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The Wednesday Word: A Delightful Insanity

Galatians 5:16; “This I say then walk in the spirit and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”

Have you ever used the expression; ‘I couldn’t see the wood for the trees’? It means that, even though a truth is clearly evident, it goes unnoticed because of more attention being given to minor details. Galatians 5:16 is like that.

Let me explain. Countless numbers of believers are desperately trying to not walk in the flesh. They are trying not to do the things that are wrong in God’s sight. They are striving and struggling. As a result, they are continually beating up on themselves in the unending search for self-improvement.

This, however, is not wisdom.

Why so?

Simply stated… it doesn’t work!

Doesn’t work?

No, it doesn’t work.

Why not?

It doesn’t work for the simple reason that we are all like the man who hadn’t even thought about walking on the grass until he saw a sign which said, ‘DON’T WALK ON THE GRASS.’

The truth is this if we keep telling ourselves that we are not going to do something you can bet your money that sooner or later we will probably do it. That’s the nature of the beast.

To understand Galatians 5:16, (This I say then walk in the spirit and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh) just picture two roads going in opposite directions away from you. One of them is the Road of the Spirit, the other the Road of the Flesh. We are not instructed to stand at the entrance to the “Flesh Road” and say ‘I’m not going down there, I won’t go down there.’ No! Not at all! If you look down that road for too long, you’ll go down it.

We are, however, to walk down the road of the Spirit. But how do we do that? Here’s one suggested way. Paul encourages us to “Speak to ourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody in our heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;” (Ephesians 5:19-20).

We, because of what Christ has accomplished and finished for us in His doing, dying and rising again are learning to sing and make melody in our hearts unto the Lord. We are learning to give thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are learning continually to look outside ourselves unto Jesus (Hebrews 12:2) the author and finisher of our faith.

As we walk in the Spirit, we are learning to worry about nothing, to be prayerful for everything and be thankful for anything (Philippians 4:6). By the way, living like this doesn’t mean that we shall not be assailed by the lust of the flesh, rather, it guarantees that we shall not fulfil it.

But let me warn you, if you live that way, singing and making melody in your hearts being worried about nothing, prayerful for everything and thankful for anything, people might say you are mad. But so what? It will be a madness filled with the wisdom of Heaven. It will be a delightful insanity, for in so walking you will not fulfill the desires of the flesh.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com 

The immortality of the soul proved

calvin.jpg_7MA21605611-0015The immortality of the soul proved from,

The testimony of conscience.
The knowledge of God.
The noble faculties with which it is endued.
Its activity and wondrous fancies in sleep.
Innumerable passages of Scripture.

2. Moreover, there can be no question that man consists of a body and a soul; meaning by soul, an immortal though created essence, which is his nobler part. Sometimes he is called a spirit. But though the two terms, while they are used together differ in their meaning, still, when spirit is used by itself it is equivalent to soul, as when Solomon speaking of death says, that the spirit returns to God who gave it, (Ecclesiastes 12:7.) And Christ, in commending his spirit to the Father, and Stephen his to Christ, simply mean, that when the soul is freed from the prison-house of the body, God becomes its perpetual keeper. Those who imagine that the soul is called a spirit because it is a breath or energy divinely infused into bodies, but devoid of essence, err too grossly, as is shown both by the nature of the thing, and the whole tenor of Scripture. It is true, indeed, that men cleaving too much to the earth are dull of apprehension, nay, being alienated from the Father of Lights, are so immersed in darkness as to imagine that they will not survive the grave; still the light is not so completely quenched in darkness that all sense of immortality is lost. Conscience, which, distinguishing, between good and evil, responds to the judgment of God, is an undoubted sign of an immortal spirit. How could motion devoid of essence penetrate to the judgment-seat of God, and under a sense of guilt strike itself with terror? The body cannot be affected by any fear of spiritual punishment. This is competent only to the soul, which must therefore be endued with essence. Then the mere knowledge of a God sufficiently proves that souls which rise higher than the world must be immortal, it being impossible that any evanescent vigor could reach the very fountain of life. In fine, while the many noble faculties with which the human mind is endued proclaim that something divine is engraven on it, they are so many evidences of an immortal essence. For such sense as the lower animals possess goes not beyond the body, or at least not beyond the objects actually presented to it. But the swiftness with which the human mind glances from heaven to earth, scans the secrets of nature, and, after it has embraced all ages, with intellect and memory digests each in its proper order, and reads the future in the past, clearly demonstrates that there lurks in man a something separated from the body. We have intellect by which we are able to conceive of the invisible God and angels — a thing of which body is altogether incapable. We have ideas of rectitude, justice, and honesty — ideas which the bodily senses cannot reach. The seat of these ideas must therefore be a spirit. Nay, sleep itself, which stupefying the man, seems even to deprive him of life, is no obscure evidence of immortality; not only suggesting thoughts of things which never existed, but foreboding future events. I briefly touch on topics which even profane writers describe with a more splendid eloquence. For pious readers, a simple reference is sufficient. Were not the soul some kind of essence separated from the body, Scripture would not teach that we dwell in houses of clay, and at death remove from a tabernacle of flesh; that we put off that which is corruptible, in order that, at the last day, we may finally receive according to the deeds done in the body. These, and similar passages which everywhere occur, not only clearly distinguish the soul from the body, but by giving it the name of man, intimate that it is his principal part. Again, when Paul exhorts believers to cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and the spirit, he shows that there are two parts in which the taint of sin resides. Peter, also, in calling Christ the Shepherd and Bishop of souls, would have spoken absurdly if there were no souls towards which he might discharge such an office. Nor would there be any ground for what he says concerning the eternal salvation of souls, or for his injunction to purify our souls, or for his assertion that fleshly lusts war against the soul; neither could the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews say, that pastors watch as those who must give an account for our souls, if souls were devoid of essence. To the same effect Paul calls God to witness upon his soul, which could not be brought to trial before God if incapable of suffering punishment. This is still more clearly expressed by our Savior, when he bids us fear him who, after he has killed the body, is able also to cast into hell fire. Again when the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews distinguishes the fathers of our flesh from God, who alone is the Father of our spirits, he could not have asserted the essence of the soul in clearer terms. Moreover, did not the soul, when freed from the fetters of the body, continue to exist, our Savior would not have represented the soul of Lazarus as enjoying blessedness in Abraham s bosom, while, on the contrary, that of Dives was suffering dreadful torments. Paul assures us of the same thing when he says, that so long as we are present in the body, we are absent from the Lord. Not to dwell on a matter as to which there is little obscurity, I will only add, that Luke mentions among the errors of the Sadducees that they believed neither angel nor spirit.

John Calvin-Institutes of the Christian Religion-Book I-Chapter 15-Henry Beveridge Translation

Chapter 5-Spirituality of God

Chapter 5-Spirituality of God

 

HAVING in the last chapter discussed the unity of God, we proceed in this to the consideration of his spirituality. This is the second subject preliminary to that of his attributes. The attempt will be made to prove, not only that God has a spiritual nature, but that he is a pure spirit without outward form or material organization.

I. The one God has undoubtedly a spiritual nature.

1. He is the creator of spirits. But spirit is the highest order of existence and its creator must himself have the nature which belongs to that order.

2. The creation and government of the world give evidence of wisdom, skill, knowledge and purpose, but there are attributes of spirit. God therefore must have a spiritual nature.

3. We arrive at the idea of the perfect being by the exclusion of all imperfection and the ascription of all perfection. But spiritual nature is in every respect a perfection. Therefore we ascribe it to God.

4. The Scriptures ascribe a spiritual nature to God.

It is involved in the abundant language about the spirit of God in which, however, reference is had distinctively to the third person in the Trinity.

It is also presupposed in all the intellectual, moral, and emotional thoughts and acts ascribed to him.

But it is directly asserted in two places: John 4:24, the language of our Lord to the woman of Sychar: “God is a spirit, and they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Again in Heb. 12:9, where fathers of the flesh and of the spirit are contrasted. “Furthermore, we have had the fathers of our flesh to chasten us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits and live?”

Compare also Acts 17:24, 25. “The God that made the world and all things therein, he, being Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is he served by men’s hands, as though he needed anything,” &c.

II. But when we ascribe spirituality to God, we do not intend simply to assert that he possesses a spiritual nature, but that his nature is exclusively spiritual. By this we mean that he has no material organization, that he has neither body nor members of the body such as we have, neither shape nor form, neither passions nor limitations, but only a spiritual nature.

1. This is evident from his immensity and eternity (infinity in time and space).

To have an omnipresent and eternal mode of existence is possible for a spiritual nature, because spirit has not of necessity succession of time and specific limitation of location. But these of necessity belong to matter. It is of necessity that it has a here, and not an everywhere; spirit alone can combine the two, the here and the everywhere. It is also of necessity that matter exists in time; we know that it exists now, that it existed yesterday, that it may exist to-morrow. We know that it necessarily has this succession and difference of time. But with the eternal God there can be no succession of time, and consequently he can have no material nature but must be purely spiritual.

2. It also follows from his independence and immutability.

If God have body, he is capable of being influenced from without, for all matter is thus capable of being influenced, of being moved, divided, added to and diminished. But if thus capable of influence from without he is not independent. Therefore the independent God cannot be material.

Again, if he is body, he is mutable, for all matter is capable of change. Therefore the immutable God cannot be material.

3. This may be proved from his absolute perfection.

(a) Negatively. From the idea of absolute perfection we exclude all that admits of limitation or change. But body is both limited and changeable. Therefore the absolute perfection of God excludes a bodily organism.

(b) Positively. To absolute perfection we ascribe the possession of intelligence, will and moral perception. But these do not belong to body. Therefore body cannot be either in part or whole the absolutely perfect one.

4. We realize in ourselves, the defects of a material organization, how it confines us, how it causes pain and suffering, how it imposes on us joy in sensual pleasures, how incapable it is of knowledge and power in itself. Hence we naturally disbelieve that in God is to be found an organism so necessarily imperfect. On the other hand we find our spiritual natures to be of wondrous power and capacity, endowed with intelligence, skill and wisdom, capable of knowing right and wrong, and the true and the false, and possessed of liberty of choice, and we therefore ascribe to God the possession of such a nature to an infinite extent, with infinite intelligence, skill and wisdom, and a will absolutely untrammeled from without.

In apparent opposition to this doctrine of the pure spirituality of God is a large number of passages, which represent God in or with bodily form. This language is partly figurative, and partly used as an accommodation to human thought, and to the incapacity of human language to express exclusively divine things. Such language is called anthropomorphic, and is generally so obviously such, as to make no false impression, even upon the most ignorant.

The following is a corrected list of the passages as collected in West’s Analysis, pp. 17-19.

Those which speak of him as having location: Gen. 4:16; Ex. 19:17-20; 20:21; 33:14, 15.

As having motion: Gen. 17:22; 18:33; Ex. 19:20; Num. 12:5; 23:4; Deut. 33:2; Judg. 5:4; 1 Sam. 4:7; Ps. 47:5; 68:7, 8; Ezek. 11:23; Micah 1:3; Hab. 3:3; Zech. 2:13.

As using vehicles: 2 Sam. 22:11; Ps. 18:10; 104:3; Hab. 3:8, 15; Zech. 9:14.

He is said to dwell on the earth: Ex. 25:8; 29:43, 44; 1 Kings 6:13; 8:12, 13; 2 Chron. 6:1, 2; Ps. 132:14; Mic. 1:2, 3; Hab. 2:20.

He dwells with man: Ex. 29:45; Lev. 26:11, 12; 2 Chron. 6:18; Zech. 2:10; Rev. 21:3.

He dwells in men: 1 Cor. 3:16, 17; 6:19.

He has face: Gen. 32:30; Ex. 33:11, 20; Deut. 5:4; 34:10; Rev. 20:11; eyes: 2 Chron. 16:9; Prov. 22:12; nostrils: 2 Sam. 22:9, 16; Ps. 18:15; mouth: Num. 12:8; Ps. 18:8; lips and tongue: Isa. 30:27; breath: Isa. 30:28; shoulders: Deut. 33:12; hand and arms: Ex. 33: 22, 23; Ps. 21:8; 74:11; 89:13; 118:16; Isa. 52:10; Hab. 3:4; fingers: Ps. 8:3; back: Ex. 33:23; feet: Ps. 18:9; voice: Ex. 19:19; 20:22; Lev. 1:1; Num. 7:89; 12:4; 22:9; Deut. 4:12, 36; 1 Kings 19:12, 13; Ps. 29:3-9; 68:33; Jer. 25:30, 31; Ezek. 43:6.

His voice is spoken of as dreaded: Ex. 20:19; Deut. 4:33; 5:24-26; Joel 2:11; 3:16; Amos 1:2; Heb. 12:19, 26.

He is said to exercise laughter: Ps. 2:4.

He appears to men: Gen. 35:9; 48:3; Ex. 3:2-6; 19:9; 1 Kings 9:2; Job 42:5, 6; Amos 9:1.

His appearance is described: Ex. 24:10; Deut. 31:15; Isa. 6:1; Ezek. 8:1, 2, 4; 43:2; Dan. 7:9, 10; Rev. 4:5.

He is in human form: Gen. 18:1; Ezek. 1:26, 27; Rev. 4:2, 3.

III. The value of true ideas as to the spirituality of God may be seen from the important consequences which follow from this characteristic of God.

1. It involves concerning the nature of God:

(1.) That he is invisible and intangible, or incapable of apprehension by the bodily senses.

(2.) That he is unchangeable, incorruptible and indestructible.

(3.) That he is simple and uncompounded.

(4.) That he is a living personal being, intelligent, moral, free and active.

(5.) That he is infinite and eternal.

2. Upon it depends in the relation of God to creation:

(1.) His knowledge of all events, and especially of his spiritual creatures.

(2.) His control of all events.

(3.) His purposing all things that shall come to pass.

3. Because of it, he must receive spiritual worship:

(1.) Not that of the body only.

(2.) Nor of the outward form.

(3.) Nor of pretended service.

(4.) But of genuine emotion.

(5.) Because of it, he cannot be represented in that worship by outward forms or images. He is to be approached, not with the bodily senses, but with the communings of the heart. Hence the second commandment, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them.” Ex. 20:4, 5.

IV. Spirituality has been by some classified as one of the attributes of God. This has possibly arisen from the twofold sense which the word spirituality has. It is used among men as a description of character, when it means that that character is exalted to an extraordinary sense above the fleshly appetites and passions, and devoted to spiritual affairs. In this sense spirituality would be an attribute of character, and therefore of the person possessing that character. But when spirituality is spoken of with reference to God, it is used in the sense in which man is spoken of as a spiritual as well as material being. It is declarative of God as possessing a spiritual nature in the sense that his nature is that of a spirit. It is, therefore, a simple declaration of what his nature is, and not a statement of an attribute of that nature. It is, consequently, no more to be classed among the attributes of God than is his unity. These two subjects have, therefore, been treated separately and as preliminary questions to the consideration of his attributes.

 

Rev. James Petigru Boyce, D.D., LL. D.,–Abstract of Systematic Theology–First published in 1887

Question 23-Puritan Catechism

Spurgeon 1

Q. How does Christ execute the office of a prophet?

A. Christ executes the office of a prophet, in revealing to us, (John 1:18) by his Word, (John 20:31) and Spirit, (John 14:26) the will of God for our salvation.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon-A Puritan Catechism

 

Question 4-Puritan Catechism

SpurgeonQ. What is God?

A. God is Spirit, (John 4:24) infinite, (Job 11:7) eternal, (Psalm 90:2; 1 Timothy 1:17) and unchangeable (James 1:17) in his being, (Ezekiel 3:14) wisdom, power, (Psalms 147:5) holiness, (Revelation 4:8) justice, goodness and truth. (Ezekiel 34:6,7)

Charles Haddon Spurgeon-A Puritan Catechism

The Spirit constrains our new nature and restrains the old nature

December 25, 2012 Leave a comment

Arthur Pink“I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them to do them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from Me” (Jer. 32:40). This statement casts much light upon the means and method employed by God in the preserving of His people. The indwelling Spirit not only constrains the new nature by considerations drawn from the love of Christ (2 Cor. 5:14), but He also restrains the old nature by a sense of God’s majesty. He often drops an awe on the believer’s heart, which holds him back from running into that excess of riot which his lusts would carry him unto. The Spirit makes the soul to realise that God is not to be trifled with, and delivers from wickedly presuming upon His mercy. He stimulates a spirit of filial reverence in the saint, so that he shuns those things which would dishonour his Father. He causes us to heed such a word as “Be not highminded, but fear: for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest He also spare not thee” (Rom. 11:20, 21). By such means does God fulfill His promise “I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes” (Ezek. 36:27).

Arthur W. Pink—Studies in the Scriptures April, 1937 The Spirit Preserving

The believer’s desire for God is an effect of the Spirit’s operation within him

November 13, 2012 Leave a comment

His understanding having been savingly enlightened, the believer desires to grow in grace and the knowledge of his Lord, that he may abound in spiritual wisdom and good works. Every affection of his heart is stirred, every faculty of his soul called into action. And yet this concurrence is not such as to warrant us saying that his perseverance depends, in any degree on himself, for every spiritual stirring and act on his part is but the effect of the Spirit’s operation within him, “He which hath begun a good work in you will finish it” (Phil. 1:6). He who first enlightened, will continue to shine upon the understanding; He who originally convicted of sin, will go on searching the conscience; He who imparted faith will nourish and sustain the same; He who drew to Christ, will continue to attract the affections toward Him.

Arthur W. Pink—Studies in the Scriptures March, 1937 The Spirit Preserving