Gary Carpenter Ministries
Your desire has always been to be a genuine disciple of Jesus Christ. You are not one of those looking only for "fire insurance," using the gospel to keep you from Hell while living your life for yourself. You want to follow Him Who shed His blood for you. Jesus told us what is required to be His disciple:
Luke 9:23-25 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. 24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. 25 For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?
What is a cross for? It only has one purpose … death! Our "self-lives" must be put on that cross … every single day! That "self-life" is often referred to as "the flesh" in the New Testament. The imagery is very clear. God is a Spirit. As His born-again children we too are "spirit" beings at our core. We are spirit beings housed in fallen flesh. We are supposed to be walking in newness of life and our flesh is supposed to be on the cross daily. One time while I was preaching on this subject the Holy Spirit spoke up and said, "One of you will be on the cross every day." Wow! I had never thought of it that way, but it is so very true. Either my spirit man is going to put the flesh on the cross every day, or my flesh is going to put my spirit on the cross every day. Both will NOT get their way at the same time because they are completely contrary to one another.
Gal 5:17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
I have heard many messages over the years that could be summarized by saying, "Gary … you need to take up your cross daily and follow Jesus." Amen! I agree! But please, could somebody tell me HOW? How do we do it? Are we to simply "try harder" each day to resist the flesh? Didn't Israel prove for thousands of years that nobody can keep the law by human effort? Do I need more discipline? Do I need more knowledge? What is the key to crucifying the flesh every day? The answer is given to us in the previous verse:
Gal 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
So the key is not using more human willpower, more human discipline, or more human anything! The key is to "walk in the spirit." The King James has the word spirit capitalized in that verse indicating the translators thought it was referring to the Holy Spirit. Remember, the Greek word for spirit is simply "pneuma' and there is no capitalization in the Greek language of the bible. The translators had to use their best judgment to decide whether the verse was talking about the Holy Spirit or your reborn human spirit. This verse cannot be talking about the Holy Spirit. Why not? Because it is describing the war between your flesh and your spirit. (Trust me when I say, if your puny flesh ever gets into a war with God the Holy Spirit … that will the shortest war ever recorded!)
Galatians chapter five is describing the war between our righteous, holy, born-again spirit and the sinful flesh we are housed in. Our spirit wants to serve God in righteousness and holiness. The flesh wants to fulfill its own lusts through manifold sinful pleasures of this world. The nature of God in our spirit is loving, giving, and righteous. The nature of the flesh is selfish, greedy, and sinful. There is a constant war between the two. Which one is going to win today? Which one is going to be on the cross today? The key is to walk in the spirit. You might say, "That sounds great Gary. Can you please tell me HOW to do that?"
The first level of walking in the spirit is to always obey the promptings of the new conscience you received when you were born again. Did you know that God promised to write His laws in your mind and in your heart the moment you were born again? It is actually the new covenant He has made that replaces the old covenant of the law of Moses.
Heb 8:10-11 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: 11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
Talk about a better covenant! Instead of us having to try and learn God's laws by having someone teach them to us externally, God HIMSELF writes His laws in our hearts and our minds when we get born again. That new man on the inside, the REAL YOU, the CHILD OF GOD, is created in righteousness and true holiness. It knows what is right and what is wrong the instant you are born again. That new man has a voice and we typically call that voice the conscience. It is a new conscience, not like the one your parents and teachers instilled in you as you were growing up. They did their best, no doubt, but man's ideas of right and wrong change over time. But God never changes. His Word never changes. Truth never changes. Righteousness never changes.
So how do we "walk in the spirit" so we no longer fulfill the desires of the flesh? The first stage is to "instantly obey the voice of your reborn human spirit." Obey the conscience within you when it speaks. As you obey that voice, it will never lead you down the path of the flesh. God wrote His laws within your spirit the day you were born again. Those laws become your moral code and your new conscience is completely trustworthy. If you stumble and obey the flesh (as all of us have) then just be quick to repent and claim the blessing of this verse:
1Jn 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Sue and I love you and appreciate you. We thank God for your generous and giving heart. God bless you!
Your friend and co-laborer,