What is scriptural self denial?

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What is scriptural self denial? By Chistopher P Dyer There is a teaching among various groups that on becoming Christians we should practice denial of self; that is that we should sacrifice pleasures or comforts; that we should neglect anything that goes beyond the basic needs of life. The purpose of this paper is to decide whether we as Christians are to practice this self denial and if we are to what extant. While we will look at the history of self denial, our primary authority for this study will be Gods word. My usual practice in preparing a message is the expository method, that is, taking a passage such as a chapter and fully examining that passage as a unit within its context, with support from other scripture. I do this with reason. Any false doctrine can be presented as truth by picking verses at random and out of context. So for my safety as well as yours, I’ve tended to avoid the topical message. In choosing to present a topical message today, I do so with knowledge of the risks involved and call upon the brethren to be particularly critical and as Bereans search the scriptures whether these things be so. Let us pray. For a passage of scripture let us turn to Galatians, chapter 2 verse 20 I am with crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live: yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. The principle thought which I wish to convey to the Brethren today is one of service to Christ based on our complete surrender to Him. Our passage says I am crucified with Christ. I think that we can understand that to be crucified is to die. If we were literally crucified that would be the result if we were left long enough. To hang on the cross would be to suffer a long lingering death, but as I’ve said the end is death. And yet Paul says, nevertheless I live! How is that possible? Paul goes on to say that the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith of the Son of God, interesting how the apostle says faith of not faith in. I believe that this shows us two things: while we our saved by faith in the Son, we walk by the faith of the Son. We do not walk alone. Each step of the way we have our Saviour there to hold our hands and help us through the difficult things in life which would display more the faithfulness of Christ. I believes that it also teaches us something else; namely that we must walk according to the faith of Christ. We should be trying to walk in accordance with the teachings of our Lord. Our salvation is not based on our doing of this as our salvation is based solely on the work of Christ on the cross and His payment of the debt which we could not of ourselves pay. However, if the very life of our Lord indwells us we will be overcome with a desire to please Him in all that we do. His life will become our life. We should notice that we now have a revulsion of sin. Most Christians understand this and try to live by Christ’s leading (though we usually fail) in our daily lives. The concern that I have, and what has motivated this message is the concept of self-denial where we deny ourselves things which are not expressly forbidden in the scripture for the intent of obtaining some measure of holiness before God and our fellow man and perhaps also some measure of approval before God. Many people over the centuries have tried just such an approach to obtaining holiness. But the frightening part of such is the knowledge that it has not just been devout Christians that have taken this approach but pagans as well. In fact it would be safe to say that Christians have been in the minority of groups. A quote from The Church in the Roman Empire page 102 might serve as an illustration. The ascetic, whether Christian or heathen, believes in two great contrasting existences, namely the material world and another world which may be called the world of forms or the world of concepts, the spiritual world, heaven, or God, or any other dozens of terms used by different forms of religion. But the ascetic believes not only that there are two such contrasting kinds of life, but that man has in his own nature representatives of each, which are at war within him for his soul. Thus far, almost all intelligent opinion in the late Empire agreed with the ascetic, but it is for the ascetic definitely to choose the life of the spirit or whatever he might call it, by trampling down the material aspect of his existence in the hopes of destroying it and its desires so that he may live always, now and hereafter, the unpolluted life of the spirit. There are many points of disagreement with the above quote. But rather than focus on these points, I would much rather see what the scripture has to say about self-denial. I believe that what we will find is that scripture does not declare that nature in of itself is evil but rather that the sinful nature of man has polluted the world to such an extant that the world also has to be redeemed in a coming age. I believe that we will also see that it is nature our natural man, that is to say the physical man is evil, but his nature, that is to say his sinful nature, or his propensity to sin. And if this is so than we should find scripture telling us not to destroy the physical man but rather to leave of sinning in order to obtain a measure of holiness. And that I believe is just what we find when we let the word of God speak for itself. Titus 2:12 Teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world. In this passage we can see that as we expected the issue here as to what we must deny is our desire to use the flesh in ways that go against Gods plan of holiness. There is the sense of sobriety which refects not, dare I say a pouting nature, but rather an understanding of the seriousness of the present time. An understanding that the time of Christ’s return is at hand and we would be found doing his will when he does finally return. Nothing in this passage suggest that we should live lives devoid of the pleasures which God has deemed appropriate, but rather a using of the flesh in a way that pleases Him. While one of my bible dictionaries list this passage as a passage concerning self-denial, the passage does not say self-denial, but denial of ungodliness! 1 Peter 4:1,2 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; 2 that he should no longer live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. An argument could be made that we have to suffer in the flesh, that we have to make our physical bodies suffer when we first read this passage if we do not go farther and read what is included in the next verse: For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revelings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:Here again we can see that the issue was not taking on an ascetics nature but rather the putting off of sin.The Gentiles were just as prone to take on the ascetics lifestyle as were some of the more rigorous of the Jews. If it was the ascetics lifestyle of self abasement that Peter was trying to promote, than why didn’t he use their practice among the Gentile nations to encourage the Christians to follow suit? Again we see that it was the lifestyle of sin that provoked the teaching of one of the apostles. The next passage that I have in mind comes from Luke 14:33 So likewise whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.Here again it looks as though we must make ourselves to suffer in the flesh to be disciples of Christ. The context is clear that we must count the cost of becoming followers of Christ before we make the step. What's more if we look at verse 26 of this passage we can see a frightful statement that we must hate father, mother, wife, and children if we are to be His disciples. How do we reconcile this with His condemnation of the Pharisees not caring for their parents if here He Himself is telling us to actually hate our parents? Elsewhere He also tells us to love our enemies, how can He here tell us to hate our families and loved ones? What is the meaning of this? I believe that “hate” in this passage is more akin to reject as second to something which is better, namely Christ. Matthew 10:37 is a parallel passage to Luke 14:33.He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 and he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. 39 he that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. I believe that this passage helps us to better understand what is asked of us in Luke’s account. Here it is clear that nothing can become between us and following our Lord, even if it be loved ones. And what does the passage teach us about living an ascetic lifestyle of austerity and self abasement? Well actually nothing for that is not what the passage is intended to teach in the first place, but rather as we have seen the lesson is rather on our priorities or perhaps we could say headship: as in 1 Cor. 11:God first then Christ, man, then women. For our priorities I like to teach that our relationships must be ordered as such: first nothing may be allowed to come between ourselves and God. Next the relationship between husband and wife is of most importance. Following this is the relationship between parents and children. After this comes our commitment to our local church; the brethren and sisters of the assembly. And lastly comes the relationship with the larger world around us. While there are times when there may be other priorities which displace this order; a new baby in the home, a sick or dying relative, a brother or sister who needs immediate support because of a crisis, as a rule we should try to maintain the order as given by God. When the order is displaced, the our relationships do not function properly and our relationship with God suffers. Now let us look at Galatians 5:24-25 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 if we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. In this passage we learn that we should walk after our calling. We learned from our study thus far that we are predestined to be conformed into the image of Christ and if that’s our calling that we are to live up to that. We also learned that it is not our doing that makes that possible but the working of the Holy Spirit working in our sinful bodies to change us. That is in fact how we and others can know that we have indeed had a genuine conversion experience. This passage completes verse 16 of the same chapter: This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. We have the blessing of having the Spirit of God indwelling us. Because of this, we should walk as those for whom this is a reality. Simply put, the outside should reflect the inside. Put off the old man is how Ephesians chapter 4 reads. 22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Can we truly appreciate the meaning of the above verse, that the new man which we are in Christ is “after God” ? By the power of the Holy Spirit, we are a new creation. What we are to put away is the old sinful nature. We of ourselves cannot do this. But with the help of the indwelling Spirit we can. When we fail, which we so often do, it is because we are following self and not Spirit. We are not as much going through self-denial as a dying to self. The difference being that we are not worried about denying pleasure for pleasures sake but are denying sin a place in our lives. We must live for the Spirit, and walk according to the Spirit. Only then are we living up to our calling as Christians. So long as we are in the flesh we will continue to fail, but by Gods grace we grow day by day closer to the image of Christ.The next question which arises in my mind is; where does this idea come from that the believer must live under some kind of physical hardship in order to be a true Christian? When did this idea first come into being? After doing some reading I have come to an educated guess that some traces of the old new doctrine of the Gnostics lies deep beneath the ideas of self-denial as opposed to scriptural denial of self. When did this doctrine creep in? History shows that the mystery religions such gnosticism where flourishing around the time of Christ and before. One obvious example is of course the Essene sect which existed in the area of dead sea and our the most likely source of the Dead Sea scrolls. Paul has been wrongly accused of also being of Gnostic beliefs. Partly because of his teaching on the mysteries of God. But Paul’s teaching of the mystery was not to leave some great secret from the masses that some of the mystery religions held to, but rather making known to the church what was formerly not known. He made known that the gentiles which were formerly separated from the worship of God, were now made nigh by the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit, its indwelling in every believer a mystery formerly not known, (Gods Spirit formerly indwelt individuals for specific tasks, but not all believers and not necessarily continuously) made possible by the death of Christ on our behalf. Paul specifically taught against outward works such as were taught by the Gnostics and other mystery religions. Let us turn to Colossians chapter two for some insight into what Paul felt concerning this matter.1 For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; 2 that their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father and of Christ; 3 in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Here Paul is talking about mysteries and of knowledge (the Greek word of which is gnosis) so here if he himself were a gnostic he would have the full opportunity to expound on it but what does he go on to say? 4 And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. 5 For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ. 6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him: If Paul was going to expound on the necessity of self-denial to the believers this would be the time as he is instructing them to walk in Christ as they had received him. But how did they receive him? They received him in faith; so they were to walk in faith! 7 Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. 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. 9 for in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. That is the great mystery of which Paul is talking in this chapter, the Godhood of Christ! He is also quiet clear that we are not to be deceived by the traditions of men. That rules out that this chapter is talking about the law as to what the Colossians were to avoid as the law which came by Moses was not the traditions of men but of God. 10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: 11 in whom ye are also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: 12 buried with him in baptism, wherein ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh , hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14 blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, and took it out the way, nailing it to his cross; 15 and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.Here now Paul includes the ordinances of the law which separated the Gentile from the Jew. He has shown how even the law is made void by the death of Christ. Yes right and wrong still very much exist, because God cannot change and what he hated he hates still, but the just penalty which God in his Holiness would require of us has been paid by his son Jesus Christ. 16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon or of the sabbath days: 17 which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. 18 Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and of worshipping of angels , intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind.Here it seems that Paul indeed implies that there is a humility which is not genuine, a humility which comes on the outside and not from the inside. To be humble is to esteem others more highly than oneself, where a false humility is one in which you act as though you are lowly but you are really thinking yourself holy because of the way in which you are acting or dressing (or not dressing), in which you place a value on that which you are doing as being some sort of sacrifice which you are making to God and these other people around you which somehow adds to your worth. The first thing which each of us has to realize is that we are of no worth. We are sinners and of little value to anyone, even ourselves. But despite all of this, God so loved each and every one of us so much that he sent his Son Jesus to make us something of worth in him! One day we will be something of worth and that is when we are free of our sinful nature and residing in Gods presence giving him the praise and honour which he deserves. Each of us has to get all of this understanding into our proud heads and as soon as we think that we have come a little closer to the Godly behaviour which God would have of us, then very likely we are still too proud in heart. 19 And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increases with the increase of God. 20 Wherefore if ye be dead with from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, 21 (touch not; taste not; handle not; 22 which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and of the neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh. After going on so long about what is not our duty I would like to talk for a minute about what it is that we should do. Earlier we saw that we are to go by the faith of Christ. That is the doctrines and teachings of our Lord. He said specifically that if you love me you will keep my commandments. He said be ye holy for I am Holy. We as His followers should be desiring to live in a way that is pleasing to Him. We know as I believe that I have already said that we do not do a very good job of this but it should still be our desire. That desire comes from our God given conscience but, if we are believers then it also comes from the moving of the Holy Spirit. He will provoke us to godly living. He will illuminate to us our gross sinful nature. And if God spirit dwells within us, we will also have a distaste for sin. In fact we will be revolted by sin, though never revolted enough. The next thing the will come to play is that we should no longer think on terms of me but on what is the will of our Saviour. We are to die to self. That is as we already said is the key; not self-denial but to deny or as said elsewhere, to die to self. And that is the key to what Paul said in our title verse of Galatian 2:20, Christ liveth in me(!): and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. His will is to be my will, and as His righteousness is already imputed unto me, I am to live as though it is a reality. And praise God that when I fail to live as I ought to live that His grace is sufficient to cover the sins which I now commit as the sacrifice of Jesus Christ the righteous was sufficient to cover all my sins past present and future. We are asked not to be of this world which brings out the question as to what constitutes the world. I think that if we look honestly that we can see that the world is not a particular type or style of clothing. It is not a particular type of occupation. It is not a particular type of hair style. It is not even which day of the week we would prefer to worship God. It is a mindset to think as the world does, and the way that the world thinks is of self. The world is full of fornication, adulteries, lying, stealing, breakers of covenants, those who do not respect elders, and as the scripture says any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine. When we follow the first two great commandments as laid out by Christ, which are to love the Lord God with all our heart soul and mind and the second is like unto it which is to love our neighbour as ourselves. When we first make it our priority to please our God and Saviour Jesus Christ, we will find ourselves avoiding sin, and others will know that we are His followers, and if we place the love of our neighbour next on the list and genuinely try to practice this; praying for them, coming to their need when their need comes to our attention, then we will be denying ourself and be pleasing to our God. The beginning of our study we suggested the idea of rejecting anything that went beyond the classification of basic need. What I must say to that is that we cannot ask for anything more the food and raiment and therewith to be content. Having said that I will add that it is not the actual possession of such things which is the problem, but the coveting of these things. We must be content with whatever it is that the Lord in His infinite wisdom decides is the best for our life. And we must also recognize that none of our possessions are ours but are “on loan” from God. If we can accept this then we will have a blessing from our goods ( be they many or few) in knowing that they are not our goods for our use but are the Lords goods set aside for his use. Then we will not be like the rich man laying up goods for the future not knowing that “tonight is thy soul required of thee, then whose shall these things be which thou have laid up.” Our attitude should be the same as the apostle, Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am in, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed Both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. Philippians 4:11,12When we take the attitude of the apostle then are we free in heart and in spirit. Our calling to holiness has everything to do with putting off of the sinful life and putting on of the life of righteousness which is only possible through the strength and power of our Lord Jesus Christ. When we strive to put on an ascetics life style, we are can be doing something on the outward which can though it does not necessarily mean it is so. Our passage in Colossians chapter 2 verse 23 tells us that when we so these things that we are doing something which looks really good on the outside but concludes with two small phrases, not in any honour, which is the first phrase showing us the true value of our venture, and concludes to the satisfying of the flesh(!) This shows us how something which is done for the purposes of outward appearances can actually be simply a source of our own deep seated pride, no matter how self abasing it appears or how humble it may come across. Again let me emphasize that true denial of self is to surrender our will to that of our Saviours will. And how do we know what the Lords will for us is? Quite simply by reading Gods word for that is the source of hope and of life. All scripture is given by the inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof , for correction, and for what? For instruction in righteousness 2 Tim. 3:16. If we spend more time than we do now in the study of Gods word and apply what we learn from his work to our hearts then we can be sure that we are living according to his will denying ourselves in the way that he would approve of. we also have an evil side to the doctrine of the Gnostics. The Gnostics believed in an inherent weakness in the created world. They believed that the world was created by an inferior deity an because of that the world by its very nature is evil. That is why most of the Gnostics believed that they must punish as it were the natural side of themselves. But there was also an other approach which was taken by some of the Gnostics; that was to practice evil so that they would be causing the body to suffer. Also, because they considered the body as separate from the spirit, it made no difference what they did. What have we to say about these ideas? To start with, let us turn to Genesis chapter 1 verse 1; In the beginning God created the heaven and the earthSo we know that it was God who created the heaven and the earth, not some inferior being. In verse 31 we read, And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very goodGod said that it was very good, and personally I will take Gods word about it over that of mans. One thing that I hope that everyone here will leave with today, only God is a creator. We don’t create. We make things. Will take created raw materials and make them into something new. But God can create. Satan also cannot create; he perverts. All that we do which is sinful is merely a perversion of that which in the right way or context is pure and perfect. The whole universe is groaning because of the sinfulness which man and Satan have brought onto this world. The worlds is also longing for the redemption. We know from Peter that the elements will be destroyed by fire. We also know that we will have all our works tried by fire. In the new creation there will be a new heaven and earth and we will have new incorruptible bodies. But that is not because there was a flaw with the first creation; it is because of sin! If you are still not sure about the doctrine of the Gnostics by now let me explain another part about their doctrine of flesh and spirit. Because of their beliefs about the sinfulness of the flesh, those who claimed to be Christians said that Christ only appeared to be in the flesh but was really just spirit. It was Gnostic teaching which the beloved apostle John was referring to in his epistles. In 1st John chapter 1 verse 1,That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; he says quite clearly that he and the other witnesses have seen the Lord and handled Him and that He was the word of life. And this wasn’t just biological life like we have in plants or animals, this was the eternal life of God of which he is talking! He is saying that this is real, we saw it and not just saw it but we handled it! It was John you remember that put his head of the bosom of Jesus. He is saying that he knows by experience that these things are so. His hearers my have heard these things, philosophers my speculate on these things but he, John was there. He says further (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and beat witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;). In 2 John I think that we could say that he goes on the offensive, as we read in verse 6;and this is live, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it. 7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an Antichrist. He is making it perfectly clear that Jesus was not just spirit but was here in the flesh. This also helps teach the incarnate nature of Christ because if the teaching all along was that he was simply a man and prophet, then what would be the argument? Many prophets before Jesus had come and gone and all of them had been men in the flesh just as you and I. But of course as the teaching of the nature of Christ being the Word of God made manifest among men, then some begin to say that he could not have therefore been man as well but just looked as a man. But John is making it perfectly clear that Jesus is God in the flesh, yes literal flesh! This is serious enough that John says in verse nine, whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God, He the abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. Verse 10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds. How do we say goodbye to the Jehovah Witnesses when they leave our door? The phrase “goodbye” is a contraction for the words God be with ye. I’ve struggled with how to send on their way politely without being a partaker, that is, blessing them as they depart. I’m sure that none of us would want to be rude, but who wants to bless their ,so called ministry? Lets first obey the word; who knows but that it might just be a point that will reach into those deceived hearts as they see us being obedient to Gods word, even in the little things. But John is clear, we are not to be ecumenical and support a false gospel in our midst. We are not to be so open minded that our brains fall out! Anyone who denies that Christ is Christ, that He came in the flesh; well lets look for a moment at 2 Cor. 15 if we may. Verse 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5 and that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6 after that he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7 After that, he was seen of James ; then of all the apostles. 8 and last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. Paul makes it clear that He was risen. If he was a spirit, then he would not need to be proclaimed as risen. We are not servants of a spirit, but of God incarnate in the flesh! He is fully God and fully man! I don’t want to leave you with a mixed message. I am not preaching a health and wealth gospel. Nor am I preaching a message of selling all you have and entering the monastery. What I am trying to say is that if we have food and raiment to be content! And to be quite frank, if we serve Christ even that is sometimes not guaranteed. As Paul says, in 2 Cor. 6 starting at the third verse, giving no offense in anything, that the ministry be not blamed: but in all things approving ourselves as ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonment, in tulmits, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; by pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeighned, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left. By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown and yet well known; as dying, and ,behold we live; as chastened, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor , yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things. Let us hold fast to the scriptures and not to the teachings of men. Gal. 5:1 Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect in the flesh? Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Our life in the liberty should be reflected by a life in the Spirit as we see in Galatians 5:22 but the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, temperance,: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. And as we’ve already read, if we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.Rather than trying to build our lives around man made doctrines, we should be exercising our gifts from God. For he gave some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some , pastors and teachers; and why for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come into the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. But again remember, as believers, we should not walk in sin; we’re to put off the old man of sin which we read Ephesians 4:20-32, on which I will not comment as I hope in a future message to fully expound. We may not have confidence in the flesh; Philippians 3:2Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of concision. For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

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