumbling blocks that will cause not only ourselves to stumble, but will also trip up others in their walk with the Lord.

When we cast away these old garments, we are to replace them with new garments. “Put away falsehood,” Paul says, “and learn to speak the truth.”

“Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.”

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up…that it may give grace to those who hear.”

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (from Ephesians 4:22-32 ESV)

Let’s Get Personal

What we do, the way that we act does not only affect ourselves, but also has an influence on those around us and for those who know us. The words that come from our mouths can cut deep wounds into the lives of others. Our actions can ruin the lives of others.

“Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks.”

This especially seems to be true in regard to our influence on young lives. After Jesus told his disciples that, rather than to cause a little child who believes in Christ to stumble, it would be better to have a heavy millstone hung arounds ones neck and be cast into the sea, he again brings up the subject of children.

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones,” he told them. “For I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven.”

Is there something about your life that you know is not consistent with the way that God intended you to be? Cast it away. It is a stumbling block. Replace it instead with something that is good.

Many struggle with something in their lives for their entire lives, never being able to overcome it. There may be many reasons for this and I know that it is sometimes a complicated issue, but one of the reasons may be that we often only consider the harm that this thing or this manner of living is doing to ourselves. If we were to understand that these things are also stumbling blocks to others who are walking through life, it may give us the incentive to cast it away.

Do not despise these little ones. Let them go to Jesus, for such is the kingdom of God.
Do not let stumbling blocks be part of your life.

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