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Tag Archives: the sinful nature

How Jealousy Can Destroy a Church

The apostle Paul’s initial visit to Thessalonica can be described as the tale of two Sundays.  As a former Jewish zealot, Paul visited the local synagogue and consecutive Sabbaths.  According to Luke, a first century doctor and historian, Paul engaged in a series of discussions and friendly debates.  Paul used the Scriptures to persuade these Jews that Jesus was the promised Messiah of the Old Testament.  By the third Sabbath, some Jews, a large number of God fearing Greeks and many leading women placed that faith in Christ as Savior and Lord.

And Paul entered the synagogue, as was his custom, and for three Sabbaths he engaged in discussion and friendly debate with them from the Scriptures, explaining and pointing out [scriptural evidence] that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I am proclaiming to you, is the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed),” Acts 17:2-4.

This rejection of Judaism didn’t sit well with a majority of the synagogue leaders.  Instead of continuing their friendly debate, unbelieving Jews became filled with jealousy.  Envious spirits provoked synagogue leaders to become hostile toward God, Romans 8:5-8.  The sinful nature influenced synagogue leaders to go down a slippery slope, combing Thessalonica for lowlifes and thugs to intimidate Paul and Silas.  This group stirred up trouble, forming a mob and throwing this city into an uproar, surrounding the house of Jason like a modern public protest.  This is an example of how jealousy can destroy a church.

And some of them were persuaded to believe and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large number of the God-fearing Greeks and many of the leading women. But the [unbelieving] Jews became jealous, and taking along some thugs from [the lowlifes in] the market place, they formed a mob and set the city in an uproar; and then attacking Jason’s house tried to bring Paul and Silas out to the people. But when they failed to find them, they dragged Jason and some brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here too; and Jason has welcomed them [into his house and protected them]! And they all are saying things contrary to the decrees of Caesar, [actually] claiming that there is another king, Jesus.” They stirred up the crowd and the city authorities who heard these things, Acts 17:4-8.

Jealousy has a long and undesirable past that is documented in the Bible.  Jealousy led Cain, the first human being born on earth, to kill his younger brother.  Jealousy persuaded King Saul to make several attempts on the life of David his predecessor.  Envy isn’t limited to the Bible as acts of the sinful nature prey on souls who deviate, rebel or stray from God.  As someone who spent 7 years as an elder in a church, it only takes one influential leader on a board to follow in the footsteps of this synagogue in Thessalonica.  To prevent a future event from escalating, Paul writes two letters to set high standards for church leaders.  Titus 3:6-9 and 1 Timothy 3:1-7 detail qualifications to guard against jealousy from destroying another church.

by Jay Mankus

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Kicking and Screaming

After one year of attending Channin Elementary School, within walking distance of my house, desegregation bused me into the city of Wilmington, Delaware.  For the next three years, Harlan Elementary became my new school home.  This drastic change was eye opening.  Whenever a student broke a rule, became disobedient or get caught doing something illegal, rarely did I hear, “my bad, I did it, I’m guilty.”  Instead, students were often dragged to the office, kicking and screaming, escorted by one or more administrators.

For you, my brothers, were called to freedom; only do not let your freedom become an opportunity for the sinful nature (worldliness, selfishness), but through love serve and seek the best for one another, Galatians 5:13.

Today, whenever someone feels like they have been treated unjustly, social media has become a popular site to air your grievances.  While there are many options to choose, Facebook and Twitter are filled with rants daily.  Instead of thinking before individuals press send, emotions stir the pot, building up until one final act boils over to form a vicious tweet.  Once posted, souls attempt to bite and devour one another, plummeting the gutter to an all time low.  While the prudent thing to do is walk away, the sinful nature can’t resist to pile on by fighting back.

But if you bite and devour one another [in bickering and strife], watch out that you [along with your entire fellowship] are not consumed by one another, Galatians 5:15.

The context of the two passages above are sandwiched by a verse referring to the Golden Rule, treating others as you want to be treated.  Jesus uses this principle at the conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer, adding a condition to forgiveness.  According to Matthew 6:14-15, your forgiveness is dependent upon how you treat and forgive others who trespass against you.  Jesus is clear, “if you don’t forgive others, God won’t forgive you.”  Near the end of this gospel, Matthew 25:30, Jesus reveals what will happen on judgement day to those who harbor bitterness. failing to forgive.  Not only will these unfortunate souls be dragged away, kicking and screaming, eternity will be spent weeping, wishing they would have chosen love over hatred.

by Jay Mankus

Where Envy and Resentment Can Lead You

Envy and Resentment are like a notorious WWE Tag Team Wrestling Champion.  Envy begins each bout, distracting opponents by focusing on what others have instead of how God has blessed you.  The moment you fail prey to this tactic, resentment hits you over the head with a chair.  This is immediately followed by a punch to your gut before ending up in a headlock, struggling to break free.  Anyone who fails to come to their senses will be dragged away like a rag doll.  This is how envy and resentment lead people to some of the most vile and wretched places on earth.

Pilate answered them, saying, “Do you want me to set free for you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he was aware that the chief priests had turned Jesus over to him because of envy and resentment, Mark 15:9-10.

During the first century, Jesus was despised by the ruling class.  The thought of a carpenter from Nazareth developing a massive spiritual following offended the chief priests, elders and scribes.  When his disciples failed to adhere to Jewish ceremonial laws, this lack of observance opened the door for envy and resentment to consume these religious leaders.  If Jesus’ popularity continued without some sort of intervention, the power of future Pharisees and Sadducees was in jeopardy of being stripped away.  Thus, envy and resentment fueled this elite group to conspire, plot and pressure authorities to crucify Jesus.

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice, Ephesians 4:31.

When the apostle Paul turned his back on Judaism to follow Jesus Christ, he began to experience pushback from envy and resentment.  Human nature feeds off of the acts of the sinful nature, thriving on venting frustrations as well as unleashing your anger on others.  Yet, if this run away train of emotions possesses you, exhibit A features Cain who killed his brother due to jealousy.  Today, America’s ruling establishment is teaming up with the deep state to foil Donald Trump’s presidency.  This resistance has lasted more than a year, crushing souls along the way.  Perhaps its time to take a step back before envy and resentment devours another victim.  May the passages above convict hearts before any further actions are taken.  If not, envy and resentment may lead participants to an undesirable eternal destination.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Gravational Pull Between Good and Evil

The invisible force that causes massive objects to pull other objects toward them is known as a gravitational pull.  When a professional athlete jumps into the air, the earth’s gravitational pull forces them back to the ground.  Early theologians developed the concept of dualism to help explain a similar pull between good and evil.  Dualism believes there are two independent powers behind everything that happens, one good and the other bad.  In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis states that the universe is the battlefield in which this endless war is fought.

But I say, walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance], and then you will certainly not carry out the desire of the [sinful nature [which responds impulsively without regard for God and His precepts], Galatians 5:16.

Prior to introducing the concept of the armor of God to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul describes the gravitational pull between good and evil.  Unlike dualism, these invisible forces are clearly defined.  In the right corner, the Holy Spirit is a guiding light, directing, prompting and urging souls to choose obedience in accordance with biblical law.  Meanwhile, the sinful nature opposes God’s Spirit, using impulses, lust and temporary pleasures to entice individuals to break God’s law.  Angels and demons fight for souls in the spiritual realm, pulling hearts and minds in different directions.

For the sinful nature has its desire which is opposed to the Spirit, and the [desire of the] Spirit opposes the sinful nature; for these [two, the sinful nature and the Spirit] are in direct opposition to each other [continually in conflict], so that you [as believers] do not [always] do whatever [good things] you want to do, Galatians 5:17.

One of the weapons the ruler of the air, Ephesians 2:2, uses is misinformation.  Going back to the Garden of Eden, Lucifer planted doubt within the mind of Eve by suggesting, “did God really say that?”  Replacing truth with justification and rationalization, the gravitational pull of sin is hard to resist, James 1:13-15.  Meanwhile, the Lord uses confession, James 5:16, pouring out grace and mercy upon willing participants to pull people back into fellowship with God.  In view of this wrestling match between good and evil, keep in step with the Holy Spirit so that your eternal destination will be secured, 1 John 5:13.

by Jay Mankus

A Prisoner of Your Own Appetite

A typical prisoner is held behind bars or in certain circumstances can be placed under house arrest.  This fate is a result of breaking the law, caught by authorities or brought in for questioning and possibly held overnight as a possible suspect of a crime.  Unfortunately, many people find themselves held hostage by an invisible force.  Beyond the physical realm, demons, powers of darkness and evil spirits are on the prowl, seeking to pounce upon weakened souls, 1 Peter 5:8.  Anyone who lacks self-discipline could be the next victim, a prisoner of your own appetite.

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace, Romans 8:5-6.

According to the apostle Paul, the human flesh has a mind of it’s own.  Like a stubborn child, the sinful nature is in a constant state of want.  I can picture an infant screaming for food or toddler throwing a temper tantrum.  These fits of rage are signs of the flesh at an early stage of development.  As time goes by, outbursts only intensive, especially when lust within human hearts goes unsatisfied.  The more the average person feeds these cravings, the flesh can get out of control.  When selfishness is unleashed, even the strong may find themselves a prisoner of their own appetite.

The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.  Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God, Romans 8:7-8.

If you read between the lines of Romans 8, Paul is imploring burdened souls that you don’t have to do this anyone.  You don’t have to continue living in bondage to your sinful nature.  However, transformation begins within your mind.  Like any enemy, whispers of doubt consume those attempting to break free.  Thus, if you are serious about changing, you must ignore whispers from the Devil.  In this transitional period, you will likely experience withdraw, internal pressure to return to pleasing your flesh.  Yet, if you seek an accountability relationship, devote your life to prayer and submit to God, freedom is within your reach.  The journey is long, but don’t give up hope until victory arrives.

by Jay Mankus

The Power of Thanksgiving

The Hebrew word for thanksgiving is ydh, referring to a public acknowledgement.  Greek uses the term efcharisto meaning the sense of appreciation, inspiring an expression of gratitude.  When a spirit of thanksgiving is verbalized to the down trodden, hurting and needy, affirmations can uplift anyone feeling down in the dumps.

Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! – Psalm 106:1

Unfortunately, there is a negative force at work in the world, breeding critics, complaining and condemnation.  Whenever human beings give into the sinful nature, acts of the flesh come forth, usually in a cruel and harsh manner.  This mental barrier prevents individuals from doing the right thing as the apostle Paul describes in Romans 7.  The only way to break free from this addictive habit is through Jesus Christ.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you, 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

As a former professional golfer, my mind always got in the way, preventing me from reaching my full potential on the golf course.  Yet, the mind also hampers those off the course, in real life, whispering doubts, failure and ungodly beliefs into your head.  Unless you confront this battle with spiritual weapons, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, victories will be few and far between.  Despite this troubling reality, with God all things are possible.  Therefore, if you want to make a difference this holiday season, unleash the power of Thanksgiving by keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25.

by Jay Mankus

The Breath of the Almighty

One of my common expressions at work is “that’s a strange one.”  The context is based upon items and products that I stumble upon which I have never heard of before or seen.  Many people have the same response to the Bible, especially when you read a term that doesn’t make any sense initially.

If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit, Galatians 5:25.

When the apostle Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus, he makes a distinction between the Sinful Nature and the Spirit.  If you read chapter five from the beginning you will find there is an internal battle going on.  What you want to do and what God desires for you to carry out.  Those who live according to the world’s standards give into self gratification.  Meanwhile, those who truly decide to follow Christ must internally die to self to allow God’s Spirit to reign.

But it is the spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand, Job 32:8.

Elihu of the Old Testament is the first person to make this comparison.  Yet, Elihu is referring to signs of spiritual understanding.  When someone demonstrates or speaks words of wisdom, its not just the Spirit within mankind.  Rather, godliness comes forth through the breath of the Almighty God.  May this be your goal in life by yielding control so that the Holy Spirit will shine through you.

by Jay Mankus

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