BREAKING DOWN THE DIVIDING WALL
The Rejection of the Firstborn - the rejection of that which has been produced by fleshly activity!
In this study we want to see the reality of what was foreshadowed or typified by the firstborn in the Old Testament. We will see that Christ is the spiritual fulfillment of all the advantages Israel enjoyed in the natural realm.
Israel had great advantages according to the flesh: theirs were the promises, the covenants, the giving of the law, the temple services, etc. These divided them from other nations. In the progressive dealings of God, we will see how this dividing wall is broken down in Christ.
The advantages Israel enjoyed in the flesh, like the temple and the priesthood, were only types and shadows of that which would be fulfilled spiritually in Christ. There is no spiritual inheritance for the flesh, because the natural is only temporal, and it is opposed to spiritual realities! The sum of all things is Christ! All the types and shadows have their fulfillment in Him!
The scriptures clearly teach that those who are in the flesh cannot please God, and that we no longer know Christ according to the flesh. (2 Cor. 5:16) That means we no longer know Him as He was when He was in an earthly body. We now recognize that He is spirit, and we worship Him in spirit and in truth! (Jn. 4:23-24) If we no longer know Christ according to the flesh, why should we still think of Israel according to their fleshly lineage?
If we still think of Israel according to the flesh, as many Christians do, we will look for a natural restoration of Israel, of their land, the temple, the priesthood and the sacrifices. Those who are still waiting for that, have not really given up their hope in the flesh. All these natural things are according to the flesh. Israel according to the flesh is not spiritual Israel. Jesus made this very plain, and so did Paul. The spiritual fulfillment is in Christ!
Yet people tend to cling to these natural things. Instead of hearing the Spirit, they try to spiritualize the natural. But it is impossible for the natural to become spiritual! The natural man cannot even understand spiritual realities. Trying to arrive at a spiritual conception of natural things does not bring us into truth. We need the Holy Spirit to teach us spiritual reality. Since the natural man cannot understand spiritual realities, he brings these spiritual realities into a lower level - into the natural realm where he expects them to be fulfilled according to his level of understanding.
Spiritual realities are beyond our natural comprehension. Receiving Christ makes us a new creation; this is much greater than only repentance and forgiveness! Receiving the Holy Spirit enables us to receive His teaching, but it also requires a listening attitude to hear what the Spirit is saying. This is of utmost importance because He brings us the things of Christ. The things of Christ do not belong to this world nor to Israel. Since they are spiritual realities, they have nothing to do with the flesh or with natural things. All the promises of God have their fulfillment in Christ.
God's first promise of restoration or deliverance was given to Eve. He said that when the seed would come, it would destroy the head of the enemy who is called Satan - that adversary to God and to us! He only brings us lies and delusions. The promise also came to Abraham. God said to him,
The promise that
Having hope in natural, temporal things is natural thinking. This corresponds to the letter, which kills. It wants the type and shadow to be re-established instead of wanting the spiritual reality.
We no longer know Christ according to the flesh because we see Him in a new light - a spiritual light. A heart that is subject to the Spirit will hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches. The Jews searched the scriptures because they thought they could find eternal life in the scriptures. They were ignorant of the fact that the scriptures were only a witness of Christ in Whom we have life. So they refused to come to the One who could give them life! (Jn. 5:39-40) Many are still in this ignorance.
Walking in the oldness of the letter is death because the letter is DEAD. Walking in the newness of the Spirit is life because life is in the Spirit. If we are hearing the Spirit's teaching, we won't have any problem with understanding that the Old Testament is fulfilled in Christ. The seed which was promised to Eve, is the same seed that was promised to Abraham. The fulfillment is not in a nation, but in one seed, namely Christ!
At the time these promises were given, the nation of Israel did not yet exist. It only came into being much later. The promise to Abraham was repeated to his son Isaac, for he was born of the promise; Ishmael was rejected because he was born of the bondwoman and the law. The promise was then passed on to Jacob. He was called the supplanter; he was deceitful, cunning and conniving; he lied to his father three times in order to get the blessing. This deceitfulness seemed to run in the family, for this was evident in his mother Rebecca and in his uncle Laban as well. Laban promised to give his younger daughter Rachel to Jacob as wife, them managed to substitute Leah. According to their law, the younger could not be married before the older. So this was a marriage according to law. It was a marriage in deception - the same nature Jacob had been expressing.
Jacob had to work another 7 years for the woman of his love, the woman of his heart! After leaving Laban, he wrestled with God, and his name was changed to Israel. There were only two sons (out of 12), namely Joseph and Benjamin, that were born of Israel and the wife of his love. This helps us understand what Paul said in
The firstborn represents that which is born of the flesh. All our concepts first come to us in a natural form; our natural mind cannot receive spiritual concepts. These natural concepts are rejected by God. So when God bypassed the firstborn in the passing on of the inheritance, He was symbolizing an eternal truth. Anything that has its source in the flesh is rejected!
Let's look at some examples. Beginning with Adam, we see that the firstborn, Cain, was rejected. God bypassed the firstborn of Abraham, which was Ishmael; He bypassed the firstborn of Isaac which was Esau; He bypassed the firstborn of Jacob which was Reuben; He also bypassed the next two in line, Simeon and Levi, even though Levi was going to represent the priesthood. This was a priesthood according to the law, so he could not typify the new covenant priesthood. The inheritance fell on Judah. Even Joseph's firstborn Manasseh was passed over for the inheritance. In type, this shows us that our first concepts are fleshly concepts, and these have to be rejected.
That which is first has to be bypassed. The Jewish nation, the priesthood, the temples, the land and the Law have to be bypassed. All these first things had to be put away, not because they were bad, or because they were evil, or because they were wrong, but because something greater had come! The greater displaces the lesser.
This is the way Christ always works. Light displaces darkness, life displaces death and truth displaces error. That is the only way error and darkness can be done away with. Receiving the life, light and truth that Christ is, takes us out of darkness, error and death. He brings in the things which usher out the wrong. He is the Alpha and the Omega. Our old concepts and ideas can only be dissipated by Christ! It is impossible to get rid of them in any other way.
Jacob was promised that the Shiloh (a name for Jesus) would come out of Judah. Judah would have the scepter, that is, the rule, but only until the Shiloh would come. The scepter, a symbol of authority, followed the progeny of Judah until Jesus came. David was a type of Christ, and Jesus was called the Son of David in Matt. 9:27 and in other passages. According to the flesh, the ancestry of Jesus was from the tribe of Judah. But flesh and blood does not inherit the kingdom of God. In Christ the old order ended because He established a new priesthood! He bypassed the natural reproduction and brought forth a spiritual priesthood and a spiritual inheritance! The new order displaces the old!
There are countless references to the way God dealt with Israel in the Old Testament. If these are only understood in the natural, we will miss their spiritual application. The Old Testament happenings are a type of the spiritual fulfillment we have in Christ. Being caught up in the natural only gives a natural or physical hope. We need to see the spiritual reality that comes to us in Christ! Our natural ideas, lusts and desires can only be put away by receiving the truth that Christ is!
The nation of Israel, the temple, the land, the law, etc. could each be dealt with at length, but the solution does not lie in studying all these things. The answers come to us in Christ; understanding the teaching of the New Testament delivers us from all hope in the natural and from all hope this world tries to give us.
In Galatians 4:27 Paul said that many more are the children of the bondwoman (Hagar) than are the children of the promise. The children of Hagar are children of the flesh. The child of promise (Isaac) was born when the flesh was dead to that type of activity. The children born of the flesh multiplied much more rapidly than those of the promise. Many nations came out of Abraham, but only ONE nation comes out of Christ - and it eliminates all other nations! Christ is King, so He has to have a kingdom of people! This has nothing to do with the natural kingdoms of this world. The greater kingdom HAS come, and it has displaced the former, the lesser! May God bless you!
God revealed Himself to Israel in remarkable ways, yet they failed to truly worship Him. They rejected the rule of God; they wanted to be ruled by a king so they could be like other nations. They were interested in natural blessings, but not in the spiritual blessings. So the kingdom of God could not be expressed through the nation of Israel. The spiritual cannot be expressed through the natural. Since Israel did not bear kingdom fruit, the kingdom was taken away from them. (Matt. 21)
Let's look at the history of the division that occurred in Israel. Under the good rule of David, the kingdom was enlarged and established! His son Solomon succeeded him, and his rule had a good beginning. In a dream, God asked Solomon what He should give him. Solomon asked for wisdom to rule wisely, and God was pleased to answer his prayer! Although Solomon was the wisest of the wise, and he was sought out for his wisdom, he misused it; his rule degenerated as he departed from God's commandments. He used his wisdom to accumulate natural things: horses, copper mines, gold, wives, concubines and idols. He led Israel into idolatry by building temples for his foreign wives to worship their gods. Because of this, he got into disrepute with God.
"Now the LORD was angry with Solomon because his heart was turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he did not observe what the LORD had commanded. So the LORD said to Solomon, "Because you have done this, and you have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you, and will give it to your servant. Nevertheless I will not do it in your days for the sake of your father David, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son. However, I will not tear away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son for the sake of My servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen."
The rule of God in the kingdom of Israel was to be expressed by His chosen people. Israel failed to be an expression of God's purpose! However, God was merciful to Solomon for his father David's sake, and told him that the kingdom would not be taken from him during his lifetime. Soon after his son Rehoboam took office, Israel was divided - ten tribes formed the northern division, and two tribes (Benjamin and Judah) the southern.
God does everything for His own sake. He created man for His own sake; He gave the promises, He showcased Israel, He put away the flesh, etc., - not for Israel's sake, but for His own sake. To keep Israel from getting the exalted idea that they were chosen because they were better than others, God emphasized the fact that this was not the case. He chose them for His sake. Through Israel, God showed us that a natural kingdom, a natural priesthood, natural man, natural temples and natural sacrifices cannot take us into spiritual consciousness or spiritual rule. God wanted to convince people of this fact.
This shows us that all the wonderful things David had gained for Israel can be lost when man depends upon his own wisdom. The wisdom of Solomon provided good things for the earthly realm, but spiritually speaking, his wisdom lost the kingdom. In type it teaches us that if we operate in the wisdom or conceptions of the natural mind, we cannot obey the rule of the kingdom! Natural wisdom cannot take us into the kingdom of God.
"It came about at that time, when
"`Nevertheless I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand, but I will make him ruler all the days of his life, for the sake of My servant David whom I chose, who observed My commandments and My statutes; but I will take the kingdom from his son's hand and give it to you, even ten tribes. But to his son I will give one tribe, that My servant David may have a lamp always before Me in Jerusalem, the city where I have chosen for Myself to put My name.'"
Giving Jeroboam ten of the twelve pieces symbolized that he would be ruling over ten tribes. Since Jeroboam was of the tribe of Ephraim, the ten tribes of Israel that formed the northern
After the division of the kingdom, Israel was set aside and later given to the nations. David was of Judah, so God kept the tribe of Judah for David's sake. God's promise to David that one of his posterity would sit on his throne, would be fulfilled through Judah. The birth of Jesus, as proved by the genealogies, came about through the tribe of Judah as prophesied. God also kept Jerusalem of the tribe of Benjamin, because it was His holy city, a type of the covenant. To retain the types of these two covenants, he kept these two tribes. It is interesting to note that the kingdom of Judah consisted of one tribe from the sons of Leah, and one from the sons of Rachel. God kept one of each for His own purpose to fulfill His promises.
The sad history of Israel and Judah is described in 1 and 2 Kings, and in 1 and 2 Chronicles. To keep the people of the northern tribes from mingling with the people of Judah, Jeroboam established a counterfeit worship. The golden calves, like the ones Moses destroyed, were reinstated, and a priesthood - not of Levites but of commoners - was installed. Idol worship and the other sins Jeroboam introduced in Israel, also became rampant Judah. Therefore God's protection was removed from Israel, and the Assyrians conquered them and carried the people away as captives. There they lost their identity and were consumed by the world.
Many scholars have wondered what has happened to these ten tribes. Some surmise that their progeny have migrated into Germany and Denmark, then to the British Isles, and from there to the Americas. Their language and customs distinguished them from other nations, and it is quite possible that many of them made pilgrimages to other lands. I have no problem with that. But that is not the point, for we are interested in the spiritual significance.
Judah's punishment was postponed because they had some good kings periodically. Later the Babylonians took them into captivity, but after 70 years they were permitted to return to their land. Judah's seventy-year captivity in Babylon as well as their return had been prophesied. The prophets were mistreated for these dire predictions, but it happened just as God had said!
However, just a small remnant came back to rebuild the temple and to re-establish the pattern of worship prescribed by God. They tried to purify the priesthood by eliminating those who were not of Levitical descent. But many remained in Babylon, for they were satisfied with their life there, and were absorbed by the world. In order to fulfill the prophecy that Jesus, the Prince of Peace, would be born in Bethlehem, it was necessary for a remnant to return.
Judah and Benjamin were not selected because they were better than the others, but because God needed a remnant through which He would fulfill His promises. A scattering of Levites was included with Judah and Benjamin. Those Levites who were upset with the counterfeit worship system in Samaria, went back to Judah.
Let's remember that there is no inheritance in the flesh - in the natural! Physical Israel is not the true Israel; only those who have the faith of Abraham are. True Israel is being gathered by the gospel. Jesus said that He receives everyone who has been given Him by the Father! He will not lose any of them, and He will raise them up on the last day. He keeps them all! This is what He said, so this is what we believe! There are multitudes, both of the Gentiles and the Israelites, who have died in their sins.
"But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law..."
Jesus came to the Jews living in Judah and Galilee. Only a few were from the ten tribes. Their national name of Israel or Judah had been discarded and they were now being called Jews. Some people think that the name Israel should only be used in reference to the ten tribes. But in the beginning all the tribes were included in that one name.
All the promises are fulfilled in Christ! He is the complete fulfillment of the promises! Spiritual promises are fulfilled spiritually - not in anything natural, and that includes natural Israel. So the whole nation of Israel was rejected. Christ's flesh veiled His true identity. The flesh has no affiliation with the spiritual and it keeps us from seeing the spiritual. Jesus Christ ushered in a new dispensation! His sheep, the ecclesia, the called-out ones, are being called out of the world - out of the world system and out of the flesh system.
Why did God make a distinction between "Judah and the sons of Israel" and "Joseph, the stick of Ephraim"? The former were descendants of Abraham, but the stick for Joseph and Ephraim included Gentiles. Joseph did not have a Hebrew wife, for he married an Egyptian woman. Yet he became the redeemer, not only of the Israelites, but of the Egyptians and the surrounding nations.
So this promise reaches into Egypt and the Gentile world, and declares that it too has an inheritance! Long ago, when Jacob prophesied over Manasseh and Ephraim, the sons of Joseph, born of an Egyptian woman, his right hand crossed over to Ephraim, the younger son, giving him the blessing of Jacob. (Gen. 48:13-19) In Abraham's time, Ishmael did not receive any inheritance; it was only for Isaac, the son of promise. Here is a new development - the nations, the Gentiles AND the Jews, are included in the inheritance.
By this object lesson God is saying that there is now no distinction between the Jews and the Gentiles. He is putting the Jews and the Gentiles together that all might enter into the glory of God!
Peter declared that Jesus is that descendant of David.
The coming of the Spirit brought a new law because it ushered in a new kingdom with Jesus sitting on David's throne. The coming of the Spirit makes us ONE in Christ. The Holy Spirit teaches us His judgments and how to observe His statutes. Those who have not received the ONE who God has established to be Lord of all, will not experience this.
Ezekiel goes on to say, "They will live on the land that I gave to Jacob My servant, in which your fathers lived; and they will live on it, they, and their sons and their sons' sons, forever; and David My servant will be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will place them and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever. (37:25-26) This will cause the Gentiles to see God's ability and they will know that God is LORD!
Everyone is subject to the verdict of the law, and it says that everyone has come short of the glory of God; all men have sinned; all are guilty! No individual and no nation is exempted. God had consigned all to death! Both groups needed to be brought into life!
In the natural, circumcision and the
"Remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall."
God in Christ Jesus has made us all one in Christ! This includes the uncircumcision and the circumcision, the nations and the nation of Israel. It eliminates all separateness of nations, of flesh, or anything else. By putting both groups into the new man, the dividing wall is taken away! This is the good news of the gospel!
God bless you! Amen.
Jesus Christ is the only way to God, and the only way to spiritual realization! Man's doctrines and ideas about God cannot provide the way! To know God, we have to come the way God has provided for us - through Jesus Christ! Only in Christ can we know the meaning of being sons of God, and know who we are in God. There is no other way to God and no other name under heaven by which we can be saved! This applies to both Jew and Gentile - and that includes everyone!
"For He Himself is our peace..."
Since the Gentiles were excluded from the promises, they were without hope and without God. So the Jews looked down upon them; in their superiority they considered them as dogs. It isn't hard to understand that this produced hard feelings and enmity between the two groups.
Peace could only come by taking away that distinction! In His flesh, Jesus Christ abolished the law of commandments and made one humanity out of the two, by taking both groups out of the old humanity and placing them in Himself. This takes away the dividing wall! In Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile, bond person or free, but all are one in Christ. A spiritual realization of this will phase out all divisions, for divisions are the result of carnal thinking. Spiritual illumination delivers us from that thinking.
"And might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity."
God has His law written in the hearts of men. (Rom. 1:19-20; 2:14-15)) This includes everyone - Jew and Gentile. It is impossible for the carnal mind to subject itself to the law of God! That is why the Jews could not subject themselves to the law.
Jesus told the Jews that God's word did not abide in them, and that they did not believe Moses, for if they had believed Moses they would believe Him! Though they professed to believe Moses, they didn't believe the purpose for which the law had been given; they thought they could attain the righteousness that met God's standard through their own efforts of obeying the law. Jesus was not condemning them, but He wanted them to realize that they were not better than the rest of the world.
The promises of God are for all who are in Christ. He does not have one set of promises for the Jews, and one for the Gentiles. Christ reconciles both groups to God in Himself.
Christ receives the complete inheritance of God! He is the firstborn of God, and we become joint heirs with Him by becoming partakers of His life and of His nature! We have been baptized into His body, joined to His Spirit, and have become one with Christ - in answer to His prayer in John 17. There is no separate gospel nor promise for anyone. All the promises have their fulfillment in Christ.
The enmity was between two factions of the same humanity. Christ reconciled them to God through the cross by putting to death the enmity. (v.16) The enmity was destroyed by bringing both into a new humanity. Jesus did that by His manifestation on earth and His crucifixion. In Himself, He made the two into one new man.
Generally speaking, the nation of Israel was anti-Christ, and therefore anti-God. Since Jesus Christ, manifested in the flesh, was the express image of the invisible God, the rejection of Jesus Christ by Israel proved that they did not know God, and that God's word did not dwell in them! Israel was in sin, death and bondage, anti-Christ and anti-God, just as all men in their natural state are. Romans 3 tells us that no man seeks after God and that every man has gone his own way! All are guilty of the same iniquity. Their rejection of Christ proved that!
So we need not look any farther than our old humanity for the Antichrist. In order to get rid of our old humanity, we have to be placed into the new humanity! This does away with the anti-Christ of the old humanity, and we have peace with God. We can only give peace to others after we have received that spiritual peace that Christ gives us!
"And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near."
Christ's mission was to reconcile the world to God the Father! He accomplished this, for God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself. God is not imputing our sin to us! This reconciliation is to God - not to Christ. Christ does not express Himself, because He is expressing God. We need to keep this in mind, and also express God in everything we do.
"For through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father."
Sonship has to do with our adoption - being placed above the law (or taken out of the law). This happened to Jesus Christ when He came out of the Jordan. (Luke 3) At that time He repented of having lived under the law for thirty years, and He received the Holy Spirit as His teacher. Then He heard God say,
If we do not allow the Spirit to teach us, we are in rebellion against God. The interpretation of the letter has to come through the Holy Spirit, because He is our new teacher! One of the adversary's most successful tactics is to get Christians to suppress the Spirit.
Jesus said that if we blaspheme the Spirit, we won't be forgiven in this age nor in the age to come.
"So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household."
Clinging to that idea would destroy the whole purpose of the Holy Spirit's coming to bring us into oneness with Christ. Letting circumcision bring a division, separating Jew and Gentile, is not of Christ. We need to grow in our understanding. If we do not have a heart to hear what the Spirit is saying, we will remain in our delusion.
"Having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone."
This new temple requires a new priesthood - and we are that royal priesthood through Christ. In Him we are a holy nation - a nation separated or set apart from all other nations because Christ is our King! We who were not a people, are now a people! This applies to both Jew and Gentile. In the Old Testament we read that "you who were not My people, will be My people". Israel was chosen, but at that time they were not chosen in Jesus Christ. They had not been illuminated by the Spirit; they did not know what it meant to be sons of God. God Himself has to tell us that.
"In whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord."
"In whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit."
Jesus Christ will not take a Gentile bride, because His bride has nothing to do with being Jew or Gentile; it has nothing to do with the flesh. Jesus Christ is only married to those who are given Him by God. As Abraham chose the bride for Isaac, so the Father chooses the bride for His Son.
In Matthew 24 it says that the Son of Man will send His angels to gather His elect (or His chosen ones) from the four corners of the heavens. He gathers them from the heavens because they dwell in the heavens; they dwell in heavenly concepts - not in earthy concepts.
Abraham's descendants are divided into two categories: children of faith and children of the flesh. Ishmael, the one born of the bondwoman, is a type of those who are born according to the flesh.
"But: `through Isaac your descendants will be named'. That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants...And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise."
Just as Ishmael opposed Isaac, so those who are of the flesh oppose those who are born according to the Spirit or the promise. (Gal.4:29) This persecution is still taking place today.
What about circumcision? Does it have any relevance for us today?
To better understand this circumcision, let's look at the circumcision Israel received after their wilderness wanderings. When Israel came out of Egypt and spent 40 years in the desert, a whole generation died. That generation always wanted to go back to Egypt. But their progeny, a new generation, could enter the Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua and Caleb. Before this could take place they had to be circumcised - this had not happened for many years.
This circumcision took place after Israel had crossed the Jordan, and had taken twelve stones out of the river and set them on the new land, and had taken twelve stones from the land and placed them in the riverbed. Since twelve is the number of government, this symbolized that Israel was now under a new government. The government of the law was replaced with the government of God. This circumcision was symbolic of this new generation receiving a new government in their life.
Years later, this was fulfilled in Jesus when He came to the Jordan to be baptized by John. There He got the circumcision of the heart, not of the flesh. He repented (changed) from being under the government of the law, to being under the government of the Spirit. The government in His life was changed! From that day forward He operated out of His Father-Son relationship! God had called Him His Son! This changed His life! The spiritual truth He taught was beyond the law. This is a prototype for all of us, for He was the firstborn of many brothers. We are to follow His example.
"But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God."
Jesus came to take us out of our natural thinking and bring us into spiritual thinking. Spiritual realities are hidden from those who do not really want to hear God, for their hearts are hardened. That is why the Israelites continually disobeyed God. They had so many advantages in the natural - the law, the promises, the temple worship, etc., yet they continually disobeyed God because their natural mind could not conceive the spiritual meaning of what God was doing.
In Acts 11:18 Peter said that God has now granted to the Gentiles repentance that leads to life. Repentance does not have to do with sin, but with the problem that causes sin. Our carnal thinking, our carnal mind, is the problem. If we repent of that, Christ will come to us in the Spirit. He is the One who ushers out the sin in our lives.
Sinlessness only comes from Christ. It has nothing to do with our trying to get rid of sin. It involves our repentance from who and what we are as natural, carnal, Adamic human beings. Through the law, God proved that all men are under sin, and that all have come short of the glory of God. When the purpose of the law is understood, it stops every mouth from proclaiming its own righteousness. The law was necessary; without it we would not believe that God has to perform something supernatural in us; we would think we could achieve righteousness in our natural ability.
The mind of Christ sees things differently than the natural mind. This was very evident when Jesus Christ was on earth. It brought forth many ideas which were contrary to the beliefs of the Jews. This riled them, so they crucified Him! But they could not do away with the truth, because it comes to us in the Spirit! Being born of the promise means that Christ has come to us and has given us His mind. We need His mind to understand spiritual things.
Paul said, "Beware of the dogs,"
This was evident even in Paul's time. Before the disciples from James came to Galatia, Peter, Barnabas, and others, had been eating with the Gentiles. However, in order to preserve their reputation with the disciples from James, they withdrew from eating with the uncircumcised Gentile Christians. Paul chided Peter for his hypocrisy - for he was the leader of this hypocrisy. This warning is also for us because by the works of the law no man is justified.
"For we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh."
Paul thought he was serving God by persecuting Christians. But Christ came to him in a blinding light, and revealed to him that persecuting Christians was persecuting Him. From that day on he received his teaching through the Holy Spirit who taught him the spiritual truth that we now receive in his epistles. Paul became the chosen apostle to the Gentiles, yet he always preached the gospel to the Jews first. Some of them became true believers, but the majority of them did not receive the gospel; instead, they persecuted him. However, many Gentiles believed, and Paul nurtured these Christians in their faith. Later, the Jews would be brought in by the Gentiles.
Paul learned that, in spite of all of his credentials, he had no reason to have confidence in the flesh - and neither do we!
"But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ."
Paul did not mind losing the garbage! Once he had Christ, a whole new understanding of life was opened to him. He was no longer dead in his trespasses and sins, but alive in Christ Jesus! He was a new man in Christ, and his life was hidden with Christ in God! He understood that Christ was his righteousness; this righteousness could never be obtained by works! He wanted to be found in Him, and know the power of His resurrection! He had been raised out of the mind of the Adamic (natural) man, and into the mind of Christ. This is resurrection!
Receiving the Holy Spirit's teaching about God brings us new understanding. He teaches us the difference between flesh and Spirit, and between the new covenant in Christ and the old covenant that Israel adhered to.
The carnal mind is disposed to the flesh, and this is death. This disposition to fleshly things is our disposition to accepting the natural. We tend to believe that which satisfies our mind, and think that it is reality. But Christ came to lift us above that natural understanding! This produces a conflict with those who are natural-minded.
"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us - for it is written, `Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree' - in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."
Abraham had received the promise
Abraham, a man of faith, was looking for a city - not an earthly city, but a heavenly city made by God. (Heb. 11:10) Abraham's faith outdistanced all the natural processes embraced by the Jews until Christ came. His faith is fulfilled in the promise of a heavenly city, the covenant that Sarah represents. This city, the new Jerusalem, is the bride of Christ. It is a spiritual city - not a natural city filled with buildings.
In Galatians 4 we read that Sarah and Hagar were both covenants. Hagar was a covenant that produced children of bondage. She represents the present Jerusalem. Of that Jerusalem
Jesus desired her children, but they were unwilling to come to Him. The old Jerusalem had done its duty, and it was now time for her children to be given to Christ, but she would not give them up. She would be desolate until they would receive Him who comes in the name of the Lord! They need to receive Christ and those who come in His name - and we are among those who come in the name of the Lord.
The natural temple was desolate when Christ came - it was nothing. Now we are the temple. Jesus spoke of the temple of His body when He said,
The New Jerusalem is a covenant. In Rev. 22:22 we read that the Holy City, which is a covenant, has no physical temple. All natural temples deteriorate and are eventually destroyed by man. Israel first had the tabernacle of Moses, then the temple built by Solomon. It was destroyed by the Babylonians. Later it was rebuilt by Ezra, then added to and enhanced by Herod. That one was destroyed in 70 A.D. Not one stone remained on top of another in fulfillment of Christ's prediction. But the spiritual temple, whose cornerstone is Christ, and which is built up with living stones (which we are), will not be destroyed.
In Christ, our understanding of the temple, the land, the people, etc., takes on a new dimension - a spiritual realization. Everything flows into Christ, for He is the sum of all things! He is the inheritor of all the promises of God! They all have their yes and Amen, that is their fulfillment, in Him.
The law and the prophets prophesied until John came; then Christ, the fulfillment, came! Now we receive the realization that Christ is the fulfillment, for He has done all these things. We no longer wait for what He is going to do. Instead, we grow in the realization that He has done everything and that He has made us a new creation!
Continually looking forward to what Christ is going to do, when He has already done it, shows that we are living in a delusion, for we do not see the reality. For example, we will think that the regathering of Israel is physical instead of spiritual, and therefore a future event. But how can a physical regathering of Israel fulfill the promise that Israel will be changed?
In Acts 8:1 a scattering of the church (which is the body of Christ) took place. This scattering was physical, not spiritual. However, a spiritual gathering of those who are really Israel is occurring by the gospel. This gathering is into Christ.
But there is also a gathering of all those who are in delusion and under the adversary. This makes up the battle of Armageddon. This battle has been going on for years. It is the battle against Christ and His followers: the battle of error against truth in the valley of decision - which is our sense of being.
Christ's followers do not take up arms to fight against anyone, for their warfare is not carnal. Jesus Christ would never lift up the sword against anyone. "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" is not for us.
Jesus Christ never advocates carnal, physical battles. He never takes part in carnal wars. The judgment of God comes down on error and destroys it! Error will never undo or defeat the armies of Christ. He has breathed His peace upon us; therefore we already have this peace.
Unless people have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church, they will go right on thinking in the natural, and use their knowledge to enhance themselves and to build up their ego. The Holy Spirit is our teacher, and He imparts spiritual realities to us. To hear Him, we have to be in subjection to the Father of spirits.
The truth of God only bears fruit in a heart that does not want honor for itself. Our only desire must be to testify to the truth which is Christ. If we desire honor we are back to square one. The fact is that God has made provision for getting us out of our error. If our heart is right we already have a relationship with the Lord.
I pray that those who are hearing two voices, truth and error, in the valley of decision may receive the truth that is in Christ! God bless you! Amen.