Mind or Body?

spirit

YOLO or You only live once. One might hear this called out as encouragement to someone about to do something bold, crazy, extreme, or stupid usually to gain a rush of adrenaline and excitement from the act. “You only live once” is good natured and intended to remind everyone to live life to the fullest while one can. The term however has a major shortcoming as it fails to recognize that while we live in this corrupted sin slaved body we also have an eternal spiritual nature that lives for eternity. The fact is we outlive this temporary physical body so no we do not just live once.

It is hard for contemporary society living in a material obsessed world to remember that there is also a spiritual world. The god of Science and Atheism has infiltrated every aspect of culture and life to the point that God is denied and if dwelt on a realization that if this is all just a material being then one is simply just the sum of chemical reactions. A machine that will one day stop working resulting in death and then nothingness. Paul rejected this YOLO way of thinking and highlighted in his letter to the Romans how the physical and the spiritual interact.

14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Romans 7:14-15 ESV

The law is morality, truth, right and wrong, and accountability to the Creator. The commandment do not murder seems to be focused on governing the actions of the flesh but it is really more than that. It is a moral standard, a spiritual standard that God holds up as truth.

15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 1 John 3:15 ESV

The law is spiritual because it deals with desire and intent not simply just what actions were manifest in the material world. John the Disciple of Christ is saying that hate for someone else may not manifest into a physical altercation that ends in murder but that hate is still the intent and thus corrupts the spiritual nature of the person that has such evil thoughts. Jesus highlights this when it comes to sex. If you have ever looked at another person and imagined them sexually. If you have viewed or continue to view pornographic images, writing, or simply lustful material then according to Jesus your spirit has broken the law because the law is spiritual.

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:27-28 ESV

Now Paul acknowledged to the Romans that we have a serious problem with the Law. We know what is right and wrong but we do not have the ability to consistently carry it out. The physical desires of this body and the cravings and appetites of the world get in the way.

18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. Romans 7:18 ESV

There are two mistaken ways to go forward because of this war between the spirit and the flesh. First is to deny the spiritual aspect of oneself and say “oh well I was born this way”. Another “this is who I am”. Better yet people were made to enjoy these pleasures so YOLO and go for it to the extreme. The second extreme is to deny the flesh and physical altogether and focus solely on the spiritual side of oneself. Monks for example move way a remote location to cut themselves off from the physical pleasures of the world and attempt to live above the selfish evil desires of the flesh. The unhappy secret here is that even in the monastery one still must deal with the selfishness of the flesh. The problem with either way of living is that it will ultimately be unsatisfying. Life is more than pleasure and life is more than denial of physical. One cannot deny the spiritual side of things any more than they can truly deny the physical side.

6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:6-8 ESV

The sin of our physical desires must be put to death and we must be born again into a spirit filled life where the physical is controlled and enjoyed by the spiritual. It is in Christ that the Spirit gives us a new heart and a new desire for the things that are valued by God.

6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ John 3:6-7 ESV

John 3: Condemned or Saved?

John Chapter 3 contains one of the most powerful and famous verses in all of the bible. John 3:16  

16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave[g] his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 ESV

 What powerful and comforting words. “God Loves the world” so much so he sent Jesus to save the world. People cling to this and champion these words. However few people know the entire context to understand what that really means.  

17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. 18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. John 3:17-18 ESV

Jesus did not come to Judge the world. He came to save the world. For those of us who believe in Jesus and accept what he has done there is no judgment. But John recounting what Jesus told Nicodemus went on to say that anyone who rejects Jesus is already under judgment and has already been condemned to death.

 Do you get that? Judgment has already come. We have already been condemned. We are all already cut off from God. That is why Jesus did not come to judge when he became a man. In His conversation with Nicodemas Jesus first started off by telling Nicodemas that he must be born again.

 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again,[a] you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?” John 3:3-4 ESV

Jesus went on to explain that a new spiritual birth was needed. That spiritual birth is only secured through what Jesus did on the cross paying our penalty. New life in Christ is the only way forward out of condemnation and death.

 So those who reject Jesus, and God have a problem. They have chosen the death of this earthly world over an eternal future life. So by what standard does God judge those who reject His Word?

19 And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. 20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. 21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.” John 3:19-21 ESV

Many refuse to yield to a new life in Christ. Most continue to pursue their own selfish ambitions. Many think the world revolves around their desires and wants. They think they can accomplish anything they want… If that is you then Jesus has just called you evil in John Chapter 3. Jesus says that you are condemned because you prefer the darkness of rebellion because you think it hides your sins. Each of person must reconcile the truth that Jesus proclaimed against their own motives. His offer is to continue under judgment or to be born again.