“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” Matthew 5:17
If I say I love You, God, then I need to love Your ways. If I say I love You, God, then I need to listen to You and be teachable by You. You are so different than the world and You are so different than religion. Do I really love You? Am I teachable? Do I listen to You? Do I let You have Your way in me?
Am I poor in spirit? Am I like a beggar before You? Am I that desperate for what You are desperate for? Am I that desperate for You? Do I really know what mourning is? Have I really ever felt Godly sorrow over things? It’s one thing to share in sorrow with another, but what about to sorrow over what brings You sorrow? Do I really know? Do I love You that much to care about what You care about? Or am I too wrapped up in myself? Do I have any idea what meekness is? Am I willing to humble myself before You and others or do I see that as a sign of weakness? Or would that mean that I can’t satisfy my own desires? Do I have any inkling of what righteousness is? Would I be so hungry and thirsty for Your righteousness that I would pay the ultimate price just to see it fulfilled? Would I sacrifice my own desires to live out that righteousness out of my love and honor for You? What about mercy? How does Your mercy interpret into everyday life? As I have received it, do I offer it as generously to others? Purity of heart. Is my heart clean according to Your standards? Do I love You enough to care about and know and understand Your standards? Do I just call myself clean without caring what You call clean? Am I a peacemaker by Your standards? Am I bringing Your peace or am I just satisfying everyone around me? Have I ever experienced what it is to be persecuted because I’m living according to Your righteous will, like You in the world? Because if all I’ve mentioned hasn’t led to that, well, I’m probably not living like You and I wonder if my love is as strong as I think it is.
Read through Matthew 5:1-17 again. I shouldn’t fool myself into thinking that deciding to follow You as a believer is easy at all. This is a decision where I must truly count the cost. I cannot remain the same. I cannot remain unchanged. I cannot remain un-surrendered. I cannot follow You thinking that I’m coming to follow a set of rules and regulations. You are asking for something much deeper, much more personal.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets: I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Right now, there is a lot of law abolishing going on. But societal law abolishing is nothing new. And it’s nothing new for man to continually attempt to abolish Your law. But what are You really talking about here? What is Your heart about this matter here? Because I just can’t help but think that every word, and I mean every word, including every “jot and tittle”, every “iota and dot” of Your word is utterly important and will be accomplished, will be fulfilled.
It all boils down to this. “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” ( Romans 8:6-8) See, I can live according to my flesh. Or by the grace and power of God, I can live by the Spirit. One is an invitation to death, while the other is an invitation to life. Only first I have to die to the flesh to live by the Spirit. See, that’s living in resurrection power.
In the flesh, I want to abolish standards. I want to satisfy my own desires regardless of what it means for others and regardless of how a holy God feels about it. You know, I even become hostile to what won’t allow me to achieve my own desires. Think about this hostility toward God. It’s the Greek word echtros. It’s used in reference to enemies both in war or daily life, to enemy nations, to enemies of the righteous, and to God’s enemies. So basically here, if I choose the way of my flesh, if I follow my own heart without God’s direction, I’m making You, God, my enemy.
What characterizes an enemy of God? They don’t subject themselves to the law of God. Oh, you say, “Well, what about grace?” What about it? Jesus just told us that grace doesn’t negate God’s law or the prophets? So who taught us that grace did? They may not have known it, but they were acting like an enemy of God. And look where it’s brought us. Here we are, just like the nation of Israel, influenced by the fleshly desires of Egypt, more than the desires of God.
The Good News Bibles words it, “To be controlled by human nature results in death; to be controlled by the Spirit results in life and peace. And so people become enemies of God when they are controlled by their human nature; for they do not obey God’s law, and in fact they cannot obey it. Those who obey their human nature cannot please God.” You know, I just don’t think this needs any further clarification. If the Spirit is speaking to our hearts right now, we know what this is saying, we know the truth and the truth is the only thing that will set each of us free if we respond to it and live by it and in it. And the truth is more than a law or a way, it’s a person and His name is Jesus. And He designed the right way, the only way to live a life pleasing to God, a life filled with satisfaction and peace, even in the midst of not fulfilling our every fleshly desire. Why? Or maybe, how? He imparts to us better and deeper desires. He gives the strength to achieve, to fulfill them. But I can’t do it if I live according to just my fleshly desires.
My flesh cries loudly. It’s not that any homosexual or heterosexual or pedophile or criminal or saint is any more fleshly than me. We’re all the same. We’re all sinners before God and before each other. We all start out as God haters because we all want our own way and not His. And we can live our whole lives being God haters yet saying we love God but never knowing Him enough to consider obeying Him a loving thing. Our way is more important than His. If I desire it, I want it, and so I’ll do it, no matter what You think about it God. How is that love of the Father? My flesh has led me there. My flesh has so desired things that I’ve entered into forbidden territory. But my love for You God has also restrained me and it has turned me back and brought me to repentance. I have had to stop myself and ask, and I think You stopped me, no, I know You stopped me and asked me, “Who do you really love? Do you love Me more or this?” It’s just like when You asked Peter “Peter, do you love me more than these?” You get that personal, even in the midst of our flesh. But what will my answer be? It won’t mean much if I say, “Yes,” but act otherwise. What will my real answer look like? Will I refuse my flesh because I love You more? Will I turn from my ways and turn to Your ways because I love You more? Will I let go and repent or will I love my own flesh’s ways more?
Here’s the truth and the reason I have the power to say no to my fleshly desires and yes to Your desires, God. “But if Christ lives in you, the Spirit is life for you because you have been put right with God, even though your bodies are going to die because of sin. If the Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from death, lives in you, then He who raised Christ from death will also give life to your mortal bodies by the presence of His Spirit in you. So then, my friends, we have an obligation, but it is not to live as our human nature wants us to. For if you live according to your human nature, you are going to die; but if by the Spirit you put to death your sinful actions, you will live. Those who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s children. “ (Romans 8: 10-14)
It’s true, Jesus said, “Those who come to me cannot be my disciples unless they love me more than they love father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and themselves as well.” (Luke 14:26) With His own mouth He said, “If you love Me, you will obey my commandments.“ (John 14:15) “Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. My Father will love those who love me; I too will love them and reveal myself to them.” (John 14:21)
So I can live the way of the flesh or the way of the Spirit. If I live the way of the flesh I choose to not be subject to Your law, God. Your word is life, all of it. It pleases You because it’s of You and from You. It’s peace, it’s love, it’s wonder, it’s everything good. It’s life and if it’s not of You or Your law then it leads to death. The law never ceased because You never ceased and You never will and law is all about understanding and knowing You. There’s no way I can please You or know You without it, and without submitting to it. All I’ll ever know then is my own ways, not Yours. Your law tells me how to know You and how to become Your child and Your friend. To reject Your law is to reject You.
So, if Your word, Your law is the way of life, how do I make it my way of life in a world, an environment, that rejects it and is hostile to it? You teach me to deny myself even my basic rights. Would the world or my own flesh deny me that? It would tell me to seek someone who’ll comfort me. It would tell me I must have those basic rights. Well what’s wrong with having our basic rights? What are the rights of the flesh?
I just read an unsettling article about a movement to label pedophilia as a sexual orientation and not a disorder. Think a minute here. Then the flesh’s desire for sexual activity with children becomes a basic right. Can you imagine it being someone’s right to molest a child? Have you heard what’s beginning to be taught in public schools? All things about sexuality at young ages, things that used to be tabu. Why? Could there be a desire by many to teach our young children to feed the flesh? Or is there an enemy preparing our children to be used by those who will not control the desires of their own flesh because they’ve handed the law over to their own flesh and robbed it from You, God?
Self-actualization is the antagonist of Godly surrender. Jesus surrendered His basic rights and more that every one of us might have true life and have it abundantly. Lord, I don’t want to be sucked into the mindset of self-actualization because it’s the road to death. Proberbs 14:12 tells me, “There is a way which seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” I want to walk in the way of life, not the way of death. Lord, You alone are the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and I want to walk in You. I want to love Your law because it’s all about You, and I want to love others like You loved me. And if it means, and I know it does, that I have to die to my flesh’s desires to live in You, then teach me to die so I might live. To hell with self-actualization, but to life and life eternal with Christ-actualization. The world doesn’t need more of me, it needs more of You. And the truth is, I can never be all that I was created to be until I surrender myself to my Creator.