Friday, May 22, 2009

Questionable "Questionable Teachings" (10)

I shall continue with my discussion on "questionable teachings" listed in Rev Kong Hee's article "Balance is the key of life (Part 3)". Again,I want to emphatically say that I have no intention whatsoever to discredit the ministry of Rev Kong Hee or City Harvest Church. I believe they are working for the kingdom of God but here I want to question whether those teachings that Rev Kong Hee deem questionable are really questionable.

Questionable Teaching #10: A Christian Can Never Be In The Flesh!

Those who propagate extreme grace make a distinction between "
in the flesh" and "after the flesh." They claim that while a Christian can walk "after the flesh," it is impossible for him to be "in the flesh," since he is already born again. Again, this goes contrary to 2,000 years of basic Christian theology. If it is true that we have no more fleshly nature within us in this present dispensation, why do we need the resurrection of the dead, why do we need a new spiritual body at the Second Coming of Christ? Does Paul still struggle with the flesh? Of course, he does!

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. (Rom. 7:18)

The books of Romans and Colossians say we have the flesh (the sin nature) within us. And as long as we are alive, we will struggle with the flesh. But the good news is that by walking in the Spirit, by applying the Word, by disciplining our body, by choosing not to yield to wrong drives, and by renewing our mind, we can render the flesh powerless!

To deny that we have no more fleshly nature within us once we are born again is to indulge in self-righteous pride. It is also saying that we are already sinlessly perfect, and by doing that, you are deceiving yourself big time! To say that "we no longer have the desire in us," and that "all we have are merely fleshly tendencies," is nothing more than just delving in confusing self-contradictions!

Firstly, I agree with Rev Kong Hee that the book of Romans says we have the flesh within us. However, this is not the same as "we are in the flesh". Let me illustrate with this example:

A Singaporean who has been living in Singapore for the past 50 years migrated to New Zealand for retirement. He is now officially a New Zealander BUT when you talk to him, you can still hear the typical Singaporean "lah" or "lor" coming out of his mouth.

You see, this man is now a citizen of New Zealand, living in New Zealand and no longer a Singaporean BUT it will take time for the "Singaporeaness" in him to disappear. Similarly, a Christian is no longer "in the flesh" BUT the fleshly nature still dwells within.

Isn't it interesting that Rev Kong Hee quoted only ONE verse (Rom 7:18) for this QT10 compared to the other QTs where he throws in many scripture references? Let me quote TWO scripture references (for "Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses." - Deut 19:15, 2 Cor 13:1) which clearly shows us that Christians are no longer in the flesh:

Romans 7:5 (NKJV)
For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death.

Romans 8:8-9 (NKJV)
So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
But 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.

Paul says clearly in Rom 7:5 that we "WERE" in the flesh - past tense, ie. in the time before we became Christians. To re-emphasize that point, Paul again says clearly that we "ARE NOT" in the flesh but that we "ARE" in the Spirit - present tense, ie. in the here and now. A Christian is "in the Spirit"; he is "in Christ" and therefore cannot be in the flesh, for "those who are in the flesh cannot please God".

However, as I've illustrated earlier, the fleshly nature still remains in us and therefore sometimes we walk "according to the flesh". Paul tells us that no good thing dwells in the flesh (Rom 7:18) and encourages us to "put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts." (Rom 13:14)

We can overcome the fleshly desires in us only by focusing on the Lord Jesus Christ (regularly listening to anointed preaching on the finished work of Christ on the cross is a good start), and as "we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Cor 3:18)

This transformation is a process; as we, who are in the Spirit ie. in Christ, walk according to the Spirit, we will sometimes stumble and walk according to the flesh but don't be discouraged and condemn yourself because God does not condemn you - "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus" (Rom 8:1).

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