Wednesday, January 14, 2009


THE POTENTIALITIES OF THE FLESH The variety of ways, in which the self-life expresses itself, or may find expression for itself, is given a full listing, in a catalogue, not complimentary to human nature in Galatiand 5;19-21. It is a startling list; we are ashamed of it before we read it. It begins with the baser sins of sex and passion, but it takes full account of the more refined sins that ''get by'' in polite society. A more comprehensive arraignment of fallen human nature is found in Romans 1;26- 32. Another is in 2 Timothy 3;1-7. They are a valuable part of the ''all scripture'' that is inspired of God and ''is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness'' [2 Timothy 3;16]. Dear Friend, If you would understand yourself and the workings of your nature that so often have baffled you and even alarmed you, study your Bible; know what it has to say about YOU, apart from the Spirit. Paul did not invent these charges, but was only following our Lord, Who had this searching word for the men of His day; ''That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness,wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness; all these evil things come from within, and defile the man.'' [Mark 7;20-23]. In these 4 lists, the children of Adam are charged with sex sins, social sins, and spiritual sins. Not that any one person would be guilty of all of these; they are the potentialities of human nature, the evil channels through which it may find expression. I have never been a drunkard; but I have a nature capable of drinking. I have never murdered; but I share with the race a nature that is capable of murder. I do not get angry; but if my nature were not disciplined, I would. Thank God, we of America did not commit the atrocities, laid at the door of the Germans and Japanese in WWII, BUT WE SHOULD HUMBLY ACKNOWLEDGE THAT WE HAVE A NATURE THAT APART FROM THE RESTRAINT OF CHRISTIAN IDEALS IS CAPABLE OF SUCH DEEDS; for God ''hath made of one blood all men'' that live on the earth [Acts 17;26]. We are left no room for boastfulness, but much reason for thankfulness. ''BUT'' [Galatians 5;22] What God can put in ONE WORD... BUT.... It stands here, between the flesh and the Spirit,as the focal point of the Galatian antithesis. If we have ever doubted that the teaching of this epistle is essentially and sharply antithetical, this crucial ''but'' dispels such doubts. It is this antithesis that largelly characterizes Scripture; there is no middle ground. Read the 1st Psalm; its 3 ''but's'' carry the whole teaching. There are many ''buts'' of salvation, notably, John 1;11-13; Romans 6;23; Philippians 3;7; I Peter 1;18-19; Romans 3;21 [the turning point from condemnation to Justification]; so likewise Ephesians 2;4. Here we are facing the ''but'' of sanctification. Christian living is an equally sharp transition from the old to the new, from trying to make the flesh behave to allowing the Spirit His full freedom to work. Again we face Paul's crucial question; ''Are you so foolish/ having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh/'' Have you, my friend, had a clear-cut ''but'' between your former and present way of living/ Not to have, spells defeat. Vital to our problems is the distinction unfolded in the two words, ''fruit'' [singular] as against ''works'' [plural]. The flesh provokes a wide-range gamut of works; the Spirit produces a blended whole of Christian character. The flesh has its variety of expression, destructively working this and that, with no necessary connection between them. A man be a thief, but not a murderer; a liar, but not a drunkard. He may experience anger, but not envy; passion, but not pride. Some of these works are in disrepute among us, such as adultery, drunkenness, murder, and the like. Others are quite respectable. One may be quarrelsome, and retain the full esteem of his fellows. Yet, let's note, they are all, in the same class. They are all equally in disrepute with God. They all remind Him of man's fall away from Him; they are the outbursts of life ''in Adam.'' So He warns us, ''that they who practice such things''-not just a few of the worst--''shall not inherit the kingdom of God'' [Galatians 5;21]. Is there no remedy/ Yes, indeed. God has provided a way out. ''Walk in the Spirit,'' Stay, ''abide'' every moment on His Side, and these things of Our Side will never have a chance. Abide ''in Christ,'' and you will be overjoyed at the ''much fruit'' resulting [John 15;1-5]. The Fruit of The Spirit, reproducing Christ in us, is Christ-flavored fruit. Galatians 5;22 tells us that the FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT IS LOVE, JOY, PEACE, LONG SUFFERING, GENTLENESS, GOODNESS, FAITH, MEEKNESS AND TEMPERANCE. What are these qualities/ Not the nice exhibition of Christian character, nor yet the casual result of the Holy Spirit living in us. They are the dead-in-earnest product of the Spirit's setting about to checkmate the works of the flesh. This is His way of doing it. This is the Spirit lusting against the flesh so that we do not fulfill its lusts. These traits are His answer, HIS ''BUT,'' to the cravings of the flesh. They are His means of keeping us ''0n side.'' Suppose we are lacking in these qualities. It is not merely a lack of Christian character; we are sinning against the Spirit;we are defeating His declared purpose in coming to live in us. Suppose we still have the workings of the flesh. It is not merely that these things are wrong and we ought to get rid of them. FAR FROM THAT. We are grieving the Spirit; we are blocking His New Covenant program; we will not let Him carry out the purpose for which HE CAME TO LIVE IN US. [TO BE CONTINUED]

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