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Posts Tagged ‘Santification’

wflesh

Many times when I hear Galatians 5 taught, or see it used in a book on sanctification or hear expository sermons on it I hear it discussed as the “fleshly Christian vs the Spiritual Christian”. I want to tell you why I disagree with this given the context. I also want to note many people use Galatians 5 to back their position on Romans 7, which I also disagree with wholeheartedly, it is the old cut and paste method that one person can use to defend their position but others can’t use (I will discuss this in a future post).

First lets note. The warnings to the Galatians are real warnings. They aren’t generic. Paul really means that if they want to be justified by works of the law they will fall away from Christ. I know many of my Calvinistic brothers won’t like that; and will say “well they were not really saved at first”. However, given Hebrews and given Galatians these warnings Paul provide are serious and has a huge impact on the readers. To accept circumcision would make “Christ of not avail”!

Now on to reason of this post here are the verses:

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God

Paul talks about two different people! First those who are led by the flesh are “under the law” and are not of the Spirit! There isn’t this dual fight going on as many propose today! Paul believes those who are led by the flesh are in opposition to the Spirit. We all know the fruit of the Spirit verses but I really believe what Paul is conveying here is not a Christian but one who is under the works of the flesh and in layman terms is not a believer.

Paul says those who “practice” such things will not “inherit the kingdom of God”. Paul doesn’t say “they will not be spiritual christians but fleshly christians”. He says quite plainly that their abode will be hell! He isn’t telling them to walk by the Spirit to be better Christians but to walk by the Spirit to prove their Christianity! Once again many of my “justified by faith” brothers will want to hang me and that is fine also!

What Paul is providing us with is a salvation that works (thats for Q-Dog LOL)! Those opposed to the Spirit are not believers walking in the flesh but nonbelievers that are OF THE FLESH! Paul says something key here about the flesh:

24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Now if I follow the plain reading (as many of my expository brothers say) then Paul means what he says and says what he means. That is that those who are of Christ have “crucified the flesh”! If the flesh is not crucified (I am not talking sinless perfectionism, but a real and living work of the new nature and heart given to all believers) then we are of the flesh and not of the Spirit and are deeds prove to us that we are of the flesh and as Paul says “we will not inherit the kingdom of God”.

I want to stop there; however, Paul is looking for Christian to be more Spiritual but to be Christians, the other side of that is fleshly and that my friend is where Paul says “you will not inherit the Kingdom of God”!

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If you have read much of anything I have written you realize that Tyris and I both hold a high view of the New Covenant. This high view effects the way we see the Law greatly. I love reading the Puritans and I have many great brothers in the faith that would say with ease “the Law is a tool for sanctification” .They would somehow separate the 10 commandments from the Old Covenant thus rendering it trans-covenantal. I will be clear. I punt that idea as far as I possibly can. Why?

Well there are many reasons the primary one being we are under a NEW COVENANT. I have asked the question numerous times and I usually get some logical and non-biblical answer; however, the question is “when the bible says new just how new is it”? Or better yet when the writers of the New Testament say the Old Covenant has passed away, has been abolished, or has been deemed useless, what exactly does those terms mean. Where am I going? Glad you asked.

My home church is going through Ephesians and I have grown to love the book more and more each day. Calvin and Steve have done an excellent job expounding the text and just making it very practical. I am also co-teaching (well I have been doing the listening and Steve has been doing the teaching) bible study methods at our church and it has been lovely to see people fall in love with God’s word. There are some drawbacks of not first understanding the metanarrative of scripture and understanding the overall redemptive view of the scriptures but all in all it has been really good.

So as I am studying my methods and doing a structural analysis/diagram these verses jumped right off the page, found here in Ephesians 2 (not to mention Calvin preached it so well).

11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. (ESV)

There is enough to eat on in this text that it is unbelievable. But I want to focus on what actually divided Jews and Gentiles. It is found in verse 15. What was the dividing mechanism under the Old Covenant? Ding, ding, ding. The Law expressed in ordinances. So what did Christ do to make two people one new man? He ABOLISHED IT! From the study of the Old Testament it was clear that Israel was the covenant people of God and that covenant wasn’t intangible. It was clearly tangible and could easily be identified. No one could come to an Old Covenant Jew and say you are not the people of God and if so prove it. They would have to go no further than the tabernacle or the temple and talk to the High Priest. They could show you the tablets handwritten by God.

Many will tell you to run away from the Law for salvation by faith and then in turn point you back to the Law for sanctification. This is something very difficult for me to understand. Not only do we begin in the Spirit but we continue on by the Spirit. We are not under law but Grace. We don’t run back to ordiances in order to be transformed to Christ-likeness. Those things were a shadow. We not turn to Christ through the Spirit. The Law brought forth condemnation and death, why turn to it for life? However, the Spirit brings liberty and life why turn from Him?

This is but a short exhortation to flee law based sanctification. Turn to the Lords Spirit for purification. It is He who empowers to live for Jesus not the Law. The ordinances have been done away with in the New Covenant. Walking in the newness of Life! These passages also show the biblical truth that there is but one people the Church. No more Israel/Gentile distiction. God ONLY HAS ONE PEOPLE! And they are those who have put faith in Christ. I have tackled that numerous of times and it isn’t the focus of this post. For this trip lose the Old Covenant Law and turn to the New Covenant Law of Christ which is a better promise because we are given the ability to obey by the Spirit.

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