Saturday, September 13, 2008

Flesh and Spirit: Which is the Church Operating Within?

Some translations interpret the Greek work σαρκος as being the sin nature. However, my Greek professor Dr. Eager says this is the word just meaning "human effort". It really changes what is meant in Romans 8:1-8. Here is the ESV rightly just translates it as flesh, but simply think flesh as human effort.

Life in the Spirit
1There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3For 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, 4in 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. 5For 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. 6To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. 8Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
It is quite a bit different to say that someone can not please God if he walks according to the sin nature than to say he can not please God if he walks according to human effort.

I have been writing on the Christians hoping to reap heavenly rewards by sowing human effort. If I have this Scripture correct, if I try to simply "do church" through human effort, I really am not pleasing God. I need the Holy Spirit's indwelling and empowerment to be pleasing to God. I think this has been a failure of mine. I thought my actions outside the Spirit were neutral if I was not actually breaking one of the Ten Commandments. It seems I am dependent upon the indwelling power of the Spirit to sanctify my actions, even as I serve in the God's church.

My pastor has been preaching on the spirit world; angels, demons, etc... He mentioned the verse Matthew 12:27, 28.

27And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 28But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
The you mentioned in the verse is the Pharisees who were claiming that Jesus cast out demons by Beelzebul. This section in Scripture has always mystified me. A question in the back of my head for years has been how did those Pharisees cast out demons. Thinking about it from the lens of Romans 8:8 I have been thinking, perhaps the Pharisees did not cast out demons. Jesus was not saying that both of he and the Pharisees were on the same team doing the same things. The Pharisees practiced their faith through human effort and generally reaped human rewards. Can mere human effort cast out demons? I don't think so. So I am proposing that Jesus was pointing out that the Pharisees were unable to cast out demons.

Something that bothered me this summer was during my World Christianity and Future Church class. The story was told in two different ways about an African man who traveled to the West to obtain seminary training. When he returned to his village the family called upon the man to come cast out the demons from his aunt. His western seminary experince had not prepared him for this challenge because it had only taught him about human effort. He needed power from on high. I thought of myself in terms of self examination. I don't think I walk in the Spirit in a way that would be better than this African pastor. I need the Spirit of God in my walk, in my ministry and in life.
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