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Spiritual Infancy

Spiritual Infancy

In my last post we were talking about the difference between spiritual laws and physical laws. Today I want to review a little bit, so we can see the progression through the book of Romans.

Here’s the verse we left off on.

We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.

Romans 7:14

Remember how Paul brought us to this point. In his letter, he started by talking about ungodly sinners with no knowledge of God. He also talked about those who were actively anti-God.

His next subject was religious people. These are the ones who think rules will get you to God.

He then shared about the principles of salvation. He explained how Christ set us free from death, sin, and the law.

At that point, everything he talked about was theoretical and positional. It was all about the finished work of Christ that He accomplished through His death on the cross and His resurrection.

But now, we’re getting to the important part. How is all of this applied to my life in practice?

Paul starts by talking about how we can offer ourselves as a paid volunteers of sin. We saw that when you offer to work for sin, sin will pay you wages.

In any job you’re selling yourself to the company for your paycheck. We basically say, “I’m yours, I’ll do what you tell me for a price.”

Actually, this wasn’t the normal lifestyle until the industrial age. Until then, most people worked for themselves.

So, we’re now at the point in Romans where Paul is talking about Christians who are working for sin. There’s a Scriptural word for that.

Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly – mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?

1 Corinthians 3:1-3

The word translated as worldly in this verse is actually the word, carnal or fleshly. It means that they serve God according to the dictates of their flesh.

The apostle equates this with being a spiritual infant. This tells me that every Christian goes through the carnal phase. But the real question is; for how long? The goal should be to get through this infancy as quickly as possible.

We need to understand that this is who he’s talking about at this point in Romans – infant Christians.

And that brings us to, probably, one of the most misunderstood and most misquoted passages of the New Testament. It’s used as excuse for all kinds of sinful lifestyles.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

Romans 7:15-20

Christians who want to stay in their infant stage pull this out of context and say, “Look at this! Even Paul didn’t do right. So don’t judge me.”

What they don’t understand is that Paul was talking from the perspective of an infant Christian. This is not supposed to be the normal Christian life.

In my next post, we’ll begin looking at this section of Scripture in great detail. We’ll see exactly what Paul was trying to get across to us.

Question: How have you seen your Christian walk progress through the infant stage?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2021 in Legalism, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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Spiritual Planning

As we continue through Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church, we see an interesting admission.  Paul has to apologize to them for not being able to complete a visit that he had scheduled with them.

I think that it can be a lesson to us all.

Because I was confident of this, I planned to visit you first so that you might benefit twice.  I planned to visit you on my way to Macedonia and to come back to you from Macedonia, and then to have you send me on my way to Judea.  When I planned this, did I do it lightly? Or do I make my plans in a worldly manner so that in the same breath I say, “Yes, yes” and “No, no”?  But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not “Yes” and “No.”
2 Corinthians 1:15-18

Paul had to clear up this misunderstanding so that the church would understand the difference between his plans and his message.  The word, planned, in the above verse actually means to be willing.

So Paul is saying that he was confident about his ability to get there and he was willing to go as well.  His goal was to visit them twice as he traveled to and from Macedonia.

Paul makes it clear that he doesn’t plan his trips lightly.  He takes everything into consideration.

Even more than that, he literally says that he does not make plans in a fleshly manner.  Paul always strove to operate in the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit.  He had made this planned visit after much prayer.

He didn’t approach his ministry with a frivolous attitude.  He didn’t think, “I’ll tell them I’m coming for a visit, but I’ll play it by ear.  We’ll see while we’re on the road whether I want to go there or not.”

We need to learn the lesson of submitting our plans to the Lord.  It’s not a matter of making our plans first, then asking God to bless it.  It’s all about finding God will first.  Then we know the plan is blessed already.

James understood this and wrote about it.

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”  As it is, you boast and brag.  All such boasting is evil.
James 4:13-16

When James says that you boast and brag, it literally means that you rejoice in your self-confidence.  That’s the key to what he’s speaking of; SELF-confidence.  When we’re confident in what we can achieve, we usually forget about God and His desire for our lives.

One of the problems in translating is that there’s not much punctuation in the original Greek.  There’s sometimes more than one way to read a verse depending on which word you emphasize.

I believe that, in the context of what James is saying here, a better way of reading the first line is, “Instead, you ought to speak if it’s the Lord’s will, and live, and do this or that.”

It’s all about spending time with the Lord, knowing His will, and then speaking about what He’s told us to do.  If you’re going to do something, do it because you feel led by the Holy Spirit.

Question: What plan has the Holy Spirit given you as you’ve spent time in His presence?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2020 in Ministry, Prayer, Spiritual Walk

 

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Spiritual Believers

DoveIf we want God’s best, then we need to develop a rich spiritual life. Unfortunately, in this generation there are not many examples to follow.

The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
1 Corinthians 2:14

The phrase man without the Spirit is literally the soulish man in Greek. The New Testament actually speaks of three different kinds of Christians. This is one of those described.

First, there is the carnal or fleshly Christian. This is the type of believer who serves God according to the way he or she feels. If I feel like going to church, I’ll go. If not I’ll stay home. Their flesh is in control of every decision they make. Carnal Christians are very nominal at best.

Next there’s the soulish or natural Christian, depending upon the translation of the Bible you use. This kind of Believer serves God because he or she has made a conscious decision to serve Him. They have decided that the Lord’s way is best no matter what they feel like.

They will give their best for the Lord because they believe it’s the right thing to do. They serve the Lord with all of their soul. They are very strong in their faith, and they can accomplish a lot for the kingdom of heaven.

There is, however, another class of believer spoken of in the Word of God. That’s the spiritual Christian. He or she is the believer who lives their life by using their spirit to its fullest extent in their interaction with God.

This is the one that we either hear very little about or we mistake it for a soulish Christian who is doing great works for Christ. Over the years we have redefined many of the terms used in the Scripture. It’s time to straighten out the rough spots. In the above passage, Paul makes a clear distinction between a spiritual and soulish Christian.

According to Paul, the soulish person cannot understand life in the spirit. The Greek literally says the he does not have the power to accept them. The apostle actually uses the Greek word dunamis in this verse.

A soulish believer does not have the dunamis – the power – to receive the things that can only come by the Spirit. This person is left to rely upon earthly means of communication to receive what he needs from the Lord. This is because, as Paul writes, these things are spiritually investigated.

I want to take a few posts to talk about what Paul describes as a spiritual Christian.

Question: How far do you venture into your spiritual life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2016 in Prayer in the Spirit, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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