Tag Archives: the flesh

TWO REALMS

TWO REALMS

“So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.” Romans 7:4-6.

Two realms – the natural, physical realm and the realm of the unseen – are operative in the universe. The physical realm is more real to us because we function in it in our everyday lives. However, with the harnessing of the energy waves, for example, microwaves, wireless, light etc., we have become much more aware of the unseen realm. It amazes me how, with a single touch on the screen of my android tablet, I can order a book from an internet company anywhere in the world and in a few minutes, via energy that I can neither see nor understand, the book appears on my device and I can begin reading!

It is not difficult for us to understand, then, that we can live in two realms spiritually. We have bodies that relate to and function in the world. We eat food from the ground, and our bodies convert it into energy which drives our systems, but we also function in an unseen dimension which is just as real. The world we live in is immersed in the presence of its Creator. The Bible says that He fills heaven and earth. He is fully involved in what happens on earth, and that includes us.

The very breath we breathe is His breath – life. When He removes our breath, we die. We have no life apart from Him. If it were possible, scientists could put all the elements of a human body together but they cannot produce life because both physical life and spiritual life come from God.  That means, of course, that if life comes from Him then we are dependent on Him and accountable to Him whether we acknowledge it or not.

Therefore, He has the right to dictate the way our lives are to be lived. When we confirmed our forefather’s disobedience by our own, we suffered the same consequences as he did, alienation from God. However, God did everything to put us back on track and to restore the connection between the seen and the unseen realms.

So, Paul says, we were cut off from the power of the sinful world to influence us when we died with Jesus. It is a fact. It’s real. It happened. God did it in the unseen realm when we turned to Him through Jesus. We died to our old lives and the power of sin to keep us enslaved but the reality of it is activated by faith, that unseen power, like the unseen waves of energy that network our planet and our universe, has connected us to a new power, the power of God.

From what were we cut off? Paul said we were cut off from the power of the law. Why the law? The law has the mysterious power to arouse sin in us. We know how this works. Just tell a kid not to do something and he will do it! Before you told him not to, he didn’t even think about doing it but, the moment you said, “Don’t,” he wanted to do it! Take away the prohibition and the desire to do it goes as well. That’s how we were wired by the sin nature in us with which we were born “in Adam”.

However, Jesus destroyed that perverse nature by His perfect obedience to all God’s “prohibitions”. He killed the desire, then they killed Him but He rose again and would never be subject to temptation again. Now, through faith, we are in Him, and have the potential to live as He did. In addition, He took away the necessity to have rules and regulations, and replaced them all with one “rule” if you like, the law of love. Then, just to make sure that we would follow that law, He gave us His Holy Spirit to produce His love in our hearts…

…which makes it all about Him and not about us. Paul said, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” This means that Jesus in us by His Spirit makes it possible for us to reflect His character in the way we live. The old, rotten fruit of self-centredness and greed has been replaced by a new life of pleasing God by caring for others.

It’s the power of heaven breaking into the earthly realm and showing us what God is really like. It’s about having God’s will done on earth as it is in heaven. It’s about us being mirrors of Jesus. It’s about living in the realm of the Spirit while we are still in the flesh.

Acknowledgement

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

THE SIGN OF OWNERSHIP

THE SIGN OF OWNERSHIP

In Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self, ruled by the flesh, was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised with Him through your faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. (Col. 2:11-12).

What was the purpose of circumcision in God’s covenant with Abraham?

Then God said to Abraham, ‘This is my covenant with you and with your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised . . . My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. (Gen. 17: 9-11a; 13b).

Circumcision was a sign of ownership. It set God’s people apart from every other male in every other nation. No doubt, when Joseph finally revealed himself to his brothers, how would he have convinced them that he was indeed Joseph? By his mark of ownership as a Hebrew!

The Jews were God’s people by right of birth and ownership. Every Jewish parent would ensure that their sons carry their mark of ownership in their flesh. This was to be symbolic of a greater spiritual reality which would be revealed through Christ. Believers carry a mark of ownership, not in the flesh, but in the spirit, which sets us apart as belonging to God.

Paul spoke of a principle which applies in many areas of our lives – revealed in 1 Cor. 15: 46: The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. It applies here as well. Circumcision was to be a physical (or natural) sign which would be followed by the spiritual when the truth was revealed in Christ.

Many streams in the church have seen baptism as the counterpart of circumcision and have developed the doctrine of paedo-baptism as the sign of God’s covenant. Just as boys were circumcised eight days after birth to show that they were included in the Abrahamic covenant, so infants are ‘baptised’ to include them in the New Covenant.

However, this idea conflicts with the teaching of Scripture, clearly indicated here, as in many other places (through your faith in the working of God), that it is faith in Christ, of which infants are incapable, that brings people into the New Covenant, not infant baptism.

What is the sign of the New Covenant, the sign of ownership? Paul was in no way teaching that baptism is the sign of the New Covenant which would contradict the principle of ‘first the natural, then the spiritual’.

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of His glory (Eph. 1: 13-14).

Paul could not have stated this truth more clearly. God marked us with His seal of ownership, the Holy Spirit who is in us, when we confessed that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that God raised Him from the dead (Rom. 10: 9-10).

What, then, is the purpose of baptism? Baptism was both initiation into and identification with a person, an office or a teaching to indicate publicly that the one being baptised had a new status. Baptism, or ritual washing, was a common practice in Jesus’s day. John the Baptist initiated people who identified with him into his teaching about the Messiah, calling them to repent and identify with the One he was introducing to them. Baptism is, therefore the public, visible witness to our identity with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection.

Through baptism we are telling the world that we have died to ourselves and have a new owner, the Lord Jesus Christ, whose Spirit in us sets us apart as God’s possession. We have left the old life of sin and the flesh and are now living in union with Jesus and in submission and obedience to Him.

As the covenant people of God, set apart to Him and marked by circumcision, the Jews were to live in obedience to His commands, which they did not because they were without the Holy Spirit. We who have the Spirit are able to put to death the deeds of the flesh through His power and live a new life In Christ because of what Jesus Christ has done for us.

We must become who we are.

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.