We mentioned in PART 1 that the mind of Christ in regards to sin is an understanding that we need not yield to sin. Christ, having rose and ascended to the right hand of God, is above sin. All things are put under Him. Why? It was due to the fact that He suffered in the flesh and died. And He that has suffered in the flesh in this manner has ceased from sin. Sin no longer has dominion over one who has died. Since Peter said we must arm ourselves with the same mind, we draw a wonderful conclusion! We died with Christ, as Paul asserts in Romans 6. And if we died then we are freed from sin and above sin.
This Kingdom of God is a world of the Holy Ghost. It is a kingdom, and KINGS exist in kingdoms. Christ has made us kings and priests.
The forbiddance to eat of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil is linked with the demand that Noah refrain from eating meat with blood in it. The blood of meat is the LIFE of the meat.
Genesis 9:3-4 Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. But flesh with the life thereof, [which is] the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.
Compare that with:
Genesis 2:16-17 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
Both Noah and Adam were progenitors of a new creation. Noah, not literally in a new creation, was actually a foreshadow of the means God brings us into a new creation. The new world into which Noah entered after leaving the ark stands for the Kingdom of God, the new Creation into which we are born again. You could say the two, Adam and Noah, shared a similar experience. They were the beginning of a new world. They even shared other similar positions of standing.
Genesis 1:28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
Genesis 9:1 And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.
Genesis 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
Genesis 9:2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth [upon] the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.
Both men had the dominion over creation.
Noah's obligation to refrain from meat with blood is one and the same spiritual commandment for us to observe as was given Adam. You could say the blood is the natural life as opposed to the spiritual life which a believer is empowered with to live in the Kingdom of God - the new Creation.
Is not the knowledge of good and evil today deemed by the world' as the key to all progress? Carnalised religion holds to the ideology that knowledge and secular education even vitally contributes to spirituality. And the atheists continue to uphold the knowledge of good and evil as the key to civilization. Within every facet of carnality, from canalized Christianity to outright atheism and agnosticism, there exists the knowledge of good and evil being held in the utmost esteem. Why? It is ingrained within all humanity and we are born with the craving to rise in life through gaining information concerning what is good and what is evil, so that we may MAKE OURSELVES BETTER. And that is the all-time error of errors.
We do not progress in any fashion that is eternally worthwhile through such a seeking for knowledge, but through receiving God's LIFE. God's SPIRIT. So true is the scripture:
2 Timothy 3:7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Those who desire salvation and are aware of its reality are for the most part caught up in a good and evil mentality. They, too, suffer from Adam's disobedience and the resultant ingraining of the quest for knowledge. They fail to step towards God and His life for them due to the fear that they are NOT GOOD ENOUGH. It has never been a question of being GOOD ENOUGH for God. That is not the issue. Why, then, do most people believe it IS the issue? The answer is that they are still plagued by the ideology born within them: the Knowledge of good and evil. Legality.
The true issue is whether one has life of God within them or not - not whether one is good or evil. God wanted Adam to eat of LIFE, not of knowledge.
We must ask ourselves a question when it comes to distinguishing what ios God's will for us and what is secondary. What is the ORIGIN of a matter? What is the life of the thing? Is it God's LIFE, or natural life? Is it blood (life) of Jesus or life of the flesh?
Bound believers, who do not enjoy the liberty which Christ gave to us, who are slaves to sin, have never removed the ingrained philosophy from within themselves which urges us to think that we must become greater in goodness in order to progress. The Word of God is a sword that removes such incorrect mentality. However, a concept which stresses good and evil instead of LIFE will distort the Christian life in the mind of an individual. What will result should one be steered incorrectly by this philosophy is that one will seek incorrect methods by which to grow spiritually.
Let us ever remember that it is not an issue of whether or not we are good. It is an issue of whether or not we are in CHRIST.
The kindest, nicest, most good people in the world are still lost if they are not in Christ, for all their goodness is NATURAL - represented by the blood of an animal, as it were, typologically speaking. Or in other words, simply natural and without divine life.
We must not thrive upon natural life, which is symbolized by being commanded to not eat blood. We must thrive only by God's Life.
It is very interesting to note that although God told Noah not to eat animal blood, Jesus tells us that we must eat His blood!
John 6:53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
Regardless of the abundance of evil acts we may have committed, or the complete lack of any evil acts, a person is still lost if he/she is not in Christ. We were born in sin due to the act of Adam. His great transgression was not so much eating fruit, but accomplishing that which eating the fruit represented, that being the striving to progress upward independent of God's life. Consideration of the simple fact that we were born in sin informs us that the lack of evil acts does not matter at all in determining our righteousness before God. Before we committed a single evil act, we were already sinners. Though the instinct to sin did not surface until we came to the age of receiving knowledge of good and evil, as we grew older and became responsible for our actions, within our blood existed that seed from the forbidden fruit. And we would indeed fail when we would first face temptation.
We must get out of Adam, if you will, and get into Christ. We must exchange heritages and races. We must exchange KINGDOMS. And the only ones who exist and REMAIN in the Kingdom of God are those who consciously thrive upon God's LIFE and not natural life or power.
Religion today, for the most part is naturally empowered. The lack of spiritual experience has given way to contriving the excuse of all excuses in the form of DOCTRINE, albeit incorrect doctrine! What once began as a plain lack of relationship with God, has, over the centuries, turned into a doctrine. "It isn't for us today. We cannot truly live above sin." All the while those, who cling with a death grip to the Bible alone for historic Christianity and the original teachings and doctrines of the church, still believe that Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever, and that we CAN live above sin. True believers live by the LIFE of God and not the life of the fallen flesh. The question we must ask ourselves is whether or not we are in the natural man or in the spiritual man.
The fiorbiddance to eat blood of an animal is a biblical symbol which represents the futility of relying upon natural life to progress before God, because natural life which cannot help one rise in God's Kingdom. Yet many Christians continue to live by natural life, whether they realize it or not, as they exert will power to make themselves live above sin without calling upon God's Spirit for strength. Paul, frustrated with the dilemma that so many believers experienced in his day regarding this very mental block of endeavoring to be "good" through works, said again and again, "Know ye not?"
People do not comprehend the true path to life above sin. Jesus told us to eat His flesh and drink His blood in order to receive eternal life. God intended for us to think about Noah's obligations when Jesus made that statement. What He was actually implying was that we must BELIEVE HIS WORDS regarding the path of walking after the SPIRIT - God's LIFE and living by that means, rather than walking after the flesh and living by fleshly life alone.
Ritual and ceremony of Old Testament times has long since been heaped into the trash can. We are living in a spiritual dispensation to which all former times and covenants of God have pointed! Dead, lifeless, human ceremony and religion which is still carried on today in the name of Jesus is starving man's spirit for a true existence in the Kingdom of God. As of old, the modern day Pharisees continue to KEEP MEN OUT OF THE KINGDOM, with their dead, fleshly carnalized Christianity. Jeuss said this very thing as follows:
Matthew 23:13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in [yourselves], neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
Note that, according to Jesus, the manner of entrance is not through PHYSICAL MEANS, such as fleshly ceremony or fleshly ritual, but through spiritual means.
John 3:3-7 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
Anything that is incorporated into our spiritual relationship with God and plays the part of vital aspects for that life, but is contrived by human minds rather than from the "Book", is to be considered pure flesh. It is useless. It gives no life at all. Everything, every idea and every ritual that is unbiblical is born of the FLESH. And anything that is born of the flesh is and will always be FLESH.
Though Paul held great fleshly heritage, so far as the Law of Moses was concerned, Paul realized the uselessness of it all and counted it but manure.
Philippians 3:3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, [of] the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things [but] loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them [but] dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
Note verse 3. Paul had no confidence in the flesh, though he be a Hebrew of Hebrew parents, which would give Judaists a proud outlook of themselves,.he would not worship in the flesh, but in the SPIRIT. Paul's words were similar to Jesus':
John 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, [they] are spirit, and [they] are life.
Paul said that all his fleshly traits, highly admired by Israelites, were useless. And Jesus said the flesh profits nothing.
Jesus was the WORD MADE FLESH. When He told us to eat His flesh and drink His blood He was implying that we must believe His words and TAP INTO SPIRITUAL LIFE. We must feed on spiritual life - Jesus' BLOOD. We can live of His blood.
Furthermore, to eat of animal blood is to imply, spiritually speaking (relying upon natural life) as God sees it, that we believe that we CAN live from natural life and works, and suchlike. Doing such is to send a spiritual signal saying we rebel against the demand that we exist solely upon God's Spirit to exist in His Kingdom. It is disobeying the firbiddance to eat the fruit of knowledge of good and evil. It is to reject God's Life.
Naturally-inclined people feel they simply need to KNOW what is good and what is evil and they can take it from there themselves without divine empowerment. All they ask for is a code book of rules, leaving them to MAKE THEMSELVES good. Carnal believers feel taht once they know what is right and wrong they can then make themselves spiritual and rise above sin.
Man became independently-natured due to the fall. The infusion of the knowledge of good and evil birthed an instinct into us all to strive for religious mastery to do good and shun evil through pure will power alone. This simply cannot work. Man cannot will himself to be good. We need more than the knowledge of good and evil. We need LIFE.
Mosaic law was the knowledge of good and evil. It was the tree of Law. Once Paul ATE of it, he died.
Romans 7:10-11And the commandment, which [was ordained] to life, I found [to be] unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew [me].
Adam also died when he ate of the knowledge of good and evil.
Oh, don't think about physical death when you read of God's warning that Adam would die. God referred to the death of the spiritual relationship Adam had along with his spiritual standing.
Paul continues to make mention of the terms "good" and "evil" in reference to the Law.
Ro. 7:12 - Law is GOOD
v. 16 Law is GOOD
v. 18 in me... dwelleth no GOOD thing... how to perform that which is GOOD I find not
v. 19 for the GOOD that I would I do not. But the EVIL which I would not, that I do.
v. 21 when I would do GOOD, EVIL is present with me.
To continue to eat meat with blood in it is a spiritual picture of continuing to try and progress spiritually by eating fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. So long as Paul tried to become righteous through ACTING on the knowledge of good and evil, he was dying instead.
Two laws stand side by side.
The sap of one tree will kill, but the sap of the other will give eternal life. The blood of one is forbidden, for we will die the moment we eat of it.
The "essence" of the Law can be called the "BLOOD" of the Law. And that essence is the need to WORK our way to righteousness without God's influence of strength.
"Divine influence" is another way of speaking of GRACE. We must realize that in order to progress spiritually we must determine that we will not live by LAW, but by grace alone.
After hearing the commandment, Paul tried and tried to do good. The Law simply tells what is good and evil. It does not provide you with the CLEANSING STRENGTH to remove the ROOT of sin from our lives. It like a mirror alone, telling you that you are filthy, but there is no soap and cloth that goes with it to remove the filth.
Paul came to realize that it is NOT through the knowledge of good and evil that we progress in God. It is through the BLOOD OF JESUS.
The displaying of Christ's blood to the Father after Jesus resurrected and ascended indicated the proof that a death had occurred . This death was accomplished for the following reason. The only way we could be freed from the sin within us, was not to fight it with will power, but to DIE. Through Jesus' death, we were delivered from sin as though we, ourselves, died. Paul summed this principle up by saying:
Romans 7:24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord...
Paul gave the answer to the question of who could deliver him from the body of death when he said, "I thank God through Christ." God would do it, and the way God would do it is through Christ. The phrase "Through Jesus Christ" implies the DEATH of Christ for us. His death is represented by HIS BLOOD. And His BLOOD is HIS LIFE.
In order to live by the principle of Moses' Law one must exert natural life. The commandments, including the Ten, imply that we must MAKE OURSELVES DO GOOD, for they said, "THOU shalt not..."
The principle beghind Mosaic Law was not, "I, your God, will empower you to not..." It was "THOU SHALT NOT..."
(God's empowerment is termed GRACE. If God empowers us, it will not be "THOU shalt not," but rather, "BLESSED ARE the peacemakers...BLESSED ARE the poor in spirit," for when God empowers us we need not SEEK for attainment. WE WILL BE all that we need to be. Note that Jesus did not give ten "commandments", but rather He gave nine "attitudes". He was concerned with our HEARTS. The heart is the "heart" of the matter. And it will solve all outward actions. Don't' run with this and say that I am proposing that we can break the commandments and commit adultery, etc. No. I am saying GOD WILL CHANGE US and we will be empowered to not desire adultery. How does this come? WE EXERT FAITH, and not physical effort or will power).
Romans 10 continues teaching this principle as Paul discusses how the Jews continue to make themselves righteous through works rather than allow God to grant it through faith.
Romans 10:1-3 Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
Like so many ignorant believers, the Israelites did not KNOW (remember Romans 6?) the proper method to achieve towards and be what God wants us to be.
Notice the differentiating aspects of Moses and Christ:
Romans 10:4-5 For Christ [is] the end of the law for righteousness to every one that BELIEVETH. For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which DOETH those things shall live by them.
BELIEF versus WORKS. Two trees. Romans 8:4 shows these same two trees:
8:4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
We see two opposing life-styles:
1) walking after the flesh - Moses Law - blood of animals.
2) walking after the Spirit - Spirit's Law - Blood of Christ.
When we eat of the tree of life by believing, we receive God's righteousness which Paul tried to WORK to receive. The LAW was ordained to give life (result of righteousness), but it could not.
Romans 7:10 And the commandment, which [was ordained] to life, I found [to be] unto death.
Paul's expectations of progressing through Law were flattened as much as Eve's were after she ate the fruit of Law. Paul dedicated Himself to show believers the futility of DOING GOOD in order to STEP HIGHER TOWARDS GOD. He tried showing the same picture of the two trees in the garden that we read about in Genesis 2. But many have remained ignorant of Paul's teachings and continue reading from his very words as they promote unbiblical ritual and works and carnal commandments. Paul's letter is very much relevant for today!!!
Notice something interesting:
Romans 5:20 Moreover the law entered, that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:
What offense? Adam's offense. Law was very similar to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. By introducing Law, God tried to stress to man that the principle of effort, independent of God, does not work in helping us become righteous and fit for God. God magnified the offense in man's eyes since man was so convinced of the method of works, due to the first eating of the knowledge of good and evil, that God resorted to giving man the ultimate LAW in order to prove to man that such an avenue cannot work.
Paul told Timothy that the reason we cannot gain from the Law, although the Law was intended to make us righteous, was due to the state of our flesh and its inherent sin. Notice:
1 Timothy 1:5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and [of] a good conscience, and [of] faith unfeigned:
The purpose of the Law was to produce in us charity, a good conscience and true faith. It is important to understand that grace does not, then, contradict Law, but it supplies us with what he Law could not supply us with.
1 Timothy 1:14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
But we could not gain these things through Law since sin was in our flesh. The Law, please recall, encouraged our flesh to work. But the problem was that SIN WAS IN OUR FLESH.
Romans 8:3-4 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Why would God give us a law, then, if He knew that our flesh was sinful and would disable us from benefiting from it? Why, we can only deduce that He gave Law knowing we could not keep it fully in order to teach us a harsh lesson so as to ENSURE WE NEVER RESORT TO WORKS AGAIN AND EAT OF THE BLOOD OF ANIMALS (live by natural life as opposed to God's life) after we are given righteousness. WE WILL LOSE OUR PLACE in the Kingdom, as Adam lost his, if we resort to fleshly life and legality which encourages fleshly progress.
Nature has fallen into sin due to Adam. Its in bondage. The following text explains this.
Romans 8:20-21 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected [the same] in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
I refer us to the point in the above verses that creation is in bondage. It is in subjection to the results of Eve's vanity when she tried to exalt herself without God's help. She was instead abased.
Matthew 23:12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
Eating animal blood typifies the search for help to attain to spirituality by means of fallen, sinful flesh. How can one gain eternal life from a means that is bound in sin itself?
Paul's natural ability was likewise futile since his flesh was sold under sin.
Romans 7:14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
Paul was like a slave - bound. Sin was the bond master. Sin had dominion over all mankind.
Paul uses two illustrations to show why we must not live by Moses' Law of fleshly exertion. He uses a marriage situation and a slave situation. In Romans 7:1-4 he speaks of the principle of marriage.
A woman is BOUND to her husband by a LAW. She cannot be free unless there is a DEATH. DEATH FREES us from any law. Normally, a woman could not benefit from dying to be free of her cruel husband in the natural. How could she LIVE to enjoy it? But since Christ DIED INSTEAD OF US, for us to regard His death as our deaths, we are freed from sin and at liberty to enjoy such freedom. Now, since death, we have FREEDOM from sin's dominion. And Paul thus explains Romans chapter 6 through the illustration in 7:1-4.
Romans 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
Romans 6:7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.
Romans 6:18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
Unless we UNDERSTAND THIS, it does us no good. Watering it down to an ideal is certainly of no help in trying to live above sin.
The answer lies in not trying to gain life by living on natural life. When one tries to obey a commandment to do good, one is relying upon a natural means - namely, one's will power alone. That is not God's way.
Romans 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but [how] to perform that which is good [NOTE: referring to the GOOD of the Law, according to 7:12] I find not.
Paul exerted enough will power as sufficiently as anyone might desire to. But the axiom saying "where there's a will, there's a way" simply does not apply to the Kingdom of God. Using will power without vcalling on God is eating fruit of knowledge of good and evil. And it cost Adam his position in the Kingdom.
We see a foreshadow of getting back into the Garden in Noah's story. We enter Christ by faith in His death for us and stop exerting fleshly effort, as Noah entered the ark. That faith transports us into the new creation. But a stipulation still remains if we want to stay there. The same, simple rule applies. Don't eat natural blood to live. Don't apply natural effort in this kingdom. Lean upon God's Spirit and God's Life. In Christ is the fullness. And depending upon His Spirit is what Paul is saying when he tells us to stand IN CHRIST.
The Tree of Life has the full supply of what we need to keep us in the Kingdom. We actually cause ourselves to LEAVE CHRIST and walk out from within Him when we resort to works in order to live for God. Col. 2:5 shows Paul rejoicing in the Colossians' stedfastness of FAITH. STAY IN CHRIST by forsaking legalism.
Colossians 2:5 For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ.
The book of Colossians is dedicated to having all believers remain in Christ by faith.
Notice the terms describing legalities:
Colossians 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
Colossians 2:20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,
Galatians 4:3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:
Galatians 4:9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?
"Rudiments of the world" and "beggarly elements" of the world are words Paul used to describe rules and codes of conduct which people rely upon to make themselves holy and righteous.. They are LOW, WEAK things over which we are now above since we are in the Kingdom. They are "of the world" since the world is infused with this philosophy due to Adam's offense that one must seek works after acquiring the supplied knowledge of good and evil. Let us live ABOVE all that, and STAY in the Kingdom.