The Grace of God

That Brings Salvation Has Appeared to All Men (Titus 2:11)

The Things That Be of Men

Posted by israeliteindeed on September 26, 2013

From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.

But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

Matt. 16: 21-23

Peter savored the things that be of men, and so became a stumblingblock to the Lord. What things was he savoring? Most likely, Peter just didn’t think Jesus should have to suffer.

Nobody likes to suffer. In America, we have (thus far) suffered so little compared to others. As a people, we have passionately sought prosperity and happiness, and even have preachers who tell us this is God’s highest concern for His people. We know that good people should be rewarded and bad people should be punished; and we desire a peaceful life. We have capitalism to reward hard work, and fine foods to please our flesh, and entertainments in which to “zone out” when our work is done.

I fear for myself, and I fear for my neighbors, swept away as we are by this self-centered mindset. It is very difficult to shake off this way of thinking, and especially for those who do fill their minds and lives with pleasures and entertainments. What will happen if a cross suddenly looms before us–a cruel, bloody cross? Will we say, “This shall not happen to me”? Or will we have the mind of Christ, ready to empty self and drink the bitter cup that brings the greatest good to others?

We cannot savor the things of men, and savor the things of God at the same time. But I think that is what most of American Christendom is attempting to do, including those who consider themselves in the “holiness” camp.

They have every intention of being holy and obeying Jesus, just as long as He doesn’t let them get hurt. Helped along by conservative voices, they have set up all kinds of limitations around His commands, hoping to keep pain and sorrow at bay.

If this is our mindset, what are we really savoring?

Here is the rest of what Jesus taught after Peter wanted to keep Him from suffering:

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

Matt. 16:24-26

Did Jesus say, “Look, Peter. I am the Savior of the world, so of course I have to suffer. But all you need to do is make sure all your followers carry swords and defend yourselves, and build a fortress around your house that no one can penetrate. Then, set up a reliable government and only elect people who will protect your rights. And by the way, I hold you personally responsible for all the ‘good people’ who will get hurt if you don’t defend them by any means available. The quickest way to advance the Kingdom of God is to keep yourselves alive.”

As a matter of fact, after Jesus spoke of His own suffering, He spoke of the likelihood that the disciples would also have to suffer (and they did, all being martyred except John, who was tortured and exiled.) Jesus made it clear that we can only save ONE of two things–our eternal soul, or our life in this world. We must choose. And if we choose wrong, we cannot honestly claim we follow Jesus. Self-denial and a preparedness to live and die exactly as Christ did is a prerequisite for being a Christian. Any other form of Christianity is false.

Seek first what?–the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matt. 6:33). Not prosperity, not health, not friends, and not personal safety. And how is this Kingdom advanced? Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. (John 12:24-25) It is not advanced by the things of men.

And the Kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost (Rom. 14:17). There is nothing wrong with meat and drink, but meat and drink are the things that be of men, and we are not to seek them. Meat for the belly and the belly for meat, but God will destroy both (I Cor. 6:13). Carnal men are devoted to these things, like Esau giving up tomorrow’s spiritual blessing for today’s bowl of lentils. Spiritual men seek God’s kingdom and righteousness, understanding that their way will be narrow and difficult, for they will repeatedly be called upon to choose between the things of men and the things of God.

Not every Christian will die a martyr, but every Christian will enter the Kingdom of God through some form of tribulation (Acts 14:22). Every moment we practice self-denial, we prepare ourselves to have the mind of Christ when the fire heats up in the furnace of affliction. I am not promoting self-flagellation or sleeping on the floor, and I’m not saying we should want to suffer. I am saying we have to stop thinking like hedonistic, self-centered spoiled children who expect to sail to heaven on a cloud. A person who is not prepared to endure hard things as a good soldier of Jesus Christ is likely to defect to the enemy’s side in the heat of battle.

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. (Col. 3:1-3)

God desires all men to repent (2 Pet. 3:9). If our lives are hid with Christ in God, we should desire this too, far more than we desire to keep our flesh happy. It will take an act of our will to put His desire before our own. Even Jesus had to say, “Not my will, but Thine” by an act of His will.

When suffering comes, what will keep me in the race until the end? For me, it is knowing that there are better things than having a good temporary life, having lots of food, having a healthy body, being appreciated, having freedom to come and go as I please, or feeling secure. These temporal things are the things of men; like men, they will all vanish away and come to nothing. The “better things” I must savor are pleasing God with obedience to His Word, helping others to find repentance, demonstrating the longsuffering of God with a patient response to injustice, overcoming evil with good, giving the witness I am called upon to give no matter how it is received, and the greatest thing of all–the gift of eternal life.

It is easy to write these things from the comfort of my living room. My belly is full, and there are no discernible threats on my family. But things can change. And I pray that when they do, God’s children will have counted the cost and be ready to trade the theoretical cross for the one that really hurts.

For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things. For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Phil. 3:18-20)

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One Response to “The Things That Be of Men”

  1. smilesback said

    That’s interesting you use Phil. 3:18-20 at the end, for I was just quoting that a few hours ago alongside my new verses I’m memorizing this year, and I was surprised at myself because I hadn’t quoted that one for probably at least six months as it’s a verse I memorized years ago. It’s just another one of those confirmations…

    Thank you so much for this great article!

    Rachel

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