Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Current Study: First Peter
Today’s Topic: Dying to Live
Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 3:18b He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit.
We are at once both alive and dead. We have in our flesh the raging process of death, while in our Spirit, as the redeemed in Christ, we possess the eternal gift of life. The war between the two within us has been well documented in Scripture. It is well-proven by our current condition.
In the late 1800’s, Africa was torn by tribal war as kings and rulers attempted to eliminate enemies who were declared such simply because of ethnicity. One such ruler, King Lewanika of Barotsi, was so cruel that he was named the “human tiger.” His greatest delight was to put to death through torture any who offended or opposed him.
During the height of his reign, the Rev. Francois Coillard came to the Barotsi people under the authority of the French Evangelical Mission. He knew he was putting his own life at risk to bring the Gospel to this unreached tribe. God began to work. He did a miraculous work. By 1896, things in Middle Africa were completely different when Captain Alfred Bertrand of the Swiss Federal Army arrived on the scene. He had been travelling through Africa, and had just previously been in the company of Mr. M.J.S. Moffat, the son of missionary Robert Moffat, who was the brother-in-law of Dr. Livingstone. Yet, with all of the contact he had with missionaries during his expedition, Bertrand himself was without faith in God.
When Sunday came at Rev. Coillard’s mission, Captain Bertrand attended church at the request of the missionary. When the service was over, Bertrand asked, “Monsieur Coillard, who was that remarkable looking man sitting next to me, who listened so carefully?” Rev. Coillard responded, “That was King Lewanika, the ‘human tiger.’ ” Bertrand was broken, and said, “Then if that is what Christ can do, I mean to be His.”
In the chronicles of his expedition, Captain Bertrand writes, From the accounts of previous travelers as to the treachery, rapacity, cruelty, and degradation of the Barotsi, we expected to take our lives in our own hands. All the greater, therefore, was my astonishment when I saw with my own eyes the transformation, both in the moral and the material domain, effected during the ten years that the missionaries had been at work…The king, in whom we had expected to find a bloodthirsty tyrant, I first met in church, seriously and intelligently joining in the service. Every month the king and his chiefs used to celebrate the new moon with drunken orgies of strong native beer-drinking. By the time of my visit, the king had forbidden the making and consumption of intoxicants throughout the country, and had himself set the example by becoming an abstainer for the past seven years.”
WOW! The power of God through Christ brings life where there had been death. The life of Christ in us through the Holy Spirit overcomes the power of sin and death in our flesh. The Apostle Paul understood this when he wrote, For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Romans 8: 13-14)
Why then, when the Life-giving Spirit of God dwells within us, do we continue to resurrect what is to be dead to us? Why do we choose sin and death over life? That is a question only you can answer, and one for which you will be accountable to the Savior. He was put to death in the body and made alive by the Spirit. He offers you the same victory over sin. Choose life, not death.