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NO CONFIDENCE IN THE FLESH

Phi 3:3 For we are the circumcision who worship God in the spirit and rejoice in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh;
Phi 3:4 though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other thinks that he has reason to trust in the flesh, I more.
Phi 3:5 I was circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews. As regards the Law, I was a Pharisee;
Phi 3:6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; regarding the righteousness in the Law, blameless.
Phi 3:7 But whatever things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
Phi 3:8 But no, rather, I also count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them to be dung, so that I may win Christ
Phi 3:9 and be found in Him; not having my own righteousness, which is of the Law, but through the faith of Christ, the righteousness of God by faith,
Phi 3:10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death;
Phi 3:11 if by any means I might attain to the resurrection of the dead.

Are you trusting in some method of righteousness other than Jesus Christ? Do you know Him as your Savior and His righteousness as yours? There is no church, ritual, or work that you can have any confidence in to save you. There is only one - and that is Jesus Christ.

Act 4:12 And there is salvation in no other One; for there is no other name under Heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

What did Paul mean? How are we to "worship God in the spirit"? Paul, though he was a Pharisee and kept the Jewish law, born a Jew, with all the promises and privileges that were given to the Jews, yet he put no confidence in any of it or in any of his own ability. He turned away from any reliance on his own righteousness, abilities, or privileges completely and gave them up to the cross, and by faith received the Spirit of God, by Whom he received the righteousness that was in Christ alone by faith.

Many of us, as Christians have come to see this and have trusted Christ to be our Savior by faith. But have we trusted Him to be our righteousness by faith as well? Or have we struggled once we were forgiven to now try to work out our salvation by doing the best we could do to obey His Word? Have we tried to “crucify our flesh”? Have we tried to deny ourself?

Trying our best to obey the Bible is not good enough and will never be acceptable to God.

Do we try to surrender ourselves as best we can, struggling to really truly give up our will to God and resolve to do better to do His?

Surrendering ourselves over and over again is not good enough and will never cut it.

Do we resolve to pray more and read our Bible's more diligently and go to church more and get more involved?

Being disciplined in daily reading our Bibles and praying and going to church will never be good enough. Just will not produce the righteousness God requires.

What then??? What can we do? Is the best we can do to live this Christian life worth anything?

No - it isn't. It is not good enough. No matter how much you surrender, struggle, strive, pray, read your Bible, go to church, deny yourself, do good works, etc., you are only producing filthy rags, because it is only your own righteousness. God has one kind of righteousness that is acceptable. That righteousness that is acceptable to Him is only the righteousness of Jesus Christ the Son, Who came to earth as God in the flesh and lived a perfect holy life, kept the law perfectly, which nobody else could do, and demonstrated perfect love by giving Himself up entirely to the cross that He might become sin for us and take the curse of our sin upon Himself. As He did this, He took those that would believe in Him alone for salvation, and put them in Christ, and gave them His righteousness. We have been crucified with Christ and risen with Him, (Rom. 6). We can never crucify our flesh. Morbid introspection and self-denial leads only to self-righteousness and spiritual death.

2Co 5:21 For He has made Him who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

It is this righteousness alone that counts in God's eyes. This righteousness is not only for bringing us into salvation, but dwells in us as our righteousness to live in and through us as the cross has made us free from the dominion of sin, so that we are now free to live by faith in Christ as our life. This alone is “abundant life”.

When we try to live this Christian life by the help of any other means, we are putting confidence in the flesh. When we live by the world's counsel and try to "christianize" it, we are putting confidence in the flesh. When we try to discern the Bible and obey it as though it were just a rule book for us to live by without knowing the Spirit of the Word and trusting in the life of that Word that indwells us, we are missing all that God has given us in Christ Jesus when He put us in Christ, crucifying our Adam nature and giving us all that we need to live godly in Christ Jesus.

Do you know what you are putting your confidence in? God will test your faith and prove it. That testing of our faith is so precious because it is the very thing that reveals the flesh to us, and what we are putting our confidence in. All that is not of pure faith will be burned up. All that is left God will perfect and make stronger. True faith never dies. Only that which was of the flesh will die in our time of testing, but true faith will come out stronger and be purified. For this reason we can truly rejoice in our trials though for a season they cause us much pain and grief and sorrow. Yet many times in that pain and sorrow of the trials, we turn to others and perhaps even to worldly advise or counsel and so miss the opportunity to see God and allow Him to do this. This only prolongs the process. Our God is faithful, and will complete that which He began in us. He will not give up on us and will continue to expose our flesh and purify our faith and reveal Himself as our righteousness and our entire sufficiency.

When we find ourselves finally free of our flesh, we realize that all along it was our flesh that we trusted in so much, that actually caused all our pain and sorrow. When we are finally free and see Christ and find confidence in Him alone, there we find the peace that passes all understanding that fills our hearts and keeps us. There we find a resting place and a place of joy that no man can take from us and no circumstances can destroy. There we are strong to stand against all that the enemy can throw at us and all fear is cast out.

We cannot bring ourselves to this place but God can and will if we simply yield in faith, believing, that what He has accomplished for us He will accomplish in us, as we come to Him in - not our work of surrender - but a surrender of faith and confidence in His work alone. Paul said,

Phi 3:10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death;
Phi 3:11 if by any means I might attain to the resurrection of the dead.

Don't be afraid to share in the fellowship of His sufferings. Once you learn to embrace them, you are free in your suffering. Nothing can any longer harm you.

Rom 8:18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the coming glory to be revealed in us.

and again...

Rom 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Rom 8:36 As it is written, "For Your sake we are killed all the day long. We are counted as sheep of slaughter."
Rom 8:37 But in all these things we more than conquer through Him who loved us.
Rom 8:38 For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Rom 8:39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

May the Lord, today, fill you with the confidence that comes from Him alone as you look to Him for all things. God bless!

Faith - Rest or Struggle?

Heb 4:1 Therefore, since a promise has been left [fig., remains] to enter into His rest, let us fear lest anyone of you* seems to have come short. (ALT)

Heb 4:3 For we, the ones having believed, enter into that rest, just as He has said, "So in My anger I took an oath: 'They will not enter into My rest'"-His works were done from [the] laying of the foundation of [the] world [or, from [the] beginning of the creation of [the] universe]. [Psalm 95:11] (ALT)

Heb 4:10 For the one having entered into His rest, also [has] rested himself from his works, even as God [rested] from His own [works]. Heb 4:11 Therefore, let us be eager [or, diligent] to enter into that rest, lest anyone falls in the same example of disobedience due to unbelief. (ALT)

Whether our faith is one of rest or struggle depends on where our confidence is - who our confidence is in. If our eyes are on our "faith" and how much we have, our confidence is in ourselves, our ability to have enough faith, our ability to live up to what we believe, etc. We will find that we are constantly struggling to have enough faith. We'll find that we constantly waver everytime our circumstances or emotions waver.

In Hebrews, ch. 4, it speaks of "the ones having believed" as those that "enter His rest". He is speaking of entering Canaan - a type of our rest in Christ. Many rebelled against Moses and had no faith in God's promise because they trusted in their own ability and they saw that the giants in the land were greater than their own ability, so could not trust that God would do all for them. Those who had not the obedience of faith could not enter His rest.

What is your faith in? How do we know we have "enough faith" to enter His rest?

The question is not of enough faith, but again, where is your faith directed.

Heb 10:35 Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great recompense of reward.

The confidence we are to not cast away is the confidence in the finished work of Christ on our behalf, which the author just described in ch. 10 of Hebrews. Our rest of faith is nothing more than a complete confidence in that alone, and nothing else. If it is in our ability to endure, our ability to have enough faith, our ability to overcome and stay with it, we will struggle and fall. But if we have given up all confidence in our flesh entirely, and cast ourselves on Jesus Christ and His finished work on our behalf, and His power within us by the indwelling of His Spirit, then our focus is on Him and not on ourselves. Now the focus is on His ability! When our eyes are there on His ability, we find the rest of true faith in Him alone. It is finished! We rest in that, abide in that, walk in that, work in that, and die in that. Striving ceases. Our ability then is dependant on His ability in us. Our keeping on is dependant on His keeping on inside of us. Our work is dependant on His work inside of us. He is our surety. The care of our lives belongs to Him and not to us any longer. This is what is meant by Peter when he said, "Cast your cares on the Lord for He cares for you." It actually means, all your cares, all your anxieties, once and for all. They no longer belong to us, but to Him.

The Old Covenant way of life was one of us doing our part so that God will do His part. The New Covenant way is God doing all for us, in us, and through us. He is our surety. True obedience is entering into that promised land by faith, because faithful is He Who promised. Once the Israelites entered that promised land, God fought all their battles for them. They only needed to trust in Him.

Some look at faith as a work. For some it is, because the object of their faith is their own ability to have enough faith. For them it is a struggle to keep faith. When we look to Jesus, the struggle ends, as we place our confidence in His work and that new position He has placed us in, in Christ, when we have come to trust Him alone to be our Savior and received His Spirit into our hearts to be born again. We become a new creation. Our faith then is in His power to perform what He said He would in us, rather than in ours to do it and become that. This is true surrender - not a striving to surrender, but a rest of faith.

I use to belong to a church that would have altar calls after every service for people to come and surrender all to Him. We would sing "I Surrender All" as we dropped to our knees, crying out to God and trying with all our being to truly surrender our will, and all ourselves to Him. Yet I always found that surrender was never good enough, and powerful enough, and I could never live up to it. So the next week I would surrender again.

The surrender of faith is nothing more than giving up our ability to "surrender" and letting God work all in us. It is looking away from ourselves entirely and to Him alone and His power and ability. I say, "yes, God! I trust You to work a full surrender in my heart by Your Spirit."

Is your obedience your work, or the obedience of faith? Is your surrender your work or the surrender of faith? Is faith your work, or is it the rest of faith in His? It makes all the difference.

Abba, Father, open the eyes of our understanding today to see the rest You have provided for us. Enable us to see that our works count for nothing, but only Yours are acceptable, for us, in us, and through us. Amen!

CARNAL OR SPIRITUAL CHRISTIANS

1Co 3:1 And _I_, brothers [and sisters], was not able to speak to you* as to spiritual [people], _but_ as to fleshly [people], as to young children in Christ.
1Co 3:2 I gave you* milk to drink and not solid food, for you* were not yet able. Indeed, neither are you* now yet able,
1Co 3:3 for you* are still fleshly. For whereas [there are] among you* jealous rivalry and strife and divisions [or, discords], you* are fleshly and are walking about [fig., conducting yourselves] according to human [standards], are you* not?
1Co 3:4 For whenever someone says, "_I_ indeed am of Paul," but a different [one], "I of Apollos," you* are fleshly, are you* not?
1Co 3:5 Who then is Paul? But who [is] Apollos? _But_ rather [they are] servants through whom you* believed, and to each [one] as the Lord gave.
1Co 3:6 _I_ planted; Apollos watered, _but_ God was causing growth.
1Co 3:7 So then, neither the one planting is anything, nor the one watering, _but_ the One causing growth-God! (Analytical-literal translation)

Gill's commentary:

but as unto carnal: not that they were in a carnal state, as unregenerate men are; but had carnal conceptions of things, were in carnal frames of soul, and walked in a carnal conversation with each other; though they were not in the flesh, in a state of nature, yet the flesh was in them, and not only lusted against the Spirit, but was very predominant in them, and carried them captive, so that they are denominated from it:

even as unto babes in Christ; they were in Christ, and so were new creatures; they were, as the Arabic version reads it, "in the faith of Christ"; though babes and weaklings in it, they were believers in Christ, converted persons, yet children in understanding, knowledge, and experience; had but little judgment in spiritual things, and were unskilful in the word of righteousness; at least this was the case of many of them, though others were enriched in all utterance and knowledge, and in no gift came behind members of other churches.

Is there such a thing as a carnal christian? It would seem so as we read Paul's letter to the Corinthians. What then is the definition of a carnal christian? One who is regenerated by the Holy Spirit, yet is living as a babe in Christ, not yet free from the control of the flesh in his life, but thinking and acting much like one who is unregenerate, not yet mature in walking in the Spirit.

Vincent Word Studies:

1Co 3:3 - Carnal (σαρκικοί) Here the milder word is used (see 1Co_3:1), having the nature of flesh. In 1Co_3:1, Paul would say that he was compelled to address the Corinthians as unspiritual, made of flesh. Here he says that though they have received the Spirit in some measure, they are yet under the influence of the flesh.

As Christians we can at times be under the influence of the flesh or the influence of the Spirit. As we grow to maturity, we are able to recognize more quickly the deeds of our flesh and agree with God against them and by faith in His indwelling righteousness walk in the dominion of the Spirit, and not the flesh. We are more able to "exercise godliness" in all situations as we grow in His grace and in our knowledge of His ways. The foundation of that spiritual maturity is a correct understanding of our position in Christ, as having been crucified with Him, dead with Him to self, sin, and the world; and risen with Him, having faith in that resurrection power that raised Christ from the dead dwelling in us by His Holy Spirit, to deprive of power sin within our members, that we may live unto God by His Spirit.

1Ti 4:7 But be refusing to pay attention to the profane [or, worldly] and old wives' tales, but be exercising yourself to godliness.
1Ti 4:8 For bodily exercise is beneficial for a few [things], but godliness is beneficial for all [things], having promise of the present life and of the coming [life]. (Analytical-literal translation)

The Corinthians had not yet learned to walk in the Spirit that Christ had given them, but were still acting and thinking according to fleshly ways.

J, F, B commentary:

1Co 3:3 - envying--jealousy, rivalry. As this refers to their feelings, "strife" refers to their words, and "divisions" to their actions [BENGEL]. There is a gradation, or ascending climax: envying had produced strife, and strife divisions (factious parties) [GROTIUS]. His language becomes severer now as He proceeds; in 1Co_1:11 he had only said "contentions," he now multiplies the words (compare the stronger term, 1Co_4:6, than in 1Co_3:21).

carnal--For "strife" is a "work of the flesh" (Gal_5:20). The "flesh" includes all feelings that aim not at the glory of God, and the good of our neighbor, but at gratifying self.

walk as men--as unregenerate men (compare Mat_16:23). "After the flesh, not after the Spirit" of God, as becomes you as regenerate by the Spirit (Rom_8:4; Gal_5:25-26).

If one reads 1 Cor. 13, what love is - that is, the love of God - all that is the flesh, glorifying of self, gratifying of self, etc.; it all is the opposite of that agape love which is the Spirit of God inwelling us. We must recognize when we see the flesh acting in ourselves, that it always only acts for the benefit of "self", and never for the glory of God or the love of our neighbor. It protects itself at the expense of others, is not willing to be humbled or admit wrong, etc. This flesh can even act "righteous", according to what it perceives as doing the right thing, but always in a way that puts itself first, glorifies self, and takes the credit. If God, by His Spirit is in control of our flesh, we are humbled immediately as He works in us and through us. We see ourselves for what we are, and we see His glory. He alone is glorified. No man is exalted. All flesh is humbled and we are able to truly love our brothers and sisters without contention, whether or not we agree with them. Therefore...one who is carnal can be said to be one who is not living according to the love of God, one who is rather thinking of the rights, protection, gratification of self. Our carnality can be disguised and made to look spiritual and right. The Corinthians thought they were the more spiritual for following certain men and taking their sides. We need to always ask the Holy Spirit to show us our carnality - our flesh - for what it is. Unless we see it, we will not be free from it. Unless we recognize it's acting in us, we cannot agree with God against it and walk by faith in His Spirit to defeat it,

1Jo 1:7 But if we are walking about in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses [or, purges] us from all sin.
1Jo 1:8 If we claim, "We do not have sin," we lead ourselves astray [fig., deceive ourselves], and the truth is not in us. (Me: we cannot claim we do not have indwelling sin...we still live in this body of flesh or body of sin, yet as Christians it has been deprived of it's power over us when we walk in the Spirit)
1Jo 1:9 If we are confessing our sins, He is faithful [or, trustworthy] and righteous that He shall forgive us our sins and cleanse [or, purge] us from all unrighteousness. (Me: confessing our sins means to "agree with God and take His side against sin. As He reveals sin in our flesh, we walk in that confession, agreeing with God against it and by faith in His finished work He is always cleansing us from it and by the power of His Spirit, enabling us to walk in righteousness by His Spirit)
1Jo 1:10 If claim, "We have not sinned," we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. (Analytical-literal translation)

John also tells us if we are not walking in love then we are walking in "darkness" rather than light. We are not walking in His light but in our carnality. His love comes from His Spirit, not from anything that is fleshly. It is impossible for our flesh to ever produce agape love. It is only God's love. This is why he makes a distinction between those of the world and those of Christ by this love. It is not possible for those of the world to have it or operate in it. We as believers have that love in our hearts by His Spirit, (Rom. 5:5), but do not always walk according to it, as we see in the Corinthians. It is not that it is not there dwelling in us, but we are not walking by faith in that love or in His light, which exposes the flesh for what it is and exposes our lack of love.

If we are to continually walk in the Spirit, we must be willing and ask for God to daily expose our flesh and all of its ways. We cannot see it by our own introspection. That is only flesh trying to see flesh and overcome it. Only God can expose our flesh to us and its depravity. When He does so we cry out to Him for deliverance from it and see it as our worst enemy. We must yield ourselves to His light, coming into His light daily, through His Word and prayer, and allow Him to expose it, and when He does to confess, or agree with Him against it and put our faith in His power over it. If we refuse to believe it is there, we only refuse His deliverance from it.

Abba, Father, thank You for giving us Your Spirit, to be our life, our love, and our confidence before You. Remind us and reveal to us when we put any confidence in our own strength, or our flesh, and expose our flesh to us daily. May Your purposes alone be fulfilled in each one of us. Amen!

BLESSED ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT

Mat 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

The word "poor" here has the meaning of destitute, utterly lacking in anything. It speaks of utter spiritual destitution. This is the condition of all mankind apart from Christ, yet only a few realize their destitution and come to Christ for His riches. For many, a counterfeit Christianity, or form of godliness becomes a poor substitute and gives the impression to themselves and possibly others of spiritual richness, yet they know not that they are utterly spiritually destitute before God.

Rev 3:17 'Because you say, "I am wealthy and have grown rich and have need of nothing," and you do not know that you are the wretched [one] and the miserable [one], and poor and blind and naked,
Rev 3:18 'I advise you to buy from me gold having been refined by fire, so that you shall grow rich, and white garments, so that you shall be clothed and the shame of your nakedness shall not be revealed, so that you shall smear your eyes with eye-salve, so that you shall see. [ALT]

What riches Jesus has for us! How many miss them in today's "Laodicean church" because they say to themselves "we are rich and have need of nothing". "We have a wealth of seminary training, books, teachings, and ideas and will implement them and grow strong and full and live more self-productive, self-fulfilling lives." Nothing can replace Jesus Himself as our spiritual fulfillment, our life, or our righteousness. Those who are wealthy in their self-pleasing, self-righteous, self-fulfilling religion, are unable to see how utterly destitute they are. Even denying oneself for some benefit to self becomes a counterfeit to true death to the self-life that is only possible through Christ. Our human nature apart from the regeneration of the Holy Spirit and His filling, can be nothing but selfish and "self-filling". It is natural to fulfill that selfishness in every way we can, yet it is not where we find our true spiritual life. In order to find that, we must be completely freed from self. And that is what Jesus alone can do.

"Buy from me gold having been refined in the fire" - true and pure faith in Christ alone in contrast to a counterfeit. The one true faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ, and renunciation of all self-reliance and self-righteousness.

From J, F, & B...

"Buy" at the cost of thine own self-sufficiency (so Paul, Phi_3:7-8); and the giving up of all things, however dear to us, that would prevent our receiving Christ's salvation as a free gift, for example, self and worldly desires. Compare Isa_55:1, "Buy . . . without money and price."

"And white garments, so that you shall be clothed and the shame of your nakedness shall not be revealed" - white garments are those cleansed in the blood of Jesus. They are not cleansed by human effort, worldly means, works of our own righteousness, or self-justification, or by any other means. Those are our own soiled garments. The only garments that will be suitable are those that are made white by the blood of Jesus Himself.

Gill:

Clothed in white raiment; in the pure and spotless robe of Christ's righteousness, which is comparable to fine linen, clean and white; and is the righteousness of the saints in common, of every true member of Christ's body.

There is not nor will there ever be any righteousness that we can produce. By realizing our utter poverty in our own flesh - our complete inability to ever produce the righteous works that God requires, we come to Him in our emptiness and receive His righteousness in place of our own. All the efforts in the Laodicean church of all times to "serve God" through men's ideas, movements, whatever - they all have the same source -- man. They can never produce righteousness because true righteousness is only Jesus Christ Himself. And He Himself indwelling us and His works in and through us are the only righteous works God will accept. Many in a counterfeit, worldly church are not looking for His rightoeusness at all, but trade His white raiments for self-fulfillment and self-justification, saying they have no sin. Yet, Jesus desires us to give up self, be united with Him in His death to sin and the world, and alive unto God through the power of His resurrection, which is given to us by His Holy Spirit when we come to Him in faith alone, in His sacrifice alone.

"So that you shall smear your eyes with eye-salve, so that you shall see." Jesus warned the Pharisees that because they say they have sight, they remain in their blindness. They relied on their own sight rather than God's.

From J, F, & B...

The eye is here the conscience or inner light of the mind. According as it is sound and "single" (Greek, "haplous," "simple"), or otherwise, the man sees aright spiritually, or does not. The Holy Spirit's unction, like the ancient eye-salve's, first smarts with conviction of sin, then heals. He opens our eyes first to ourselves in our wretchedness, then to the Saviour in His preciousness.

Only Jesus can give us the eye salve to see clearly our own wretchedness and spiritual depravity. Only He can open our blinded eyes, and only He can give the true sight that enables us to see clearly, spiritually. We must come to Him and ask. But the Laodicean church of today goes to men to gain their insight, wisdom, and leading in spiritual things and is led to believe that they see, when in fact they are blind to their true condition, and true spiritual life that comes from Jesus alone. They trust in their own sight and that of others.

Here we have Jesus standing outside this church, not inside of it. He is standing outside this worldly church, full of itself, rich in itself and its own ways, destitute of Christ and His ways, knocking at the door waiting for anyone inside to open the door and invite Him in, and to see their own spiritual devestation, and receive from Him true riches that only He alone can give. We must ask the Lord to show us how poor we are - how utterly destitute we are aside from Him always. We must ask Him for what He alone can give, and never accept anything in its place. We must ask always for Him to open our blinded eyes and give us the sight He alone can give. Do you find yourself poor in spirit? Come to Jesus and ask. He is there knocking and waiting, ready to give you all that you need in Him. Even those who have come to Him and received His sight must never rely on their own, or on that of others, but continually trust in Him and His Word and His Spirit to give sight, always coming to Him in faith, never relying on the sight of the world, or others. Today, if you hear Him knocking, open the door! Blessed are you if you realize that you are poor in Spirit! That is the beginning of seeing and receiving. To you belongs the kingdom of heaven!

Rev 21:6 And He said to me, It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the Ending. To the one thirsting, I will freely give of the fountain of the Water of Life. Rev 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come! And the one hearing, let him say, Come! And the one thirsting, let him come; and the one desiring, let him take of the water of life freely.

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