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God’s Will and Counsel
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In Paul’s letter to the Romans, this conflict between flesh and spirit is one of the main themes, and in the seventh chapter the apostle describes how this conflict was operating within himself. He willed to do one thing, yet the flesh was continually pulling him back, so that he was putting into practice things that he was not willing to do. And the important point was that the flesh was winning; so much so that, in despair, he asks “What will rescue me out of this body of death?” Thank God that there is an answer, though it is omitted from the King James (Authorized) Version: Grace! “I thank God,” says the apostle, “through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Consequently, then, I myself, with the mind, indeed, am slaving for God’s law, yet with the flesh for Sin’s law” (Rom.7:24,25).  

The flesh was created for Sin—it was created to miss the mark, to fall short of God’s glory, to fail to please God—and Adam, created fleshly, a living soul, could not help but fall short of God’s requirements. And neither could Israel help but fall short, as regards the God-given law. Not one of them could keep the law because of the inherent soulish qualities of the flesh that prevented them from attaining to God’s standards. And neither can we help but fall short of God’s standard of righteousness because of the same inherent soulish qualities of the flesh. Without exception, in the flesh, all have sinned and are wanting of the glory of God (Rom.3:23). How charitable we should be to each other!

THE LAST ADAM

But there has been One, Who has come in the likeness of sin’s flesh, yet Who was not soulish, but Whose being was completely controlled and dominated by the Spirit of God. The last Adam was a vivifying Spirit. Though He came in the likeness of sin’s flesh, He knew no sin; yet He became Sin for our sakes that we might be becoming God’s righteousness in Him (2 Cor.5:21). The flesh was made for Sin, and the flesh fulfilled its most vital function in God’s purpose when it became the vehicle in which God’s own Son could become Sin for the sake of those who had been created through Him and for Him.  

The first man, Adam, was soulish, and as such could not please God. It was not Adam’s fault; it was how he was made. The last Adam was quite different. He was a vivifying Spirit; and, though He came in the likeness of sin’s flesh, He was, in fact, the One in Whom God was well pleased—in Whom He delighted. The first Adam walked according to the flesh; the last Adam walked according to spirit.

THE OLD AND THE NEW HUMANITY

Humanity as a whole continues to walk according to the flesh; man remains soulish, and as such cannot understand the things which are of the Spirit of God, for they are stupidity to him, and he is not able to know them, seeing that they are spiritually examined (1 Cor.2:14). The majority of men have not, as yet, been given God’s Spirit to discern His ways. They will receive of His Spirit later on, when the earth is filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Hab.2:14), but for now, the Scriptures are speaking of those who are chosen and called to be believers. These are truly in a privileged position, for they are, in God’s sight, delivered from their bodies of flesh in which they cannot please God, into a new humanity—a new creation, in which God can take delight. Let us note Paul again in 2 Corinthians 5:16-18, “So that we, from now on, are acquainted with no one according to flesh. Yet even if we have known Christ according to flesh, nevertheless now we know Him so no longer. So that, if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: the primitive passed by. Lo! there has come new! Yet all is of God, Who conciliates us to Himself through Christ.”  

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