RESTORATION FROM CARNALITY
We are in a year in which the Lord wants to RESTORE. Yet, to what are we to be RESTORED, and from which are we being rescued that needs RESTORATION?
Ephesians 4:17-19 (MOFFATT)
Now in the Lord I insist and protest that you must give up living like pagans; for their purposes are futile, their intelligence is darkened, they are estranged from the life of God by the ignorance which their dullness of heart has produced in them men who have recklessly abandoned themselves to sensuality, with a lust for the business of impurity in every shape and form.
Living, thinking, having the dark and estranged from God thoughts of pagans, with futile purposes, and dullness of heart, as Moffat describes the meanings of Paul’s words in Ephesians, is the state mankind finds himself in, from which we need to be RESTORED.
Perhaps the Moffatt translation of the Bible is clearest on a passage of Ephesians. Paul says there that ‘in the Lord, I insist and protest.’ He is showing that Paul was insisting and protesting ‘in the Lord’, i.e. at the Lord’s direction came this insisting on RESTORATION from non spiritual living and thinking.
How often do ministers, in the Lord, insist and protest? There are some who do it ‘in greed’ and insist that some send them a large offering, and they claim to be doing it ‘in the Lord’. Their jet planes, three mansions or more, multiple luxury cars are testimony too often to their ‘laying up treasures on earth’, which does not sound like the Lord’s direction given in the Word of God.
Yet, Paul has something in Ephesians to say that we need to do, and he is ‘insisting’ and is making a ‘protest’ something. There are many who suggest, encourage, and offer advice, but Paul, guided by the Spirit of God here, is INSISTING, and PROTESTING THAT FLESHLY LIVING, CARNAL THINKING, WAS IN VITAL NEED OF A PROCESS OF RESTORATION.
The ‘pagan’ influence in that time was very great. The society had instilled in many now Christian, a culture of futility, of depravity, and of evil. Today, we live in society of perverseness and evil also. Story lines on the cinemas are proclaiming that homosexuality is moral, that abortion is wise, that perverseness and iniquity are normal.
The students in school are encouraged to try homosexuality, elementary students are shown methods of birth control without moral encouragement to avoid premarital sex. The hours ones spends in front of television programs is far greater than the time spent in Bible study and in Christian influence.
What is the result? Their ‘intelligence is darkened’, they are ‘estranged from the life of God’ and they are ‘ignorant’ due to the ‘dullness of heart’ that the devil’s crowd has produced in them. This is how Moffatt translated and understood those verses. Paul’s time, as noted by Paul, was much like our society today, in great need of RESTORATION from carnality to spirituality.
Those spiritually blind walk in a darkness, unaware of the consequences of their life choices, of their walk. They do not know sin from righteousness.
They are carnal, and not ‘spiritual’.
“Hear ye deaf, and look, ye blind, that ye may see. Who is blind, but My Servant? Or deaf, as My Messenger Whom I sent? Who is blind as He Who is Perfect, and blind as the Lord’s Servant? Seeing many things, Thou observest not. Opening the ears but He hearest not. The Lord is well pleased for His righteousness sake; He will magnify the law and make it honorable. For this is a people robbed and spoiled, they are all of them snared in holes and they hid in prison houses; they are for a prey and none delivereth for a spoil and none saith, restore.’
WHAT IS THE TRUE DEFINITION OF SPIRITUALITY?
The Muslim religion speaks of ‘jihad’. This is their definition of what we Christians call ‘spirituality.’ Jihad means ‘struggle’. They refer to jihad as a inner spiritual struggle and an outer physical struggle to bring about what they believe their god desires. Their ‘greater jihad’ is the inner struggle by a ‘believer’ to fulfill his religious duties.
Today’s world describes ‘spiritual’ as things affecting the human spirit as opposed to the material or physical things. Some see ‘spirituality’ as ‘relating to any religion or religious belief.’
Wikipedia says that ‘spirituality’ may refer to almost any kind of meaningful activity, especially a search for the sacred. They also say it may refer to personal growth, blissful experience, or an encounter with one’s own inner dimension.
Some claim that ‘spirituality’ is interchangeable with ‘holy’, and one, according to the Bible, may be spiritual, but not yet even near to be claiming to be ‘holy’. A person who has accepted the forgiveness of the Lord, though still in temptable human body, can be in that way holy, if he is also spiritual, i.e. in the school of the Spirit, being led by the Holy Spirit.
Some though define ‘spirituality’ as an evolutionary process seeking to perfect some kind of wholeness. To these, spirituality is all activity, be it emotional, physical, intuitional, etc that leads toward greater perfection, goodness, wholeness. To these, a scientist working on a cure for cancer is spiritual. The artist expressing in paint a seascape of beauty is spiritual.
The new age teacher Alice A. Bailey defines ‘spiritual’:
The word ‘spiritual’ does not refer to religious matters... All activity that drives the human ...toward some form of development, physical, emotional, mental, intuitional, social, if it advance his present state is essentially spiritual in nature, and is indicative of the livingness of the inner divine entity. (Education of the New Age, pg 1)
“One of the major contributions of the present age to the unfoldment of the race has been the growing recognition that spirituality is not to be confused with and confined to the acceptance and the following of the precepts contained in the ... Scriptures. ... God can be known by His works and these works can be more easily appreciated through revelations of science, than by hymns, prayers, and sermons.’
(Education in the New Age, pp 55/7)
Her teachings continue on what ‘spirituality” is:
“... spiritual... an inclusive endeavor toward human betterment, uplift, and understanding, they give it a connotation of tolerance, international synthetic communion, religious inclusiveness, and all trends of thought which concern the esoteric development of the human being.”
(A Treatise on White Magic, page 414)
These defining attempts of ‘spirituality’ is not acceptable to me, for I do not find that definition compatible with the teachings of the Bible.
We need to have spiritual eyes and discern the message and definition of spirituality in the Bible.
II Corinthians 4:18
“While we look not at the things which are seen, but at things that are not seen, for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things that are not seen are eternal.”
Spirituality involves defining things with eternity’s truths. The temporal things of life are to be ignored, and the eternal truths are to be seen, known, and acted upon, in order to be ‘spiritual’.
A spiritual person will be blind to sufferings, blind to the temptations of sin, and not ‘see’ those things, and keep our eyes on the eternal. That kind of blindness is commanded to us. There are eternal blessings for the sufferings for Christ, which we endure. But we are to take our eyes off those things, be blind to them, and see the heavenly rewards laid up for us, even though in the natural they are not here to be viewed literally. This is a good blindness that allows spirituality.
There are things which flash upon our television screens, that we do not need to watch. Perversions, pornography, sexual exploits are shown daily, even in hours where children are watching. The visual images shown in theaters, on television, on bill boards, want to make impressions on our mind. To those we should be blind. That is good blindness, to avoid viewing and stamping such pictures upon our minds. Those kind of things that life requires we see, we are blind to, for the eternal truths blind them from our inner persons.
The blindness to the Word of God, the blindness to God’s purpose with our lives in this world is a result of carnality. Carnality affects many of our day, as it did in Paul’s time too. Spirituality is required so that we see eternal truths, and not the suffering and temptations of the world.