|Volume 24 Number 9 September 2022
Living to Reap Eternal Things
We are not to live yielding and sowing to our fleshly desires; we are to live yielding and sowing to a spiritual attitude that minds spiritual things. Such a mindset will cause us to reap an eternal reward.
We are either in the flesh or we are in the spirit. If we are in Christ, we should be in the spirit. Such individuals do not walk after the flesh, minding the things of the flesh. The “flesh” is a carnal mind that is at enmity against God, which not only reaps corruptible things but death itself. The fleshly mind will always be yielding and sowing according to its desires. Those who are in the spirit walk after the spirit, minding the things of the spirit, yielding and sowing according to the spiritual mind, which reaps life and peace – eternal things (Romans 8:4-9).
Colossians 3:1-3 tells us that we are to seek those things above, having our mind on things above rather than on the things of the earth. Our decisions should be made minding spiritual things, with an eye on things above and how our decisions will affect one’s eternal pursuit. We should live and decide to bring increase to the spiritual and eternal rather than to the fleshly and temporal. Here is how the Father inspired Jesus to say it. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21 NKJV). Either we decide to do the things that bring earthly treasure, or we decide to do the things that bring heavenly treasure.
Galatians 5:17 tells us that the flesh and the spirit are contrary one to another. We will either walk after the spirit or we will walk after the flesh. We cannot do both. We should understand that we cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13), because either will we live to satisfy our fleshly desires that bring treasure on earth, or we live to sow and to bear the fruit of the spirit and build treasure in Heaven.
We should be those who have put to death the affections and the lusts of the flesh, living and walking in the spirit (Galatians 5:24-25). Our decisions should reflect this. Our daily decisions should not suggest that we are yielding to the affections and the lusts of the flesh, but they should suggest our desire to have eternal treasure in Heaven.
Do we not know and understand that sowing to the flesh to satisfy its lusts, laying up treasure on earth and being a friend of the world makes us an enemy of God? Do we want to make decisions that make us a friend of the world and an enemy of God (James 4:1-4)? Either we love the world or the Heavenly Father, but we can’t love both. Do our decisions suggest a love for the world and the things it offers, or do they show a love for the Father and His things? We need to live for eternal things and not for temporal things (1 John 2:15-17).
What decisions would we make each day as we keep this principle in mind? Let us make the decisions that would bring eternal treasure and not the temporary satisfaction of the fleshly desires.
Living by Faith, Loving
Good & Hating Evil
In order to be just or righteous, we must live by faith (Romans 1:16-17). The Lord’s admonition to us is to walk by faith and not by sight. As we live and walk through life, making decisions along the way, we need to make sure the decisions are made by faith that our Heavenly Father knows what is best for us in every case (2 Corinthians 5:7). Faith is the substance or confidence of things hoped for, the evidence or conviction of things not seen, being persuaded of the promises of God (Hebrews 11:1, 13). Faith in God, what we believe, can only come by the Word of God. To live and to walk by faith is to live and to walk by God’s direction in His Word. To make decisions in faith is to make decisions based on the Word of God, the Scriptures (Romans 10:17).
We need to remember that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). To be wise, we must turn from the wisdom of this world (walking by sight) and count it foolishness. To walk by our own thoughts, wisdom and experience or by the philosophies of men is to walk by sight and is foolishness with God (1 Corinthians 3:18-19). For an example, the world tells us to sow to the flesh, to live for today and to eat, drink and be merry. However, the Lord says sow to the spirit and live for the reward of everlasting life in eternity (Galatians 6:8).
The rich man walked by sight, using his own wisdom (that of the world) and laying up treasure for himself. Instead, he should have lived by faith, according to God’s direction, being rich in good works toward God and laying up treasure in Heaven (Luke 12:16-21).
Using his own wisdom, King Saul offered a sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:15, 22-23); however, it was done in disobedience. Therefore, the Lord rejected that sacrifice and Saul. To walk according to God’s Word, in faith and in obedience, has always been necessary and important.
Sometimes, walking by faith requires taking the strong meat of God’s Word and exercising our senses to discern good and evil (Hebrews 5:14). We must not use our own judgment to decide. There may be many times when something may seem good to us, but we must use the Word of God as our criteria for evaluation. We are to love righteousness and hate iniquity (evil) like Jesus did (Hebrews 1:8-9). As we make decisions, our choices should be toward good and righteousness, as well as against iniquity or evil. It is only through God’s Word that we can discern what is good and what is evil. We are not to seek evil but hate it; we are to love good and seek it (Amos 5:14-15). What do our decisions say of us? Do we truly want what is good, or are we going after our own fleshly desires? We are to abstain from “every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22).
The love of money or a desire to be rich is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:9-10). We should especially be careful about this temptation. What does the wisdom of this world tell us? Would the one walking by sight acknowledge this?
Do we want to be one who is of God or one who has not seen God (3 John 11)? As we come to decisions in life, we need to follow that which is good and not that which is evil. If we abhor that which is evil and cleave to that which is good, which direction will our decisions take us (Romans 12:9)?
We need to realize the whole world lies in wickedness (evil), and we need to be on guard constantly (1 John 5:19). Will we allow ourselves to marry or otherwise be unequally yoked together with the unbelievers or the wicked people of the world? It doesn’t take much to be a partaker of evil deeds; we should be careful where our decisions lead us (2 John 11).
Seeking Good of Others, Not
Our Own Good – Being a Light
We are not to seek or love the praise of men. We are not to live and make decisions simply to gain man’s approval and honor. Instead, we are to make decisions to gain God’s praise (Romans 2:28-29), even seeking God’s praise. We cannot disregard man even though we are not to seek the praise of man. We are to provide things honest (good) in the sight of all men, living peaceably if possible (Romans 12:17-18).
Peacemakers are among the blessed. In making decisions, we need to consider the impact of our decisions on others (Matthew 5:9). In lowliness of mind, we are to esteem others better than ourselves, looking on the things of others and not on our own. We are to be servants like Jesus was, ministering to others as opposed to expecting others to minister to us (Philippians 2:3-8). We are not to seek our own but the good of others; we are not to insist on doing something (simply because it is our “right” and does not break any law) without regard to its impact on others. We must consider its effect on others, whether it is expedient and whether it edifies (1 Corinthians 10:23-24). We are even to let our liberty be judged of another’s conscience, as we do all to the glory of God. We are not to seek our own profit but the profit of others that they may be saved, and definitely, we must never give any offence (1 Corinthians 10:29-33).
We are not to make any decision that would lead to putting a stumbling block in our brother’s way; we are not to do anything that would make our brother stumble, be offended or become weak. Rather, we are to follow after the ways that make for peace and that edify (Romans 14:13, 19, 21). Just proving something is lawful and or politically correct does not give us the license or the right to do it. To be determined to do such a thing without considering its impact on others is to be puffed up in knowledge without love (1 Corinthians 8:1-13). Love demands that we consider the impact of our decisions and our actions on the lives of others. Love demands we make decisions that edify others. Failing in this is no small matter; such can cause a weak brother to perish by sinning against Christ.
Our decisions need to demonstrate several attitudes and actions toward others (Christian brothers and sisters in this context). We need to demonstrate compassion, love, being pitiful and courteous, rendering blessing and not evil railing in response to railing, refraining the tongue from evil and the lips from guile, and seeking peace (1 Peter 3:8-11).
Consider Romans 12:17-21. Our decisions need to be toward providing things honest or good in the sight of all men. One way we do this is never to repay evil with evil, never avenge ourselves but provide things honest, pursue peace, give place to wrath and overcome evil with good. We are to be as the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matthew 5:13-16). Do our actions and our decisions reflect this? In making any decision, will we be shining forth as lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation (Philippians 2:15)?