Our fleshly production did not gain us our position in Christ and it certainly can not gain us heaven, Christ accomplished that for us. If the works of our flesh did not contribute to getting us saved, how can the works of the flesh play a part in keeping us saved. We do not owe anything to this flesh, why spend our time wallowing in the mire that caused our Savior to sacrifice himself in the first place, it will never please God. God is not looking at our production, he is not looking at our behavior in order to view us as being in favor with him. If we are trying to satisfy God’s justice on a daily basis by conforming to a standard of rules and regulations, the milk of self-righteousness will sour under the divine heat of God’s justice. We need to stop focusing on our fleshly performance and focus on our position in Jesus Christ.
Salvation, justification unto eternal life is a gift of God, it is not something we attain by our works in the first place. We have also been sanctified or set apart in that we were identified with Christ by God’s power from on high baptism into Christ at the point of our belief, it is entirely a work of God for the believer, not a work of the believer for God. No effort of the flesh could accomplish it, no effort of the saint can add to it. This in itself is the motivation for a believer to bring the body into subjection to what God had done freely for the ungodly as we place our faith in what Christ accomplished for our sins. Paul’s desire was about beating the flesh back, not about making the flesh better, it is about holding it down, bringing it into submission. One has to do with elevation, the other has to do with submission, Paul was talking about making the flesh subject to him.
Everywhere Paul went, the people who had known the law did not just reject Paul, they wanted to do away with Paul for preaching that people were not under the law. What does that tell us about those in our day who continue to hang on to the notion that God is continuing to deal with people on the basis of their performance? We can see the connection between the religious crowd of Paul’s day and the religious crowd of today. The pride nature is the root cause of that rejection, pride insists upon attributing success to self. Human righteousness comes from self-interest-motivation, it is self-glorifying and while it may be of earthly benefit, that will not cut it when it comes to meeting the demands of God’s perfect justice.
When ungodly people are willing to simply take God at his word, abandoning any notion that they can merit a righteous standing with God through their performance, and trust solely in what Jesus Christ accomplished for them, having resolved that issue of their sins, God’s power from on high performs a miracle in those people’s lives by uniting those believers with Christ himself. That is what sanctification, our set-apartness is all about. As we travel through Paul’s handbook on faith, we learn the necessity of a total abandonment of any notion that no one can merit righteousness before God through the performance of the flesh, and that we must place our trust solely in the fact that God accomplished our salvation for us through his son’s death when he judged his son for our sins.
Paul was not talking about Christianizing the flesh, making it better flesh, capable of doing more things, he was talking about holding the flesh back, keeping it down. Paul was motivated to keep his desires of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life, to keep it at bay and not let that reign supreme when it came to his activities and his actions. Paul was being honest with himself and with us, when it came to the capacity of his flesh to merit righteousness before God through performance, if God was going to righteousify ungodly people, it would have to be freely by his grace, it could come no other way. People’s performance could not be allowed to enter the picture God would have to use belief rather than behavior as the criterion whereby to join believers to his son.
Could there have been a sin or two, or maybe a few left over when Christ died for the sins of the world for which God’s justice was not satisfied, a sin in the future. God’s justice was satisfied where the sins of the world are concerned, God reconciled the world unto himself, as Paul tells us. God was satisfying his own justice where the sins of the world are concerned through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, but God recognizes those who take him at his word concerning the price Christ became on their behalf to resolve God’s justice for their sins. Taking God at his word is called faith, God’s intent was to join believers to his son, from God’s perspective the two become one flesh. Justification is a recognition of righteousness that comes from God to those who believe God and the moment we believe, God’s power from on high joins us to Christ and from that point on we have a brand new identification.
Does God’s call go out selectively or does he call all today, and does his call come by way of circumstance or does he call today to believe the message given through the apostle Paul. Jesus Christ was made a curse for our sins by taking our place and suffering the judgment of God for the sins he died for, was his death not pictured in the scapegoat sacrifice of the Israelite program? If a person believes Christ died for their sins, but does not believe that God’s justice was satisfied when Christ died for those sins, that person has not believed Christ died for their sins according to the scriptures. To continue to insist that God’s justice has not been resolved where all the sins Christ died for are concerned, is to deny the truth sitting in 2 Corinthians 5:18-21.
Whatever it is, whether we are suffering or whether we are well, we can thank God for it, not with thanksgiving for receiving, but with thanksgiving that God is in control and that he is using the suffering circumstances in our life to perfect what he has begun in us. Prayer was never given to change God’s perspective of our greater preference, prayer was given to change our perspective of God’s greater purpose. God’s greater purpose was not to strengthen our faith by altering our circumstances, God’s greater purpose is to allow us to demonstrate our faith as we remain strong in spite of our circumstances. Prayer was never given to bring God into alignment with our wants, prayer was given to bring us into alignment with God’s will.
We are not to tell the lost that God can take away their sins, we are to tell the lost he is already taken them away, so that they might believe that good news message and be joined to the Savior. Does our righteous standing before God come by way of our fleshly performance or does God simply count or decree a person to be righteous because of that person’s faith in and union with his perfectly righteous son? That is the question, the source of our righteousness, is it personal performance or position in Christ? Our fleshly production did not gain us our position in Christ, it certainly can not gain us heaven, Christ accomplished that for us. The works of our flesh did not contribute to getting us saved, how can the works of the flesh play a part in keeping us saved.
We are not to cleanse ourselves in order to gain something from God when it comes to our holy standing before him or to maintain something before God, because we have been freely given something, namely, a justified and sanctified position in his son. Paul’s not saying to walk worthy in order to gain our calling or to walk worthy in order to keep our calling, but to walk worthy of the vocation that belongs to us, because God has freely given it to us. Our calling has not changed, it can not change, so we conduct ourselves in accordance with our calling. We should conduct ourselves in a manner conducive to the job that God’s given us, it is our ambassadorship of the message of reconciliation, the best news the world could ever hear.
The beginning of Israel’s last days of her program, they were being equipped for the upcoming time of tribulation right on their horizon. They were more abundant than ever, God used the physical senses in every respect in connection with his sign nation at Israel’s high holy feast day called Pentecost. This was not a mystery, this was not a secret, it was exactly what the bible had foretold would take place when it came to the sign nation. God gave his sign nation things to see and to hear and to speak, the physical senses were used through God’s power from on high, that Israel might witness their deliverance; “before our eyes” and “in our sight” tell us how God’s power from on high worked as Israel was approaching the last days of her program, which was to culminate in an entrance to her promised earthly kingdom.
The visual manifestations of God’s power from on high was directly involved in as the nation Israel was given every visual opportunity to change their thinking about the identity of their Messiah and their ability to perform up to the standard of God’s righteousness, when it came to the law contract. When God would set his program with Israel in abeyance for the ushering in an unprophecied age with us Gentiles. From the time that God sent Moses to deliver them from their Egyptian captivity, Israel was give things to see, to witness for themselves in order to visually verify God’s presence and his purpose with them, yet, for all the visual evidences that God gave to Israel, Israel would not believe God. When we come to understand that we are living in a brand new age called “the dispensation of grace” and that that earthly kingdom program is no longer in progress, but on hold, we come to realize the God’s power from on high wants to stabilize every believer today in a completely different way.
Israel walked by sight, that was part of the contract, the contract God established with the nation Israel called the law. In that contract itself, God said he would deal with them according to things they could look at. So, God dealt with the sign nation according to signs. For we walk by faith, not by sight is a clear statement from Paul how we walk today. We stop looking for things. For those who allow emotion to trump doctrine, Paul warned Timothy in 1 Timothy chapter 3 that this would be the character of “the religiously minded” as this age of grace winds to a close. A previously held position and emotion are the two things that trump doctrine, and emotion becomes a part of those who have held on to previously adopted position. Emotion trumps doctrine in most people’s minds and religion is about working on the emotional minds of people.