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Discover the Book - June 8, 2007

  • 2007 Jun 08

Imperatives of Crucified Living-2




Hacking Agag to Pieces

Colossians 3


Paul’s epistles to the Galatians, Ephesians and Colossians were to people living in Roman Asia which is the area of modern Turkey. In the time of Paul was incredibly Roman.


There are more Greek temples in Turkey than in Greece, and there are more Roman cities in Turkey than there are in all of Italy. This was the epicenter of Roman life in the first and second centuries.


Why the history lesson? As you turn to Galatians 2 this evening let me describe life in the Roman world of the 1st century.


In Roman Asia (Turkey) was also the city we know from Revelation called Thyatira. This city was renowned for it's manufacturing and industry. Most workers in Thyatira were members of guilds, much like our labor unions of today. They set prices for labor and sales areas and so on: potters, dyers, tanners, bakers, metal workers, textile makers, bronze smiths, slave dealers, leather workers and the rest had their guilds in this town. History of this period notes three things.


  • Trade guilds were compulsory; to be employed in a trade was only via the guild. It was a closed shop.
  • Every guild in Thyatira had a patron God or Goddess. Thus, every guild function began with paying homage to that deity by offering--this was the obligatory opening to all meetings which were required to be an artisan/craftsman.
  • Business followed and then the customary banquets known for their sexual freedom. The cost for the Christian was unmistakable.


Ramsay the famed 19th century archaeologist, writes “revelry, license and intoxication marked these pagan religious societies (trade guilds) lounging on dining couches, surrounded by troupes of unclothed, dancing and singing slaves...would be fatal to all self-restraining spirits”. In short, a guild was no place for Christians and yet quitting the union was economic suicide.


So the battle with the flesh raged every day in Thyatira and all the other towns of Roman Asia. Add to this bath houses in every city where prostitution was normal and considered healthy. Athletic facilities where such emphasis was placed on the human body that many sports were practiced and competed in total nudity. These saints were vexed with the flesh, temptation, and sin.


Now listen to Paul’s words to them in Galatians 2:20.


The battle was already won by Christ, the world, my flesh and the Devil were all defeated at the cross--and we just need to believe and act upon that truth! How do we do that more regularly?


Two passages explain this truth. The first the attitude we need, and second the action we need to take. We need to repeat, reaffirm, and remember over and over again that the past work of Christ's death on the cross saved me and keeps me. Listen to Paul in Galatians 2 as he sets forth the attitude we are to have.


Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ (past event--justification); it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me (present event-sanctification); and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God (present event-sanctification), who loved me and gave Himself for me (past event--justification). NKJV


Notice the sandwich type presentation. The past work of Christ on the cross secured my salvation in the present and offers my sanctification in the present, based on the past work of Christ's cross.


How did I get saved? By trusting, believing, clinging to the truth that Jesus Christ took my sins, and stood in my place and bore the punishment of God’s wrath I deserved. The guiltless One took my guilt; the sinless One took my sin; the holy One took my wretchedness and on and on I could go.


But did I see Him there personally? No, it was by what? Yes, faith.


I believed the truth of God's Word and God changed me forever. The same way we were saved is the same way we live the rest of our lives.


So apply that faith that you and I have for the work of Christ on the cross in our place and apply it now to the rest of our walk.


Flesh can’t defeat flesh. Resolves, promises, fighting and striving in our own power only leads to further defeats--it is only by yielding to the power of the cross. And what is the power of the cross? It is the defeat of death, sin, and Satan that Jesus accomplished once for all time when He died on the cross.


Remember our study of the life of Saul these past few weeks? We saw repeatedly that the downfall of King Saul started with his selective obedience. But his undoing was when he spared Agag. We learned that if we want to waste our lives just be like Saul who kept only the best--of what God hated.


To God the Amalekites were a deadly poison that had to be dealt with; they were emitting dangerous spiritual radiation that would contaminate all that came into contact with them. So when God gave them into Saul’s hand he wasn’t to even spare their livestock – every one and every thing was to be destroyed. But Saul and his men went through that which God hated and saved the best.


1 Samuel 15:32-33 Then Samuel said, “Bring Agag king of the Amalekites here to me.” So Agag came to him cautiously. And Agag said, “Surely the bitterness of death is past.” 33 But Samuel said, “As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women.” And Samuel hacked Agag in pieces before the Lord in Gilgal.


Samuel was God’s man, His obedient instrument for that moment—and Samuel’s harsh action towards Agag is an example of how we must deal with the flesh, that old sinful part of us that remains.


Let me repeat the message God has left us from the failed life of King Saul. Saul is a picture of one of God’s servants who suffers loss. Let me underline in your heart and mind this sobering truth--any part of our old life that we spare will come back and slay us and rob us of God’s blessing, fruitfulness, and rewards.


  • Any part of our flesh (like Agag) that we exempt from mortification will come back with a vengeance and slay us.
  • All of our flesh (like the Amalekites) always comes to strike us down when we are weakest – and then rob us of our crown.


Now join me in Colossians 3, as we see the action we must take to live the life of killing our flesh, mortifying our flesh—and living the crucified with Christ life!


Now, in simple faith that saved you repeat that to yourself. (Just like my old pastor John MacArthur always used to tell us ‘preach the Gospel to yourself!’) Say something like this:


Even if I do not feel it, understand it, or even at times want it I WILL by faith, believing YOU consider myself dead to sin. Or in times of need, “Lord I operate on what I know is true, you have made me dead to sin.”


When I truly prayed, asking in simple faith for Christ to save me—whether I felt a strong emotional feeling or not, God began His work within me. I started changing from the inside out. The same is true with these imperatives.


§         Jesus lived—that’s history.

§         Jesus died—that’s theology.

§         Jesus died for me and took my sins upon Himself on the Cross—that’s salvation.

o        Jesus died for me to live through Him—that’s sanctification.


And Christ's work on Calvary forever gave us the power and authority so we can stop anything that enslaves us and so that we can start anything He asks us to do!


Just as there is nothing we can do before our salvation to make us accepted by God; and there is nothing we can do after our salvation that makes us acceptable to God.


As we were saved only by the accomplishment of Christ's sacrifice on the cross—so we live each day ‘by faith’ (the same faith by which we were saved). We are always dependent upon Christ's gracious death upon the cross that saves and keeps us!


Read the second part of this message tomorrow June 9th.



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