Monthly Archives: September 2015

New Covenant: Flesh vs. Spirit and Law vs. Grace

The Dichotomy

The major difference between the Old Covenant Law versus the New Covenant of Grace is only a portion of the basic dichotomy between the Flesh and the Spirit. The Flesh must be ruled by the Law, but the Spirit must be free and must rule over the Flesh.

The Law is not obsolete, but is only a means of restraining the Flesh and identifying sin and its purpose was to bring us to Christ. The Law is good if it is used lawfully.

However, the Law is bondage without the indwelling Spirit. Christianity is not anarchy, but rather the inward operation of the Law by the indwelling Spirit, as opposed to the doctrines of the Pharisees which created and taught an outward, ritual obedience without the right attitudes and motivations of the Holy Spirit. They saw the Law as putting one between the yoke and the ox-goad: The yoke to restrain you from doing what you wanted and the ox-goad to prod you to do what you did not want to do.

It is the Flesh that is opposed to the Spirit, and they war against each other.

Galatians 5:16-25:
“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill 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.
“But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.”

Note the conditional phrase preceded by the word ‘IF’. The implication here is that ‘IF’ you are not led of the Spirit, ye are under the law. The Law is for governing the Flesh. The Flesh must be kept under the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus.  Just to remove all doubt as to what is meant by “the Flesh” we are given the details:

“Now the works of the Flesh are manifest, which are these: Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God,” Galatians 5:19-31.

And just to remove all doubts as to what is meant by “walking in the Spirit” he give us the following details:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law,” Galatians 5:22-25.

“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”

This makes it quite clear that the Grace offered by the Spirit/Faith does not give a license to sin. Quite the contrary. Walking in the Flesh produces the stated results and consequences, clearly spelled out in verses 19, 20, and 21. And the fruits of the Spirit are spelled out in verses 22-25.

The Flesh must be crucified, slain, deprived of life. It is the Spirit, [Breath], that gives Life, as in Genesis 2:7. This death and resurrection is portrayed in Baptism. Jesus did not come to make bad men good, but rather to make dead men live. There is a vast difference between the two ideas. Jesus came to restore the Breath/Spirit of Life.

Some Definitions

It might be helpful to spell out some definitions of some of the terms you will find in your Scripture references.

The Flesh: [As opposed to The Spirit] “Carnality, sensuality, the seat of appetites, specifically sexual.”

Fleshly: “(1) Bodily, (2) sensual, lascivious, carnal.”

Carnal: (synonyms): “fleshly, sensual, animal, of the body as flesh. As opposed to spiritual”

Carnality: “state of being carnal. Habitual indulgence in desires having a physical origin, commonly, bestiality, [brutal].”

Sensuous: (1) Addressing the senses, (sight, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling); (2) Characterized by sense impressions or imagery addressing the senses – as sensuous descriptions; (3) Highly susceptible to influence through the senses.

[Note: This describes most advertisements, especially on TV. To catch a mouse you have to bait the trap with something he likes. Satan traps us through the lusts of the flesh. The advertisers have learned this from him.]

Sensual: “Pertaining to, or consisting in, the gratification of the senses, or the indulgence of appetite; fleshly.”

Lascivious: (1) “wanton, lewd, lustful; (2) tending to produce lewd emotions.”

Lewd: (1) wicked, worthless, base; (2) lustful, lascivious, unchaste.”

May you be blessed and warned by this lesson.

The Ox Goad and the Cattle Prod

The Pharisee Rabbis of the New Testament era thought of their position in regard to the Law as being between the ox-goad and the cattle-prod. They said that the Law was like a yoke to restrain you from doing what you wanted to do, and the cattle prod was to prod you into doing what you didn’t want to do. Unfortunately, that is the way some people see it today.

Jesus said: “Except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees ye shall in no case enter the Kingdom of God,” Matthew 5:20.

Misery of Keeping the “Law”

You see, their concept of the Law was so miserable that they devised ways to legitimize their own interpretations of it. They began to teach that God had given Moses two Laws on Sinai, one was written and the other oral. Now it was the written Law that caused the problems for them, so they decreed that the so-called Oral Law took precedence over the written Law. This “Oral Law,” so they say, had been handed down to them through the Rabbis to them, and so they were the custodians of the “law.”

Jesus Refuted Their “Oral Law”

Note that the passage that follows Matthew 5:20 Jesus begins to teach about these things that they claimed had been passed down from “them of old time,” Matthew 5:21-48. He refutes their teachings by His own interpretation: “But I say unto you…,” verses 22, 28, 32, 34, 39, 44.

Matthew chapter 6 continues with His teachings against those of the Pharisees, the hypocrites, verses 2, 5, 16. These hypocritical “Laws” of the Pharisees were also called the “traditions” and/or “the traditions of the elders.”

He also confronts their hypocrisy in Matthew 15:7; 16:3; 22:18; 23:13, 14, 15, 23, 25, 27, 28, 29; 24:51; Mark 7:5-13. Luke 11:39-52; 12:1.

The Law as seen by the Pharisees was truly bondage.

However, Jesus attested to and confirmed the written Law even in disputing with the devil saying: “It is written…,” Matthew 4:4, 7, 10.

I Timothy 1:8: “But we know that the Law is good, if a man use it lawfully.”

Romans 7:12: “The Law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.”

So what is the problem? Carnality.

Verse 14: “For we know that the Law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.”

So what is the cure? The Law of the Spirit/Breath of Life in Christ Jesus.

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the Law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh. That the righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit,” Romans 8:1-4.

The Curse of the Law?

Does this give us a free pass to sin? Not at all. Jesus came to condemn sin in the flesh. We can be rid of sin in the flesh by crucifixion, mortifying the deeds of the body; read the rest of Romans chapter 8. There is victory over sin in the Holy Spirit of Christ. This does not do away with the Law, but fulfills it without the yoke and the ox goad. It is true freedom.

Warning: Dangerous Buddhism Doctrine

Christianity in the USA was once so strong that there was no room for other religions. However, within the last generation, various and sundry Eastern religions have invaded our nation and our children are now being inundated with their teachings. Some call it the “New Age” and others just use it to ridicule and contradict Christianity. We can no longer be ignorant of what these religions teach.

Hinduism and Buddhism both teach that animals are equal to humans and humans are no better than animals.

This becomes a veritable worship of animals. Some aspects of this is evident in the so-called “Animal Rights Movement” and also in some aspects of environmental issues. As Christians, we do not abuse animals, neither do we worship them, but rather take responsibility for them and the proper care of the environment.

In Hinduism Yoga emphasizes vegetarian diets. which may be good for our health if adequate nutrition can be supplied in other ways. However, to go vegan on the basis of the worship of animals is idolatry.  Vegetarian diets may be good for our health, but they are not more moral than diets which include meats, that is, as specified in the Bible, in moderation.

Yoga also stresses meditation. Meditation on the Holy Scriptures and prayer are good and necessary for Christian life and spiritual health. However, meditation otherwise can be merely a waste of time, or at worst worship of idols.

“In Buddhist doctrine*

“Animals have always been regarded in Buddhist thought as sentient** beings. Furthermore, animals possess Buddha*** nature (according to the Mahāyāna school) and therefore potential for enlightenment. Moreover, the doctrine of rebirth held that any human could be reborn as animal, and any animal could be reborn as a human. An animal might be a reborn dead relative, and anybody who looked far enough back through their series of lives might come to believe every animal to be a distant relative. The Buddha expounded that sentient** beings currently living in the animal realm have been our mothers, brothers, sisters, fathers, children, friends in past rebirths. One could not, therefore, make a hard distinction between moral rules applicable to animals and those applicable to humans; ultimately humans and animals were part of a single family. They are all interconnected.”

*[From website]

**Webster’s Dictionary: “sentient: Capable of sensation and consciousness; experiencing sensation and feeling… the mind.”

***”Buddha nature” in this context  means “god-nature.”

Making Animals Equal to Mankind is Idolatry

This doctrine, along with Hinduism and other religions, is also idolatry in that it worships the creation rather than the Creator, Romans 1:20-23. Making animals on the same level as humans is denying that God created Man in His image and gave him dominion over all Flesh, Genesis 1:28. Making animals and humans as interchangeable through reincarnation is blasphemy against the image of God, which is unique to Mankind.

Man’s dominion was to be that of a shepherd, not a tyrant, as taking Father God, the Great Shepherd, for an example. Mankind does not own this world, but rather is given stewardship over it. Therefore, Mankind is accountable and responsible. But under these false religions, Mankind feels he can act like an animal and not be accountable to God for it.

“It is appointed unto Man once to die, and after this, the judgment,” Hebrews 9:27. We will have to give account of our stewardship. There is no such thing as re-incarnation into some kind of animal form.

The Mean-time

God’s great leaders have often had to go through a mean-time between the time of God’s promises and the fulfillment of them.

Like Moses

Like Moses, for example. God told Him to go back to Egypt and deliver His people from Pharaoh’s bondage. So he did what God said. But in the process, there came a time when Pharaoh just made the bondage harder. So hard, in fact, that the people could not do all that he required of them.
So, the Israeli foremen came to Moses and Aaron and said: “The Lord look upon you, and judge; because ye have made our savour to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharoah, and in the eyes of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to slay us. And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, ‘Lord, wherefore hast thou so evil entreated this people? why is it that thou hast sent me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he hath done evil to this people; neither hast thou delivered thy people at all,’” Exodus 5:21-23 KJV.
The Lord answered Moses, rehearsing His promise, which Moses repeated to the people. “But they hearkened not unto Moses for anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage,” Exodus 6:9.
Yet, Moses continued to seek the Lord and to follow His guidance. And God gave Pharaoh a series of opportunities to let the people go, but he hardened his heart and refused, and continued to oppress the people.

This was the mean-time.

But that time passed. In this time God gave them the ordinance of the Passover and specific instructions as to preparing for their deliverance. “Thus did all the children of Israel; as the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they. And it came to pass the selfsame day, that the Lord did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies,” Exodus 12:50-51.
But God had also promised to bring them into the good land of Canaan. Throughout the wilderness journey and the subsequent conquest of Canaan, they suffered many trials, temptations, dangers and hardships.

This was another mean-time.

But finally His promise came to pass and Joshua said: “And behold this day I am going the way of all the earth: and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof,” Joshua 23:14.

The Example of David:

Another example is David. He had been anointed King of Israel, but then endured much hardship, opposition, trials and temptation. At one point when his army was returning to Ziklag where they had left their stuff and their women, they found that the Amalekites had burned it and had taken their women captive. “And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God,” I Samuel 30:6.

This was the mean-time.

David pursued the Amalekites: “And David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away: and David rescued his two wives, and there was nothing lacking to them, neither small nor great, neither sons, nor daughters, neither spoil, nor any thing that they had taken to them: David recovered all,” I Samuel 30:18-19.

But yet another long period of strife followed, another mean-time.

At last David was anointed King over the house of Judah, 2 Samuel 2:4. And another mean-time followed before he was also anointed as King of all Israel, 2 Samuel 5:3-5.
Finally, God spoke to David and promised him an everlasting kingdom, 2 Samuel chapter 7.

Another very long mean-time came to pass.

Then the Angel came to Mary, announcing to her that she was to have a Son: “And behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call His name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David. And He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end,” Luke 1:31-33.
And Mary, in her glorious Magnificat said: “He [the Lord] hath holpen His servant Israel in remembrance of His mercy; As He spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever,” Luke 1:54-55.
And Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, rejoiced saying: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he hath visited and redeemed His people, And hath raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, As He spake by the mouth of His holy prophets, which have been since the world began: That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember His holy Covenant; the oath which He swore to our father Abraham,” Luke 1:68-73.

The example of John the Baptist

And indeed John the Baptist grew up and began to proclaim that Jesus was the Messiah, and even baptized Jesus at which time: “It came to pass that Jesus also being baptized and praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, ‘Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased,” Luke3, 21-22.

But in the “Mean-time”

Herod shut up John in prison, and John sent his disciples to enquire of Jesus whether or not He was truly the Messiah. Jesus answer was to show John that He was fulfilling the prophecies. And Jesus witnessed to the anointing that was upon John the Baptist, Luke 7:19-29.

And yet, for John, there was another “Mean-time,” in which he was beheaded at the whim of a lecherous old king and a conniving woman, Matthew 14:6-12.

The Example of the Disciples

Jesus’ disciples had followed Him throughout His ministry, witnessing the healing of the sick, the raising of the dead, the miracles of feeding the thousands, stilling the storms, cursing the fig tree. They were totally convinced that He was the promised Messiah, the Son of the Living God. Yet, they saw Him crucified and buried, John 19:23-42. It was surely over. Surely they had been mistaken.

In the Mean-time, for three days, they went into hiding.

But then, the Risen Lord Jesus appeared to them in their hiding place and they were ecstatic with joy, being reminded of the fact that He had told them this was going to happen, John 20:19-25.
However, Thomas was not with them. When they told him about it, he didn’t believe them saying: “Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe,” John 20:25.

So Thomas went through eight more days of Mean-time.

But after the eight days, the disciples met again and Thomas was with them. And sure enough, Jesus appeared in their midst and said to Thomas: “Reach hither thy finger, and behold My hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into My side: and be not faithless but believing,” verse 27.

Thomas’ Mean-time was over. He believed.

Jesus said: “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” And this is what the “Mean-times” are about: that we might have faith and not waver in our belief.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” Hebrews 11:1.

“Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith, being more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried by fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls,” I Peter 1:5-9.

The Mean-times are worth it all!