Flesh vs. Spirit – Romans 8:5-14

Living According To The Flesh Leads To Death

5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.

12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation-but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.

Fleshly Failure

Carnal Christianity is a danger that faces the every disciple of Christ.  The world, the flesh, and the devil try to draw us away from the Spirit of God through the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life.  In the United States, the blessing of God has provided a petri dish where it is easy to focus on the pleasures of the flesh.  Financial prosperity clouds the judgment, and can provide an environment where people can forget that it is God that provides.  Culture seeks to please the flesh, rather than the Spirit, and leads people into every manner of evil.  Moral Relativism, self-actualization, Secular Humanism, the media, the entertainment industry, and advertisements all seek to draw people away from reliance upon God to reliance upon self, or the goods and services that are for sale.

Spiritual Specialization

Disciples of Christ are called instead to submit to the Spirit of God.  This is how we know that we are in Christ.  For the flesh desires what the flesh wants, and what our spirit wants is contrary to the flesh.  The Holy Spirit of God woos us through the word of God, gentle prodding and encouragement.

Yielding to the Spirit gives life.  Even though the flesh is subject to death because of the curse through the disobedience of Adam, the Spirit gives life, and life abundantly through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  Though the flesh may fail, the Spirit gives us life.  The Spirit can do this because of righteousness.  God is holy, and cannot abide rebellion to righteousness.  When we submit to the Holy Spirit, He conforms our desires to pursue righteousness instead of that opposes that which is righteous.

Careful Commitment

If a person claims to be:

  • A child of God
  • Saved
  • A Christian
  • A disciple of Christ

then they have an obligation to submit to the Spirit so that they will grow and draw close to righteousness, for the image-bearers of God should not be bearing the image of any other.  Salvation is not fire-insurance; it is the opportunity to be reconciled to a holy and righteous God.

Just as a criminal who claims to be reformed should act reformed, so should we as redeemed sinners.  What good does it do a criminal who has been freed to go back to the same life that they lived before?  Their actions will certainly catch up to them, and they will face judgment again for what they have done.  In the same way, disciples of Christ have an obligation to allow the Spirit of God to conform us to the life that lives in harmony with God.

The signature evidence that a disciple of Christ is a true child of God is that their life gives evidence that they are being led by the Spirit of God.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s as a question: Am I being led by the Spirit of God?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Thank You for the opportunity to draw close to You.  Thank You for giving me Your Holy Spirit to lead me, teach me, guide me, encourage me, convict me, pray for me, and advocate for me.  Father, help me to walk in righteousness before You.  The temptations of this world are strong, and I pray for the strength to resist their pulls on my life, and the wisdom to recognize that which will cause me harm.  You have provided the things on Earth for our pleasure, but to be enjoyed, not worshiped or pursued.  Help my heart to also pursue You first.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Spiritual Blindness – 1 Corinthians 2:6-10

If Satan Had Understood The Purpose Of Christ, He Would NEVER Had Tried To Crucify Him

6 We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 However, as it is written:

“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”
the things God has prepared for those who love him-

6 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.

Worldly Wisdom

There is a worldly wisdom that pervades our culture.  It reveals part of the truth, but ignores the truth about the spiritual activity that goes on around us.  The world desires that the rest of us follow its lead, hoping that we will not be “duped” by the truth of the One who is all-wise who came among us.

Wonderful Wisdom

God’s wisdom has been and, for many, is still a mystery that they are unable to unfold and comprehend.  The world seeks God “in the box” – the known universe – but ignores the Spiritual realm as “something spooky filled with ghosts and other benign and malicious creatures”.  God instead greatly desires to reveal the mysteries of the Spiritual realm to us, but in His way.  His wisdom has been recorded in His word, but even now is ignored by many due to the strongholds that prohibit them from seeing the truth.

Reigning Rulers

The reigning rulers and wise people of this world are blinded by their inability to properly discern Spiritual truths.  Even Satan, who once was with God in Heaven, is unable to properly discern spiritual truth.  If he had understood the purpose of Christ coming to Earth in the flesh, Satan would NEVER had placed the hatred in the hearts of men to crucify our Savior.

If man had not crucified our Savior, Jesus would not have received the punishment that we were intended to receive.  Jesus would have had a wonderfully long ministry on Earth, but our sins would not have been atoned for by His blood, because it was necessary that man shed Jesus’ blood for the plan of God to succeed.

Particularly Prepared

God reveals His wisdom through His word and the Holy Spirit who helps us to understand the truth as it was, and is, being revealed.  We need to rely upon the Spirit of God for this revelation, because we simply cannot comprehend apart from Almighty God’s help the depth and beauty of His wisdom in all that He does.

Salvation was a mystery from the very beginning.  It is something that the angels of God sought out, but did not know either, until it was revealed.  This was done to glorify God, as well as to ensure that God’s plan would be fully fulfilled in its proper time and by the proper vessels.

Spirit Searches

The Holy Spirit searches the deep things of all reality, including the thoughts of God and men.  We cannot even begin to fathom what God is doing because His thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and His ways are higher than our ways.  It only makes sense that He would need to reveal to us these things, for they cannot be ascertained apart from spiritual insight provided to us by Almighty God Himself.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I listening to the revelation of the Holy Spirit as He speaks to me?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Your word reveals Your will and Your ways to me.  Help me to learn these lessons, and to keep my heart attuned to Yours.  Help me to listen to the Holy Spirit as He unveils the truth about life and Godliness, and reveals Jesus to me.  Help me to remember that spiritual blindness can occur if I am not seeking You with all of my heart, mind soul, and strength.  Guide me in the ways that I should go, and prepare me for what is to come.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

 

God of Peace – 2 Thessalonians 5:23-24

Allow The God Of Peace To Sanctify You Completely

23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.

Power in Peace

Paul reminds us that God is a God of peace.  Peace has several facets.  It indicates:

  • Unity and harmony in thought
  • The shedding of ill-will towards others
  • The working together of people towards a common goal

God is working towards all three of these, and desires to work them through us at a level that we cannot even begin to comprehend.  God sees the whole picture of reality, from when He spoke it into existence and throughout all eternity.  He is able to see what will be, and greatly desires us to yield to Him so that through sanctification, we will be completely at peace with both Him and others.

Sanctification after Salvation

Salvation has been arranged through the birth, life, death, burial, and resurrection of The Lord Jesus Christ.  But now comes the next part – sanctification – the process of being changed from a creature that was bent towards sin and darkness towards a life dedicated to holiness and submission to God.  God loves us for who we are, but loves us too much to allow to stay the way we are.

Paul, who wrote a good portion of the writings of the New Testament of the Bible, said that even he, who had been to Heaven and came back, was not there yet.  Paul truly had been shown how much he would suffer for the name of Jesus.  He tirelessly preached the word of God to the Gentiles, in cities and in prisons.  He understood the need to walk a life worthy of the calling which he had received.  We are to do the same – to live a life that is holy and dedicated to God who paid such a great price to purchase us – redeem us – out of the slavery of sin.

Be Blameless

We are called to be blameless in body, soul, and spirit.  We are all each of these three things:

  • We each have a physical body that can be used for good or for evil.  What we do impacts us and others.  Everything that we do has significance and importance.  We are called to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.
  • We each have a soul.  This is our ability to think, make decisions, and implement the decisions in the body.  Our thought life is just as important as how we conduct our bodies in action.  Jesus warned the teachers of the law and the Pharisees that they were outwardly compliant with the law, but inwardly – in their thoughts and motivations – they were dead, filthy, corrupt, and unclean.  We are to keep our thoughts clean as well, capturing every thought to Christ.
  • And whether we realize it or not, our spirit is affected by what we do in the flesh and minds.  God, through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ, has made provision for the life of our spirit, alive to Him, and dead to sin.  We must now, through sanctification, put to death those things that would compromise the holiness of our spirit in Christ.

Forever Faithful

We can be assured God the Father is faithful in preparing us.  We need to be submitted to Him, and allow the trials and tribulations and hardships that will give Him the opportunity to mold and shape us from what we were into what He desires us to be.  Jesus has said that God is faithful, and no one can be snatched out of His grasp.  We can trust in the faithfulness of Almighty God to do all that He has said that He will do, for God does not lie, and is incapable of breaking His word.

As He sanctifies us, we are at greater peace with Him, moving from positional righteousness to a life of applied righteousness.  And we are also at greater peace with men as we submit to one another live lives that are focused on honoring God rather than serving our own interests.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I allowing God to sanctify me through His word to be at peace with others?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, I come to You today with thanksgiving in my heart for who You are and what You are doing in my life.  Prepare me to be the vessel that You desire for Your purposes.  Help me to be more at peace with people, and to live a life that is at peace with You.  Strengthen me in my weakness, and sanctify my body, soul, and spirit, so that they will be blameless on the great and terrible day that Your Son, Jesus Christ, returns.  Place within my heart a greater yearning that the lost would be saved, and help me to bring the message of salvation to them.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Combat Training with God – Romans 8:12-14

Live According To The Spirit.

12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. 14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.

Outstanding Obligation

God greatly desires that we keep our obligations.  His very character is one that ensures that any promise that He makes is kept.  We can trust His word, no matter what.

Because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, we have an obligation to God – to stop living by the flesh.  When we live by the flesh, we are suppressing the Truth, and bring shame upon our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Fleshy Failure

We live by the flesh when we listen to our desires rather than to the Spirit of God.  When we seek to bring about the fulfillment of personal pleasure rather than obedience to God, we are setting ourselves us for failure.  Adam and Eve did this very thing when they disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden and ate the fruit of the knowledge of Good and Evil.  We do the same when we seek out our selfish desires rather than the express will of God.

We have available to us the whole counsel of God, yet we often ignore it as we seek to alleviate the pain or pressures of this life in following our desires.  We are told that the heart is deceitful.  We must therefore rely upon the Holy Spirit to guide us in all things.  When we begin a path of ignoring the Holy Spirit of God in order to follow our own desires, we are setting ourselves up to spiritually die.

Spiritual Superiority

God reminds us that if we put to death the flesh by the Spirit, we will live.  This is accomplished through reading and applying the Word of God under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit of God. He will lead us into all righteousness, for He knows all things.  When we put to death (starve) the flesh, we are feeding the spirit.  And when we feed the flesh, we are starving the spirit.  Whichever one you feed, that is the one that grows.

God says that if we are led by the Spirit of God, we are His children.  Jesus has told us that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  We need to follow in His footsteps.  We can only do that if we submit ourselves to the Spirit.  Jesus did the very same thingJesus said that if we love Him we will obey his commands.  Jesus also said that He is the vine and we are the branches.  The branches receive nourishment from the vine, and cannot live on their own.  Let us be known as the children of God by how faithfully we are obedient and submit ourselves to the Holy Spirit of God.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Are we feeding the flesh or are we feeding the Spirit?

A short prayer of preparation

Father in Heaven, I thank You for Your Word and Your patience with me.  Show me in Your Word how to put to death the deeds of the flesh.  Empower me to live according to Your Word, and strengthen my spirit that it would submit to You.  Help me to starve my flesh from its evil desires, and to desire You.  Fill me with a sense of purpose as I kill off that which does not conform to Your image, for all change is painful.  Help me to deal with the consequences of obedience, that I may not flinch in the face of opposition or with any loss that may occur.  Show me your beauty and grace as I move closer to You.  This I ask in the precious name of Your Most Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?