Only Two Roads to Travel

Paul says, “…the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.” Rom. 14:17-18. “For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth” – “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Eph. 5:9; Gal. 5:22-23. “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Gal. 5:25. “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify [control] the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” Rom. 8:13-14.

The way of the Lord is actually so plain that even a small child should be able to understand it! As an old song says, “there are two ways for travelers, only two ways.” One is the way of the “flesh,” and the other is the way of the “Spirit.” “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” Rom. 8:6. We choose daily which way we will take. We can either mortify [control] the deeds of the body through the Spirit, and thus chose life, or we can live after [the desires of] the flesh, and thus die. The “fruit” we bear reveals whether our soul is in a state of spiritual life or a state of spiritual death. Those who make allowance for the works of the flesh “shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Gal. 5:21c. God has given us all the members of our body to either use righteously to His honor and glory or unto sin. Jesus tells us that we will give account of every idle word we speak, and that we are justified or condemned even by the way we use the tongue (Matt. 12:36-37). The matter of keeping the deeds of the body mortified [controlled] through the Spirit is crucial when it comes to believers retaining eternal life and salvation. “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” Rom. 6:12-13.

To live and walk in the Spirit means to have our manner of life and conduct in harmony with God’s Spirit through obedience to His Word – to keep our body constantly yielded to God and righteousness. The Spirit and the Word operate jointly. If we disobey the Word, we are no longer walking in the Spirit. God only gives His Spirit “to them that obey Him” (Acts 5:32). The Word of God is the “sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6:17), and with the sword of God’s Word the Spirit divides between righteousness and unrighteousness, life and death. The Spirit ceases to seal anyone who willfully disobeys the Word, because the Spirit operates in agreement with the Word. The Holy Spirit will exit the body of any child of God who willfully disobeys His Word, yields to temptation, and defiles his body with sin. Sin breaks the seal of salvation, because the Holy Spirit can NEVER indwell an unholy temple. As many as cease to be led by the Spirit of God, they cease to be the sons of God.

Some people erroneously interpret Phil. 3:21 to teach that Christians will always have a “sinful body” until the time of Christ’s second coming. They think that when Christ comes again He will then do away with sin in our flesh, but until then we will always have a sinful body. The text reads: “Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” But the translation of the word “vile” in Phil. 3:21 comes from a completely different Greek word than “vile” as translated in Rom. 1:26, where Paul speaks of “vile affections.” While “vile” in Rom. 1:26 comes from the Greek word “atimia,” meaning “infamy, disgrace, dishonor, reproach, shame,” etc., “vile” in Phil. 3:21 comes from the Greek word “tapeinosis,” meaning “depression (in rank or feeling) – humiliation, made low” or of “low estate,” and has no reference to sin or sinfulness whatsoever! You may observe that in Romans 12:16, which reads, “Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate,” the word “low” comes from the same Greek root word as “vile” in Phil. 3:21. So it is clear that “vile body” in Phil. 3:21 is referring to our lowly, corruptible, earthly body versus Christ’s glorified, incorruptible, celestial body, and has no reference at all to Christians having a sinful body. In no way does it excuse sin in the flesh; conversely, the New Testament teaches throughout that Jesus Christ “condemned sin in the flesh” and provided a plan of salvation that would transform us from walking after the flesh to walking after the Spirit (see Rom. 8:1-14), that we should glorify God in our body and in our spirit (1 Cor. 6:20), “be holy both in body and in spirit” (1 Cor. 7:34), and have sanctifying grace to preserve our whole spirit, soul, and body blameless unto His coming (1 Thes. 5:23-24).

There will be no hope for anyone who is found with a sinful body at Christ’s second coming! [See Rev. 22:11-12.] To enter Heaven we must “be found of him … without spot, and blameless” (2 Pet. 3:14b), because “there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth” (Rev. 21:27a). And only “he that overcometh” shall inherit it (Rev. 21:7).

So if we wish to maintain the hope of the gospel, we must “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14) and, through obedience to His holy Word, purify ourselves “even as He is pure” (1 John 3:3b). We must offer our body (with all its members) a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is our reasonable service (Rom. 12:1), especially since Christ offered His body a sacrifice for us. This is not just something that would be a nice thing for us to do if we feel pious enough, but it is a gospel requirement! “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit which are God’s.” 1 Cor. 6:20. As the words of two precious old hymns express so well:

“Since Jesus gave His life for me Should I not give Him mine?

I’m consecrated, Lord, to Thee, I shall be wholly Thine.

My all, O Lord, to Thee I’ll give, Accept it as Thine own;

For Thee alone I’ll ever live, My heart shall be Thy throne.

– Mildred E. Howard

“Jesus has taken my load of sin, Such love no tongue can tell;

Then should I not resign to Him My life and all my will?

Can I behold the dear Savior’s death, And yet withhold a part?

Oh, can I draw one selfish breath, And not give all my heart?

Reason and justice, my debt of love, Demand that I should be,

Body and spirit and all I have, Devoted, Lord, to Thee.

We must be holy as He is pure, For this the Savior died;

Talents and time and all earthly store, To God be sanctified.

Holy, dear brethren, we must be holy, Living before the Throne;

Self and possessions, All must be truly Given to God alone.”

– D. S. Warner

These words are not merely the expressions of gifted poets and songwriters, but they are a declaration of New Testament doctrine. If we fall short of this we miss the mark. Christians are “called to be saints” (Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Thes. 2:13-14, etc.). According to the teaching of the New Testament throughout, all true Christians (real followers of Jesus) ARE SAINTS. Salvation makes us “partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light,” delivers us “from the power of darkness,” and translates us “into the kingdom of his [God’s] dear Son.” (See Col. 1:12-13.)

However, if we choose to allow our body to sin, that choice translates us from being a saint to a sinner, from light to darkness, from life to death, and from God’s kingdom to Satan’s kingdom. What does God’s Word declare? “…Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” James 1:15. “He that committeth sin is of the devil; … In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God…” 1 John 3:8a, 10. “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” Rom. 6:16. When we yield our “members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin” (Rom. 6:13), we make ourselves a child of the devil and a servant of sin. Jesus plainly told us, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.” John 8:34. This is a very simple truth! It is just as simple as the Holy Spirit spoke it to king Asa through God’s servant Azariah: “Hear ye me … The LORD is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.” 2 Chronicles 15:2.

Why does yielding to temptation bring forth sin unto spiritual death? (James 1:15.) It is because the principle of evil (the law of sin) lies behind any willful act of disobedience. Before partaking of the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve had only the knowledge of good. But by their choice to disobey God they gained the knowledge of evil along with their knowledge of good. A principle was thereby introduced to their moral nature that they had not known up until that point. In the gaining of the knowledge of evil (the law of sin) they were also introduced to the law of death. They spiritually died that day just as God told them they surely would if they disobeyed (Gen. 2:17). By their disobedience, the law (or principle) of sin and death passed upon all mankind (Rom. 5:12-21). Nothing short of “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” has ever been able to counteract “the law of sin and death” that has captivated man’s moral nature and to liberate him from the principle of evil (Rom. 8:2). For a Christian to once again willingly yield his body to sin and the principle of evil that lies behind sinning, after the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has freed him from sin’s bondage, is to again subject himself to the law of death that accompanies the principle of evil, or law of sin. By sending His Son to free us from the law of sin and death, God did not take away the law of death that is associated with sin. The law of death will hold just as true if you choose to sin as will the law of gravity if you choose to jump from a rooftop! Our freedom from the law of sin and death comes only through obedience to the “law of the Spirit of life” that is in His Son. Those who teach that a Christian can sin by volitional intent and remain saved and still be an heir of eternal life are contradicting a fundamental law of God.