...over The Carnal Frame
EVER SINCE we’ve been holding our hearts before the Lord asking
Him to deal with our carnality, the conviction of the Holy Spirit has
been awesome. He’s been touching and healing areas in us that have cried
for deliverance for years. The power of James 5:16, which we discussed
in the Addendum of
the previous MASCHIL Special Edition entitled The Framework
of the Inner Man, continues to amaze us.
I’ve wondered—sometimes fearfully—when will we see all of sin’s bondage broken? When will the works of the flesh lose their power in us? When will the darkness be all gone? We’ve been able to speak of these things, stand in the right doctrine regarding them, and walk in some measure of overcoming life, but too much of the satanic material has remained. We can’t deny it. Too many people in high spiritual places are falling.
Now the time is here when carnality must give way to the rule of the Holy Spirit. He’s going into areas inside us formerly shut off to Him. All creation groans and travails, as though in birth pangs, for this. Paul calls it the adoption in Romans 8:22,23. It’s when the Holy Spirit wins out in us over all the works of the flesh and sets up His rule in their place.
In this article we want to share a little more with you of what we’re learning about winning out over the carnal frame. This moves us toward the adoption.
RECENTLY we’ve been laying our inner parts open before the Lord—and one to another. The cleansing has been precious. He’s been dealing with us forcefully—but with the gentle power that can only come from the realm of the Creator. In this, He’s been instructing us to learn from three men in the Bible who struggled with carnality. We have much to learn from them about the flesh and how we can overcome its downward pull. They are Esau, Jacob, and Paul.
In these three men, their flesh made a grand bid to take them away from the purpose and grace of God for their day. One of them failed. All of them suffered for their carnality. Two of them pressed through to walk in God’s high purpose for them.
Esau gave in to his carnality, was locked in its grip and never found a way back into God’s blessing. His children followed in his train, embraced his hidden things and wound up in shame. From him, we learn the sorrow that comes when the flesh rules.
Hebrews 12:16 warns against becoming a profane person, as Esau. His story would leave us with despair were it not for a prophetic word to his descendents in the Book of Obadiah. Looking carefully, we see it points to a distant hope—but too distant for his children after the flesh. It’s for those who will find the deliverance coming up on Mount Zion.
Jacob, though driven by carnal ambition, pressed through to lay hold on Esau’s inheritance. An overnight wrestling with one whom Scripture calls a man (Genesis 32:24) made him a limping cripple—but his nature was changed. We learn from him the pain of carnality’s hold. But we also learn it is possible to prevail over it and see its power broken.
The last of the three, Paul, was blinded by an encounter with Jesus. It’s apparent he saw as through a glass darkly—I Corinthians 13:12. But he saw things clearly in the heavens and discovered what is ours there in Christ—Ephesians 1:3. He found the greatest hindrance to our knowing Christ is our carnality.
Paul struggled with his own carnal frame as though it were a weight strapped to his back. After seeing what is ours in Christ and after recognizing the impossibilities the flesh imposes, he pressed through to find the Holy Spirit is the only One Who can deal with carnality. We learn from Paul that the Spirit alone can reach the roots of our carnality and set up the ways and the authority of God’s rule in their place.
The carnal frame, if left alone, will team with the evil one to rob us of our inheritance in Christ. This need not be the case with anyone. This article is about the breaking down of carnality’s power and presenting our lives to the government of God’s Spirit— with no restraint against Him.
ESAU AND JACOB were twins born into a powerful family line, the grandsons of Abraham with whom God had made a Covenant. Esau, the first born, was to have received the power and authority of that Covenant, but he lost it because of his carnality. While they both were carnal, there was something in his brother Jacob that made him prevail to win what Esau lost.
Esau was wild and restless, a man who loved the rough life and what he thought were the good things of the world. One day when he came in from hunting, exhausted and apparently feeling death was near, he found his brother Jacob cooking some red lentil soup. Seeing what could give him relief, he cried out, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint—Genesis 25:30. The original Hebrew is more expressive than that. It says, "Let me eat NOW some of that red—SOME OF THAT RED! I am exhausted from hunger and thirst!"
Jacob, himself carnal and manipulative—as carnal people are—said, Sell me this day thy birthright—25:31.
In that moment, Esau didn’t value the ways of the Lord nor his own relationship with Him. A bowl of soup was enough to entice him from his birthright. In a moment of frustration and fleshly desire, he gave up his inheritance. He listened to the cry of the flesh and valued it over God’s call.
Hebrews 12: 14-17, a passage warning against the rejection of God’s grace, takes Esau as an example of a man who lost his place with God. Though he sought it, he never found it again. There are some awesome words in this passage revealing why he took the path he did and what was the dark aftermath of his actions.
Take note of two things regarding Esau. He was a profane person. And, after he had yielded to the demands of his flesh and wanted to find his way back into the blessing of God, he found no place of repentance.
This passage, in leading up to Esau, issues a stern warning to believers
to stay on guard against three enemies of the soul. Each of them will
make us weak in the call of God and enfeeble us before the enemy. They
follow the words looking diligently. This means,
"keep a strong and continual watch" like an officer of the guard standing
watch against the enemy.
• Keep a strong and continual watch, lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled. Oh, how defiling bitterness is! It spreads like a disease. It lies beneath—often just beneath—the surface of too many, waiting to spring up like a seed awaiting its time of moisture. When the conditions are right, bitterness comes up in many. The enemy sets up situations to trip us. Persons fail us. Life becomes difficult. If we face these things apart from that enabling grace, the bitterness rises to take its hold. We learn to watch for it like a sentry watching his post.
Defile is from a Greek word meaning "to mark or spoil something with a stain." Nothing is so difficult to hide. Many of us know the regret of spoiling a good garment with a stain. Bitterness spoils not garments; it spoils relationships and fellowships. It spoils faith and vision. It spoils communion with the Lord. I
• Keep a strong and continual watch, lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau. Take note how the Scripture placed Esau in company with the fornicator and called him a profane person. Profane is from a word in the original text meaning "allowable to be trodden, public, open to anything." This is a description of a person who has no restraints in his or her life.
It’s possible this profaneness can carry with it a false acknowledgement of God’s grace. It presents the idea that the grace coming from God overlooks our carnal nature, writes off the wrongness of its demands, and allows us to follow them as part of the rights of our being human. But the grace of God doesn’t say, "Go ahead and follow your carnal desires; do what the flesh demands." Rather, it says, "You can be free from the bondage and allurement of carnal sin."
The life of a profane person is open to whatever suggestion comes. He or she becomes like a common house where any beast or person—or spirit—can enter at will and perform what it will. Lust, depression, discouragement, sickness, fear, resentment—the list can grow quite long—can enter and perform whatever they will in a profane person.
The seducing spirits are the ones most common. They work under cover as emissaries from hell. They study the ways of believers and sniff out the carnality of each one. They appeal to the hidden things, alluring the soul on the basis of what is buried in the heart. Their aim is to call the person, whom they seduce into the trap of outward carnality, thereby sealing them as unfit for the Kingdom of God. This is the same as losing one’s birthright. (1 Cor 6:9; Gal 5:21)
If you think there is no activity in this realm, then come with us and listen to the confessions of men and women who have been lured away from the call and blessing of God by giving in to the pull of their carnality. Oh, the agony of broken marriages, ruined ministries, and shattered hopes because lives became profane and, thereby, open to the seduction of the enemy.
What is the positive word to us at this point? Look diligently. Watch. Keep guard. Don’t let it happen.
I think of an old English hymn (though I don’t remember its author): Principalities and powers muster their unseen array, wait for thine unguarded hours. Christian, watch and pray.
HERE IS WHAT we’ve been doing regarding the strongholds of carnality. We’ve been taking the list Paul gave in Galatians 5:19-21 of the works of the flesh and allowing each of the seventeen points to search us through. As we’ve been open and honest before the Lord, I must admit we’ve not passed the test.
As we see how carnality has maintained some of its strongholds within us, we’re asking the Lord to touch each root of potential sin and charge it to go off like an offensive alarm inside us. If even a thought arises like a shoot from one of the roots, the alarm goes off. It says, "Stop right now! Draw nigh to the Lord!" If man can setup electronic systems of surveillance to detect the slightest movement in a house and set off an alarm, then it is no problem for the Holy Spirit to do this same thing in us. He is ready to detect any intruder in a life that has been redeemed by the Lord Jesus.
Just recently as I was driving home from town, some thoughts began forming in me aimed at producing strife with another person—one of the works of the flesh. For a few seconds, I entertained the thoughts but soon realized they were the work of a seducing spirit reaching for something in me that was carnal. Their very presence began sending an alarm to my spirit that was abrasive and unpleasant. I renounced those thoughts in the Name of Jesus, presented myself immediately before the Lord as I traveled, and told the enemy to depart. I later found the thoughts he was placing in me were utter lies about another person.
As I meditated on why I was susceptible to thinking ill of that person, I perceived there was an area in me yet needing healing and deliverance. The next day I asked someone to pray with me about this. We took the powerful promise of James 5:17. An energizing force came from the Lord as we prayed, alighted on the dark stuff and consumed it.
I asked the Lord what was in me causing me to entertain thoughts of strife. He showed me it was my insecurity. Oh, how I thought that had been dealt with! There remained still within me a root of uncertainty about my calling, about my place in Christ, and about what people thought of me. It was deep and crafty, cunning and sly. It was buried so deep I didn’t know it was in me.
Things like this slip around like foxes inside us. They try to outwit us and present themselves only occasionally to spirits coming to seduce us. While insecurity, or low self-esteem, or the fear of what others will do or say may not in themselves be counted as sin, they are the platforms on which sins are built. They are the tools of carnality.
Oh, precious Lord! Here is where I’m learning more and more about the continuing stream of God’s grace that flows unto me. Not only has it saved me, it is reaching the dark places in me and enabling me to overcome.
Sometimes the enemy tries to tell me, "You’re foolish exposing your self as you do, telling of the weakness that has remained in you after all these years of knowing the Lord. Other’s don’t continue with the problems about which you speak." Then, we just have to open the mail for one day, or listen to one phone conversation, or counsel with one person who comes here. I find this isn’t so. Many still suffer from the downward pull.
That’s the reason the Lord is directing us to put out this series on the carnal frame.
BUT THERE’S MORE to see about Esau. Hebrews 12:17 shows us the danger of following his way. Afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected. Something laid hold on him that disqualified him for what God wanted. The desires of his flesh had been stronger than his desire for what God had offered him. When, with tears, he sought after what he lost, he found no place of repentance.
His way of thinking was locked into the carnality. There was no opening with God—no occasion when the Spirit moved, no opportunity to come back through the departure and receive the blessing he had sold for the red soup.
The warning of this passage is strong, like that of the man standing in the road warning drivers against continuing on lest they fall into the flooded river whose bridge is out. It’s a warning not to go in a certain way lest there be no way out.
When Esau sold his birthright, those close around began calling him Edom. This is the Hebrew name of the soup for which he cried. It’s also the Hebrew word for "red." Placing it upon Esau was a mock and a jeer—and it stuck with him. It picked up something on his character and fitted a man ruled by carnality. Sadly, it came over on his children and their descendents who became known as Edomites. They were a carnal people who failed to receive anything from the Lord except judgment and extinction. They followed the path of their Esau.
Edom, being "red," is very close to the Hebrew word for "blood," which is dam. It is also kin to the name of the first man, Adam, which means "a man whose life is in his blood." Every thing about Esau testified to the blood of carnality that ruled him.
The prophecy of the little Book of Obadiah, containing only one chapter, is addressed to the Edomites. Some believe it has the distinction of being written earlier than any of the other prophetic Books in the Old Testament. For a long time I’ve been taken up with its importance. If he was the first of the Prophets to write, then he was the first to mention the day of the Lord—Obadiah 15. He would also have been the first to say, …the kingdom shall be the Lord’s—Obadiah 21. In the light of these two powerful prophetic concepts—the Day of the Lord and the Kingdom of the Lord—we find the principle of judgment that comes upon carnality as it relates to both of them. The carnal frame cannot stand in the Day of the Lord nor can it inherit the Kingdom of the Lord.
Because of its immense importance, we want to take some time to look at some of the principles laid out in Obadiah. They reveal how the hidden things of a family line come over on the descendants of that line. Another Prophet said of Esau, …his seed is spoiled—Jeremiah 49:10. What he chose to become defiled his descendents. His way of thinking, way of responding, and the inclinations of the framework of his inner man passed on from generation to generation.
Obadiah 6 says, How are the things of Esau searched out! how are his hidden things brought up! Take note of his hidden things. His descendants were despised, deceived, humiliated, left without understanding, bereft of wisdom, dismayed, cut off by slaughter, covered with shame, and cut off forever—all because of the hidden things of Esau. They were sought up (revealed) in a day of judgment.
Now the fact is, all our family lines are tainted with carnality and sin. Obadiah reaches this by going beyond a word to the Edomites and saying, For the day of the Lord is near upon all the heathen—verse 15. Were it not for a word of hope coming afterward, his prophecy could present an awesome and horrible picture. We must find that hope and see its release in our families lest we end up in despair.
The Prophet goes on to say, But upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness—verse 17. The Hebrew word translated deliverance more clearly means "those who have escaped." Those who escape the downward pull of carnality shall find their freedom upon Mount Zion. It shall be a holy place, where a people can dwell free from the enticement of seducing spirits. The prophecy closes with a clear word of hope. And saviors shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the Lord’s. This is prophetic language, ancient in its concept, but piercing all the way through the end of the age. In it lies the principle of hope that is in Zion, the Government of God. The word saviors is in its plural form could mean "salvation brought to its full." Or it could mean "those who minister deliverance." What a pregnant and powerful word from that ancient Prophet! Could it point to anything other than the hope we have in Jesus? His is a full salvation, a complete deliverance. And, He’s raising up those who minister it in mount Zion.
Years ago, I stood outside a little Baptist church I pastured and said to someone, "I want to know more about Zion." As soon as I said it, I thought to myself, "Zion is a mystery to me. I don’t think I can know anything about it."
But the desire was there.
I still long for Zion, but it’s less of a mystery now. It’s not some place on a geographical map. It’s the pure and exalted Government of God, released in us by the Holy Spirit. It’s the full expression of His Kingdom in our lives.
There is one more point of hope in Obadiah. His final statement makes the expectation clear. The kingdom shall be the Lord’s. What a hope! We can come to the Kingdom of God for the straightening of our crooked carnal frames.
NOW, BACK to Jacob, Esau’s brother. He was carnal also, but he was different. In him was a desire for the things of the spirit. He wanted a standing with God and would go to any measure to lay hold on it. But, by seeking to lay hold on it with his carnal nature, he received a painful reward—fear, insecurity, distrust, and no clear understanding of God’s ways.
Even though Jacob was carnal, he pressed through to become a man chosen of God. Genesis 32 gives an amazing account of the transformation that took place in him one night in the wilderness.
Because he was carnal and because he had been dishonest toward Esau, he was greatly afraid and distressed—Genesis 32:7. For years he had not seen his brother. Now he was on the way to meet him with the thought Esau might kill him. Out of his insecurity, Jacob sent all his family and servants on to meet the offended brother with gifts while he remained alone in the wilderness.
During the night, he had a visitation from one Scripture simply calls a man. A struggle came between them. And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him till the break of day—verse 24.
I believe this was the pre-incarnate Lord Jesus Who, out of His mercy, came to Jacob. This is not strange. He already had His existence before Jacob came on the scene. Jesus said, "Before Abraham was, I am"—John 8:58. Abraham knew Him. David beheld Him. Paul met Him after He had ascended back to heaven. He is greater than the short span of time He was manifest in the flesh. When mercy and grace rule, He comes, regardless of the time.
Jacob, even though he was bound up with a carnal frame, had something in him that reached through to lay hold on that Man. He would not let go. It may be a strange concept of prayer, but he prevailed to win.
Insights from the Genesis story of the wrestling help us. The Man said, "Let me go for the day breaketh. "And Jacob said, "I will not let thee go, except thou bless me " (Genesis 32:26). Then the Man said unto him, "What is thy name? "And he said, "Jacob."
What a confession! Jacob means "someone who grabs another by the heel." It spoke of all he was—a supplanter, a man mean enough to take his weak brother’s inheritance—but now a man miserably tired from trying to accomplish his own ends. And the Man said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and has prevailed—verse 28. In winning, he was brought under. Israel means "ruled by God." He was brought under the command of God.
And Jacob asked him, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And He said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And He blessed him there—verse 29.
There’s something wonderful about the word blessed. Behind the Hebrew word is a root word meaning "knee." There was something in the primal meaning of being blessed that meant having a bent knee. Could it have been that the Man wrestling with Jacob bent his knee so that his thigh was crippled. He went lame from his blessing—brought down in humility and submission before God but changed on the inside. How much better!
Jacob named that place Peniel, "The Face of God," for he said, I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved—verse 30. The original Hebrew of the passage uses two plural forms of the word translated face. Most exactly, it says, "I have seen God faces to faces and my soul is delivered." "Faces to faces" means: "The fullness of His face has looked on the fullness of my face. I have seen all of Him I can bear; He has seen all of me. Nothing has been concealed. In that I am delivered."
Charles Wesley, brother of John Wesley who proclaimed the Gospel with power in 18th century England, captured some of Jacob’s determination in the words of a hymn. "Come, oh Thou Traveler unknown, Whom still I hold but cannot see. My company before is gone and I am left alone with thee. With Thee all night I mean to stay and wrestle till the break of day." He went on to say, "I dare not let Thee go till I Thy Name and Nature know."
We learn from Jacob to be determined in our struggle to overcome. Determination against carnality wins the reward of the Holy Spirit’s rule in one’s life.
PAUL was taken up with overcoming the flesh and its downward pull. In Romans 7 and 8, he presents an amazing revelation about winning out over the carnal frame.
Now, here’s something to note: In Romans 7, which is Paul’s testimony of his struggle with the flesh, he became very subjective in his statements. A quick counting of the First Person Pronoun "I" reveals its use 27 times in Romans 7:9-25. Eight times these are translated from the Greek Pronoun ego, which simply means "I." In Greek it is not necessary to use this Pronoun very often except for emphasis. The Personal Pronoun is built into the Greek Verb forms. Through all of Romans 1 through 6, Paul never used ego.
But in Romans 7, when he began telling of his struggle with carnality, he found it necessary to use it over and over. This shows us something. The struggle with carnality usually revolves around a struggle with one’s personal ego.
We’ve adopted the word ego into the English language. It means one’s self, or an individual’s awareness of himself or herself. It’s where one’s self-worth, or lack of self-worth, is contained. This is what is at the base of most people’s struggle. The ego of some people is very strong so they become egocentric. The ego of some is wounded. They become fearful, or jealous, of others and withdraw or build up walls of protection. They think of everything in relation to themselves with thoughts like: "What will I get out of this? How will this effect me? What will people think of me? Will I get hurt out of this?"
Thoughts arising out of questions like these help resist one’s break with carnality. They open the door to the fear of what will happen, of what others will think, and of what the consequences will be. Surely this was some of what Paul’s struggle was about. It nearly wore him out. Romans 7:24 is a marvelously revealing question from him, especially when we see it in the Greek. The King James Version says, O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? We looked at this briefly in the last issue, but we need to see it again at this point, for it leads us up to the wonderful revelation of Romans 8.
Wretched is from a Greek word (talaiporos) meaning "harassed and miserably tired from overwork." It’s the condition that comes upon those who have labored with hardship and difficulty till they’re near exhaustion. Very clearly, what Paul said was, "O, miserably tired ego man!" He used the Pronoun ego without a Verb, which is not regularly done in Greek. He said, in effect, "I am a man whose ego has been at the center of my life. It has entered into my struggle with carnality and sin. It has drawn me into conflicts that have nearly worn me out. So here I am exhausted, like a prisoner fighting for freedom, but no freedom is evident. I can’t go on any more. Can’t someone help me."
On asking for help, he opened himself to the answer and found it through Jesus Christ our Lord—7:25.
Romans 7:9-25, where we find the Pronoun "I" 27 times, is followed by Romans 8 where, instead of "I," we find the Spirit at least 21 times. What an amazing transformation! The Spirit of God entered where the ego had ruled and brought a new rule. The Spirit conquered Paul’s inner man—but, in conquering him, He set him wonderfully free.
All of Romans 8 is amazing. But especially notable is the statement of verses 1-14. By observing this in the Greek, we find Paul used the word sarx (flesh or carnal) thirteen times. In the exact verses, he mentioned the Spirit thirteen times. This is a simple illustration showing us, when we are ready to turn our lives over to the rulership of Christ, there arises a conflict between our flesh and the Holy Spirit. By the flesh we mean our human nature in its sensual aspect, our carnality. It’s the part in us welcoming the unclean and repulsive works of the flesh listed in Galatians 5:17,19.
Whether there’s any significance in the number thirteen at this point, or not, it’s the number associated with the works of the evil one. The flesh adapts itself easily to the directions of the evil one, ready to move at the impulse of his will. But the Holy Spirit invades all the areas of his hold in us and works toward setting up the government of God’s Kingdom instead.
A wonderful thing in Romans 8 is that, after verse 13, there is no more mention of the flesh or carnality. But there is much more about the Spirit. This is a simple testimony that the flesh can be overcome through the Holy Spirit working in us.
THROUGHOUT the chapter, Paul proceeds to tell of at least thirteen wonderful things the Holy Spirit will work in us. He is ready to take the direction of our lives away from the flesh and set up His dominion in its place. Think of it!
What a wonderful fullness! All of the above can take place when the Holy Spirit has set up His dominion is us.
HOW CAN this work of the Spirit begin in us? We can’t cover the full spectrum of what can take place in one article. I think all we can do is set you in the way of its happening—and pray for you who read this that the Holy Spirit will help you.
The carnal frame of each person is different, and the works of the flesh attached to each one are different in their intensities. But there are some things awesomely the same about each of us. In each one, the sins of carnality are killers— Romans 6:23. The wages of sin is death. For each one, the hope is sure—Romans 5:8. Christ died for us. To each one, the promise of deliverance is clear—Romans 10:13. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
A passage continuing to be quickened to us, with truth useful for anyone, is James 5:16. In case you haven’t learned it by now, let’s look at it again—this time taking note of the word healed. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
The Apostle James who wrote this did indeed have physical healing in mind, for he’d already said, is there any sick among you... James 5:14, But, it’s evident the reference is to more than physical healing. It’s a healing to cover all the side effects of sin—physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.
More and more, I’m learning the power of the James 5:16 statement. When I lay open my life before another believer with the confession of the faults within me, and when I am willing to let someone who knows the Lord pray with me, I open myself to the energy released by Him for my healing. The trouble with this comes when I hold back and keep some of the rooms of my life closed, If I hold on to darkness, then I hold on to sickness. It may be physical sickness, it may be mental, it may be emotional, or it may be spiritual. When I am willing to let go my hold on the darkness inside me, then I find the way open for my healing. This is the beginning of Romans 8 Truth working in me. If I don’t have a trusted friend with whom I can pray, then I do have Jesus. There’s no friend like He is. He said, Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out—John 6:37. I can say anything in the world to Him about what’s inside me and He’ll not turn from me. He’ll receive me and cleanse me.
SO, IF YOU have someone with whom you can pray, pray with them. If you are alone, pray alone till you find someone with whom you can pray. Don’t hold on to any fault simply because you have no one to help you.
When Glenda came to the Lord years ago, she had little understanding of a relationship with the Lord. She had received a wonderful physical miracle, and she knew something was taking place that was changing her, but she didn’t know how to deal with the darkness inside.
A wise old preacher told her she needed to be born again. She asked how that could take place. He told her to go home and find some place she could get comfortable and confess all her sins to Jesus and He would forgive her.
She said, "I can’t do that. There are too many of them and I can’t remember them all."
He said, "Ask Him to help you."
So, she went home alone, got down by her bed and said, "Jesus, please sit here and listen to me. That man told me I was to tell you all about my sins—which I suspect You already know. But I’m going to tell you anyway. I have a problem, though. I don’t really know what has upset you the most because I’ve done so much. So he told me to ask you to bring to my mind the really important sins."
Immediately the memory of her stealing fifty cents every week from the Methodist Church came back to her. She was the only one in her family that went to church. Her mother gave her the money on Sunday morning and told her to put it in the collection. Since her girlfriend going with her knew she was to put fifty cents in, she would take an offering envelope, pretend to put the money in it, seal it and throw it in the plate. Then she would buy a hamburger and root beer after church with the money.
Some might consider that was only a childish prank, but that day, as she got down to pray, she realized she had stolen what belonged to God and she had lied to her mother. Conviction became heavy. She asked God to forgive her.
For years Glenda had suffered from acute depression and had been under medical care. It was sometimes so bad she would become physically paralyzed. As she confessed those sins, she felt something rise up within her, rush to her head and leave her. She was never depressed again. That was thirty-three years ago.
For hours, memory after memory of sins came to her to confess. After each confession, she felt as though she was being bathed on the inside.
Sin, attached to the carnal frame of fear and insecurity, brings with it all kinds of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual disease. The Holy Spirit is not intimidated by the carnal frame of any of us. When we confess our sins, He liberates the soul, opens the way for healing, begins giving us a new mind and brings in life and peace. This opens the way for Him to bring us into a relationship with God as mature sons and daughters.
I John 1:9 is a word some of us have known and practiced for years. It still extends a powerful hope as we approach the Day of the Lord and deliverance from sin is more important than ever. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
PAUL IS CLEAR as to what are the marks of carnality. He lists seventeen of them (with an indication there could be yet more) in Galatians 5:19-21. He calls them the works of the flesh and closes the passage with: they which do such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. All the works mentioned are ugly and should not be named among believers. This is not the case, however. Manyeven deeply committed personsstruggle with them. The deep sorrow they bring in lives today can only be exceeded by the sorrow of the day of the Lord when they will all become manifest.
As we look at these works of the flesh, were prone to consider them only as outward sins. But the fact is their roots run deep in the human souleven though generally there is a struggle to keep them hidden. Whenever were under the moving of the Holy Spirit, it is these works and roots of carnality He goes after first. He begins His work by convicting us of them. This is a precious and wonderful thing. He wants us free from every defilement.
19 Now the WORKS OF THE FLESH are manifest, which are
these, adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
If we hold on to the works of the flesheven in our ignorance we will always find the power and authority of Gods Kingdom moving away from us.
NowIve been considering this for a long time. There is a grave difference between being saved and inheriting the Kingdom of God. The saving of our souls is a work of Gods grace, but we must qualify for our inheritance in the Kingdom.
We receive eternal salvation by faith. In no way can we qualify for the love of God given us in Christ Jesus. John 3:16, which is perhaps the most well known New Testament verse, first brought this home to my understanding. It asked me simply to believe in Him. Later, Ephesians 2:8,9 made it clear no work I could do could add to the grace of God offered me in Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. Simply, as sinners we turn and trust, and He saves us.
But thenthe Kingdom starts reaching in to areas of our humanity where the roots of sin lie buried.
We find Jesus offers us more than an escape from hell with the hope of heaven. He draws us away from the sin to become heirs with Him in His Fathers Kingdom.
Paul makes a clear statement in this Galatian passage, as well as in I Corinthians 6:9, about inheriting the Kingdom. Its not unbelief that shuts us out of it; its the refusal to renounce the works of the flesh. They which do such thingsthe works of the flesh he has just laid outshall not inherit the Kingdom of God.
Do in this verse is from the strong Greek word prásso, It means "to be busy with; to make a practice ofespecially a secret practice." Those who busy themselves with the works of the flesh, even by thinking about them in the secrets of the soul, have no inheritance in the Kingdom. At best, their lives must remain on the low level of being a carnal believer.
Lately, Glenda and I have been allowing these words describing the works of the fleshmade potent by the Holy Spirit and His convicting workto examine our hearts. I must confess, at every point weve been aware of His moving in to take stock of what we are on the inside. Oh, how grievous and distasteful all the works have become!
Weve found two things: Onethe Lord is demanding that
we be free from all blemish and uncleanness in our inner parts. TwoHe
is refusing us permission to judge any we think may be holding on to some
of the works. We can grieve, we can pray, we can exhortbut we cannot
judge or condemn. Thats because its not only time for judgement,
its time for mercy.
The works of the flesh:
1 AdulteryMost clearly, this points to voluntary sexual involvement between a married
man and a woman not his wife, or between a married woman and a man not
her husband. Jesus, in Matthew 5:27,28, makes it clear adultery
runs deeper than the act of sexual intercourse. As well as the outward,
it is this deeper root, the cause of adultery, the Holy Spirit is after
in us. He grieves over mental and emotional adultery as much as over physical
adultery. Some, too spiritual" for sexual involvement outside of
marriage, find "soul-mates" with whom they enjoy spiritual union. This
is no less adulterous.
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