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Polish Your Faith

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This'll do it!

Eight lively conversations—with Paul’s answers drawn from Scripture—capture his inspired teaching to build faith and promote spiritual growth.

  

These sessions with the greatest evangelist and discipler of the Christian era can transform your life. In Paul’s own words, you will find all you need to walk in victory. Just pull up a chair, imagine you’re there, and be discipled by the apostle Paul!

                                               Christ the Key

“Paul, let’s keep this simple. What’s the secret of defeating sin and self and—” 

“Our battle is not against flesh and blood . . .” 

“OK, not so simple.”

“But against principalities.” 

“Excuse me?”

“Our battle is against powers.” 

“What kind of powers?”

“The rulers of this darkness.” 

“Could you be just a little more specific, Paul?”

“Against the cosmic powers and unseen spiritual forces of evil and wickedness in the heavenly realms.”  

“Uh oh. We’re dead.”

Paul smiled. “You look at the outward appearance of things.” 

“What do you mean?”

“God has disarmed the principalities and powers,” Paul said. “He even made a show of them, triumphing over them in the cross.”  

“Disarmed them all . . .” I said. “Just not sure how he—”

“God forgave us all our sins, wiping out the handwriting against us with its decrees opposing us.” Paul turned to the group and waved a hand of dismissal. “He has taken it away once for all, having nailed it to the cross.” 

“So no more ammunition for the bad guys!” I said. “Our sins gone. The law taken away. But do you suppose that means we can do whatever we want?”

“What then?” Paul twisted round to face me. “Are we to sin because we are under grace and no longer under the law? May it never be! Why not say—as some falsely accuse me of saying—‘Let us do evil that good may come.’ Their condemnation is deserved!”  

Paul was turning several shades of red. “Sin no longer has power over you! For you are not living under the law but under grace! Do you not remember me telling you these things?” 
How soon we forget. “I’m sorry Paul. As I think about it, the Bible does say Jesus came to undo the works of the devil. So, if grace can somehow free us from his grip
. . .”

I clenched my jaw. “But I’d say Satan is still quite active.” 

“I myself received a thorn in the flesh,” said Paul. “A messenger of Satan to buffet me.” 
“See? He still torments us,” I said. “Him and his demons. And he still deceives people.”

“And no wonder!” Paul said. “For even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” 
“So we’re back to where we started,” I said. “How do we fight Satan and his evil spirits?”

“You don’t.” 

“Paul, I was hoping to keep this simple.” I nodded toward the group. “For all of us.”

“We who boast in Jesus Christ,” said Paul, “do not trust in the flesh.”  

“Well, it’s my flesh that’s in this world,” I said, “and that’s how I fight my battles.”

“Why,” Paul said, “if you died with Christ to the ways of the world, do you act as though you still live in the world—submitting to its rules?” 

“Rules tell us what to do,” I said. “And what not to do.”

“Do not touch! Do not eat! Do not—” Paul shrugged and shook his head in disgust. “Christ did away with the law . . . its commandments and ordinances.”
“We need some kind of guidelines!”

Paul planted his elbows on the table and buried his face in his hands. “You follow mere human directions and instructions.” 

“Yes, of how to live our lives.”

“Such rules do have a reputation of wisdom in self-made religion . . . and humility and hard treatment of the body.” Paul lifted his head to look at me. “But they are useless against the indulgence of the flesh.”  

“OK, so maybe not in our own strength,” I said.

Paul turned to the room. “Be careful that no one leads you astray according to human traditions and the principles of this world.” Paul swiveled back and looked me square in the eye. “And not in accordance with Christ.”  

“Why do you say that? To me?”

“I fear that just as Satan deceived Eve by his craftiness, you may be led astray from the simplicity and purity that is in Christ.”  

“Are you saying our battle plan can be reduced to one word? Christ?”

“It was not with mere words of eloquence or cleverness that I proclaimed the mystery of God.” Paul turned back to the group. “For I had determined to know nothing among you but Jesus Christ—and him crucified.”  

“Well, you can’t get any simpler than that,” I said. “But how do you live that out?”

“I said it before. I live my life by faith in the Son of God who gave himself for me.”  

“There has to be more to it than that.”

“You still look at the surface of things,” Paul said. “For although we walk in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh.” He smiled as though sheltering a treasured secret.

“So how do you wage war?”

“The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh—but have divine power.” 
I shook my head. “That didn’t really answer—”

“In all things we show ourselves as God’s servants with the weapons of righteousness.” Paul looked down at his hands, then up at me. “By the word of truth. In the power of God.”  

“The word of truth?”

“The gospel of Christ.” 

“In the power of God?”

“The gospel of Christ is . . . the power of God.”  

“And that brings us back to Christ again,” I said, making a large circle with my finger. “And you do this in all things—all the time?”

“Yes, in many an hour of endurance,” Paul said. “In troubles, in hardships, in difficulties, in floggings, in imprisonments, in riots, in toils, in sleepless nights, in hunger—”  
“Well then,” I said, “it should work for us—in our daily trials.”

“For God has delivered us from the powers of darkness,” said Paul, “and brought us into the kingdom of his beloved Son.”  

“The spiritual realm of God,” I said. “And his power.”

Paul turned to the room. “For although you were once darkness, you are now light in the Lord.” Paul slowly walked his fingers across the table. “Therefore walk as children of the light.” He walked his fingers back to himself. “Discerning what is pleasing to the Lord.”  

The room went silent. And then a few people started talking quietly with one another.

Paul stood and raised his voice. “If you live for the flesh, you will certainly die!” He had never looked or sounded more serious. “But if you put to death the deeds of the body by the power of the Spirit”—Paul placed both hands on his heart—“you will live!” 
“Can you teach us how to do that?” I asked, glancing around the room. I saw a few heads nodding and one huge, hopeful smile in the corner.

I looked up at Paul. He was lost in thought. Everyone stayed quite still, giving him time to sift through the memories.

Paul slowly sat down in his chair. “God has made us alive,” he said, “together with
Christ.”  

“Spiritually alive.”

“Yes, and if we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” Paul started to rock slightly in his chair. “Taking no thought for the desires of the flesh—to gratify them.” 
“Do you mean, like, not even think about it?”

Paul was rocking slowly, side to side. “For the desires of the flesh are contrary to the Spirit. And the desires of the Spirit against the flesh. They oppose each other”—Paul brought his two fists together—“so you cannot do what you wish.”  

“Right there!” I said. “Right there! You nailed our number one problem.” There was a sharp murmur of assent in the room. “So what’s the solution?”

“I just said it.”

“We just missed it.”

“I say then . . .” Paul leaned out toward the group. “Walk by the Spirit”—people strained forward to hear—“and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”  

NOTE: I am recording my dialogues with Paul and will post them as they are completed.

            In the meantime, I will post sections of my book, Ask the Apostle, like this one...

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