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The Carnal Christian and full deliverance

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The Carnal Christian and Full Deliverance

Mark 8:22

Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill

Let us look at the lesson that we glanced at this morning. It’s Mark 8:22. And it’s the little miracle, you remember, that we read of Jesus doing on the blind man, “And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man, and begged him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the village; and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands upon him, he asked him, ‘Do you see anything?’ And he looked up and said, ‘I see men; but they look like trees, walking.’ Then again he laid his hands upon his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and saw everything clearly. And he sent him away to his home, saying, ‘Do not even enter the village.’” And that word of scripture has been used by Satan to bring many of us into the twilight in which we live: the ‘second touch’, because that’s the way western Christianity has talked of it. They’ve said, “You need a touch. You need a touch from the Lord. You need a touch to bring you into the forgiveness of sins. And then you need just a second touch to bring you into a clean heart and victory over sin and self.”

And so western Christianity has said, “That’s right, that’s all you need is just a touch. So you need a little help, just a little help, and you’ll come into the forgiveness of sins; and just a little help, and you’ll come into a clean heart and a sanctified life.” And that’s what has kept many of us in chains. That’s why Barth [Karl Barth, 1886 – 1968, Swiss theologian] speaks as strongly as he does. You may wonder, “Why does he talk about this violence? Why is he so against the mental and the emotional thing?” Because thousands of people in western Christianity are firmly convinced that it’s a mind thing; it’s an emotion thing. “If I can just get my mind and my emotions around this truth of being crucified with Christ, if I can just do it right I’ll come into victory.” And they’re in charge of the whole show. They’re the stage manager; they pull the drapes up; they get the lights going; they get the emotions going; they get the thoughts going. They’re in charge of the whole thing!

And of course, Satan is delighted, because the very heart of the carnal nature is that ‘it is in charge’. That’s exactly what it is. The carnal nature is in charge of everything! And Satan delights when we get ourselves into that position where we regard this as, “Sure a work of God, but really let’s face it: primarily a work of man. Primarily a full dedication of our whole being to God! And then when we’ve made room, when we’ve swept out the dirt from the house, then he comes in with the cleanness of his Holy Spirit.”

And then we wonder why we can’t get rid of the dirt. We say to ourselves, “Well yeah, you say that it’s complete victory over anger, complete victory over bad temper. I’ve got some victory over it but not complete. Why?” Because you’ve done a human work; you’ve done a human work of dedication, but it hasn’t been a divine work of the Holy Spirit. It’s been a human work of the mind and the emotions trying to get round this idea, “Now in what way have I to be crucified with Christ that I’m not crucified with Christ? Now let me see, why do I get impatient with that person? Oh I see, yeah, yeah. So okay, I have to just look at it differently!” And so we get into a contortion, a spiritual, and emotional, and mental contortion act, to bring about this full work of God that only the Father can bring about.

And it’s really because we do not understand enough, or take seriously enough what the Bible says

about the carnal nature. And you just look at it; it’s a verse that you know. Romans 8:7. You probably know it even without looking it up. Romans 8:7, “For the mind that is set on the flesh…” And the King James [version] would say, “The carnal mind.” “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, indeed it cannot.” And we read that and we think, “Yeah, yeah, but somehow – okay, okay it cannot. But it has to! Otherwise I can’t be sanctified; otherwise I can’t be cleansed in my heart; otherwise I can’t be filled with the Holy Spirit. So yeah I understand what you’re saying, Lord, ‘It cannot.’ But actually it has to. So I know you’re saying the mind of the flesh is hostile to God and I’ve certainly seen that. I’ve seen that I want to run my own life; I want to be on my own; I do not want him interfering with me. I do have certain parts of my life that I feel that I have the right to have private, and to do it my way. I know that. I see I’m hostile to God, and I see that in some ways it can’t submit to God’s law, but actually it has to! Otherwise how can I be sanctified?” And that’s the position we get ourselves into.

And we end up of course, playing down this verse because we get ourselves into that dilemma. We say, “Well yes, it cannot submit to God’s law, but yet it has to submit to God’s law if I’m going to be in heaven. So that must be metaphorical in some way. It must be able to submit to God’s law! It must! The mind of the flesh must be able to submit to God’s law, so I’m going to try to make it submit.” So we get ourselves into that position. And so we try to make it submit to God’s law.

But the basic error that Satan has gotten us into is, ‘we don’t take the Bible seriously’. The Bible says, “The mind of the flesh is not subject to God’s law, indeed it cannot be.” It can’t! The only thing that can be done with it is to utterly destroy it, and replace it. And we know it! We know it in our own experience. We know that our whole human nature has been brought up to please everybody — please everybody around us; please our mums and dads; please our teachers; please everybody else. We know that we’ve been brought up to depend on the things in this world for our security. We know that. We know that that’s why we get worried when the money goes down at the bank. We know all that.

We can understand that it does seem very difficult to change your way of going. We say, “Can a leopard change its spots?” And we say, “No it can’t.” “And I can see how, in some ways, there has to be a new creation, but surely the new creation is a kind of evolution of the old. I mean, there must be some way in which I can kind of climb over this barrier of ‘cannot’. And in some way I can become a different creation.” And we think of it in those terms.

And yet we know there’s a contradiction, because we say to ourselves, “Wait a minute, a ‘new creation’ is not an evolution. It’s a ‘new creation’. It’s a thing that’s made from above. It’s born from above. It’s not something that we become, or that we kind of ease up into.” So we know there’s a contradiction but we don’t see how to get around this thing.

And yet, what God is bringing before us clearly is, “Your mind that has been trained as it has for years to depend on people, and circumstances, and things for your security, and for your happiness, and for your significance, that mind will never submit to me. It will never submit to me.” That mind, you have inherited from your dad; who inherited from his dad; who inherited it from his dad; who inherited from generations, generations — way back to Adam, who got it from the prince of evil. But we’re reluctant to go that far, you see. We’re reluctant to go that far.

In fact, if somebody says to us, “You act if you’re possessed by a demon.” We’ll be offended. We’ll say, “No, no, I’m not one of those demon possessed people.” But yet we will in moments think,

“This isn’t me. It isn’t me feeling like this. In fact, I don’t want to feel like this. I don’t want to think this of this person, but here I am thinking it.” So we sense that it is something of primeval evil. But we say to ourselves, “Yeah, but what do we do? We have to do something about it. We have to change it. So I know the Bible says it can’t be changed, but in some way it has to be changed.”

So then we get into the mental and the emotional thing of feeling that this is something, really, that we have to bring about ourselves. And it’s a matter of doing it. It’s a matter of thinking the way Hudson Taylor [1832-1905, missionary to China] thought. Or it’s a matter of going through the experiences that some fellow writes about in a tract. Or it’s a matter of somehow getting our mind round the problem. And so what we’re all doing is involved in contortions, trying to bring about the destruction of the carnal mind.

And it’s impossible. We will never do it. It is something that only the Lord God, the supernatural ‘master of the universe’ can touch. And so we’re like kids; we’re like children playing — playing with things. We’re playing with things that only the Lord God can touch. But we’re so full of ourselves — and Satan loves to get us to that point — we’re so full of ourselves that we’re convinced, “Well we have to do it. In some way we have to do it. With God’s help, but we have to do it!” And we’ll never do it. And the more we go at it, the more subtle we become in our self management process. And that’s why there’s nothing so wretched as a bundle of old carnal Christians. They’re clever, clever, because they have their own little standards that they keep up to, and then they have other things that they just ignore and leave aside. And they play around those. And you just get more and more clever.

The carnal mind is an active alive part of Satan: always maneuvering, always maneuvering, always moving to deceive you, and to get you deeper into the clutches of Satan. And we don’t see it as that. We’re children. We think, “No, no it’s not that bad. It’s something that I can ‘call to heel’ when I have to, and I will do it. One of these days I will get down, and I will really get through to God, and I will control this thing.” And we’ll never do it, because we always have the conviction of the ‘carnal mind’ that we will be able to do it ourselves.

And that’s why — that’s why Barth speaks so strongly about those things. That’s why he says what he does. He says, “Self denial in the context of following Jesus involves a step into the open, into the freedom of a definite decision and act in which it is with a real commitment that man takes leave of himself, of the man of yesterday, of the man he himself was. In which he gives up the previous form of his existence hazarding and totally compromising himself without looking back or considering what is to become of him because what matters is not now himself but that he should do at all costs, that which is proposed and demanded, having no option but to decide and act in accordance with it, cost what it may. ‘For God’s sake do something brave!’ was once the cry of Zwingli [Ulrich Zwingli, 1484 – 1531, Swiss reformer] to his contemporaries. Not feel, or think, or consider, or meditate. Not turn it over in your heart and mind, but do something brave, cast yourself into the cross with Christ.”

Because it’s in response to that act of faith that God’s Holy Spirit destroys the carnal mind. That’s what happens. When you cast ‘yourself in’ completely and forsake forever the man or woman that you used to be, and regard it as dead completely and see yourself utterly in Christ and nothing but him, then a ray comes down from heaven, of the Holy Spirit and destroys the mind of the flesh, and creates a new mind within you. It is a work of God. That’s why when somebody said to Fletcher of Madeley, you remember, Wesley’s theologian, “Is it a human work or is it a work of God?”

Fletcher said, “Both. You give all you can, and then God gives all he can.” But if God does not do the work, we are committed forever and condemned forever to living under the control of the carnal mind.

But see, that’s why he says – the very heart of it is, “Lord God, I cannot do anything with this mind of the flesh. I cannot do anything to rid myself of it. I’ve tried. I cannot do anything. I’ve tried manipulating my thoughts; I’ve tried practicing patience; I’ve tried controlling my mind. I cannot, Lord! I cannot! You alone can deliver me from this.” It’s that deep conviction that the carnal mind has the better of you. That is a vital step! And the next step is committing yourself wholly into that death; condemning yourself completely to extinction in Jesus, so that you no longer exist. And only Jesus alone exists. And in response to that the Holy Spirit comes down and brings to birth the ‘child Jesus’ within you. But it’s a work of God.

So sanctification is a work of God. ‘Sanctus fio’ in Latin is to be made holy, not to become holy. ‘Fio’ is a passive tense, the passive mood of the verb ‘facio’, to make, manufacturer. ‘Fio’ is to ‘be made’. So ‘sanctus fio’ is to ‘be made holy’. It is God making you holy. It is not you ‘becoming holy’. It is not you ‘making yourself holy’. It is a work of God! That’s why Wesley always said, “A work done in the heart through faith in Christ.” That’s why the Bible says, “Our hearts were cleansed by faith.” Not by dedication. That was part of it. Not by discipline. Though there was some of that. But, “Our hearts were cleansed by faith.” What faith? That God had crucified us in Christ and was able to destroy the ‘mind of the flesh’ in us, here in this present life.

That’s why they would have meetings for sanctification. That’s why Wesley taught that it was an instantaneous work. There could be gradual works leading up to it. But there came a moment when the work was done by God. That’s why there could be mighty changes in Christians in times when the sanctifying Spirit was moving in a meeting. But we miss all that if we don’t take seriously the fact that this carnal mind can twist us ‘around its little finger’ for ever, and ever, and ever, and ever. And it’s Satan’s triumph when he convinces us, “No, no, you can control it. You can control it. You just have to begin to think of the cross in the right way, and you can control it.”

That’s the only problem with the ‘Stations of the Cross’. The ‘Stations of the Cross’ are great, except that people began to use the meditation on the acts that took place as Jesus went to Calvary, and believe that that mediation would produce results within them. Well it did. It often – I don’t know about you but I certainly have meditated on Jesus’ death and it does soften – it brings a softness to your heart and brings a love for others. So it can produce a human love and a human response. But that is not what will deal with the carnal heart.

The only thing that will deal with the carnal heart is God doing a work in your heart that makes real the destruction of the ‘mind of the flesh’ that took place in Jesus on Calvary. And that can only be done if we, by violence, cast ourselves into our death with Jesus. Now if you say to me, “Well, don’t you think that we need some light about that? Don’t you think that some of us – we need to know what that is?” Yes, yes, I think often some of us — the Holy Spirit needs to show us it, but he’ll lead us to that. If we will go after him for this work, he will not let us cast ourselves into a superficial work. He will show us what we need to see. And he will reveal that to us as long as we believe totally and completely in scripture that the ‘mind of the flesh’ is hostile against God. It is not subject to his law. Indeed it cannot be. And the only thing that can be done is for it to be destroyed and replaced by the mind of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.

That’s why they talk about being filled with the Holy Spirit and being cleansed by the Holy Spirit. It does not mean that our own spirits become better or become more like Jesus. It means God puts the Spirit of Jesus into us and fills us with the Spirit of Jesus. But it requires a complete commitment into death. That’s why Zwingli says, “For God’s sake do something brave.”

The morning comes after the commitment, and the thought comes into our minds, “I feel tired. I just feel tired. I need just a little more rest.” Then instead of doing something brave we tangle with the enemy. We tangle with him. We begin to take it over again ourselves. We just committed it all and cast ourselves into Christ the night before and then we begin to, “Well, I am a little tired. I am a little tired and I deserve…” And Zwingli says, “For God’s sake do something brave.” For God’s sake see that you’ve been crucified with Christ. See that moment, “I’ve been crucified. I am no longer alive. This is Jesus. Right Lord, off we go, off with the bed clothes and out we get.” That’s it.

Same — same when the worry hits us, same when the worry hits us and the finance! As soon as we find the bank book isn’t what we thought it would be, or the sales aren’t what we thought it would be, or the house strikes us in Taiwan and we think of something, we think of something. And instead of doing something brave we’re fools we tangle with Satan. We think, “Well, yeah that’s right, but just let me – okay, just give me a minute, just give me a minute. 2 dollars, 5 dollars, 25 dollars, 10 Pounds, 15 Pounds… I can fiddle and I owe that on that.” And we’re into it. We’re into the cash flow, and we’re into flipping the figures back and forward. And that’s exactly what Satan wants, because we’re doing it ourselves. We’re giving up the victory that has been wrought upon us on Calvary and we’re alive again. We’re dragging ourselves off the cross and we’re getting up and we’re tackling it.

And that’s what, at that moment, Zwingli says, “For God’s sake do something brave.” For God’s sake at that moment, see that you’re crucified; see that you’re finished; see you’re dead; see there’s no ‘you’ alive. Look up to Jesus, and up you go, and do what is appropriate if he is alive. That usually means get out, get into the car, get into the store. That usually means tuck closed the bank book, get on with what you have to do, trusting that the Savior is in you, and he will bring about the victory.

So it’s a death. It’s a once for all death, but it’s a daily death. Not a dying! Not a dying! Not a dying by inches every day! Not a slow, drawn out, drag out dying. It’s an instantaneous act of commitment each moment that the temptation, or each moment the challenge comes up. Somebody says something to you, criticizes you — something that you did — spent a lot of time doing it. You thought you did it well; they criticize you. Satan’s right there at your elbow, “What right have they to criticize you? You poor thing, look how hard you’ve worked and this is what you get.” At that moment Zwingli says, “For God’s sake do something brave.”

Don’t start tangling with Satan, “Well, well, maybe they were right. I mean, maybe I haven’t done it well enough. Maybe I should try – well still what right have they to say it? I mean, couldn’t he be more patient with me than that?” We start tangling with Satan. We’re doing nothing but just canceling out the commitment to death that we made the night before. We’re dragging ‘self’ back out from the grave, and we’re starting to try to deal with it in the emotions. We’re doing what he says, “Meditate upon it, turn it over in our minds, try to tangle with it.” Instead of what Zwingli says, “Do something brave.”

At that moment look up to the Lord and say, “Father, thank you that I no longer exist. I was crucified with Christ. I’m dead. It doesn’t matter what anybody says. What they say about me could be no worse than I think about myself. I’m dead and destroyed. And that’s why you killed me. That’s it, Lord. Let’s get on.” And you get out, and you go. And you do what God has for you to do. And as you do that, as you, in other words, act the death in faith, God sends a ray from heaven that goes to the heart of the cancer, and burns it out. And at that moment gives you victory.

So it’s a work of God. It’s always a work of God. It’s ‘you do that’, the ray from heaven comes down. ‘You do that’, a ray from heaven comes down. But it’s that. It’s a work that God does upon the carnal mind, as you commit yourself to death with Christ, without tangling with Satan at all, or fiddling back and forward with him. That’s part of what Zwingli means. “For God’s sake do something brave.” Do something grand. Commit yourself to death with Jesus. Do something parallel to what he has done for you on the cross. For God’s sake, give up this kind of ‘fighting with the enemy’, and trying to get a toe hold. You have no chance. Stop that. Stop that fiddling, petty stuff. Give yourself bravely into the death with Jesus.

And then — what then what the guy said, you remember, “What will you do?”– the tinker, you remember –, “What will you do if they catch you?” — John Bunyan [author of “Pilgrim’s Progress”]. “What will you do if they catch you?” He said, “I’ll cast myself into outer darkness in complete faith — come heaven, come hell.” That’s it. That’s what it’s about. That’s why these men say, “It’s a glorious walk!” That’s why Taylor [Hudson Taylor, missionary to China] says, “It’s a glorious walk.” That’s why Wesley [John Wesley, founder of the Methodists] says, “It’s a glorious walk.” It is not a kind of ‘win by inches’. It’s a glorious win! It’s an uproarious win! That’s why the Holy Spirit fills people like that. That’s why the Holy Spirit moves in exaltation and joy in such a company, because such a group of people are joyful, and filled with ‘not just a win by inches’, not just a ‘grit your teeth’, but a glorious, heavenly, spiritual joy. So it’s a mighty work, see, because they are people in whom a death work of God is being done, daily, through the power of the same Holy Spirit who brought them first into that death.

So it’s a mighty thing and a glorious thing. Sanctification is God’s mighty work done in our hearts. And it requires – that’s why Zwingli uses what he does, the word ‘brave’. It requires a brave, gallant, glorious commitment. And that’s the heart of it. And anything less: ‘milk and water’. Dish water! Misery! Grey! Church mice! Everything miserable and mediocre that you could think of — that’s what you’re left with if you don’t go into this death with the Savior.

So it’s a glorious thing, and that’s what God has called us to.

Let’s stand as we enter into a covenant with him.