FLESH VS. SPIRIT, 20.11.18
Tree of Life (TLV) Translation of the Bible. Copyright © 2015 by The Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society.
When Adam and Eve caused humankind to fall from grace by sinning, the door was opened for the lusts of the flesh to take over. When Yeshua/Jesus returned to His Heavenly Home, and the Father dispatched His Holy Spirit to Yeshua’s followers, provision was made whereby humankind once again had a choice: they could be obedient, and walk with God/Yeshua by the power of His Holy Spirit, or they could choose to be disobedient, as Adam and Eve had done. Believers are supposed to be choosing obedience, of course, and thus should be walking in the Spirit, not in the flesh; but because humankind from henceforth were conceived and birthed in sin, the sinful nature remains, even after salvation.
Once making a commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ/Yeshua Ha-Mashiach, the Holy Spirit will “be with you forever” (John 14:16), Yeshua/Jesus said. Yeshua says of the Holy Spirit: He is Helper, He is Truth, He is Counsellor, and Comforter (John 14:16,17). He will bring conviction of sin; He is the believer’s Guide; He will speak to His people (John 16:8,12,13). Furthermore, Yeshua/Jesus, said that “When the Helper comes—whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—He will testify about Me”(John 15:26,27). It is through the Holy Spirit that the believer experiences God’s/Yeshua’s presence; He bears witness of the Father.
“He will not speak on His own; but whatever He hears, He will tell you. And He will declare to you the things that are to come. . . . . . . the Ruach will take from what is Mine and declare it to you”(John 16:13-15). The Holy Spirit is the believer’s best friend. He speaks to those who know and follow Yeshua/Jesus, and will reveal those things the Father would have us to know. This is why true followers of Yeshua have no excuse ever for consulting psychics, mediums, etc. God wants His people to rely only on Him; He will dispatch, via His Holy Spirit, whatever information He desires, as needed. The key to receiving that information, is listening, being attentive to the voice of the Spirit, which requires walking in the Spirit. Believers who say they never hear God’s voice need to check their walk; if they are walking in the flesh in some area of their lives, instead of in the Spirit, they will not likely hear the voice of the Father speaking to them, because they are preoccupied with the cares of the world. The cares of the world interfere with hearing from God; the cares of the world detract from walking in the Spirit. So, too, does all self-focus . . .
It is only through this supernatural resource, by the power of the Holy Spirit, that believers can, by God’s Grace, be “raised (us) up with Him and seated (us) with Him in the heavenly places”(Eph.2:6), while still in our earthly bodies here on earth. This is a supernatural occurrence/event not available to anyone except believers in Yeshua Messiah/Lord Jesus Christ. And that is a provision made by God’s Grace; and that provision is to enable walking as God would have us walk. That is what God’s Grace is all about. God’s Grace is not, as so many like to believe, provided to sanction continued sin. Everything about God is supernatural; likewise, all that can be accomplished in/through us, His people, is also supernatural. That is exactly why things that come from above do not make sense to the unbelieving world.
It is only through His power, not our own, that believers can thereby attain to what Paul referred to as walking in the Spirit: “But I say, walk by the Ruach (Holy Spirit)” (Gal.5:16,25). Paul did considerable teaching on the difference between flesh/Spirit. First and foremost, he taught that “the flesh sets its desire against the Ruach, but the Ruach sets its desire against the flesh” (Gal.5:17). The choice ultimately rests on each believer. The choice to surrender and sell out to the Lord Yeshua, is what will enable one to hear from the Lord, being “led by the Ruach, and thus (you are) not under law” (Gal.5:18). It is not because the laws no longer apply; it is because once totally sold out, there is no need for a rulebook. When you fall madly in love, do you need a rulebook to honour the one you love? Does that mean you don’t have a code of ethics/morality?
Walking in the flesh includes (among many others, of course), such things as: “sexual immorality, impurity, indecency, idolatry, witchcraft, hostility, strife, jealousy, rage, selfish ambition, dissension, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing . . . . I am warning you, just as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit God’s kingdom” (Gal.5:19-21). Walking in the Spirit brings positive, fruitful, productive witness: “the fruit of the Ruach is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Gal. 5:22,23). The way to attain that walk is by crucifying the flesh: “Now those who belong to Messiah have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal.5:24). Yes, the flesh is crucified, but it is not realized in actuality unless one actually behaves accordingly by an act of will, fully sold out/surrendered in all aspects of life, to the Lord. The flesh is not automatically crucified; it is part of the process of sanctification, which is ongoing, not a single event, and necessitates our active participation.
“For what was impossible for the Torah—since it was weakened on account of the flesh—God has done. Sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as a sin offering, He condemned sin in the flesh— so that the requirement of the Torah might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Ruach” (Rom.8:3,4). Notice, he emphasizes that the requirement of Torah could only be fulfilled in those who choose to walk in the Spirit, and not in the flesh. Without the power of the Holy Spirit, sinful humans could not keep those laws. So God sent His Son, then left His Holy Spirit to equip believers to keep His laws, for He said “Be holy for I am holy” (Lev.20:26; 1 Pet.1:16). “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Ruach set their minds on the things of the Ruach. For the mindset of the flesh is death, but the mindset of the Ruach is life and shalom. For the mindset of the flesh is hostile toward God, for it does not submit itself to the law of God—for it cannot. So those who are in the flesh cannot please God. For if you live according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Ruach you put to death the deeds of the body, you shall live. For all who are led by the Ruach Elohim, these are sons of God” (Rom.8:5-8,13,14). This is such an accurate description of the flesh vs. Spirit discussion, no more needs to be said.
Flesh vs. Spirit is a daily decision, a daily walk, a choice to surrender. It is an act of will. There is every day the choice to sin or not to sin. There is every day the opportunity to either be obedient or disobedient. Each day throughout regular activities, and various occurrences, we can either open doors to the carnal flesh, or open the doors of our hearts to the Holy Spirit to fill us to the brim and close the doors against our carnal desires and weaknesses, as well as the Enemy of our souls, Satan himself. Therefore, there is every day the need to come before Almighty God, repenting of all the times, ways, and occasions where the flesh is allowed to be in charge, and surrender that flesh, and by an act of will take the log out of the eyes, circumcise the flesh of sin, nailing to the Cross every single aspect of self and self-life that does not please, or honour God. That is the choice of a true follower of Yeshua; that is the difference between walking in the flesh and walking in the Spirit.
“So also continually count yourselves both dead to sin and alive to God in Messiah Yeshua. Therefore do not let sin rule in your mortal body so that you obey its desires. And do not keep yielding your body parts to sin as tools of wickedness; but yield yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your body parts as tools of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace” (Rom.6:11-14). “We are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Messiah” (2 Cor.10:5), which means that our thought life must be surrendered to the Lord as well. You can sin in your mind, just as you can sin with your body parts. Keep in mind that being under grace doesn’t mean it’s okay to sin willfully; being under grace means that by God’s grace there is the power to make the right choice, and the ability, by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, to walk in that right choice. Flesh carelessly allows sin, if not directly and overtly choosing it, while Spirit “looks to the things above, not the things of the world” (Col.3:2) actively desiring, seeking, willing, to do things God’s way. When the true heart’s desire is to surrender, to give it all up/give it over to the One Who holds the key to Best for each of us, when that desire takes precedence over all else, we will walk in surrender, and walk in the Spirit.
© 2017, 2nd ed., 2018 by Verna Crowther. All rights reserved.
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