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Not under the law

Query for the Month

of March 2002

 

Next up-date: April 1st 2002 (God willing).

Previous "Queries" are available. Click here to access.

 

Some perpetual questions ....

Is there really an immortal soul?

What does it mean to "be led by the Spirit"?

Do you know the difference between the "love" that is of Christianity
and the "love" that is of the world?
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Query:

Galatians 5:

16 This I say then, “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfil the lust [desire] of the flesh.” 17 For the flesh lusts [fights] against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other [are on opposite sides of the fence]: so that you cannot do the things that you would [if you are led by the flesh].

18 But if you be led of the Spirit, you are not under the law. 

Just what do these words mean to the Christian?


 Answer:

Probably the best reply to this query can be found in the words of Paul to the Roman Christians where he expanded the thought.

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. 2 For the law [or principle] of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh [gave us an example of Christian humanity]: 4 that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 

5 For they that are after the flesh do mind [think on] the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit [think on] the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally [earthly] minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace, 7 because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 

8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.

The word “flesh” here refers to the physical body and its desires,

In this body there resides "selfishness", the "bad" thing of Romans 7:18, as well as "earthliness", because they are part of the common nature which all humans share from birth (both sinner and Christian).

This "selfishness" ceases to control and lead us into sin when we become Christians because it is removed and replaced by the Spirit of life in Christ.  But "earthliness" remains.

Romans 6:

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 you 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.

If we are ordinary humans yet profess to be Christians (sometimes called "carnal Christians", 1 Corinthians 3:1), we do not have any choice in the matter of sinning because we are not reborn as spiritual (Christian) humans. By this we may judge ourselves.

Christian humans become a separate species by the miracle of rebirth and then become "ambassadors" or visitors from a strange country to ordinary humans. 2 Corinthians 5:20.

But, when the "old man" is removed, the "compulsion to sin" disconnected, the "slavery" gone, there often remain some "habits" of the old condition in our body.  Then it is that we need to "believe".  We need to  believe on the word of God that there is no controlling power left in us and step out in faith to walk in our freedom from sin.

Romans 6:

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.

So the first thing required is that we be “in Christ Jesus”, and, by implication “He in us.”  Colossians 1:27. Then we CAN “walk after the Spirit” or more simply, “Follow His lead.”

If we do that then we find that we are FREE from the law!  Which law?  The “law of sin and death.”  NOT the Ten Commandments as some think.  This simply means that we do not HAVE to give in to the temptation anymore to do our own thing.  We can wait patiently for God's leading.  Revelation 14:12.

This release from “sin and death [its wages]” comes with the indwelling of Christ through His Spirit.  Jesus does not come into us personally at conversion because He is encumbered with Christian humanity Himself.  What He does is send the Spirit who is omnipresent (everywhere at once) to be with us when we are reborn.  The Spirit then lives in us and tries to guide us in every matter of daily life. 

Ezekiel 36:

26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes [My laws], and you shall keep My judgments [My daily advices], and do them. 

So then, in our new state we have the choice.  We can listen to His leading, or we can ignore it! 

Romans 6:

11 Likewise reckon you also yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. 12 Let not sin therefore reign [control] in your mortal body, that you should obey it in the lusts thereof.

13 Neither yield you [choose to allow] your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin: but yield yourselves to God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under the law [of sin and death], but under grace.

15 What then?  Shall we sin, because we are not under the law [or principle of sin and death], but under grace? God forbid. 16 Know you not, that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey; whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness? 

17 But God be thanked, that you were [once] the servants of sin, but you have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 18 Being then made free from sin, you became [and are now] the servants of righteousness.

19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh [so you can understand what I mean]: for as you have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity [in the past]; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness to holiness. 20 For when you were the servants of sin, you were free from righteousness [unable to do it]

As Christians we can follow our own desires (the flesh) or His (the Spirit’s). Jesus came "in the likeness of sinful flesh" to show us how to live a Christian life, and we should follow in His footsteps.  1 Peter 2:21.  

Romans 8:

5 For they that are after the flesh do mind [think by] the things of the flesh [the ways of earth]; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit [the alternative way]. 6 For to be carnally minded [fleshy] is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace, 7 because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be [which law?]

Note the “buts” in these texts. 

There is always a contrast, a tension, between our bodily desires (earthliness) and Spirit, because it is always a case of one or the other.  If we follow the Spirit then our minds will be on heavenly things and not carnal (worldly) ones.  We will think thoughts of peace and goodwill and these will, in a great measure, lead us away from sin and its wages, which is death.  Romans 6:23.  However, if we do own thing this will always lead to sin, and, by extension, death.

8 So then they that are in the flesh [following their own ideas] cannot please God. 9 But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be [on condition that] that the Spirit of God dwell in you.

The proof of the indwelling of the Spirit is the thoughts we think and perform. 

Matthew 5:

27  [Jesus said] You have heard that it was said by them of old time, “You shall not commit adultery”: 28 but I say to you, That whosoever looks on a woman to lust after her [in his mind] has committed adultery with her already in his heart. 

We are not “in the flesh” or “thinking our own thoughts” when we are “in the Spirit”, for we can only be in one or the other at any one time. 

Philippians  2:

4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus… 

THIS is Christianity!

It is a case of "let", not "try"! 

Jacob stealing the birthright from his brother Esau is a good example. Genesis 27.  He thought that by doing things his way, he was helping God, when in fact, he was hindering Him.  And not only that, but he ended up in a twenty year exile, cut off from his family and friends, because of it.  Not until he surrendered completely into the arms of his Saviour did things come right. Genesis 32.

Let's finish with this thought:

John 16:

7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. 8 And when He is come, He will reprove the world [and you] of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

 9 Of sin, because they believe not on Me; 

10 Of righteousness, because I go to My Father, and you see Me no more; 

11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. 

12 I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come. 14 He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it to you. 

 

Conclusion:

Opposing principles:

In the Christian there is often a battle between earthly desires and ways, and heavenly ones.  If we follow the leadings of the Spirit and refrain from our own ideas then we will have a better life because our way of doing things leads always to the law of sin and death.  In Christianity we are free from the compulsion of the law of sin and death.


Who wants to add (or subtract!) from these thoughts? I won't argue as I have stated, but I will publish your Scriptures so that we may review all the words of God on the subject.
Next thought. To be discussed from April 1st 2002.

Genesis 4:

3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering to the LORD. 4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:5 but unto Cain and to his offering He had not respect.

Genesis 3:

21 to Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.

Why did animals have to be used as sacrifices of the Old Testament?  Why were Adam and Eve covered by the skins of the first sacrifices?


Anyone interested?


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