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Amalek – The Natural Man
By David A. DePra
And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not? Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim. (Ex. 17:7-8)
FIRSTS in the Bible are usually very representative. They usually stand for some foundational principle or Truth. Some PRIMACY. This isn’t always the case, of course, but often it is the case. In the story of the Exodus, we find that Amalek was the FIRST nation to attack Israel after they were delivered from Egypt through the Red Sea. This MEANS something for us today.
The reason we know that this event in history means something for us today – despite being an event that actually took place, not merely an allegory – is that the same Bible that records this event says so elsewhere. Paul tells us that:
Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ…..Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. (1 Cor. 10:1-4, 11)
he OT narrative, prophecies, indeed, even the details of the tabernacle and worship, all apply to us. They all speak of Jesus Christ, and more widely, of our relationship with Him as Christians. This is the primary meaning – the historical account is given to us to illustrate some spiritual Truth. And as I mentioned, quite often, although not always, the FIRST time something is mentioned, or the first time it happens, is usually the most significant. It is often representative of a whole principle or tendency.
Paul’s words have a relationship to the attack by Amalek. For as mentioned, Amalek was the FIRST to attack Israel, and thus, the FIRST enemy that Israel had to fight – for GOD had destroyed the Egyptians, while Israel held their peace. This attack by Amalek came immediately on the heels of the events that Paul mentions – for they drank of the spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. This brings the attack by Amalek into the picture as significant, and certainly something PRIMARY that applies to Christians, who are to continually drink of that same spiritual Rock.
Who was Amalek? His history holds the key to his spiritual significance. Amalek was son of Eliphaz, who was the son of ESAU. That makes Amalek the grandson of Esau. Of course, Esau was the twin brother of Jacob – through whom the nation of Israel was born. This means that the ancestry of Amalek had a definite relationship with God’s people. Indeed, just as Esau was the greatest rival of Jacob, so it was that four hundred years later, the Amalekites choose to be great enemies of Israel – and were the first to attack them.
A brief reminder of the history between Esau and Jacob is in order at this point. Esau was the firstborn of Isaac – Jacob the second born. This was so, despite the fact they were twins – obviously one of them had to come out of the womb first. It was Esau. Therefore, Esau was legally entitled to the greater portion of all that God promised Abraham – both the birthright and the greater blessing. But God had other intentions. God by-passed the NATURAL order of birth and inheritance, and instead chose Jacob – a choice God made solely by His grace.
The Truth being demonstrated in God’s choice for Jacob was NOT, as some claim, that of, "unconditional election unto salvation," vs., "unconditional election unto damnation" -- as taught by John Calvin, and today continued in Calvinism. No. The primary lesson here is the NATURAL vs. the SPIRITUAL. God was showing us that what is born of flesh is flesh, and it is only that which is born of God through a NEW birth that is spiritual. By choosing Jacob over Esau, God is illustrating this very Truth – that natural birth, and all of its entitlements, have no place in the new birth -- natural man cannot inherit the things of God. The natural man cannot birth the Seed of Abraham. Only that which is a work of grace, and born of God, carries this possibility.
So God chose Jacob over Esau. God’s choice certainly had nothing to do with the character of either, since both were quite lacking in that area. Indeed, from the start Jacob knew that God had chose him – and so he set out to obtain the inheritance through his own means – dishonest means. But Esau was hardly a victim here. We remember that Esau sold his birthright to Jacob -- under duress – but for nothing more than a temporary meal of soup. The Bible condemns Esau for this, and uses it as a lesson for those among US – who would value our inheritance in Christ so little that we would forfeit it for the temporal. (see Heb. 12:16-17)
Now, even if the story ended there, we would have a clear conflict established between the natural and the spiritual – regarding the things of God. Esau had NATURAL entitlement. But God chose Jacob. But instead of trusting God, Jacob stole the birthright and the blessing. And instead of trusting God, Esau grew bitter, and sold the spiritual for the natural. This is a conflict and a reality that continues today in the hearts and lives of those born again: The natural vs. the Spiritual. The OT story is given us to show us these truths – Esau represents the natural, and Jacob the spiritual, which is of grace.
Jacob represents those who are born again in Christ. Ironically, there is a lot of, "Esau," in, "Jacob." Sure. They are brothers – twins. Thus, despite being chosen solely by the grace of God, Jacob seeks to make the will of God come to pass through his own natural strength, means, and methods. Perhaps the best that can be said about Jacob over Esau is that while Esau belittled the value of his inheritance, Jacob realized the value – so much so that he stole it with cunning.
Esau therefore hated Jacob. Despite the fact that this rift seems to be a bit mended later in their lives, it is certain that Esau would have passed down a great hatred and bitterness to his son, and that this would have likewise been passed down to the next son, who was Amalek. Thus, just as the descendents of Ishmael hate the descendents of Isaac, we see yet another branch in that tree – the descendants of Amalek hate the descendants of Jacob. And the issue is always inheritance.
Back to Amalek. What we now see is that Amalek is of a lineage that believes the birthright and blessings belong to THEM, and not Israel. This puts Amalek directly at odds with Israel. But the real lesson here is that the NATURAL order of things is going to be directly at odds with the Spiritual order. The conflict between NATURAL MAN and the NEW MAN in Christ is a central theme in the New Testament, and we see the roots of it here represented in the story of Amalek in Exodus 17.
So the first thing we see about Amalek is that he is the natural counterpart – indeed, the rival – of the spiritual heir. Amalek is to NATURAL man, as Israel is to SPIRITUAL man. Paul gives us a clue as to this conflict:
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that you cannot do the things that ye would. (Gal 5:16-18)
So what we see is that Israel and Amalek represent, as nations, what their original fathers represented before the Lord. Israel, out of Egypt, is the new man in Christ. They already possess the land, although they haven’t entered it as of yet. Amalek represents the natural man – he who cannot receive or possess the things of God. But he will continual TRY. It is with this in mind that we are able to begin understanding this first battle between these nations.
One other significant fact: If you look up the name, "Amalek," in Bible resources, in order to find out the root meaning of the name, you will find that many of them say the name means, "one who licks up," in the sense of devouring what is around him. This would denote the desire of the NATURAL and FLESH to, "lick up," the inheritance and things of God, and to use them for natural means. Another resource says that the root word from which the name, "Amalek" (malek), means, "cutting the neck," as in, "severing the head from the body." This also is noteworthy. The natural man in us is always seeking to come between us and Christ – who is our Head. And once you sever the BODY from the SPIRITUAL Head, and life Source, you really have what amounts to the NATURAL – at best.
Look down through history at the Body of Christ. Fundamental to the problems for the last two-thousand years is that the church has tried to do, in natural strength, what only God can do. But the reason this has been the state of affairs is that so often the Head of the Body, Jesus Christ has not been given His place – the Head has been severed from the Body because the natural man – Amalek – has taken over. Thus, there has not been the SPIRITUAL LIFE, and there has not been the SPIRITUAL means. There has only been a headless body operating mostly in the natural realm – continually trying to obtain the inheritance by natural means.
The only solution to this is death and resurrection. The natural man must come under the work of the Cross. When we were saved we WERE crucified with Christ, but now everything this means must be applied in our practical experience. The natural power in us must be broken – so that the Spiritual who is already in us through the new birth – might be made manifest. WE must decrease in order that Christ might increase in and through us.
But so many have other ideas. Today as never before, people have developed a Christianity wherein natural man – natural RELIGIOUS man -- is celebrated. Christianity has been made into a, "self-help," guide. We are told that God wants to take who we are in Adam – in our natural man – and make him beautiful, and release his greatness. Preachers like Robert Schuller, Joel Osteen, and many others, are promoting this heresy. It is a denial of the necessity of the personal Cross, and the exaltation of religious man – at the cost of the glory of God in Jesus Christ.
God has no intention of making Adam, or Amalek, attractive or pretty. The only solution God has is the Cross. If we want to truly glorify God, and to truly manifest Christ, then our flesh – our natural man – must come under the Cross. There must come a death there in order that Christ may be enlarged in us and shine through. Christianity is NEVER a matter of God making US look like Jesus. It is a matter of God crucifying us so that the Christ who is already in us might shine through. Neither is Christianity a matter of God making us naturally strong. It is a matter of God making us weak so that the power of Christ might rest upon us, and work in and through us.
Now, of course, there is no way to convey this merely though words and teachings. This is not about knowing the doctrines that rightly teach the Truth about this stuff. That is valuable because it directs us and tells us what God wants to do. But only if we actually enter into God’s purpose will we truly know what this means. We have to experience what it means to have our natural man crippled, and crucified, if we are to know what it means to be governed by the Holy Spirit.
When Israel passed through the Red Sea, they emerged on the other side on an entirely NEW basis. They SAW the salvation of the Lord, and they SAW, "the Egyptians no more." Egypt had been buried in death. Israel had, as it were, seen the salvation of the Lord worked out in their lives. This was NEW – it had never been the case before.
The death and resurrection pictured by the Red Sea miracle is NOT a picture of salvation because Israel was as delivered from the power of Egypt as they could be on Passover night, through the Blood of the Lamb. No. They were already saved. But they really had not experienced much of their salvation. Thus, at the Red Sea we find a working OUT of their salvation. The power of Egypt – the power of sin – HAD been broken through the Blood of the Lamb. But Egypt continued to pursue them. At the Red Sea, Israel got to SEE the salvation of the Lord – they got to SEE and experience the fact that Egypt had no power. This required death and resurrection.
Remember that Israel had known ONLY bondage to Egypt. They were under THAT government. The fact that they were fully delivered did not change their thinking, mentality, or fears. They were free indeed, but barely believed it. Just because you are no longer IN slavery does not mean you stop acting like a slave. This is seen at the Red Sea when Egypt pursued them. They immediately resorted to their prior relationship with Egypt – and practically forgot everything God had done to get them out of Egypt.
What Israel needed was not only to get out of Egypt, but for Egypt to get out of THEM. So God deliberately orchestrated the impossible situation at the Red Sea to do this work in them. Whether this was successful with Israel at that time really isn’t the point. What it teaches us in God’s dealings with us IS the point.
And what does this situation at the Red Sea teach us? That God will deliberately orchestrate situations in our lives for the expressed purpose of bringing us to the end of our old self-rule, which is equal to bondage to our Egypt. And if we will relinquish ourselves into His hands – by doing down into the Red Sea – the end result will be resurrection for us, FREE of our Egypt. Of course, for US, this is progressive – we must pass through the Red Sea many times to work out our finished salvation. But as we do, not only is the government of Egypt less and less in us, but Jesus becomes enlarged in us as our personal Lord.
The whole purpose is to get us established on a new basis with Jesus as Lord. God saves us by the Blood of the Lamb once and forever. But it is at the Red Sea that we progressive, "see Egypt no more," and come up on the other side with a NEW government ruling us. Egypt is now OUT OF US to a greater degree. And because the whole experience was geared to getting us to relinquish our self-rule, we are now free to be governed by Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit.
Now, all of this leads us to the most important Truth of all – it really defines for us what it means, "to walk according to the Spirit," or, "to walk in the Spirit." To walk in the Spirit means to walk with Jesus as Lord. It means that you are GOVERNED by the Holy Spirit. This is the same thought. And there is no other thought in the NT.
When we surrender to God in any situation, we are surrendering to Jesus as our personal Lord. Other governments in us will fall. And then we can move forward in the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit. But the key here is not simply getting free of the other governments. The key is our surrender to Jesus as Lord.
I will say it again – unless Jesus is my personal Lord, not in name only, but is at least in the process of constituting me according to HIS will, and HIS life, and HIS Spirit – then I am not walking in the Spirit. It doesn’t matter how many, "leadings," I think I have, how many insights I have supposedly received, or how I may think God is using me. The purpose of the Holy Spirit in this age is to make Jesus Lord of us, to bring us each individually into a fullness of Christ, to God’s glory. THAT is what it means to walk in the Spirit – to be walking IN that purpose. The rest, at best, is secondary.
God knows how to bring this about – He knows how to get us to our Red Sea. But the bottom line is that we open ourselves to Him for whatever it takes to bring His purpose of Christ in us to pass. The surrender itself is surrender to Jesus as our personal Lord. And THAT means a new government.
But you see, when we speak of a new government, and Jesus as our Lord, we really are speaking of what GOVERNS US, aren’t we? We are supposed to be GOVERNED by the Holy Spirit to God’s glory. And this is where Amalek will protest. The natural man will not want to be governed by the Holy Spirit. This is why Amalek is shown to be the PRIMARY enemy to attack Israel – not FIRST in the sense of a time order – but FIRST in the sense of the primacy of natural man as an enemy of the Holy Spirit.
Let’s get to the story in Exodus. But first, let’s see what led up to the attack by Amalek. In Exodus 17, Israel camped at Rephidim, "and there was no water for the people to drink." Israel bitterly complained about this, and made the accusation that God had brought them this far only that they would die in the wilderness. It was on this occasion that God commanded that Moses strike the Rock at Horeb -- and water came forth. As we read from I Corinthians, Paul says they, "drank spiritual drink from the Rock that followed them, who was Christ."
Notice that Paul goes out of his way to use the word SPIRITUAL in reference to the manna, and to this water, and the Rock. They represent the spiritual, as opposed to the natural. God wanted to begin feeding them with the spiritual in this wilderness journey.
The wilderness is a time when the natural is deprived and taxed. Just as this is so in a physical wilderness, so it is during a season of spiritual wilderness. A spiritual wilderness is when our natural senses and dependencies are exposed as totally inadequate. Natural thinking, and especially a natural, religious approach to God, will no longer work. All those natural things – many of which we may have thought were spiritual – will prove totally inadequate. But God will have provision for us spiritually. It will take us awhile to adjust. But the provision – what we need – will be there for us in Christ.
You will notice that the episode of water from the Rock ends with the naming of the place where all of this happened. It is named because of the, "chiding," of Israel against the Lord. Even after all God had done to deliver them from Egypt, and even after one other time providing water, and despite the fact they were already gathering manna each day, they nevertheless had said, "Is the Lord among us or not?" They doubted God Himself.
Why? Because their natural bodies were telling them that He wasn’t with them. The natural was providing evidence to them that God was nowhere around – in other words, thirst. So through natural thinking, rather than faith, and through the determination of their natural senses and reasoning, they put aside what God had promised, and even the every day evidence of manna wasn’t enough to convince them.
Again we see a lesson. There are going to be times in our lives when God will withdraw that which pleases the natural – perhaps that which we thought was spiritual. He will put us in a situation where the natural man cannot provide for us what we need. No. He is thirsty. Only Christ will do.
Can we see that all of this is positive? It is usually what it takes for God to bring us into the spiritual. We have to be put in a wilderness and faced with practical need. It may seem as if the need itself is evidence that God is not with us. But no. The need is necessary so that we will be set free from our reliance upon the natural man, and begin to walk in the Spirit as God intends. God will supply our need. But He wants to do it with the Rock as our foundation and source for all.
One example: We may in a great trial. But our religious, spoken faith, that got us through before, isn’t sufficient in this case. It may seem as if we are losing our faith. But no. We are being exposed. What we need is the faith of Jesus Christ. We need to drink from Him. God is taking us from the natural to the spiritual – to a place we did not even know was there.
Is the LORD among us, or not? Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim.
As we saw earlier, Israel had sinned greatly against God with their griping about no water. This sin was evidently quite significant, because Moses named the place of their doubt after the doubt – almost like a memorial of failure. God, of course, had gone ahead and provided for them from the Rock. Thus, what we find here is a memorial of a failure, although God had been merciful enough to provide. The lesson for us here is the mercy and long suffering of God. Even when we often don’t believe Him, He will often love us enough to be faithful anyways. Thus, we can then look upon the event of our failure and remember it as an occasion for God’s mercy.
So after Israel drank from the Rock, they were not really changed. They weren’t thirsty anymore, but they had no more faith than before. Thus, it was precisely at the point of Israel’s great doubt towards God that Amalek attacked. Isn’t this a picture of us? It is when we are at our weakest point as to faith, that the natural man will arise and try to get us out from under the Lordship of Jesus. It is just then that the natural man will rise and seek to get us under HIM. Amalek came right after Israel doubted God and tried to conquer them.
This principle of natural man attacking us when we seem weak in faith is actually pictured in the Exodus 17 attack itself. But in order to get an idea of the nature of their attack, we need to leave Exodus and read what God said about it in Deut. 25:
Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt; How he met you by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, even all that were feeble behind thee, when you were faint and weary; and he feared not God. (Deut. 25:17-19)
Amalek attacked the rear of Israel – when they were faint and weary. They attacked the weak and those most unable to defend themselves. Moreover, Amalek attacked without provocation. Israel was no threat to them – Israel was not marching to take their kingdom from them. These were former slaves, barely out of captivity. They were hardly a great army – indeed, they had never been an army. Yet Amalek came upon them at Rephidim.
There is more. What God had done to Egypt at the Red Sea – Egypt was the greatest nation – had spread like wildfire among the surrounding nations of the region. We have to remember that there was no knowledge of the one true God in those days – none at all. Except through Israel. But now these other nations had become afraid of Israel because of the Lord – because of this great God of Israel. The nations had to sit up and take notice – begin to fear the God of Israel. This fact could not have escaped Amalek. Yet without hesitation, they nevertheless attacked Israel. This is surely an indication of their utter disregard for God, and of their complete lack of reverence for Him – they pretty much defied Him by attacking Israel. This is why God pronounced such a drastic and final judgment upon them:
Therefore it shall be, when the LORD thy God has given thee rest from all your enemies round about, in the land which the LORD thy God gives thee for an inheritance to possess it, that you shall blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; you shall not forget it.
These meanings allow us, along with the conduct of Amalek in the Bible, as well as God’s judgment upon him, to affirm what Amalek represents in the kingdom of God. Amalek is natural man – including the natural man that continues to live in Christians. He is the line of Esau – who is the natural counterpart to Jacob, who God chose by grace. Amalek pays no regard to the spiritual – he is not able to receive the things of God or please God. The flesh in us pays no homage to God – that is why it IS flesh. Indeed, seemingly without provocation, he wars against the Spirit. And certainly, if there is one thing that is true about our natural flesh, it is that it will attack the life of Christ in us at our weakest point. God judgment upon the natural man is the same as it was upon Amalek – complete destruction. Sure. Only the spiritual man will pass through death and resurrection into the eternities in Christ.
Even if Christians are not sinning in any conventional way, the greatest enemy is to operate in a natural, religious way – in a self-serving way – using the things of God. Religious flesh attempts to drag down that which is heavenly to earth. Religious flesh tries to take that which is of Christ and make it work for self, along human strength, and unto human ends – of course, "all to the glory of God!"
Natural Man and the Flesh
Of course, when we speak of natural man, we are talking about what the Bible calls, "the flesh," as opposed to the SPIRIT. Everything about the flesh is SELF focused – indeed, "to walk according to the flesh," really means to walk with SELF as the director. This need not be conscious – it is all that a human being can do, and does do, without the Holy Spirit. It means that if my emotions indicate something to me, then it must be true. It means that I trust in my natural understanding. In short, the natural man uses himself as the indicator of his truth -- he has no concept that Truth is found in a source outside of himself, and that he has no say so about it.
Once we are born again, our SPIRIT becomes one with Christ through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We are ONE spirit with the Lord. (see I Cor. 6:17) But our natural remains – it is like an outer shell, with no spiritual life in it. The natural man, our Amalek, continues to want the inheritance Jacob stole from Esau. Thus, our flesh will continue to try to run the show. Instead of Christ, the natural will want to be in charge.
We are supposed to bring the natural under the government of the Holy Spirit. But because we are so used to just obeying it without forethought, and because the natural is all we have known, this isn’t easy. It takes time. Amalek doesn’t like Israel traveling around his territory.
Thus, once the Holy Spirit resides in us, the natural man will, as did Amalek, seek to arrest Him. As mentioned, the natural will attack us at our weakest point spiritually. He will seek to run our lives at the expense of the Holy Spirit. God’s solution is not a peace treaty. It is the Cross of Jesus Christ. Amalek must be totally eradicated as to POWER in our lives.
It is certainly a fact that once we are set free from the power of sin, represented by Israel’s deliverance from Egypt, that the primary enemy we face is the NATURAL man. Amalek is the natural man in Christians. This is what he represents all through the Bible.
Clarity on these issues cannot come until we know God’s purpose for our lives. And if you want to know what God is after in your life, it is Christ. This is not maybe. It is not an opinion. Indeed, I will state on the authority of Jesus Christ Himself that this is God’s purpose for you, and for His Body, and that all else is secondary. If anyone preaches otherwise, or even through ignorance omits this purpose as God’s purpose, they are missing the goal. God’s purpose is Christ. It has never been anything else, and never will be anything else.
We cannot read far in the NT without literally TRIPPING OVER this Truth. It is there everywhere:
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. (Eph 4:11-13)
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Rom 8:28-29)
My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you. (Gal 4:19)
Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: (Eph 1:9-10)
Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, (Eph 1:16-18)
And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:7-8)
Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. (1 Cor 12:3)
You are born again for a REASON. And that reason is to become a living witness, indeed, a living epistle, of Christ. This cannot be accomplished unless Jesus is personal Lord of YOU. Or, to put it another way, it cannot be accomplished unless you are sold out to whatever it takes for the Holy Spirit to make Jesus Lord of you, and to make Jesus manifest through you. Stop short of that and you are NOT walking in the Spirit. You are walking in the flesh. You are under another government – even as a saved person.
You are not born again to FIRST do things for God, or to, "have church." You were not born again to exercise gifts and do miracles. Neither were you born again to sit in church and simply have a big Bible study. No. You are to be formed together with Christ in His death and resurrection. You are to become a living epistle of what it means for God to have His full way and will with a person – which is JESUS AS LORD; which will be CHRIST IN YOU, seen in you, and manifest through you.
Now, if you think that is selfish, you don’t know what you are saying. By the time God is done with you, all of the selfishness is going to be crucified right out of you. You will not use the things of God for your pride or spiritual ambition, because this is what natural man does, and the natural man is precisely what is going to be dealt with by the Cross. Indeed, being conformed to Christ is not a matter of God making ME into something admirable. No. It is about God getting HIS glory and HIS will in me.
So we begin to see where Amalek, the natural man, fits into all of this. I must come to the place where I am willing for God to do, "whatever it takes," to form Christ in me. But if I have finally come to the place where I want God to do, "whatever it takes," to form Christ in me, then I must come to terms that the one thing it DOES TAKE is the crucifying of my natural man. Christ is already in me through the natural birth, but the natural man is in the way. Thus, in order for Christ to be unveiled and manifested in and through me, the natural man must go.
The fact is, if we surrender to God and ask Him to do, "whatever it takes," to form Christ in us, not only will this necessitate the setting aside of our natural man, but when that natural man becomes set aside, then God will actually be free to do whatever He WANTS. Do you want God to move in a mighty way in your life? Do you want to see Him glorify Himself, and want Him to manifest Christ? Well, first surrender for, "whatever it takes." Then God will be free to do whatever HE WANTS. And it is certain that WHAT HE WANTS is to manifest Christ.
We must come to terms with the reality that to operate in the SPIRIT – as the Bible defines it – means to be GOVERNED by the Spirit. It means that I am operating in a realm where God is sovereign, and Jesus is Lord. I am not. This will therefore require drastic change in ME. Only if Jesus governs me as Lord can the Spirit flow, for it is the function of the Spirit to MAKE Him Lord of each of us. We are to LIVE in the Truth that God must be allowed to do whatever He desires in and through each one of us. And what He does desire is, yes, to govern each of us, but really, to form and manifest Christ in us. This is Christianity. It is what God is after.
Governed By the Spirit
There is a verse in Romans that shows the Truth about the natural vs. the Spiritual. Yet it is often misinterpreted. It is Romans 8:12-15:
Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
Many think this verse is telling us that any one who is a true child of God is going to be LED by the Spirit – being LED meaning that God will be telling us what to do every day, or prompting us in a certain direction, or perhaps without actually leading us, seeing to it that we end up where we are supposed to be. Certainly all of these are possibilities in a Christian life. But the fact is, this verse isn’t talking about anything close to that. And what people generally think of as, "the leadings of the Spirit," is not the norm according to the NT.
The word for LED in this passage means, "to be governed." And if you read this passage, indeed, if you read the whole chapter, you will find that Paul is talking about whether we are governed by our old, natural self – the flesh – or whether we are being governed by the Spirit of God. "To be governed," speaks of something far beyond God simply telling us what to do. "To be governed," means that you have come under the dominance of the new life that is in you. But not as simply following order. No. You have a new nature. Your interior constitution is becoming more adjusted to it. You are functioning more in accordance with the Spirit of God, or are in the process of a great struggle intended to bring you there.
Note the difference between hearing the voice of God and obeying it – which would equal being LED by God – and having your whole being GOVERNED by the Spirit. In the former, I just follow orders. In the latter, I am BECOMING someone who functions, spirit, soul, and body, in concert with the Lord. And if you read Romans 8, you will see that this is what Paul is talking about. He is talking about the whole person either, "walking according to the flesh," or, "walking according to the Spirit."
The brutal truth is, if you and I are governed by our emotions – and allow them to frame our perspective, and direct us, or even allow them to masquerade as the voice of God to us – then we are walking according to the flesh. Why? Because our emotions are part of the flesh – our natural self. There are many other ways to walk according to the flesh – just let SELF GOVERN YOU – whether it be emotions, mere intellect, lusts, pride, etc. But one way to walk in the flesh is to think that the way YOU feel is the way God feels, or is created in you by God as a means of direction. No. Again – the emotions are NOT the Spirit of God. They are of the natural man – which cannot receive the things of God. God doesn’t use them to speak to us.
One key here is that we should never divorce, "leadings," from our overall relationship with Christ, and turn, "leadings," into a technique, legalistic principle, or into a, "how to." No. If God wants to lead us in a certain way it is always unto the SAME overall purpose we are seeing God is interested in: Christ in us. It will always be part of that – God’s direction to us will always be an extension of His relationship with us. This doesn’t mean God is so spiritual that He refuses to give us direction on practical matters, such as a job, marriage, etc. But what I’m saying is that we often get focused on those as THINGS, and make them independent items from God’s overall purpose and plan – make them independent of Christ in us. Sometimes we even make these things THE PURPOSE – we consider them what God wants to do with our lives. This is out of focus. We usually don’t do this on purpose, but it is a common error. God’s purpose is Christ in us – and everything else serves that because it alone is eternal.
Obviously, we are here talking about the need for each of us to become people whose minds are set – whose lives are focused – upon, "things above," rather than upon, "things of this earth." (see Col. 3:1-2) That takes a miracle of the Holy Spirit. Actually, this is nothing but another way of describing the results of total surrender to God – to where He has freedom to do with us what He pleases to HIS glory. It is that surrender that results in our minds and hearts being completely adjusted away from the earthly to the heavenly. It is that surrender – which is a surrender to Jesus as Lord – that creates the spiritual relationship with God in us that enables us to see and obey the will of the Lord more clearly.
Jesus IS Lord
Can we see how this ties into allowing Jesus to be Lord? – that letting Jesus be our personal Lord is really what it means to be GOVERNED by the Holy Spirit? That the sovereignty of God is absolutely essential to me walking according the Spirit, rather than according to the flesh, or natural? Unless we have an attitude of wanting God to do whatever it takes we are not going to be ABLE to know the will of God or be governed by the Holy Spirit in our lives. It is only a testimony to the mercy of God that He sometimes gets us to where He wants us in spite of ourselves.
Now, all of this brings us to the solution to NATURAL man. The solution is the absolute Lordship of Jesus Christ – it is the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit. If I am to walk according to the Spirit, then Christ through the Spirit must be my Lord. Indeed, since the entire purpose of the Holy Spirit is to make Jesus Lord of me, it only follows that for Jesus to BE Lord of me is what it means to walk in the Spirit, and be governed by Christ.
Indeed, there is NO other solution. If I try to walk in the Spirit to the disregard of Jesus as Lord, I will end up walking in the natural, and thinking it is the Spirit, because by very definition, I am OUTSIDE of the work of the Spirit. Walking in the Spirit has only an indirect relationship with the gifts, manifestations, or signs and wonders. Walking in the Spirit means that I am walking under Jesus as my personal Lord. It means that I am continually asking God to do whatever it takes to make Jesus my Lord, and to manifest Christ through me. It means that I am continually handing myself over to God for His glory. Any other description of walking in the Spirit is not the Truth.
Amalek is close at hand. He is always trying to war against the Holy Spirit and gain control of our lives. Amalek wants us under HIS government. God wants us under HIS. The solution is to surrender to Jesus, not just as Savior, but as LORD. Once I do, I will come under the government of the Holy Spirit, and be progressively set free from all other governments, including that which belongs to Amalek, the natural man.
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