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“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” Galatians 6:7-8

Many deceive themselves, thinking that they can sow to the flesh — living to gratify their own sinful desires — and still reap life everlasting. They feel that they can use their time, energy and money to gratify their own selfish ambitions and yet still grow and mature spiritually and be ready for the Day of Christ’s return and judgment. How foolish!

God’s Word warns us of the fallacy of such thinking when it says: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Gal. 6:7-8).

God would not have us be deceived. And, God will not be mocked. If one sows weeds, he cannot expect to harvest wheat! So it is with our spiritual lives. If we sow to the flesh, we cannot expect to reap life, but corruption.

Again, the Bible tells us that “the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).

Thus, if we live to enjoy the pleasures of sin, we shall die. But if we sow to the Spirit of God, who has regenerated us and brought us to faith in our Savior, He will continue His gracious working in our lives through Word and Sacrament and keep us in the true faith and graciously give to us the eternal life won for us by Christ’s holy life and innocent sufferings and death upon the cross in our stead.

How do people sow to the flesh? When they live in such a way that they gratify the will and desires of their sinful nature, when they provide opportunities for the flesh to fulfill its lusts. Thus people sow to the flesh when they flirt with sin and temptation and when they give in to their own evil desires. They sow to the flesh when they go places and do things that will arouse the desires of their hearts.

How do people sow to the Spirit? when they make regular use of God’s Word and His Sacraments and support the preaching of His Word (cf. v. 6) that the Spirit of God might use these means to strengthen faith in Christ Jesus and teach men to live godly lives, when they provide opportunities to do that which is God-pleasing and to follow the leading of His Spirit. Thus, people sow to the Spirit when they regularly attend church services and Bible studies, when they read the Scriptures daily and spend time in prayer, and when they seek to live according to the counsel and guidance of the Holy Ghost given to us in the Scriptures.

God will not be mocked. If we spend our time courting the pleasures of sin, if we live to carry out the sinful desires of our old evil nature, we will reap what we have sown: spiritual corruption and death!

On the other hand, if we devote ourselves to Christ and His Word and read and study the Scriptures and partake of the Sacraments that the Holy Ghost might strengthen and preserve us in the true faith, we will reap of the Spirit life eternal in Jesus Christ our Lord!

O Spirit of God, grant that we sow, not to our flesh and its evil desires, but unto Thee, that Thou might graciously grant unto us the everlasting joys of heaven for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

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

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“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” Colossians 3:12-13

As the elect and chosen of God, holy and dearly loved children of God through faith in Christ Jesus and for the sake of His innocent sufferings and death in our stead (cf. Gal. 3:26-27), we are called upon to put on the image and likeness of Christ Jesus.

We were baptized into Christ. All our sins and our old sinful nature were crucified on Christ’s cross. We have been raised up to new life by the gracious working (operation) of the Holy Ghost (Col. 2:10-15). We daily — through repentance and faith — put off the old sinful nature and put on the new (Col. 3:5ff.). And so we are called upon to be like Jesus in our dealings with others, and especially with our fellow believers.

We are to put on “bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”

From our innermost being — from the heart — we are to be merciful and kind toward others. Why? Because we know God’s mercy and kindness toward us. Even when we were spiritually dead in our sins and living in rebellion against God, He showed mercy to us and sent His only-begotten Son to die in our stead and redeem us (Rom. 5:8; John 3:16). Even though we continually sin and come short in our lives, He shows us mercy and washes away our sins in Jesus’ blood (1 John 1:7 — 2:2).

When we remember how Jesus humbled Himself, not appearing in a display of all His divine glory and power but living humbly as a man and even permitting His enemies to crucify Him that He might redeem all of fallen mankind, certainly we have every reason to live humbly and not usurp ourselves or our position over others. In the same way Jesus lived in this world as a servant to meet our needs and win our eternal salvation, so we ought to think and live as servants in this world to meet the needs of others and bring to them the message of God’s redeeming love.

Longsuffering and forbearing with one another means that we are to be patient with others and put up with their failings and shortcomings — we suffer much and long and are yet patient. And, indeed, when we consider the patience, longsuffering and forbearance of God toward us, we again have every reason to show the same longsuffering and forbearance toward others.

Again and again, each of us fails to live as God intends — we go our own way, think we know better or just neglect to listen — and yet God doesn’t cast us off or condemn us. He continues to deal with us in mercy and patience.

And, instead of holding another’s sins and misdeeds against him, we are called upon to forgive as Christ has forgiven us. And, indeed, if we consider the great debt of sin which Christ has forgiven to us — even going to the cross and shedding His holy and precious blood to pay our just penalty — what is the small debt of sin against us by others? Jesus shed His blood to redeem all and to win pardon and forgiveness for all; how can we not forgive as He has forgiven?

The Apostle Paul wrote the same things to the believers in Ephesus: “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph. 4:31-32).

We must remember that it is our old sinful and fallen nature — our nature which was condemned and punished on Christ’s cross — which would have us be unmerciful, impatient, unkind, proud, haughty, quick to condemn and unforgiving. The new nature, created in us by the Holy Spirit when we were baptized into Christ Jesus, seeks to be like Christ: with “bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any.”

Once again, we see our own sinfulness and failures to live as God’s redeemed children and we turn to Him in faith for mercy and forgiveness for the sake of the shed blood of Jesus, who died for the sins of all and rose again in victory. In Jesus, we find mercy and forgiveness. His blood cleanses us from all our sins (1 John 1:7). And, in Jesus, we find help and strength to amend our sinful ways and to live each day for Him as God’s elect and chosen children.

Dear Jesus, forgive me for living according to my old evil and sinful nature. Wash away my sins in Your holy and precious blood and give me a heart like Yours, full of mercy, kindness, patience and forgiveness toward others. Amen.

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

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“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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