“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.” Galatians 5:16-18

We are not saved by our works under the Law of God but through faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for our sins and rose again on the third day. Through the preaching of the Gospel, the Holy Spirit has brought us to trust in Christ’s atoning sacrifice for the sins of all and thus has justified us and given us forgiveness for all our sins and eternal life through faith in Christ Jesus.

The Apostle Paul wrote, earlier in his epistle to the Galatians (2:16): “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”

But, as those justified by faith and regenerated by God’s Holy Spirit, we continue to walk by faith and by the power of God’s Holy Spirit and not in the power of our own sin-corrupted flesh; for, until we die and are raised up again on the Last Day, our sinful flesh continues in its rebellion against God and His Word. It does not submit to God’s will and would lead us into all sorts of sin and error.

In fact, there is a struggle going on within us right now. On the one hand, God’s Spirit, working through the Word and Sacraments, strengthens and keeps us in the faith and moves us to walk in accord with God’s perfect will which is revealed to us in His Word. But, on the other hand, the desires of our sinful flesh are contrary to God’s Word and His commandments. Our sinful flesh would lead us back into sin and disobedience to God and bring about our eternal ruin (cf. Gal. 5:17ff.; Rom. 6:23).

And look at God’s warning: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:19-21). Indeed, to walk according to the desires of the flesh takes us right back into sin and the condemnation of God’s holy Law.

Rather, we who have come to faith in Christ by the Spirit’s gracious working through Word and Sacrament cannot continue in the power of our flesh but need to continue in the Spirit, making use of God’s Word and the Sacraments that the Holy Spirit might move us to continue in daily contrition and repentance and then preserve and strengthen our faith in the redemption accomplished for us by Christ Jesus when He fulfilled all righteousness for us and suffered and died on the cross to atone for our sins and failures to keep God’s commandments.

And, when we are led by the Spirit, we are not under the law and its condemnation. We have been redeemed from its curse and have God’s pardon, forgiveness and eternal life (Gal. 3:10,13).

And the Holy Spirit, working through God’s means, produces in us the fruits of faith — “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23).

“And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:24-25).

O gracious and merciful God, by Your Holy Spirit, grant that we hold fast to the promises of the Gospel and receive Your pardon and forgiveness for the sake of Your Son and our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. And grant that we do not walk in accord with our old sinful flesh but in the power of Your Spirit’s working in us through Word and Sacrament. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

[Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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“By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” Hebrews 11:5 (Read Genesis 5:21-24)

The Bible tells us of Enoch, the seventh generation from Adam, that he “walked with God: and he was not; for God took him” (Gen. 5:24).

At the relatively young age of 365, Enoch was taken directly, without seeing death, to be with the LORD God in heaven. Enoch was translated; that is, changed from a temporal, earthly existence to an eternal, heavenly one. His body and soul were taken from this earth into his eternal and heavenly home. Such a translation is hard for us to understand.

In all of human history, Elijah the prophet is the only other human being to escape death and be taken directly to his heavenly home (cf. 2 Kings 2:11). Even the Lord Jesus Christ first died for the sins of the world before He rose again on the third day and then 40 days later ascended into heaven.

Enoch walked with God by faith, trusting that God’s ways are right and that God would send the promised Seed of the woman to redeem him from sin and eternal death. In the book of Jude, we learn that Enoch also testified in his time of God’s coming judgment upon all who continued in their ungodly and rebellious ways (v. 14f.).

To walk with God by faith is no different today. Believers know and believe that God’s ways are true and right and trust in God’s mercy and forgiveness for the sake of His Son, Jesus Christ, who suffered and died for the sins of the whole world and rose again on the third day. Believers walk in fellowship with God the Father, agreeing with Him about their sinfulness but trusting in Him to graciously forgive their sins and accept them as His own dear children for the sake of Jesus Christ, who lived a righteous and holy life in mankind’s stead and made full atonement for the sins of the whole world when He suffered and died upon the cross (cf. 1 John 1:7 – 2:2).

Like Enoch, believers are pleasing to God and righteous in his eyes because all their sins have been washed away in Jesus’ blood. Their works, too, are pleasing in His eyes because they flow from faith in Him and are made pure through the blood of Jesus.

Believers have already been translated. The Bible says of believers in Jesus that the Father “hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son: in whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:12-14). God has graciously translated His children from the kingdom and rule of darkness and sin into the kingdom of grace and forgiveness – the kingdom of His own dear Son.

Believers will be translated into God’s eternal and heavenly kingdom when Jesus returns. The Bible says to all who believe: “Our conversation [way of life] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Phil. 3:20-21).

And so, Enoch walked with God by faith and was translated directly into heaven. All who today walk by faith in the Son of God, trusting in Him for mercy and forgiveness, have been translated from the kingdom of darkness and spiritual death into God’s kingdom of grace and life. On the last day, they too will be translated – their earthly body will be changed into a glorious and heavenly body like that of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus, let me ever walk with You by faith so that, as Enoch was translated from this world into your heavenly kingdom, so I may arise and live with You forever in Your eternal and glorious kingdom. Amen.

[Scripture quoted from the King James Version of the Bible]

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“By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.” Hebrews 11:4 (Read Genesis 4)

Both Cain and Abel offered gifts to the LORD God, Abel from his flocks and herds, and Cain from the fruits of the ground. Why was it that God accepted Abel and his sacrifice but rejected Cain?

Hebrews 11:4 tells us the answer: “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.”

Abel offered his sacrifice in faith. He trusted in the LORD God to accept him and his sacrifice for the sake of the promised Seed of the woman, that promised Messiah and Savior who would redeem him and all mankind from sin and the just condemnation of God’s law.

Cain, on the other hand, though he too offered up a sacrifice to the LORD, did not offer it up in the confidence of God’s mercy and forgiveness. Rather, he went through the outward motions of serving his Maker, but his heart was far from the LORD (cf. Matt. 15:8; Isa. 29:13). Cain’s works are described as evil in 1 John 3:12 and Jude 11. Even though he brought an offering to the LORD, he was not walking with the LORD by faith; and his gift was unacceptable since the LORD looks upon the heart.

Of course, when we read Genesis 4, we learn not only that Cain’s sacrifice was unacceptable, but that he hated his brother Abel and killed him because Abel was counted righteous. Those who do not follow after the LORD continue to this day to hate those who walk by faith in the LORD because the witness of the righteous pricks the guilt-ridden consciences of those who go their own way.

Does this mean that Abel was of himself without sin? Not at all! Rather he was counted righteous in God’s eyes through faith in God’s promise to send a Savior to bear his punishment and redeem him from sin’s condemnation (Cf. Gen. 3:15). The lambs sacrificed pointed ahead to Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who has taken away the sin of the world (cf. John 1:29).

What about you? Do you walk with the LORD God by faith in His Son as did Abel, trusting that God accepts and forgives you for the sake of that Lamb of God who has taken away the sin of the world? Or do you walk as Cain walked, serving the Lord outwardly with gifts and lip-service while inwardly you are far from the Lord and going another way?

Dear Lord Jesus, Lamb of God who has atoned for my sin and the sin of the whole world by Your innocent sufferings and death upon the cross, forgive me, cleanse me and lead me. By Your Spirit, move me to walk with You by faith unto life everlasting. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the King James Version of the Bible]

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“By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” Hebrews 11:7 (Read Genesis 6-9)

When the number of people grew upon the earth, so also did the wickedness and rebellion against the LORD God. The believers (sons of God) intermarried with unbelievers (daughters of men) and the result was more and more people who did not walk in the ways of the LORD but followed after the imaginations of their own hearts – after their own evil thoughts and desires.

Genesis 6 says, “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth Me than I have made them” (v. 5ff.).

The account continues, “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD … Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God” (v. 8ff.).

God told Noah, in days when the earth was yet watered by a mist (Gen. 2:6), that He would send rains and a flood upon the earth to destroy man and beast. And God commanded Noah to build an ark to save himself, his family and two of every kind of animal from the coming flood (Gen. 6:14ff.).

Even though a flood like that of which God warned was unheard of in Noah’s day, Noah believed the LORD and prepared an ark, warning others around him to repent of their wickedness and turn back to the LORD. By so doing, Noah forsook the present world and became an heir of the righteousness of God which is by faith.

Similarly, God calls upon all mankind today to repent and return to Him, warning that “the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (2 Pet. 3:7). God will once again judge this world and all mankind. As He was, at the time of the flood, forced to destroy those who would not repent and turn to Him for mercy, so He will soon condemn all who reject Him and the salvation He offers in the cross of Jesus. This present world and all of man’s evil works will be burned up on that day when Jesus Christ returns.

Those who heed God’s warning and repent, trusting in Christ Jesus and His shed blood for forgiveness and life, forsake this present world and look forward to another in which there will be everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness. They are forgiven and accounted righteous by faith in Jesus and walk in fellowship with the Almighty God by that faith and confidence in Jesus and His sacrifice for the sins of the world.

God’s judgment is coming. He is being patient with us, not desiring that any perish, “but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). He calls us to turn from our evil ways, trusting that in Jesus we have forgiveness and in Jesus we have life everlasting.

O dearest Jesus, Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world, have mercy on us, forgive us and grant us a place in your everlasting kingdom. Amen.

[Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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“Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: for which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: in the which ye also walked sometime, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him: where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.” Colossians 3:5-11

“Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth … seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him.”

Since Christians are joined to Christ Jesus in His death and resurrection — their sins and sinful nature having been crucified with Christ. And, having been raised up with Christ by the mighty working of God’s Spirit to a new life in fellowship with the LORD God, they are to put to death (to mortify) their sinful nature with all its desires and put on the new man which is created by the Holy Spirit and seeks to be like Christ.

Christians in this world have two natures, called in the Bible the old man (inherited from sinful Adam) and the new man (created in them by the regenerating work of God’s Holy Spirit). In the beginning, man’s nature was single and united in love for God, trust in Him and the desire to honor and glorify His holy name, for the first man and woman were created in the image of God and knew Him and His will and desired to live for Him (Gen. 1:26-27). But, when Adam and Eve fell into sin, that nature was lost, for they doubted God’s Word, were afraid of God and even tried to hide from His presence (Genesis 3). A reading of the pages of the Bible which follow the fall reveals the sinfulness and depravity of mankind.

Those who have been raised up from spiritual death and darkness to faith in Christ Jesus — whether it was the Messiah yet to come in Old Testament times or, as it is now, the Christ who has come and accomplished mankind’s redemption — have a new nature which loves the LORD God, trusts in Him for salvation and all things and desires to live for Him and serve Him. But, as long as Christians are yet in this world, they have, as well, their old sinful nature, inherited from Adam.

Thus, the Christian life is a life of struggle, not only with the world without but with the sinful nature within. Christians, thankful for the shed blood of Jesus and the blessings of forgiveness and life eternal He has won for them, love God and want to live for Him in accord with His Word. Yet, there remains within them a nature which loves self, doubts the Word of God and would rather go its own way and seek its own glory and pleasure.

St. Paul writes of this internal struggle to the believers in Rome: “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. … For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members” (Rom. 7:18-19, 22-23).

This is why Christians rejoice in the fact of God’s continuing forgiveness for sins and shortcomings. They continually acknowledge their sins and trust that God is merciful to them and forgives them for the sake of Jesus and His blood shed upon the cross for the sins of the world. Christians do not deny or cover up their sinfulness, but walk in the light, trusting that “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth [them] from all sin.” They agree with God and confess their sins, trusting that He is faithful and just to forgive their sins and cleanse them from all unrighteousness for the sake of His Son, Jesus Christ the righteous, who is the propitiation — the atoning sacrifice — for the sins of all people (cf. 1 John 1:5 — 2:2).

It is also why believers look forward to the day of Christ’s return, for then the image of Christ will be perfectly restored in them — they will no longer be subject to sin and their old sinful nature. The Bible says: “Our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself” (Phil. 3:20-21); “We know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2).

And so, while believers in Christ await His glorious return and the redemption of their bodies (cf. Rom. 8:23), they put to death the old man and all that is contrary to God’s Word and put on the new man which gladly and willingly seeks to live as God commands. They agree with God’s Word that such things as fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, covetousness, anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication and lying are wrong; and they acknowledge their sins and failures, trusting in Christ’s shed blood for forgiveness, and then seek God’s help and strength to live for Him in accord with His Word.

The battle is not easy, for the old sinful nature and inclination is strong and is encouraged and incited by the devil and the sinful world in which Christians live. No matter how hard people try, they cannot drive out the darkness of sin from their lives. But Christians, by the grace of God, turn to Christ Jesus, the Light of the world. He cleanses them of all sin with His own holy and precious blood, and He strengthens and keeps them in the true and right way unto life everlasting!

O Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, for the sake of Your blood, shed for me upon the cross, forgive me for my utter sinfulness and for my many shortcomings and transgressions in regard to Your holy commandments. Fill me with Your Spirit, give me the desire to walk in Your ways, and keep me in the true and saving faith unto life everlasting. Amen.

[Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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