The primitive passed by! The fleshly discarded! The soulish ignored! That which is displeasing to God is finished with. “Nothing, consequently, is now condemnation to those in Christ Jesus. Not according to flesh are they walking, but according to spirit, for the spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus frees you from the law of sin and death. . . . You are not in flesh, but in spirit, if so be that God’s Spirit is making its home in you” (Rom.8:1,2,9).
A EULOGY OF FAITH
It is stated of Enoch, in Hebrews 11:5, that “he is attested to have pleased God well,” but, in reality, it is not Enoch as a descendant of Adam that is being praised, but rather Enoch as a man of faith, and in the very next verse it is affirmed that “apart from faith it is impossible to be well pleasing.” Faith is a spiritual quality, given by God.
The whole chapter is, in fact, a eulogy of faith, not of people. None of the characters is being praised for what he does in the flesh; on the contrary, they are headed by Abel, whose name means “Vanity,” and this indicates again the vanity of all that the flesh stands for.
Those in flesh cannot please God, and Abraham, for example, is not commended for his journey into Egypt to escape the pangs of famine, nor is Moses commended for his anger in striking the Egyptian. It is when the Spirit of God is being manifest in their actions that they are recorded as examples of faith, for then they are acting in full accord with His will, and at the prompting of His directions.
So coming back to the question of free choice, and to sum up what we have been saying, we are suggesting that what appears on the surface to be a genuine freedom of decision is in reality not so, but is in fact governed by hidden forces within our very natures—forces that were put there by God Himself when He made humanity what it is—when He created us soulish. A man’s heart may devise his ways, but, when all is said and done, it is the Lord Who directs his steps (Prov.16:9). This direction may be unperceived at the time, but is there nevertheless.
It was there in the case of Jacob and Esau, whose future actions were decided before they were born, in order that God’s purpose might “remain as a choice, not out of acts, but of Him Who is calling” (Rom.9:11).
It was there in the case of Pharaoh, who, unknown to himself, was roused up for the specific purpose that God might display His power in him (Rom.9:17).
It was there in the case of humanity in general—vessels of indignation, made by God for dishonor, and adapted by Him for destruction. It is the Divine Potter Who makes them thus (Rom.9: 21,22).
It is there in the case of the ecclesia, vessels of mercy, made ready before for glory, in whom God is operating “both to will as well as to work for the sake of His delight” (Rom.9:23; Phil.2: 13).
It is there in the case of creation itself, subjected to vanity, “not voluntarily, but because of Him Who subjects it” (Rom.8:20). Creation cannot help itself, that all its achievements are futile because of the slavery of corruption, but we take immense comfort from the fact that, in spite of all its present “groaning and travailing,” it was subjected to vanity in expectation of the eventual realization of that glorious freedom which is now already being enjoyed by the children of God.