“ye Are Not In The Flesh”

Oh, the marvelous depths and heights of divine grace! Its depths in embracing us when in our sins and guilt, exposed to the wrath of God, and its heights in bringing us to God in Christ for everlasting blessings. And so truly does Scripture teach the reality of this transition from being in Adam to our present position in the Lord Jesus, that we are now spoken of as “not in the flesh,” “not of the world,” “not under law,” but “in the Spirit,” and “blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph 1:3).

The important question for us is, How far have we received these truths into our hearts? How far have we mixed faith with the truth of God concerning what He has wrought in Christ? The practical point is, do we consistently take our place when consciously dealing with our Father as in the Lord Jesus? Those who have not received this truth may be trying to work themselves into nearness to God and be always disappointed, instead of taking in simple faith the nearness and acceptance in the Lord Jesus which His grace has given us. Those who by faith in the facts take possession of it do rejoice therein, and rest in the Father’s presence. They worship Him, and in measure enter into the wondrous truth of fellowship with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.

But though the believer is not in the flash, he sorrowfully finds that the flesh is in him. He learns through humbling experience to say, “In me, that is in my flesh, dwells no good thing” (Rom 7:18). The great trouble of every growing saint is not so much what he has done as what he is. It is the painful consciousness of having this evil nature—pride, self-will and lust cropping up within, even if it does not come out. And the more his desire to live for the glory of God, the greater his sorrow at the garment being spotted by the flesh. This is his greatest enemy, his constant opponent; and which neither time nor circumstances can improve, so desperately wicked it is, and deceitful above all things. And the more we are occupied with this Adamic life within, the weaker we are toward it, because it becomes an object instead of the Lord Jesus who is our very Christian life.

To be occupied with what the flesh is in its various activities and deceitful workings, is not to be reckoning it to have been crucified and ourselves as new creations dead to it; to be regarding it as an antagonistic force to be overcome*, is to reckon it living. But to be holding it dead in the death of the Lord Jesus, as judicially put to death in His death, and to find all our resources in Him risen and glorified, is to reckon ourselves to have died indeed unto sin, and to be alive unto God in our Lord Jesus Christ. The way of faith is always to look at things from God’s standpoint, to take sides with Him who regards our old man as having been positionally set aside forever in the death of the Cross, and who always sees us complete in His beloved Son, in whom dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

It is quite true that we are the objects of the continual care and discipline of the Father. If we walk after the flesh, instead of after the Spirit, this may call for His loving child-training; but that in no way interferes with the precious truth of our continual acceptance and position in the ascended Lord Jesus, by whose one offering we have been perfected forever (Heb 10:14). The fact is that, through grace, we “are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit” (Rom 8:9), yet the flesh is in us. But our part is to reckon it as having been, before God and to faith, judicially put to death in Christ crucified, and thus to be so constantly occupied with the triumphant Son of God, as to find all our resources, our strength, our springs, in Him.

Happy indeed are those who are occupied with the personal glory and excellencies, finished work, and offices of our Lord Jesus Christ, so as to have always the comfort of their Father’s love, and the joy of their security and completeness in His Beloved, and to be watching and waiting for His coming!

- H H Snell

*My understanding here is that the believer through being in Christ never requires a necessity of considering anything that can cause them to be overcome as concerning their salvation, and not the same as “overcoming evil with good” (Rom 12:21), which passage intends not the overcoming of sin itself, but rather overcoming the evil which results from sin (“overcome the evil man, and the evil he has done you, by doing good to him, by feeding him when hungry, by giving him drink when thirsty, by clothing him when naked, and by doing other offices of kindness and humanity to him” JG). http://www.ewordtoday.com/comments/romans/gill/romans12.htm