In Scripture we read of two kinds of men—the spiritual man controlled by the Holy Spirit and the "carnal" man who is ruled by his passions, as noted by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 3. Paul used the terms old man and new man in Ephesians 4: "Put off … the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and … put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness" (Ephesians 4:22, 24, NKJV).
How easy it is to let the old man sneak back into our lives! Have you let the old man stand between God and you? Keep reading! You're about to learn how to cut out the middle man—once and for all.
The old man vs. the new man
A man I know had attended church with his wife since their wedding. But she didn't know much about his buddies at the bar or about his occasional flings with women at work.
One day as he sat in church, the pastor read a passage of Scripture that pierced his heart: "Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness. ... [T]hose who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God."
He had tried to stop drinking and had felt genuinely guilty about his unfaithfulness. Now, listening to those words from Galatians 5:19-21, he felt condemned before God.
"I've got to try harder," he thought to himself. "I've got to overcome these things so I can walk in the Spirit."
But the pastor quoted another verse—Galatians 5:16: "Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." Suddenly my friend realized he was thinking backward. We don't overcome the flesh to walk in the Spirit. We walk in the Spirit in order to overcome the lust of the flesh. It's the Spirit's job to provide victory.
According to Romans 8, the Holy Spirit provides three life-changing graces. First, He is our help. "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free ... that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. ... The Spirit likewise helps in our weaknesses. ..." (verses 2, 4, 26).
Only the Holy Spirit, using the truths of God's Word, can overcome the negative attitudes, morals and behaviors of the "flesh."
The Spirit is also our holiness. Romans 8:10 says, "And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness."
Every day a war rages within us—the Spirit versus the flesh, the old man versus the new. As we yield every part of ourselves to Christ and study His Word daily, the Holy Spirit helps reproduce the life of Christ within us. "The Lord's Spirit makes us more and more like our glorious Lord" (2 Corinthians 3:18, NCV).
The Holy Spirit is also our hope. It quickened the body of the Lord Jesus, bringing Him back to life. That Spirit indwells every believer. There are no hopeless challenges for the Christian. There is no sin that cannot be overcome through His power. We are "more than conquerors through Him who loved us" (Romans 8:37).
Are you living in the flesh or in the Spirit today? Are you accommodating the "lusts of the flesh" or putting on the Lord Jesus and making no provision for the flesh?
Why not close the door to your room, kneel by your chair and ask Jesus Christ to become Lord of your life? Ask Him to fill you with His Spirit. He offers help in your weakness—and freedom from the law of sin and death. He provides the power to put aside the old man and reproduce Christ's love in your life. And He supplies hope to overcome any obstacle in your life through His indwelling power.
Cut out the middle man today. Don't let the old man stand between God and you!
David Jeremiah is pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, Calif., and founder and host of "Turning Point for God." For more information on Turning Point, visit www.DavidJeremiah.org.