Jubilee Church held Sunday worship service with the theme “Flesh and Spirit” based on John 3:6. Also, it is finished a series about “Born Again” started from last Wednesday based on the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus. Below is a summary of the message.
The first great principle of the new birth is that God does not avail himself of anything found in the natural man when he begets a Christian. The verse to which we come now, John 3:6, gives us a reason why this state of affairs is as God declares it to be. Moreover, it carries us beyond the mere facts of the new birth to the principles by which the new life is to be lived out in the Christian.
If we are to understand this statement by the Lord Jesus Christ, we need to understand the terms involved. After the fall of man, the word “flesh” conveys a slightly different meaning, still involving all of man’s being but also denoting man as he is moved by his depraved human nature. The term now points to man as he is motivated by that nature rather than as moved by the Spirit. We can be helped in our understanding of the following illustration.
All of us have seen a tug-of-war that two individuals or two groups struggle to pull a marker on a piece of rope across a line. So long as the struggle is even the marker more or less stays in the middle. When one person weakens or falls down, the marker moves over to the other side, and the stronger team wins. In some ways, this is what human nature was like before the fall. The center of the human person, the soul, was like the marker. On one side was a person’s body with its appetites. On the other was the spirit with its consciousness of God. god made people so that the spirit would dominate.
The spirit was to determine the course of human beings’ path and development. However, Adam and Eve sinned, the human spirit died. Thereafter, people were led about by the appetites of the body or flesh with the result that even the proper functions of the body were debased and true human nature was distorted. At this point, we must stop to consider several terms that are synonymous with the word “flesh,” for much of what is said about the flesh in the Bible is said by means of these other terms. Sometimes the reference is to our “old man” or our “old nature.” At times it is the “heart.”
We are said to be “carnal,” “fleshly,” “soulish.” The flesh is sometimes called “the natural man.” However, whatever the term used, the teaching is that the fleshly or natural man cannot please, obey, or even understand God. Therefore, whatever you do, do not make the mistake of thinking when you come to these verses that they describe people other than yourself, the criminals, derelicts, hypocrites, thieves, or perverts of our society. This is not the way God intends them. these words describe every man as he is since the fall apart from a miraculous intervention of God to save him. They describe you. Thus, according to the teaching of the Bible it is correct to say that neither you nor I am able to please God. the bible says: “All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one” (Rom. 3:12).
With this background in the Biblical terminology, we now need to get back to our text. Kenneth S. Wuest has written, “The teaching here is that man in his totally depraved condition cannot be improved. Reformation will not change him into a fit subject for the kingdom of God. The flesh is incurably wicked, and cannot by any process be changed so as to produce a righteous life. what that person needs, Jesus says, is a new nature, a spiritual nature which will produce a life pleasing to God, and which will be a life fit for the kingdom of God. this is what Jesus teaches in the following words: ‘And that which has been born of the Spirit is as a result spirit, and is spiritual in nature, and stays spirit.’ That is, the new birth is a permanent thing, produces a permanent change in the life of the individual, and makes him a fit subject for the kingdom of God inside.”
If you have been following the progression of Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus as we have unfolded it, you will have noticed that our exposition of John 3:6 has already brought us to the heart of Christ’s argument. A man cannot be saved by any human effort because human efforts can only produce human results. human results are sinful. Therefore, a person must be born again. Let us start with this important question. what happens to the old or fleshly nature when a person is born again? The person receives a new nature, of course. he has a new spirit. The new spirit is the offspring of the Holy Spirit, the offspring of God. but what happens to his old nature? What happens to the flesh? The real answer to the question I asked is therefore that the flesh remains with us and, what is more, that is struggling against the new nature. the new nature can do nothing bad.
The old nature can do nothing good. so there will always be a conflict, a struggle, warfare. When you become a Christian you may think that all your struggles are over, and you may be disappointed and even discouraged to learn that in one sense the struggle is only beginning. Before, you were unhappy but not schizophrenic. Now you are struggling. If this has been your experience, you must not despair. Nor must you think that because the old nature is apparent you are therefore to go on sinning freely every day with the old nature predominating. on the contrary, you have been given a new spirit precisely so that the flesh will not dominate. Then how are you to achieve such a victory? First, the Bible says that we are to think of the old nature as dead.
In one sense, of course, this is not true, for the old nature is still with us as I have indicated. Yet in another sense it is true; for God tells us that he has broken its power at the cross od Christ and therefore considers it a dead issue in the life of the Christian. Second, the Bible tells us that we are to feed the new nature while starving the old. It is as though the old nature were a lion capable of tearing our Christian life in pieces. God says that he has placed the lion within a cage where he is dead so far as any overt activity in the believer’s life is concerned. What then are we to do? Are we to feed the old nature with the world’s way of thinking and acting so that the lion within grows stronger and can eventually break out of his cage? Of course not! We are to starve the fleshly nature and indulge the spirit. this can be done only through Bible study. it is only through a knowledge of God’s truth that the Christian can become strong.
Finally, the Bible tells us that we are to “live by the Spirit,” for then we “will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature” (Gal. 5:16). What does it mean to walk in the Spirit? It is primarily a matter of our inmost determination. God tells us that for a Christian, he has restored that will toward spiritual things that were lost in the fall. then, let us use it. Let us place ourselves in circles where the life of the Spirit may grow.
Let us read the Bible Let us pray. Let us make Christian decisions. When we do this, we will find ourselves increasingly victorious, and the fruit of the Spirit-love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, kindness, self-control -will grow in us.