The problem of bankrupt Christians is simple to see. These Christians are trying to be perfect in the flesh. Hence, they are broke. This type of person fails in their quest to be holy and end up disenchanted. They endeavor through laws, rules, and regulations to make a sinful nature good. These Christians seek to change their wicked behavior through willpower to conform to the will of God. The truth is, behavioral changes by one’s willpower to conform to God will always fail. This type of Christianity does not work. The Apostle Paul said it bluntly in Romans 8:7-8 “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (NKJV). In fact, it is no different than other religions. If you can earn salvation and become holy based upon your works, you do not need a savior. Willpower Christianity, working in the flesh towards perfection, brings about disillusionment, believers who become prodigals, and the scorn of the unbelievers. The worse behavior they exhibit is severe judgment. Almost everything to them is a sin. Many of these willpower people have fallen from grace and suffer copious hurts. (I can testify to that!) Spiritually minded believers call willpower Christianity pure legalism. The legalist denies the grace and power of God through the Spirit for perfecting their person. Jesus taught against this type of kingdom living. Jesus states, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” John 6:63 (NKJV).
Perhaps, it is time to take the gloves off and reckon to learn if you are living in the Spirit or the unprofitable life of the flesh. This is a hard examination to take. You cannot take this examination yourself. You must allow the Holy Spirit to examine you and come to a verdict. I can tell you it is a painful exam but very necessary for spiritual health. Maybe, you will learn as I have, you are hindered by a lack of faith in God and His promises. Another lesson will be learning about your fear of trusting and walking according to His word. Now about legalism in the flesh and freedom in the spirit, we must accept a dichotomy. We are caught between two natures. The first is the old man or nature or the flesh. The second is a new nature or creation or the spirit. The Scripture teaches; in Christ we are one brand new nature not two. The two natures, the flesh from the outside and the spirit on the inside, are at war with each other. In this battle, the heart must choose which way to live. The first choice is to live in the Spirit, and the second choice is to live in the flesh battling to make it obedient to God. It is at this point we are taught to work out our salvation. Most of us choose to work it out by bringing the old nature into obedience. Consequently, this is where we fail. Instead of bringing the old nature into obedience, we yield to it into disobedience. This happens in a continuous never-ending cycle. The results of persisting in this type of Christian behavior are stinky.
Modern-day Christians have lost the understanding; Christianity is a life lived in the Spirit. It is a spiritual existence in a material world and body. The old nature cannot be changed it must be put to death. Christ’s death must become your death, and Christ’s resurrection must become your resurrection. Although you hear the voice of this nature calling you to sin, by the power of the Spirit, you must not listen to it nor obey it but put it to death by faith.
The Spirit life works like this. The old nature comes knocking. You feel its strong urge to yield to sin. This is the critical junction to either wrestle with it or accept and believe what God in Christ has done for you. God says by your faith and baptism into Christ your old nature is deceased and buried in Him. Consequently, you are dead to it. Next, we believe we have been resurrected and born again as a new creation, a spiritual creation. Therefore, we through the Spirit of God yield to God and put the flesh back to the land of the dead. The next action is the hardest, standing in faith and trusting the victory of Christ in your life, resisting the urge to wrestle and yield to the flesh, until it goes away. This seems awkward at first, but when put into action at the moment of inner trial, God’s grace and promises will bring about the victory. We are called to be spiritual beings in a human body. God made this possible if we do it His way not our way. When you walk God’s way the Christian experience will be a joyful experience no matter what we face. Consider the Lord and His crucifixion. He gave Himself up through the eternal Spirit and was raised up into glory, see Hebrews 9:14. Jesus did this God’s way. We should too. The Lord be with you.
Guy Calandra Author of “The Inside Word”