Sin, the flesh and the Spirit

rose-408341_640Romans 8:3: For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,

The law could not put an end to sin, but God is greater than the law, being the one who set it in order in the first instance. The plan of God was to condemn sin, make sin ineffective, and render its principle nothing. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, in whom we are, have set us free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:1-3).

When sin operates, death is the result and when the Spirit operates life is the result. The law in the heart of men did not deliver the Spirit therefore death continues to reign even on those who tried their best to live based on the law. That is why by the observance of the law no one can be justified before God (Romans ) because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God as a perpetual state and we cannot help ourselves (Romans 3:23).

The crux of the matter is the glory of God. Man was made to bear the glory of God, and what marks that glory is the Spirit (1Peter 4:14). So the need is to get the Spirit which is holy into man. This is where the blood of Jesus plays a big role. With the blood on our heart (Hebrews 10), the life of God is released there, since the blood carries life, and the Holy Spirit is the spirit of life.

Jesus is the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world. When we embrace Jesus we embrace his blood, and our sins gets taken away, in that one fell sweep. And sin no longer have power over us because somehow, based on God’s wisdom, we were in Jesus when he died and sin died in him, (he had our sins poured on him) an end came to sin, and there is a new beginning for spiritual life for Jesus coming from having been raised up in him.

The logic was this, sin reigned over all who descended from Adam (Romans 5:12-21), who were then in his loins when he sinned. We carry on with his sin bondage though we do not have anything to do directly with it. We did not originate it, it was handed to us. So the bible says that through one man (Adam) sin infected all men, and now in the fullness of time (Thessalonians ) God sent Jesus, and through the righteousness of one (Jesus) many are made righteous, since we were in him when he rose up from the dead, free from sin (Romans 6).

There has been the passing on of the sin of the first Adam was by natural process of birth, through a linear connection down the centuries.

But the transfer of the righteousness of Jesus is through faith, not by physical connection but spiritual. The reason is that the first Adam was made a living soul, but the last Adam was made a life-giving Spirit (1Corinthians 15:45).

The Spirit makes it possible for time and space to be bridged, making the righteousness of Jesus transferred to us by the communication of the spirit, not linearly but “virtually.” It does not matter if Jesus died two days ago or 2000 years ago, the Spirit communicates the effect to you when you believe. As a life-giving Spirit, through Jesus we get a renewed spirit and that makes all the difference in us.

The flesh is revealed in scriptures as the foundation of the sin principle in man. That is why the bible says when we sow to the flesh we will reap corruption and that is contrasted to sowing in the spirit which leads to reaping life (Galatians 6:8).

That means though we are Christians we still have these possibility for fleshly sin. Peter said that we should flee from fleshly lusts which tried to mess you up, put you in bondage (1Peter 2:11). The fact that we have died to the flesh means in our spirit we retain the full measure of the image of God, and in our spirit we are untouched by death, but the problem is that the soul has over time learned to operate in a certain way, think certain thoughts, which are in line with the flesh (the inclination to sin) that we have died to it. The outlines of our souls still retains the habits of sinning and misaligned thought patterns.

But now through walking in the spirit we unlearn wrong patterns of thinking, and start engraving in our soul, a new pattern of life, a new form of expression, in right thoughts and acts. What we do impresses more on us because not only do we observe ourselves doing it and we see the reaction of others to our doing it. Keeping the right company is also part of retraining our soul (1Corinthians 15:33).

So though we are dead to the flesh, dead to sin, we still need to learn to yield our members as instruments of righteousness, according to Paul, retraining our body parts to align with the dictates of the grace of God. We need to retrain our human senses, and body parts (Colossians 3) to be aligned with the new reality in our spirit which has to do with the “will” component of the soul as we appropriate the grace of God. That is why Paul said that we should set out hearts on things in heaven and not on earth.

The problem is with the half measure messages that remove all responsibility to live righteous from us. It is a paradox that we need to walk in righteous, as a deliberate effort and that if we do that it will not be us but the grace of God.

The errors come when we want to solve the paradox but leaning too much to one of the sides, either to an extreme of works-based righteousness or the other extreme of irresponsible grace.

Paul wrote that we should put off the old man and put on the new. This is about what is obvious in your lifestyle; not some inner condition, or conviction, but what you put on, and in the same passage, he mentioned how our behaviour should change. The new man is not just about the historical work of Jesus on the cross through which by faith we are accepted, it is about his present work reflected in a life of righteousness now. It does not stop at being accepted by God, but about becoming an obvious expression of his person, becoming light, walking in the full reality of the deliverance from sin that we have in Jesus.

It is more than talking the talk, saying the right things, joining the right group, but walking the right walk.

It is clear that the confession is superior to the reality, because we come into the body of Christ, and going on from there the bible says we should continue to hold fast to our confession of faith (Hebrews 10:23) which is about sticking to the confession/continuous affirmation of our new reality in Christ, our position of sonship, righteousness and walk in the Spirit.

But that does not take away from the vitality of walking the right walk. Jesus said that it is not him who calls him lord, but those who do the will of his father, that he takes serious (Matthew 7:21). This means the confession can be divorced from life action. John wanted to clear the air and was very bold to say, it is the one who acts right that is righteous (1John 3:7).


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