And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:24, NKJV)
The apostle has contrasted walking in the Spirit with fulfilling the lusts of the flesh (Galatians 5:16-17). He has pointed out the kind of life the flesh prompts men to pursue (the works of the flesh), with its fatal result (“those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of heaven,” Galatians 5:19-21). The character and conduct formed by the Spirit’s instruction and guidance is fruitful and robust, free from law’s condemnation (Galatians 5:22-23). Those who belong to Christ extinguish the flesh as the controlling factor of their lives (Galatians 2:20). Christians deliberately and methodically eliminate the influences and cravings of the flesh, so the fruit of the Spirit can thrive in their hearts and lives (Colossians 3:5). It is no accident that Christians bear the fruit of the Spirit. Through repentance, the heart has been conditioned to serve a new Master, Christ Jesus. The heart that is humble, repentant and responsive to the gospel is the perfect soil for bearing the fruit of the Spirit (Luke 8:15).
In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; For dust you are, and to dust you shall return. (Genesis 3:19, NKJV)
Adam’s mortality would become evident as he labored to eat and to survive on this earth. Eventually, Adam would die (Genesis 5:5). God’s creative purpose was for human beings to forever dwell with Him in the close fellowship of holiness. But, Adam and Eve’s sin separated them from their fellowship with God (Genesis 3:22-23; Isaiah 59:2). And, so it is that our sins separate us from God, too (Romans 3:23; 6:23). Adam’s flesh was created from the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7). Because of sin’s intrusion into this world, back to the dust Adam’s body (along with those of all his descendants), would return (Ecclesiastes 12:7). But, God also gave Adam a spirit, made in His image, that continues to exist beyond the grave (Genesis 1:27; Ecclesiastes 12:7). God’s plan of redemption in His Son, Jesus Christ, redeems both the body and the spirit (John 11:23-26). The gospel of Christ is the good news of how God defeats sin and death, giving the redeemed eternal access to the tree of life in the garden of God – forever freed from sin and its curse of death (Revelation 22:1-5).
3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3–5, NKJV)
The new birth is a spiritual birth, not a physical one: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which his born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). There is one new birth, with two parts (water and the Spirit). To be “born again” one must be “born of water and the Spirit.” What is the “water” of the new birth? It is not the water of physical birth, but the water of spiritual birth. It is the “washing of water” that happens when sin is washed away by the blood of Christ. It is the cleansing that occurs in water baptism (read Acts 22:16; Romans 6:3; Acts 8:35-39). The Bible says, “baptism doth also now save us” (1 Peter 3:21, KJV). What is “the Spirit” of the new birth? It is the Spirit of God, whose seed (the word of the kingdom) is planted into the heart of the sinner (Matt. 13:19, 23; Ephesians 5:26; 1 Peter 1:22-23). The Spirit of God acts upon the heart by His word, producing faith, convicting the sinner, and persuading him to obey Jesus to be saved (Acts 2:37-38, 39-41). The new birth is “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). Have you been born of water and the Spirit? Only then can you enter the kingdom of God (John 3:5).
4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:4–6, NKJV)
This is God’s platform of unity for the church of Christ. There is one body, or church, not many churches (denominations) that establish division among believers. There is one Spirit, who leads us and unites us by the gospel truth He revealed, inspired and confirmed. There is one hope reserved in heaven for Christians; not the hope of an idyllic earth for all of humanity (1 Peter 1:3-5). Unity is arranged under the authority of one Lord; Jesus Christ (Acts 2:34-36). Unity is preserved when we do all things by His authority (Colossians 3:17). We do not write or accept creeds to elucidate unity – the faith that was once for all delivered is our sufficient guide (Jude 3). The Great Commission baptism of repentant believers for the remission of sins is the only baptism God recognizes (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:37-38; 8:35-38). All other baptisms introduce error and cause division. We have one Father who is in heaven; not many clerical “fathers” on earth (Matthew 23:9). God, our heavenly Father, is sovereign over all things. He pervades and sustains all things. He dwells among His people (Ephesians 2:22). Let us unite on truth. This is the unity for which Jesus prayed (John 17:20-21).
20 And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” (Mark 7:20–23, NKJV)
Billions of people do not regard sin as sin. That word has been all but stricken from the lexicons of languages around the world. What Jesus said here reminds us that we are dual beings, made of both flesh and spirit; both mortal and immortal. The inner person – the person possessing identity, volition, conscience, intelligence and emotions – is identified as the heart, from which comes our words and actions. Jesus identified sexual immorality of all sorts (including adultery, homosexuality and premarital sex) as sin that comes from the heart. Oppression of one’s neighbor, whether by murder, thievery, covetousness or deceit, is also sinful. See how pride is considered evil along with all the rest. Sin is real, and we must define sin the way Jesus does. If not, we will likely call evil good, and good evil (Isa. 5:20). “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).
19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:19–22, NKJV)
The Holy Spirit guided the apostles of Christ into all truth by revealing to them the mind of God and giving to them the inspiration to speak it and write it (Jno. 16:13-15; 1 Cor. 2:10-13; 2 Pet. 1:20-21). We rejoice in the Spirit’s work and His word. We will not stifle the Holy Spirit’s word and work by minimizing the divine blessings we have as a result His work. Neither will we hold God’s prophecies in contempt. We are strengthened by knowing the Spirit’s prophecies are fulfilled in Jesus Christ (Acts 3:22-26). The Spirit expects us to test all things by the word He gave us. Consequently, we can cling to good things and refrain from evil in every form it takes. Christians do not refuse the Spirit and the word He gave us. Instead, we walk in the Spirit, are led by the Spirit and live in the Spirit by letting His word define and direct our lives (Gal. 5:16, 18, 25).
19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Corinthians 6:19–20, NKJV)
How often has someone defended their immoral conduct with, “It’s my body, I’ll do whatever I want to with it!”? The word of God says your body really does not belong to you. Your body belongs to God. He created your body for your spirit to inhabit until you die (Eccl. 12:7). Because God gave us our bodies, He expects us to use our bodies for things that are pure, holy and good, not defile it with sexual immorality and other sins (1 Thess. 4:3-4). Everything we do with our bodies ought to honor God and not ourselves. Bodies are pierced, tattooed and disfigured, intoxicated and illegally medicated – all in the name of preference and personal freedom. Shouldn’t we be asking what does God prefer and propose I do with my body? Are you honoring God or dishonoring yourself in your body?