Works of the Flesh
1 Corinthians 3:11-15 (NLT)
For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ. 12 Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. 13 But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. 14 If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. 15 But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames.
I pray that today’s message
transition from a head knowledge into a heart revelation
and through the power and the person of the Holy spirit
renew our minds and transform our lives with Your word
in the name of Jesus.
While preparing for my Father’s Day message, I was studying the story of Abraham and his promise from God. I realized whenever God would reference Isaac, he referred to him as Abraham’s “only son”.
Q: Why would God do this when He clearly knew that Abraham had another son by Sarah’s hand maiden named Ishmael?
I was reading a sermon by the late Chuck Smith (pastor of Calvary Chapel in California). Let me read you this small segment of his message…
Gen. 22:2 “So “take now thy son, thine only son.” Wait a minute, we’ve just sent Ishmael away. He was a son of Abraham through Hagar. God doesn’t even recognize him. Why? Because Hagar was the product of the flesh and God does not recognize the works of the flesh.”
In our opening passage, gold, silver and jewels and wood, hay, or straw represent two kinds of works.
Those that can endure fire and those that cannot. Then Paul writes…
Greek for Flesh is “sarx” meaning the earthly nature of man apart from divine influence, and therefore prone to sin and opposed to God
1 Corinthians 3:13-15 (NLT)
But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. 14 If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. 15 But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames.
Now don’t get me wrong, God did not punish Hagar or Ishmael or even Abraham and Sarah for this work of the flesh, He just didn’t acknowledge it… AT ALL!
God still provided for Hagar and made Ishmael a “great nation”. But, that was it. There was no promise and no reward passed that.
Abraham had his reward for his work, a son named Ishmael. But there was no benefit to anyone else. There was no promise from God connected to that work. The promise came through Isaac because Isaac was a work of God.
1. Works of the Flesh
When we think of works of the flesh, most of us automatically think of…
Galatians 5:19-21 New King James Version (NKJV)
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy,
murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
In fact, Paul says, these are “evident” or obvious; a “no brainer”!
But, Abraham didn’t do these things. You may be thinking, wait a minute, Abraham and Hagar was adultery. But that’s not so, more than was wife was not prohibited or rebuked as sin by God.
God did rebuke Abraham for lying about his wife (twice) saying she was his sister out of fear but He never rebuked Abraham for marrying Hagar.
Genesis 16:3 (NASB)
After Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Abram’s wife Sarai took Hagar the Egyptian, her maid, and gave her to her husband Abram as his wife.
Sarah and Isaac were clearly a work of God and Hagar and Ishmael were clearly a work of Abraham’s flesh.
God didn’t punish Abraham for Hagar and Ishmael, but He refused to acknowledge what it produced!
1 Corinthians 3:13-15 (NLT) abbreviated
…on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. …if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames.
Works of the flesh or basically your ideas and actions that are not born of the Spirit are there own reward and are not only not valuable to God, He does not recognize them as works at all.
Out of Sarah came Isaac (the son of the Promise), the Hebrew nation, then Jesus and the Christian church.
Q: Do you know what came out of Ishmael? Modern day Islam, the Muslim religion.
The bible calls Abraham the father of out (Christian) faith.
Q: Do you know what other book/religion recognizes Abraham as a father of their faith? Islam/Qur’an
Now do you see what works of the flesh produce?!?!
Not only does God not recognize it but the devil gets in it and uses those works for his purposes!
How much of what we do and have done in our lives are really just works of the flesh.
Q: How much of what we even do for God and his name are not from God?
There is a world of difference is doing a work for God and doing a work from God!
2. Works of God
Works of God are works of faith/belief!
John 6:26-29 (NASB)
Jesus answered them and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. 27 Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.” 28 Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”
Q: Believe in what?
A: Belief is Jesus! His life, His model, His commandments.
We must bring our works in alignment with His word, according to His Will, done His way!
His word – His Will – His way
James 2:14-17 (NASB)
What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.
Genuine faith/belief absolutely WILL save you, but THAT faith (faith without works) is dead. If there is a work of the heart your life/works/thinking/behavior will change.
But even saved/changed people can and frequently do engage in works of the flesh.
Sarah and Isaac were a work of God while Hagar and Ishmael were a work of Abraham’s flesh
Muhammad was the result of Ishmael and Jesus was the result of Isaac; both were the result of Abraham’s works!
A work of God will always lead to Jesus.
Q: How much of what we do is leading others to Christ and how much is a work of the flesh.
You may be surprised what my answer is. Now that I’ve convinced you how little of our works are from God, let me encourage you with this.
Did you know that when you tithe you have share in the reward for every soul that comes to Christ at Pathway Church?
When you serve on a team (greeter, usher, parking lot, kids ministry, etc.) you share in the heavenly treasure laid up for every life changed, every baptism, every marriage saved, every bound person set free!!!!
We all need more of our works to be from God, but you may be surprised at how far you’ve come… I was!!!
3. Treasures in Heaven
Matthew 6:19-21 (NASB)
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
I was trying to imagine what treasure or rewards in heaven are going to look like; I was totally struggling with the idea that they would resemble anything here on earth.
Then God gave me an image of a sea of people/souls in heaven because of my works that survived the fire of on Judgement Day!
I thought, of course, how could I have missed that?
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
2 Peter 3:9 (NASB)
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
Q: Did you hear that??? God is being patient with us (Christians) giving us time to get serious about winning a lost world to Christ!
Q: Why would He do such a thing? A: Because the world (people/souls) are what He loves. People are His treasure and your reward is how many souls were saved that you may have never met and now can spend eternity getting to know each and every one.
My prayer is that it takes a million years to the souls I helped win to Jesus.
That is also my prayer for each of you here today!
Invitation for Salvation (heads bowed eyes closed)
Genesis 22:2-4 (NASB)
“Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.”
This is the first time the word “love” is used in the bible. It is no coincidence that the first time we see a demonstration of love in the word it is not a mother’s love for her son or a husband’s love for his wife… it is a father’s love for His son… His only son… whom he loved.
It took three days for Abraham to make that trip.
Isaac was dead for three days in the mind of Abraham; Jesus was dead to his father for three days.
Abraham would have sacrificed the son he loved because he knew God would resurrect him because God made Abraham a promise concerning Isaac.
The Father did sacrifice His only son and He has made us a promise to…
Romans 10:9 (NASB)
… that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;
If you can believe that, in your heart, and you will confess that Jesus as Lord. You have the promise that right here, today… you will be saved!
You, being here today is no accident; God already knew you would be here on this day to hear this message.
He’s been calling you a long time but now you’re here.
Q: What will you do? Will you make Him you Lord today?
Prayer for Salvation or Renewed Commitment
Heavenly Father, I’m here today, a sinner in need of a savior. You sent your Son to die in my place, so I could be forgiven of my sins. Today I repent of my sins and I believe in my heart that Jesus rose from the grave so that I might have eternal life and I confess, right now, that Jesus is Lord over my life. I believe, I know, that I am saved!
Raise Hands if You Prayed That Prayer