Saturday, 21 December 2013

principles 5




But to be spiritually minded is life and peace

We have looked at a number of principles which are to be applied whenever we seek to interpret the Bible.  These principles can never be violated. From time to time we might come across a difficult passage to understand. This gives rise to the temptation to take short cuts for the sake of convenience and to infringe upon these principles. Avoid! Better to admit ignorance than to be guilty of wresting the Scriptures for the sake of saving face or time/effort.

Principles already looked at: 

[i] God is always sovereign. There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD. (Proverbs 20:31) Never dethrone God to make a passage read easier.
[ii] Man is always responsible. This is the other side of the coin. Man cannot blame the sovereignty/God when he sins. 
[iii] The Judge/all the earth always does right. Even in the hard cases. There are many times in the Bible when we have just to rest upon this observation and remember that no one ever got a raw deal from God. All God's ways are marked by unimpeachable justice and holiness.
[iv] The flesh never profits. Anything done in the flesh will surely lead to great loss: The arm of flesh will surely fail/We dare not trust our own.  

We want to conclude this short series - far from being exhaustive - with the observation from Romans 8:6 Spiritually minded etc.,

Or: How we may discover those folk in our Bible readings who qualify for such a glorious title.

A/ A spiritually minded person has the mind of Christ. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 2:5)
Paul claimed (under inspiration) to have it. Attainable.
It is to think as Jesus would think and do what Jesus would do.
Christ rejected the world's philosophy. Even in religious circles. "Ye have heard it said" (Tradition) but I say unto you…"  
 Bible (OT/NT)is dotted with individuals who were most Christ-like in their thinking.
Many of them actually typify the Lord Jesus. 

Christ alone could say that He did always the things which pleased the Father.
Spiritually minded people, faults notwithstanding, emulate the Saviour.
So Paul, this spiritually minded man, could say: Follow me inasmuch as I follow Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1)

B/ A spiritual minded person has set his affections/things above. (Colossians 3:2)
Folk in Hebrews 11 lived for another world.
Declined the favour/this world. Declared that they sought another world - a heavenly i.e. a spiritual.
A spiritual man is not motivated by ambition. Cannot be bought for money/fame or influence.
Where you read of men who are ambitious, then do not think them spiritually minded.
Best seen in two men closely related:

[i] Lot chose the fertile plains/Sodom because his affections were earthbound. Walked by sight.
[ii] Uncle Abraham was spiritually minded. Walked by faith and readily forwent earthly advantage.
When reading/passage, we do not attribute Abraham with folly but with spirituality.
Likewise Elisha (spiritually minded) cared not for the riches of Naaman but his servant Gehazi did.

C/ Spiritual minded people are not mystics who tend to make up the rules as they go along.
Spiritual minded people are not free spirits but call themselves "bondslaves of Jesus Christ" (Romans 1:1)
They are Bible people who are happy to be led by the laws/Heaven than the lawlessness of earth. Bible abounds with such.

As we read of such/Bible - ought/think: "How can I be one of these people?"

A/ We can never have a spiritual mind while we are still in our sins.
Not mere religion. These folk did not embrace these things as an absorbing hobby etc.,
An intellectual knowledge/Bible is not the goal. You can have all these things and still be lost at the end.
First step to a spiritual mind leading to life/peace is to be born again/Spirit!
Until we are, we possess the carnal mind which is death (v6) and is enmity against God (v7)

B/ When we are saved, we are brought into union/Christ. Spirit/God indwells His people.
Power/sin which once reigned does so no more. 
It is as natural for us to desire spiritual things as it was once natural for us to desire carnal things.
This is the evidence/New Birth. 
Empty profession if not followed up by a desire to learn more: 2 Corinthians 5:17/Acts 2:42
Illustrate: New born babe. Who instructs it to suck the milk?
Built in mechanism. Likewise/spiritual birth. Naturally the spiritual mind has to develop.
None are born spiritual giants. But the seed is there and the seed will grow as intended by God. 

C/ Our responsibility in this matter is to: 

[i] Pray for a spiritual mind. How much more will your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them/ask. (Luke 11:13) 

[ii] We are to seek the Spirit's mind in that place where it is so often recorded i.e. in the Bible.
He that hath an ear…let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches… 
Reading (as said) not as a mere hobby, but with a definite view of obedience. Letting go the carnal & taking on board the spiritual.
Blending our life into what we read. I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies. (119:59)
Evidently becoming more spiritually minded. 

[iii] We are to often meditate and study these things, talking with spiritual people on them.
They that feared the Lord spake often one to another.
In order to do this, we really do need to clear our minds/time tables of all unnecessary junk.
Problem with the human mind is that we have all got a pretty limited memory!
Just as we have to purge our computer hard drives frequently, so likewise our thoughts.
Am I being taken up with something that is ultimately of no profit?  
Am I sacrificing spiritual gain for carnal loss? 

[iv] Exhort others to and be exhorted ourselves etc., Very seldom is this a one man show.
Often the crackpots are on their own in this matter. Don't fellowship anywhere.
Spiritual men cannot talk to them. Beyond criticism etc., This is not the sign of spirituality.
When a spiritually minded man sins (as they do) they can be restored again. 
Seen in Paul regaining Peter (Galatians 2:11)

D/ Remember this as you read your Bible. Are you reading about a man who is walking/God?
Do not think he arrived here either by nature/chance.
He was enabled to be spiritual because of the Spirit/God in him.
Under God, he worked at attaining this position.
Made hard choices. Forwent earthly advantages.
Never interpret a passage that ignores these observations.

life/peace Evidently in complete opposition of death/enmity (v6/7)

A/ Has such with God. Mentioned Colossians 3 (affections/above)
For ye are dead, & your life is hid with Christ in God. (v3)
Has peace with God. Been truly/fully reconciled.
Nothing to hinder the blessing. God is not compromising in blessing him. Eden revisited.

B/ Has such with himself.
Spiritual minded Paul: Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men & brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day. (Acts 23:1) A spiritual man is at peace with himself.
Ever see even a dissatisfied Christian fight with himself?
Not happy because he is not spiritually minded & therefore has no life (certain in its abundance) nor peace.

C/ Has such with others. Joseph's bough went over the wall (Genesis 49:22) Affected others.
A spiritually minded man will be a blessing wherever he is.
When you study/Bible - see the good which such men were to those around them.
Who can begin/measure the blessings of Joseph? Or Daniel? Or Samuel? Or the apostles etc., 

A/ Little use having life/peace when all is going well for us.
How does it do in the open sea? How does it do when we are up against it.
Passage itself draws the conflicting forces into play.
World is not sympathetic to spiritual things and indeed rather most antagonistic. 

B/ This fruit weathers very well particularly in prison cells.
It buoyed Joseph up and Jeremiah and Peter and Paul in their incarcerations.
It shone beautifully in the den/lions and on the barren isle of Patmos. 
It buoys up the spiritually minded in the midst of greatest trial.
Read the Psalms where David complained of the bitterest trials  but ended up singing God's praises nevertheless.

C/ As you study/Bible you will see that this life/peace is maintained even in the most trying/circumstances.
Do not put such down to mere human grit/determination.
If you do, you misread the Bible. Do despite to our text.
It is the evidence that the Spirit/God is at work.

D/ The spiritually minded die well.
As foretold: Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace. (Psalm 37:37)
See Peter face death in Acts 12. Slept like a log.
Read Paul's wonderful farewell letter (2 Timothy 4) I am ready to be offered etc.,
The wonderful thing is: It is on offer today!
Not a thing of the past, but a reality for the here/now. Do you want it? Seek it for yourself. 


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