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Friday, June 12, 2009

The Marks of Jesus

I've gotten sidetracked, but in a good way. I've been working on a study for some time now, entitled 'Spared, Sheltered or Sifted' dealing with the Biblical view of the believer and the end times, and the clear differentiation between judgment, wrath and persecution. As such, I haven't had any time to continue the study of the fruit of the Spirit. This is only temporary, and as soon as I finish this present study, I will return ot the study of the fruit of the Spirit. I just want to get all this down before I lose it. I hope you understand. God bless.

At the end of his stirring letter to the churches of Galatia, wherein he rebuked them for turning away from the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, Paul writes something truly remarkable.
Galatians 6:17, “From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.”
Paul had just successfully concluded defending his position as to why he no longer taught circumcision, rebuking those who tried to compel the Galatians to do it by saying that they did so only that they might not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ, when he essentially says, I need no outwardly showing in the flesh, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.
There has been much speculation over the centuries as to what the marks of the Lord Jesus were that he carried in his body, and today we will be discussing this topic at length.
What were the marks to which Paul was referring?
Some have said that surely the marks of which Paul spoke, were the scars and bruises left over from being in chains, from having his feet placed in stocks, from being whipped, beaten, stoned, and overall brutalized for the sake of Christ.
Paul was a man accustomed to both pain and suffering. If most preachers today would present their accomplishments in ministry, boasting of the ministries they had started, and the people they had led to Christ, Paul lists his sufferings as his badge of honor.
2 Corinthians 11;24-28, “From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of water, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness – besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.”
So were these the marks of Jesus that Paul was referring to? Was he saying that he was tired of all the disputes concerning circumcision because the wounds in his body were more of a testament to his being a new creature than any outward showing in the flesh?
First we must consider that Paul did not say he bore the marks of his suffering in his body, but rather the marks of the Lord Jesus. In order to understand what marks Paul was referring to, we must go back to Christ, and discover what the marks of Jesus were. Yes, all roads lead back to Jesus, and rightly so!
From the manger to the cross, one of the greatest marks of Jesus was self denial. He could have been born in a palace, but He chose a manger. He could have been rich, but He chose to be poor.
He could have ruled, but He chose to serve. He could have taken, but He chose to give. He could have cursed, but He chose to bless. He could have saved Himself, but He chose to save mankind. He could have lived, but He chose to die in your stead and mine, that we might have life.
As He hung upon the cross, they mocked Him, not knowing that with one word He could call legions of angels to come to His aid. They crucified the Son of God, and He went as a lamb to the slaughter.
Mark 15:31-32, “Likewise the chief priests also, together with the scribes, mocked and said among themselves, ‘He saved others; Himself He cannot save. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And those who were crucified with Him reviled Him.”
We see this particular mark of Jesus, the mark of self-denial, evident in Paul as with great pathos he says that what came upon him daily was his deep concern for the churches. All the things that he continually suffered seemed to have paled in comparison to his concern for the people of God and the brethren. When was the last time you heard self-denial Christianity preached in a modern day church?
There are four other marks of Jesus that Paul bore in his body that we as children of God and followers of Christ must bear in our bodies as well.
Hebrews 7:26, “For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens.”
Within this one verse, we see the four marks of Christ our High Priest. Our duty is to bear these marks ourselves, our duty is to be holy, to be harmless, to be undefiled, and to be separate from sinners.
Seeing the life and writings of Paul some might think him to be super human, a man who ascended beyond the abilities of all others, but the simple truth is that Paul was a man, a mere mortal just as any of us, yet he was able to carry these marks of the Lord Jesus in His body.
We are all marked! Every man and woman walking this earth bears a mark in their body that reveals their character and nature. We are either bear in our bodies the marks of the Lord Jesus, or the marks of this world.
Before Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, God marked him, toward his shame rather than toward his honor. The marks we carry in our body, testify of who we serve.
Romans 6:16, “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness?”
We are either marked of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness, but make no mistake; we all bear marks in our bodies.
If we bear the marks of Christ, we will reign with Him in glory. If we bear the marks of sin, we will be cast out from before the sight of God. Realizing this, the following are crucial questions:
Which marks do you bear in your body? Is self denial evident in your life and character? Is holiness present in your nature? Are you harmless in your conduct? Is the disdain for sin and the desire to be undefiled and separate from sinners an ever present reality in your life?
These are questions only you can answer, and I pray you do so honestly and sincerely before an omniscient God. He knows the marks we bear in our bodies, He knows our walk, He knows our thoughts, and He knows our intentions.
We live in an age where it is popular to project an image, to make others think we are something more, or something greater than what we know ourselves to be. I pray we denounce such practices, I pray the pharisaical spirit that is sweeping through the churches would not get a foothold in our lives. If you can’t be yourself among the brethren, then maybe something has to change. If you have to project an image, whether piety, righteousness, servitude, outward devotion, the performing of a certain ceremony, or a myriad of other things that elevate us in the eyes of our brothers and sisters, and perform them for that purpose, then maybe it’s time to search our hearts and repent.
God knows us to the inner depths of our being, and the marks we bear in our bodies cannot be hid from his eyes. May we be found bearing the marks of the Lord Jesus.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Self denial is hard to do because myself keeps getting in the way. I find when I have goals or "dreams" of doing things or being a certain way that it doesn't include others. Of course then others needs are met and then I look back to see that I didn't do or become what I had hoped. This use to make me depress and feel like a failure. Then I realized it how I look at it that makes the difference. Love is not in just the giving but in the heart after it is given. To have no regrets or resentment or even pride in the giving. Now to live it is hard so I guess that is grace.