New Covenant Ways – BT6: “Working” the Old Covenant’s “Law of Sin & Death” is “Flesh” too
New Covenant Ways – BT6: “Working” the Old Covenant’s “Law of Sin & Death” is “Flesh” too
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For a detailed discussion about the flesh and how it relates to the other parts of man and the indwelling Holy Spirit, see the Identity page.
The “working” of the Old Covenant’s “Law of Sin and Death” is just as much flesh as any of man’s natural abilities and actions are, exactly because the Law depends entirely on the flesh’s obedience. The sarx flesh is simply “the natural man’s bodily substance plus his external and internal abilities and actions, including his human appetites and ambitions,” which we see in the bible not only refers to man’s innate or learned mental and physical abilities and external resources or by-products that are often sinful, but often also refers to man’s religious study and works to be righteous, approved, or pleasing to God, including the study and working of the OT’s Law of commandments. The context always tells you what is mind!
So many times, Christians think a verse is talking about their sinful passionate flesh, when it’s actually talking about their religious efforts to please God – but both are still man’s flesh! The problem with human flesh, even if intended for good, is that: “the flesh presently/ongoing is-defined-as asthenes beggarly-poor-weak-feeble-impotent” (a). And remember, “Whatever already having been [with ongoing effects] generated out-from the flesh presently/ongoingly is-defined/exists-as flesh and/coupled whatever already having been [with ongoing effects] generated out-from the Spirit presently/ongoingly is-defined/exists-as Spirit” (b). And Christ’s opinion of the flesh isn’t good: “the flesh presently/ongoingly opheleo oudeis absolutely in fact is-useless or profits nothing – [only] My directly-spoken/heard prophetic rhema words are Spirit and zoe genuine-life” (c). In context, Jesus is pitting His directly-spoken/heard Spirit-words against the written words of scripture and its prescribed works that the Jews prided themselves in studying and trying to do/work – His words are living and powerfully-enabling, but the gramma writings of graphe scripture aren’t. <Notes> a) Matthew 26:41; Mark 14:38, b) John 3:6, c) John 6:63.
The Lord showed me in proseuche conversational-prayer once that “directly-spoken/heard prophetic rhema words, Spirit, zoe genuine-life, and flesh” were not random words Jesus threw together as so many bible translations leave you believing. They are all integrally related! Adam was just of lump of clay as “the flesh” and it only became “living” when God’s “pneuma breath or Spirit of zoe genuine-life” was blown into him (a). All of man’s religious efforts (the “might and power” of Zechariah 4:6) even if they are based in OT scripture as the work-mentality of the old covenant or Law, are still just a “asthenes beggarly-poor-weak-feeble-impotent and anopheles unprofitable-useless” ball of clay called “flesh.” Only Christ’s directly-spoken/heard prophetic rhema words, which are out-from the Spirit, can give zoe genuine-life, power, and beneficial-usefulness (b), and in Christ alone are all things are held together (c), being all the dwelling-fullness of God (d). <Notes> a) Genesis 2:7; Job 33:4; Acts 17:25; Nehemiah 9:6; 1 Timothy 6:13; 1 Corinthians 8:6, b) John 1:3-4, 10; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2, c) Colossians 1:17, d) Colossians 1:19.
In fact, Paul says Christians are the ones “born kata down-from/according-to the Spirit” who are being persecuted by Jews “born kata down-from/according-to the flesh” (a), especially since Christians (not Jews) “are actually the circumcision, who routinely ritually-worship-serve God by the means of the Spirit of God and/coupled glory (b) in Christ Jesus and/coupled/thus have already put [with ongoing results] absolutely in fact no confidence (c) in the flesh” (d). In the context (e), Paul is speaking of Jews by human birth who boast in circumcision, ritual-worship-serving the one true God, and placing their trusting-relying-faith in the graphe scriptures (f). Paul is pitting these Jews against Christians who are Spirit-born and boasted in Christ instead of the Law or the graphe scriptures. <Notes> a) Galatians 4:29, b) joyfully boast, exult, take pride in, c) persuasion, trust, assurance, d) Philippians 3:3, e) vv. 3-8, f) John 5:39 – so much so they diligently studied and taught the scriptures, and wrote many commentaries on it as the Oral Torah, within many schools of interpretation.
Even Paul himself, an expert teacher of the graphe scriptures under the famed Gamaliel, “counted all of this as a loss (a) compared to the surpassing worth of experientially, relationally ginosko knowing Christ.” We also know that Paul considered the “flesh” to include “works of the Law” in Galatians 3:3 saying: “Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you ongoingly being made perfect (b) by the flesh?” In other words, “Unless one is born of water (c) and/coupled the Spirit (d), he cannot enter the kingdom of God. “Whatever already having been [with ongoing effects] generated out-from the flesh presently/ongoingly is-defined/exists-as flesh and/coupled whatever already having been [with ongoing effects] generated out-from the Spirit presently/ongoingly is-defined/exists-as Spirit” (e). How can you mix the two and how can you start with the Spirit and finish with the flesh? It is simply impossible, but that doesn’t stop religion from trying! <Notes> a) a gross liability, like a pile of feces-laden garbage, b) epi + teleo: on/at/upon completion, fulfillment, finish, c) a common rabbinic teaching of water-baptism in Christ’s day, d) this is called Spirit-baptism, e) John 3:5-6.
The flesh as “all of man’s external and internal resources and abilities, including the Law” is the exact Hebrew meaning of “chayil/megas-dunamis great-might and koach/ischus power” in Zechariah 4:6’s prophecy when Yahweh declares, “absolutely in fact no longer by great-might nor power, but by My Spirit” in regards to the completely-different-in-kind New Covenant. Remember that in New Covenant Ways – BT4 in Jeremiah 31:31-34, the 4 parts of the completely-different-in-kind New Covenant leave man completely out of the picture – God does them all! For a detailed discussion of ministering FOR God, even in music, with “might and power” versus ministering WITH God “by My Spirit,” see Skill page.
When the writer of Hebrews 6:1 wants the Jewish-Christians to “go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance (b) from dead-lifeless-useless . . . works of the flesh” (a), the Hebrews writer is NOT talking about “our sinful passions . . . at work in our members to bear fruit for death” that Paul speaks of in Romans 7:5, that so many Christians erroneously read this into the text. However, in context “works of the flesh” are what were contained in the “stoicheion rudimentary ‘abc’ fundamentals of the Messiah” found in about 300-450 OT prophecies (“oracles”) concerning Jesus, which Jews were taught in order to be converted to Christ – see Logos Word of God – BT6. This continued for awhile, at least in some parts of the early Jewish-Church, because Justin Martyr’s First Apology (155-157 AD) stated that: “The Sunday meetings of the congregation consisted ONLY of readings from the Jewish OT prophets, the Memoirs of the Apostles, prayers, and a meal.” – see Logos Word of God – BT18. See how simple church services were! <Notes> a) Galatians 5:19, b) turning away.
In the context of Hebrews 6:1, these “dead-lifeless-useless works” were the commandments of the Law, “the works of the Law” (a) or “Law of works” (b), that actually “arouses our sinful passions . . . to bear fruit for death” (c). The solution isn’t more Law, but is “the blood of Christ . . . without blemish (d) . . . to purify our conscience from [these] dead-lifeless-useless works [of the Law] to [now be able to actually] latreuo ritual-worship-serve the living God” (e). Although the Jews prided themselves in this latreuo ritual-worship-service of worship at the temple, it’s actually Christians – wherever they are – that are accomplishing latreuo ritual-worship-service – see Worship – BT2. <Notes> a) Romans 3:20, 28; Galatians 2:16, 3:2, 5, 10, b) Romans 3:27, c) Romans 7:5, d) a pure sacrificial Lamb, e) Hebrews 9:14.
Here’s a great case of misunderstanding what the “flesh” is: Paul spends a lot of time talking so much about the OT Law in Romans (a), having so much to do with sin: “through the Law comes the intimate knowing of sin” (b), “the Law counts sin against us” (c), “the Law increases sin” (d), because “our sinful passions aroused by the Law” (e). “The Law makes sin known” (f), and “Sin uses the Law to produce all kinds of sins” (g), so that “when the commandment comes, sin comes alive and I died” (h), because “sin uses the Law to deceive me and through the Law kills me” (i). Thus “sin produces death in me through the good, Spirit-kind-of-Law to show sin as sinful beyond measure” (j), resulting in every Christian including Paul ultimately while on earth “fleshly, sold as a slave under sin” (k). <Notes> a) 2:12-27, 3:19-21, 27-31, 4:13-16, 5:13, 20, 6:14-19, 7:1-9, 12-16, 21-25, b) Romans 3:20, c) v. 5:13, d) v. 5:20, e) v. 7:5, f) v. 7:7, g) v. 7:8, h) v. 7:9, i) v. 7:11, j) v. 7:13, k) v. 7:14.
So many Christians suddenly think that Paul is talking about something completely-different-in-kind than the OT Law of commandments when he then says in Romans 8:2, “the Law of/belonging-to the Spirit of zoe genuine-life has set you free [from slavery] in Christ Jesus from the Law (a) of/belonging-to sin and death!” O yes, there appears to be a completely-different-in-kind (b) “Law of the Spirit” introduced here! It is common through Paul’s writings to take words, like “Law,” that are very familiar to Jews of the old covenant, and radically re-apply them for the completely-different-in-kind New Covenant. The OT “Law of righteousness” actually brings “sin and death,” but the NT “Law of the Spirit” actually gives righteousness and zoe genuine-life! Here Paul isn’t really redefining the word Torah, Nomos “Law” because it essentially means “instruction, principles, way.” <Notes> a) some bibles use lower case “law” because they believe there is a shift, b) This certainly would fit the New Covenant which by definition is chadash, kainos: fresh, completely-different-in-kind, unprecedented, sharing nothing with its predecessors, unique, and superior.
Compare this to Paul’s use of stoicheion as “rudimentary ‘abc’ fundamentals” he uses to talk about “the instruction of God” writings given to the Jews as if trained by God as little children. The Mosaic Law of instruction ends up being a “Law of sin and death,” even though it promised “righteousness and zoe genuine-life,” but NOW there in a completely-different-in-kind New Law of instruction by the Holy Spirit that actually gives righteousness and zoe genuine-life. Which do you want?
We see more of this redefining of “Law” earlier in Romans 7:21-25, “I find there to be a law (principle) that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand, for though I delight in the [Mosaic] Law of/belonging-to God in my inner being (a) I see in my members (c) a second (a) law (principle) waging war against the [Mosaic] Law of my mind (a) and making me captive to the law (principle) of/belonging-to sin that dwells in my members (c). . . . thus I (d) serve the [Mosaic] Law of/belonging-to God with my mind (a), but with my flesh (c) I serve the law (principle or Mosaic) of/belonging-to sin.” <Notes> a) Paul as all Hebrews use the inner-being, heart, and mind interchangeable – see Identity, b) heteros: numerically different, not qualitatively different, c) Paul also uses the outer being or body often the same as flesh, though flesh also includes the unredeemed psyche or soul of man with its intellect, emotions, and will-power – see Identity, d) as a converted Jew, e) and many Gentiles for that matter, who have a “law” in their conscience.
Paul is simply splitting himself into two as a Jewish-Christian, using language Jewish readers were very familiar with, into 1) inner being/mind/heart, and 2) outer being/flesh/bodily members, expressing what every single Jewish-Christian (e) have felt in Romans 7:15-17, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want to do, but I do the very thing I hate to do. . . . thus I agree with the [Mosaic] Law that it is good (and Spirit-kind-of v. 7:14). Therefore, now [I then conclude] it is no longer ‘I’ who do it, but ‘sin’ that dwells within me, for I know that nothing good dwells within ‘me,’ that is, in my flesh.”
Again, Paul isn’t talking about 2 completely-different-in-kind sets of principles or instruction, although I’ve capped one and not the other. We know from the context above, the same [Mosaic] Law of God that is “good and spiritual” in the mind/inner-being/heart is actually wreaking havoc in the flesh/outer-being/body. That’s Pauls’ argument: The Law of God has become “the Law of sin and death” in the flesh! It was intended for one thing (holiness & life) but produced another (sin & death). Why do Christians want anything to do with any of the 613 commandments of the Law?
As Christian musicians, since so much is negatively written about the use of our own “might and power” flesh even in trying to obey any of the 613 commandments FOR God, this only ends up in frustration saying, “O, wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from the body of death?” Then why are even trying to obey any of them? That’s the old covenant! Christians were supposed to have died to ALL of them with Christ and be in a completely-different-in-kind New Covenant by the blood of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit. Obeying the Law is fleshly and thus: “asthenes beggarly-poor-weak-feeble-impotent and anopheles unprofitable-useless” and thus are “dead-lifeless-useless works.” Yet I hear so many Christians espouse the 10 commandments and the 2 greatest of “Loving God and Loving your neighbor as yourself” that sum up the Law and The Prophets – the entire scripture. What? Don’t they know that if they try to keep 1 they are obligated to keep all 613 and to break 1 is to break the entire Law? Christ came to set us free from this yoke of slavery! Why would they want to go back into that bondage?
It’s a “Law of sin and death” – that’s where any part of it will take you. The demons use the Law to accuse the brethren day and night. They use it to fuel sin. Any focus on the Law increases sin! Our focus is supposed to be on the blood of Jesus that cleanses us from all unrighteousness. We are supposed to rebuke the demons that use the Law, not read and study the very ammunition they use against us? We are supposed to focus on being filled by the Holy Spirit so that we can see a NEW Law at work in us that will oppose the unredeemed flesh! To starve the flesh, stay away from the Law and instead feed the Spirit. Paul’s message is if you set your mind on the things of the Spirit, that’s what will grow. Leave the Law behind – it was ended.
Lord, praise Your name that you completely ended all 613 commandments of the Law and absolutely not 1 of them still applies for a Christian because we died to them all with You – all of them were nailed to the cross. We want no part of that “fleshly” obedience that the Law was. Now our mindset can be on You as the Holy Spirit and have only 2 entole commandments to obey – enduring trusting-relying-faith in You to the end and unconditionally-loving others as You have (1 John 3:23). Thank You for making it so much simpler for us, little children! Now we can have a relationship WITH You and no longer just a religion FOR You. Thank You for Your cleansing blood and Your empowering Holy Spirit. This is now our focus!
Spiritual Education, Trying to do the Old Covenant Law FOR God is still flesh’s Zechariah 4:6 might & power, flesh is impotent, Only the Spirit in Christians is able to please and serve God, All Paul’s accomplishments as a Jewish teacher were worthless flesh, you can’t perfect the Spirit with flesh, flesh generates flesh, Spirit generates Spirit, Law’s commandment are dead works of the flesh, Paul redefines Old Testament terms for the New Testament, We are slaves to the Law of sin and death until the Law of the Spirit sets us free