People of The Living God

Matthew 24

 

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April 2013



 

WATCHMEN ON THE WALLS

MORE SIN IN THE CHURCH

Alfred King

        A recent article by Andrew Strom entitled, “Pentecostals Accepts Gays, It Begins”* is a grim and grievous indication, once again, that the church would rather please men than God.  Instead of standing upon the foundation of God’s word and let it dictate the position of the church, they prefer to be “politically correct” and allow sin in the camp.  Andrew Strom reports that Rob Buckingham, pastor of a large Pentecostal church in Australia, has now accepted the gay community into their ranks just as they accept any of their other members.  At the end of his sermon, he received a standing ovation and, of course, the gay community is ecstatic as they have gained more ground into the Christian arena and overruled God’s Word.  Once this door is opened in any major denomination, it, in a few short years, will inevitably spread throughout the movement.

        The lack of teaching and instruction of the very basics of Christianity must be sorely lacking or plainly rejected for sins such as homosexuality to be considered just an alternative lifestyle by the Church.  Scripture plainly teaches that homosexuality is sin just as it teaches that fornication (of any type), adultery, stealing, murder, etc. are sin.  The fundamentals of Christianity are completely missing in many churches or else these fundamental doctrines have been tremendously distorted to the point that ministers no longer preach against sin but welcome unrepentant sinners into their congregations.

        Before everyone jumps on this previous statement, we are not talking about sinners coming to our church as visitors.  We are speaking of allowing them to join the church and become members of the church while still engaged in their sinful lifestyles.  Sinners should always be welcome to our churches so they can hear the gospel and hopefully find Christ and their lives changed by the power of God.  But when one is accepted into the fellowship of believers, his life must reflect the transforming power of God so that all know he is born again.  He then must be taught the word of God and begin a walk in which sin is daily resisted and fought against.  The church must never allow known sinners to be a member of the fellowship or to hold an office in the church.

Fundamentals Of The Gospel

        Now, let’s go briefly into the fundamental teaching of sin.  Scripture teaches that sin originated with Lucifer in heaven when pride entered his heart and he determined to set his throne above the stars of God.  Isaiah gives the account of what took place in heaven before the world was created in chapter 14 verses 12–15.  “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!  how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!  For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.  Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.”  Ezekiel also refers to events that occurred in heaven in chapter 28, and in verse 15 he speaks of Satan’s perfection and his sin, “Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.”  Sin first appeared on the scene in Lucifer (also known as Satan or the devil).  After God created the world and all that is in it, His final touch being Adam and Eve, God placed them in the garden of Eden and gave them freedom to all that was in the garden with the exception of the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.”  He told them that the day they ate of that tree, they would die.  But, Satan worked through the serpent and subtly deceived Eve causing her to question God’s word.  Satan still uses the same words and tactics today, “Hath God said…?” and “ye shall not surely die.”  God says in Isaiah 59:2, “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you that he will not hear.”  This is what God says.  But Satan will say, “God doesn’t expect you to deal with sin in your life or in your churches because we all sin.”  “God wants to save sinners, so it’s okay to have the ‘sinners stand in the congregation of the righteous’.” “You won’t surely die; God will be pleased by your act of greasy grace, for God Himself is a God of grace.”  Scripture NEVER teaches it is okay to sin or to have sin in the church, but contrariwise.

        In Genesis 2:17, God told Adam, “ in the day that thou eatest thereof (of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil) thou shalt surely die.”  Adam died that very day; he was cut off from the very source of life and that source was God. Adam’s sin passed on to his offspring for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23) and all man fell into the grip of death (they were cut off from the very source of life, and that source is God), for death passed upon all men (Rom. 5:12).  It is sin that condemns all men to eternal death “where their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched” (Mk. 9:44).  Sin is the enemy of man’s soul, and it was for this very purpose that Jesus left the splendor of heaven, divested Himself of all His glory and took upon Himself the form of a servant, that by His perfect life and sacrificial death, He might save man from sin’s curse so man could be reconciled to God and have life once again.  Jesus didn’t come to save man merely from hell, but to save man from sin, which is the very cause of hell’s existence and the issue that separates man from God.  Isaiah prophesied of One, Who was to come and he reports of the suffering of the Messiah in the 53rd chapter.  This wonderful passage describes the sufferings Jesus would receive in order to save man from sin.  Jesus suffered throughout His life, being despised and rejected.  He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.  He was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities.  But Isaiah reports that He suffered everything for the transgression of His people.  Note how sin and transgression is frequently used in this chapter, but never does it say He came to save us from hell.  He came to make a way by His power for man to turn away from sin, to triumph over evil desires, and to be one of the overcomers spoken of in Revelation who will receive the promised rewards.  For the church to condone or allow sin in the camp is to invite certain destruction to the souls of all who attend that church.  It is to allow the fox in the chicken house.

        Are we to believe that sin, the very cause of Christ’s condescension, suffering and death, is to continue in the Christian’s life?  Are we to believe that sin, which God so tenaciously hates and which casts all men into the grips of eternal damnation, is to continue to reign in one’s life who has been born again, born from above and now has the very life of God within?  Are we to believe that now God accepts sin and that it is no longer an offense to Him, because the blood of Jesus cleanses man so man need not concern himself with remaining sin?  If this is anyone’s take of the work of Jesus Christ upon the cross, he has totally misunderstood the gospel.  The good news of Jesus Christ is that He not only removes sin from our account, but He also provided a way in which man can rise above sin and walk with God in newness of life where the old life has passed away and a new life has begun, a life of obedience to God.  Consider seriously what the apostle Paul had to say concerning sin.  Rom 6:11–18: “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.  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.  For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.  What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace?  God forbid.  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?  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.  Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” (Emphasis mine)

        But, you may ask, “What about grace?” While love and mercy are included in grace, grace is Christ’s sacrificial blood applied to the heart when one, not only believes, but also repents and, through the power of that blood, his sins are taken away and his heart cleansed.  His heart being cleansed makes possible the entrance of the Holy Spirit to abide in his temple of clay, and the precious Holy Spirit teaches the believer God’s word, reproves of sin (Jn. 16:8), and He leads and guides and empowers so the born again Christian can begin on the road to overcoming all sin.  This is the gospel.  To think that all we have to do is believe is nonsense and will lead those who follow this idea to that place where their worm dieth not and the fire in not quenched.  Be sure you count the cost when you accept this lie of the devil.

        Just as the serpent’s lie to Eve had eternal consequences, so will the political correctness idea that the church must not discriminate.  In scripture we find that God was very discriminatory.  God clearly discriminates between those who love Him and those who don’t.  He favors those who are obedient over those who aren’t.  He chooses those who walk in righteousness and rejects those who continue in sin.  And on the day of judgment, He will receive them that have served Him and will cast all sinners into the lake of fire.  In Revelation 21:8, God tells the apostle John, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”  God does not say that there will be an exception for Christians who are still in bondage to these sins; He just states that these types of people will be cast into eternal fire. (Actually to say one is a Christian who is not striving to overcome sin is an oxymoron.  There is no such thing.)

Warning To The Church

        In the book of Joshua, we have the history of Israel crossing the Jordan River and beginning their possession of the land of Canaan.  They had followed God’s instructions concerning Jericho and God delivered Jericho into their hands.  The next city en route was Ai, a very small city and not well fortified, so Joshua decided not to have the whole army of Israel fight in this battle but sent only two or three thousand men, which he felt was sufficient for the task.  Israel went up against Ai but was defeated and fled from before the men of Ai and, in the process, thirty six men of Israel were killed.  Joshua and the elders of Israel rent their clothes and fell down before God and sought Him, being very disheartened by this defeat.  As they were lamenting before God, God spoke and revealed the problem, there was sin in the camp.  We begin with God’s response in Joshua 7:10–12, “And the Lord said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face?  Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff.  Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you.” (Emphasis mineWARNING: The church will not stand before her enemies in these evil days if she allows sin in the camp.  She may look prosperous, “rich and increased with goods.”  She may appear to have “need of nothing.”  She may feel more obligation to be politically correct than Godly, and she may fear men and governments more than God, but the church that will not stand against sin knows “not that thou art (she is) wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.”  This is what God says about the lukewarm church in Revelation 3:17 who allows sinners to sit comfortably in its pews.  Know assuredly: This church will fall.

Addressing The Issue Of Homosexuality

        This article would be incomplete if the issue of homosexuality goes unaddressed.  This topic is very controversial and there are very strong opinions on both sides of this issue.  We are not considering the opinions of unbelievers or the unsaved in this discussion, because their opinions are not based upon God or His word.  We are addressing it from a Christian and Biblical perspective.  Some Christians feel that homosexuality is no worse than any other sin, such as adultery, stealing, lust, etc.  In the March issue of Testimony of Truth, in answer to a letter to the editor, we gave a few scriptures that do strongly indicate (and to me, prove) that there are degrees of sin. Briefly: The sin of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is unforgiveable according to Jesus in Matthew 12:31–32. He told Pilate in John 19:11 “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.”  Jesus plainly states some sins are greater than others.

        In Romans one, Paul speaks of several sins which were committed by the heathen.  He speaks of idolatry and of worshipping the creature more than the creator (Rom. 1:23). He then speaks of how God gave them up to their own corrupt desires, allowing their corrupt, sinful nature to gain more control.  He continues to tell how these depraved heathen left the natural use of the woman and burned in their hearts one for another, doing that which is against nature.  If there be some doubt concerning this scripture and how it’s worded in the King James Bible, read some of the more modern versions which put it more clearly in modern English. Here are a couple: **

        Rom. 1:26–27 (New International Version) “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful    lusts.  Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.  (27) In the same way         the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one     another.  Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due     penalty for their perversion.”

        Rom. 1:26–27 (The Living Bible) “That is why God let go of them and let them do all these         evil things, so that even their women turned against God’s natural plan for them and indulged       in sex sin with each other.  (27) And the men, instead of having normal sex relationships with         women, burned with lust for each other, men doing shameful things with other men and, as a       result, getting paid within their own souls with the penalty they so richly deserved.”

        There are some sins which are natural, in that we are created with an attraction to the opposite sex and God created us this way for reproduction.  However, He does not excuse fornication nor adultery or prostitution just because we have this natural inclination for the opposite sex.  To engage in sex outside the marriage relationship is sin.  He designed the family for the good of both the man and the woman and for their children.  Children need both the feminine touch and influence as well as the masculine security and stability.  This is God’s design.  Satan, our great enemy, has distorted the marital relationship in many ways.  Homosexuality is just one of those ways.  Satan has promoted and continues to encourage fornication before marriage, divorce and infidelity.  He has in the past and continues in the present to destroy the family, because if he can destroy the family, he can destroy a people.  The family is the basic unit of society, but once this unit is destroyed, Satan has successfully destroyed a people or nation.  Homosexuality is sin, as is adultery or any other form of fornication, and all these will send the soul who indulges in them to hell.  To allow any of these sins to run rampant in the church is destructive to the church.  A homosexual can be forgiven just as easily as a fornicator, an adulterer, a liar, a murderer, or a thief.  God can and has forgiven many, many people who were in bondage to homosexuality and has not only saved them but also delivered them from the bondage of homosexuality.  Paul informs us that there were former homosexuals in the church at Corinth, for he speaks of those who were previously engaged in these practices.  Read I Cor. 6:9–11: “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?  Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”  That’s the gospel!

        Concerning those who are termed “homophobic”:  It is not because of the specific sin issue that Christians are (or were) fearful of homosexuals, for Christians understand their position in Christ when they read what scripture says: “greater is He that is within you than he that is in the world” (I Jn. 4:4).  It is the opinion of this writer that the trepidation which arose among many people was that which developed with the AIDs scare, when so little was known of the disease and there was a serious concern that it might be contagious.  Because of this lack of understanding of the disease, many Christians also became apprehensive.  Ignorance of the disease is what promoted anxiety among so many people, not the fear of homosexuals themselves.  Christians look at sin as sin no matter where it is found or in whom it is found.  The “homophobic” idea is just another attempt of our great enemy to cause conscientious Christians to cave in to the “politically correct” crowd and compromise God’s standards.

        One other point that needs to be made here is concerning the question of whether gay people are born this way or is it a choice.  Below are a couple of websites of former gay men who found deliverance in Christ and there are many more such testimonies.  In the testimony of “Gay Escape” the author tells of his attraction for the same sex at eleven years of age and also tells how he struggled to change his sexual orientation without success.  Was he born this way? I do not want to engage in this issue here, but I don’t doubt that he was born with this inclination, just like I was born with a sinful and depraved nature; only my sinful nature led me down a different but just as deadly a road.  The depraved nature can and does take on many different forms.  Some find their depravity expressing itself in anger, some in hatred, some in various forms of self–gratification, some in selfishness and greed, some are born liars it seems, but in every case, Jesus died to set the depraved sinner free from his bondage and the particular bondage is not the issue.  The focus need not be on when, how and why we tended towards the specific path of sin we found ourselves on, but we must focus on God’s word and His love that provided a way of escape from sin’s dominion.  It is that we recognize our sin, acknowledge our own insufficiency to deliver ourselves and call out to that One Who alone is able to set the captive free and to loose the chains of bondage that bind us.  When Jesus stated His mission in Luke 4, He read from Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised. To preach the acceptable year of the Lord”; He followed this reading from Isaiah by saying, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” (v 21).  “God so loved the world (man) that He gave His only begotten Son,” not just to save men so they can continue in sin, but that they can be delivered from the bondage and slavery of sin.  This includes any sinner.  Salvation is all–inclusive, for God would that none should perish but that all would come to repentance (II Pet. 3:9).

        In conclusion, consider humbly God’s gracious words given through Zacharias in Luke 1:68–75: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, And hath raised up an 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 (sin), 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 sware to our father Abraham, That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.” (Emphasis mine)

*Article found at Revival School website:

http://www.revivalschool.com/pentecostals–accept–gays–it–begins–andrew–strom/

** Referring to these two versions of the Bible does not imply that “Testimony of Truth” endorses these versions.  We strongly recommend the KJV as being the most accurately translated.

        Below are just two testimonies of the power of Christ to save and change a homosexual’s life; there are many more.  Praise God!

DRPIPIM.ORG     A Biblical Look at Contemporary Issues

http://www.drpipim.org/homosexuality–contemporaryissues–47/68–testimony–from–an–ex–gay.html

Gay Escape

http://www.churchlink.com.au/churchlink/true_stories/gay.html

        Dennis Jernigan, who wrote a song entitled, “You Are My All In All” struggled daily with attraction of the same sex.  He found deliverance in Christ.  In the song mentioned above he wrote, “You are my strength when I am weak. You are the treasure that I seek.…Seeking you as a precious jewel, Lord, to give up I’d be a fool.”  Very obviously, Dennis Jernigan found deliverance in Christ to which he sings, he would be fool to return to his former life of sin.  There is hope for all sinners.  Below is his website, his story and an outreach for those bound by the sin of homosexuality.

http://www.dennisjernigan.com/needhelp/1257–no–one–is–born–gay

 

 

CHRIST MAKES HISTORIC CHANGES

Curtis Dickinson

        Christ’s introduction to the world was made by John the Baptist, the rugged wilderness character who lived on locusts and honey.  Bluntly and plainly he said that Jesus would change things; some would be baptized in the Holy Spirit and some in fire; the threshing floor was to be cleansed and the chaff burned up (Matt. 3:11,12).

        Repentance means a change of heart as well as a change in action.  It is natural for us to resist change, especially the radical changes Jesus advocated for His followers.  This may be the reason the world so readily receives the infant in the manger but strongly resists Him as the King on His throne.

        Jesus was no reformer.  He wasn’t merely trying to solve people’s problems or improve their lifestyles, nor was He trying to restore them to the glory of their forefathers.  The kind of change He preached meant a total break with the way the world was going, a complete turning around.  So great is the change Christ wrought that He divided history into B.C. and A.D.

The Priest

        Few people, if any, are ever prepared to have their religion changed. Even though the prophets had shown that with the coming of the Messiah there would be a new covenant with extremely different connotations, none were expecting the radical changes Jesus announced.  To the woman at the well of Sychar, He explained that Jerusalem would no longer be of any significance in worship.  This was a clear declaration that the religious system given by Moses was coming to an end.  No longer would the priest at Jerusalem be required.  Jesus became the High Priest, and all believers in Christ become priests (Heb. 7:12; I Peter 2:9).  “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holy place (the very presence of God) by the blood of Jesus, by the way which he dedicated for us, a new and living way, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having a great priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in fullness of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience; and having our body washed with pure water, let us hold fast the confession of our hope” (Heb. 10:19–23).

        This was a revolutionary change from all forms of religion.  With Jesus, man can relate to God without any human mediator, priest or pastor and without any human system at all.  There’s no longer any need for any of the “religions” of the world.  The way to God is through Jesus alone.  “No one comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6).  It’s easy to see why the world prefers to keep Jesus in the manger.

The Provider

        One of the most revolutionary doctrines of Jesus is that the government is neither man’s provider nor security.  We are to ask God, not the state, “Give us this day our daily bread.”  It is God who provides and sets the guidelines for our destinies. Is it any wonder, then, that the state so strongly pushes evolution in state parks and school systems and seeks to prohibit any mention or symbol of Jesus?  The state lawmakers try their best to keep Jesus out of the process.

        While the nation publicly proclaims, “In God we trust,” the idea prevails that if we can increase military strength, we are safe, and if we can elect the right people to office, we will prosper.  Jesus said that all power and authority belong to Him (Matt. 28:18); therefore, the key to having our needs met is to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness (Matt. 6:33).

        The One born in a stable is the One in authority!  Such authority dethrones and humbles man; it reveals him to be the dependent creature that he is, and this angers him.  Rather than humble himself before the King, he would rather crucify Him.  The issue is the same today as it was in the first century: the Lordship of Jesus.  Will we take Him seriously and live by His commands or will we honor Him only with our lips while giving full allegiance to Caesar?

The Divider

        From the beginning, man has tried to form unity by molding all men into one image and establishing the concept of equality.  If none are better or worse than others, then we must not discriminate against the filthy–minded, the homosexual, the producer of pornography, the blasphemer.  Equality under the law is a Christian concept; but, that all people are equal is denied by Jesus.  He saw some as children of God (Matt. 6:32) and labeled others as children of the devil (John 8:44).  He said that He came to bring a sword that would divide believers from unbelievers.  He urged us to discriminate, warning us to beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing and to “give not that which is holy unto the dogs” (Matt. 7:6).  “If you were of the world, the world would love its own: but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19).

        Jesus rubbed shoulders with sinners while revealing their sinful and hopeless condition.  He was manifestly different.  By this difference His disciples are to be salt and light in the world.  The church has all but obliterated this difference in its effort to sell itself to the world and to that extent has diminished the purpose of Jesus.  Tragically, churches in their exclusive sectarianism are quick to divide believer from believer over human opinion and tradition but slow to let the world know there is a division between evil and righteousness, temporal and eternal and between death and life.

        Christ desires unity, a unity among believers. The equality He wants is that we be transformed into His image.  In the last day He will divide the sheep from the goats, giving life to some and death to the others.  All will be changed, including the entire creation.

        These are only come of the drastic changes due to Christ.  They may seem like obstacles because they require too much.  The fact is that such changes lighten our load and set us free, free from the confining fashion of the world and its fatal destiny, free from sin, guilt and death.  What Christ promises is that if we break with the world and its claims, to submit fully to Him, He will not only make it possible for us to be all we should be in this world, but He will give us glorious life and immortality in the next.

        Christ changed religion; He changed man’s concept of himself and of God, and even man’s relationship with God.  He is now King on Heaven’s throne, and all the world is under His authority.  “Joy to the World; the Lord is come.”

 

 

MODERN INCONVENIENCES

Kenneth Fountain

        In today’s high–tech world of countless conveniences ranging from indoor plumbing to smart–phones, modern man encounters many nuisances, but few inconveniences of lasting consequence.  However, there are several things that are not suited to modern man’s interests or lifestyles.  Even among the Christian populace, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me” takes a less important place than one’s worldly achievements and possessions.  “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image (including heavenly bodies , animate or inanimate objects)…nor bow down, nor serve them.”  Yet, man idolizes (worships, adores, reveres) other men: the famous musician, athlete, ball team, actor, politician, or television preacher, for example.  “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.”  Many who attend church and consider themselves to be Christians have no qualms about the trend to exclaim, “Oh my God!” or some other irreverent expletive with Divine title.  “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.”  Since the Roman Catholic church officially adopted Sunday as the Sabbath to accommodate the masses of pagans forced into converting to “Christianity” who already worshiped on the “day of the sun,” the first of day of the week has become Christened “the Lord’s Day.”  The Biblical fact that Almighty God blessed, sanctified, set aside and made holy the seventh day in commemoration of His completing creation is unimportant, since a pope decided to appease the masses.  The command to “honour thy father and thy mother” has been reserved only for a few whose offspring consider their parents to still be of some beneficial (preferably monetary) value.  Those in Christian circles usually obey the “thou shalt not kill” order (in the physical sense), but many justify harboring ill–will or outright hatred toward other people, whether those are abrasive sinners, church–members, relatives, neighbors, co–workers or a boss.  Jesus explained that having a hateful heart toward another is disobedience as well (Matt. 5:22)!  The directive “thou shalt not commit adultery” has been deemed “old–fashioned,” and married couples who venture from their vowed fidelity are scarcely even frowned upon.  Jesus also defined this sin to include lust in the heart (of the husband or the wife) after another person.  In some churches, couples in the church are permitted to divorce and re–marry each other until they find the one with whom they can successfully live.  The command, “Thou shalt not steal” is often specifically guided to mean, “Thou shalt not neglect to tithe (steal from God).”  While the Christian may refrain from outright thievery, misuse of time, energy or company materials or funds is considered acceptable to many.  To “not bear false witness against thy neighbour” is colored to exclude telling the “truth” about another through damaging gossip, demeaning criticism or backbiting.  In Matthew 22:39, Jesus said that the second great commandment was to “love thy neighbour as thyself.”  Paul echoed this in Galatians 5:14, and followed with, “if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another” (verse 15).  Mankind has refined the art of disobedience when it comes to “Thou shalt not covet.”  Man was created with an inner void that only the presence of God could satisfy and fill, but throughout our history, man has pursued everything imaginable to quench this inner thirst.  Whenever some goal or object is acquired, others covet the “prize,” but the attainment soon loses its luster, then some new pursuit of interest is engaged.  Many spend their entire lives chasing ever–changing desires in a vain effort to appease the emptiness of their souls.  Actually, neither people, nor things compare to the all–encompassing joy and satisfaction of pleasing God and dwelling in His glorious presence.  These are but a sample from the core of the God–instituted guidelines that mankind has relegated to the sidelines as simply religious inconveniences.

        Satan has successfully managed to completely invert the blessed commands of God so that good is considered evil, and evil is deemed good.  Many today teach that the commands (laws) of God were done away with at the cross because (they claim) they bring bondage, are impossible to obey, and do not produce righteousness.  Because Paul contested physical circumcision and other Mosaic laws of the Levitical priesthood, these proponents of disobedience claim that Paul did away with all law.  However, this same writer stated, “the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good” (Rom 7:12), and “the law is spiritual” (7:14 ). He also said, “that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit” (Rom. 8:4).  Matthew 15:3–9, and Mark 7:9–13 both record Jesus’ criticism of the scribes and Pharisees who altered His fifth (of the Ten Commandments) by traditions they had embraced for convenience sake.  Jesus said, “in vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”  He had previously confronted them about the Sabbath day command because they had added restrictions upon the people relative to its holy observance (Matt. 12:1–8).  In Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount, He specifically addressed “Thou shalt not kill” and “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Matt. 5:21–32).  These had also been distorted and He wanted to rectify the accepted false views.  He plainly stated, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.  For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matt. 5:17,18).  The Greek word translated as fulfil does not mean do away with, but to fill up the defects (loopholes), to perfect.  We find that Jesus refined the definitions of kill and adultery by pinpointing the source of the disobedience: evil in the heart.  He exposed the man–made accepted loopholes and further restricted obedience to His law beyond pure physical action to include spiritual wickedness residing in the heart.  Man has always tried to weasel out of submitting to authority, and the most widely accepted method is to discount the relevancy of the commands of Christ.  This is a blatant affront to Him who said, “why call ye Me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Lk. 6:46)  “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me” (Jn. 14:15,21,23,24).

        Let all those who claim the name of Christ align themselves in submission to His will, His words, and His commands even as Christ humbled Himself in obedience to the Father of life.  “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21–28).  “Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only deceiving your own selves” (James 1:22–26).  As the prophet Isaiah warned, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil;…Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!…because they have cast away the law of the Lord of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.  Therefore is the anger of the Lord kindled against his people” (Isa. 5:20,21,24,25).  “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth and shall be turned unto fables” (II Tim. 4:3,4).

 

 

BODY DOMINATED LIFE – OR – SPIRIT CONTROLLED LIFE

Tom Scullin

     As born again believers we are connected to and moved upon by two extremely opposite and irreconcilable worlds.  Powerful forces from both worlds exert their claim to rule and govern our every thought and action.  We are born of the Spirit of God into a new creation that is in opposition to the old creation of our physical birth, truly a new creation that exists and operates by Spiritual life and law.  We are beings that are twice born, first of natural descent then from above by the spirit of God, thus we have two natures, the natural or human nature and that which is “spirit born of Spirit”.  Through the body we are connected to present physical life and reality.  Through our new spirit we are connected to Divine life and Spiritual reality.

        The question is: Which will it be, The body dominated life of the flesh or the New Covenant Spirit controlled life?  Herein lies the struggle we all face.

        The Scriptures teach that man is created as a three–part Being.  That is, he is more than just body, for this part of his Being is laid aside at death, while his soul or inner–man still lives on in the after life (Matt. 10:28).  Death occurs when the spirit of man leaves his body.  In Jas. 2:26 we see the three parts of his Being identified and named: That is, BODY, SOUL AND SPIRIT.

        God created man’s body out of the dust of the earth, thus his body is made from material substance.  After He had formed the body of clay, He then breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”  Some carnally minded say this is only referring to air or oxygen as the breath of life, but that is only a half–truth, for when we take the whole council of the Scripture it shows that man cannot live without pneuma from the natural world or that which is from the Spirit (Pneuma) of God.  “Pneuma” is the Greek word for “a current of air; breath; spirit; Holy Spirit” (Strong).  Thus, Jn. 4:23: “God is a Spirit.”  Num. 16:22: “the God of the spirits of all flesh.  Ezek. 36:26–27: “A new heart will I give you and a new spirit will I put within you – and I will put my Spirit within you.”  Isa. 57:15: “I dwell…with him that is of a contrite and humble spirit.”  Isa. 26:9: “with my spirit within me will I seek thee early.”  Rom. 8:16: “The Spirit beareth witness with our spirit.”  Rom. 1:9: “God…whom I serve with my spirit.”  1 Cor. 2:11: “What man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?”  These and other Scriptures establish that God is “pneuma” and that when He breathed spirit or pneuma into man then man became a living rational soul, thus making him in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:26–27), showing that the pneuma He breathed into man is much more than air or oxygen.  Whereas the body of man is made of material substance, his soul and spirit are not, which is a difficult concept for us to grasp.  God made the body out of the elements of the earth, thus the body’s kinship and affinity for this present world.  The soul and the spirit are immaterial and incorporeal, breathed into this body of clay; not made like this body but made in God’s own likeness and image.  God’s creative work in the physical part of man was that He formed him from the dust of the earth; but in the part that was like Himself, He infused into the body of clay His own likeness of soul and spirit, with power of free will or choice, thus completing the creation of man, a free moral agent or Being.

        We all know that man, destined to be the highest of all of God’s created Beings because of his likeness and image of God, nevertheless fell into ruin through self–will, thus subverting what God would have done for man in Paradise and necessitating his expulsion into this realm where self–will instead of God’s will permeates and prevails, thus changing the dynamics of his existence and God’s dealing with him.  He lost Spiritual communion and fellowship with God and became an enemy and rebel against God, using his God given endowments for self–will instead of for God’s will, whose will he was created to live and grow in.  Cut off from Spiritual life and the perfect will of God, his carnal or fleshly life gained the ascendancy and control of his Being and became that for which he labored and lived.  Body dominated life, became the life and reality of this realm, and the cause of his further plunge into rebellion and estrangement from God.  The demands of body life now ruling over fallen man exerts tremendous influence and pressure on the person to fulfill its lusts and shows the dominion that the temporal, the earthly and the natural have over him in this state.  In this state of rebellion, dead to Spiritual life, the Scriptures always show fallen man to be BODY, SOUL AND SPIRIT, because the body is always first and holds top rank in all its actions.  So, BODY, SOUL AND SPIRIT is the order or condition of fallen man, the man of the flesh; and because THE BODY is first and holds top rank in this order, the self–centered attainment of THE BODY’S own self–interests and self–desires, even at the expense of others, is the law of it’s being.  SELF and selfishness is the driving and energizing force of body life.  SELF is the god that is served, worshipped, and followed.  Thus, the state of the natural born man is “flesh born of flesh” (Jn. 3:6).  Jesus states that “the flesh profiteth nothing” (Jn. 6:63).  Paul goes on to say “in my flesh dwelleth no good thing” and that “with my flesh (I serve) the law of sin” (Rom. 7:18, 25), and in Rom. 8:8 Paul states: “They that are in the flesh cannot please God.”  Col. 2:11 calls it, “The body of the sins of the flesh.”  “He that soweth to his flesh shall reap corruption.” (Gal. 6:8)  THE BODY represents the natural man’s wholehearted oneness and connection with this present world and its supreme purpose to seek with a single minded and selfish commitment to fulfill all of his desires and appetites through “the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eye and the pride of life.”  Paul summaries this in Rom. 7:23.  He said: “I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”

        “THE LAW OF SIN AND DEATH, then, is the law of BODY dominated life in the flesh.  The natural man of the flesh has an innate affinity, love and relish of this present evil world arraignment; he is completely attuned to this present evil world and its way of life and way of doing things, for this present evil kosmos arraignment has been cleverly and masterfully prepared by it’s god to indulge and satiate the desires of the flesh and of the mind of THE BODY dominated.

        The body dominated life keeps the individual bound by the demands of the desires of the flesh.  He is captive to his own body.  The body which was given to man as his vehicle to express the glory of his Creator has instead become the master of his life; its desires, lusts, appetites and emotions have become his life pursuit and goal and, thus, with the body he serves the law of sin.

     The five senses of taste, touch, sight, hearing and smell are connected to the brain by the nervous system that runs throughout the body and are continually receiving stimuli from the physical, material world around it and sending this information into the brain which then determines the appropriate response to the stimuli.  Many of the responses of the brain are instant and automatic, requiring no deliberation or further investigation, while many require a judgment call as to their moral, ethical and spiritual consequences.  The brain is the C.P.U. of God’s masterfully designed computer system that controls so much of physical life, and it seems that there is no off switch built into this computer that is always assessing, evaluating, judging, and responding to this continual input of outward stimuli.  This whole system is what makes life in this physical body possible, for it constitutes the body’s connection to and ability to know and respond to the material, physical world.  Thus, the whole sensory system and the brain are functions of the physical body and is the mind of the outer man of the flesh.

     The problems arise in the responses to the stimuli that require a moral or higher response than that which the physical desires dictate.  Because the natural, physical man, made of material substance, is so tuned–in and in–touch with the physical, material realities of this present world, he chooses that which brings him pleasure and satisfaction on that level, with little and often no regard to the moral and higher consequences of his choices and actions; thus he follows and yields to the physical outer man’s dictates, while he abuses and violates his inner man of conscience.  In this condition he is dominated by the tremendous influences that are exerted upon his physical self, his body, by the physical, material world.

     In this state of body, soul, spirit, dominated by the physical, material condition of himself and the world around him, the person only uses the physical organ of the brain to know self, to explain the external realities of life and to know his place and purpose in the world in which he finds himself.  Limiting himself to these parameters of mind, he falls victim to what the Scriptures describe as “ever learning and never coming to the knowledge of truth.”  The very first thing to understand is that the brain, the mind of the outer man, is neither the first nor the final arbiter of Spiritual life, Spiritual truth or Spiritual reality.  The mind of the outer man is just that, limited to the outer life, the physical life and is totally unqualified and incapable of discovering or discerning Spiritual life and truth.

     The mind of the brain and sensory system will cease when the physical man dies, but the real you or Being will still have mind with which to know, think and function without these physical organs of cognition.  This shows that the brain of the outer man and the mind of the inner man are two different levels of knowing and understanding.  The Scripture differentiates between these two means of thinking and acting, ascribing the outer man’s problem to the selfish gratification of physical stimuli and the acquiescence of his cognitive powers to his lower self.

     Paul makes this clear in the following Scriptures: Rom.8:5–7 & Eph.4:17–19.

    Jesus is the final authority on all matters, and He states that the fulfilling or gratifying of the outer man’s needs and desires is that which the nations of the world pursue and seek after as the end and reason for life.  He instructs His disciples on the error of this way and of God’s absolutely opposite way to live (Lk. 12:29–32).  He goes on to state in Luke 12:34, “ For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”  Since the nations of the world seek after their physical and material needs and desires above all else, then their treasure is in satisfying and gratifying the physical, material part of their being; that is, their natural man of the flesh.  The important point that Jesus makes about this condition is; wherever our treasure is, there our heart is also.  He is saying that when the outer man of the flesh makes the satisfying of the stimuli of the senses, that for which he lives and seeks after, the purpose and end of existence, that the heart, the soul of man, the command center of his being, will, instead of using its will and mind to stand against the outer man’s pursuit of his desires, join forces and follow the flesh instead of directing and leading the flesh.  Because the treasures are in satisfying the physical stimuli, the heart then becomes complicit in the evil.

     While THE SOUL of man is the command center and heart of his being, for it is here that the will, the mind and the emotions are located and function, nevertheless, in the body, soul, spirit condition of the natural man, THE SOUL, the heart of being, the seat of authority, the center of decision making, has abdicated its power to command and instead comes under the control and influence of the outer man of the flesh and its desires and lusts and, thus, is in subjection to its demands, dictates and dominion so that the very personality and every expression of being is totally directed toward the material and physical realities of the here and now

        When body and soul are joined in such an unholy alliance and tyranny, the SPIRIT of man is trampled down, squashed, seared, silenced and sacrificed on the alter of self–gratification.  In this state, the SPIRIT of man is no longer the vanguard of Divine life, health and strength, and instead is violated and disallowed by the dominion of the body; the SPIRIT becomes weak, shriveled, shrunken and unable to fight off the malignant diseases of physical and spiritual origin that constantly attack both body and soul.

“SPIRIT, SOUL, AND BODY”  (I Thess. 5:23)

     This is the divine order for man, instituted by God at creation, which man lost through sin, reversing the order to that of body, soul and spirit.  At the time of regeneration, God supernaturally brings the individual back into the divine order of “spirit, soul, and body” with the addition of His own Spirit within, thus making “the new man in Christ Jesus,” “the new creation,” “His workmanship created in Christ Jesus””

        The Scripture is clear on what happens to man at the time of the New Birth: Ezek. 36:26–27 & 11:9)

        This supernatural work of God brings man back into the state where God and man can again communicate and fellowship.  The spirit of man is now in the lead position in his being as it must be, for just as the body is the agency for life and connection in and to the natural world, the spirit of man is the agent for life and connection to God and the divine realities of the Spirit world and, because the spirit of man now holds first position or rank in his being, he is able to worship and fellowship with God who is a SPIRIT and who can only be communed spirit to SPIRIT.  It is absolutely essential to have SPIRIT – TO – spirit  RELATIONSHIP, FOR IT IS THE ONLY WAY FOR WORSHIP AND COMMUNICATION WITH GOD.  See the following Scriptures: John 4:23–24; 1 Cor. 2:9–16; Rom. 8:16; Prov. 20:27; Isa.  26:9; Rom. 7:25; Rom. 12:2,11; Eph. 1:17–18; Eph. 3:16; Rom. 1:9; I Pet. 3:4; Ps. 34:18; Ps. 51:17; Isa. 57:15; Isa. 66:2; Dan. 7:15.

        When man’s spirit is supernaturally restored to the foremost position in his being at his new birth, his soul or heart is also made new and released from its dominion under the tyranny of the flesh and is made responsive and open to his spirit’s input of spiritual truth and life, which it receives from the Holy Spirit, who has come within to lead and guide from within the “new man” in the ways of spiritual truth and life.

        Under the old creation, the body and its mind of the flesh was the cause and effect of spiritual death; so, in the “new creation”, the “new spirit” and the “new heart” are the means of keeping and sustaining this “newness of life” given by God, for it is from here that the life and power of God will flow.  We need to understand that all of God’s communication and spiritual life only come to this “new man” through this new order that God has created within him.  There is much confusion and error about this matter today, as the hyper–activity of the flesh is called the spirit, when in fact it is the reverting back to the old creation’s dominion to the stimuli of the senses of the natural man.

        In the “new creation” the Holy Spirit does not speak directly to the mind of the natural man, that is, to his brain and its sensory system.  The only organ or agency for spiritual communication and spiritual knowledge within man is the “new spirit” he received at his new birth.  The Holy Spirit speaks or moves directly in this part of man alone.  All of God’s work and activity within man is directed and channeled from the Holy Spirit to this “new spirit,” and then from here to the “new heart” or soul for processing into the consciousness of the brain.  Even the sensory system is now under the control of this “new creation” order.  For instance, when the word of God is preached, the organ of hearing or the natural sense of hearing is what the listeners are using to pick up the sounds of speech, but not everyone is hearing what the Spirit is saying through the words they are hearing.  There will be many different responses: some will not understand any part of the idea being expressed even though they hear the message, others will come away with a mental concept that their brain has deduced from the words it heard, and a few will have a quickening in their spirit by the Holy Spirit to what was said, and they are the only ones that received life from the hearing.  Jesus often prefaced His teaching by saying “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear,” because He wanted more than the sensory response from them.

        So in the “new creation” order, the Holy Spirit brings spiritual life and knowledge to the “new spirit,” which imparts this to the “new heart,” which in turn touches the outer man’s brain and sensory system so that the whole man of “spirit, soul and body” are engaged in what is the mind and will of God.

        It is God’s purpose and will for the “new man” with the “new heart” and “new spirit” to grow and become strong in this “new creation” to insure that all he does is of the Spirit of God instead of from the old creation.  We see that this was one of the key components in the preparation of Jesus for a life and ministry that was totally directed by the Father.  We know we are to follow His example, and just as He would never have been able to do all He was called and sent to do, except for the development and finishing of this aspect of His life, neither will we be able to fulfill what God has called us to be and to do except we grow and bring to maturity this most crucial and indispensable part of our life and being.  See the following Scriptures: Luke 2:40; John 4:24; Rom. 2:2; 2 Cor. 3:6; Rom. 8:6,16; Eph. 3:16.  IF WE FAIL IN THIS, WE HAVE FAILED IN ALL, NO MATTER HOW DILIGENTLY AND FAITHFULLY WE MAY PERFORM ALL OTHER RELIGIOUS WORKS!!

          This Divine order of the spirit of man in the prominent or lead position in man’s being is absolutely essential in order to maintain and grow in spiritual realities and kingdom life, for it is the only way God is able to direct and lead us into the Divine state of being.  BECAUSE HE IS A SPIRIT, He can only be known and served by those who function in their spiritual creation of “spirit, soul and body”.

     In order for the transformation into the Divine order of “spirit, soul and body” to take place, the old body dominion order of body, soul and spirit had to be “destroyed” supernaturally by God, for we all were held in bondage under its law of sin and death.  The dissolving and end of the union with our first husband of the flesh and the dominion of his law of sin and death over us was and is accomplished by the body of Christ, that is, by His death for us.  By His death for us, the death of first husband of the flesh is accomplished, and thus we are freed from his law of sin and death so that we may now be married unto Christ and live in and by “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” and “bring forth fruit unto God.”  This is the message of Rom. 7:1–6 and Rom. 8:1–4.  The tragedy of our day is that there is so little of “the discerning of the Lord’s body” and His triumphant victory over all enemies and their works, with the consequent result, that we do not believe God’s report concerning His Son and what He has wrought for us; therefore, the arm of the Lord cannot be revealed to us because of our unbelief.

     The whole chapter of Rom. 7:1–25 is dealing with this very issue.

     Vs. 1–6 show the full, complete and finished victory that Christ won for us.

     Vs. 7–23 show the condition of the individual who does not believe and receive the fullness of that work, but who nevertheless tries to live and manifest its results by his own strength and efforts.

     Vs. 24 gives a spiritual picture of him at the end of his strength crying out for help.

     Vs. 25 is his return to the answer that was given to him in vs. 1–6, “thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

     In Rom. 7:1–6, Paul uses an allegory to give a clear and precise picture or description of the work that Christ, Himself alone, has done that is of the Spirit and that Supernaturally transforms the body, soul, spirit individual into the “new creation” of “spirit, soul, and body.”

     Vs. 1–3: The allegory is how a wife is bound by the law to her husband and as long as he is alive she is bound by the law to him and cannot be married to another, but once the husband dies, she is freed from him and the law that bound her to him so that now she is free to be married to another.

      Vs. 4–6: Here he explains that he used this allegory in order to make a Divine truth unmistakably plain – “wherefore, my brethern, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ”(vs. 4).  Which law?  The one “wherein we were held” (vs. 6)! that brought “forth fruit unto death” – “when we were in the flesh” (vs. 5), for “with the flesh (we serve) the law of sin” (vs. 25).  This is “the law of sin and death” from which Christ has set us free (Rom. 8:2).

     Paul is showing that it is Christ’s work that is the power that sets us free from the dominion of the first husband (the flesh), whose law of sin and death we were under, so that having been set free from this old man and his dominion we could now legally and honorably enter into a new relationship of marriage with Christ.  Had not Christ’s death crucified or put to death our first husband of the flesh, thus ending our bondage under the law of sin and death, He could not have entered into this new marriage with us, as it would have constituted an adulterous and unclean relationship (Rom. 7:3).

     Rom. 7:1–6 then reveals our inheritance as the new creation of “spirit, soul and body”, “heirs of God and joint–heirs with Christ,” set free from the old creation of the flesh or body dominated life, for “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”  So completely and thoroughly has Christ set us free from the old creation that it is declared “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things have passed away, behold all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17)!  This new man is God’s “workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, unto good works” (Eph. 2:10), “created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:2), “made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).

        This that Paul is revealing in vs.1–6 is not attained by the work and determination of the outer man.  This is a totally spiritual and supernatural work of Christ that can only be entered into and experienced in walk and life by “the new creature in Christ Jesus” as he walks in the Spirit and according to the laws of the Spirit.  This life of freedom and victory over the body, soul, spirit life of the old creation of the flesh is God’s provision and expectation for all the redeemed, not just for the giants of faith.  Indeed Jesus said that all who abide in Him would bring forth much fruit.  This life is by, in, of, through, with and all the other prepositions and other phrases that connect us to Christ.  The tragic flaw that causes sincere Christians who desire the victorious and overcoming life to fail in the full life therein is that they do not “fall upon this stone” and be broken.  They do not see or believe that the work is already done in Christ, so they set out in their good intentions to accomplish in their lives that which they feel Christ has not done; thus, failure is multiplied upon failure until they either cry out “who shall deliver me from the body of this death” and find in Christ the promised deliverer “That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life” (Luke 1:71–75), or else they become hardened, satisfied Pharisees.  Christ is God’s full and only provision for the overflowing life of triumph over the flesh, the world and the devil.

        Sadly, there are many, many who do not expect to find this life only in Christ, but in their own zealous efforts and desires for it.  They, like the Pharisees of old, are silenced and condemned by He who said “ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life” (Jn. 5:38–40)!

     In Rom. 7:7–23, Paul goes into great detail to show the condition of those in vs.1–6, who Christ had delivered, but who failed to believe that their deliverance was that full and complete, yet because they desire that deliverance, set out to attain it by their own best efforts.  He gives a very graphic and vivid description of how frustrating, futile, and destined to failure our best intentions and efforts are when we do not believe who we are and what we are because of Christ’s great redemptive work but, instead, try to become that and do that which Christ has already done.  From vs.7–23 he uses the personal pronouns I, ME, or MY some forty times in describing his efforts to be the victorious new man of the spirit, yet not once does he ask the Spirit’s help or acknowledge the work of Christ or accept God’s provision for that victory, thus showing the power in which he was trusting and the reason for his failure.  This was the same man who in vs.1–6 had been delivered by the supernatural work of Christ, yet not believing it is finished in Christ, sets out to finish or complete his deliverance in his own strength of I, ME, & MY.  Surely Paul’s rebuke of the Galatians equally applies to this man.  “Having begun in the Spirit are ye now made perfect in the flesh”?  Thank God the chapter does not stop at verse 23 and leave us without hope, but goes on through verses 24–25 to give us the glorious “hope of His calling” and provision “in Christ Jesus.

     Vs.24 is the spiritual depiction of this new creature in vs.1–6 who had been set free by Christ’s finished work, but who has not fully believed Christ’s work in his behalf, but has tried to become and to do for himself what Christ alone is capable of doing and has already done for him.  Vs.7–23 are his best efforts to be and do, but it is only failure added to failure, added to failure; finally, he cries out in desperation “who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”  Paul is drawing upon the well known practice of the Romans to take the body of a murdered victim and lash it face to face, chest to chest, loin to loin to the body of the murderer so that every movement, every action, every thought of the perpetrator is dominated by this dead body tied to him.  Here is the picture as it relates to the new creature in Christ Jesus who, while not fully believing Christ’s work in his behalf, nevertheless attempts to walk and live as the victorious man of the spirit in his own strength.

     Christ has dealt this “old man” of the flesh the death blow on the cross, “destroying” the body dominated life of body, soul, spirit, freeing us from the bondage of it’s “law of sin and death” and transforming us supernaturally into “spirit, soul and body” of “the new creation,” giving our spirits ascendancy and liberty through “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:2), so that we can indeed “worship our God in spirit and in truth” (Jn. 4:23)“acceptably with reverence and Godly fear” (Heb. 12:28) “as more than conquerors” (Rom. 8:37) through God “which always causeth us to triumph in Christ” (2 Cor. 2:14).

     When we fail to believe, receive and act in the fullness of Christ’s victory over our first husband of the flesh, but instead we try to be and do what we think He has not done, instead of the victory and liberty from and over this old man that Christ accomplished, that old stinking dead body destroyed by Christ is, instead, now tied to and affects everything we do because we have not accepted Christ’s work in this matter but, instead, believed that the old life of the flesh is not destroyed as Christ said it was; thus, our unbelief gives that dead stinking body He destroyed, the authority to be tied to everything we are and do (vs. 15–21), and because Christ did not finish the work, we must!  Somehow it is up to us to finish the work and complete our deliverance so that we can then be spiritual.

     In Vs. 25 the answer that is given to his cry for deliverance from this dead stinking body and the history of failure tied to it, is that he must return to that deliverance which he had been given to begin with, in vs.1–6, “through, Jesus Christ our Lord” and the full and complete work of deliverance that he accomplished for us on the cross.

     This man’s experience proves that we can only be partakers of and enjoy the victories of what we believe, receive and act upon of Christ’s finished work.  Only what we believe and receive of Christ and His completed work in our behalf will be the degree of our deliverance, victory and triumph.  If I do not believe that divine healing is part of what he accomplished for me, then I will not be made partaker of divine healing; at the same time, those who do believe, can and do partake of it, while my unbelief has shut me out from my God given right to this work that Christ has accomplished for all His people.

     Just as healing, the inheritance and right for every child of God, is dependent upon each one believing and coming to Jesus to receive it for himself, so also is everything else that the Father has provided for us in the giving of His own beloved Son, and just as healing is a Divine, supernatural work of the Spirit of God, that each receives by faith in Jesus Christ, so also is every other Divine gift and supernatural work of Christ given and received.  Only “those who receive the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness” (Rom. 5:17) reign in life by Jesus Christ.

     Those who do not receive the gracious works accomplished by Jesus for them flounder and fail because their unbelief ties them to their own dead insufficiency and ineffectiveness instead of to their inheritance and right of victory in Jesus.

     The concluding verse 25 of Rom. 7 gives the triumphant and glorious deliverance that is the birth–right and inheritance of all those born of the Spirit into the “new creation” of “spirit, soul and body,” “THANK GOD, THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD” the work is done, and because it is a supernatural work it will have supernatural results, because now the “new creature” with the renewedmind serves the law of God” faithfully and victoriously because “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death” as Rom. 8:1–4 declares.

     In the new creation of “spirit, soul and body” the individual has full right to claim, live, and walk in all of the attributes of divine life that are recorded in the word of Christ’s work in our behalf.  The Father has translated us out of the failure of the body dominated life into the glorious victory of the kingdom of His dear Son where we have been delivered from all of our enemies so that we can serve God in holiness and righteousness all the days of our life (Lk. 1:74–75).

     In choosing those who “are not” to be made into His Divine likeness God had to provide the suitable means and power to bring about such a transformation, because the creatures He chooses are the exact opposite of Himself, unable to bring about such a change.  A Divine end requires Divine means and that is exactly what God provided in Jesus Christ.

     “I AM THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE and no man cometh to the FATHER, but by ME”

     “I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE, he that cometh to Me shall never hunger and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst”

     “THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS HATH MADE ME FREE FROM THE LAW OF SIN AND OF DEATH”

        One reason this way of victory in Jesus seems unreasonable and is the exception instead of the rule in today’s Christian is that “the Gospel of Christ” which “is the power of God unto deliverance” is not presented to them “in the demonstration of the Spirit and of Power” to deliver and set them free.  It is not preached that way, so it is not experienced that way.

        Another reason is that this life of liberty and freedom in Christ is governed by spiritual law that requires people to hear and believe what the Spirit and the word are saying in order to experience and enjoy the life of spiritual victory and triumph Christ won for them, for it is only spiritually discerned.

        Still another reason is that this life of victory in Christ is only attained by faith and trust in Christ as we believe, receive and act upon what He has accomplished and given to us as our inheritance and right in this life.

     Although God has made the way so simple that “the wayfaring men though fools, shall not err therein,” yet men stumble at His way because it is not according to their way or tradition, so they reject God’s way because they are not comfortable with changing their tradition, even though their way is not working.

     Probably the main reason God’s way of triumph and victory in Christ Jesus is the exception instead of the rule is that we must forsake all that is of man and embrace all that is of God in order to experience the life that is of the Spirit.  God has lifted us up into a spiritual state at the time of the new birth and called us to now walk in the Spirit and live by Spiritual law.  The scripture plainly tells us that the flesh and the Spirit are at total odds, completely contrary to one another.

        Gal. 5:17: “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would” (RSV).  We cannot serve both masters; it must and will be either the flesh or the Spirit, for any attempt to commingle the two results in the failure that Rom. 7:7–23 described so graphically.

      Matt. 25:1–13 makes it crystal clear that the foolish virgins who had no supply of oil to keep their failing lamps burning were totally unprepared for the new move of God.  Even though their lamps were failing they had been recognized as virgins.  They had been born of the Spirit (this is what made them virgins), to have a walk in the Spirit, to live by Spiritual law, but somewhere this process broke down or got thwarted and they became religious instead of Spiritual.  “Having begun in the Spirit” they now seek to be “made perfect by the flesh.”  There are many ways this can happen; this study has explored how well–intended Christians seek to be made perfect by the flesh because they do not see or do not believe and receive as their inheritance and right all that Christ has done for them, and because they see an unfinished work, try their utmost to finish the work in their lives for the Lord, and in so doing only add failure to failure until they either do what the man of Rom. 7:24 did and cry out for deliverance from this failure or else “the light that is in thee” becomes darkness and “how great is that darkness” which is hardened through the religious activity of unbelief.

     The out–working of this Divine order of “the new creation” of “spirit, soul and body” under the control and authority of the Holy Spirit accomplishing its Divine and Spiritual work in and through us, is the oil of preparation that the five wise virgins had in their vessels that gave them entrance into the new work of God behind the closed door, because from here on it is totally a work that is of the Spirit of the Lord and, because they had the schooling and training of walking, living, and conquering in and by the Spirit in the day of the footman, they are fitted to move on into the day of the horsemen of great and total Spirit activity.  The five foolish virgins’ lack of development in THE NEW CREATION closed the door to them from going on into the day where God demonstrates His glory and power through those who are “beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God.”  They have not been so “beheaded”, that is, they know not what it means that “the old man is crucified with Christ” so that “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” and thus are unfitted, unprepared for the day of “the swelling of Jordan” and the great move of the Spirit of God in these last days.

 

 

PASSOVER 2013

 

        People of the Living God will be observing Passover this year on April 24th at sundown.  Passover Sabbath will be on the 25th, and we will observe the following week as the Passover week, ending with a Sabbath on May 1st.

        We calculate this by determining when the first new moon occurs after the vernal equinox and then by counting fourteen days from the first new moon.  The vernal equinox falls this year on March 20th and the first new moon after the vernal equinox is April 10th.  Counting from April 10th forward fourteen days brings us to April 24th.  The Passover is to begin on the fourteenth day at even, which is the beginning of the fifteenth day and is to be observed for seven days.  The Passover Sabbath then will be on the fifteenth day, which is April 25th.

        There are many Christians who start the fourteen day count from the new moon closest to the vernal equinox instead of the one afterward.  We find some problems with this position because they use the barley harvest as reason for establishing the beginning of the year.  God set the sun, moon and stars to determine our years, months and days and not the time of the barley harvest (Gen. 1:14: And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:).  God set the time for the beginning of the year, so we wait for the vernal equinox first and then go to the first new moon to find the beginning of the year.  To attempt to adjust the year’s beginning to a harvest, which is entirely unpredictable, is erroneous.  We must wait for the old year to end before we begin a new one.  When we see the vernal equinox, we know the old year has ended.

        Observing the Passover too early also creates problems for the Feast of Pentecost, for this was the time for offering first fruits.  The first fruits need time to ripen, making time a very important factor in regard to the Feast of Pentecost.  More time is better to be sure certain crops have ripened.  These are just a couple of reason why People of the Living God take the first new moon after the vernal equinox to determine the time for Passover.  We hope this helps those who question or wonder about our position in this matter.

                                                       

                                                        Editor