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Monday, February 2, 2015

Grasshoppers in the Faith

image: Billy Frank Alexander
God sent twelve leaders to explore the Promised Land.

Ten of them couldn't see beyond their fears, and they returned to alarm and discourage everyone else.  

Caleb tried to speak truth: "Let’s go at once to take the land. We can certainly conquer it!”(Numbers 13:30, NLT).  

But the ten leaders continued to promote fear, not faith, insisting they were all like grasshoppers compared to the giants in the land. 

I read this story and think them idiots, but then I catch myself: I can also be a grasshopper in faith. Just as God promised them the land, He's promised me peace, joy, growth, and strength. But sometimes I put more effort into my fears than His promises.

I need to remember Caleb's words and these similar ones in Romans 8:37: "In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us."   

Are you living like a conqueror or a grasshopper?


What insights does this passage give about living as conquerors?

Romans 8:1-17: Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 

5 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. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 

8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.  

12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. 14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 

17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. 

I encourage you to work through the study before reading these insights.
What insights does this passage give about living as conquerors?

Romans 8:1-17: 
1-4: We are "legally" (i.e. eternally) under no condemnation because Christ has paid the price for our sins, so we can live as "more than conquerors" -- "according to the Spirit." 

5-8: The unbeliever lives "according to the flesh"--condemned--conquered by sin, not a conqueror. 
  • has his mind set on fleshly desires
  • is governed by death
  • is hostile to God
  • is unable to obey God's law (since true obedience begins in the heart). 
  • cannot please God

The characteristics above describe the 10 fearful, unbelieving leaders and the majority of people who followed them and lost their opportunity to conquer the Promised Land.

v.5-6, 9-17 describes the believer, the conqueror who lives in the realm of the Spirit (a proof of his salvation (v.9)

  • has his mind on the Spirit's desires
  • is governed by life and peace
  • is heir to eternal life, a true son/daughter 
  • has spiritual life here and now
  • is no longer a slave to fear
  • has the assurance of God's Spirit that he's saved
  • shares in Christ's suffering and glory
  • has an obligation to live according to the Spirit    
The characteristics above describe Moses, Joshua, and Caleb in the passage.

Notice that being more than a conqueror comes with an important responsibility ("obligation") according to verse 8. This obligation is the subject of many Scripture passages and is well summed up in Philippians 2:12-13. Only God can produce the actual change in our hearts and lives to make us conquerors over sin, death, and fear, but we have an important role. We must submit to the Spirit and seriously seek to please Him instead of pleasing our fleshly fears. See also Ephesians 5:1-15.

copyright, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com
All Scripture NIV unless otherwise noted

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