Selfishness, The Killer of Christianity

Selfishness, The Killer of Christianity
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

(16) I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.  (17) For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. (18) But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
-Galatians 5:16-18 (NKJV)

 

There is a lot going on in the book of Galatians at this point. However, I want to focus on just this one text.

Paul in verse eighteen references the law, and throughout this chapter he is referencing it as well. The thing is that the Galatians had left the teaching of grace and allowed themselves to go back under the Jewish law by being circumcised (Circumcision is the symbol of the law for them). But Paul reminds them that they are not under law, but grace (Romans 6:14). The human race, due to sin marring it, has this innate ability to think of ourselves as better than we are. In this way we deceive ourselves. So the Law was given by God to show us that we are true wretches before a Holy God, we are now Selfish and self-destructive. Because of this innate sin in man, man can never keep the law because we are born in sin.

Now with that foundation laid let us look at verse sixteen. Notice in verse sixteen it says to walk in the Spirit. To the Jewish mindset this would refer to a person’s attitudes and behavior (i.e. how one would live their daily life). If our attitudes and behavior mirrors that which we find in the scripture then we will have power not to fulfill the works of the flesh (meaning our sinful nature). As humans, because of sin, we are all selfish! If you are a parent you know this to be the case. Children naturally in one swoop can become the most selfish things known to man and then in the next minute the most giving. No one teaches children selfishness, it is known to them naturally due to the sinful nature all human beings are born with. However, if we are walking in a relationship with God in submission to His Word then we will not walk in the sinful nature. This does not mean that the sinful nature will not tempt us, but that we are given power from the Holy Spirit to resist.

In verse seventeen Paul sets up the sinful nature and the Spirit against each other. However the flesh cannot overcome the Spirit. The Spirit overcomes the flesh at all times. (So, why do we constantly have problems with sinning? That will be covered when we get to verse eighteen.) The Spirit is a Christian’s constant companion. He has a role in the Christian life. Look at the wording at the end, “So that you do not do the things that you wish;” the wording shows that we are selfish and without the Spirit constantly “checking us” we would be overcome by the sinful nature, again (like we were before salvation). The key to this overcoming life for the Christian that is being talked about in this verse is found in verse eighteen.

Verse eighteen says that if we do not want to be condemned by the law we must be lead by the Spirit. Remember that above we talked about living the overcome life? This is the key to living it. We must be lead by the Holy Spirit.How are we lead? This goes back to verse sixteen; our attitudes and behavior must match that of Christ and God’s Word. We do that by studying God’s word (“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” – 2 Timothy 2:15 (NKJV) and PRACTICING GOD’S WORD. If we don’t practice God’s Word then we are like a person who knows what to do and doesn’t do it; this person is like someone who looks into a mirror and see the problems (i.e. unkempt) and doesn’t do anything (i.e. clean up and comb their hair, brush their teeth etc.) (James 1:22-25). Unfortunately there are too many Christians who allow this world to come into their lives and don’t even read the Word on a daily basis, much less study it, and they do not practice what is in it. If you don’t read and study you cannot practice what it is in the Word.

How about you today? Will you be lead by the Spirit or will you allow the sinful nature to rule you? Will you study God’s Word and PRACTICE it or will you just continue on in your same rut?  Maybe you need to do some praying right now to a loving and wonderful God, ask for forgiveness and start practicing God’s Word in your attitudes and actions. The Choice is yours.

 

 

 

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Resources Consulted Before Writing

  • Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible: Jamieson, Robert; Fausset, A.R.; Brown, David
  • Faithlife Study Bible: Barry, John D; Grigoni, Michael R.;_
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You Might Look Good, But You May Be Fake!

You Might Look Good, But You May Be Fake!
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

Are you cursed! Maybe you are, maybe you look like a Christian but Jesus has nothing to do with you. Too many Christians are nothing but a bunch of fakes.

18 Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry. 19 And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.” Immediately the fig tree withered away.

20 And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither away so soon?”

21 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. 22 And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”
-Matthew 21:18-22

Our society is all about being a fake. We have makeup, plastic surgery, liposuction, and all the things, that if you have enough money, you can look awesome! However, it is all an act of fakery. Our Churches are just as plastic, filled with fake Christians. So why are we looking at the cure of the fig tree? Let’s find out.

In verses eighteen and nineteen we find that Jesus had a need, he was hungry. We find the same problem in our churches today. People come into our churches and are spiritually hungry, but when they try to take a bite as to what that Church is offering they find nothing there! I am not talking about the Gospel message here; we tend to be good at that message. What I am talking about is substance beyond the message, people who profess loving behavior but fall short. Many churches when you walk through the door don’t even greet you! How sad is that! That is usually just the tip of the iceberg. In a church like that it is usually eaten up with gossip, misplaced anger, and religiosity where the leadership picks there favorites and no one else is allowed in, or if they are it is so they can get something out of them and then when the individual has nothing left, toss them aside. So what happens to these people that aren’t the “right” kind of people? Usually they never darken the door of a church again! You think God is happy with this behavior? NO!

So what is Jesus’ response? Eventually He curses that ministry/church. Does that mean that the doors shut? Not necessarily. A lot of churches go on life support and become great social clubs, and if Jesus were to walk in the front doors? Nothing, these people would toss Him out too.

Now in verse twenty, the disciples see the tree (which was probably the next morning) and it was withered! Amazing! This happens to a lot of people’s churches and personal spirituality. They start out looking like they are going to bear fruit and then they don’t and end up withering away. The question is what do you do about it? Do you let it happen? Or do you get on your knees and ask God for change in your life and your churches?

Look at verses twenty-one and twenty-two, they show that faith can do a lot of things. If YOU (yes you reading this article) get down on your knees and pray, then you can have your church and your spirituality restored, but this takes true faith through humility before God, confessing that you have messed up your life. Will you pray to God to restore you? Or will you just wither away spiritually? Maybe you are in one of these country club churches, will you pray for a true heart of restoration, or will you just let it happen all around you, until one day you aren’t welcome anymore because you hold up the cross of Christ unwaveringly? The choice is yours today, what will you chose?

Most Christians Are in Essence an Atheist

Most Christians Are in Essence an Atheist

By: Rev. Joe Kramer

Many people run from place to place, and job-to-job going through the motions of life without having a purpose or a will to guide them. Christians are supposed to be fortunate enough to not worry about that. But this is not the case. Too many people that call themselves Christians don’t know enough about the Bible to apply any of its principles. This is a sad state of affairs! How defeating it is to say that you believe in God, but don’t know anything about God! This kind of individual is in essence an atheist (at least in their actions)! Why would I say that? Because they have no idea what they believe and have no idea how to make choices biblically, so their choices are dependent on the world’s ideas.

 

But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
-James 4:6-10

 

Let us break this down. Verse six says God resists the proud but gives grace to the Humble. Those walking in humility are those who willingly submit to God in a pure heart, one who understands they are nothing without God. The proud are those that insist on doing things the way that seems best to them, those that don’t care about what God’s principles are about, much less try to make choices by them.

Verse seven is a command to submit to God. If we are doing things our own way we can’t hope to stand against the Devil’s ways, which lead to death (remember sin is fun for a season but it always ends in destruction). We are either doing nothing, or doing what the devil wants. Either way the devil is happy. Satan became proud and wanted to do things his own way. He made a choice to ignore what God had said, and you know what? This is exactly what you are doing when you ignore God’s Word and don’t know anything about it! To make right choices we need to know what God’s Word actually says.

Now in verse eight we are told that we should have fellowship with God through Scripture reading, study, application and prayer. This is the only way we can know what the principles in God’s Word are. The problem is that when most Christians do learn some principles they tend to not apply them because it would require CHANGES! Most so-called Christians don’t want change, even though it will improve their lives in the long run, because it might hurt, they may have to give something up! But James pulls no punches, he says to basically stop living contrary, make the changes, deal with the fallout, and be blessed by God in the long run!

Notice also in verse eight he calls Christians that won’t make the changes double-minded. The scripture says that a double minded man is unstable in all of his ways and should not think that he receives anything from God. A person who does not have their thoughts and motives pure will not receive what they ask for because they will do something selfish with what they have gotten and will mess their lives up even worse.

Verses nine and ten show us that we tend to become so busy about life that we forget, as did those whom James was writing to, to examine ourselves, how we think, act, and live, before God. Later in this book it is talked about the man who looked in the mirror and who saw what he looked like and went away and forgot what he saw, never fixing the problems that he saw. This is a sad individual for sure; someone who will look into God’s Word and not make the necessary changes. He lives just as the world does. He has no effect for Christianity and sits in a pew and makes no changes in his life. This person is an affront to God! Perhaps he shouldn’t come to church? Wow!! Why would I say that? Because these people are one of the ones giving Christianity a bad name, or worse no name.

The Bible speaks over and over about judging ourselves so that no one would have a need to judge us. In Hebrews 12:5-6 (NKJV) “And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” If we do not correct our lives confess our sins, then what are you hear for? Why aren’t you doing what God asked you? The Bible says that if we don’t judge ourselves as Christians, God will judge us. When He does, it is tremendously much harder than it would have been had we repented and sought Him to change us, that is if we are truly Christians.

How about you? Will you make the Choices it takes to be who you say you are? Or will you just continue in your fake Christianity where you are out only for yourself and don’t truly care about anyone else. Where you give Christianity a bad name and turn people away from God instead of toward God. The Choice is yours, which will you make?

I AM a Christian! I AM Just as Selfish as the Next Person!

I AM a Christian! I AM Just as Selfish as the Next Person!
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the people of Israel, “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love. He had 700 wives, princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart. For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and did not wholly follow the LORD, as David his father had done. Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem. And so he did for all his foreign wives, who made offerings and sacrificed to their gods.
– (1Ki 11:1-8 ESV)

Solomon was the wisest king that ever reigned in Israel’s history. However, he married foreign wives which were forbidden by God. Does this make God a racist? Absolutely not! It was God’s decree so that idolatry (the worship of false objects) wouldn’t take over people’s lives and turn their hearts from God. You see Israel was never to bow down to anything other than God. Because Solomon allowed worship of false gods in the kingdom, Israel from this time forward was caught in the grip of worshiping of false idols. Some people will probably ask, “What is wrong with that?” Have you ever seen what some of these religions require of their followers? Take a look at just one of these idols.

Milcom/Molech was a god that Israel loved to worship. This god is throughout the Old Testament and is considered one of the most evil of them all. You see this false god required that you sacrifice your children on an altar. But not just any blood sacrifice, no this ‘worship’ entailed heating a bronze statue to tremendous temperatures. When the pre-heating was complete, it was up to the parents to place their little ones in the idols loving hands and watch as their child writhed in pain and was literally cooked to death, slowly. The thought amongst these people was that if they sacrificed to these kinds gods they would get what they wanted.

Today many people would say that they would never do these detestable things! Really? You know you are probably right. We just sacrifice at the altar of our jobs, volunteer hours, and other things, while our children are being raised by television and music. No, we are more civilized we sacrifice our time with our families and allow our marriages to fall apart which only hurts the family unit more. Because of this God’s will is not being done in our lives, and worse, our children’s lives.

But why have we done this? It all boils down to selfishness. We have become selfish, self-centered and self-deceived. People will do anything they can to get ahead of the rest of the pack, putting their wants first and everyone/everything else last. Today our “Christianity” is paralyzed in the face of one simple question, “Why would I want to be a Christian when you do all that I do, except I don’t have the drama?” This is a sad state of affairs for Christianity. Christians are walking in selfishness and self-centeredness. We may not kill people anymore physically but we cause just as much damage by derailing them from God and destroying each other spiritually and mentally because of our idols (anything we put before God). Yes even today, because of putting things before God, we can travel a road which takes us down the wrong path and do things we never thought we would do. Do you think the Secretary to a church starts out by saying they are going to embezzle funds? No! Do you think the pastor, deacon, board member etc. starts out looking to cheat on their spouse? No! But little by little as they begin to put things in their lives ahead of their relationship with God, they travel down a road which leads to destruction.

The sad part is that when a person first comes to Christ they are genuinely loving and genuine toward other people, but as Christians begin to put idols up in their lives they become selfish, self-centered and self-deceived! Do you know what the problem is with being self-deceived? It is that you don’t recognize you are in self-deception until someone points it out, and then you don’t believe them! Only the Holy Spirit can truly point this out to anyone. Will you ask Him to point it out to you? Or does that just make you too uncomfortable? Perhaps you won’t, because you like your lack of true conviction and the true power of the cross in your life.

If you are a Christian today then perhaps you need to ask God to show you that you are setting up Idols in your life and ask Him to show you where you are walking in self-deception. Only when Christians begin to ask God to reveal to them these problem areas can “Christianity” become the Christianity of the Bible again and not just some political group of organizations that are self-serving and self-seeking. No, we need Christians to be Christians again. To have a heart that hurts when people hurt and seek to help people when they need help. Christians need to be a people after God’s own heart, a people that are not always on the lookout to get what is best for them. Will you be that person? Will you draw near to God and let Him truly show you your idols? Will you love the unlovable again? The choice is yours, which will you make?