“SLAYING THE OLD MAN”
This is a simplification of the idea expressed in Romans 6:6 “that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed…” When this idea is discussed from the pulpit or in Christian literature, it generally is interpreted—softened-- to mean, “to become a believer in Christ and stop doing evil.” In what church is it taught literally as it is written—You are no longer to be who you thought you were?
Two thousand years of translations can obscure meanings in ancient texts. Also man can choose to assign meanings that reinforce preferences in theology. It is my belief, based on the context of Jesus’ teaching, the “body of sin” is not our “physical” body but all that makes our world—our thoughts. We are to see our thoughts as an obstacle to the perception of our true spiritual nature—and slay them!. While in our bodies we are to consider them as nothing but a temple or a vehicle for our spiritual nature. Even the biblical idea of the body as a temple has been twisted to glorify the body when in fact a temple or church is nothing—meaningless without God.
Our senses perceive ourselves, our identities, as mortal bodies which are born and die. Jesus taught something entirely different. He taught that we must choose between complete faith in the material world we see and complete faith in the unseen authority and omnipotence of Spirit. He said when we do this we are free of the law of sin and death (Romans 8:1-2) and we will never see death (John 8:51). This is the Truth that passes understanding (Phil 4:7). If you are a Christian and have never heard this said it is likely because your pastor was not taught this in seminary.
Romans 8:13 If you live after the flesh, you shall die: but if you live through the spirit, you mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live.
But how do we do this? How do we “live through the Spirit?” How can we live in the faith in the unseen which is so completely counter-intuitive to what our senses show us?
Rev 3:16 says, “So then because thou are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spew the out of my mouth.” But most of us believe in both the world and God—we pray to God and we take pills, we pray to God and we buy insurance, we pray to God and we borrow money to buy stuff.
Jesus did not teach a new religion to be brought into our mortal existence. He brought the only Truth to a world stuck in a mental death. He taught that the human mind is of the world of the flesh and all thoughts not of God are sin. We are capable of God’s thoughts and when we think thoughts that are reflecting of God’s attributes we are moving in the right mental direction. When we think thoughts of love, harmony, wholeness and health. we are reflecting God’s attributes as we are created to do. Anything else is a lie, an error not expressing our true nature and leads to fear, disharmony, separation, sickness and death.
Romans 8:2 For the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.
Romans 7:6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held, that we should serve in newness of spirit, not in the oldness of the letter.
Why then are we not “Free from the law of sin and death”? Is Christ’s teaching and are his daily demonstrations of the power of Spirit over matter somehow inoperable or void today? OR as John accused the Laodicians, are we “missing the mark,” being lukewarm, and completely missing the point of our own “religion?”
If we pray to God to heal the cancer that the hospital says we have and then go back to have it bombarded with radiation, are we not assuming that God has no power over this thing the world calls cancer? Oh, but you may say, “God works through doctors, hospitals and drug companies to heal us!” If that is true, then God is doing a very poor job. “But,” you say, “God gives us trials to make us better mortals!”
Did Jesus ever say to the multitudes of hurting people, “Verily, verily, I say to you, ‘bear your tribulations. They build character and are good for you!” No, never once. He loved them, because God is love and His knowledge of God healed them of every kind of perceived illness or burden.
Romans 7:18 For I know that in me (that is in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing, for to will [think] is present with me.
This is why we must not be lukewarm, that is be still “of the world” and have only partial faith in the unseen. We must slay the old man or woman and welcome the truth of who we are. We must yearn for the Truth that passes understanding and “guard our thoughts”—guarding against believing that the senses are real and God is somewhere else. To be in the world but not of it (John 17:14-16) means knowing that reality is our eternal place as spiritual reflections of the eternal creative Mind/God. this brings dominion over the law of sin and death.
Prayers often don’t seem to work not because prayer doesn’t “work” but because we are praying for God to take away something we perceive as real instead of thanking God for it not being real!
John 17:16 They are not of the world even as I am not of the world.
The early Christians understood that they were not of this world and therefore had no fear of what was only illusion. They were single minded with complete, proven faith in the unseen reality of God, and being unafraid of man’s false authority.
Romans 6:22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants of God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. 23 for the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Matthew 6:22 The light of the body is the eye. If, therefore, thine eye be single, thy whole body will be full of light.
John Wesley wrote, “…And what the eye is to the body the intention is to the soul…It follows, if thine eye [intention] be single, singly fixed on God, thy whole body, that is, all thy soul, shall be full of light, --shall be filled
with holiness and happiness. But “if thine eye be evil,” –not single, aiming at any other object, seeking any other object beneath the sun,--“the whole body shall be full of darkness.”
There is no in between. Wesley goes on:
For if all things are possible with God, then all things are possible to him that believeth.
Now, if this is all construed in a religious sense—as in the idea of being pious, physical men, we invariably fail-- we are trying to bring God into a false world, a world that is “the father of lies.” God, Spirit, Mind wants to bring us out of the darkness of the illusory world of the flesh, matter, into our true place of dominion over anything not of the spirit.
Jesus brought, taught and demonstrated an entirely new Truth to the world of flesh. He demonstrated how we have been corrupted by the “physical” senses and can no longer see the reality beyond and all around us.
James 5:15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up.
I John 5:17 All unrighteousness is sin [everything that is of the world of the flesh “misses the mark.”]
Romans 6:5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection: 6 knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we shall not serve sin, [mortal mind]
Even without a clear understanding of any kind of theology, the basic teaching of Jesus can change our lives for the better. When we have sufficient reason to turn away from the world’s thoughts we leave room for the power of Spirit to heal us and “bring us into the light.” This is the dominion over the world of the flesh that is our birthright.
In nineteen seventy two an alcoholic young man named John Callahan was in a car driven by a very drunk friend. The car struck a utility pole at ninety miles an hour and John became what the world calls an alcoholic quadriplegic. He spent many years mostly drunk in a wheel chair in and out of Alcoholics Anonymous. He eventually succeeded in completing the twelve-step program and learned to rely on a higher power for the strength to stay off alcohol. He learned to “hold” a pen between his hands and move his arms enough to create simple cartoons. They were caustic, ironic and pessimistic but many were also quite funny. Callahan eventually became successful, with his cartoons appearing regularly in many international magazines and newspapers.
John Callahan died in 2010 at the age of fifty-nine. In a documentary made of his life while he was alive he was asked what brought him out of his self-pity to a successful life.
His answer: “I learned to stop thinking.