Milestones to Salvation, Part 4

January 18, 2007

But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. (2 Peter 1:5-9).

Except by the Holy Spirit, no one can reach even the first milestone to salvation. It is written, “… no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:3). We can walk this way only in the Spirit from the beginning. The Bible exhorts, “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16).

Therefore, we can pass through the milestone of self-control only by walking in the Spirit. It is written, “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” (Galatians 5:17).

This step from self-control to perseverance is the most difficult one for all of us who are born of the flesh to pass through, because in this milestone the flesh should be finished. Anyone who passes through this milestone bears in his body the marks of Jesus. It is written, “From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” (Galatians 6:17).

The Bible says, “For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (Romans 8:13-14). The self-control, which means putting to death the deeds of the body, can be accomplished only by the Spirit.

The elder who went before us also was working out his own salvation with fear and trembling, as it is written, “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:27). And also it is written, “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12).

“Disciplining my body and bring it into subjection” proves that I the Spirit and I the flesh live together and the Spirit fights the good fight against the flesh. The flesh cannot put to death the deeds of the flesh, but the Spirit can do that.

After that, we surely reach the milestone of perseverance. This perseverance is not of man, but of God and of Christ. If we pass through this milestone of perseverance, then the flesh cannot stand again, and we can reach the dwelling place of the holy God. It is written, “Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off your sandals; the place where you are standing is holy ground.” (Acts 7:33).

With man, passing through the milestone of perseverance is impossible. It is written, “So he said to me, ‘This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD Almighty.'” (Zechariah 4:6). And also, “So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.” (Romans 9:16).

The Bible says, “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'” (Matthew 19:26).

Therefore, we can pass through the milestone of perseverance not by the flesh, but only by the Spirit. The Bible says, “May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” (2 Thessalonians 3:5).

The Bible says, “By your patience possess your souls.” (Luke 21:19). And also, “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:4). I’m chewing the cud: this perseverance is not of man, but of Christ.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2). Amen. Thank you, Lord.

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