Posts Tagged ‘flesh and Spirit’

There are some things that just don’t mix for example law and grace. The truth is when we do try to mix them we actually end up under law rather than grace. It seems most people have this idea that we are saved by grace but then we must live by the law. I mean after all its God’s law isn’t it? Doesn’t he expect us to keep it? Well it is God’s law but he gave us the law in order to reveal sin and lead us to Christ not for us to keep it. After all if we could keep it we wouldn’t have any need of Jesus and his great sacrifice would we?

Grace is what we receive when we finally come to the end of our delusional thinking. When we finally get to the point where we can’t even try to keep the law anymore then we will finally be open to hear the message of grace. The great news about grace is in the New Covenant we aren’t only saved by grace we are also kept by grace. You see the same God who saves us is the same one that keeps us until the day of redemption. As a matter of fact if we start looking to ourselves to be our own keeper we will automatically find ourselves under law again and it will do what it was designed to do which is point out sin and lead us to Christ where we can once again enjoy the provision of God’s grace.

Another thing that never mixes is the flesh and Spirit. Either we are living in the flesh or the Spirit there really is no in between. We read in Romans 8:9 “You are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” Trying to live in both will always end in the flesh; there really is no in between.

I once heard the flesh defined this way “The flesh, or the false self, is simply the body and the soul operating apart from the Holy Spirit.” Living in the flesh is the realm of self-effort and law keeping. If we are living there we cannot please God. He isn’t looking for us to give him our best he’s looking for us to let his Spirit live and work through us. In fact in Romans 8:3-4 we read “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

Did you catch that? For those of us that have received Christ, God is fulfilling his own Law in us. This revelation usually only comes to us after we have exhausted ourselves trying to keep his Law independently. This is just one way we can see the wisdom of God because it is the very same Law we can’t keep that he uses to drive this deception from us. After we have come to the conclusion that we can’t keep the Law we are then open to let him in to do it, which is what he has been after all along.

So you see once we truly discover our inability to keep the Law and our need of God’s grace we will be ready to receive his Spirit. After receiving his Spirit we become more and more acclimated to walking in the grace. This isn’t to say we won’t be tempted from time to time to go back to a fleshly path, but if we do the Law is there to catch us again and do what it was meant to do which is to lead us back to Christ. Where we commence walking in the Spirit again by God’s grace.

Written by Louie

Taken at the Luttrull farm
Photo by Tracey Lewis

We are called to walk by faith and not sight. I think it would be safe to say it isn’t only sight, as in physical eyesight, but it also includes walking after our outward senses. When Adam ate of the forbidden tree his outer eyes were indeed opened but it was at the expense of having his inner eyes closed. He began to see the outer world, and started thinking and being led by it, rather than the inner world of the Spirit.

From that time on we have been living in the outer flesh realm as if it has the final say. Let me define this outer flesh realm a little so you’ll know what I’m talking about. Man is made up of three parts a spirit, soul and body. God’s plan has always been for us to walk after the Spirit. The enemy, on the other hand, had other ideas that involved distracting us. He enticed our first parents into the outer life with a promise of autonomy. He told them their eyes would be opened and they would be like God. He promised them the impossibility of independence. God created humans as Temples for his Spirit, branches for his vine and vessels for his living water. The enemy’s temptation was to get us to see ourselves as “like God” rather than a simple vessel or conduit. God’s plan was to indwell us so we would be his point of contact in the world. He would live his life through us the willing vessel.

I am so thankful God had a plan to rescue us from the temporal trap of the material realm and reorient us in the Spirit. It seems he literally had to turn us inside out. Once our lives became painful enough and we recognized the vanity of living after the flesh the deception of independence became too much so we finally opened ourselves up to allow Christ in. Whew! Thank God through Christ he sent his Spirit to indwell us and begin the process of returning us back to the Spirit led being we were intended to be. This of course isn’t immediate and takes a little bit of cooperation from us. When I say cooperation I mean it takes our willingness to let God do whatever it’s going to take for us to learn how to hear from him and learn to let him be God rather than thinking we are.

The promise of opened eyes, becoming wise and being like God was quite the ruse. We have lived for so long believing in this lie it takes some of us a long time to start believing the truth of God. This is why I believe God chooses the foolish. It’s less difficult working with someone when they already know they don’t know it all. For the rest they have to unlearn everything they had always believed before they can start living by the Spirit.

Paul wrote the Corinthians “But I fear, least by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” God’s plan really is remarkable in its simplicity. He created man to be the conduit through which he would rule his world. When his very own creation rebelled against him he came to reconcile us back. Most would think he would do this by way of fire and brimstone and yet he chose a completely different method. While our sins were what separated us from him, and only death could balance the books, he chose to pay it himself. I imagine it went something like this. “Man owes a debt for sin and he can’t possibly pay it. I love him so much I’m willing to pay whatever it costs. If I have to be the sacrificial Lamb I will because that is how much I love them! Even if they do choose to reject me and my sacrifice I’m going to do it anyway because that’s who I AM.”

Written by Louie

Photo by Tracey Lewis

Most of the times when you hear the word flesh you tend to think of immoral things such as sexual misconduct, drunkenness, jealousy or strife. We seldom think of those things that seem good such as religious activities.

If we get right down to it the battlefield is the flesh and spirit. Now I don’t mean to say the flesh, in and of itself, is sinful because I don’t think it is. What I am saying is the flesh is weak and unable to please God. It is only by walking in the Spirit that we will keep from giving an opportunity to the flesh.

For now let me define what “the flesh” is by saying it is our human efforts or, in other words, it is the human realm apart from the Spirit of God. It is the actions we embark upon in our own independent mind or strength; the thinking that we, in our own humanity, can do “good’ and avoid doing “evil” in our own power. This of course is the lie we have believed since the Garden. The enemy convinced us we can make up our own minds about what is good and evil and we can be like God.

Back to what I said earlier about the so called “good” side of the flesh let me quote Paul. He said, “For I know that in me (that is in my flesh,) dwells no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” So you see he is telling us “in our flesh” or our humanity there is nothing that can please God. It is only in our spirit joined to his Spirit that we can function in a pleasing manner.  Paul goes on to say, “I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.” So you see he is saying when “I”, meaning independent of the Spirit of God, attempt to do good evil is present. So, in other words, my attempts at doing good independently are actually evil. This only made sense to me once I saw it as me being in competition with God as if I could do right and avoid wrong independently. “If righteousness comes through the law (my ability in the flesh to please God) Christ died for nothing.”

Jesus told us “that which is flesh is flesh and that which is Spirit is spirit.” The two do not interact with one another to please God. Jesus also said, “It is the spirit that quickens, or gives life, the flesh profits nothing…” Ultimately the flesh isn’t evil it is simply not able to be pleasing to God. Do you remember what Jesus told his disciples when he found them sleeping? He said, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

When God gave Abraham the promise of an heir he didn’t put conditions on him. He simply gave him a promise and we read “Abraham believed God and it was counted as righteousness.” Of course we know Abraham listened to the advice of Sarah and tried to help God out by having a child with Hagar the handmaiden. That would be an illustration of attempting to accomplish something for God in the flesh. Of course God never told him to do this in fact he didn’t tell Abraham to do anything he simply gave him a promise. It was up to Abraham to either believe what God told him or not. God then gave Abraham the sign of circumcision to illustrate to him that his flesh wasn’t to be involved.

God did in fact give the sign of circumcision to Abraham as an outward symbol of the covenant between them but he really meant it to point to a greater sign which is a circumcised heart. Even in the very book of Leviticus, which is the Law, we read where God is talking about the circumcision of the heart. It was never God’s intention that we only outwardly, in the flesh, obey God. He has always wanted an inward heart and spirit obedience. It is about our attitudes as well as our actions. We read in Leviticus 26:41-42 “If their uncircumcised heart becomes humbled so that they then make amends for their iniquity, then I will remember my covenant with Jacob, and I will remember also my covenant with Isaac, and my covenant with Abraham as well, and I will remember the land.” God has always been after our hearts. He wants us to come to the conclusion we can do nothing without him. This isn’t anything more than coming to see the reality of our situation and stop trying to do what only God can do.

Written by Louie

We were in awe of God as we walked into the Christian County Jail tonight. I could see Jesus on each face in the room. Have you ever walked away from a situation and realized that you were in the presence of the Almighty God? I watched this one girl start out with her arms crossed, but as God began to speak through Joyce, Sylvia and I, she had her hand over her mouth, then I looked and she was practically on the edge of her seat. It is truly amazing to see God manifest Himself in such a real way.

Tracey and Sylvia

I was so tickled that Sylvia got to come and minister with me; I was a little nervous at first because I look up to her so much and didn’t want to mess it up. But then I realized that it isn’t me at all. We are saved by faith and we live by faith.

We all struggle with flesh and spirit. That’s because the two wage war against each other. We are designed for dependency on Christ, never to be an independent self. That was the lie Adam and Eve were told in the garden; and we still believe it today. While we are in the flesh, the sinful passions, which are aroused by the law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. (Romans 7:5) The flesh was never meant to give life.

The tree we are meant to eat is the tree of Life. Jesus is the way, the Truth and the life. If you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit, you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:13) It’s about life and death, not good and evil. It’s by faith through grace we are saved and it’s the grace and faith of God that we live.

Painting by Mimi Anderson

I have never been surer about anything in my life as I am about this truth. Sylvia told us that the flesh is weak; it was never meant to please God. She said we already have the mind of Christ and we have been (past tense) forgiven of our sin. It’s by faith we believe Him. We are not identified by what we look like, feel like, what our employment is, but by who we draw our source from, which is Christ Jesus. We are meant to be receivers, we don’t have any power. We have a will, but not will power.

Cubbie got to tell Sylvia about her new way of living her life. She shared with us how God is her life. She doesn’t stress over her family, but prays for them and lets things happen in faith that God is doing something supernatural in them. It truly is amazing to watch her grow in the Lord like that.  Walking after the Spirit is our destiny and so really, it’s Jesus plus nothing.

Written by Tracey