New writing project – not knowing after the flesh

July 26, 2015
Patty and I watched a video from the Charis Bible College today that spoke many things I have been thinking lately some of which are in my recent writing project. I’ve decided for now to put pieces of that project here as I go – unless I change my mind.

We have been watching the CBC healing school online for some time and attended in person a year ago. Patty, who was diagnosed with Lupus in 1980 was prayed for there and has been improving in health and energy ever since.

The link to what we saw today is:

July 28, 2015: After writing the things below, last night Patty and I watched a week’s worth of Andrew Wommack’s study of the Bible’s book of Romans. The depth of his teaching on chapter eight blends so well with the understanding of not knowing after the flesh. See:

and now the writing project:

The Power of Knowing No Persons After the Flesh

I know it may not be easy for you, but can you imagine being a little white boy growing up on a 1940s-50s Kansas farm? Most of life was with the animals, the farm equipment, Mom, Dad, and brothers. It was life without a lot of anger; swearing wasn’t practiced or allowed. Mom’s washing dirty mouths with soap enforced that rule. When neighboring farmers came to help with harvesting and hay baling, they were all white. I knew that a black farmer existed, but he was miles away in another community. Our little town, Americus, for a time had one black man; otherwise our town and our school had nothing but white people. Our sports teams played other similar little towns, so I never competed with or against a black person until I attended The College of Emporia beginning in 1960.

Our farm was a spot often visited by neighbor kids and town kids because we had a pond right behind our barn. The muddy water, the slimy bottom, the shore weeds, and the occasional water snake deterred us not. But, imagine our delight when we got to go to the big city of Emporia and swim in the big, clean pool with three levels of diving boards – country kid heaven. Because all of my experience was white kids, I had no idea and gave no thought to the fact that the pool was off limits to black kids. I did not know that an Emporia drug store had seating for white people in front and black people in back.

What a change I jumped into after being recruited to play football at The College of Emporia. The preseason practices suddenly found me in the midst of 80 strong and fast men of several races. My whole high school had only 63 students. Quite a few other small-town white boys mixed in who had little idea of what life had been like for the rest. We assumed life was the same for everybody, but we began to learn. A particularly memorable experience that gets talked about to this day when old teammates gather is the day several of us visited a restaurant on the west side of Emporia. All trooped in and sat down only to have the waitress tell our black teammate that he would have to go to the back to eat. Without equivocation, all rose up and walked out. It has seemed to me that the unity created among us that day had something to do with three championship seasons two of which our team finished the season ranked fourth in the N.A.I.A., the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.

Our College of Emporia faculty and student family welcomed, appreciated, and celebrated the diversity of races and foreign students on our campus. My freshmen year, the student body made a statement of that by choosing Vessie Ware, a black girl, to be Homecoming Queen. Perhaps the issues of differences were diminishing at our little college, but that was not the case in the rest of the country and world. I yet remember the 1965 Watts race riots in L.A. and the 1965 race riot in Denver. I was teaching in Denver the years on each side of those summer riots. Race riots were not totally new to Denver. In 1880, Denver was just one of the many places that held race riots against the Chinese. I yet remember the tension one could feel just driving into the city center of Denver at night. So, through these many years since the 1960s, I have watched group after group suffering hatred and discrimination and no end of other groups doing the hating and discriminating. How many there are who feel the hatred and disrespect of others and how many there are who hate and disrespect others! The natural world and the natural human are in a trap from which there is no escape unless . . . unless . . . unless . . . they learn the power of knowing no person after the flesh.

A person reading this may get the idea, “Oh, boy, if I can just understand this and share it with others, this world will be a better place.” Not going to work – this will only work for those who can understand some Scripture and the ways of the Spirit of God. The power here is real, is supernatural, and cannot be appropriated by the natural mind even though it may seem sensible for a season.

Our starting Scripture is found at 2 Corinthians 5:16 in the Bible:

Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. – 2 Corinthians 5:16 (NKJV)

Knowing Jesus After the Spirit

Hundreds of times, I have heard teachers paraphrase this verse by saying, “From now on we no longer regard others after the flesh, but after the spirit,” or by saying, “We now know no man after the flesh, but after the spirit.” The first Christians knew Jesus after the flesh. They saw a comely looking, bearded Jew. They saw Jesus’ workings of His soul, His emotions, His thinking, His physical actions. They saw His clothing, His manner of speaking, His earthly wealth, His smell after an anointing and after a long day’s walk, His tones of voice, His anger at the corrupt temple money changers, the feel of His hands as He washed feet, His disdain for and judgment of the self-righteous, His intellect, His speaking with authority and wisdom, His quiet endurance before his torturers and crucifiers, His wry smile when He kidded others, His interactions with people of all types, His sleeping spots, His resting spots, His praying spots, His eating spots and His laugh and walk. When I was coaching football, I could see any of my players walking from 200 yards away and immediately know who they were. Many knew Jesus that way, too. His flesh was as distinctive as any other human. Seeing Him according to His Spirit was a whole different matter.

Seeing Jesus or anyone else “after the spirit” could only come later when faith came, when the Holy Spirit came. The first believers who knew Jesus before His resurrection started to see Him differently. There was a transition from when they saw Him before the resurrection through when the 500 or more saw Him during the days before He bodily ascended back to Heaven. The written records of His post-resurrection-pre-ascension life are most interesting. So Jesus’ friends who enjoyed observing His unusual pre-ascension body and heard His last announcement of what He would do days after He left, had great reason to be confident in waiting in the upper room together until the promise of the Father came, the moment about which John the Baptist had prophesied that this Jesus would be the mighty One who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. Jesus said that this coming baptism in the Holy Spirit would empower them to spread the gospel all over the world. Jesus said “to Jerusalem, to Judea, and to the uttermost parts of the world.” Jesus is still baptizing, and those who receive His baptism with the Holy Spirit are still spreading the good news of His prophesied life, substitutionary death, burial, resurrection, and His ascension to the right hand of God in Heaven. It’s the old story that God loved every human so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross in every sinner’s place and that the only response He pleads from each of us is that we each believe on this prophesied Jesus and receive eternal life.

Let me see whether I can lay some groundwork now to help us see how it is that Jesus was only seen after the flesh in His earthly life but can now be seen after the Spirit in His Heavenly life. It is helpful to study Scriptures enough to understand that God describes us with five basic aspects of our nature: body, flesh, soul, heart, and spirit. Those five aspects show a progression of our relationship to the world toward our relationship to God. The body is in direct contact with earth; the spirit inhabited by the Holy Spirit is in direct contact with God. Generally, Scripture reveals the flesh as the interface between body and soul. The flesh cannot be spiritual because it has no contact with the spirit. The flesh is always earthy. The only way the flesh can express the truly holy and spiritual is when the soul is in submission to the born-again spirit. The Scriptures generally point out that the soul is the combination of the mind, the will, and the emotions. Not always, but generally when the Scriptures speak of the heart, an examination with show it to be the interface between the soul and spirit. The heart is a deep part of man. When the spirit is still in the fallen, unregenerate state, the heart can be religious; but it can never be truly spiritual and holy as God is holy. The spirit of the man is still unresponsive and dead toward God’s Spirit. The natural man can never recognize God’s spirit, his own spirit, or another’s spirit. Everything that seems spiritual to the natural man stays in the realm of philosophy, religion, and emotion.

Can you see that any progression of awareness that begins with the body finds its end at the unspiritual heart? Earthy, natural religion that can take into view only the physical and the mental is locked out of the truly spiritual. It can be nothing but a mix of religion, philosophy, and emotion. The awareness that begins with the acceptance and reception of the indwelling Spirit of Jesus starts a movement of God’s Spirit through the five aspects of man to bless a fallen world. The heart, the interface of soul and spirit, is alive to the influence of God’s Spirit who inhabits that human spirit. Where there can be no flow from the body to God, there can be flow from God through the body to the world. However, there is a hindrance to the flow: the resistance of the soul. The soul is the intermediary between God and the world. The soul can be insistent on a fleshly way of pleasure or a spiritual way of pleasure. Just as Jesus died to His fleshly desires and lived a crucified life doing only what He saw His Father do and saying only what His Father said even to the point of His own death, so are we called to die daily that He may live through us.

Before we start to examine how we see others and ourselves after the spirit and not the flesh, let us look at Jesus after the spirit and not as we have earlier described His earthly life in the flesh. First, we know Him through the Scriptures, the Word, the prophecies of His first and second coming. We see that He is called the Word and the life and goes by many other names as well. His is the name above all names; in Him is the fullness of the Godhead bodily. We see the glimpses of Him in Heaven and at the last days events where He is no more a creature of flesh. We see His character in the descriptions of His agape love as seen in 1 Corinthians 13. We see his ministry of baptizing believers with the Holy Spirit and His giving the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We see the Spirit of Jesus communicating with earthly followers and realize that He is Emmanuel, God with us, who is here to be our personal friend all through this life. We know and experience that Jesus is a spirit and cannot be fully divided from the Spirit of God and from the Holy Spirit. Jesus is part of the mystery of three in one. We learn that we need not walk in the futility of our minds, not in the futility of our own thinking, not in the flesh, but we can walk in the Spirit. Yes, we no longer see Him in the flesh but fully as Spirit.

The Power of Not Knowing Others by Their Flesh

Let us now consider further the power of knowing others by their spirits and not their flesh. Knowing that we are all eternal spirits attached to souls that live in a body, let us examine what is of the soul-body. In the soul-body we see the physical appearance, the education or lack thereof, the wealth or lack thereof, the earthly authority or lack thereof, the strength or lack thereof, the interpersonal skills or lack thereof. With our own soul-bodies we recognize the characteristics of every other soul-body we meet. However, knowing that you are a spirit, you never fear what another soul-body can do to you. You are beyond their touching your spirit. When you first believed, God joined His Spirit with yours and you became a new creature destined for eternal life with Him. Although you struggle to fathom that reality, the Scriptures tell you that you now know all things, that the anointing will teach your soul all things, and that the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead is alive within you. Because you understand this, you really do know that other humans may be able to kill your body, but they are helpless to affect your eternal spirit. There is great power when one internalizes Jesus’ words of Matthew 10:28: “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” The power of this knowing is boldness and fearlessness before mere humans.

The Power of Not Knowing Yourself After the Flesh
As the sling of the slingshot needs a steady strong Y, so the vision of another’s spirit needs the visioner’s view from within. Know thyself without all the fluff of the flesh. It is written that a person should not think more highly of himself than he ought. See yourself as God sees you. Is God impressed with your stature in any endeavor of your body and soul? God picked out Israel’s most revered king. On what basis did God choose him. The record of Scripture reports at 1 Samuel 16:7:

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

Is God impressed and should you be impressed by your own earthly accomplishments and developed qualities of body and soul? You know; 2 Chronicles 16:9 reports:

“For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. . . .”

If you have read thus far and have understood these things and that within yourself you are less than nothing when compared to God, perhaps you really are a born-again spirit capable of understanding the deeper things of Hebrews 6 and following. If reading this is increasingly mumbo jumbo, perhaps you need to check whether you really do have faith; and, if having faith, need to learn all over again the basics listed in Hebrews 5 that I’ve summarized in my book, A Deeper Life Primer: An Antidote to Shallow Living. Not the natural man but only the truly spiritual man can understand these deeper things of the Spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:10-15 tells us:

But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know all the things that have been freely given to us by God.

These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

The next two verses of chapter three say:

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?

Galatians 3:28 Jew nor Greek

Romans 8:3-11
For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

1 Peter 3:3-4
Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.

Galatians 3:26-28
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Don – “the power of seeing past the flesh into the spirit”

We look past the curtain into the holy place, past others flesh into their spirits, past our own flesh into our spirits, past Jesus flesh into His Spirit, Past Jesus’ flesh into God’s Spirit.

2 Corinthians 5:16

Just more notes added New Years Day 2016:Richard Cory
By Edwin Arlington Robinson

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
‘Good-morning,’ and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich – yes, richer than a king –
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.

Del sat in my graduate theology class in his three-piece suit using four-syllable words as easily as Professor Dr. Howard Ervin, author of These Are Not Drunken as ye Suppose, used five-syllalble words. Del appeared to be near forty, had been a United Methodist pastor for many years, and was from a family line of Methodist pastors. Del’s slim physique, bright teeth, neatly cut and trimmed hair, smooth face, and easy manner, no doubt, made him a sightly asset to his big congregation.

The site for the Andrew Murray/William Law online book of The Power of the Spirit is here:

From page 127 of the above book:
This natural man is only another name for the wisdom of this world; but thought he cannot know the things that be of God, yet he can know their names, and learn to speak that which the saints of God have spoken about them. He can make profession of them, be eloquent in their praise, and set them forth in such a desirable view, as shall make them quite agreeable to the children of worldly wisdom. This is the natural man, who having got into the Church, and Church power, has turned the things of God into things of this world. Had this man been kept out of the Church, the Church had kept its first purity to this day; for the fallen state is nothing else but its fall into the hands of the natural man of this world. And when this is the state of the Church, the wisdom of this world (which always loves its own) will be in love with it, will spare not cost to maintain it, will make laws, fight battles in defence of it, and condemn every man as heretical, who dares speak a word against this glorious image of a church, which the wisdom of this world has set up.
This is the great Antichrist, which is neither better or worse, not anything else, but the spirit of Satan working against Christ, in the strength and subtlety of earthly wisdom.

From pages 137-8
What now is become of this true church, or where must the man go, who would fain be a living member of it? He need go nowhere; because wherever he is, that which is to save him, and that which he is to be saved from, is always with him. Self is all the evil that he has, and God is all the goodness that he ever can have; but self is always with him, and God is always with him. Death to self is his only entrance into the church of life, and nothing but God can give death to self. Self is an inward life, and God is an inward Spirit of life; therefore nothing kills that which must be killed in us, or quickens that which must come to life in us, but the inward work of God in the soul, and the inward work of the soul in God. This is that mystic religion, which, though it has nothing in it but the same spirit, that same truth, and that same life, which always was, and always must be the religion of all God’s holy angels and saints in heaven, is by the wisdom of this world accounted to be madness. As wisely done, as to reckon him mad, who says, that the vanity of things temporal cannot be, or give life to the things that are eternal; or that the circumcision of the flesh is but as poor a thing as the whetting the knife, in comparison of that inward mystic circumcision of the heart, which is sharper than any two-edged sword, and pierces to the dividing asunder of the soul and spirit.” (Heb. Iv. 12). No fancy yourself a Rabbi-doctor, laughing at this circumcision of the two-edged sword of God, as gospel madness, and then you see the very same Christian orthodoxy, which at this day condemns the inward working life of God in the soul, as mystic madness.

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