Aug 9, 2018

Forgetting the Flesh

I have had a verse from the Bible “stuck” in my head for the past several months. I have been pondering its meaning as I let the words sift through my heart.

The passage is from 2 Corinthians 5:16 where the Apostle Paul wrote;
 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.” (NKJV)

Sounds simple and yet it can be a tall order to no longer regard or judge or evaluate others from a human point of view.

In fact, I would submit it is very hard to do and it is one of the reasons that people never can seem to get a break from their past. We continue to judge people based upon who they were or what they did in the past; no matter how much they have changed.

Society has a difficulty with this. We reason that if a person did something illegally in the past, they are destined to repeat it. “Once a thief, always a thief”.

We have difficulty with this for ourselves. I state emphatically that we are harder on ourselves than others are on us. We are more gracious for others than we are for ourselves. We can’t seem to get a break because we won’t give ourselves a break and let our past go.

Why? Because we continue to see ourselves and others as the same person as the last time we saw them. This is true for friends, coworkers, family and especially the person we see every morning in the bathroom mirror.
Simply put, we have a hard time not seeing the flesh.

This hit home to me recently when Cathy and I went to visit a relative who was in hospice dying. When we walked into his room to see him, Cathy and I couldn’t recognize him. He was dying as his system was shutting down and he no longer looked like the man that I had known since (around) 1972.

Gone was his laughter and the twinkle in his eye. Gone was the smile and quick wittedness that was a hallmark of him all these years.

In fact, we thought at first that we were in the wrong room and double checked the room number because he looked so different.

Inside of his room we were greeted by his sister and brother (who I haven’t seen in almost forty years). They looked the same as my mind looked beyond the marks of time that were etched in their skin. The more I looked at them in the flesh, the more they looked as they hadn’t changed a bit.

His sister said to us; “You two look familiar…” When we told her who we were, she too once again knew us in the flesh.

We commented on how we didn’t recognize him; they agreed as my eyes quickly scanned the photos in the room looking for his familiar face.

I no longer knew him in the flesh; which is a reality that oftentimes hits us at someone’s funeral when the spirit has left their flesh.

So how do we know longer see someone in the flesh while they are here on the earth?

First of all, we need to see with God’s eyes because it takes His eyes (through the Holy Spirit) to see beyond someone else’s flesh…or our own.

Man tends to see with natural eyes and so therefore continues to regard or judge or evaluate others from a human point of view. God does not.

When picking out a king, God told the prophet 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.”
 (1 Samuel 16:7 NKJV)

Secondly, we need the Holy Spirit to know what is going on in a person’s heart or spirit; not the wisdom of the world:
 No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.” (1 Corinthians 2:11-12 NLT)

Thirdly, we need the Holy Spirit to believe with eyes of faith that this person who is now in Christ (and that includes us), is not the same person because they are a new creation.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV) 

Why is this so important? Because our Heavenly Father has an assignment for us all who know Him. He has given us a word that He wants to speak to others through us because are His ambassadors and He is pleading to those who don’t know Him.
Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:18-20 NKJV) 

He wants to use each of us and doesn’t want us to limit what He can do by continuing to see each other and ourselves in the flesh.

How? By receiving the gift of salvation given for all who will ask:
“He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.” (2 Corinthians 5:15 NLT)

How can we be sure?
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:15 NKJV)

So, let’s let go; let’s forget the flesh as we launch out into what God has for each of us today! In Jesus Name; Amen!

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 The Message (MSG)

Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it!

All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing.
 We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.
How? you ask. In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.”

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

The Message (MSG)
Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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