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" Christian 'Obligation'? "
    "So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh--for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. " (Rom8:12-13 nasb)
Or...?
    "Therefore, brethren, we are debtors; not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live." (Rom8:12-13)
"UNDER OBLIGATION"?

To introduce this topic a little history is in order. Years ago there was once a person who was near and dear to my heart; we were married for 15 years, until one evening she announced, "Your God and mine are different" Two weeks later she took off, seeking after her gods. This was a person who had been claiming all those years to be a "Christian".

What happened? Why the change from being an alleged "Christian", to being a follower of the hippy gods of flowers, streams, birds and ultimately Hula, New Age, emotions, and who knows what else? I wrestled with it for some time, until one Sunday afternoon I was going through this little basket in which she kept her Bible, notebook and things. I was paging through her Bible, which was a NASB version, observing notes she had written to herself, marks, underlines, etc. (As many do when they read the Bible) In 15 years you get to know many things about a person. The markings in this Bible were pretty much all uniform, consistent and the same throughout, pretty much what a person might expect... -EXCEPT- for this passage just quoted above. She had marked around the words "under obligation" with extra heavy markings, and the jaggedness and pressure (grooved into the page) of the marks indicated to me that it had really agitated her. Those words had -really- 'troubled' her. As though the reality of those words made her shudder, perhaps even with loathing. Perhaps that was the moment at which she finally "counted the cost" (Lk14:28) regarding following Christ, and decided that she didn't want that kind of God. Thus, her parting comment, "Your God and mine are different"?

You see: she had "gone forward" at meetings. She had shed tears of emotion on various occasions. She made claims to having "given her life to Christ". She came from the same church culture that most who call themselves "Christian" are part of. But she had never counted the cost.

Most people calling themselves "Christian" haven't counted the cost. The so-called "gospel" message, for decades, has been "twisted" to "their own destruction" (2Pt3:16) The message is introduced with questions like: Is your life on the rocks? You are searching for something more? Searching for meaning to your life? Just invite Jesus into your life and He will make everything better.

Where is the preaching today, as Peter did it: Jesus died on the cross and -YOU- CRUCIFIED HIM! Where is the "piercing to the heart" (Ac2:37) as the conscience pleads "God be merciful to me the sinner"? (Lk18:13)

Oh... but no! We don't want to -offend- anyone. They might be turned away with such harsh judgmental negativity.

But you see, eventually those who came forward at Billy Graham meetings, or at Brother Andrew invitations, if they follow along in the Scriptures, will come to the Truth... about OBLIGATION.

Salvation is a free gift (Eph2:8, Rom5:15-18,etc)
But the Christian Life is -NOT- a FREE RIDE!

When the Holy Spirit seals us with the promise of Eternal Life (Eph1:13) it is not suddenly, like that John Denver hippy song, "Sunshine on my shoulder makes me happy" For early Christians immersion, the physical symbol of Salvation, often meant torture and martyrdom. (1Co15:29-30)

So then... WHAT IS "obligation"? And here we need to do a little word study, also understanding the correct Scriptural term, because Scripture's word, "debtor", is even stronger than what the NASB says.

When a person is in "debt" they -owe- something; either money, goods, services. If a person commits an offense or trespass, it is a condition of indebtedness needing restitution or forgiveness.

"Obligation", in a legal sense can be defined similarly to debt. The legal obligation is to -pay- the debt. However, in the dictionary the legal definition follows after the social moral ones. In other words, people typically think of "obligation" differently than they do "debt". A debt of 'money', for instance, -must- be paid; or if the situation warrants it, one can go to jail, or other court-imposed consequences. And in legal terms the "obligation" still focuses on the "debt".

But social obligations tend to be more wishy washy. If a strong patriarchy or matriarchy requires all 'family' to be present at certain 'family' functions, those who don't show up might not get sent to prison, but there will be familial "hell to pay" because they did not fulfill their -family- 'duty' to be present at the event. They will never hear the end of it, for years thereafter!

Consequences are different, as seen in the two quotes above. One who lives in the flesh either "must" die or "will" die. Which is it?

In the dictionary "must" follows in the same vein as "obligation". But socially there is some "wiggle" room. Something that 'should' happen; but in society's thinking it might not be an -absolute-, or foregone conclusion. If a person "must" die, there also might be a chance it won't happen.

Whereas the word "will" is one of the forms of "to be". Existence. Matter of eventual fact. In this case the word "eventual" indicating an "event" which -occurs-. It -does- occur. Statement of fact, with no negotiation or alternatives. That's the way it is, and will happen. Period.

As an example: Supposing a person has a balloon filled to capacity with air, and also a stick pin. Assuming the balloon is not a magician's special effects un-poppable balloon, if the pin is stuck into the balloon, it "will" pop. When a person has a balloon and pin, they do not think: This balloon "must" pop. No. The balloon "will" pop. That is just the natural outcome of sticking a pin into a filled balloon; that's just the way things work. It is verity. Thus also: the person who lives "in the flesh" ... "will" die; just as surely as the balloon "will" pop when stuck with a pin. That, too, is a verity.

See why we spend so much time ferreting out the falseness of the perVersions of Egypt and the apostasy? At surface glance the two opening quotes might not have seemed all that different. But precise words have precise meanings. And God's Word is precise. Today's "gospel" and "christianity" is wishy washy, leaving all sorts of wiggle room so people don't need to count the cost to follow Christ.

Notice how the perVersion mushes the condition of death with "must", but the condition for life is "will". See how much more "positive" that gospel is?

God is not wishy washy! The conditions for death are sure, as are the conditions unto life. Anybody claiming to "name the name of Christ" is exhorted to "depart from iniquity" (2Ti2:19) It is not merely the obligation, but the debt.

Yes, my ex-wife became agitated at the word "obligation". But the matter is even stronger than that, it is a "debt".

So... what is the debt?

The answer to that is in a clearer understanding of what "Salvation" is; something that is usually not included in most crusade meetings prior to most invitations. When most people go forward, often crying, they are typically responding -emotionally- to a Sales Pitch. Get the right salesman, promoting whatever (you pick the subject), and they will get people flocking forward. Watch old film clips of Elvis, Beach Boys, and others, where the camera pans the audience, those girls used to go wild (utterly beside themselves) in unbridled emotional fantasy, desire and lust.

Biblical Salvation is -NOT- the act of getting Jesus to "go along beside me", take me by the hand, and be my "friend" so we can (as the TV screens invite on TBN) "start a relationship with Jesus"... while I -CONTINUE- MY LIFE the way it has always been.

But... boil out the essentials, and talk to most "christians" today as to how they view their own christianity and their 'going forward' and 'pray-the-prayer' experience, that's pretty much what today's "gospel" boils down to.

Biblical Salvation is a "birth from above" (Jn3:3) of the Holy Spirit. (Jn3:8) That Heavenly birth results in a "new creation (where) the old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." (2Co5:17)

This birth results in the Holy Spirit taking up residence. Please read Romans ch8. Our bodies may yet be "flesh and blood" (1Co15:50) because they have not yet been "redeemed" (Rom8:23b) to incorruption. But we have the "promise" from the Holy Spirit (Eph1:13) with the "hope" of Eternal Life. (Tit1:2,3:7) the "living hope" of the "inheritance" waiting for us. (1Pt1:3-4)

We say it all the time: Dogs bark, ducks quack, sinners sin, and Believers do deeds of righteousness.

We are still in these bodies of "flesh and blood", and we also have our minds. A person can -say- "I am a christian"; but how does anybody else know what is really in that person's mind? Yes, there is a "witness" of the Holy Spirit that happens between two Believers. (Rom8:16) But one person cannot "read" another's mind.

When a person is saved the mind is "renewed", and the change can be observed because the person with that new mind behaves such that their body is a "living sacrifice" before God. (Rom12:1-2) It is observable to others. As Jesus said, "from their fruits you will know them" (Mt7:16,20)

Those who know the science of honesty and lying know how to observe things like sweaty hands, change in heart rate, eye movements. The Bible I was looking at had the tell-tale scribbled pen marks somewhat gouging the page where there had been great agitation.

It is quite simple: A person with God's Holy Spirit will not be living according to the flesh, when their mind is renewed with that understanding.

    Paul says, "Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." (Ga5:16)
We were under condemnation. We were sinners. The "soul who sins shall die" (Ezk18:20) The "wages of sin is death" (Rom6:23) But since Jesus "washed us from our sins in His own blood" (Rev1:5) the Holy Spirit has taken up residence with the promise of Eternal Life.
    Thus...do we "continue in sin that grace may abound? Let it not be! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?" (Rom6:1-2)
We are in debt. We could never pay the debt. Jesus paid it...thus we are INDEBTED to Jesus. And Jesus sent the Holy Spirit. (Jn14:23, 16:7)

So, we live according to the Holy Spirit. It is not only our new nature; but by our renewed mind it is consciously fulfilling our debt. As Jacob says, we "show our faith FROM (out of) our works" (Ja2:18) When we live according to the Spirit we demonstrate our possession of the Promise of Eternal Life, the Blessed Hope of Christ's appearing (Tit2:13) on which occasion we anticipate the Crown of Righteousness. (2Ti4:8) Those claiming such a hope live -purified- lives "just as He is pure" (1Jn3:3)

A pure life, by definition, is -opposite- the flesh. If we are "alive by the Spirit" we are "put to death in the flesh" (1Pt3:18)

    "For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish." (Ga5:17)
Forget that lie today's apostasy is feeding you that God allegedly "accepts you just as you are". HE DOES NOT! God does not accept the filth of this world. The filth of this world is due His "wrath" (Rom1:18)
    "What good to Me are your many sacrifices, says Jehovah? I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of well-fed cattle; nor do I delight in the blood of bulls, of lambs, or he goats... Wash yourselves, purify yourselves. Put away the evil of your doings from My eyes; stop doing evil. Learn to do good, seek justice..." (Is1:11,16-17)
If you continually see "darkness" within yourself, remember that "God is light and in Him is no darkness at all." (1jn1:5) You are not saved. If you contrive to coerce people into little nasty indiscretions of private lewd behavior, that is not God's righteousness. If you seek to turn a servant of God away from God's will, back to the world; you are satan's messenger. And no amount of -calling- yourself a "christian" will change the facts. Like that old negro spiritual, "Ebrybody talk 'bout heb'n ain't goin' there..."

If you "live according to the flesh", thus indicating your true heart: that you are a hypocrite; you are not paying the debt. "you WILL DIE".

If you don't see anything wrong with your life (your family heritage and traditions being so great), such as to change and live a new purified life, you have never (by definition) repented, in your mind and heart. (Rom2:29) And "unless you repent, you will... perish" (Lk13:3,5)

This is not merely the petty matriarchal whiny pontifications of -family- "obligations". This is verity.

But if you are more than mere emotions and lip-service to God, have "received" Jesus Christ (Jn1:12) and the Salvation He offers (Mt11:28) through His blood, the "remission of sins" (Eph1:7, Col1:14); and your life -shows- your Salvation through living in the Holy Spirit, having "put to death the deeds of the body/flesh (your debt)... YOU WILL LIVE"

Amen!


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