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Flesh VS Spirit 

Peninsula Community Church 

April 29, 2018 

Flesh VS Spirit 

Romans 8:3-9 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, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

Last week we talked about not being condemned by our past failures and issues. We discussed the fact that we are free from sin and from the past as a result of the work of Christ on the cross. This week we will continue to look at how this transpires and how we can be assured that we are no longer condemned. From our discussion last week, we found that Romans 8:1 tells us that we are free from the guilt of sin, while Romans 8:2 tells us that we are free from the power of sin.

As we will see today, our mindset makes all of the difference and our focus will determine where we go and what we do. Our focus will determine what we will achieve or not achieve in life. Notice that in our passage today, we find that the law was weak because of the flesh. Therefore, if our focus is on the flesh we will fail to be what God has called us to be. We will be guided by a law that is weakened by the very flesh that we focus on. 

To understand this, we must recognize that the law was weakened by the flesh for two reasons. First, the law was weak as it is an outworking of the flesh that drives us to do things that we do not desire to do, and we do not do what we should do. It is the carnal nature that is the focus of Paul’s words in Romans 7. Let me explain what is meant by the flesh. The flesh is that part of us that recoils when we try to do what is right. It is that part of us that came alive when man sinned and disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden. From that time until now, it is the part of us that is at war with God’s desires for us and the purpose of the Spirit within us.

As I was preparing for this message I came across this. We know the work of the flesh in us when, like the disciples, we should be watching and praying, our flesh really wants to sleep. When we should be sleeping, our flesh finds Facebook browsing and catching up on email fascinating. When we should be diligently teaching our children (Deuteronomy 6:7), our flesh would love to watch a relaxing, family-friendly movie. When we should be meditating on Scripture, our flesh becomes a fountain of ideas for reorganizing the room, improving the yard, or critiquing political candidates. When we should be focusing on our work, our flesh brings up that focus-dominating fear and what we could be doing for fun. When we should be cutting our calories, our flesh demands a sugar-laced snack. When we should be eating because we have become undernourished due to believing the lies about how our weight relates to our value, our flesh screams shame-filled things to stop us. When we should be relishing the joy and freedom of sexual purity and fidelity, our flesh desires to imagine or view defiling, lewd images. When we should be humbly resisting premature conclusions regarding a potentially offensive concern or comment, our flesh immediately turns defensive and suspicious, proposing fantasy scenarios that will indulge sinful anger with a feeling of righteous indignation. Have you ever experienced that? Do you know how that feels? That is the struggle of the flesh.

The second reason the law was weakened by the flesh is that the law had no power to bring change. It could guide us, it could teach us, and it could point out sin, but it could not give life. It was powerless to bring peace, and it was powerless to help us please God. The law could tell us what is wrong, but it could not bring change. Have you ever had that person in your life that loved to point the wrong in your life and uncover your failures, but were unwilling to aide in changing or overcoming those issues? That was the problem with the law. It pointed out sin, but it did nothing to relieve it. 

The one positive thing that came from the law is that it taught us we need a Savior. It taught us that following the rules alone is not good enough. We need a Savior. It taught us that towing the line is not productive, because we fear failing and coming up short, which happens when we try to follow the legalism of the law. We can do all of the right things and still fall short of what was intended. We need a Savior. 

That is why Paul’s next statement is so powerful. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.  Notice that Christ came in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin in order to accomplish what the law could not do. The law required righteousness. The law required us to tow the line. The law required us to keep in step.

The law had a requirement for righteousness which could not be fulfilled any way but through Jesus Christ. That is why He who knew no sin took on all of our sin past, present, and future. He fulfilled the righteous requirements of the law. What the law could not do, God did by sending His Son. At first glance, we might miss the depth of this statement. God sent His Son. This meant that He existed before. He is eternal and came to earth to save that which was lost. 

What we know is that the righteous requirement of the law was fulfilled in Christ. We are now empowered to follow Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. The law could not defeat sin; it could only detect it. Only Jesus can defeat sin, and He did just that through His work on the cross. The question then is is where will we focus our attention? What will we set our minds on? Will we focus on the spirit or will we focus on the flesh? By focusing on the flesh we become obsessed with the rules and the dos and don’ts and we miss living life. We will be focused on just getting by, rather than living life to the fullest. By focusing on the flesh, we miss the opportunity to walk in freedom. On the other hand, if we focus on the spirit, we live in freedom and power. 

Why is this? For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. As Paul noted, the flesh is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law because it cannot. In the flesh it is impossible to please God. That was the plight of Paul in Romans 7, but it is his victory in Romans 8. 

With that in mind let me make an observation or two. We must remember that the fruit of the Spirit is not produced through legislation but by what the vine is connected to. That is why we must be in Christ. That is why we cannot legislate morality, but we must live a spirituality that comes by living a life fully connected to Christ. How many have ever passed a fruit tree and have heard it groaning and moaning to produce fruit? That is not the case at all. That is because fruit is produced from the connection it has to the vine. It does not worry about its fruit, it just stays connected. So are you connected? How do we connect? 

For the guys who were at the men’s retreat this year you might remember Garret Barbush’s message. At the close of his message, he gave us some perspective into how we can set our minds on the spirit and stay connected which leads to bearing the fruit of the spirit. First, we must be confident of our position in Christ. In John 10:10 we find that a full life is a contented life. It is a life of balance. Jesus came to be our life, so you can make a difference as a believer. If we do not remain in Him, we will not be fruitful and we will not make a difference. Instead, we will be tempted to live by the flesh and not the spirit. As believers, we are in Him and we should rest in that.

Second, be aware of God’s desire to be in constant fellowship with you. We will abide in Him only as we are aware that He wants to abide with us. We know this because He chose us. In John 15:16 we find that “He chose us to bear fruit in us.” He chose us to bear fruit and we do that best when we are in fellowship with Him. The result is that we keep our minds set on Christ. 

Third, be intentional about spending time with God. In Matthew 22:36-37 the question is asked about what is the greatest commandment? How do we love God with all of our heart and soul? If we were loving God the way He wants, we will be changing culture. We will be bearing fruit because it is the defining mark of a believer. We must spend time together. We do this through prayer and solitude. 

Fourth, be in God’s word so we get to know Him. We are ineffective without His word. Without His word, we fail to understand what He wants for us. Without His word, we are left to our own demise. Without His word, we become disconnected and discontented. 

My challenge today us to take the next 30 days and focus fully on the Spirit. Spend time in the Bible and in prayer so that we become more connected to Christ. At the end of the thirty days report back and let me know how you are doing. My guess is that you will find that you are doing much better than you hoped or thought. 

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14

Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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Who is Your Master?

Peninsula Community Church

Who is Your Master?

May 7, 2017

Galatians 5:16-24 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 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. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 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. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

When I was in high school back in 1973, I witnessed an amazing event take place. You see for most that year there was a short skinny kid named Jimmy who had been picked on and had been abused emotionally and even physically in many ways. It had begun as fun but now it was a daily exercise from many in the school. While many were engaged in this brutality others had begun to feel sorry for Jimmy but felt powerless to do anything. That all changed one day, however. It was regular day for the most part. As I headed to my next class, I noticed a crowd had gathered outside the gym and they were shouting at someone in the middle of the group.

As I got bit a closer, I realized Jimmy was in the middle of the group. In front of him was one of the biggest, toughest guys in the school. He was slapping Jimmy, and each time he did, people would cheer and laugh. It seemed that Jimmy was being beat down. But something happened in that moment that changed everything. From somewhere deep inside of Jimmy, he suddenly stood up taller than ever before, and before we knew it the big, tough senior was on the ground. He had blood pouring from a broken nose and and he was in the fetal position grabbing his stomach where he writhed in pain. You see what no one knew was that Jimmy was a black belt in karate. He had enough that day and he finally retaliated for the first time.

For some of us, we are living like Jimmy. Every day we are beaten down, pushed around, and ridiculed. We feel defeated and we feel we have lost control of our lives. We feel mastered by both external and internal forces of our lives. We find that we are being subjected to unnecessary and undeserved abuse physically, emotionally, and spiritually. But like Jimmy we don’t have to live defeated, but instead we can be victorious. We can leave the enemy with a broken nose writhing in pain. The fact is Jimmy had the power to deal with his enemies within him the hole time, he just never used that power.

You see no matter what you experience whether it be anger, insecurity, feelings of failure, or other issues, you have the power to overcome each of these. To overcome, we must come to the place where we recognize we are in a battle. We must understand there is a war going on within us and the winner of the battle will master us. Paul describes this war as one between the flesh and the Spirit.

I did not know this until this week that May 4th has been designated as Star Wars Day. As you might remember, Star Wars is a movie that deals with the battle between good and evil. In this passage, Paul reminds us that a real battle is going on within us. This battle is not some conflict that happens on a movie screen that is resolved within an hour to two hours. It happens within our hearts and souls on a daily basis.

Paul defines this battle by way of the symptoms manifested as a result of the battle. He describes these manifestations as the fruit of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. When you go to the doctor he/she will ask you a series of questions. Most of the answers we give are really just symptoms which point to an underlying problem. What Paul describes here are the symptoms of a life being mastered by the flesh or the Spirit. The symptoms of walking in the flesh are sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. Juxtaposed to these symptoms are the symptoms manifested by one who is walking in the Spirit. They are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. These are a matter of the condition of our heart.

Paul understood the concept of symptoms and understanding when it comes to the question of who masters us. That is why in verse 17 he states there is a necessity to walk in the Spirit. Paul reminds us that by walking in the Spirit, we will not gratify the desires of the flesh. The truth is we have been set up for failure in so many ways. For some, we have been raised in such a way that has negatively impacted us spiritually and emotionally.

All of us at different times have allowed the flesh to master us, but there is a difference between being mastered by something and having a short time failure. For example, when it comes to anger there is a difference between getting angry and having ongoing fits of rage. Of course, we can insert whatever issue we deal with here. It might be fear, envy, jealously, strife, and rivalries. All of these can control our life and how we respond to others but they don’t have to.

As I have talked to some of you over the last few weeks one of the issues we have discussed is anger. Some of you express anger through fits of rage while others use the silent treatment. When we deal with anger, or any of the other issues found this passage, there are a few thing we must recognize. First of all, fits of rage or anger can be a learned response. We respond in anger because that is what we learned through experience. Therefore, when things don’t go the way we want, we get angry. I know this because I was one who learned to respond to things in anger because my stepdad would do that.

Secondly, anger can become our “go to” when we are frustrated or we do not get our way. Because it is our go to method of dealing with things, it is easy for us to go negative. We find that anger is a result of unmet expectations which is based on a false concept of expectation. We also get angry when we feel our is identity is being tested or is being diminished by another. When our anger goes unchecked, it is so easy for us to respond with anger because it has become the norm for us. The fact is it can be easier to get angry rather than deal with the problem before us. But though it is the norm it does not have to be that way.

Paul closes this verse out by saying that those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. By the spirit’s power we can crucify the flesh’s work in us. In practical ways how do we do this? First, we must have a desire for change. Without a desire for change, we will not be positioned for change. We will allow ourselves to be battled and the flesh will win every time. A desire for change begins with taking very thought captive and bringing our thoughts into obedience to Christ’s will and desire for us (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Secondly, we must saturate ourselves with the Word of God. The Word of God gives us guidance and details how we should live. David stated that he had stored up God’s word in his heart so he would not sin against God (Psalms 119:11). That is what we need to do. For example, this week I shared with someone a particular Scripture that could guide their life. I suggested they write the scripture down and post it on their mirror, in their car, or any place they would see the Scripture on a regular basis. Then every time they feel anger or they experience any fruit of the flesh, they could go to that Scripture, read it, and by the power of the Holy Spirit live it out.

Thirdly, we ask the Holy Spirit to establish in us right thinking. We take every thought captive to the glory of God (2 Corinthians 10:5). How we think determines how we will respond to the stimuli in our life. When we have our thinking under control, we will find that the flesh will be gratified less and less and the fruit of the spirit will be revealed more and more. You see fruit is the outcome of how we live and how we think. If we allow the flesh to master us, we will have flesh like fruit. If we allow the Spirit to master us, we will manifest spiritual fruit.

Fourth, I would suggest we learn the power of the pause. When we feel we are getting angry we need to pause and ask the question. Why am I getting angry? Why am I flying off the handle? You see there is something to be said of counting to ten, twenty, hundred, or even a thousand. Whatever it takes we must do. When we slow down and think through why we are angry, most of the time there is no real answer. We are just angry. For that reason James commands us Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God (James 1:19-20) The desire of James is that we become less reactive and more active in our responses to life’s issues.

Finally, we cannot and must not forget the power of prayer. We begin our day by asking the Heavenly Father to help us overcome these things. We pray for God to guard our hearts, help us to take every thought captive, and we pray that our emotions are guided by the Holy Spirit. Then whenever we are driven to walk in the flesh, we ask for God’s help to overcome in that moment and to empower us to walk in the spirit.

So today let me ask you, “who is your master?” “Who controls you?” It is your choice!

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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No Longer Condemned

Peninsula Community Church

August 21, 2016

No Longer Condemned

Romans 8:1-5 – There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 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, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.

I love Romans 8. I love it because it is regarded by many Christian scholars as the greatest chapter of all the Bible. In fact, in reading many of the commentaries on Romans, Chapter 8 has been described as “the mountain peak” of Scripture and “the chapter of chapters for the Christian believer.” Many commentators quote a German author by the name of Spencer who many years ago said “If Holy Scripture was a ring, and the Epistle to the Romans a precious stone, Chapter 8 would be the sparkling point of the jewel.”

For me personally, Romans 8 and in particular Romans 8:1 is one of those passages that have been used in my life to stake a claim to Christ’s promise of hope and the abundant life here on earth, as well as the life to come. You see, for such a long time I felt condemned on several levels. For one, I believed that if I just followed all of the rules everything was going to be ok. Boy was I wrong. I followed the rules, did what was right, and yet things continued to fall apart in my life. The result was a sense of failure and a sense that God could not do what He said.

Not only was I being condemned by my actions but I was also being condemned and judged by those around me. Although it was not always a reality, I felt that people would discourage and judge me rather than build up and encourage me. I allowed the voices of others to determine what I would do and be, rather than being obedient to Christ’s plan for my life. The downside is that I became more concerned about what people thought about me than being obedient to God. When I failed to live up to what people thought I should be, I began to sense a huge level of condemnation and judgement being imposed upon my life.

When I came to Christ I felt a bit betrayed and lied to as the pastor implied that everything would be great if I just followed the rules. The rules were different but the emphasis was on keeping the rules and not on a relationship with Christ. As a believer, I turned to Scripture but because of my religious background and the teaching I received, I was once again condemned because I never felt I could live up to the all of the rules and the requirements that were laid out. I was being counseled that I needed to follow all of the rules and be obedient. That all sounded good and it sounded right so I began to attempt to follow the rules and be the obedient person I needed to be. The problem however is that I would read the Scripture to see what the rules were rather than to determine who God was. The result was that my life sounded much like the words of Romans 7. The things I wanted to do I didn’t do and the things I didn’t want to do I did (Romans 7:13-20). It was a battle royal for my mind and my heart.

The battle continued to rage within me until I grew in the Lord and in my understanding of the Gospel. I came to a couple of conclusions that began to change my life. I would like to share these with you. First of all, I discovered that the law/the rules were weak and were powerless to accomplish what I needed (Romans 7:5-6; Romans 8:3-4). My study and my understanding led me to see that the law was a good school master (Galatians 3:24 ASV). It was a good teacher but it was powerless to make a difference in my life.

I love the commercials from Life Lock Security company. You may have seen them. In particular I love the one where there is a bank robbery in progress. Those in the bank look to the guard on duty to help them. His response is that he is not a security guard he is only a security monitor. Because he was only a monitor he was powerless do anything about the robbery. I love what happens. During the robbery, he leans over to those on the floor and says “oh yeah, there’s a robbery.” The law in itself was a good monitor for sin and was good at pointing to sin in our life but it continued to be powerless to do anything about the sin. The work of the law was critical in that it served to detail the boundaries of our life. We need boundaries and we need guidelines but those guidelines do little to change our heart or our mind. We need something different. We need Christ.

That brings me to second thing I learned. To live a life without condemnation is a choice. The choice is centered and focused on how we live. Paul offers us two choices. We can live by the spirit or we can live by the law (Romans 8:4-8). You see the law according to Paul brings sin to life. We must understand that the law did not create sin because sin was was a part of man’s life long before the law was given to Moses by God. In fact we see sin full blown in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3).

In our final moments here I would like to look at this phrase. But I would like to look at this phrase in reverse in order to build a case for God’s grace and the freedom that comes as a result of His work on the cross. Paul statedTherefore there is now no condemnation.”

We begin with the term condemnation which is defined as (1) the expression of very strong disapproval or (2) the action of condemning someone to a punishment. It is to be condemned or judged. Condemnation is a legal term in that you are given sentence equal to your crime. Paul has already declared the penalty for sin was death. Remember his words. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). But through Christ there is eternal life thus the penalty of sin of has been paid. It is for that reason there is no condemnation for us. No sin a believer can commit; past, present, or future – can be held against him if that sin has been forgiven, since the penalty was paid by Christ and righteousness was imputed to the believer. And no sin will ever reverse this divine legal decision.

The second word is this passage is the word “no”. In Christ, there is NO condemnation. In the New Testament when writers wanted to emphasize a particular word, they would put it at the beginning of the sentence. That was their way of saying, “This is important.” In the Greek the first word is not “therefore.” The first word in the Greek is the word “no.” The fifth word in our translation is first in the original because Paul wants to emphasize in the strongest possible way that there is no condemnation. That’s why he took the word “no” and moved it to the front. There is therefore, no condemnation. You might translate it this way: “There is no condemnation—none whatsoever—for the believer in Christ Jesus. Secondly, Paul uses the strongest word possible for the word no in the Greek language.

Do you know what that means? We may stumble, we may fall, we may trip, we may make a thousand mistakes, we may sin and we do, we may get off the path, we may go astray, we may have a thousand problems, but for the believer in Jesus Christ, there is, therefore now, no condemnation because God has said it is so. You can struggle, but you’re not condemned. You can fall, but you’re not condemned. You can trip, but you’re not condemned. You can stray off the path, but you are not condemned because God has said He will not condemn those who are in Christ Jesus.

The third word in this passage is the word “now”. The gift of no condemnation comes to us as a gift but a gift that must be received. Now speaks of a future hope but a present reality. The word now “distinguishes two conditions of a man, namely, his condition under the law, and his condition under grace,—that is, his natural and his supernatural conditions. For by nature we are children of wrath, but now God has rendered us accepted in the Beloved. This benefit was effected the moment you accepted Christ as your Savior. The “now” contrasts the believer’s new state with the old, which had passed away. Hallelujah!

And finally there is the word “therefore.” The word therefore is a powerful word that must not be taken lightly. It is a word that directs our attention to something that comes before. In this case the word points us back to what Christ has done for us. I love the way Romans is laid out. He begins in Romans 1 & 2 by defining the life without God. H continues to show us why we need Christ and He shows us the way of escape And the power of change that comes to us.

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14

Copyright © 2016 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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Body, Soul, and Spirit – The Soul

Peninsula Community Church

Body Soul and Spirit – The Soul

February 23, 2014

Romans 8:1-8 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 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, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Today, we will continue our study on the body, soul, and spirit. However, we will transition from looking at the body to looking at the soul. As we make this transition, know that we will end the series by looking at how the body and soul interact with each other and then how both of these interact with the spirit.  

One of the problems that exists for us today is that mankind has lost the understanding of the soul. This comes as a result of the writings of Darwin and others and their belief that man is simply a higher form of animal life. Darwin’s view says that man is just a more highly advanced animal therefore he does not have any specialness about him. It is for this reason that our current society is able to so willingly abort babies at any age and to engage in euthanasia. Whether the consequences were intentional or not; the result of diminishing man to not much more than an animal, devalued the worth of God in man and the purpose of creation itself. Such a view of man runs counter to God’s design because man is a created being. He is one that has had the very breath of God breathed into him. Mankind was created and set in place to rule and reign over God’s creation. To believe anything less diminishes the value of man. To believe anything less changes the creational purposes of God. The outcome is not just a diminishment of man but of God in the eyes of man.

As we turn to our study, we find that the soul represents the mind, the will and the emotions. Note that the mind is that part of us that represents our intellect. It is the place of reasoning. The will is that part of us that motivates us to action or inaction. It is noteworthy that we have been created with what has been defined as “free will.” Free will empowers man to make choices. We have choices in our life, and how we carry out these choices will determine the kind of person we will be and the kind of actions we will take. As believers, we also recognize that while we have free choice, we are also empowered by the Holy Spirit and that we are given boundaries and guidelines for our choices. The Word of God plays a major role in this process. The Word defines the boundaries within which we should live. Finally, we are emotional beings. We have been created with emotions. These emotions run the gamut. We laugh, we cry, we worry, we become afraid, we trust, we have anger, and so on. We are emotional beings. Once again we must understand that the mind, will, and emotions interact without one another and must be in balance to be most effective.

Today, we will focus on the mind. We will review the subject of the mind over the next couple of weeks. While the five senses are the gateway into the soul, the mind is the vehicle that processes information, relationships, and experiences. We must understand that the mind includes the intellect and and it includes reasoning. Both of these serve a purpose in our lives and must not be ignored. The intellect is the knowledge that has been received. Let me note here that for the believer intelligence is not the goal as much as wisdom. Intelligence is not beneficial if we have not learned to appropriately apply the truth we have. In the book of Proverbs, this is known and described as wisdom. You see wisdom is the proper application of truth.

The second idea presented by the mind is reasoning. God has created us with the ability to process information and to determine that which is truth and that which is not based in truth. The problem exists when reasoning and faith are running counter to one another. It is my belief that these two items do not have to be counter to each other, but can work jointly together when we commit our ways to God and to His will.

Because we have been created with both intellect and reasoning we must be careful and not check our mind at the door when we become believers. One of the issues that I run into is that somehow some believers in Christ believe we are to disregard data, intellect, and information. To do so can be dangerous. When we make decisions solely on the emotions or the will of man we can make less that effective decisions. Jesus reminded us that we are to count the cost. That is reasoning and faith linked together. The reason for this is that we do waver in our faith but our faith grows and matures in Christ as we get to “know” Him.

It is interesting to note that many religions and in particular new age type religions call us to empty our minds. Emptying our minds is not the secret to our success but filling our minds with the right stuff is critical. The problem with emptying our minds is that where there is a vacuum, the vacuum will be filled with something either by choice or not. It is not by chance that Paul commanded Timothy to study to show himself approved (2Timothy 2:15). While we have the spirit of God in us to teach us, and direct us we do not forget that we are to do our part and that is to study and fill our minds with the Word of God.  Notice, that Christ reminds us that we are to serve the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind. 

As noted above, the mind and the emotions often battle each other but they don’t need to. The mind, emotions, and will do not have to battle one another but rather they can and should interact with one one another. They support one one another. This can be illustrated by Paul’s words. In Romans he stated that “Faith comes by hearing.” The emotion of faith is solidified by the words of truth. John also notes this congruence when he stated that the truth sets us free. So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (John 8:31- 32). Emotions do not set us free. The will of man does not set us free. It is the truth that sets us free. This should not confuse or distract us. If this occurs, we must attempt to understand why we feel confused and why we are distracted by the truth. Perhaps the reason for this is that the basis of our truth is skewed and needs to be reconsidered. 

As we close today, let me make one more comment. The mind is to be renewed daily. We must acknowledge that we are in need of transformation. Dallas Willard has noted that the problem is not that we have been formed but that we need to be transformed or reformed. Let me explain what is meant by this. Throughout our lives we have been formed and shaped by a number of things.

We have been shaped and formed by our environment. We have been shaped by what we are exposed to in life. We are shaped by our experiences. We are shaped by the theological input in our lives and our view of God. We are shaped by the voices that speak into our lives. The problem therefore is not a problem of formation but the need to be transformed into the image of God and the image of God’s purpose for us.

The key to transformation is the renewal of our minds. And, this renewal must be a daily practice because we are so easily formed and shaped by the the things around us. The formation of our thoughts are not always in alignment with God’s will or His purposes so we must renew our mind on a daily basis. When that happens we must find out what God’s will and plan is and then conform ourselves to that plan. 

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Body, Soul, and Spirit Part 1

Peninsula Community Church

Body, Soul and Spirit

January, 26, 2014

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 – Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

This week I want to begin our “Body, Soul and Spirit” series. I have been praying about this study for some time and now feel that the time has come to begin. The question to be asked here, “Is why should we do a study such as this?” For me, I believe that as we study this together we will find that we will be better Christians, we will be more productive as agents of Christ in His ministry, and we will experience greater growth in Christ. I also believe that we can shed many of the unhealthy thoughts and false ideas about life and what it means to live a fulfilled Christian life.

The passage we just read will be our theme verse for this study. Throughout the study, we will supplement it with many other passages in the Bible. This particular passage is a part of Paul’s conclusion to I Thessalonians. This is a prayer prayed by Paul for those to whom he was writing. He prayed that their whole being which includes the spirit, soul, and body would be kept blameless to the coming of the Lord. His desire was for them to understand that this is an ongoing process of the recognition of what Christ has done in them and for them that results in their growth in purification and sanctification. It is also a message of hope that says that we must take action to be blameless but that God is doing the work of sanctification in them. It is a work that has already been achieved for them and continues to be achieved in them as they understand what He has done.

The basis of this study is founded in the fact that man is a creation of God. As a creation of God, man was created as a three-part being. This means that man is not just physical or spiritual but has at all times a physical, spiritual, and soul component. We find the story of creation in Genesis 2-3. Here, we find that man was created in God’s image. When we understand this concept of being created in His image, we understand that we are like Him as a three-part being. We are not three separate people but we are one person living with three components. These three parts make us who we are. They form our perceptions and our ideologies. These components also form and shape what others think of us. These components form the template through which the stimuli of life are processed. 

While other creatures may live, they do not have life. In Genesis 2:7 it is important to see that God breathed life into man. Moses stated Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. The result of God breathing into man is that he became a living creature. This is the one thing more than any other sets man apart from the rest of God’s creation. God breathed into man and he was given life. Mankind was created to have life, to be a ruler over the rest of creation, and to enjoy all that God had created. How awesome is that?

While this is true, as you know by reading the Bible, the intent of God was upset when man sinned through Adam. When man fell into disobedience, all of life changed. Something died in man that day. Prior to the fall of man, he did not know pain, he did not know shame, he did not know failure, and he did not know sin. A second result of man’s sin that day was that the order of man’s created person was upset. Instead of living from the spirit and living from the life that had been breathed into him, man began living in distortion, lies, and doubt. Instead of living out of the spirit, man now lives by being driven by the body and/or the soul rather than from the spirit that had been breathed within him. It was at this juncture that man became disoriented about who he was and about his purpose here on earth. This is why we see Adam and Eve hiding from God. This is why we see that Adam and Eve were ashamed of their nakedness.

To understand God’s purpose in creating man and our role in life as a created being of God we must understand the role that our body, soul and spirit plays in determining how we live and what we we expect. When we have these in right alignment, we will experience life from a new perspective and a new vision of what is possible for us.

As noted we are a three-part being. God has created us as body, soul, and spirit. To understand these three parts, let me take a moment to explain what each of these parts represent. Please note that these definitions are simplistic, but we will look into each of these with more detail as we continue this study. 

The body is that part of us that is visible. We see the body. It is obvious to us. The body involves the five senses. This includes smell, touch, vision, hearing, and taste. The body allows us to experience life through the senses. The body also helps to identify who we are to others. 

Secondly, we have the soul. The soul is that part of man that involves the mind, the will, and the emotions. It is in the soul of man that the things he learns are processed. It is in the soul that God desires to bring change. The word soul can and is often exchanged for the word heart.

Finally, we have that part of man which is called the spirit. The spirit is that part of us that sets us apart from all other created beings. The spirit is that part of us that was breathed into by God himself. The spirit is that part of us that relates to God and begins to truly know God. It is for this reason that we can never be good enough to know God. We must accept God and Christ and his ways so that our spirit is aligned with God.

The problem we have is that when Adam sinned in the garden of Eden, man’s spirit died. It was darkened by sin. Christ came to restore life to man’s spirit. For that reason, it is only by God’s Spirit that our spirit is quickened. We are made alive again when God touches us and we become a new creation. Apart from the quickening of God’s spirit within us we are dead in our trespass and sin. For that reason, we can never be good enough to inherit the kingdom of God.

The following passage details this new life for us. Ephesians 2:1-7 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

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January 26, 2014 · 11:04 pm