Friday, September 11, 2009

"As He Walked"

"Are ye not carnal, and walk as men" (I Corinthians 3:3).
The Apostle Paul provides the most pointed definition of carnality (or fleshliness) in Scripture in his rhetorical question to the Corinthians.

To "walk as men," that is, to live as if we are merely human beings, is the primary meaning of carnality in born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are human, of course, but we are humans inhabited by the Spirit of the living God. "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (I Corinthians 3:16). The remembrance and affirmation of such truth changes everything in our experience of life, and in our practical living out of the wonder that that we are inseparably united to the Lord Jesus.

Take, for example, the common experience of being tired, but nevertheless having responsibilities that must be fulfilled. If our focus is merely on our humanity, we may grudgingly and joylessly attend to our responsibilities. We may do them, but half-heartedly or poorly. Or we may just simply not do them at all. Whichever of these carnal responses is the case, none of them fulfill the way in which believers are meant to live our lives. "Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily as to the Lord" (Colossians 3:23).

If, however, we remember and affirm the reality of our Christ-inhabited being, a new possibility presents itself. We don't deny our human tiredness, but we do determine to avail ourselves to the ever-present power of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. His strength is "made perfect in weakness," and we find ourselves enabled to fulfill our tasks in ways clearly beyond human ability (II Corinthians 12:9). Perhaps most importantly, our attitude changes from one of self-pity, despondency, and grudging weariness to one of great inner rejoicing. Yes, we "walk as men," but as men inhabited by same power that raised the Lord Jesus not simply from tiredness, but from death. "Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers... that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 1:15-16; 18-19).

The Christian life unites the Divine and the human in a wonderful and mysterious relationship that engages the faculties of both parties in the fulfillment of God's will. He determines to be life and power of all godliness, and we commit ourselves to the active faith and submission whereby the Spirit of Christ lives in us, and we live by Him. We walk as human, but as humans inhabited by the Creator of the universe, and the resurrector of His Son from the dead. This is the gift of grace in the Lord Jesus no less than the forgiveness of sin and the promise of eternal life. We are not alone, we will never be alone, and there is in the center of our being a source of life and power that is infinitely greater than any challenge we will ever face. Thereby we walk not as men, but we "walk even as He walked" (I John 2:6).
"Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding, abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us."
(Ephesians 3:20)

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