Tag Archives: Spirit

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.


Sanctification: Is It an Obsolete Doctrine?

Fifty or sixty years ago the ‘Holiness’ Churches taught sanctification. The debate was whether it is a second work of grace, or is it an ongoing process. Whichever it was, they taught that it must precede the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, for the Holy Spirit will not dwell in an unclean temple. The mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the early twentieth century came upon those who had taught and practiced Holiness unto the Lord.

The Church of God, (Cleveland), of which I was a member, taught that it is the second work of grace and requires total commitment. That is, it requires the crucifixion of the Flesh and total dedication, nothing reserved. Some of their practices are now belittled and often ridiculed, like modesty in dress and style, disciplined sexuality, forbidden use of addictive substances, non-participation in worldly entertainments such as movies, dancing, gambling, etc. These practices are now seen as legalisms but they did furnish a great deal of protection from the spirits and powers that have now brought our culture to ruin.

I still believe that true Christianity requires sanctification. This is the truth that should be restored to our teachings and doctrines and practices. These things that seemed so hard and grievous to us now were actually easy compared to that Baptism of the death of the Flesh, sanctification.

As to the debate, I now realize that sanctification must also be an ongoing process. Like when a baby is first born, it must be washed thoroughly and the mucous removed from its throat. But after a day and night, it must again be cleaned up and mollified with ointments, salves and powders and changes of garment. In the Christian experience, we find that the old crucified Flesh tries to resurrect quite often and has to be severely dealt with and put down under the control of the Holy Spirit.

“But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway,” I Corinthians 9:27.

What is ‘sanctification’?*

First of all it is Holiness: Leviticus 11:44:

“For I am the Lord your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves and ye shall be holy; for I am holy.”

It is God’s will: I Thessalonians 4:3-8:

“For this is the will of God, [even] your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: That no [man] go beyond and defraud his brother in [any] matter: because that the Lord [is] the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man but God who also giveth unto us his holy Spirit.”

Second, sanctification is total commitment and dedication:

Romans 8:10, 13:
“And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.”

“For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”

Romans 12:1: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”

Galatians 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I but Christ liveth in me: and the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

The meaning of Baptism: Death, Burial and Resurrection,

Romans 6:1-23:
(1) “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
(2) God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
(3) Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
(4) Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
(5) For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also [in the likeness] of [his] resurrection:
(6) Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
(7) For he that is dead is freed from sin.
(8) Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
(9) Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
(10) For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
(12) Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
(13) Neither yield ye your members [as] instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members [as] instruments of righteousness unto God.
(14) For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
(15) What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
(16) Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
(17) But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
(18) Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
(19) I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.
(20) For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.
(21) What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things [is] death.
(22)But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
(23) For the wages of sin [is] death; but the gift of God [is] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

It is a Covenant

You make a Covenant with the Lord by the sacrifice of yourself: “Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice,” Psalm 50:5. The Old Covenant sacrifices were but a shadow of the New Testament reality of the sacrifices of oneself, sanctification.

*Strong’s Concordance: sanctification (Hebrew #6942) “Make… pronounce, or observe as clean, (ceremonially or morally), dedicate, hallow, be/keep holy, … purify, sanctify.”

Closed Minds

Revelation 2:7a: “He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”[1]

This phrase ends every one of the messages to the Seven Churches. The main theme of the messages to the Churches is the refrain: “He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the Churches.” It is a message of warning in light of the fact that Jerusalem is being destroyed because she closed her mind to Christ. On that Great Day of the Lord, at His appearing to reward His saints and to judge His enemies in the overthrow of Jerusalem, the appeal was to open their minds to Christ, the Word. The Spirit is still speaking this message to the Churches today.

A closed mind is the final stage of apostasy, beyond which there is no hope of repentance. As long as a person has an open mind, he may be taught the truth and corrected in his errors, but when he closes his mind, he seals himself into a chamber with no exit.

The closed mind accepts popular belief as authoritative and does not test doctrines or philosophies by Scripture. One attitude that reflects a closed mind is the expression: “Everyone knows –(thus and so).” Scriptures may be taken out of context as ‘proof-texts’ without weighing the evidence from the whole Bible.

“Rightly Interpreting the Word”

Interpretation is a stronghold; like a building, it is a system. It is indeed frustrating when a neat system of doctrine is upset by finding error in the foundational premises. Much effort, dedication, and persistence are required to rethink a whole system and make necessary adjustments. An attitude typical of the closed mind is: “I know what I want to believe, so don’t confuse me with the facts.”

It is painful to have to admit error or ignorance, especially when one has taught these errors to others. It is scary to take responsibility for an opinion. The easy way out is to simply say: “Our church teaches (thus and so).” It is unpleasant to the Flesh, but sweet to the Spirit to experience Truth firsthand.

Church Dogma – An Idol Not To Be Questioned

Closed minds are prevalent in the religious world, and are especially reflected in the area of dogma. Religious organizations typically lay down a body of doctrines that are considered as the authoritative principles of that religious body. Upon this basic dogma, other doctrines are built. But, while doctrinal principles may be discussed, refined, proven or disproven, the dogmatic foundations of those doctrines are expected to be accepted as true without question.

The word ‘doctrine’ implies a principle accepted by a body of believers, while ‘dogma,’ though a synonym of ‘doctrine,’ implies a doctrine that must be accepted without question merely upon the authority of the founders of the body. Obviously, if these founders were ignorant, unaware, deceived or malicious, their dogma will be faulty, and doctrines built upon that dogma will not be sound. Dogma thus assumes a blind belief in the infallibility of the founders of a religion and becomes an idol.

The Dogma of the Pharisees

Christ faced just such a situation when He ministered to the scribes and Pharisees. Their minds were closed to the truth He taught because of the dogmatic teaching of the rabbis. Many of these teachings were supposedly the authoritative interpretation of Scripture, but were actually perversions and distortions. Jesus refuted these errors consistently, for example, in the Sermon on the Mount: “You have heard that it was said …. but I say unto you….” He pronounced “Woes” and judgments upon those who refused to hear Him, (Matthew 23).

Christ referred these Pharisees to the Scriptural foundations. He quoted from the prophet Isaiah, (Isaiah 6:9-13). Isaiah was called to preach to the nation of Israel to warn them that judgment for their sins was coming and to call them to repentance. Yet, he was told he would not succeed in turning the nation, for “hearing they would not hear and seeing they would not perceive.” Isaiah would fail, for their minds were closed.

When he asked: “How long, O Lord?” the answer was:  “Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without men, and the land is utterly desolate, and the Lord removes men far away, and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land.” (RSV)

Their destruction was assured because of their closed minds. Yet, though the nation would not be saved, his preaching was not in vain for a remnant would hear and be saved.

Christ knew that He faced the same situation – people with closed minds, accepting only the interpretations of their malicious leaders; people whose ears were closed to hearing and whose eyes were closed to seeing the truth, (Matthew 13:14-17; Mark 4:12; Luke 8:9-10; John 12: 39-40.) This willful blindness and deafness greatly grieved and frustrated our Lord. It was this that prompted Him to so often repeat the refrain: “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Jesus Calls Us To “Hear”

The series of parables in Mark 4:1-33 begins with the command: “Hearken!” (KJV) or “Listen!” (RSV). The series ends with the statement that Jesus taught the larger crowds by parables only as they were able to hear, (v. 33). The reason for using parables as a method of teaching is given in verse 12:

“So that they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand; lest they should turn again, and be forgiven.” (RSV)

The principal point of the parables is given in verses 24 and 25: “Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given. For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.”

In context, when He speaks of the ‘measure,’ He is speaking of the measure of the Word which a man has allowed to take root and to bear fruit in his life. To him that has thus incorporated the Word into his life, more of the Word will be given, but to him that has only accepted the surface meaning of the parables, and who refuses to allow the Word to impart a deeper spiritual meaning, even the Word that he has heard superficially will be taken from him.

The Parable Of The Candle

The parable of the candle, (Mark 4:21-22), is about the entrance of the Word into a man. Psalm 119:130: “The entrance of thy words giveth light: it giveth understanding unto the simple.” The Word enters a man through the channel of hearing. Unless the hearer places the ‘light’ of the Word upon a ‘candlestick,’ that is, gives it a place of prominence and honor, it will not give him light. But if it is given its proper place, it will illuminate his inner man, cleansing him from the secret sins of the heart and mind.

Those with closed minds do not allow the Word to penetrate their hard exterior of religious dogma. As both the fulfillment and the embodiment of the Word, Christ emphasized its acceptance as a means of salvation. So Christ punctuated the parables, as well as the messages to the churches with the refrain: “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Search The Scriptures – Learn Their Context

Genuine faith in the Scriptures does not fear to subject them to careful scrutiny and analysis. The doctrine of the infallibility of the Scriptures has been well examined and has proven reliable. The Holy Bible has been preserved and transmitted down to us as a faithful witness to the Truth by many generations of saints. But examining our dogmatic beliefs can be unsettling, for our entire philosophy of life rests upon them. In rooting out false dogma, we must carefully examine them in the light of the Scripture and hold fast that which is good.

The Scriptures establish that Jesus is the Messiah Savior, the Son of the Living God, whose coming was foretold by the Prophets. His words have been tried and proven for 2000 years. We can accept His authority. Upon His authority, we can accept Christ’s Spirit, which says: “Let God be true and every man a liar.”

The Spirit of Truth

This Spirit of Truth will reveal our weaknesses and errors and give us full assurance of pardon if we repent and allow the Truth to rule our conduct and thinking, although here we only know in part – our knowledge is not perfect. The Spirit of Truth is also the Spirit of Love. Because He loves us, we have the security to examine the Scriptures without bias and without fear of condemnation. We can postpone an opinion until we have gathered more information and we can change our opinion when we find we are wrong. In other words, we can be teachable.

The greatest hindrance to enlightenment is a closed mind. The greatest challenge to teaching is not how to fill a mind, but how to open it. “The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back,” (Isaiah 50:5).

[1] In Hebrew perhaps “Hearing, let him hear… (with acceptance)“.

Our Three-Fold Relationship With God (Part 1)

[In Three Parts]

In this series of posts, I will identify our “three-fold” relationship with God.  In this first post I will discuss “God, the Father of Spirits,” followed by Part 2 “God, Lover of the Church,” and finally Part 3 “God, Shepherd of our Bodies.”

Part One: God The Father Of Spirits

Father of Adam

Genesis 2:7: “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”

Genesis 5:1-2: “This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; Male and female created he them, and called their name Adam, in the day they were created.”

The Hebrew word for ‘Adam’ is the same word for ‘man.’ We refer to the human race, as descended from Adam, as “Mankind.”

Adam was the Son of God by Creation: Luke 3:38. We also are the Sons of God by Creation in Christ Jesus, Ephesians 2:10.

God is a Spirit. When He made Man in His image, He made him a Spirit.

‘Breath’ and ‘Spirit’ Are Synonymous In Hebrew

The word ‘Breath,’ in the Hebrew is also sometimes translated ‘Spirit.’ It was the ‘Breath/Spirit’ of God that man Adam a living soul. That Breath/Spirit is the “Spirit of life,” for that is what gave life to Adam.

Romans 8:2: “For the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus hath made us free from the law of sin and death.”

In this passage Paul has the creation story in mind. He is thinking of our creation in Christ as “the law of the Breath of Life.” He is speaking in legal terms, citing a ‘precedent.’ In law a ‘precedent’ is: “a judicial decision which serves as a rule for future decisions in similar or analogous cases.” Paul is saying that the ‘Breath of Life,” is the original Law of God in creation and takes precedence over the later Law of Moses or any other law. This “Breath of Life is what changes Mankind from a sculpture of clay to a “Living Soul.”

The Holy Spirit is the Breath of God

Romans 8:1: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” In Jesus, Who has given us the gift of the Holy Spirit, the “Spirit of Life,” or the “Breath of Life,” we are again made, created, a “Living Soul.” Without that Holy Spirit/Breath, we are dead in trespasses and sin.

The rest of Romans chapter 8 describes more fully what difference this “Breath/Spirit of Life” makes.  It is the difference:

  • Between life and death, Verse 2, 38-39
  • Between spirituality and carnality, Verse 6
  • Between immortal and mortal, Verses 11, 13
  • Between sonship and alienation, Verses 14, 15, 16
  • Between purity and corruption, Verse 21
  • Between freedom and bondage, Verse 1, 21
  • Between heirs and strangers, Verse 16, 17
  • Between strength and weakness, Verses 3, 26
  • Between health and sickness, Verses 23, 36
  • Between justification and condemnation, Verses 1, 34
  • Between hope and despair, Verses 24, 25.

Hebrews 12:9: “Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits and live?”