The word“flesh,” in this case, refers to the fallen nature in Man. This fallen nature is “hostile- Romans 8:7 NASB” towards God and the things of God, but receptive to sin and human viewpoint.
As a result of this fallen nature, Fallen Man has an inherent inclination to engage in evil (Gen. 8: 21).
Evil is any kind of sin AND anything in thought or practice that contradicts the Word of God.
Sin is easily identified, evil is not. In the name (authority) of Man-made religion, many forms of “evil” are promoted as having come from God. Christian “religion,” as opposed to Christianity, is no exception.
Rejection or ignorance of what the Word of God has to say is what causes “evil” WITHIN the Christian Community to spread.
“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil (Isa. 5: 20 NASB);”
Although the sin nature manifests itself in many different ways, we all have it (Romans 3: 23).
Even though we do not all have the same area(s) of weakness (es), we all have them.
A type of sin that is a great temptation for some of us is of no interest at all to others. A type of sin that is of no interest at all to others, can be of great temptation to us. As a result, some of us are born with an inclination to engage is some types of sin that are of no interest to others, and why others were born with an inclination to engage in some areas of sin that we have no interest.
The “sin that so easily entangles us (Hebrews 12: 1 NASB),“ is not the same type of sin for each one of us, but we all have (at least) one!
Once we come to realize what that entangling sin is for us as an individual, it explains why we have committed a host of other sins along the way. Using myself as an example, I am a naturally born rebel with what some would call a "free spirit" or "independent thinker," willing to take the path least trodden. I am also inclined to let pride get the best of me from time to time. It only took me about 40 years to figure that out.
Just as God redirected the misguided zealousness and devotion of Saul of Tarsus (the Apostle Paul), God can take our greatest flaws and redirect the energy and time we spent on them for His glory. The same zealousness and devotion that drove Saul of Tarsus to persecute and try to destroy the Church, was redirected and caused Saul of Tarsus to become one of the more outstanding Apostles of the developing Church. My inclination to be a free spirit and an independent thinker with the accompanying willingness to take the path least trodden, motivated me to learn the truth (not any "religious organization's "version" of the truth), and eventually become an ordained Pastor-teacher in the Church Age.
The Apostle Paul was told right up front what his gift and what his ministry would entail (Acts 9: 6, 15, 16). Learning the specific gift that God () has in mind and how it is to be executed is a major element in the post salvation spiritual life. Many believers make the mistake of choosing an area of service that appeals to them, and then seeks God's blessing for what they plan to do.
Learning exactly what was my spiritual gift (1Cor. 12) was did not happen overnight. I have functioned as a Christian writer, a police chaplain, and looked into or tested the water in others areas of Christian service along the way. In God's timing and AFTER God made the necessary changes in me, I eventually found my place in the Church at large as a pastor-teacher. Unlike most others (nothing new about that) who serve in the traditional type of local assemblies, my pulpit and the my congregation is on the Internet. Much to my surprise, I minister to many individuals and groups around the world. One thing is for certain, once one finds his/her "niche" in the plan of God, there is no doubt about it from that point forward. God may or may not change where and how one executes his/her spiritual gift, but not the gift itself. The calling and gifts of God are irrevocable ().
This doesn't mean that there will not be challenges to overcome. The devil, that prowls around looking for someone to destroy () is not at all pleased when any born again believer advances in the post salvation spiritual life. The devil will continue to attack (Eph. 6) and to offer alternatives to what God has in mind that will be appeal to the fallen nature within us. Learning not to recognize oneself and others according to the flesh will greatly enhance the ministry that God has in mind for any one of us.
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We have all sinned (Romans 3: 23), are sinning (1John 1: 8), and to some degree, will continue to sin (Romans 7) as long as we are in these bodies and choose to submit to the influence of the fallen nature that remains in us. Paul wrote of his ongoing battle with the sin nature some thirty years AFTER he was born again, and towards the end of his earthly ministry.
We are all familiar with the Ten Commandment of the Old Testament. Most of us have heard of the precepts of the Old Testament Law, governing worship and daily activities of the ancient Hebrews. Some of these precepts still apply to the believers in the Church Age in which we are living, and some do not. If one is to be the type of worshiper that God desires during the Church Age, one must learn to distinguish between what Old Testament precepts do and do NOT apply to the Church Age. Otherwise, what was said (Matt. 15: 9, 14) of many "religious" worshipers in the ancient world, can be said of present day worshipers of the Church Age.
"But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men (Matt. 15: 9 NASB)."
"...they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man,both will fall into a pit (Matt. 15: 14 NASB)."
Christians are all familiar with the Ten Commandments, but how many of us are aware of the more than 300 acts of commission or omission that Church Age believers can engage in that the Bible identifies as “sin?”
Q. What is the significance of these 300+ types of sin?
A. One body of Christian Religion would have us believe that there are so-called mortal and menial sins, but James 2: 10 tells us that if we break just ONE of any of God’s laws, we stand just as guilty before God as the one who has violated them all!
We are all in the same stinking, sinking, boat of sin (James 2: 10), yet we are commanded to recognize (know) no man according the flesh (2Cor. 5: 16).
Ironically, it is many of the lost people of the world who often do a better job of compliance with this 2Cor. 5: 16 commandment.
Such people live together, work together, socialize together, and support each other without any or little regard for the sin(s) that they have been, are now, or will be involved with in the future.
Since the Fall of Man, with the exception of the humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ, we all come into this world with this fallen nature that was passed down to our humanity when it was conceived (Psalms 51: 5).
There is NOTHING sinful about heterosexual relations between MARRIED couples (Heb. 13: 4). God can not command Man to be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1: 28/Gen. 9: 7) and then refer to the multiplication process that He designed to be sin. Never-the-less, one of the facts of life is that it IS at the moment of conception that the sin nature is passed down to what later becomes the humanity of the individual when it is brought forth at birth!
This (Romans 7) fallen nature and our (Gen. 8: 21) inclination to sin does NOT go away when one is born again (John 3: 5, 7, 18, 36). Both stay with us until the day when we depart these human bodies and leave them behind at the moment of physical death.
Q. Why does God still hold us accountable for the way in which we, as a fallen race, come into the world with our inherent inclination to sin?
A. The short answer is that it is because we do what we choose to do.
The longer answer is that God provides us with the means of escape (1Cor. 10: 13), but we must choose to learn of them (2Pet. 3: 18), and we must choose to apply (James 1: 22) them with the enabling (John 15: 5) power that God supplies.
Not only does the fallen sin nature and the inclination to sin remain within us, it increases the pressure that such things place on our edified soul structure, keeping pace with whatever spiritual growth (2Pet. 3: 15) takes place the course of the post salvation spiritual life of a born again believer.
The fallen nature and our inclination to sin battles with the “new creation (2Cor. 5: 17 NASB)” that one becomes on the day he/she is born again. These battles take place every day in our soul structures. When we choose to sin, the forces of evil has won that battle. When we choose to learn of and to apply the Word of God, God is glorified. For this reason, every day has significance in the spiritual realm, no matter where we are or what we are otherwise doing at the time.
People who think that their life doesn't matter need to learn that it is their daily decisions that either brings glory to God or honors the devil. The choices we make DOES impact the spiritual lives of others, as well. Since it was/is the glorification of God that Man (and each one of us) was created. Each and every day we are given the opportunity to do just that.
Among other things, on the day we were born again, we were regenerated (Titus 3: 5), sealed (Eph.4:30), and indwelt (1Cor. 3: 16) by God the Holy Spirit, and became the permanent (John 3: 18/Romans 8: 1) recipient of eternal life (John 3: 16).
These unseen changes in our spirituality resulted in us becoming a new creature/creation in Christ (2Cor. 5: 17).
The fallen nature and the new creation that a born again believer is in Christ compete with each other for the immediate control of the thoughts that ultimately control the decisions we make (Proverbs 23: 7) and the things we do.
In the midst of this competition, God the Holy Spirit will bring to mind all the principles of Bible Doctrine that an advancing disciple should be storing away in his soul structure (Matt. 7: 24-27). Failure to build and to maintain an edified soul structure leaves one wide open for a successful satanic attack (Eph. 6: 16/Matt. 7: 27). The devil can to nothing to diminish the integrity of the salvation that a born again believer has already received, but he can do much to impact the quality of one's post salvation spiritual life here on Earth.
The devil and those who knowingly or unwittingly do his bidding (Matt. 15: 14/2Cor. 11:14), will counter this godly guidance by bringing to mind all the evil that the same individual has chosen to make a part of his/her soul structure. The devil’s intentions are obvious He desires to generate the “great fall” being spoken of in Matt. 7: 27 NASB. This "fall" denies God the glory that He would have otherwise received.
In this midst of these battles, the devil “cashes in” on the inherent hostility (Romans 8: 7) that Fallen Man has towards God the things of God, and the inherent inclination (Gen. 8: 21) that Fallen Man has towards evil.
When anyone (unbeliever or believer) chooses to submit to the influence of the fallen nature within him/her, he/she will entertain and engage in thoughts and actions the Bible identifies as “sin.”
This is why, that among other things, the Lord Jesus Christ taught us to pray to be delivered from evil (Matt. 6: 13).
There were and remain to be MANY false Gospel Messages that are the result of perverting the true Gospel Message, and/or adding (in word or practice) to what God requires for one to be forever saved.
How ironic I find it that this prayer request to be delivered from “evil,”, being a part of what is often called the Lord’s Prayer or the Our Father, is recited by groups who, at the time, are in the midst of the very “evil” that they need to be delivered from!
Especially here in the End Times (1Pet. 4: 1), there are MANY evil teachings and practices that have “found a home” in what is generally considered to be part of the Christian Community. They are “evil” because they involve teachings or practices that run to Scripture (1Tim. 4: 1). They are evil because they redirect the glory that belongs to God alone to other personalities (Isa 42: 8). They are evil because they attack the "finished - John 19: 20) nature of the Work that the Lord Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross by adding additional requirements to it. Such things are among the things that are held in high esteem by Man, they are abominations in the eye of God (Luke 16: 15).
With the best of intentions, but in spiritual ignorance, many so-called “Christians” engage and promote what the Bible calls evil. Spiritual ignorance is a choice we make. Spiritual ignorance is the result of disobedience to the 2Pet.. 3: 18 command (not an option) to grow in the knowledge of the Lord.
When we choose to build (2Pet. 3: 18) and to apply (James 1: 22) the principles of an edified soul structure (Matt.7: 24-27), we will do what pleases and glorifies God in our worship, and in our daily walk with the Lord.
Taking a Biblical stand for God will inevitably put one on a collision course with those who adhere to, or engage in sin, human viewpoint, and the products and practices of Man-made religion.
When we go along with the desires of the fallen nature, we will experience peace and support with and from like-minded groups and individuals, but we will be at enmity with God (James 4: 4).
"You (spiritual) adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility with God" Therefore woever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God (James 4: 4 NASB)."
"Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers (ancestors) use to treat the false prophets in the same way (Luke 6: 26 NASB)."
When a born again believer is at enmity with God, God is denied the glory that He should have received and the believer is subject to divine discipline (Heb. 12: 6).
When born again believers choose to be influenced and controlled by God the Holy Spirit, they will do the things that glorify God. Being under the immediate control of God is what the Bible means when it speaks of being “filled” by God the Holy Spirit.
As of the moment one is born again, he/she indwelt by God the Holy Spirit (1Cor. 3: 16), and remains so throughout the course of his/her post (after) salvation spiritual life, here on EARTH.
Therefore, all born again believers here on Earth are Spiritual indwelt, but all born again believers here on Earth are NOT always Spirit filled. To be Spirit filled, one must be submitted to the control of God the Holy Spirit. We are not submitted to His control when we choose to engage is sin.
The Apostle Paul spoke of his daily and personal battle with the fallen nature within him in his letter (Romans 7) to the believers in Rome nearly 30 years after he had been born again (Acts 8), and towards the end of his post salvation spiritual life and ministry here on Earth.
It’s a good thing for the developing Church that Paul didn’t wait until he personally “got it all together” before he served God! If he had, his contribution to the developing Church would have never gotten off the ground.
The manifestation of God the Holy Spirit takes place when we choose to think and eventually do what God would have us do in any given situation. The manifestation of the fallen nature and/or our inclination to sin takes place when we choose to give in to the fallen nature or our inclination to sin.
“For those who are (living) according to the flesh set their minds on the things of (that please) the flesh, but those who are (living) according to the Spirit, (pursue) the things of the Spirit (Romans 8: 5 NASB italics mine.)”
Being t-e-m-p-t-e-d to engage in sin or evil is NOT, in itself a sin. Scripture (Heb. 4: 15) teach that the Lord Jesus Christ was tempted in every way that we are, but WITHOUT sin. If being tempted to sin and sin were one in the same, then the Lord Jesus Christ would have sinned in every way known to Man and would have not retained His status as the spotless Lamb of God.
Scripture (1Cor. 10: 13) teach that with every temptation, God provides us with the means of escape. Rather or not we want to secure and to apply these means of escape is a CHOICE that we make.
These means of escape are the principles of Biblical Doctrine that an advancing disciple has made a part of his/her edified soul structure BEFORE the need arises (Matt. 7: 24-27).
In the middle of the storms of life is NOT the time to be looking for God’s means of escape. In the midst of the storm is the time to APPLY the one’s that we should have already stored away in preparation for the storm.
Allowing us to find ourselves in scenarios for which we find no solutions is God’s way of reminding us that we have been disobedient to the command of 2 Pet. 3: 18 to continually grow in His knowledge.
Having the means of escape, but choosing not to apply them is an indication of an area of weakness that we need to address. This is another reason why God allows the storms of life to hit us.
The “means of escape” are the combination of the applicable of the principles of Bible Doctrine that we (should) have stored away, and the willingness to apply them (James 1: 22) with the enabling power that God supplies (John 15: 5).
There can be many contributing factors that go into the choices we make, but we sin when we choose to do what the Bible forbids, or when we choose to fail to do what the Bible requires of us.
Fallen Man, and born again believers who are out of fellowship with God, do NOT “naturally” do what pleases God (Romans 7: 5-8)! Choosing to do what comes “natural” to us leads to spiritual disaster.
There is a “popular” viewpoint circulating and being promoted within and by the “Gay Community” promoting the idea that one cannot help or can do anything about “the way” he/she was born.
The argument goes on to take the stance that no one is accountable for something that they can do nothing about, and are there is no condemnation for doing what comes “natural” to someone.
Like most of the devil’s lies, there is an element of truth in this one, as well. That’s the bait. And hidden in this bait, is the hook that leads to the downfall of the ones who are deceived by the bait.
It IS true that none of us chose to be born with a sin nature that is inherently hostile (Romans 7: 8) towards God and the things of God. It IS true that none of us chose to be inclined to engage in sin (Gen. 8: 21). This fallen nature and the inclination to sin were passed down to our humanity at conception (Psalms 51:5), and became a part of our total being when God (John . 3: 6b) created our souls and placed the soul that He created in the body that our natural parents reproduced and that our mothers brought forth at birth (Gen. John 3: 6a).
It is true that although we are NOT all tempted in the same way, we are all tempted to sin in many different ways. It is also true that regardless of what sins we choose to commit, sin of any kind puts all of us in the same stinking, sinking, boat of sinners (James 2: 10).
For example, the one who chooses to engage in the sins of homosexuality, bisexuality, or lesbianism is no more and any less a sinner that the one who chooses to engage in heterosexual fornication (sex before marriage) or adultery. The one who refrains from any of the sins of sexual immorality, but engages in such sins as gossip, lying, cheating, fraud, pride, hatred, jealousy, greed, judging, idolatry, coveting, and refusing to forgive others, is in the same James 2: 10 boat, and in the same need of deliverance.
Time and space does not allow me to list all of the 300+ ways that a Church Age believer can sin, but rest assured, that each and every one of us would find areas of sin that we have engaged in, are engaging, or will embrace before the end of each day (1John 1: 8/Rom. 3: 23).
One of the lies is that there is nothing that can be done about the way that we were born or with our inclination to sin. While both are apart of our total being, do submit our thinking and behaviors to its control is a choice that we make.
There ARE Biblical solutions for our spiritually dead status (John 3: 16, 18, 36/Titus 3: 5/ 1John 1: 9/John 8: 11). There ARE Biblical solutions to overcome our natural hostility towards God and the things of God, The ARE Biblical solutions to address and our inclination to engage in sin, regardless of what that specific sins that any one of us must address. Because there are solutions, we ARE accountable (Romans 14: 12) for the choices we make.
“No temptation (not some) has overtaken you but such that is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure (the temptation) it (1Cor. 10:1 NASB italics mine.”
1Cor. 6: 9 - 11 specifically cites homosexuality as among the many examples of sin that CAN be overcome. The principle, never-the-less, applies to all forms of sin. There is only ONE sin that there is no Biblical solution for because, by divine design, it was not atoned for by the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ while on the cross. The ONE and ONLY sin that will cause anyone to spend all of eternity in what the Bible calls the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 15) is the sin of disbelief in the Gospel Message (John 3: 18).
Eternal security that prevents a born again believer from ever going to Hell or what the Bible calls the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 15), does NOT mean that there are not other consequences for the post (after) salvation sins that we commit.
Such “other” consequences can involve divine disciple (Heb. 12: 6) here on Earth, and the forfeiture of some or all of the 1Cor. 3: 15 rewards and Rev. 2 and Rev. 3 privileges that the same individual could have received in addition to the eternal life that all born again believers will experience.
The 1Cor. 3: 15 rewards and the Rev. 2 and Rev.3 privileges are reserved for the born again believers who identify and execute the post salvation spiritual life of discipleship and ambassadorship.
During the periods of time that a born again believers live in or with ANY (James 2: 10) one of the 300+ sins listed in New Testament Scripture, , he/she is out of fellowship (1Cor. 13: 14) with God. To live with or in sin means to have not confessed (1John 1: 9) and/or forsaken John 8: 11 ANY sin that one has committed.
These periods of time out of fellowship with God can be as brief as the time it takes to confess a sin, or for as long as the rest of one’s post salvation spiritual life here on Earth. One can not make up for one area of sin by over-involvement in an area of service or worship. Confessing (1John 1: 9) , but not forsaking (John 8: 11) sin will result in one spending much of his/her post salvation spiritual life going round and around in the proverbial revolving doorway, going in and out of fellowship with God, but NEVER moving forward.
When a born again believer is out of fellowship with God, he/she is “living in the flesh” and not participating in the type of post salvation spiritual life that glorifies God or that is going to be rewarded in Heaven.
By the world’s standards, an atheist or a “religious” person can have a prosperous life, stable marriage, raise relatively obedient and successful children, do much human good, but will still find him/herself in what the Bible calls the lake of fire by not having his name recorded in the Book of Life. The Book of Life contains the names of all those who were born again throughout the course of human history. All the "religious" activity, inside or outside of the Christian Community at large, and all the "good deeds" in the world will not secure as much as a millisecond of eternal life in Heaven for the one who has never been born again (John 3: 5, 7).
We do not serve our Lord to be rewarded, but God has revealed to us that He intends to honor in Heaven (Matt. 10: 33) those who chose to glorify Him while here on Earth. We glorify God first by being BORN AGAIN, and then, by identifying and executing the post salvation spiritual life of discipleship and ambassadorship.
If we are honest with ourselves, we will concede that in many ways we all “live according to the flesh” in many different ways, evidenced by what we prioritize, think, say, do, or fail to do, each and every day (1John 1: 8). Such honesty is the first step towards what the Bible refers to as repentance. See the Doctrine of Repentance for further details.
“If we (Church Age believers) say we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us (1John 1: 8 NASB italics mine).”
This being the true status of all of us, just how is it that we are to obey this 2Cor. 5: 16 command (not an option) that requires us to recognize (know) no man according the flesh?
Not recognizing someone according to the flesh means that advancing disciples are not to see other people on the basis of the sins that they have gotten themselves involved. Advancing disciples are to see other people as ones that are spiritually dead and therefore in need to hear the Gospel Message, or as ones that have been born again and are a work in progress. As a work is progress, one needs to identify and to take the next step along the road to spiritual maturity. When obeying the 2Cor. 5: 16 command, the advancing disciple does not focus on the sin, but on the person's spiritual needs. One obedient to the 2 Cor. 5: 16 command, the advancing disciple will see all others as either ones who, like themselves before they were born again, are wandering around in spiritual darkness and need to see the "light." When obedient to the 1 Cor. 5: 16 command, the advancing disciple will see all born again believers as being a "work in progress," just like themselves. One can not look down his/her nose when looking at others with eyes that in obedience to the 2Cor. 5:16 command.
Every soul on the face of this Earth, including the one we see in the mirror, is one who needs (or needed) to be born again, or one who needs to identify the next obstacle that God would have him/her overcome along the road to spiritual maturity. As a Christian (follower of Christ), we are here to help and support each other in that pursuit, and not to knock each other down.
When God sees a man or woman in the spiritual gutter, He looks beyond the overt appearance, and sees what brought the individual there and the spiritual needs he/she will need to lift him/her up.
One can be in the spiritual gutter when clothed in filthy rags lying down on “skid row,” or wearing the finest clothing that money can buy while seated in the most elegant “religious” cathedral to ever be built by the hands of Man.
The first person that an advancing disciple must learn NOT to recognize (view) according the flesh is the one he/she faces in the mirror.
In order to be able to see oneself not according to the flesh, one must not only acknowledge and confess his/her own sin (1John 1: 8, 9), but must also choose to forsake the same sin in the future (John 8: 11). Some of us can do a good job of having others think well of us, but God is not deceived. The one and only way the we will no longer see ourselves as one who is not living according to the flesh, is to become one who does do so. I am not talking about sinless perfection. That will NEVER be the case for any one of us on this side of Heaven. But I am taking about being a work in progress, confessing and forsaking sin as one progresses towards the goal of spiritual maturity.
There are only two roads that one can choose to tread on while here on Earth (Matt. 7: 13, 14). The majority of each generation is on the wrong road.
It is when we choose to identify and to tread along the right road that we can begin to see ourselves as a new creation and no longer as one who is still living a life that is dominated by the flesh.
When one (believer or unbeliever) chooses to make a lifestyle out of ANY type of sin (James 2: 10), he/she is on the wrong road. Many heaven bound, born again believers, are on the wrong, continuing to live according to the flesh. The salvation (going to Heaven) of a born again believer is NEVER in jeopardy, but there are “other” consequences to be received if he/she chooses to tread along on the wrong road.
When one can see him/herself as a new creation in Christ and a work in progress, he/she can see others in the same way, The advancing diciple will no longer see others according to the flesh (sin) that they are involved. Instead, the advancing disciple will see others who are where they themselves once were (in need of salvation), or ones who ,like them, are a work in progress.
Most “Christians” are familiar with the Ten Commandments, but only advancing disciples become aware of the more than 300 commands (commandments) found in the New Testament that apply to Church Age believers.
Learning of all the 300+ commands takes a considerable amount time. However, all that an advancing disciple needs to do is to “prioritize” God and the things of God, and to apply the Golden Rule when interacting with others. Prioritizing God means to put Him first. The Golden Rule requires that we treat others they way we would WANT them to treat us if the tables were turned the other way. When applying this strategy, one will find that he/she is in automatic compliance with the 300+ commands of God.
With there being more than 300 ways in which Church Age believers can commit what the Bible identifies as sin, there will always be some daily sins (1John 1: 8) that even the more spiritually mature among us will need to address (1John 1:9/John 8: 11).
Many Church Age believers aren’t even out of bed in the morning and have already committed s few sins of mental attitude. For the rest of us, we will be hit by the fiery darts of the devil (Eph. 6: 16) soon enough and will often let their impact get the better of us. These darts of the devil often accompany the negative words and the negative actions of those with whom we interact with as the day progresses. This is how one can unwittingly becomes a tool in the hands of the devil and the forces of evil. If we do not have the spiritual maturity to recover BEFORE we REACT and do what comes "natural" to us, we will likely engage is some mental attitude or over sin in response to the negative words and actions of people accompanied by the fiery darts of the devil that find their targets (Eph. 6: 16/1Pet. 5: 8). The devil has mastered the art of spiritual combat. He and his forces of evil (Eph. 6: 12) know when every day events have rattled our cages, and just when to fire his darts for maximum effect.
Keeping the reality of our own true spiritual wretchedness (1John 1: 8/James 2: 10) and inclination to sin (Gen. 6: 5) in mind will keep us from violating the command (not an option) not to think more highly of ourselves (Romans 12: 3) than we ought.
When we have the right assessment of ourselves, we will not so quickly sin by judging others for the sins that they have struggled with or are still struggling.
When God forgives, He does not bring the sin up again until and unless we choose to commit the same type of sin again.
We are commanded to forgive others like God has forgiven us (Eph. 4: 32/Col. 3: 13).
One cannot obey the 1Cor. 5: 16 while having an unforgiving attitude towards the same individual. The command does not say that we are not to recognize the people that we like according to the flesh. It says that we are to see NO one, according to the flesh. This includes the ones that we do not like!
When we listen to or repeat the latest gossip, we set the stage to violate the (2Cor. 5: 16) command that we not recognize the one being spoken of as according to the flesh.
Once we hear of the sin that others have committed (or have allegedly committed), our “natural response” will be to view the one’s involved according to the flesh (the type of sin) from that point forward. When we do, we sin by choosing to recognize that person according to the flesh.
It is by no coincidence that when we have words with someone that the devil will bring to our mind all the negative information and past negative experiences that we have had with him/her. This is what happens when we do not forgive from the heart and “flush” the toilet.
Some will self justify the sin of gossip by taking the position that as long as the information is true, it’s OK to listen to it and to pass it along.
The truthfulness of the facts is what determines rather or not the action is libel (written falsehood) or slander (spoken falsehood) in the courts of Man. The spiritual issue here is that according to Eph. 4: 29, this type of conversation amounts to sin, even when the information being communicated is factually correct, if the conversation was for any other reason than to edify the one being spoken about in the conversation.
Unless repeating such information is for the sole purpose of disciplining and/or edifying the one involved, speaking ill of others is a sin.
“Let NO unwholesome (destructive) word come from your mouth, but ONLY such a word (conversation) as it good for edification (of the one being spoken about), so that it will give grace (help) to those who hear (Eph. 4: 29 NASB italics mine).”
Talking about the sins of others behind their backs does not “edify” the one being bad-mouthed in the conversation.
Those who supply the gossip and those who choose to make the gossip a part of their own soul structure (memory banks) play right into the hands of the devil. After having heard the gossip, there will be almost an automatic impulse to sin by recognizing that person according to the flesh when he/she is seen or when his/her name comes up in the future.
If the Eph. 4: 29 command was to be obeyed by everyone who claims to be a Christian, the phone business would suffer a financial crisis. Many who claim to be Christians would have “nothing to talk about.”
When being presented with the latest gossip, the appropriate “Christian” response would be to inform the one speaking that, “I didn’t need to know that.”
Watching such things as television programs that thrive on the latest gossip will not be on the things to do list of advancing disciples. Advancing disciples have better ways (2Pet. 3: 18) to make use of the same time. Some times it comes down to what one really wants to hear.
The new creation that a born again believer has become will have an increasing appetite for the Word of God. The sin nature that remains in him/her will have an increasing appetite for the type of evil that satisfies it. To the shame of many who call themselves Christians, they find the daily time to listen to what the world and worldly people have to say, but “just don’t seem to have the time to see what God has to say!
When badmouthing others, the one spreading the information is NOT usually doing so for the edification of the one involved, but to garner the support of others to address the hurt or pain that he/she suffered. The incident is barely over with and the offended one is on the phone with a 3rd party that has no business hearing of it in the first place.
Involving third parties is a practical necessity when seeking confidential counsel. When circumstances permit, one of the ways to seek counsel is NOT to identify the person(s) involved, but to speak only of the issue at hand.
There is a place for confidential counseling as long as it does in fact involve a confidential counselor and IS for the purpose of edifying or is otherwise in the spiritual best interests of the one involved.
There is a counselor who can be trusted with our deepest secrets and pain. He not only listens, but has the solutions. His name is God, and his office is open 24 hrs. a day, 7 days a week.
As long as one sees himself according to the flesh, he/she will not be able to see him/herself as a “new creation in Christ (2Cor. 5: 17). When one sees him/herself as a new creation in Christ and a work in progress, he can begin to no longer see him/herself or others according to the flesh, but as people who need God and things of God.
Until one acknowledges his/her responsibility (Phil. 1: 27) and accountability (Romans 14: 12) to live a life that is pleasing to the Lord (1John 2: 6), he/she will never move forward in the post salvation spiritual life. A major objective in the post salvation spiritual life is to reach the stage of spiritual maturity in which one can comply with the 2Cor. 5: 16 command not to recognize or treat others according to the flesh.
Compliance with the 2Cor. 5: 16 will not come naturally. But the spiritual life is NOT about US doing what comes natural, but what God can do through us with supernatural (John 15: 5) power.
The Lord commanded and commissioned His Church to have interaction (Matt. 28: 19, 20) with the people of the world. This does not come natural to me, as I would much rather live a life of solitude. But, one cannot be used of God to evangelize or edify anyone if we do not have contact or interaction with them. The Internet has allowed me to minister to tens of thousands of souls over the years. Almost as if God planned it that way! In my case, I believe He did.
Every day here in the devil’s world (Luke 4: 6), born again believers will “rub elbows” with individuals that need to hear the Gospel Message. Every day here in the devil's world, born again believers will often “rub elbows” with fellow believers that need to hear some point of Bible Doctrine. Advancing disciples will learn soon enough that one can not pass along to others what he/she has not first secured for him/self. At the very least, every born again believer has an understanding of the Gospel Message that he/she can and should share with others when God gives him/her the opportunity to do so. Securing Bible Doctrine is a life long pursuit. If a born again believer does not have an answer to a spiritual issue, he/she should at least have a source that he/she can contact or suggest to an inquirer.
I have interacted with souls that apparently felt more comfortable to "bare their souls" via of an Internet Ministry, rather than face to face with their pastor or fellow believer who knows them for fear of being recognized according to the flesh from that point on in their personal periphery.
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Going to Church or participating in the products and the practices of “religion,” may or may not have been a part of your life.
In either case, keep in mind that you came into this world just as spiritually dead as anyone else. You remained spiritually dead until God used someone or something to present you with the Gospel Message, providing you with the opportunity to be born gain. All the "religous" rituals that did or did not take place prior to you being born again are meaningless. The false sense of security that such "religious" activity produces may even become a hindrence to your willingness to listen to a presentation of the Gospel Message, believing that your "religious" activity has addressed your spiritual needs. The products and practices of religion DO appeal to the fallen nature in Man, as they APPEAR to provide something that WE can do TO save ourselves or others. Edified believers know that it has never been, is not now, or ever will be what WE do or what WE have done as human beings, other than when WE believe in what GOD has done to save us.
This presentation of the Gospel Message may or may not have taken place inside or outside of your spiritual or religious environment. It was wherever you were that you first believed the Gospel Message that you were born again. If you have not been presented with the Gospel Message, or you have not believed in it when it was presented to you, you have NOT been born again, no matter how otherwise "religious" you may or may not have been. Until you are born again, you are as spiritually dead as the day you came into this world. Those who reject the Gospel Message leave this world spiritually dead, separated from God, and will spend eternity future in what the Bible calls the "lake of fire (Rev. 20: 15).
No matter how long you may have been born again, or how long or to what extent you may have advanced in the post salvation spiritual life, there will always be the next obstacle to be overcome in your own walk with the Lord.
Could it be that learning NOT to recognize others according to the flesh be the next step that God has in mind for you? It's not an option. It's a command!
Without a doubt, the people of the world unwittingly do a better job at complying with the (2Cor. 5: 16) command to know no man according to the flesh than do most folks do who claim to be followers of Christ. Many people of the world can work together, play together, and enjoy each other’s company without anyone’s individual moral or spiritual choices getting in the way of “good” time.
Associating with sinners was one of the issues that the religious Pharisees had with the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 9: 10, 11/Mark 2: 15/Luke 5: 29) during the course of His public ministry.
In His omniscience, the Lord Jesus Christ knew of every sin that every person that He interacted with had committed, was committing, or would commit throughout the course of their lifetime.
The Lord Jesus Christ did not pull any punches when dealing with sin, yet He did not treat sinners according to their flesh (sin), but as souls in need of salvation and/or edification.
When all unbelievers are summoned from the Torments of Hades (Rev. 20: 13), and appear in the Court of Heaven, they will NOT be eternally condemned for all the sins that they committed during their time here on Earth. With the exception of the sin of disbelief (John 3: 18), the Lord Jesus Christ atoned for the world's entire sin debt (). God cannot send ANY soul to Hell (the lake of fire) for having committed a sin that was atoned for by the Lord Jesus Christ. Unbelievers will be eternally condemned for having committed the ONE sin that (by divine design) was NOT atone for on the cross. All unbelievers will be condemned for having committed the sin of disbelief (John 3: 18).
It is always necessary to point out that just because there is not eternal condemnation awaiting born again believers (Romans 8:1), this does not mean that there aren't other consequences for sins that born again believers may choose to commit. There is the forfeiture of heavenly rewards (1Cor. 3: 15) and privileges (Rev. 2/Rev. 3) for those who sin and/or fail to execute the type of post salvation spiritual life that God desires.
Q. Is there an exception to this recognizing others according to flesh (the sins they are currently committing) ?
A. Yes, according to 1Cor. 5: 11, 13.
“But actually I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother (man or woman who claims to be a Christian) if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one (vs. 11).”
“But those who are outside (of the local assembly), God judges (or will judge). (You are to) Remove the wicked Man from among yourselves (vs. 13).
Keep in mind that in such scenarios, disassociation and or the removal of the person is for the purpose of correction and reconciliation, and not condemnation (2Cor. 2: 6, 7).
There is a judgment call to made here. If you get to know ANYONE on the personal level, sooner or later their individual areas of weakness will become evident. We all sin on a daily basis (1John 1: 8), which raises the question of at what point the commands to disassociate with or to remove a fellow believer from a local assembly, overrides the command not to recognize and treat others according to the flesh.
Within a local assembly, the responsibility and accountability of this judgment call rests on the shoulders of the local pastor teacher. He is accountable to God for ALL that takes place within the local assembly. Within a private home, this judgment call is the responsibility and accountability of the husband/father. These persons in these positions of authority have the God given duty to protect the flock or his family members from being corrupted by overt sinful activity.
There is a Biblical process for excommunicating (formerly removing) a member of the local assembly involving private meetings, followed by publicizing the matter, and finally by removing the person from the local assembly if the situation continues (Matt. 18: 15-17).
Such extreme measures do not usually take place unless the sinner is involved in false teachings, overt sin, and encouraging others to involve themselves, and refuses to repent after being approached.
This disassociation and/or removal has got NOTHING to do with past sin(s). In this context, a past sin is one that has been addressed via the 1 John 1: 9 process and the John 8: 11 principle. If past sin or sinless perfect were an issue, there would be no one left in the pews, standing behind the pulpit, or made to feel welcomed in any private home within the Christian Community. This is obviously not God has in mind.
God’s arms are always open to a-n-y-o-n-e who repents, and so should the arms of those who claim to represent Him here on Earth.
This completes our examination of the command NOT to recognize people according to the flesh (2Cor. 5: 16).