By Femi Aribisala
“The things of men are the things of Satan”.
hristians do not love God. We are not interested in the kingdom of God. Instead, we love life. We love this world. We are lovers of pleasure. We do not want to suffer for Christ’s sake and for the sake of the kingdom of God.
We love money, worship money, and serve money. We have idols in our hearts. We want to gain this world and the world to come. We want to have our cake and eat it too.
Making godly choices
But choices must be made. We either choose life and live, or we choose death and die. We either hate this life and live, or we love this life and die. Do we want this life, or do we want the life to come? We cannot have both.
Are we living for this world, or are we living for the world to come? Are we living for man, or are we living for God? Are we living for the flesh, or are we living for the Spirit? Are our treasures on earth, or are they in heaven? Do we want the life we have, or do we want the life Jesus wants to give us?
God kills before he makes alive. He does not put new wine in old bottles. The spiritual man is not a reformed man. The spiritual man is a completely new creation. He is the man birthed by the Spirit of God. Jesus says: “No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” (John 3:3).
Paul berated the Corinthian church: “I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?” (1 Corinthians 3:1-3).
They were supposed to be spiritual but were carnal. They were behaving like natural men when they were supposed to be spiritual men. Paul says: “You are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” (Romans 8:9).
Carnality involves the preoccupation with things of the flesh and those pertaining to the material world. Spirituality involves the concern for heavenly things of the spirit or the soul.
Man is flesh and blood, but God is a spirit. Jesus says: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:6). The two are immiscible: worlds apart. Jesus says: “What is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15).
Man is natural, but God is spiritual. “The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
Man is flesh and blood, but God is spirit. Nothing good comes from the flesh. (Romans 7:18). The flesh is human nature. It is sinful nature. It is the body of death. It is the body of sin. It is that part of man that is always in opposition to God. It is the part that causes us to sin.
“The works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like.” (Galatians 5:19-21).
Those who are controlled by the flesh cannot inherit the kingdom of God. But those who are ruled by the Holy Spirit are heirs of eternal life: “God’s Spirit makes us loving, happy, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled. There is no law against behaving in any of these ways.” (Galatians 5:22-23).
Walking in the flesh
God did not redeem the flesh. Instead, He condemned sin in the flesh. Accordingly, “Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:5-8).
Nevertheless, Christians continue to walk according to the flesh. We continue to talk like mere men. Even those who are born again are still carnal. The conundrum is that when we look in the mirror, we discover that we are looking the same after we receive Christ into our lives.
After the advent of the Holy Spirit, we are still doing the same things. We are still eating and drinking. We are still struggling to make ends meet. We are still going to the hairdressers, going to the barber, buying and wearing new clothes and shoes.
However, we ignore one simple injunction:
“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. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:15-17).
We must not know ourselves again according to the flesh. How we look on the outside no longer matters. The issue now is how we look on the inside. “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).
As a result, we are still mindful of the things of men and not of the things of God. Jesus says by their fruits you shall know them (fruit of the Holy Spirit). But we still know people by their outward appearance. We know them by how rich or influential they are. We know them by how beautiful, handsome, or well-dressed they are. We know them by what brand of car they drive, or what make of cell phone they use.
When Peter tried to dissuade Jesus from going to the cross, Jesus rebuked him. He said to him: “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” (Matthew 16:23).
This means, from God’s point of view, the things of men are the things of Satan. All the products of this world are man-made and not God-made. They all come from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This ensures that everything man-made is evil. No matter how “good.” Everything man-made has evil in it.
However, everything God-made is good. Nothing God-made has evil in it. Everything God-made is a blessing: “The blessing of the Lord makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it.” (Proverbs 10:22).