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The Stuff We Are Made Of

By David A. DePra

That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man. (Eph 3:16)

That you put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. (Eph 4:22-24)

In order to understand what Paul is talking about in these verses, it requires a fundamental understanding of what happens when we are saved – it requires that we understand what salvation IS. Sadly, even that is not taught very much today. Many Christians believe that salvation is nothing more than a legal classification based on God’s forgiveness. Well, that is included. But Christianity, indeed, salvation itself, is CHRIST IN US.

Now, once we begin to grasp that Christianity and salvation are, "Christ in us, the hope of glory," (Col. 1:27) then passages like the ones above make more sense. We begin to grasp that the INNER MAN or the NEW MAN has to do with CHRIST IN US. We also see that Paul’s terms make no sense at all if we were saved solely on a LEGAL basis – for then there is no need for an inner man or a new man. But once we realize that we really DO have an, "inner man" – in our spirits because of Christ -- then everything else lines up.

Perhaps one of the most important things that the Christian needs to grasp is the difference between the NEW man, the INNER man, and the NEW creation – all synonymous terms – and the OLD man, the OUTWARD man, and the OLD creation – likewise synonymous terms. If we can grasp that we will be able to understand why we function the way we do, despite being saved. And Jesus Christ in us would become all the more profound and recognizable.


What IS salvation? – or, to ask it another way – what happens when I am saved? Not just legally, but ACTUALLY? The answer is clear from scripture: Salvation – the new birth -- happens when my human spirit is joined with Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. Paul writes, "He that is joined (cemented) to the Lord is one spirit with Him. (I Cor. 6:17)

What we see here is that salvation, or eternal life, is the result of Jesus Christ – WHO IS THE LIFE – making Himself one with me. When Christ joins my spirit with Himself, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, I am then raised in Him and therefore alive. I then have HIS LIFE – because Life Himself is one with me.

Paul writes, "Christ, who IS our life." (Col. 3:4) Do we realize that Jesus Christ in us IS OUR LIFE – the only life we have? Sure, for if we came to Christ we relinquished OUR OLD LIFE at the Cross. Thus, God does not give me a THING, or merely a legal classification, called, "salvation," or, "eternal life." No. Rather, God gives me Jesus Christ – and IN HIM is life. In other words, Christ makes Himself ONE with my spirit, and since HE IS THE LIFE, I am then ALIVE by virtue of being one with Him.

There is absolutely NOTHING God has to give us except it be IN CHRIST. And we need not search for anything outside of Him. IN HIM we live, move, and have our being. In Christ WE ARE COMPLETE. (Col. 2:10) So we need to rid ourselves of the notion that God has THINGS to add to us, to give us, or that we must have an additional experience added to Christ in us. No. In Christ are ALL THINGS, and if we are saved, we are IN CHRIST – thus, in Him we have all things. (Col. 2:3)

But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glories, let him glory in the Lord. (1 Cor 1:30-31)

Millions today don’t believe that we are complete in Christ alone. Rather, many believe that when you are saved, that yes, you receive Christ, but you are NOT complete. They believe that you continue to lack almost everything God intends you to have. They insist that you must go on to receive a second blessing – a second baptism -- called the baptism with the Holy Spirit. This is error. Read again the above passage from I Cor. 1. EVERYTHING God has is in Christ, and that means that when you receive Christ, you receive ALL that God has. Sure, it doesn’t yet mean that you are mature enough to know and experience all that is in Christ. You still have to grow. But if Christ is in you, then you are COMPLETE IN HIM.

If you deny this, you are denying a foundational Truth of Christianity. You are, in fact, redefined salvation itself. You are saying that it is possible to have the living Christ in you, and yet LACK so much that God intends, because you don’t get ANOTHER baptism.

Note what the Bible teaches: When you are saved you ARE baptized with the Spirit into ONE Body – into CHRIST. Paul even tells us that, "There is one Lord, one faith, and ONE baptism…" (Eph. 4:5) Well, if there is ONE baptism, and God was concerned enough that we understand that so that He inspired Paul to state so, then why do people believe there are TWO? This is error.

Let’s get back to the Truth. Eternal life is the result of being baptized with the Holy Spirit INTO LIFE HIMSELF. But as mentioned, if there is one thing we need to see about the nature of this salvation, it is that we are saved because Christ is made one with our SPIRIT. Paul writes, "He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. (I Cor. 6:17) It is in my spirit that God saves me. It is in my spirit where Jesus Christ comes to dwell – where He makes Himself one with me. It is NOT anywhere else.

Now we are able to see the meaning of the term, "the inner man." The INNER MAN is the union of my spirit with that of Jesus Christ! Through natural birth, I am flesh – for that which is born of the flesh IS flesh. This natural or flesh is my OUTER MAN; my OLD MAN. But if Christ comes and makes Himself one with my spirit, then I am born again, and there is an INNER MAN; there is a NEW MAN -- I am in the Spirit, and essentially, I am then a spiritual person in Jesus Christ.

The new man, or the inner man, is the union of my spirit with Christ through the Holy Spirit. This means that I have no life, and no new man aside from Christ. In other words, God does make me a new man so that I can look like Christ. Rather, he makes me a new man by joining me WITH CHRIST. In addition, I am complete in Christ. I am not born again, or made a NEW MAN, only to continue to need a second blessing or baptism! No. The new man is absolutely complete in Jesus Christ. It is at that point that we can begin to grow.

Some of the phrases in the NT prove this, although I think we often read them without realizing their significance. For example, Paul writes, "If any man is in Christ he is a new creature." (II Cor. 5:17) Notice that a person must be IN CHRIST – that is the IF. It is because we are IN CHRIST – equal to Christ being in us, or one with our spirit – that we are a new creature. We are not made a new creature aside from Christ, or independent of Him. The sole reason I am a new creation is that I am one with Christ.

If any person is IN CHRIST he is a new creation, that is, he now has a brand new INNER MAN, or NEW MAN. He is born again in his spirit because Christ is one with his spirit. It is in our spirits that Christ comes to dwell, and consequently, for this age, it is in our spirits that we are saved.

But again -- when I am saved; when Christ comes to dwell in me, only my spirit is saved. My body isn’t saved. My emotions aren’t saved. My mind isn’t saved. No. My spirit is saved. That is where Jesus dwells. Thus, not only do we have this new, inner man IN CHRIST, but the rest of us continues to be of that old, natural, outer man. It remains very much of the natural flesh.

So we have these two dynamics in each believer: The flesh and the Spirit. The spiritual and the natural. The heavenly and the earthly. The old and the new. The outer and the inner. This is a reality taught all through the NT. It is really the battleground. And it is vital that we grasp the nature of these things, and the Truth of God regarding them.

That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. (Eph 4:20-24)

Could there be a bigger difference between the two natures? God wants us to see the distinction between the INNER and the OUTER man. Much confusion arises because we don’t. For example, we look at the OUTER man and try to find evidence of the INNER. Or we have no discernment of the distinction between the two at all. God intends, through the Holy Spirit, that the natural be progressively brought under the control of the Holy Spirit. But this will hardly be possible if we have no idea of the difference between the two.

Two Natures

There are people today who teach that we cannot have two natures. They teach that if you are saved, you no longer have the old nature. This is wrong. Read again the above passage from Ephesians 4. Paul speaks of two natures as business as usual in each believer. We can put them off or on. Sure. We DO have two natures.

I have even heard some teach that the OLD MAN is the flesh, yes, but it is not the sin nature. This is utter nonsense. The sin nature is inherent in the old man – that is the problem. If we can have an old man, but not a sin nature, then why do we need a NEW man? Again – read the passage. The old man is presently corrupt according to deceitful lusts. Does this sound as if the old man is NEUTRAL, or is it clear that the old man remains the home of the sin nature? Of course it is the home of sin nature. That is why we need a NEW man. Indeed, that is why there is a warfare between old and new.

If we understand that salvation occurs ONLY in our spirits this will make sense. Your old man – your natural man or flesh – isn’t saved. He is pronounced DEAD in Christ. That is why we are a NEW MAN in CHRIST – which is NOT the old man. We are united with Christ in His Cross, which is death to the old, but united with Him in His resurrection, which is life in the new. Thus, the real us is the new man in Christ, but is presently incased in a body of flesh, which continues AS the old.

Your own experience ought to tell you that you are saved only in your spirit. If you are honest, you know that on the day that Jesus Christ became one with you in your spirit, everything else about you remained essentially the same. Your body didn’t stop aging. Your emotions didn’t start working in a perfect way. And you did not understand all Truth with your mind. And you certainly did not stop sinning. No. The old man wasn’t eradicated. The old sin nature was not taken out of you. Rather, Christ came to dwell IN YOU.

Now, there are a number of ways to say this. But the Truth is, the new birth doesn’t obliterate the old nature. Being born anew doesn’t subtract the old nature from us – the new birth doesn’t remove the PRESENCE of the flesh or the sin nature. It doesn’t remove the possibility of sin at all. No. You can still sin anytime you choose. In fact, you will have a lifetime battle against sin. In reality, the new birth, rather than subtract the presence of the old nature, ADDS to us a new nature IN CHRIST – in our spirit. Or, to say it better, we are spiritually ADDED to Christ – put IN Christ. The new birth lifts us out of bondage to the old, and seats us with Christ in Spirit. But NOT physically. No. Rather, we are a heavenly, spiritual people, who continue living physically in the flesh and natural realm that is part of the fallen creation.

In Christ, we are set free from the POWER of the old nature, but not from its presence or possibility. Through Christ we have a new power given to us – that of resurrection life – that of HIS resurrection life. Because of the Cross, the power of the old is broken. Because of the resurrection, the power of the new is given. Thus, if Christ is in us, the flesh is DEAD as to its control over us – through the Cross -- but our spirit is ALIVE through His resurrection. The Christian life is then a matter of seeing this Truth, overcoming, and learning how to walk in it.

When we come to the Cross of Jesus Christ, we are planted into his death. This means that our old man is crucified with Him, and the body of sin is destroyed – as to its power over us. (see Romans 6) This does not remove the old man. (see Romans 7) It simply breaks his spiritual power. (see Romans 8) Neither does it immediately renew our minds with this Truth so that we immediately know how to walk in it. (see Romans 12) No. But nevertheless, the power of the old man is broken by the Cross of Jesus.

That is not all. We are also planted with Him in His resurrection. This means that, yes, the power of the old man is broken, but we have been given a new power – that of resurrection life in Christ. Thus, even though the old man is present, and it is possible for us to, "obey him," ultimately, we don’t have to obey Him. His power over us is broken – even if his presence remains. Those who are born anew have been planted into a new power – have been planted into Christ. This raises us ABOVE and OVER the old. Much of the Christian life is a matter of us coming to know and experience this Truth in Christ Jesus – this is called, "the renewing of the mind."

The fact that the old man remains, but that we have been planted into Christ, is taught all through the Bible:

That you put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. (Eph 4:21-24)

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye 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 ye cannot do the things that ye would. (Gal 5:16-17)

Does that sound like BOTH the old man and the new man are present, and possible, to obey? Absolutely! Again -- this passage from Ephesians would be nonsense if the old man were not present, and possible to obey. But it would be likewise nonsense if the power of the old man was not broken – for Paul says to PUT HIM OFF. He says to PUT ON the new man. Neither would be possible unless the POWER of the old man was broken.

In the second passage, from Galatians, Paul describes a conflict between flesh and Spirit – impossible unless BOTH dwell in us. Unless the flesh is present and possible to obey, there could be NO real conflict, and Paul could not say that the flesh makes it hard, "to do the things that you would."

So we have this: The spirit is the core of new life in Christ. But the FLESH or SELF is the seat of the control of the sin nature. Yet in the spirit we have victory in Christ OVER the flesh. The warfare is to believe this, and live in out through all aspects of our being.


Because we are saved in our spirit, and not our body, and not in our emotions, and not in our mind, it is quite possible for you to obey the flesh, rather than the Spirit. It is even possible for you to do that without even realizing what you are doing. Because your mind is not saved, at least initially for quite some time after you are saved, you will likely continue to think and act in many of your old patterns. Sure. But over the course of time, God wants us to grow to KNOW JESUS – and this will eventually impact our mind. We must have our minds renewed – reprogrammed, if you will -- according to the Truth in Christ. We must LEARN CHRIST. So even though Christ dwells in our spirit, there is a learning process that is necessary -- we must come to KNOW JESUS, and know the Truth, in an understandable way. Only then, can you be set free to LIVE in according with the Truth about your salvation.

Notice something here: We do not receive Jesus, or receive Truth, through brain power. The natural mind cannot THINK itself into the Truth. The natural mind cannot drag Truth down from heaven. You cannot THINK your way into the things of God. In fact, the natural mind, we are told by Paul, cannot receive the things of God – they are folly to the natural mind. (I Cor. 2:14) But once Christ dwells in our spirit, God wants to renew our minds according to the Truth. In short, we cannot obtain Truth through the mind, but once we do have Truth in us, the Truth will IMPACT the mind. Sure. Based on our relationship with God, and upon our spiritual growth, we can come to understand and express the Truth.

Truth comes ONLY by revelation – really, we know Truth only if Jesus Christ is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit. Thus, Truth comes from the OUTSIDE of us -- INTO us. Truth never comes out of us as the source. But once Truth does come to us by revelation, the result will be renewal of our mind and eventual understanding. For what good will it do if the Truth doesn’t eventually translate into something we can understand and express?

The Bible states, "By faith we understand….." (Heb. 11:3) This means that to the extent that we are open and surrendered to God – in HIS light – we will grow in our understanding of Him. Thus, the key to understanding is not brains – the Bible never says, "By brains we understand." No. The key to understanding is FAITH. But notice: The promise is nevertheless there that we WILL UNDERSTAND. The promise is NOT that we don’t need to understand.

The idea that a walk with Christ is supposed to be some mindless existence is ridiculous. The suggestion that there is no such thing as Truth, or that Truth is not possible to understand, is contrary to everything that God wants to do. The Bible says clearly and repeatedly that it is BY FAITH that we must come to understand. But God does want us to understand! That is the whole point.

Note how clearly the Bible states this desire of God:

Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, 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 1:15-19)

Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. (Eph 5:17)

For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; (Col 1:9-10)

I have actually had people tell me that since the term, "spiritual understanding," is used in the Bible, and that because Paul sometimes speaks of a peace or love that, "passes understanding," that God doesn’t want us to understand with our minds. To some people today, to understand anything with the mind is contrary to walking, "in the Spirit." They think that to, "walk in the Spirit," is to let spiritual experiences carry you along. This is both dangerous and completely contrary to scripture. Christianity is NOT some nebulous, indefinable, experience that we are never to really understand. Indeed, people that teach such things don’t follow what they are teaching – for if I am teaching that you don’t need to understand, then I am teaching you what I say that I DO understand to be the Truth! Frankly, I think such nonsense is directly from the enemy. We are supposed to check everything with scripture. Doesn’t that require SOME understanding of scripture?

I had once such deceived person say to me, "I know that the Bible contradicts what I believe, and the Bible contradicts what I have experienced, but I will continue to believe as I do, because I must be led by the Spirit, and I don’t think it is given for us to understand everything." He was of the opinion that if he just let himself be carried along with his spiritual experiences that God would protect him from deception. But we need to get this straight once and for all: God will NOT protect us from deception if we ignore, neglect, or take scripture lightly. Why? Because scripture is one of His primary lines of defense AGAINST deception. And we are ignoring it.

The problem here is more than obvious. Despite the fact that some folks try to say that we cannot understand the Truth – they are actually stating that the, "truth," they think they understand. That Truth they think they understand IS that we cannot understand the Truth! Get that. You DO believe SOMETHING . You DO whether you admit it or not! And we have already read from scripture what it is that determines whether, or what, you believe: Your FAITH. By faith you DO understand. I submit that if I say I cannot know the Truth that I am betraying my lack of faith in the Christ who promised, "The Comforter will guide you into all Truth."

Again – Truth must come by revelation. And it is by faith that the door is opened for this revelation of Jesus Christ. But once Truth is given to us, we are going to come to understand. Our mind WILL be renewed according to the Truth.

As I stated above: You cannot THINK your way into Truth. But some people try. I do realize that it is entirely possible to know Christ purely on a doctrinal, intellectual level. It can be ALL brain power, completely void of the Spirit of God. It is also possible to be so wrong with God in my heart, that I can be completely convinced that my error is God’s Truth. Just as it is true that, "by faith we understand," it is likewise true that, "by unbelief we will be deceived."

Unbelief is NOT ignorance. Unbelief is of the heart. It is a refusal to know. It is a double-mindedness towards God that fills my entire perception with darkness – and part of that darkness is that I will be arrogant enough to insist that I know! Ignorance is not unbelief. Ignorance is an inability to presently know because I have not yet been given light. Which of us do not have some ignorance?

God can work with ignorance. As I open myself to God by faith, LIGHT comes into my heart, and eventually my mind. It is simply ridiculous to say that this is not going to filter down and impact my mind in a way that will enable me to understand, express, and live out the Truth. No, I will understand. For as noted, it is, "by faith," that we……..WILL UNDERSTAND.

If you do not think that a Christian is supposed to understand the Truth in a way that can be thought out, expressed, and lived, then you are saying that the apostle Paul was deluded. Read his epistles. Does it sound like the Truth of Christ impacted his brain? Absolutely. In fact, if you say we cannot understand the Truth, then why did Paul, or even Jesus, for that matter, bother TEACHING the Truth? Were they teaching Truth God never intended THEM, or us, to understand? But was Paul’s knowledge of Christ merely a matter of doctrine, or of intellectual ability? No. Paul knew the Truth because he knew Jesus personally. But this DID result in an understanding with his mind. It was not a natural understanding or brain power – if was the knowledge of God in Jesus Christ. But it WAS an understanding.

It is because Christ dwells in our spirit that it is possible for the Truth about Him to be understood, and then lived out. This is not about facts, doctrines, and the intellect. Rather, it is about a moral relationship of faith with God that results in the Holy Spirit making it possible for us to understand. Sure. If God wants to REVEAL to us Jesus Christ, don’t you think that this is going to result in a wonderful renewal of our minds according to Christ?

This will happen in a progressive fashion – we must grow. When you were saved, did God erase your mind, and immediately write on it all Truth in Christ? No. Rather, as you walk with God, and grow to know Christ, your mind is renewed according to the Truth – the old is replaced with Truth. But this doesn’t happen all at once – even though you are saved all at once. We have to GROW in the grace and KNOWLEDGE of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Presence and Possibility of the Flesh

The fact that our minds must be renewed according to the Truth tells us that there is always going to be aspects of it that are NOT yet renewed. We must GROW in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, the flesh nature will at times be able to deceive us – for as we read, it is, "corrupt according to deceitful lusts." Thus, to the extent that we continue thinking in our old, unrenewed patterns – some based in ignorance, and others in unbelief – the flesh will continue to govern us. It will govern us because we either don’t know it’s power has been broken, or it will govern because we are in unbelief on some matter.

Here we again see that the flesh, while its power is broken, is very present and possible to obey. There really would be no struggle, and no need for growth, if we did not have the presence and possibility of the flesh. In that case, we would be fully mature and perfect, even in our body, emotions, and mind, the moment we were born again. But no. This is not the case. Rather, we have a continual struggle between flesh and Spirit. Even though we have the life of Christ within our spirit, but the sin nature and the flesh continue both present and possible.

Note the words of Paul about the fact that we have TWO natures:

For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. (Rom 7:14-25)

When Paul uses the term, "THE LAW of sin," or, "another LAW," he is not talking about a written law. He is referring to a NATURE – the sin nature. For example, the LAW of gravity doesn’t work the way it does because there is a written law that commands it to do so. No. It operates the way it does because the NATURE of the physical universe demands that it does – the LAWS that govern the NATURE of the physical universe make gravity happen. So it is in man. The LAW of sin is the how the NATURE OF SIN works in the flesh. What something IS, by nature, determine how it will function. That is it’s LAW.

Paul says, "The law of sin which is in my members." He says, "The sin that dwells in me." He says, "I see ANOTHER LAW….warring against the law of my mind." He also says, "the law of God after the inward man." Can there be any doubt that Paul is teaching that the Christian has TWO natures – the sin nature that is resident in the flesh, and the new nature which is resident in Christ and the inner man?

As we stated earlier, the inner man is our spirit in union with Jesus Christ. In Christ, the POWER of the flesh is broken with a greater power – that of resurrection life. But the presence and possibility of the flesh remain – because they are resident in the natural aspects of our being. Thus, to the extent that we live in unbelief – which is of the old man – the flesh will have power. Yet, in Christ, we are seated ABOVE that – we can reign and rule with Him OVER the flesh.

The flesh has NO POWER over the new man in Christ. But if we align ourselves with, or put on, the OLD MAN, we are on the territory of the enemy. Again, this is why our minds must be renewed according to the Truth.

Back to Romans 7. Especially note these key phrases: "It is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells in me," and, "I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwells no good thing," and that, "evil is present with me." Paul obviously had Christ dwelling in him. So he is not talking about his spirit. Rather, Paul is talking about the fact that sin continues to dwell in his flesh. That means that in one person are two natures – one man in Adam born from BELOW, and one man born in Christ from ABOVE.

Note that – Christ dwells in Paul’s spirit, but the old sin nature is still in his flesh. Clearly, according to Paul, the flesh is PRESENT, and POSSIBLE to obey. Sure. Indeed, this fact creates warfare and conflict. The flesh often seems to have a mind of its own – Paul cannot do what he WILLS to do. Yet Paul DOES WILL to obey God – the REAL PAUL is who he is in Christ. That is why he is able to say about sin, "It is no longer I that do it, but the sin that dwells in me."

Paul is not refusing to take responsibility for himself. No. But the REAL PERSON is one with Christ – for the real person is THE WILL, and the real person is the SPIRIT at one with Christ. But Paul is stating the fact that the old nature is not obliterated, nor does it ever cease to exist in us during this lifetime. Rather, Christ is added to us – when Christ comes to dwell in our spirit. So we do have TWO natures. But in Christ, we are raised ABOVE the old nature and live in union with Christ on another level – in the SPIRIT. All of this is a fact, despite the presence and possibility of the old nature that remains resident in our flesh. Thus, we are one with Christ IN SPIRIT, but sin continues to, "dwell," in our flesh.

Paul writes to the Galatians, "For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. "(Gal 5:17) In order for this warfare to take place, BOTH must be present and possible. Both seek control. So, yes, the believer does have two natures within – we continue to live composed BOTH of that which is born OF FLESH, and that which is BORN FROM ABOVE. If that isn’t two natures, nothing is.

Now, having said all of that, we come back to our conclusion: You are saved in your INNER MAN – in your spirit. But the rest of you will initially remain a product of natural birth. And it will initially carry all of the baggage you have accumulated over life – you will initially be in your flesh exactly what you have BUILT out of your flesh. It will be OF the flesh, and tend to serve SELF. Thus, the battle begins – between flesh and spirit. That is why Paul says, "That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man." (Eph 3:16) When the inner man – through oneness with Christ – is strong, then the outer man, or flesh, will slowly fall away as to power and control over you.

OVERCOMING in the Christian life is, in large part, a matter of us coming to reign and rule in resurrection life with Christ, over that which continues as the product of natural birth. We must bring, by faith and obedience, all that is contrary to Christ – we must bring it under Jesus as Lord. The victory is already finished. But now this must be worked out and expressed through us.

As for those who try to teach that the sin nature is eradicated, but, "the flesh," remains -- this is nonsense. Just read what Paul is saying. He says, "EVIL is present with me." He says, "The law of sin which is in my members." He says, "The sin which dwells in me." These phrases are all in this passage. They are clear, to the point, and without dispute. The Christian has two natures.

One of the more ridiculous interpretations that I have heard of Romans 7 is that Paul was referring to Himself before he was saved, or before he came to realize that he no longer had a sin nature. I submit that those who teach this must surely be blind to THEIR OWN SIN NATURE. Paul was writing Romans 7 as a mature Christian apostle. Indeed, he could only have come to see the Truth in Romans 7 because the Holy Spirit had turned him inside out.

The Flesh

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (John 3:5-6)

It is the spirit that quickens; the flesh profits nothing. (John 6:63)

That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; (Eph 4:22)

For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. (Rom 8:5-9)

From the above passages, we can glean two very important Truths from the Word of God. First, Jesus tells us that if we are born of the flesh – He is talking about our natural birth into this world – then we ARE flesh. Flesh is the stuff we are made of through natural birth. We can be NOTHING else. That is Truth number one – that through natural birth we ARE flesh. This is what it means to be IN ADAM.

Second, we see that the flesh PROFTS NOTHING – in other words, there is NO value in our flesh life. Zero. Paul echoes this strongly, saying that those who are in the flesh cannot please God. And finally, Paul cements this second Truth by telling us that our old man – the flesh man – is corrupt in deceitful lusts. In short, there is nothing about flesh that can please God, and there is nothing about flesh that can obey God. There is nothing of any value in the flesh. That is quite a sorry state. But it is who we are, and what we are made of, unless we are born again.

So what we have is this contrast: Through natural birth I am born OF THE FLESH, completely void of the Spirit of God. Thus, I AM FLESH. And there is no value whatsoever in me – because there is nothing of God in me. But if I am born from above, I now have the Spirit of God in me. This means I am no longer IN THE FLESH, but IN THE SPIRIT. This is the Truth, despite the fact that outside of Jesus Christ in me through the Holy Spirit, the flesh remains present, and must be reckoned with.

Now ask yourself a question: Up until the time that you really began to know Jesus Christ, what were you built of? What comprised the building blocks of your temperament, personality, understanding, and habits of heart and mind? What kind of STUFF were you made of? Flesh – for that which is born of flesh IS flesh. And the second question is: Of what value is any of it? Zero. If this doesn’t give you a clue as to the task at hand in each of our lives set before the Holy Spirit, nothing will.

God has already pronounced death upon what we are made of before Christ. Only that which is of Christ is eternal. This is just how serious all of this Truth is in the life of the believer.

The Self

If Christ in us – one with our spirit – is the new man, and if this is the seat of new life, then we have a clear definition of a spiritually DEAD person: One who is VOID of Christ. That is obvious. But sometimes we don’t get it. We still think that the definition of someone who is lost is someone who DOES BAD THINGS. No. A lost soul is someone who is spiritually dead – they are not one with Christ.

The fundamental problem with man is that he is spiritually dead – he doesn’t have God. He doesn’t know God. We are born that way. For this, we are NOT to blame. But once we know enough to turn to God, we ARE accountable to do so. Those who are condemned forever are not condemned on the basis of being born in Adam. Rather, they are condemned on the basis of choosing it over Christ. In short, we are not to blame for being born in Adam. But once God brings light, we are to blame for staying there. This is the unbelief that brings condemnation.

So we see that the problem is not what man DOES – it is what man IS – it is what man IS because he is void of God. Or, to put it another way, since the problem is that man is spiritually DEAD, the solution is that man needs LIFE.

Jesus said, "I am the LIFE." Thus, if we are made ONE with Christ, we are made one with LIFE Himself. The result is that we are made ALIVE in Christ – we are born again. He IS our life. But just as certainly, without Christ in us, we are dead spiritually. It doesn’t matter how much good we do, or how much bad we do. The question is: Does Christ dwell in us?

Again -- can we see that LIFE isn’t a THING? No. Life is Christ. There is no such THING as life apart from Christ. This is why He is the only way of salvation. If you become one with Christ, you become alive. If you don’t, you remain dead. You can argue all you want, but that is the Truth. Happily, God offers Christ to all – to, "whosoever will come."

But it is here that we are able to see more clearly the Truth about the flesh. We have already seen that if we are born of the flesh, then we are completely flesh – that is, we are flesh that is VOID of Christ. Well, what does that leave a person to work with, to live in, to understand with, and to relate with? It leaves them WITH the flesh – with darkness, spiritual death, and with SELF. It leaves them on THEIR OWN.

Don’t think of, "the flesh," as merely immoral. Rather, the flesh is the SELF-principle. It is man without God – we might even say that the FLESH is like a spiritually dead body, which is under the process of corruption. Paul uses these pictures. (see Rom. 7:24-25, and Eph. 4:22-23) The, "lusts of the flesh," for example, can include unclean things, but in the Bible this phrase means much more. The word LUST always means, "to want to possess or control." Thus, simply wanting to possess my life for myself – over and against God -- is the flesh in action. And yet this need not be conscious. No. In fact, this is how man functions and works without God – it is the kind of creature HE IS. To see things from the standpoint of SELF, and to judge, define, and relate to everything from the standpoint and bias of SELF is OF THE FLESH – and it is all that man can be without Christ. At the end of the day, "to walk according to the flesh," means to live with SELF as the center of my universe. Most people do this unconsciously, never questioning it – to them it is NORMAL.

When you add all of this up you can see that the flesh, or the SELF, is just about all we have if we are VOID OF GOD. Sure. If there is no Truth in us, and no LIFE in us, and nothing of God in us, well, there is just US – there is just SELF. And so SELF is all we will have to work with. SELF will be the only perspective possible. OF THE FLESH will be all that we can be through natural birth.

Natural man is not spiritual – his spirit is actually dead. Much of what we think is spiritual in natural man is NOT his spirit – it is his soul – there is a psychic aspect to man. This psychic aspect is the Devil’s playground. It is of the flesh. That is why when Christians begin to operate in soul power – emotional and SELF power -- mistaking this for the Holy Spirit, that there is great danger.

Fallen Man

SELF – the flesh – are really terms that describe what man is VOID OF GOD. Now, this would be bad enough if we were born upon neutral ground. But we are NOT. Man without God is NOT on neutral ground. . We are actually born into the realm of darkness. (see Col. 1:13) So not only are we void of God, but we are filled with darkness that is of another realm. We are held captive by it.

We can see much of what is wrong with man by simply going back to the book of Genesis and observing Adam right after he sinned. In fact, if we contrast Adam BEFORE he sinned, to Adam AFTER he sinned, there is a great revelation. That contrast really boils down to two verses:

And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. (Gen 2:25)

And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. …I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. (Gen 3:7-10)

Notice that Adam was naked BOTH before and after his sin against God. Yep. The NAKEDNESS was a constant and never changed because of the sin. But notice what this means: It means that God MADE Adam to be naked – for God said Adam was naked and that IT WAS GOOD. But we must ask: What does it mean to be naked, as the term is used here in Genesis? It means you have NOTHING of yourself as a resource – you are naked of all that you need to live. Thus, God’s original design for man was that he have nothing in himself at all as a resource for life.

This might seem bad. But it was very good, as God had said. Why? Because even though God made man without resources in himself, GOD HIMSELF would be Adam’s resource. God would be Adam’s life. It is certain that before the sin, Adam’s human spirit was one with the Spirit of God. That was the source of his life, and the core of his relationship with God.

Here we see why the Bible says that Adam was naked, but NOT ashamed. Adam had no life of his own – nothing in himself. But he was, "not ashamed," because God fully COMPLETED him. Thus, even though Adam was barren without God, he was not ashamed – did not notice his nakedness or suffer from it – because Adam had GOD IN HIM. God completed his very life and person.

Again we see that God’s original design was that man be dependent upon Him, and that God fully complete him. This is an absolutely union between God and man. And it was good. Adam benefited fully from this. Indeed, we might say, at that point, that Adam was TRUE – he was TRUE TO GOD. For everything about him – his personhood, and his relationship with God – was in accordance with the TRUTH. He was, we might say, A TRUE MAN, or creature.

Now, after the sin, we find that Adam is STILL NAKED. But now he IS ashamed. Why? Well, because he had walked away from God. He was no longer one with God. He was VOID of God. Thus, he was no longer completed by God. So what we have after the sin is a man who remains naked, but is now on his own, and INCOMPLETE. He is a flesh and blood human being, but VOID of the spiritual life that comes only from God within his spirit. This results in great, "shame," indeed, in great torment. Adam has nothing in himself as a resource for life – and now God no longer completes him.

Here we see the condition of fallen man. Adam had not only sinned against God, but the result was that he was not emptied of God. This made him a living LIE. He was a lie as to his relationship with God, and the consequence was that he was a LIE in his very person. He no longer reflected the Truth about God. Instead, he reflected himself – and to do so is a LIE.

God has made man for one purpose – to belong to God and to be an expression of God. In other words, we were made for God’s glory – to be filled with it, and to manifest Him. When a person is at least headed in that direction, that person is TRUE. But if a person is void of God, and therefore living for himself, and seeking his own glory, that person is a living LIE.

He that speaks of himself seeks his own glory: but he that seeks his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him. (John 7:18)

What we see is that everything we are is the result of who we are TO GOD. Make no question about it, we are fully accountable to God. This is so certain and complete, that not only will God judge us accordingly, but who we are to God is going to be reflected in our very person and character. Actually, that is happening NOW. We are either a LIE or a TRUE expression unto God.

If we read the actions of Adam after the sin it tells us much more about the flesh. Not only did he remain naked – but was now totally ashamed – but now he also tried to fix it. He tried to cover his nakedness, not by turning back to God, but by fending for himself. Rather symbolically, he used something of the earth – fig leaves. Ever since, man has been trying to compensate for the absence of God within himself with something that is of this earth. Ever since Adam became incomplete and spiritually dead, man has been trying to complete himself with something.

Spiritually dead human beings – naked and fully incomplete human beings – have only SELF to work with to live. When a creature who is MADE to be dependent upon God turns away from God, that creature is still going to be dependent – upon something. The nearest thing is HIMSELF. When Adam lost God he was still naked – he had only his naked self. And he tried to fix it. We have been doing the same thing ever since.

SELF – the flesh – is really what we are void of God. And because we are not turned OUTWARD unto God, we will turn INWARD to ourselves. Because we have no Truth to guide us, and through which to see life, we will interpret life through SELF. Now, of course, all of this happens quite unconsciously. It is the nature of the creature we have become – and to us, it is NORMAL. We never question it.

Man is a Lie

After Adam sinned, he tried to cover his true condition. He tried to compensate for it. In effect, as he covered his true condition with fig leaves, he was constructing a lie. He was not only OF the flesh, but now he was building himself out of that same flesh.

So it is with us through natural birth. Everything we are is a product of FLESH reacting and absorbing from our environment. We are a composite of our upbringing, our gene pool, our temperament, our environment, and most importantly, our moral choices. But all of what we are is built out of flesh, because, "that which is born of flesh IS flesh." Flesh is the only material we have to work with. Through natural birth, without Truth in us, we cannot be built by the Truth.

Yet you will note that we each have a different version of this same flesh. Indeed, our fig leaves may differ as to shape, size, or color. Your flesh appears and acts one way, and mine another. Some flesh is pleasant, while other flesh is disagreeable. But in the end, it is all flesh -- and consequently, it is a LIE. A living lie.

Man doesn’t merely lie. Man IS a lie. Without God, man has NO TRUTH in him. Without God, man has NOTHING with which to work that speaks of Truth, life, or light. Everything we build, and everything we become, is the result of alienation from God. And that very condition IS a lie.

Now note: Man is a lie. But not simply as a thing unto himself. Rather, man is a LIE UNTO GOD. God made man to be dependent upon HIM. Instead, man depends upon himself – which is a living LIE. God made man to live for HIM. Man lives for himself. That is a LIE. Indeed, man is totally naked and ashamed. Everything we build, do, or construct out of the flesh to HIDE that or deny it is a LIE.

Of course, this condition is exactly why there can be no salvation unless, under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, we stand before the Lord naked and confess the fact. We have to come to terms with our sin of trying to live independent of the Lord. The Lord wants to strip off the fig leaves – get behind what we have built up of the flesh – and expose us as naked. Sure. That IS the Truth about us. But the good news is that if we will so stand before Him, He will give us life through His Son Christ. Christ which come to live in us – he will become one with us through the Holy Spirit.

Without the Truth Himself living in us, we are NOT true. We are not true to God, and we are not true in any other way. Oh, it might seem like we can tell the truth once in awhile. But even that comes out of a creature who is, by nature, a lying version of what God originally intended. This is man without God. And it is not a pretty picture.

Natural man is built out of flesh. Nothing else. It doesn’t matter if the flesh is nice, or if the flesh is not nice. It is still flesh. And until Christ comes and dwells in us, flesh we will be -- THAT is the stuff of which we are made.

God in OUR Image

As mentioned earlier, don’t think of SELF or the FLESH as only sins – in the conventional sense. We think of, "the flesh," as that which is immoral. But no. The flesh is the SELF seeking to control our lives – both consciously and unconsciously. Therefore, for professing Christians, the flesh can also be quite religious. Many Christians operate from SELF by trying to control GOD!

One way we do this is by creating God in OUR image. Despite the fact that God said, "Let us make man in our image," our flesh will try to create God in OUR image! This can happen without conscious intent – it is simply the flesh doing what it does – and the result of not knowing the Truth. It is possible to create a god for yourself who is nothing more than a religious version of YOU! Your god will be religious YOU looking back at YOU – he will be a god composed of the religious materials found in your own heart.

What does a god who is created in MY image look like? Well, he looks like……ME. Sure, I’ve created Him out of the materials that are found IN ME. He is not Truth revealed to me. He is ME creating my version of the Truth.

For example, people create a God who affirms them, even in sin. Why? Because THEY affirm their sin. Others create a God who is always on their side against everyone else. Why? Because THEY are on their side. Some leaders create a god who will bless everything they do. Why? Because they aren’t about to be corrected, and THEY bless everything they do.

It is also possible to create a negative god in our image. People create a mean and ugly God – and even if they aren’t mean and ugly, He is created out of SOMETHING in them that affirms their image of God as being the Truth. Others think of God as always condemning them. But this is nothing more than a subtle result of not coming out into the light.

The Bible reveals that the only way to know God in Spirit and in Truth is through REVELATION. But at some point, this does require faith on our part. It is only by stepping into the light that we see light – it is only by stepping into HIS LIGHT that we see God. This is usually where God starts with us. He gives us enough light to know to step into MORE light.

So it is clear that God has to reveal Himself to us from the OUTSIDE of us INTO US. But what if we try to muster up God from ourselves? Well, how could our god possibly be the Truth? How could he be anything BUT a being created in our own image? He could be ONLY that because we have created him out of our own ignorance, bias, imagination, and really, out of our own FLESH.

Some professing Christians have created such a god out of their own SELF – and they have propped Him up with Bible verses and piety. But they don’t know God. This is why some are completely deceived, and are able to preach and teach and live some of the most preposterous things imaginable!

Of course, Satan loves this. The SELF or FLESH is HIS territory, and so if we are walking according to the flesh, he is going to help us along.

SELF is, pardon the expression, the most, "self-deceiving," thing! For example, there are many people whose manifestation of the flesh is expressed through self-righteousness. Make no question about it, they have unconsciously created a god that affirms this – made possible because they don’t know the Truth. Some express the flesh through a destructive kind of, "love." They try to control others, but say it is LOVE. Others use God for their own purposes and agenda – this is all of the flesh. Others serve till they are exhausted, not out of love, but out of a reason found in SELF. For Pete’s sake, it is even possible to take PRIDE in one’s supposed humility! Flesh can look good, religious, and even spiritual. But it is still the flesh. It is still about self.

The solution here is not to merely memorize Bible doctrine. The only solution is to SEE JESUS. Then you will understand doctrine. Every error that governs people’s lives finds its root in the fact that we do not know the Truth about God Himself. And when that is the case, what fills the void is error about God created out of ourselves and our SELF – affirmed and promoted by the enemy.

Serving God

Flesh and the natural man not only want to do INSTEAD of letting God do, but it also wants to do FOR God. It is really the same thing. We try to do for God mostly because we do not believe that HE will do it! And because there is usually a pressing need in such temptations, we rationalize that God would surely want us to act on His behalf.

But you will notice that the key here is unbelief. It isn’t so much the things we are doing, but the unbelief that is behind them.

Perhaps one of the most common expressions of the flesh that we have towards God is found in our motives for obeying and serving Him. Many of us obey God to, "stay on His good side." Or to earn a reward. Or to avoid some punishment. So many Christians serve God for what we think we are going to get out of Him for it. We might not say that in words, or even be aware of our motives, but we obey God for what we perceive to be the BENEFITS. Few of us obey God out of a pure worship, or because we want to give Him HIS WILL.

Religious flesh tends to obey God for what we will get out of it. True worship obeys God for what HE will get out of it. Of course, if we really understood it, we would recognize that if God gets what HE wants out of our lives, we will actually get what WE want. But you see, this requires a much different course than we might expect. It requires coming to the Cross and an unconditional surrender to God whereby we pass through a death to OURSELVES, and are raised enlarged in Christ. This is something that religious flesh will fight.

I used to think that if I trusted God – my definition of trust, of course – and did all of the, "right things," that God was somehow obligated to bless me. This is a disguised way of obeying God for a blessing. And certainly, if we want to hunt and pick, we can find many Bible verses to back up such a notion – which I did. After all, it IS true that if you trust the Lord you are going to be blessed in the long run. But I made the mistake of thinking that this was about following the right principles, doing the right thing, and making sure that I kept God pleased with me. If I did all of that, I assumed, then surely God MUST come through and keep up His end of the bargain. In short, if I pleased God, I figured He had to please me. He was obligated to do so. SELF deceived me into thinking that a walk with God was one where God had promised to SERVICE MY LIFE as long as I did the right things to merit that.

The idea that we can make deals with God, or that we can manipulate God, or APPEASE Him with obedience, or somehow convince Him to do as we desire, is such utter nonsense. But the flesh won’t see it that way. We will rationalize ourselves into thinking such things – it is all part of trying to be in control. Hidden from us will be the fact that we must fully and completely LET GO of all control into the hands of God.

If the lust of the flesh is primarily the desire to possess our lives for ourselves in some form, then you can see the conflict if we see that we must LET GO of that control. We might give assent to this as a principle, but when the test comes, it won’t be that easy. Fortunately, God knows how to do this. And He will make it possible.

Jesus said, "Whoever will LOSE his life into my hands will FIND it." Well, I just didn’t SEE this Truth. I was essentially trying to POSSESS (or save) my life religiously – and I was trying to get God to help me! So the more I tried to save myself FOR MYSELF – with God’s help – the more I discovered that God was working towards getting me to LOSE myself to Him.

We tend to think of surrender as negative. We approach it as if God is twisting our arm. Then, at some point, we say, "uncle," and resign, because we realize that it is no use fighting. This is actually NOT surrender in faith. To surrender to God in faith is a voluntary ASKING of God to take us. We will not settle for less. We desire Him. But none of that is really possible unless we SEE JESUS, and as a result, become set free from the lies of the flesh into a relationship with God.

I remember one day when I was fearful about some things before the Lord, and actually feeling rather cheated by God. I felt I had trusted Him but that everything had turned catastrophic. There was this terrible picture of God that I had as being aloof, indifferent, and even angry at me – which I thought was probably why things had taken such a bad turn. It was just then that God showed me something through the Holy Spirit – I recognize this now, years later, that it was the Holy Spirit – it was then that I realized that this picture of God that I had was NOT the Truth – but that it had been manufactured out of my own heart of the flesh. It was really a compilation of my desire to have my life a certain way, and of my fears. I not only saw that what had governed me about God was a LIE, but I then realized that available behind all of that was the TRUTH – and that even though I couldn’t yet see too much, that God really was everything He claimed to be. I had not seen that because I was too blinded by wanting my life – and this had given the flesh place to deceive me.

The power of the flesh – and the enemy – finds its base in our desire to possess ourselves. Sure. Isn’t the quest to possess oneself THE SIN? Yep. So to the extent that I keep myself from God I will not see Him or know Him. And that leaves me to create a god in my own image – out of all of my fears, bias, and imagination.

It is possible to do all of this religiously. Flesh can LOOK GOOD. It can even look spiritual. In fact, flesh can even manifest a certain amount of psychic power. That’s another subject. But fortunately, God will be faithful to whittle away at these deceptions and try to bring us into the Truth. But He cannot unless He chips away at our desire to own ourselves. Only the, "pure in heart," can see God – only those who want what God wants.

Good and Bad Trees

Jesus said, "A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit." Do you believe that? Do you believe that if a person is NOT saved that it is impossible for them to bear good fruit? That is what Jesus is saying. He is saying that the most loving, giving, and serving human being on the face of this earth – if they are NOT saved – is NOT bearing good fruit. They CANNOT bear good fruit. They can only bear that which is OF THE FLESH and of SELF. That which is born of flesh IS flesh!

We have to warm up to the unwelcome truth that on our best day we are made of FLESH – we are dead spiritually. Thus, even when unbelievers do good things their actions have flesh and self behind them – even if they don’t realize it. Now, certainly, Christians are likewise capable of being motivated by self and capable of walking according to the flesh. Indeed, Christians probably do this MORE than unbelievers. It is a big problem in the church.

Why aren’t good deeds always good deeds? Because there is nothing, "good," unless we take it back to how it relates to God. Thus, the question isn’t whether I am doing a good thing for people. The question is how I am related to God in what I am doing. If I have rejected God, or serve a false God, then what I do might look good, and even help people, but it is of faith in God? Does it come from an inner worship and relationship with God? If not, then ASK: Where is it coming from? Well, then it is coming from SELF and FLESH.

Read the Bible. Read Galatians. Do we think that those people at Galatia who were walking according to, "another gospel" – that of righteousness by works – do we think they were doing BAD DEEDS? No. They were doing GOOD deeds. But WHY were they doing these good deeds? They were doing them, not because they were resting by faith in Christ, but they were doing them because they were NOT – their faith was in THEMSELVES; in their own works. Do we seriously believe that God ignored their faith and their relationship with Him and exalted their works? No. The fact that God would never do this is the entire point of the epistle. Their works were not to serve God, but to establish their own righteousness – in other words, their works were actually of the flesh and of self.

Think not? Note the words of Paul to the Galatians:

Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? (Gal 3:3)

Clearly, the Galatians thought they were being matured spiritually by their works – and they would never have thought this unless the works in question were GOOD works. But Paul said they were really trying to be made mature BY THE FLESH – yes, through those same GOOD works. The Galatians, because they were not rightly related to God by faith – because they were not walking in the Truth – were, by default, walking according to the flesh. They were obeying God and serving God – and oh, I’m sure it all looked wonderful – but they were doing all of that under the power of religious FLESH.

Can we see here that the solution is NOT to start doing BAD WORKS? That would not be of faith either. Hardly. The solution is to be set free from the motivation of self and flesh.

Now ask: What exactly is it that motivates us to obey God for the sake of SELF? – rather than for the sake of faith working through love? For Christians it may be a number of things. Some obey God because they are afraid NOT to obey Him. In other words, they are motivated by FEAR. This is self-serving, because I am, in that case, obeying to save my skin and avoid a perceived punishment. Others obey God for a reward they think they will receive. The self-serving element here is obvious. Yet others obey God because it feeds their self-esteem, which is equal to saying it make them feel righteous. But can we see that everyone of these false motives find their root in NOT KNOWING GOD, and in unbelief with regards to the finished work of Christ? Absolutely.

If you really KNOW God, you will not obey Him, or submit to Him, for a reward – or to avoid some punishment. This does not mean there aren’t rewards, or that there aren’t consequences for sin. No. But those considerations won’t be your motivation. Why? Because if you know God, you will love God. And if you love God you will want to obey Him. It is impossible to know and love God and fail to at least WANT to obey Him!

A person who is walking in the Spirit of Truth, rather than walking according to SELF, is going to obey God to the complete disregard of rewards and punishments. You will obey God even if there was NOTHING for you to gain from it – you will obey Him to simply give HIM the gain. Love will do that. But SELF will not. SELF and the flesh may pretend to do that. But in the end, self and the flesh obey God for what we think we will get out of it.

Notice the contrast: There is a big chasm between obeying God to get something from Him, and obeying Him out of love, for His glory and purpose. In the former, my love is for MYSELF, and for the gain I realize through my obedience. In the latter, my love if for God and His purpose.

To settle this, we might go back to something touched on earlier, and paraphrase a statement of Jesus. He would say, "Whoever would LOSE or LET GO of his reward, will find it. But whoever would try to EARN his reward will lose it." This is not a stretch. His words apply to everything having to do with LIFE. We have to live for God to the complete disregard of any rewards. We have to live for Him because we love Him, and realize that He is quite able to take care of everything else.

If I am obeying God for what I think I will get out of it, I might want to read the parable of the laborers in the vineyard. Jesus told that parable as a direct answer to the question, "We have left everything and followed You, Lord, so what are we going to have out of all of this?" The lesson of the parable is that if you serve God for a reward you will never appreciate even the reward you desire, because you will never value God Himself, or your need for His grace. People that obey God for a reward are deceived into thinking that what they do for God is more important than what He has done for them. They still think that their obedience somehow obligates God to them. They still think that this is about THEM, and what they have to offer, instead of God’s desire to give Himself to us.

Unbelievers and deceived Christians alike are capable of doing some wonderful looking works – but all to serve SELF. We serve our hunger for self-righteousness, and we serve our need to feel good about ourselves. This is ALL OF THE FLESH. It is not works which are OF FAITH.

Again – a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. If what we are doing is not planted in faith in Christ, then it cannot bear good spiritual fruit. It may seem to bear good fruit for awhile. But in the long term, this is not for the glory of God. It is not going to grow up into His will. It will eventually show itself as FLESH.

I know that this probably sounds quite cynical. It sounds like I am putting down charitable works and the like. It sounds like I am being unmerciful to ignorant people. But at some point, we need to come to terms with the TRUTH. Nothing you and I do means anything positive if we are not rightly related to God through Christ by faith. We must be vessels through whom the Holy Spirit can work God’s will to HIS glory. Anything else and we are NOT going to please God. Indeed, we are probably already living to please ourselves, using the very things of God to do so.

All obedience in the Christian life is to be the OUTCOME of being rightly related to God by faith. Thus, any supposed obedience that is the outcome of NOT being rightly related to God by faith is NOT of faith, and is therefore not really obedience. It is not of God. Rather, it is of unbelief and of the flesh. In the long run, that which is born of flesh – even if what is born of flesh is our obedience – will prove to BE FLESH. It will not be to God’s glory, but to our own. Religious obedience to God done by SELF will end up, in some way, serving SELF, even if what it does is create a self-righteous person.

God simply wants us to lose our fig leaves. This is actually freedom. But it would seem that it is one of the most difficult lessons to learn. It is hard because we don’t know God. Thus, we continue to hide from Him behind flesh.

Dealing With Sin

We saw how Adam tried to deal with his sin: Instead of confessing it, he tried, yes, to cover it up, but really, he tried to FIX IT. But don’t think Adam was trying to merely fix the historical act of sin of which he was guilty. No. He was also trying to fix the damage that he did to himself through his sin – he was trying to fix the consequences of turning away from God.

That would be humorous if not so tragic. The only way to, "fix," the consequences of turning away from God is to turn back to God through Christ! But it seems that this is the last thing many people, including many Christians, see as the Truth.

Now, the incredible thing is: This is all unbelief. If we try to fix sin in any other way except that of turning to Christ, THIS IS UNBELIEF -- AND IT ALSO SIN.

I submit that professing Christians sin more through unbelief – they sin more through what they try to do with sin – than they sin through their initial unlawful acts. Have we realized that SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS is sin? That anything short of full dependence and reliance upon Christ for my sin -- IS SIN? Sure. It is UNBELIEF – and unbelief is sin.

One of the problems here is that if we are governed by SELF and the FLESH – we will even be governed by SELF and the FLESH in our response to our sin. For example, if we feel condemned after we sin, it is possible for us to assume that God feels that way. We might take our feelings and superimpose them upon God, and think that the way we feel is the result of His conviction upon us. Some cannot tell the difference between their own unbelief and the conviction of the Holy Spirit. This is FLESH.

The question at that point is NOT whether you have sinned. No. I’m talking about a situation where you HAVE. But the question is what you are NOW supposed to do about it.

When we sin, some of us think that to appease God, we must put in our, "guilt time." For others, we think we can undo the sin by obeying. Or we make promises to God to better. We serve the God we believe – this is what we think will appease Him. About the last thing we will do is believe and depend upon Christ. For in order to do that, we have to pass through the ordeal of standing naked before the Lord and concluding that there is nothing we can do about ourselves.

There are endless possibilities as to how we might deal with sin – even as professing believers – if we do not believe. But all of it is of the flesh. We are trying to deal with our nakedness with some version of a fig leaf.

What is the Truth? The Truth is, Christ died for you a long time before you were born. You can do nothing to make His redemption for you MORE complete. It already IS complete. You can do nothing to UNDO it. Thus, it is left to us to BELIEVE and EMBRACE Him.

Do you realize that real faith in Christ is in no way reliance upon YOURSELF? Do you realize that the death of Christ was completely independent of anything about you – and therefore, your faith is not based upon anything about you? Faith is based upon CHRIST – apart from you, your works, your promises to do better, and apart from any gimmick that the flesh can come up with.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Rom 8:1-4)

But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; {24} Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: (Rom 3:21-24)

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:8-10)

Our redemption is based on NOTHING about ourselves. It is based on Christ. But you see, don’t just think of this in legal terms. Think of it is LIVING terms. The Christ who did all of this for us, IS ALL OF THIS IN US. HE is our righteousness. In short, the Redemption of Jesus Christ is as finished for us as Christ Himself is alive and living in us.

The Work of the Cross

Jesus not only bore our SIN on the Cross. He bore our SELF – in a very real sense, he bore US – the flesh, that is. That is why Paul can say, "I am crucified WITH Christ." Again, we see that there is much more to Christianity to a LEGAL status that is IMPUTED to us because of what Christ did for us. Rather, Christianity is a living union between God and man because Christ Himself is IMPARTED to us, and is living IN US.

Our flesh was never made one with Christ. Our spirit was made one with Christ. That is why in Christ we can walk in the Spirit, but must not walk according to the flesh. This is why we are citizens of heaven; a heavenly people – because we are one with Him. This is why we are supposed to LIVE FROM ABOVE, fully dependent upon God. But saying all of that is one thing. Living and experiencing it is another.

This matter of dependency cannot be overemphasized. It is NOT optional. God wants to make us dependent upon Him. And that is because He wants to provide for us. But how does He do this work? Well, to make us dependent upon God, the Cross must come against all that we would depend upon otherwise, which boils down to our natural man.

This ought to explain some things to some Christians. It ought to explain, for example, why, despite the promises of God to provide, it sometimes seems as if God is TAKING AWAY, or KEEPING AWAY, what you think you need. What is happening here is that the Cross is touching, not only the THINGS you might depend upon, but more importantly, the Cross is touching YOU so that you will stop depending upon things. Thus, for a time God is actually tearing down you old life, and your old thoughts. You might think everything is wrong. But it is all right.

Full dependency upon God is not some religious jargon that we parrot because we know that it is what God wants to hear. For some people, it is necessary for them to LOSE EVERYTHING. And not just material possessions. The main thing we must lose is our sense of self-righteousness and entitlement from God. This is a drastic work.

You see, it is one thing to depend upon THINGS. Maybe we have that conquered. But so many of us really depend upon OURSELVES before the Lord! We have this subtle sense of entitlement before Him because of our faith or because of our works. Yet this is the biggest barrier of all to full dependency upon God! It is of the FLESH – religious flesh. It is contrary to the grace of God.

Anytime we put ourselves in a position of entitlement before the Lord, we are operating in the flesh. God cannot bless us in this deception. God wants to bring us to the place where, yes, we are fully dependent upon Him, but to where we realize His provision is solely by His grace. Do we see the incredibly revolutionary CHANGE that must occur in us for this to happen? And that is what it means to walk in the Spirit.

The fact is, there is no other definition of walking in the Spirit in the Bible except it include full dependency upon God for everything – at least we must be headed in that direction. If we cannot depend on God for even our material needs, then how can we say we really trust Him? – how can we say we believe Him for spiritual needs? If we cannot count on God for one thing he promises, then how can we count on Him for anything? Again – God wants to fully provide for us, but in order for that to happen, we must become fully dependent upon Him. This will take the work of the Cross upon our self-sufficiency.

Provision in Life

Today in Christianity error and confusion reigns due to our failure to see the Truth in this area. One example is that of SUCCESS. On Christian TV today, there are those who preach that God wants us to be successful and happy. Some limit this to money. Others speak in terms of self-esteem. But more and more, false teachers like Joel Osteen preach that God wants you to have, "Your Best Life Now." And to many, this sounds right. After all, God IS a good God, isn’t He? He wants people to find peace and joy, doesn’t He? He prospers those who obey Him. What? Are we to say that God demands that we be UNSUCCESSFUL and FAILURES? Are we to say that God wants us to be miserable and those who hate our own souls? Is dependence upon God a ticket to poverty and lack? What is the Truth here?

This is, in fact, a Truth that every Christian needs to see. It is a Truth that governs our entire lives. That Truth is this: It isn’t that God doesn’t want us happy and successful. But He will never approve it apart from HIMSELF, and the Lordship of Jesus Christ. God will never accept the success and happiness that can be achieved by SELF and natural man functioning apart from HIMSELF. In fact, this is exactly what Christ died to END. When Christ died the END of natural man’s attempt to find success and happiness independent from God had the sentence of death pronounced upon it. Thus, God does want us to be happy and to prosper. But only as the result of being IN CHRIST – only as the result of our fellowship and relationship with HIM.

This Truth is supposed to be lived out in our lives – not just be a theological concept. For example, do we realize that God wants us to be completely dependent upon Him – which means He wants to fully provide for us? Christians glibly proclaim that they trust the Lord, and verbally acknowledge that all that we have comes from Him, but when everything is said and done, can it REALLY be said that we are utterly dependent upon God? Do we REALLY trust the Lord for every dime we get? Or is most of what we possess nothing more than US doing the same thing unbelievers do, with really no more faith than that which unbelievers have? I would submit that until our faith in this matter if fully tested, and we are brought to the place BY GOD of utter dependence, than yes, our words may be correct, and our intentions quite good, but we are not fully dependent. I think most of us operate in the natural more than we can imagine on just this one point alone.

The natural man is reliant upon himself. When push comes to shove, the flesh will take the course which profits us most, requires the least amount of faith, and which leaves control in our hands. Christians do this all the time – except that we are deceived into thinking that God WANTS us to do it. "Surely," we say, "God expects me to prosper." Indeed, so many Christians assume, sometimes in pride, that the reason they are blessed is because of the value God finds in THEM. In reality, the reason many Christian people prosper is because they are fully in control of their lives, and their flesh is able to make them prosper in this age. God has little to do with it. If you serve mammon, as a Christian, you may greatly prosper. But you won’t be serving God.

The solution here is not to just give everything away, or to sit and do nothing. No. It is quite possible for Christian people to give IN THE FLESH, thinking that the fact they give proves something to God, or entitles them to blessing from Him. No. This is all wrong. It is also possible to sit and do nothing in life, thinking that this is spiritual. No. You can do nothing in the flesh just like you can do much in the flesh. None of it may be of faith. But the solution is found in God. God will take the initiative and apprehend us – He will bring the work of the Cross which will make us dependent upon Him. The question is whether we will respond, to resort to saving ourselves.

I have known of actual situations where people have turned to God and opened everything they own up to Him. The result in these cases is that God has actually TAKEN EVERYTHING FROM THEM. But what they found through this were great riches in Christ – because they LOST EVERYTHING INTO HIS HANDS. And in the end, God was able to actually prosper them materially according to HIS WILL, because once a person surrenders to God like that, then their relationship with Him is REAL. God can then TRUST them with His will because they are not owned by anything. I have known other situations where what God did was not at all that drastic. But either way, the goal is the same -- we must come to the place where we belong to God, and belong to nothing of this world. That is where the Holy Spirit will bring us.

Have we recognized that full and utter dependence upon God is NOT optional if we intend to go on with Christ into the real Christian life? Full dependence upon God is God’s will – it is the ONLY WILL GOD HAS TO OFFER US. What? – Do we think that it could be God’s will under any circumstances for us to NOT fully depend upon Him? The good news is that full dependence upon God always means full provision FROM God.

This whole issue is a question of FAITH. It is a question of WHOM I serve. It is a matter of whether I am walking in the Spirit, or according to the flesh. You cannot solve the problem by mechanically keeping rules, or by connecting the dots. You can give money all you want, but if you are giving to get, or merely giving to get on God’s good side, or to earn a reward, you are walking in the flesh – for it is all for YOU, and what you think YOU will get out of it. No. You have to LOSE your life into the hands of God – and God must bring the circumstances over which you must do this by FAITH. Believe me, this will make you utterly dependent upon God. The Cross will do that, whether you have much, or whether you have little, only the Cross can bring us into right relationship with God.

So we have this conclusion: God will bless NOTHING that is not the outcome of right relationship with Him -- that right relationship being the result of losing our lives into His hands. Oh, He may let us go on for some time, even a long time, but in the long run, God is committed only to that which is born of the Spirit, and to that which is unto His glory. God will not bless prosperity that is the result of the natural life, and He will not bless poverty that is the result of the natural life. Neither. God will only bless that which is the result of us being rightly related to Him by faith – which means full surrender, and full dependence.

God seeks to DETACH us from this life, by ATTACHING us to Him. This is the key. We are to, "live from above." This is not about techniques and rules. It is about fellowship, Truth, and relationship with God. THAT is what God is working on. It is all He is going to bless. That is why Jesus said, "Seek you first the kingdom of God – which is God’s RULE over everything – and if you do, all that you need will be added to you." (Matt. 6:33) God will bless only the prosperity – indeed, He will CAUSE only the prosperity -- that is the result of becoming rightly related to Him by faith. Central to this is dependency.

Religious Service

We’ve seen how, in Christ, we are a spiritual, new creation – a new man. This is the ONLY MAN that God is going to bless, or commit Himself to. God is not going to commit Himself to our SELF or natural man. You can define the difference in many ways. God is committed to HIS GLORY, HIS WILL, and to HIS PURPOSE in our lives. He is never going to commit Himself to our purposes.

The most oft repeated error in the Christian church is that we have tried to do FOR GOD in the flesh, what only the Spirit of God can accomplish. But the sin here is not that we have simply been mistaken. Rather, we have avoided the personal Cross – we have not been brought into a right relationship with Christ. In short, we have tried to achieve success – FOR GOD – apart from the reality of being IN CHRIST.

To be able to be used of God for HIS purposes, and for HIS glory, requires that the Cross put to death our SELF and NATURAL man. This means that we might be brought to the place where we can do for God without any motive of pride, position, reward, or SELF. The result will be that Christ will be seen. Truth will be taught. And God will get all the glory.

Again, we tend to think that the Cross dealt only with SINS. Well, it did. But the Cross also dealt with SELF – with man’s desire to live independent of God. And make no question, we can live independent of God very nicely and religiously. We can even do so in the ministry.

If we would grasp this Truth it would change everything in ministry. For example, not one person would be in the ministry unless God apprehended them for that purpose. Not one person would be in the ministry for reasons found in SELF. In addition, those in ministry would never use the world’s tactics, or the tactics of the flesh, to grow their church or promote their ministry. There would be no marketing strategies or campaigns. Money would NEVER be, "raised." Sermons or church services would NOT be altered to please anyone – only God’s glory and purpose would be considered. Truth would be taught and practiced to the complete disregard of money, church attendance, or whether people liked it. Only mature believers would serve in leadership roles in church. There would be no denominations. There would be no attempts to achieve peace at the price of Truth. Those who proved to be enemies of Christ would be told to LEAVE. And because of many of these things, the church would suffer great persecution. People like Joel Osteen, Robert Schuller, Kenneth Copeland, and many others I could name, would be confronted, and if they did not repent, would no longer be permitted to preach or damage the Body of Christ. False signs and wonders, and blasphemous claims would cease. The only thing that would matter was the Truth, and that Christ be made known through the church – just as it was in the book of Acts. No one would preach from pride or the quest for popularity. No one would play religious games any more. We would not know each other, "after the flesh," but by the Spirit of God. But having said all of this, you can see the incredible price that would have to be paid. So this isn’t going to happen in any widespread way. But it can happen one church at a time among those who God shows the Truth.

Notice Paul’s clear statement on this matter:

Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.…. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death works in us, but life in you. (2 Cor 4:1-12)

When is the last time that anyone on TBN preached this Truth – that death in the minister of God is God’s means of producing LIFE for the rest of the church? No. The work of the Cross in the life of the believer is almost NEVER mentioned at all in any of our churches any longer. Instead, natural man is running the churches, and deceived into thinking that God is blessing it.

God will bring the Cross upon every expression of natural man. If we try to do for God in the flesh, what only the Spirit can do, we will meet the Cross. This, of course, doesn’t mean we will pick it up. But we will meet it. Do you want to be in ministry? Get used to the Cross.

The people today who are teaching that God wants Christians to be successful and prosperous are NOT doing so according to the Truth. They are leaving out the Cross. They are offering people all the things of Christ – but they are leaving out Christ Himself. They are offering all that God has in resurrection life, but offering it without the necessity of the Cross. In short, they are exalting, and preserving natural man and self. They are denying the Cross. This was exactly the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, and one we see repeated above, where Peter tried to convince Him the Cross was unnecessary. Jesus called this suggestion the words of SATAN.

God has NOTHING for us except it come through the work of the Cross – leading to a fellowship and oneness in purpose with Christ. ALL that God has for us is found in Christ. Thus, if you are successful and happy in this world, even as a believer, but you have achieved this through the efforts of natural man, and the desire to live for this life, you will have to come to terms with this Truth. God does NOT want us happy and content apart from Himself. At some point, He will disturb this. He wants us to become fully dependent upon Him for all.

Natural man cannot receive the things of God, for they are folly to Him. We continue to live according to natural thinking and strive for natural success because we do not see Jesus Christ, and we do not see the terrible darkness of our own lives. So we bring that which belongs to the old, dead creation, into the new life in Christ. It has no place there.

Jesus said we need to LOSE our selves to Him – that is not only our right to possessions, but our very lives as a whole. He did not say that we were supposed to try to save our lives or make them successful, and that He would help us. No. To LOSE one’s life means that you are no longer in control. You have NO say-so. You belong to God – He decides everything. And believe me, it will no longer be a theory. Few of us have a clue about what it really means to LOSE our lives for Christ. A big part of this whole thing is that God must bring us into a knowledge of Himself wherein we will be able to walk in this Truth.

Losing One’s Life

The work of the Cross is to crucify SELF or THE FLESH, so that the inner man in Christ might emerge. God wants all of the motives of the natural to be out of our system, and for us to live only for HIS glory.

This is utterly OUTSIDE of the way we think and perceive. What we think is NORMAL as the basis for life here, is ABNORMAL to God. But Christians are to live on an entirely new basis – one that is contrary to natural thinking. We are to walk in the Spirit. We are to actually live as those who belong to Christ.

Now, don’t think of this as a matter of following the right principles, or a matter of pushing the right religious buttons. This is not about finding the right technique. Rather, it is about fellowship and relationship with God. It is about SEEING JESUS and walking under the reality of our fellowship with Him. This cannot be accomplished by some religious pattern. It is accomplished only if you LOSE everything about yourself into the hands of God.

From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savors not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. (Mat 16:21-25)

And so we see HOW God does this work in us. If you want to possess your life, i.e., your SELF – then Jesus says you will ultimately LOSE it. Why? Because SELF POSSESSION is the very definition of spiritual death. It is really THE sin. SELF POSSESSION is man without God – the flesh. And make no question, we can possess our SELF in any number of fine, respectable, even religious ways. Yet it is all SIN – it is all of the flesh. Jesus bore that on the Cross. God has pronounced the sentence of death upon it. Only if we LOSE our self to Him can we live.

Do you want to BE SOMEONE in the things of God? – to be someone for God? Well, warm up to the fact that God is going to have to crucify this out of your system. The people who count for God are the ones who have surrendered all ambition even in spiritual things to Him. If we want true life in Christ, we have to let go everything about ourselves into His hands. This will take time to experience. But this is the cost of Truth and life in the Spirit.

People today think that to, "walk in the Spirit," means to walk in signs and wonders, or to have a continual dialog with God. Some think that unless you are having visions and times of elation that you are not spiritual. Others believe that the indication that you are in the Spirit is that you speak in tongues. This is all a bunch of hogwash. To, "walk in the Spirit," means, first, that we are GOVERNED by the Spirit – in other words, JESUS will be our personal Lord. But there are other characteristics of the Holy Spirit -- first, He is called, "the Spirit of TRUTH." And He is the HOLY Spirit. So at the top of the list, if you are walking in the Spirit at all, you are walking in TRUTH and in HOLINESS – you are at least walking in that direction. If you think you are spiritual, but you think Truth and holiness don’t matter, you are deluded.

HOLINESS means to belong to God. In other words, right there we see that we cannot belong to SELF if we are to walk in the Spirit. We have to open ourselves for the work of the Cross. We easily open ourselves when we think the Cross will deal with sin. But it isn’t so easy when the issue is SELF.

To lose your life for the sake of Jesus isn’t a matter of rules that God has laid down and demands we keep under threat of punishment. Rather, it is a matter of the nature of things. Possess your SELF independent of God and you are divorced from LIFE HIMSELF. You will die. But lose your SELF to Him and you will live. Man was made for God. He cannot live upon any other basis.


Truth will crucify even SELF RIGHTEOUSNESS – it will leave us with NOTHING about ourselves upon which to rely. If you want to go on with Jesus Christ, the cost is going to be that you must lose everything about yourself upon which you might stake a claim to righteousness.

This happened with Paul:

I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinks that he has a reason he might trust in the flesh, I have more: I was circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were a gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things as loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. (Phil 3:4-11)

Paul lost every reason he might have found in himself to stand as righteous before God. Do we think that Paul came to this by reading Bible verses? No. He came to it by being exposed before the Lord for what he was: Naked and ashamed. But you will notice that it didn’t end there. Paul isn’t lamenting over himself. He states the result of this terrible exposure: "That I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead."

If we think according to the flesh, we will come up with two options for our SELF: High self-esteem and low self-esteem. Those with high self-esteem think well of themselves, and those who low self-esteem think poorly of themselves. Christians then superimpose this upon God and believe that HE thinks that way towards us. But no. Both high and low self-esteem are of SELF. What Paul describes in Philippians is the real goal of God for us: To be delivered from SELF, and to be focused upon Christ. This is an alternative with is OUTSIDE what is possible for natural man. But through the new birth, it is not only possible, but it is where the Holy Spirit will take us.

Yet today, many preach that God wants to give us high self-esteem, indeed, they preach that God wants to bring out OUR greatness. How incredibly blind. And yet why should it be a surprise that man would come up with a SELF-CENTERED version of the gospel? -- one that keeps SELF intact by denying the Cross, and yet offers new life in Christ?

The Work of the Holy Spirit

A number of years ago, God spoke something to me that was amazing. It wasn’t so much with words that He spoke to me – rather, it was an incredible realization. Here is what I realized: NOTHING that we believe about ourselves is the Truth.

Now, of course, I’m not talking about the color of our hair, etc. Neither am I referring to our correct belief that we are sinners saved by grace. No. There are times when God shows us things about ourselves and we confess them. Sure. But right now, I’m not talking about any of that stuff. Rather, I’m talking about what we imagine ourselves to be before the Lord. I’m talking about the stuff that we THINK we are made of. It would seem that each of us have an impression of ourselves – maybe we could call it, "a spiritual body imagine." We tend to operate from that before the Lord. But the Truth is, there is almost nothing about it that is right.

Why? Because as stated earlier, we have been built by the flesh. Not only have we been built by the flesh, but even our perception of ourselves IS OF THE FLESH. I’m talking about our plight BEFORE the Lord is able to open our eyes. As stated earlier, man is a LIE. Our flesh is a LIE. Therefore, nothing we are is the Truth, including what we believe about ourselves.

It is simply not possible for a person who has been built by the flesh to see themselves according to the Truth, because part of what the flesh has built is their inability to see themselves according to the Truth! Or, to put it more correctly, it is impossible to see the Truth about ANYTHING, let alone ourselves, unless we SEE JESUS CHRIST. He is the LIGHT. He is the TRUTH. Unless we see ourselves along side of HIM, we have nothing as a BASIS. Unless we see ourselves along side of HIM, we are left to ourselves, and darkness, and to the flesh, to see the Truth about ourselves – and that is impossible.

Go back to the statement of Jesus: That which is born of the flesh IS flesh. Well, isn’t your self-image, your perception of yourself before God – wasn’t that initially born of the flesh? Sure. Therefore, EVEN IT IS FLESH. Without the introduction of the Truth in Jesus Christ, flesh is all you can be, and with the flesh is all you can perceive. Therefore, until you begin to really see Jesus, everything you believe about yourself is pretty much error.

This continues even after we are born again. Why? Because even though we are saved, our minds are not yet renewed according to what? – According to the Truth! According to Christ! But if we consider only that one statement – that our minds must be renewed according to the Truth – doesn’t this tell us that initially they are NOT according to the Truth? Sure. That is why they must BE renewed by the Truth. This renewal by the Truth is a progressive thing – as we grow to know Christ.

And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. (Eph 4:23-24)

And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: (Col 3:10)

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Rom 12:1-2)

Once we are saved, the Holy Spirit will strive to reveal to us the Truth. This will eventually bring us an UNDERSTANDING of Christ. That, in turn, will renew our minds away from thinking according to the FLESH and SELF, over to thinking TRUTH.

There are going to come times in this growth process where you begin to feel as if God is breaking you apart – that the very fabric of your being and your self-image is being shattered. Well, it is. This is what the Holy Spirit must do. What else would we think is necessary? We are born A LIE, and we have built ourselves into A LIE. Now God wants to MAKE US TRUE. The transition will turn our world upside down! But the sooner the better.

The SELF and the FLESH are lies – and to the degree that they govern us, we will BE a lie. But the Holy Spirit must come in, and through the power of the Cross, show us the Truth. When we begin to see it, we will see that the power of that old man has, in fact, been broken. We will see the lies that we have believed, yes, about ourselves, but more importantly, about God. And the Truth about God will set us free.

When a person begins to see the Truth about God, and embraces Him, the result is that we will begin to see the Truth about ourselves. The first impact of this will not be pretty, because to see the Truth about yourself initially means that you will see that you are a LIE. But then, once this is embraced in Christ, the result will be positive – if you embrace the Truth about God, the Truth will MAKE YOU TRUE TO HIM.

Created In Christ

Before being born again, we are built of the flesh. But once we are born again, we are a NEW creation – incased, if you will, IN flesh. But God intends for us to grow – He wants to create, or to BUILD, us in Christ Jesus. This is a building up of what the Bible calls the INNER MAN, or the NEW MAN.

The new man is who we are in Christ – the new creation is the union of us and Christ – and it is a spiritual oneness. The old is everything outside of that. The old is fading away. It is under the finality of the Cross. God will seek to TEAR IT DOWN. But if we are in Christ, God wants to build us up in Christ:

That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man. (Eph 3:16)

For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; (2 Cor 4:16-17)

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them….having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; (Eph 2:10)

The old creation in Adam has had the death sentence pronounced upon it in Christ. God is now working on the NEW creation. What this means for us is that He is calling us OUT of the old and seeking to create us in Christ Jesus. He doesn’t want this to be merely a theological concept to believe. He wants it to be a spiritual reality NOW.

There is a great need to understand the Truth about this inner man vs. the outer man. But as we have seen, that Truth is continually revealed in the Word of God.

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