Janet Smith – 2-10-2020 ©gardenministries.org
Galatians 2:20 NASB 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.
A mature son is considered emotionally and spiritually mature mainly because their self-will is laid down and no longer rises to compete with the will of God. Like John the Baptist, a mature male or female “son” continually says, “I must decrease,” (meaning; my self-centered willfulness must die) and “He (Jesus) must increase,” (meaning; the perfect, proper, pleasing will of God must ever rise because He is Lord.)
Galatians 3:22-26 NASB But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. 24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. 26 For you are all sons (Greek: huios: mature sons) of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
An immature son is not emotionally and spiritually mature because their self-will is not yielded to the Father’s will. He is not yet their Lord. This child is an heir without access to their inheritance.
Galatians 4:1-7 NASB Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything, 2 but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father. 3 So also we, while we were children (Greek: népios: immature person), were held in bondage under the elemental things (Greek: stoixeíon) of the world. 4 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, 5 so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons (Greek: huiothesia: the consummate condition of the sons of God, which will render it evident that they are the Romans 8:19, 23 mature “huios” sons of God).
The two meanings of Galatians 4:3 “elemental things” (Greek: stoixeíon pronounced stoy-khi’-on):
1. The basic components or rudiments with which mankind was indoctrinated (before the time of Christ), i.e. the elements of religious training or the ceremonial practices amongst Jews or Gentiles before faith in Christ was available. (Biblehub.com)
2. The Revised Standard Version (RSV) however renders stoixeia as “elemental spirits,” i.e. spiritual powers or “cosmic spirits.” This view of the “elements” is as ancient astral beings associated with the very beginning and make-up of the earth. (Biblehub.com)
Colossians 2:8-9 NASB See to it that no one takes you captive (Gal. 4:3 bondage) through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men (i.e., empty religious forms), according to the elementary principles of the world (cosmic persuasions taught by the deceptive powers of the air), rather than according to Christ. 9 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, 10 and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;
Galatians 4:6-10 NASB Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God. 8 However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods (i.e. enslaved by the elemental principles of cosmic powers who act like “gods” but are not). 9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years.
In modern terms, turning back to elemental things and putting ourselves “under the law” means we are turning away from the freedom and forgiveness Christ purchased for us and we are turning back to engage in the elemental influences and principles of the world.
But we don’t have to take this route. We can say, “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” and choose to pursue a deeper, more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. If we continue to stand on the truth of His Word and obey His commands, we will prove faithful to receive our inheritance as mature sons. Overcoming the temptations to indulge in self-centered bondages while we wait is part of the maturing process.
When we daily and ever-increasingly yield our wills in God’s direction and apply our faith in tangible ways, we are decreasing and Jesus is increasing in us and we are maturing. It may not feel like it in the moment, but as we make room for Jesus to dwell in our hearts through faith, our roots are growing down deeper and becoming stronger. When the storms come, we will see just how strong the roots are.
Storms and trials present the perfect opportunities to mature in Christ. They are the time to draw upon the Word’s promises and dig into the wells of the Holy Spirit’s greater grace. As we cry out for God’s answers and press into Him all the more in faith, hope, and love, we are moving forward.
If we passively disconnect and veg out during the storms, we are wasting what the storm can do for us. If we don’t press into God in faith and dig deeper wells of trust in His Word when we are challenged and tested, we will remain unchanged for the better when the storm passes.
During the trials of our faith, choices to passively disconnect or engage in religious striving do not facilitate transformation. Intimate communion with Jesus and faith in God’s Word is what transforms us. Faith that digs down and boldly believes God is good in the midst of the storm; and faith that feeds on His Word and trusts His character is what releases the Holy Spirit to come and root out lies and sanctify our soul.
Transformation happens when we face storms, bow our hearts in reverent submission, and draw upon His greater grace to get through. When we hold up His living Word in faith, and cry out, “I believe you God. Help my unbelief!” we are opening the doors to our heart for a divine exchange: His flesh for mine.
This raw faith cuts through the lies and accusations trying to stop us and activates God’s transformative power like a spiritual lightning bolt that electrifies our heart and changes us from the inside out. Even our weak and most pitiful efforts to press in during a storm are born of the kind of faith and courage that opens heaven’s gates and matures our character.
Luke 17:4-6 NASB And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” 5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6 And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you.
Sin requires the conviction of the Holy Spirit to clearly see where we are missing the mark. We need His clear direction and forgiveness to get properly aligned. When Jesus said to forgive seven times seven, the disciples cried out, “increase our faith!” The forgiveness we need an increase of faith to give over and over. This helps keep us free from bitterness that warps our ability to hear and see Jesus. Unforgiveness is a form of mistrust and unbelief. We need faith to forgive others and to receive His forgiveness.
Faith as small as a mustard seed tells us that our even our weakest efforts to yield our wills to God and obey Him has great effect. We should not judge our simple choices to obey God as inadequate. Even the smallest turn of the heart toward God in the weakest moments are precious in His sight. Yielding our will to the Father like Jesus did—especially in the Garden—is one of the greatest gifts we can give God.
If we are not seeing transformation and an increase of the Holy Spirit’s fruits manifesting on the other side of a storm, we can probably trace it back to the choices we made while we were in the midst of the storm. Were we passively resistant? Unforgiving? Indulgent? Willfully ignorant? Self-focused? Lazy?
Galatians 5:13-16 NASB For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. 16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
When the storms of life render up areas of brokenness and need, what will we do? Will we fixate on fixing them and sink in shame and failure? Will we deny them in pride and blame others? Or will we ask for the Holy Spirit’s conviction and Christ’s cleansing forgiveness and move on with our lives?
Galatians 5:17-21 NASB 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. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 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, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
If we can’t see where we are in sin but an honest look at what we’re doing reveals the deeds of the flesh manifesting in us, then we can safely say there is sin and we need the Holy Spirit’s conviction to help us see where we are missing it with Him. He is always specific, never condemns, and gives us hope and grace to confess and repent. Condemnation and shame are general and make us feel hopeless.
John 16:8-9 NASB And He (the Holy Spirit), when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me;
It is wisdom to ask the Holy Spirit to bring conviction for sin. When we ask, He will bring His beautiful and sparkling clarity to where we have missed the mark. In His kindness, He will empower us to repent, and He will pour out His grace with clear direction for lasting change. It will take humility to receive the conviction and apply the grace, but once we do, the balm of Christ’s forgiveness will come and bring peace and hope to our grief. The Spirit cleanses our heart from unrighteousness (1 John 1:9) and we feel clean and hopeful afterward.
Galatians 5:22-26 NASB 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. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.
One of the hardest times to deny indulging in fleshly passions is when the storms hit. That’s why it’s important to begin the crucified-with-Christ, “I no longer live,” death-to-self process in the quiet times before the storm. If we invest in our First Love relationship with Jesus prior to the storms, when the storms come and test us, our firm belief in the truth of the Word and our love for Jesus will use the storms to put down even deeper roots of faith and mature trust. When it is all said and done, the storm will produce an even greater confidence and trust in God.
To be crucified with Christ means that when storms come our way, e humble ourselves before God and press into His more and ask others to pray with us. We do not sink into passive resistance to the Holy Spirit and to yield our will to His because we have learned that the self-centered way through a storm will not transform us into Christ’s likeness.
To embrace the cross of Christ means that we resist numbing our emotions with useless means of passing the time and instead, run to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. We choose to consume His Word and cultivate an atmosphere that draws His Presence. In the face of the storm, we declare His Word is Truth and hold fast to it until the storm subsides. By faith, we lovingly burrow into God’s spiritual belly and activate His transformative power within ours.
Philippians 3:18-21 NASB For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. 20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.
If we will not yield our wills to the will of the Father and make room for the increasing Presence of Jesus, our old nature will continue to occupy that space and instinctually resist God’s call to the “deny ourselves and pick up our cross” process or we will strive to perform for those whose approval we seek to please.
Luke 9:23 NASB And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.
Galatians 6:12-15 NASB Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh. 14 But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.
2 Peter 3:12 tells us that the day of the Lord’s Parousia “coming” can be hastened. But how? By earnestly desiring Jesus Christ formed within. The more His Parousia Presence abides in me, the more He has already come. He first comes in us before He comes for us. Knowing, eating, believing, and obeying the Word of God is key to having His abiding Presence and the benefits of His eternal Life increase within us. Why are we wasting time on useless worldly pleasures that can’t satisfy?
John 6:48-58 NASB [Jesus said] I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh. 52 Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?”
53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. 54 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. 56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. 58 This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.”
Jesus calls Himself the “Bread and the Water of Life.” He wants us to relate to Him as fresh baked bread whom we can turn to in our spiritual hunger and partake of. The more we spiritually consume Jesus, the less we will consume the world. John was told in Revelation 10:9 to “eat the Word.” We can “eat” by opening our eye gates and our ear gates and meditating on the manifold ways Jesus connects with us. Just to name a few, we can explore who He is as the Word, the Light, the Life, the Water, the Way, the Song of Songs, the Bridegroom, and so many more facets to our magnificent God.
Revelation 3:20 NASB Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.
When we spend more time eating with Jesus and learning about His majestic humility and less time eating the World’s offerings, Jesus Presence will increase within us and driving out our self-centered, empty desires. This will mature us. Christ formed within us is the fruitful outcome of time spent with Him.
1 John 2:28 NASB Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming (His Parousia: Greek: Parousia: the arrival of the owner king whose Presence alone can deal with a situation).
Tell Jesus how much you love Him and how much you want Him. Spend more time in fellowship with Him and let the Prince of Peace be your main source of refreshment and stress relief. Fall in love with Jesus. He will empower you to boldly seek His face and obey Him in the midst of the storms. Without an established, fiery love relationship with Jesus, empty religion won’t hold us through the tough times ahead. A house built on the sand is easily blown over in the wind.
John 15:12-14 NASB This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do what I command you.
When the Holy Spirit graciously answers our request and convicts us of sin, after we confess it and ask for forgiveness, then we must go on to replace that old man nature and its habits with the new creation mindset and pursue fresh revelation of Jesus Christ. This happens through intimate daily fellowship with our First Love, Jesus. When we fall in love with Jesus, our desire to obey His commands will not be burdensome. It will be our great delight to wholeheartedly love and serve Him.
With Jesus’ abiding Parousia Presence dwelling in us, sin has no hold on our heart. Because “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me,” the life I now life, I live by faith in the One Who gave Himself up for me. Amen. Come Lord Jesus! Come.