Not of the Will of the Flesh

John 1:9-13 ESV

“The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”

The True Light

The true light is Jesus Christ, the Son of God (and God the Son), the second person of our triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He left his throne in heaven, came to earth, was born in the likeness of men, began his earthly ministry at around the age of 30, and became obedient to death on a cross, at the hands of his enemies, at around the age of 33 (See: Php 2:5-11).

During his years of ministry on the earth he healed the sick and afflicted, raised the dead, comforted the sorrowful, delivered people from demons, fed the hungry, and performed many miracles. He also preached repentance and obedience for the forgiveness of sins and for eternal life with God, and he taught that we must forsake all to follow him (Lu 9:23-26; Lu 14:25-33).

The crowds loved him for his miracles, for feeding their stomachs, and for the many healings he performed, but when he began to preach the cost of following him, many who had been following him deserted him, not to return, for they felt his teaching was too hard. For, he was teaching that we must eat his flesh and drink his blood to have eternal life (Jn 6:35-58).

Now, Jesus wasn’t teaching that we must literally eat his flesh and drink his blood, but that we must participate (partake) with him in his death to sin and in his suffering for the sake of the gospel. We must die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness, for if we are genuinely saved, we have been delivered from our slavery to sin so we may now be his slaves.

Now we are to walk (in conduct) according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh. Sin should no longer be our master, for we are slaves of whoever or whatever we obey, and if it be sin, it ends in death, but if it be obedience, it ends in eternal life with God. If we sow to please the flesh, we will die in our sins, but if we sow to please the Spirit, we have eternal life.

[Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10, 19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 3:4-10]

His Own did not Receive Him

Jesus Christ is God. He is our creator God. He was with God in the beginning, and all things were made through him (Jn 1:1-4). But when he came into the world, conceived of the Holy Spirit, and born as a baby to a human mother, and he grew to be a man, and he began his earthly ministry, his own people did not accept him for who he is.

They did not receive him as their Lord and Messiah, though some did. And to “receive” him is not mere words said or an intellectual assent to who he was and is, but it is to accept what is offered, and what is offered is Jesus Christ as our Lord (owner-master) and Messiah (Savior from our bondage to sin).

To receive him is to accept, to embrace, and to apply to our lives who he is and what he did for us. And this isn’t just about him dying so our sins can be forgiven so we can go to heaven when we die. This is about surrendering our lives to Jesus, making him our Lord and Savior, dying with him to sin, and living to him and to his righteousness in obedience to his commands.

Even though Jesus Christ is the promised seed of Abraham through whom all nations will be blessed (and are being blessed), and the Jewish people knew that their Messiah was to come, and they were waiting for him, most of them did not receive him as their Messiah. They did not embrace him as their master (Lord) and their deliverer from their slavery to sin.

But to All Who Receive Him

Many people today are teaching a diluted gospel, one which has been altered, and which appeals to human flesh. And so, they are teaching that to receive Jesus is mere words we say or a mere profession or confession of him as Lord, or a mere acknowledgment of who he is and of what he did for us in dying on that cross for our sins.

But Jesus taught that to come after him means to deny self, to take up our cross daily (to die daily to sin and to self) and to follow (obey) him. He said, basically, if we hold on to our lives of living for sin and self, that we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives for his sake (if we die with him to sin and to self) that we will have eternal life (Lu 9:23-26; cf. Rom 8:1-17).

Paul taught the same thing, that we must die with Christ to sin, be transformed in heart and mind, and that we must live to Christ and to his righteousness, no longer walking (in conduct) according to the flesh, but now walking (in practice) according to the Spirit. For, he said if walk according to the flesh, we will die in our sins, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, then we will live (Rom 8:1-17).

For, the truth that is in Christ Jesus teaches us that we must put off our old self, which belongs to our former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, that we are to be renewed in the spirit of our minds, and that we are to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (See Eph 4:17-24).

And none of this is of ourselves, of our own flesh, for we can’t even come to genuine faith in Jesus Christ unless the Father first draws us to Christ, and he persuades us as to his holiness and righteousness, and of our sinfulness, and of our need to repent of our sins and to follow our Lord Jesus in obedience (Jn 6:44; Eph 2:8-10; Heb 12:1-2).

So, we can’t become children of God through physical birth, nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. Therefore, our salvation and our faith have to align with God’s word (the whole counsel of God) regarding all teaching on the gospel and on salvation from sin and on eternal life with God, in context. It must be of God, and not of our flesh.

Therefore, we will submit our lives over to Jesus Christ in surrender to his will and his purpose for our lives, we will forsake our lives of living for sin and for self, and we will follow our Lord Jesus in obedience to his truth and to his ways which he has set out for us to live by – all by God’s grace, in his strength and power, and according to the will of God.

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” Titus 2:11-14 ESV

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer

Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

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