Thursday, March 25, 2010

Flesh vs. Spirit: Slave vs. King Part 1

Still working through and meditating on some truths that God has been dealing with me on and decided to do a comparitive study today.  God has really been dealing with me on getting the flesh out of my day to day, removing that which trips me up so readily and constantly.  We are all going to be fighting this one for the rest of our days on the earth so in no way do I think I'll achieve the pinnacle of "fleshlessness" in the next months and live a perfect life for the remainder of my days as an example to all.  But as I am striving for a deeper daily communion with my Father I am realizing that my flesh impedes my closeness and more of this sin-nature, tainted dna I can "stake down" (see previous posts) the deeper I can move into relationship with Him and into his will for my life.  I want this so badly.  As I pursue this, I find that the old "little" sins, such as the sarcastic comments once spoken about the obnoxious and rude individual who obviously deserves to be taken down a notch or two, suddenly are uncomfortable to my ears and not something I really want involvement with.  The Spirit speaks much more regularly and with deeper conviction the closer we get to Him and it is our choice to listen or to ignore but if we truly want a deeper relationship then we should not be surprised when his voice starts to become more and more clear in our hearts.

The passage of Galatians 5:16-26 urges the believer to walk in the Spirit rather than in the flesh; to take up a lifestyle of spiritually centered living and daily decisions rather than walking out and living what is natural and desired by our attitudes and unregenerative thoughts and "flesh".  The works of the flesh and the fruit of the spirit are both spelled out and a deeper study into what each of these really are is merited.  So often we see these lists as "thou shall nots" and "thall shalls" and gloss over them because we don't take the time to ponder their relavence in today's vernacular.  When Paul wrote these, they were very clear.  The flesh works kept the people chained to an old covenant, the Law, which condemned them.  If they stayed there they stayed condemned and ultimately remained out of fellowship with God.  But Jesus fulfilled the old covenant and those who would walk in him and walk in the new Spirit with the evidence of the fruit of the spirit in their lives, against these there was no Law.  These statements were poignantly clear to the first century believer living in the Mediterranean rim near the Jewish nation.

What are the works of the flesh as outlined in Galatians?  What are those things that keep me bound and chained, keep me from fulfillment of freedom in Christ and life, keep me from the potentials that God has created for me?  The following is a study of the words as written by Paul and the original greek words translated from Strong's Concordance.

Adultry:  being sexually unfaithful in mind and/or action to one's spouse.  This ranges from the fling with the other woman to what Jesus pointed out - simply looking at another with lust in your heart - it's all adultry and in our society it is everywhere from swimsuit model covers to internet images to redlight districts.

Fornication:  being sexually promiscuous outside of the marriage covenant - casual sex among singles etc.  Living and working near a "college town" this is something that is rampant throughout the university setting.

Uncleanness:  impure motives, lustfull, luxurious living, sensual - this is splashed all over reality television and the media and is the epitome of self centered living.

Lewdness:  disgraceful, soiling the clean, insolent disregard for decency, base or uncontrolled speech, shameful

Idolatry:  placement of anything in a state of worship or focus above the Lord - America has no end of this but it extends even to the believer.  "I'll give you everything Lord, but I really don't want to sacrifice my comfortable home, or my weekends with family, or my friends, leave those alone and you can have all of the rest of me!"

Sorcery:  literally the use of drugs or medicating - poisoning with incantation and a goal of altered consciousness.  I never equated drug use with witchcraft/sorcery but in the Old Testament and historically divination and incantation went hand in hand with drug use to produce altered states of consciousness and mental states.

Hatred: the complete opposite of agape love - emnity.  Jesus put it this way - "you've heard it said not to murder, but if any of you hates - you've already committed murder in your heart".  Ouch!

Contentions:  the expression of emnity - to quarrel, again based in dislikes and hatred towards others.

Selfish Ambitions:  a desire to put oneself ahead of others, seeking to win followers, creating factions and divisions

Dissensions:  standing apart, refusing involvement

Heresies:  Dessentions arising from diversity of goals/oppinions, a self willed choice/oppinion that is substituted for submission to the power of truth leading to division

Envy:  to long for, a displeasure in hearing/witnessing the prosperity of others to the point of desiring to deprive others of said prosperity

Murders:  to kill, slaughter, cause death

Drunkeness:  denotes habitual intoxication and regularly partaking of intoxicating drink - tied to riotous behavior and revelry - those who revel in a behavior

Revelries:  rioting, carousal, the consequences of drunkeness, to riot

In this passage we are told that those who practice the above will not receive/inherit the Kingdom of God.  So often we hear this phrase "inherit the kingdom" or "receive the kingdom" and we think of when we die or when Jesus comes.  That is not what these words meant.  There is a difference between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Heaven.  The greek here is not referring to an actual physical place but rather the right to rule or the authority, royal power, dignity, dominion.  The dominion of God.  We have the kingdom now.  The kingdom moves with the believer, it is a sphere of dominion and authority that radiates from God's children to everything their spirit/lives touch or are associated with.  This is not a stationary thing.  Though the earth had been turned over to Satan by Adam, Jesus, before ever enduring the cross, could look the pharisees in the face and proclaim "today the kingdom of God is in the midst of you!"  To say this to them meant the full might and sovereignty of God's power, authority, and rule was in their presence.  Further, when he sent the disciples out to preach, teach and heal, we read that he sent them to proclaim the kingdom of God.

When Jesus instructed his disciples to pray "thy kingdom come", he was not telling them to pray out a gradual transition or progression.  The greek spells out an event of catastrophic and violent overturning.  This is how we as administrators of God's will on earth are to take from the clutches of Hell what Satan took from Adam.  We are to violently shake the gates of Hell in all of its manifistations around us and in us; in the broken and shattered lives that surround us daily, in the bondage and sin around us.  This is what Jesus did on this earth.  This is why the demons feared him.  This is why Satan fears us, fears the Word in us, fears what we have been given.  This is why he works wihout ceasing to keep our minds and hearts blinded and distracted and numb to the power and life God desires we walk in.

The kingdom of Heaven is always the kingdom of God, but the kingdom of God is not limited to the kingdom of Heaven.  If we'll get the flesh out, start walking out the kingdom and become the instruments that God desires us to be then we too, can overturn the hurt, the poverty, the brokeness that surrounds the world around us, whether it be in our backyard or half a world away.  God is not limited by our reach or what we perceive to be our reach - he lengthens it, expands it, grows us and enlarges our abilities beyond it.  Put down the flesh and walk in the spirit and enjoy the abundant life of true kingdom authority!

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