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Personality

This is another part of an ongoing article by my friend Art Licursi.

Rich

Part 5 of 10 – “The Law” Empowers the Sin Nature

I believe by now in this series we’ve established that “Sin” as a personality and nature that indwells “the flesh” body of all men SO long as they live on earth – both the saved and the unsaved.

Let’s now look more closely at the response of the “Sin-nature” when we attempt to live under “the Law” during this day of the “dispensation of the grace of God.” Paul plainly states below that the activating force behind “Sin in the flesh” (Rom 8:3), giving its power, is “the Law.” This is the case for anyone who is trying to live under “the Law.”

1 Corinthians 15:56 … the STRENGTH (dunamis, power) OF SIN is THE LAW.

These verses here below are from Romans 7 where Paul describes the dilemma of a man trying to live righteously while living under or according to “the Law.” Note the repeated linkage between “the commandment” (the Law) and the “Sin” nature; it’s undeniable.

Romans 7:8 But SIN taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence (illicit desires). For without the law sin was dead.

9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.

10 And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.

11 For SIN, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.

12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.

13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But SIN, that it might appear sin, WORKING DEATH IN ME by that which is good; (so) that SIN by THE COMMANDMENT might become exceeding sinful.

In these verses it certainly sounds like “Sin” is a personality, when we read of “SIN taking occasion,” deceiving,” and “working” (verses 8, 11, and 13). “Sin” sounds like a personality with a consciousness that acts and reacts in the believer who weighs his self-worth by his self-effort to conform to “the Law.”

In Galatians Paul explains the matter of “the Law’s” impotence to contribute to genuine righteous living. Paul reveals how “the Law” is intended to make men see their absolute need to trust Christ for their righteous standing and His life for living righteously. If we live by the law we bear “the curse,” which is the requirement too then keep ALL the law.

Galatians 3:10 For AS MANY AS ARE OF THE WORKS OF THE LAW (THOSE WHO DEPEND UPON THE LAW) ARE UNDER THE CURSE: for it is written, CURSED IS EVERY ONE THAT CONTINUETH NOT IN ALL THINGS WHICH ARE WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW TO DO THEM.

Also in Galatians 3 Paul explains how “the Law” acts as a “schoolmaster” for the unbeliever in pushing Him to Christ, and that after faith (in Christ) has come to that person then they are no longer under “the Law.”

Galatians 3:22-26 But the scripture hath concluded all (men are) under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

Note from verse 23 that “before faith came, we were kept under the law,” and in verse 24 we see that “the Law” was as our “schoolmaster” to teach us our need of Christ – to “bring us unto Christ (in faith).” And then, “after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster” (verse 25). So after the condemnation of “the Law” does its job – to push us to trust Christ as our only righteousness.

It’s impossible for any human, except Jesus. Hebrews 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but (JESUS) WAS IN ALL POINTS TEMPTED LIKE AS WE ARE, YET WITHOUT SIN. The burden of this curse is upon those who think we are still under “the Law.” Our failure under “The Law” is intended to reveal to us our utter need of a capable righteous life, to push us to receive Christ and His righteous “Spirit of life,” whereby we are not under “the Law.” Romans 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for (because) YE ARE NOT UNDER THE LAW, BUT UNDER GRACE.

Thankfully we were never meant to keep the external dead “Law of Moses,” which was fittingly written on lifeless stone. It has no power except to reveal our Sin to us. Now under grace, “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth” (Romans 10:4). The believer’s worth and righteousness is not based on their performance, neither before nor after they are converted by faith in Christ as their Savior.

We as grace believers live under an entirely new paradigm in this age of “the dispensation of the grace of God” (Eph 3:2); it’s a new way of living. We are not under any external “law” (except man’s civil law), thus we enjoy that now we are under “no condemnation” (Rom 8:1 below).

Romans 8:1-2 THERE IS THEREFORE NOW NO CONDEMNATION TO THEM WHICH ARE IN CHRIST JESUS,

Nevertheless, we do have within our spirit “the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” to regulate us now from within. This new way of inner regulation is the living “law of the Sprit of life in Christ Jesus.”

2 For THE LAW (operative regulating power) OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS HATH MADE ME FREE FROM THE LAW (operative regulating power) OF SIN AND DEATH.

As recipients of Christ’s “Spirit of life” are free to live spontaneously. Nevertheless, we have His permanent presence within us to guide and regulate us by either His prompting or restricting. Here we see a couple examples of the Lord’s inner prompting and restricting in the life of Paul and his co-workers.

Acts 18:5 And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ.

Acts 16:6-7 6 Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, 7 After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.
We can learn to practice the presence of the Lord, to trusting Him to guide us. Actually, we must learn to follow the inner sense we have by His “Spirit of life” within us. Paul writes in Ephesians 4:20 But ye have not so learned Christ; Christ will guide us in all our doings; e.g., He will lead or restrict us in what or if we should buy some particular thing that we are considering; or, He may move us to change lanes on the highway, etc. He is ever-present in us and desires to be the Lord of our life in every aspect.

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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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