Quick Thoughts: Matthew 16:21-25

“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.
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”
(Matthew 16:21-25)

To fully grasp the truths in the passage, we have to understand what happened just before this instance:

Peter had just received a revelation from God concerning Jesus’ divine Personality. Peter had just proclaimed Jesus to be the Son of God. At this point, it is safe to say that Peter was on a “high” in his walk with Christ. In fact, Jesus had openly declared that He would build His Church on the foundation of the very truth that Peter had declared by revelation. Surely, it must have felt very good to be Peter at this point in time.

However, just a couple of moments later, the picture couldn’t be any more different. Jesus began revealing to His disciples that He would be killed and on the third day, He would be raised up from the dead.

Jesus was going to be killed and Peter’s mind could not grasp how that could be God’s will.

How could Jesus, the Christ (the Anointed), the Son of the Living God be killed?
How could the One Who performed so many miracles and did signs and wonders be killed like a criminal?

All these thoughts and perhaps more made Peter to start questioning the veracity of God’s Will for Jesus.

It led to Peter putting two and two together and start reasoning about the purpose of God about Jesus. All these did not seem logical to his mind. It simply did not make sense at all.

If the Anointed Messiah was going to impart His generation and the ones to come, He had to live a longer life, not a shorter one…

And this where we all have to be careful.

You see, the truth is that the very moment we turn on our physical sensitivity (our minds and senses: taste, smell, hearing, sight and feelings) at the expense of our spiritual sensitivity, we give the devil a chance to step in.

Little wonder Jesus had to say,

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.
(Matthew 16:23)

That might have sounded very harsh, but Christ was showing us a truth we should pay attention to.

The word translated ‘savourest’ in Jesus’ statement to Peter contains some nuggets for us:

Savourest = to exercise the mind, that is, entertain or have a sentiment or opinion ; by implication to be (mentally) disposed (more or less earnestly in a certain direction).

So, in essence, Christ was telling Peter, and by extension, Christians today, that the moment we exercise our minds towards the things of men (i.e, the logic and the senses), we are giving room to the devil to operate in our lives.

At this point, it is imperative to state that our logic and senses are not evil in themselves! Common sense and logic tells you to wash your hands when they are dirty. If you do not, you are at risk to ingest germs into your body and fall sick.
Your senses tell you to dress warm when you are feeling cold.
The truth is that the senses and logic are not evil in themselves, since they are pathways of interaction with the physical world we live in.

The problem arises when we trust in what makes sense to our logic and senses OVER what God has said to us. Whenever we do this, we give the devil a foothold in our lives.

The truth is that the devil does not stand a chance against us when we walk in the realm of faith in God, especially when it does not make sense to our senses and logic.

The Bible tells us that much:

“Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it,they would not have crucified the Lord of glory”
(1 Corinthians 2:8)

When we operate in the realm where we exercise our minds (savour) the things of God, rather than those of men, the devil is totally clueless regarding us. He is not in the know!

Now, true to the style of the Greatest Teacher, note that Jesus takes this opportunity to teach us some additional lessons. You see, in order not to give room to the devil, we have to follow Christ.

“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”

Christ explicitly spelt out how not to give the devil a foothold in our lives.

We see Jesus’ teachings mirrored here:

Deny the wants of the flesh (i.e, your senses and logic)

Kill/crucify the flesh, embracing the means (the cross)

Follow the path that Jesus Himself trod.

The truth about our goal in the Christian walk is to be absolutely lost in Christ to the point that He permeates everything that the individual is about.

Our goal is to let our logic and senses to be Christocentric!

That is God’s will for us…

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When A Man Sees God…

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Two verses of the Scriptures that is generally quoted on the issue of seeing God include,

Genesis 5 verse 24: And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.

Exodus 33 verse 20: And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.

However, a strange twist in the plot occurs in Amos 5:4 which says,

“For thus saith the LORD unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live”

These three scriptures have raised questions in my mind, over and over again.

How could God – Who specifically told Moses that no man could see Him and live – later on tell the Israelites that if they sought him, they would live?

Wasn’t it Enoch’s seeing God that led to his ceasing to exist?

These and other similar questions roamed around my head.

The answer can be found in Colossians 3:5a,

Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth”

The word “mortify” in blunt and plain English means to kill. So, in essence, Paul was telling us here that we should KILL our members which are upon the earth.

Note that the Bible never said, “And therefore, the LORD thy God will assist thee in mortifying thy members…”.
Rather, the Bible orders us, “Mortify, therefore your members…”. It is apparent that the initiative is with the believer who wants to follow God.

This is where Jesus’ statement in Matthew 16:24 becomes much clearer,

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross (the instrument for his mortification), and follow me.”
(Brackets mine)

Little wonder Enoch was able to successfully walk with God.

To understand the depths of Enoch’s walk with God, we have to understand his dire situation as a man.

Genesis 5:1 says,

“This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him

When God created Man, He was created as a type – clone, if you like – of God’s Own Perfection and Divine Nature.

However after the fall of man from the state of Grace, note what happens,

“And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, and after his image; and called his name Seth”

Adam’s offsprings were no longer in the likeness of God. They were now in the likeness of the Fallen Man. They were now types of the Fallen Man, carrying his sins and fallen nature. Man changed from a state of God-consciousness to that of Self-consciousness.

It was in this predicament that Enoch found himself.

Even, his walk with God did not start automatically,

Genesis 5:21 says,

And Enoch LIVED sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah.

As innocent as that verse may sound, it contains a powerful truth.

Even Enoch lived in the manner that was normal for every man born in the likeness of Adam – the Fallen Man.

At this point in his life, Enoch was the master of his own life and destiny. At this point in his life, Enoch LIVED and was the Chief Executive Officer of his Self-controlled life.

This brings us back to Genesis 5 verse 24:

And Enoch WALKED with God: and HE WAS NOT; for God took him.

Notice how Enoch took the initiative in walking with God. In our walk with God, God is never the variable. He is the Constant One Who is the same yesterday, today and forever. We are the variable factors in our walk with God. The moment you are ready, you will find God.

Now, the key to understanding how Enoch WAS NOT is found in Galatians 5:16-17,

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”

Note here again that the Bible does not say, “And the LORD thy God will help thee walk in the Spirit…”. No, that verse is telling us as Christians to take the initiative and walk in the Spirit. It is telling you to use your gift of freewill and choose to walk with God.

This is what Enoch did in that timeless battle between the God-conscious spirit and the self-conscious flesh.

This was what Enoch did in Genesis 5:24. He choose to walk with God to the point that there was no more of “himSelf” and then God took him.

This was the point that God was passing on to Moses in Exodus 33:20. In essence, God is saying that no man can see Him and still be alive…to the flesh!!!

And that is why God’s plea to the people of Israel (and to us by extension) in Amos 5:4 is so passionate:

Seek Me [by dying to the flesh] and live [life everlasting]