Life on God’s Platform
Teaching children how to handle their own sin
This is the second article in the Trapeze faith series which focuses on a saving and sustaining faith (located on my web site). A high-flying trapeze act was the analogy presented in the first article to illustrate and define the essentials of a saving faith. For the purpose of context and continuing use of related terms an abbreviated summary of this analogy follows.
Summary thoughts from Trapeze Faith
The man on the high-flying trapeze is a biblical picture of both our lost condition without God and His plan to rescue and maintain us on His kingdom platform. The platform on which the trapeze performer first stood symbolized our sinful lives separated from God. The high bar He swung our way, viagra buy order was the bar of forgiveness Jesus made possible when He died for our sins on the cross. The grabbing of the bar was the faith we demonstrated when we accepted His offer of forgiveness. In addition to the salvation bar swung our way, Jesus manned the bar Himself so we could get to God’s platform on His strength and not our own (2 Cor. 12:9).
Life on God’s platform
Once we arrive on God’s platform we will never again have to worry about returning to the original platform where we once formerly worked out our own salvation, purpose, and earthly comforts. Upon arrival, the salvation swing is cut and replaced by a new high bar of faith that promises to carry us from one faith platform of spiritual transformation and maturity to the next (John10: 27-28; 2 Cor. 3:18). In these swings of faith, many changes take place; some are very painful, and others are quite joyous (Luke 22:61-62; John 21:15). In the end, regardless of how much pain or joy results, God guarantees we will glorify Him, because every God-directed leap of faith progressively rids us of our old sinful passions and replaces them with new Godly passions that will surpass our greatest hopes (James 1: 2-4).
The Scripture identifies this ridding and replacing as God authored transformations. The first transformational change (ridding) is a God-directed crucifixion of our old sinful passions. Even though we inherited a new life in Christ upon salvation, part of the development of that new life is a continual crucifixion of our old sinful passions. It is amazing that in the development of our new life in Him, He allowed us to come to His platform with a nature that can still sin. (Romans 6:5-7; Galatians 2:20; 2 Cor. 5: 17).
The Word calls our old sinful passions many things: the old self, old man, carnal man, and the flesh (Romans 6:6; Ephesians 4: 22-24;Romans 8:7-8; I Cor. 3:3). The flesh is the term I will employ to describe our old sinful passions, for it is the flesh we see in the mirror every morning, and our flesh is always in need of attention because it consistently gets dirty and stinky. The flesh has a propensity toward disease and accident, and therefore progressively grows weaker, looks uglier, and is bent toward decay and dying.
God says our old sinful passions are like the flesh which will never improve or produce any measure of spiritual life. Since nothing good can be done with the flesh (our sinful passions), it must be crucified. To try and reform it crosses with God’s purposes. The Pharisees in Jesus’ day were examples of those who thought they could reform the flesh with their religious disciplines. In response to their efforts, Jesus called them white washed tombs; clean on the outside, but dead on the inside (Matthew 23:27).
Crucifixion is a great picture of God’s process of dealing with our flesh. It was a very slow, sure, painful, and publicly humiliating death. According to historical record, this kind of execution was used by the Romans, and exclusively reserved for their enemies. Death by crucifixion usually lasted 3-4 days, but in some cases could take up to two weeks if the right provisions were available. Families of the crucified were sometimes allowed to give them food, wine, and a footrest for the body to rest. These “helps” only served to delay the inevitable. It may appear that God chose a slow and painful process for the destruction of our flesh, but this slowness is not His design, but rather the result of our unwillingness to let Him do His work. We are the ones who want to hold onto our old sinful passions by feeding them and propping them up.
Crucifixion was very painful; it started with a series of floggings and beatings. This was designed to weaken the one going to the cross. There was also the added burden of carrying one’s own cross to the place of execution. Nails or ropes held a man’s arms in place, depending upon the intended length of the execution. In comparison, we need to let God weaken our flesh with His disciplines, even if it hurts (Romans 8: 12-13,18). The weaker the flesh, the stronger our new resurrected life in Him will flourish.
Crucifixion was very humiliating and public; everyone could see the one being executed. In the same way, God wants the crucifixion of our flesh to be public. Our greatest witness to the world and our fellow Christians is let them see the work that God is doing in our lives, and that includes the crucifixion of our flesh. Christians who only want to show the new resurrected life share only half a testimony. The witness’s John, James, and Luke indirectly write against this kind of testimony. (I John 1:9-10; James 5:16; Luke 18:13-14)
We have a tendency to let our old sinful passions off the cross, a practice we need to abandon. Here are just a few of the old sinful passions to which we revert when we let them down off the cross to live another day. “Now the deeds of the flesh are disobedience and deceit; immorality, drunkenness, carousing, impurity, sensuality, and slavery to various lusts and pleasures; idolatry and sorcery, outbursts of anger, malice, and enmities; slander and gossip; jealousy and envy, (Galatians 5:19-21; Col. 3:8-9; Titus 3:3;). Are any of these old passions familiar to you? Do they still have unchallenged freedoms in your life to climb off that cross and crush you?
The second transformational change God authors within us is the birthing and development of a new life in Him called the resurrected life. The resurrected life is not a restored flesh; it is a brand new life that replaces the flesh. The term resurrected life is a great description of our new life in Christ, because it speaks of something that is totally miraculous. The whole idea of life coming from death is completely unnatural, and unbelievable, similar to the resurrection of Jesus. Here are some of the characteristics of the resurrected life God is developing in you. When you compare this life to that of the flesh, resurrection is the only term that truly describes such a miraculous change. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Along with these wonderful transformations are lives that demonstrate an absent of arrogance, jealousy, conceit, and worry; lives that are increasingly free from the love of money, content in all circumstances, unprovoked by others and able to turn the other cheek when attacked; lives that no longer put themselves at the top of their own prayer list, but are now equally concerned for the lost hearts of their own enemies and rivals; lives that no longer say, “they deserve what they get,” but are saddened by acts of the unrighteous; lives that bear all things for the sake of others; lives that believe the best about others and are willing to endure with them until the end; lives that freely share Christ with others out of love, and not obligation (I Cor. 13: 4-7; Matthew 5:44; 6:20). Is this what you are becoming? This is God’s resurrection plan for you.
At the present time there are two natures operating in you, or better said, “There are two yous.” The old you wants to climb down off the cross and live another sin-filled day, and the new you wants to live a sinless day, walking in the presence of God on His resurrection path. The old you is murderous, mean, and adulterous. The new you is loving, caring, and Godly. Every day can be a battle; the Spirit states it so (Galatians 5:16). But with every battle comes the possibility for victory. And with every victory, a greater resurrected life. Here is how I deal with the flesh when it begins to leave the cross. The following are what I call my Lord petitions, which I put into practice almost every day.
- Lord, I see the old flesh is back and wants to come down off the cross again. Surprise! Surprise!
- Lord, please take control of my flesh.
- Lord, please put my flesh back on the cross so that it can be weakened and eventually executed.
- Lord, the flesh has never given me any lasting joy, it is not the real me; the real me lies in the resurrected life; the life I live when you are at the center.
- Lord, help me focus now on the things that will help me walk away from the flesh and toward my new resurrected life in You.
- Lord, if it is your counsel for me to stand and resist the flesh, then empower me to do so, but if it’s to flee, help me exit as quickly as I can.
- Lord, thank you for the victory you are giving me today, but keep me cautious with the tomorrows, for the flesh is not dead yet, but rather awaiting the next opportunity to climb down of its cross and live.
- Lord, draw me closer to You through each battle waged with the flesh. Whether I win or lose may I grow in my love for you and in the wisdom I need to win the battles ahead.
- Lord, I thank you for the promise that one day I will never have to battle this flesh again. And what a great day that will be. Help me Lord to be the man of God you want me to be here on earth.
Aside from leading your children to Christ, helping them understand and deal with their own flesh is perhaps one of the greatest biblical lessons you can teach them as a parent. It does not matter how old they are they still have their own flesh as you do. And like yours, their flesh is always trying to climb down off the cross in order to live out its sinful passions.
The Scripture uses many clothing examples to get its point across about the flesh. Jesus Himself used clothing to teach His own disciples about the nature of their new lives centered in Him. (Luke 5:36). Peter taught his followers that they needed to clothe themselves with humility (I Peter 5:5). Paul instructs his disciples that baptism means to be clothed in Christ (Gal. 3:27).
In your teachable moment, use clothing to make your point about how God wants your children to deal with the flesh. If possible create a mud puddle of sorts for them to play in, or anything that will soil their clothing, stink up their bodies, and make them unpleasant to be around. Choose some old torn clothes for them to wear during this activity. Then proceed to the mud puddle and get dirty. While you are there tell them you will be teaching them an important lesson on how God wants to work with their spiritually dirty clothes and smelly bodies. When you have finished with your mud play and start the clean up routine, stop them and tell them they have an option concerning clean up. If they so decide they can keep their dirty clothes on all day, and do not have to take a bath. But because the rules of the house have not changed, they will not be allowed to come in with dirty clothes and smelly bodies. Tell them that the grass might be their best bed for the evening, and the food in the cat’s dish may not taste bad. Hopefully they will not like the idea of staying outside, and opt for the clean up. But when you help them undress do not put the old dirty clothes in the wash. Take them and hang them on a nail in the garage.
Then draw the following analogies for them. The mud is the sin they often get into when they don’t walk with God. At first the mud seems like a lot of fun, but when the mud play is all over they are quite dirty, smelly, and uncomfortable. Clean up is important, but if they get stubborn and refuse, then they have to stay out in our stinky clothes until they change their mind. And so it is when we decide to live according to our own flesh, and do the things that hurt others, God, and ourselves. Tell your children that spiritual clean up is imperative; the flesh cannot live in harmony with the Spirit. Have your children list all the sinful passions they are aware of, not only in their own lives but in the lives of others. Be sure to mention your own; remember that the crucified life is public. Then have them list the fruits of the Spirit. Understanding of these two character lists (flesh and Spirit) will help them know if they are living according to the flesh or walking with the Spirit. Finish off your teaching with a focus on the dirty clothes hanging on the nail in the garage. The clothes are on that nail because they are not ready to be discarded yet, which is true of their flesh. It will not be completely discarded until we die. The old clothes on the nail smell, stink, and look pretty ugly. But as long as they remain they serve as a temptation to put be on, because they are still available, and are still very comfortable to wear. But the more your children refuse to be tempted by them, and turn to those (God, Christian parents and friends) in the home for guidance, the least likely they will be put them on again. But if they do, all they have to do is confess their sins, throw the old clothes on the nail, let God clean them up (forgiveness) and put on some new clothes; clothes monogrammed with the words, “I love you Lord and always want you to be in control of my life.”
The power of our growth is in God’s hands.
2 Cor. 12:9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
Our security is set and transformation is assured.
John 10: 27-28 27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 2 Cor. 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
Pain and joy are both a part of transformation.
Luke 22:61-62 61 The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, “Before a rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times.” 62 And he went out and wept bitterly. John 21:15 So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” James 1: 2-4 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
God wants to rid us of our flesh and replace it with a new resurrected life.
Romans 6:5-7 (king James version) 5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin. Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. 2 Cor. 5: 17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.The old self, carnal man, or flesh are terms that describe our sin nature Romans 6:6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin. Ephesians 4: 22-24 22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. Romans 8:7-8 (King James) 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. I Cor. 3:3 for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?
The flesh is not in need of restoration, but crucifixion.
Matthew 23:27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.” Romans 8: 12-13,18 12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
The crucified of our lives need to go public.
I John 1:9-10 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. James 5: 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. Luke 18: 13-14 13 “But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ 14 “I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other. The deeds of the flesh are not pretty. Galatians 5:19-21 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. Col. 3:8-9 8 But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices. Titus 3:3 For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. The deeds of the resurrected life are beautiful Galatians 5:22-23 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.I Cor. 13: 4-7 4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Matthew 5: 44 “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, Matthew 6:20 “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal.
The battle against your flesh can be won.
Galatians 5: 16-17 16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. Clothing analogies describe help us understand God’s transformation. Luke 5: 36 And He was also telling them a parable: “No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and puts it on an old garment; otherwise he will both tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. I Peter 5: 5 You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Gal. 3:27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.