Dying to Self

Read: Philippians 3:1-11

I have witnessed a number of clergymen whose lives appear very comfortable. They wear tailor-made suits, their parsonage is stuffed full of nice new furnishings (yes, I have visited some pastor’s homes), they drive higher-end cars, their pantries are overflowing. You can look up some television clergy and notice their net worth. You will be amazed! The Archdioceses alone is collectively worth billions!

Paul said: “If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.”

Living a life of the flesh is unrighteous, but giving up those things of the flesh is not only righteous, but also selfless.

Paul also taught us: “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:20-12) I will not state the complete status of my own wealth, but I will say that I have much more than what I truly need and my lifestyle is humble and blessed. Paul’s needs were not great, and Jesus owned only the clothes on his body. I’m not saying those who preach don’t deserve a good salary, because they also need to make a living in this world. As for those who are ultra-wealthy and preaching righteousness, I give the following quotes directly from the mouth of God himself, personified, who is Christ our Lord:

So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matt 6:2-4)

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matt 6:19-24)

Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matt 7:19-23)

Then Jesus said to his disciples: If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ ... ‘Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’”(Matt 19:21, 23-24)

And 2 Peter 2 (entire chapter)

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.

4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment; 5 if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; 6 if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7 and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless 8 (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— 9 if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. 10 This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority.

Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to heap abuse on celestial beings; 11 yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not heap abuse on such beings when bringing judgment on them from the Lord. 12 But these people blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like unreasoning animals, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like animals they too will perish.

13 They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you. 14 With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed—an accursed brood! 15 They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness. 16 But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey—an animal without speech—who spoke with a human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.

17 These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18 For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” 20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. 22 Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,”and, “A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.

As for me, I will heed biblical warnings and strive to live a righteous life, keeping the gifts which the merciful Lord has already given me and trying to take only that which I need. The Lord already knows my heart, and yours as well.  We will all have our final judgement.

Let It Go

The core beliefs of my Christianity and my life are summed up, as I have written before,
in two statements:

  • Obey God and leave all the consequences to Him.
  • Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things
    God works for the good of those who love him,
    who have been called according to his purpose

Understanding these two life principals is key to living a good Christian life. The “obey God” part is clear enough. But the reason we must obey Him lies in the consequences.

Once we accept Christ we are saved from the fires of hell. Jesus already took care of that part for us. If we sin, we repent and are sanctified to God. But consequences follow sin.(Ezekiel 23:35, John 5:24) How we live after salvation has everything to do with our status in Heaven. Those who serve others will have great crowns to wear. (2 Timothy 4:8 ) But we can serve God in the things we do every day.

For instance, when out driving about, do not shake your fist and curse others driving dangerously or illegally. Let their consequences fall on them. By acting in a manner, unlike that of Christ, you will cause consequences to fall upon you. Instead, pray for them and ask the Lord to forgive them and to protect them and everyone in their path. Do this with everything of which you are tasked, every day.

It’s time for us to let go for dear life and let us all pay attention to what WE do, every moment of every day. “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matt 5:48)