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Perilous Times From the Flesh

Posted on October 10, 2019 at 1:00 PM

Dear Saints;

 

In his second letter to his disciple, Timothy, Paul warns, “that in the last days perilous times shall come” and goes on to provide a lengthy list of some 19 characteristics of corrupted human nature. Clearly the perilous times he is referring to are a direct result of the what the Bible calls “the flesh” or sinful nature of the old persons we were before being born of the Spirit. While we have other spiritual enemies (Satan and his emissaries and the world order and conditioning) our greatest enemy is the fleshly nature we yet possess in our natural bodies.

 

Perhaps the single biggest and most damaging characteristic of the flesh is what Paul mentions first in his list, “For men shall be lovers of their own selves”. The founders of AA made this same discovery when they wrote, “Selfishness, self-centered, we think, is the root of all our problems”. The inherent selfishness of the flesh is the foundation for all the various forms of dysfunction in both the individual and society as a whole. It underlies all the other characteristics of fallen human nature that ultimately lead to the “perilous times” Paul warns would come in the last days.

 

Paul’s warning concerning the “last days” refers to the natural progression of corruption in humanity over time. Although we often consider the “last days” as a prophetic statement of the time just prior to the coming of the Lord, the truth is we have been in the last days since Jesus ascended back into heaven. During the last two millennium humanity has been in a downward spiral of corruption made possible by our increased technology and wealth. No amount of affluence or knowledge can sufficiently deal with the selfishness of the flesh. God’s answer remains our only hope.

 

Paul’s testimony in Romans 7 concerning his best efforts to overcome his own flesh reveals the sheer impossibility of our own knowledge of good and evil and will power to remove the selfishness of our own flesh. Although God has given us a new identity in Christ, we still inhabit the same body we were given at birth with all its natural self-centered. While the new persons we are have the righteousness and character of Christ, the flesh that still stains “the body of this death” remains selfish and independent of God. As a new creation in Christ still living in this world in a body that contains the remnants of who we used to be we are in desperate need of a Savior to “deliver us from the body of this death”. Paul declares that Savior to be none other than God himself through Jesus Christ by means of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

 

The perilous times we are living in now is the result of the selfish flesh of all mankind. No amount of knowledge of good and evil (legislation) or self-improvement programs will overcome the flesh on and individual or group level. Only the miraculous provisions of the indwelling Spirit God replacing the selfishness of the flesh with the love of God will change us as well as the times in which we live.

 

John

 

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