Previous Chapter: The Reception
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life (in the world) loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world (and gives it over to God) will keep it for eternal life.
The more we examine the spiritual teachings of gospel-based faith, the more we may understand its spiritual intention, which is to manifest a renewal of self. So forth, being in the purity of faith is not a part-time affiliation, a casual adoption, or a weekend habit. Consequently, in observance of spirit, we must be truly removed from a lifelong carnal attitude – which is a self-centered sense of existence predicated on carnal ambitions – and gain a renewed perspective, attitude, and life ambition constantly seeking to satisfy the spirit of God within.
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.
Those of us made new by the Holy Spirit and alive in spirit, because spirit is of God eternal being far removed from the things of the Earth, we find ourselves moving beyond materialism and all corporeal ideology. As it should be, we then move towards valuing ourselves and others above any sum of metal, gem, or printed paper and none in any quantity can ever come close to compare to the true value of the Spirit. For the things of the Spirit are forever and they have no end or countable substance.
Where the Spirit’s value is genuinely beyond price and the Spirit is made seen to us through faith, we see that it is purely through faith that the value of ourselves becomes increased beyond any portion of earthly accumulation. Surely, to any redeemed soul, this must be the way we see ourselves, and, to us, this must be how we perceive all things of tangibility. As such, it must be in our hearts that even the least, which is forever, is worth more than the greatest that which is not.
Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.
-1 Peter 4:1-2
In this manner, doing so is how we truly become renewed in spirit and mind to act accordingly to the will of Christ. Inasmuch as, when we lived for things which were dead, we were dead, and when we came to live for things which are living, we were made alive. For the most refined Christian all life and all joy should emanate purely from the relationship we have with God.
In this way, in contrast to common teaching and practice, Christianity is very much so a spiritual based belief system which fully supports the idealism of spiritual substance over tangible substance.
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Accordingly, our greatest treasures should not be of worldly substance, but instead being solely of heavenly substance, and they should be strongly entrenched in the promises of God and appreciably expressed in one’s demonstration of faith thereof.
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”
Where Christ did not revel in the things of the world, so then might we do the same when we follow in Christ. Furthermore the reward and faith in receiving eternal life ought to condition us to have no great need to seek excessive worldly riches, in addition to our salvation. Without a doubt, Christ even more so viewed his eternal reward, in contrast to worldly things, accordingly.
And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.
Through the pleasure in things which are vain, comes attachment to vanity. As a result, in accordance with scripture, worldly riches ultimately lead us to confusion and misunderstanding of God’s spiritual word. Therefore there is certainly a contradiction maintained by us who attempt to, while trying to separate ourselves through wealth and indulge in lavishness, understand the gospel.
One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
We as well see the Lord refers to worldly wealth as unrighteous wealth. In contrast we see Him refer to eternal blessings as being true riches. In this context we can see what our Christian focus should be in life. Now, who is a Christian and who is not? No one is perfect, and we all sin. Nonetheless we, who believe in the gospel, are called to recognize the will of our Father and seek to obey it. Once more we see the will of our Father, and His will is for us to strive towards being devoted only to Him. As such we are not to be dedicated to ourselves, which accumulating worldly excess certainly is a self-serving ambition.
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him.
Once more, having knowledge of Christ, and being with Christ, is greater than any sum of worldly wealth. Then when we possess this righteous wealth, we should not be overly preoccupied with the unrighteous wealth.
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
Therefore, through the Bible’s wisdom, we should not be focused on the long-term goals the world would have for our short lives, but be more focused on the long-term goals that we should have for our souls in eternal life.
Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
-1 Timothy 6:6-10
Why then should we be wary of securing more of the unrighteous wealth than we need – especially when we cause division in the church and our communities? So forth, the spiritually wise follow a different path than what the worldly would follow. As such, when we are blinded by worldliness, we walk liberally to suffering we would much rather be without.
You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
In several cases the Bible refers to a binary reality in that one cannot satisfy two conditions at the same time. Perhaps the most notable of these examples was where Christ said one cannot serve two masters. Spirituality on its highest level is also being beyond the world in what one expects in life. As we see here this verse clearly establishes that one who places too much value on the things of the world fails to properly unify in God as God is beyond worldly substance.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
-1 Peter 1:3-5
In regards to things that truly matter in life, scripture clearly states that tangible wealth pales greatly in comparison.
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit
-1 Peter 3:18
Once again, this verse clearly affirms the spiritual focus of the gospel, and strongly implies a greater means to prosperity above material accumulation.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
-1 John 2:15-17
1 John shows the importance of detaching ourselves from the world in order to be in relationship with God’s love. 1 John also once again continues the well-documented biblical narrative that loving things of the world are not from our spirit but of our flesh, which is inherently divisive to the Holy Spirit. As a consequence, if our focus is on doing the will of the Father, then we will not be selfishly motivated for worldly gain because worldly gain will have the opposite effect on how well we can truly know and serve God, who calls us for spiritual attachment rather than physical attachment.
But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?
-1 John 3:17
While of course, considering the garden of Eden, God did create man to enjoy life and with it, in some capacity, its material value. However, the first thing to note is that in the act of crucifying oneself to the world, is overcoming the snares of our carnal nature. Inasmuch as, seeking the higher body of Christ is first and foremost receiving the Holy Spirit which reveals to us the spiritual eminence of Christ, and therefore overcoming the life of material pursuit. Living in regard to such truth is as well the highest demonstration of faith. Lastly, once we have committed ourselves to the Spirit, we are then to live in understanding of the transcendence of the Spirit and to live with a sense of transcendence to the material, also known as the unrighteous wealth, in all that we do.
– Continue to Chapter 5 –
“Carrying the Cross” © 2017 ML Ainsworth
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