Man is of a dual nature, he has both a physical body and a spiritual one. Moses wrote, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Gen. 2:7). Solomon wrote concerning death, “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (Ecc. 12:7).
The spiritual man must be dedicated to God. Solomon said, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Prov. 3:5). Jesus said, “…Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matt. 22:37). Our servitude to God must be from the heart. Paul wrote, “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you” (Rom. 6:17).
In addition to the spiritual man being dedicated to God, the spiritual man must be guided by God. Thus, though we have free will to obey God or not, if we will be pleasing in God’s sight and heirs to the promises of God, we must conform or shape our spiritual being by what God has instructed in His word. The Lord told His apostles, “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3). And, in His prayer to the Father on behalf on those apostles, He prayed, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17). The apostle Peter recorded, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (I Pet. 1:22-23). With these three passages we see that by way of heeding the word of God we are made clean, sanctified, purified and born again. But, we can add to that list. Paul told Timothy that, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (II Tim. 3:16-17). The word of God is to be our doctrine, it reproves and corrects us, as well as instructing us that we might be a perfect man of God. God is a spirit (John 4:24) and the gospel of Christ is the Spirit of God giving instructions to the spirit of man. Paul pointed out to the Corinthians that the physical senses of man were incapable of revealing the will of God to man (I Cor. 2:9). He then continues, “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (I Cor. 2:10-13). Speaking of the gospel of Christ, Paul told the Romans that, “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:17). The spiritual man must be guided by the word of God.
The physical man must then be guided by the word of God guided spiritual man. Paul wrote, telling the Romans, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:1-2). The actions of the outward man are controlled by the inward man. Jesus said, “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matt. 12:34). This is in perfect harmony with that which Solomon had said many years before, when he wrote, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23). Paul had exhorted to not conform to this world. One cannot let the pleasures of life, the teachings of mere men, the desire for popularity or the lust of the flesh be the directing force for one’s actions. Those things will lead to eternal damnation rather than eternal life. Sin can be pleasurable, no doubt about it. The Hebrew writer spoke of Moses rejecting the “pleasure of sin” (Heb. 11:25). But, the words following said, “for a season” (Heb. 11:25). On the day of judgment, we will be judged by what we have done in our bodies. Paul said, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (II Cor. 5:10). The psalmist said it this way, “Also unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy: for thou renderest to every man according to his work” (Psalm 62:12). Let us be sure to present our bodies a living sacrifice unto God!
Robert Oliver is pastor of The Church of Christ and a long-time columnist for The Sampson Independent. Send any questions or comments to: [email protected]