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The following article is a continuation of a series of thoughts my friend Art Licursi entitled; Casting Down Imaginations.

Rich

Part 3 of 10 – The Sin-Nature Within Man’s Flesh Body

We today as believers are in fact the members of “the body of Christ” right now on earth. We have Him, His life and His guidance that flows to us from Him as “the Head” of “the body” (Eph 5:23). Just as The Lord’s “Spirit of life” dwelled in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, so today the Lord’s “Spirit of life” dwells in every member of the “body of Christ.” We each are well equipped by His resurrected “Spirit of life,” which is precisely located within “our (human) spirit” (John 3:6, 1Cor 6:17, Col 1:27, Gal 2:20), which is located in “the midst of my (our) body” (Daniel 7:15).

The Lord is presently seated at “the right hand of the Father,” withholding His wrath and judgment yet to come to the earth. Thus His manifestation is personally absent from the earth today. Yet at this time He has us as the members of “the church, which is His body” (Eph 1:22b-23a) on earth. Christ desires to utilize our soul’s mind, to lead our emotion and will; to flow His life and love through us to others. The only mind Christ has on earth is the minds of the members of “the body of Christ. He lives in us and desires to flow His love and the good news of His “gospel of the grace of God” to others… through us.

But none of us are born with a mindset that is in agreement with God’s nature or His eternal purpose and plan. When we are first converted we still have the same twisted fallen mindset of Adam, but then we also now possess Christ’s “Spirit of life” with His mind resident within our spirit. “For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind (nous, intellect) of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16), but we need to permit His mind to flow through our mind.

So long as we walk in accord with the Lord within, yielding our mind to His mind and will, we are walking in the presence and “mind of Christ.” The key to living in accord with God’s eternal purpose is that we gain a renewed mindset or attitude of mind, which is one of submission to His spontaneous prompting or limiting that we sense within us to guide us.

Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world (Gk aion, age): but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Ephesians 4:22-23 That ye put off concerning the former conversation (behavior), the old man, which is corrupt (defiled) according to the deceitful lusts (of the flesh); 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;

Acts of sinning are always the result of the promptings of the Sin-nature that indwells the flesh body of all men since Adam’s fall. Paul writes the Ephesian believers, describing this Sin-nature as the “SPIRIT that now WORKETH IN THE CHILDREN OF DISOBEDIENCE,” by which men suffer the sinful “DESIRES OF THE FLESH AND OF THE MIND.”

Ephesians 2:1-3 And you (believers) hath he quickened (made alive), who WERE DEAD IN TRESPASSES AND SINS; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the PRINCE OF THE POWER OF THE AIR, the SPIRIT that now worketh in the CHILDREN OF DISOBEDIENCE: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation (manner of living) in times past IN THE LUSTS OF OUR FLESH, fulfilling THE DESIRES OF THE FLESH AND OF THE MIND; and were BY NATURE THE CHILDREN OF WRATH, even as others.

All of us, as Adam’s progeny, were conceived in this “Sin.” Psalms 51:5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. Thus, Sin is part of our innate human condition at birth and so long as we live in our physical body. “Sin” in the flesh of man is the original Sin “nature” that we were born with.

Paul here lists the “works of the flesh,” which are the acts of the “Sin” in “the flesh.”

Galatians 5:19-21a Now the WORKS OF THE FLESH are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like…

The word “flesh” in the Greek is “sarx,” meaning the “meat,” or “flesh body” but “the works of the flesh” are the acts of the Sin-nature, extending from “the flesh” to also pollute “the mind.” This list of the “works” or sins “of the flesh” (above) includes both “body sins” such as adultery and fornication, and also “sins of the mind” such as “envyings” and “idolatry.” Sinful men are those that choose to live by yielding their polluted soul’s mind of the “the flesh.” Thus they live by their “carnal (fleshly) mind” (Rom 8:7). In this way we may be the “servants” of “Sin.” Paul below instructs us concerning which we will serve, either to Sin or righteousness.

Romans 6:19 I speak after the manner of men because of the INFIRMITY (INABILITY) OF YOUR FLESH: for as YE HAVE YIELDED YOUR MEMBERS SERVANTS TO UNCLEANNESS AND TO INIQUITY (SIN) unto iniquity (sinning); even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.

All believers, “have the mind (nous, intelligence) of Christ” always available and operative within our spirit (Rom 8:8-9) to guide our minds (1Cor 2:16), but they also are free to choose to yield their body members to the impulses of the flesh or serve the Lord within them.

God is a lover of others; He is other-centered, and He streams His love and gifts out to others. “For God so loved the world He GAVE His only begotten Son…” (John 3:16). Being made in God’s “image,” man was made to be a lover of others, but we see that man is basically self-loving and self-serving (perhaps offering occasional random acts of kindness). How did man, who was made in God’s image, become so different? We know that through the fall of Adam mankind became defiled and twisted. Mankind thereby also acquired a false mindset of the “Sin nature” that usurped fallen mankind. “…the carnal (fleshly) mind (Gk. phroneo, MINDSET) is enmity against (in opposition to)God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” (Romans 8:7).

Paul commends us to a renewed mindset to replace the self-serving mindset of the flesh. We can adopt the actual mindset which of Jesus of Nazareth maintained when He lived on earth. He with His mind lives in the believer’s spirit. Philippians 2:5 Let this mind (Gk. phroneo, MINDSET) be in you (in your soul’s mind), which was also in Christ Jesus: Jesus had the humbled mindset to only do the will of “the Father.”

Most honest believers will admit that we as all men are first born as self-lovers; our thoughts concern our own self. Our thoughts are self-based most of our waking hours. No doubt this is why Paul wrote this to the new believers at Rome . Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, NOT to think of himself more highly than he OUGHT to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. Only as our faith and trust in the Lord grows in the knowledge of His love, sovereign grace and care toward us, can we become secure and more other-centered as the Lord is. Our thinking then begins to change.

You can be assured to know this, that throughout our lives, through both our failures and successes, we are in a process of “learning Christ” (Eph 4:20), learning to think and live righteously in and by “the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” as our new life. We’re being trained for glory, to live and reign in righteousness.

So yes, we may fail at times, but be assured that we live under God’s grace, that new paradigm wherein there is “NOW no condemnation” for those “in Christ” (Rom 8:1). Just as we would never condemn a small child who is learning to be potty trained or learning to walk but has moments of failing, so the Lord never condemns His children. He picks us up and says “let’s keep walking.”

By all our experiences, good or bad, God our Father is at work using every situation for us to grow up into who we in fact are “in Christ.” Philippians 2:13 For it is God which worketh IN YOU both to will and to do of his good pleasure. He is using our circumstances and situation of life to reveal His love to us and to thereby motivate us, teaching us how to live righteously by relying upon “the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” who now is our only legitimate “life” (Col 3:4a, Gal 2:20).

We have somewhat answered the question of identifying the real source of these sinful thoughts of our mind and how can we deal with them. But the Apostle Paul offers us more insight.

The fact is that though we as believers are saved from judgment and we possess Christ alive within our spirit, we still live within a Sin-laden flesh body that Paul calls the “body of Sin” (Rom 6:6), also called the “body of this death” (Rom 7:24). It is this Sin-infected “body of flesh,” which contains our individual soul’s self-being and spirit. That “flesh” makes us prone temptation, provoking us to acts of sin.

Yet, the fact of the Pauline “gospel of the grace of God” is this. The good news of the Pauline mystery gospel is that we have been freed from the power of the Sin-nature (Rom 6:6-7). How can this be? The answer is that we have been crucified with Christ and the Sin-nature, still resident in our flesh, has no power over us because WE IN FACT DIED with Christ (Gal 2:20). Though we are tempted by the impulses of “the flesh” toward whatever kind of sin, we as Christians no longer have to follow the dictates of that sinful nature that Paul calls “the flesh.”
The fact is that there is a new nature within the believer’s spirit. We can say there is “something good” in man, but only because it was put there by God to renew man. That “something good” is the resurrected sinless “Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.” His life bears the sinless nature of Christ, which has been imparted to every believer.

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This is from my good friend Art Licursi, the last paragraph in particular is what I wanted to share with regard to perhaps having a better understanding on “what sin is.”

Rich

Most Christians don’t realize it but the spiritual realm is the real and eternal realm. Our battle is spiritual and in the spiritual realm, against a Sin-spirit.

“… we wrestle NOT against flesh and blood, BUT against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against SPIRITUAL WICKEDNESS in high places.” (Eph 6:12)

The enemy of our soul, the Devil, tempts us with “evil thoughts” and then we wrongly think that thought was of our own initiative. When we recognize the thought as sinful or that it’s a damaging thought of some past failing or unhappy experience, we might say to ourselves “That’s just me,” or “I just can’t let go of the past,” or “There’s something wrong with me as a failing or defective Christian.” But actually, often our thoughts are not “just us.” The devil is called “the accuser of the brethren.” Referring to the devil’s demise we read in “for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.” (Rev 12:10b). He also accuses us, trying to condemn us for our awful thoughts.

Know this, we as believers are never condemned by God. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). We should know that our salvation was never based upon how good we could be or how good we can be now – it was and is based upon our “saving faith” in the finished work of Christ’s cross; “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8).” Our salvation is not performance based. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 NOT OF WORKS, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9). We are safe and secure in Christ, never to be lost; we are sealed by His Spirit unto the day of our final redemption to glory. “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30)

The devil is able, without our planned forethought, to inject into our minds distracting and tempting thoughts. It’s obvious that with TV programming and advertisements, our culture of sexuality; and women’s dress (or “undress” is more accurate) there’s plenty of provocation to temptation in our thoughts. But some thoughts simply seem to come out of the blue. Knowledgeable and alert Christians should know what these thoughts are and from whence they come. Peter writes

“Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 (AMP)

These thoughts and accusations are the “fiery darts” (KJV) or “flaming missiles” (AMP) of the enemy of our soul – the devil. The “Apostle to the Gentile’s,” Paul says the members of the members of “the body of Christ” are equipped to deal with these “fiery darts.” We can quench or snuff out the “fire” of temptation.

Ephesians 6:16 (AMP) Lift up over all the [covering] SHIELD OF SAVING FAITH, upon which YOU (the believers) CAN QUENCH ALL THE FLAMING MISSILES of the wicked [one].

These lustful, self-seeking, hateful, unbelieving, and ungodly thoughts can get stuck in our consciousness. Sometimes it may seem that we cannot get away from these thoughts, but we can. These are what Paul calls “strongholds.” These “strongholds” may have been established to have a home in our mind by the repeated promptings of the Sin-nature that has established them over the years before and even perhaps after our salvation. Our wrong thinking can become habitual, through being tempted over and over.

Solomon wrote, Proverbs 23:7 … as he thinketh in his heart, so is he… I once heard that Norman Grubb said something similar; “What you take hold of will take hold of you.” E.g., if you take hold of a chair by sitting in it, it will take hold of you by supporting you, and that’s good. But conversely, if you take hold of evil, fearful, jealous, grievous or anxious thoughts, entertaining the “imaginations” that appear in your mind; then they may take hold of you as all consuming, ultimately prompting you to act on those thoughts. Our “imaginations” are “temptations” can turn us away from the truth of the ever-present saving Lord.

We can “pull down” and “take captive” evil thoughts by learning to turn away from the thought, to turn our heart to the Lord within us. This is a single motion – turning to the Lord is simultaneously a turning away. He alone is able to save us from those thoughts in that moment. He desires to live His righteous Christian life through us. We will discuss this further in the next installments.

James clearly outlines the progression and consequence of falling to temptation toward sin.

“Blessed is the man that endureth (stays true in) temptation: for when he is tried (tempted), he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him (Christ). 14 But EVERY MAN IS TEMPTED, when he is DRAWN AWAY OF HIS OWN LUST, and ENTICED. 15 Then WHEN LUST (GK., epithymia, forbidden desire) HATH CONCEIVED, IT BRINGETH FORTH SIN: and SIN, WHEN IT IS FINISHED, BRINGETH FORTH DEATH. (James 1:12, 14-15).

Summarizing; 1) First the “temptation” appears. 2) Being “tempted,” we may be “drawn away” due the “lust” of the Sin-nature within our “flesh.” 3) When “lust” is conceived it will usually culminate in an act of “sinning.” (1 Cor 15:56a). 4) The consequence of “Sin” is “death.” Hebrews 11:25b tells us there are “pleasures of sin for a season,” but Paul tells us “The sting of death is sin…”

“Lust” here is defined as “strong desire for what is forbidden”; it includes but is not limited to sexual sin. All manner of “sins of the flesh” (Col 2:11) are manifested as result of a person going along with or giving into whatever the temptation of “the flesh” happens to be. James reveals this four-step sequence of temptation toward sinning.

Sin brings death? All are destined to die physically because “sin bringeth forth death” (1Cor 15:56b). All of us are born alive but spiritually “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:1), spiritually dead toward God. In 1Cor 15:56 Paul is writing to the believers at Corinth who have eternal life within them as their new life, so the “death” here refers to a believer’s loss of life-flow with the Lord. This death may be defined as a “cessation of open communication with the Lord.” Though Christ never leaves us, we as believers, in the course of our sinning, chose to separate our self from the Lord and to live by our own desires.

The sequence of temptation that James outlines applies universally, being common to all mankind, both the saved and unsaved. It is imperative that the Christians know how to recognize and respond to the very first step in the progression toward sinning, which is the initial “temptation.” Sin impacts our life and often the lives of others. Sin has far reaching affects; consider DUI accidents, and sin that can prompt divorce, or loss of a job, tearing apart families, and relationships, the hurt of guilt and unforgiveness, etc.

There are practical steps that may be employed to prevent some temptations, such as the simple concept of “don’t go there.” By this I mean if you’re tempted to drunkenness then you don’t go to places or to be with people that will tempt you with alcohol. You may need to block certain TV stations from your TV to keep the “eye gates” – of your “mind’s eye” and your “physical eyes” protected, so you don’t stir up what you should not be “think,” “imagine” or “fanaticize” in your mind. “[Under the influence of wine] your eyes will behold strange things [and loose women] and your mind will utter things turned the wrong way [untrue, incorrect, and petulant].” (Proverbs 23:33 (AMP)

Jesus of Nazareth was tempted and never sinned, so there is no sin in the temptation itself. Hebrews 4:15 For we have not an high priest (Jesus) which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but WAS IN ALL POINTS TEMPTED LIKE AS WE ARE, YET WITHOUT SIN (sinning). Jesus always ended temptation by declaring His dependence upon the “the Father” (John 5:30, Mat 4:4). Jesus did in fact have a body of human flesh just like ours. Recall that God the Father was Jesus of Nazareth’s real Father (not Joseph)… but Mary, as a human, was Jesus’ human mother. The Father gave Jesus His “Spirit of life” and Mary gave Jesus His physicality, His body of flesh. Jesus’ body was like ours because it is clear that His human lineage goes back “Adam” (Luke 3:23-38). It was by Adam that “Sin (as a nature) entered the world (of humanity)” (Rom 5:12). Thus, Jesus could actually be “tempted like as we are”… yet Jesus never acted upon His flesh body’s promptings with any act of sinning. Jesus was sinless in that He never sinned!

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It says that Jesus came unto his own, and his own rejected him, or as I want to put it; “missed Him.”

This morning while I was out for my walk, drinking in the early spring wonder and its keen and intoxicating beauty, my heart and mind were captivated by the following thoughts.

Before Adam and Eve were escorted out of the garden, God had clothed them in (with) coats of skins, this all being part of their humanity becoming enslaved, imprisoned, restrained from becoming fully human, I will touch back on this in a bit.

To my way of thinking so many still dream of that idyllic Eden setting and long to get back there if possible, as if that was what was opened up to man in what was perfectly finished on the cross in the person of Jesus Christ.
The two were removed from the Garden and yet, when the Word became flesh clothed in our humanity, it was in another garden that the previous door that had been closed was now opened up.
It says in the book revelation; “I am he that opens the door that no man can shut, and the one who shuts the door that no man can open.”
In the finished work of Christ, the door that was opened up was not a portal gaining entrance back into the Garden, no matter how wonderful and beautiful It might have been, no, it was a door that opened up right into the very heart of God the father! You choose what garden you want to enter into.

It is some of my ongoing thoughts about why so many of us despair of and are trying to cover up our humanity while hearing the word, “saint” supposedly defining who we now are. Is it possible that man i.e. Adam was never fully human, meaning yes he had a spirit, soul and body but by not eating from the Tree of Life, his humanity morphed into something that now rules him because of the fall and sin entering the human stream? It says that the first man Adam, became a living being; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit, meaning, it was as a man, aka, the son of man that was fully alive, spirit soul and body, joined as one with God the Father that ushered into view what humanity fully alive looked like.


The shame and disgrace that has hounded man since the fall and even after becoming a Christian, a son or daughter of the living God is something I want to try and address here.
In the Word becoming flesh and living amongst us, it was our very humanity that the one who was Lord at his birth wore as a crown, dignifying it with the greatest of meaning and purpose.
It says in Genesis 3:23, therefore the Lord God sent him (Adam) forth from the Garden of Eden, to till the ground from where he was taken. The word ‘till’ has significant depth and meaning to it; to work as a slave, to be enslaved, etc. The son had become a slave, a slave to his fallen humanity, his tilling the ground was going to be a constant reminder that he was meant for so much more than this, rather than his humanity serving him, by listening to and embracing the lie of the lair, he was now trapped having to serve another from within his flesh.

The deliverance man had been promised right from the get-go was stated as follows; I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
The last place man ever considered looking for God was in Him becoming a man, a fully alive man, dressed and clothed in our humanity. This was in one sense a man like no others, fully man and yet fully God, both a Prince and Lord, yet all of his living contradicted the norms of what a Prince or Lord would look like or live like, but isn’t that all a wonderful part of the foolishness of God being so much greater than all of man’s wisdom?

Rich

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