The TOTAL TRUTH Solution for a Fractured America
Big Picture Answers for America's Big Problems -
Rebuilding on America's Original Worldview

by Leonard Ransil

Section 1: Biblical Christianity
Chapter 5     So, Just Who Are You Anyway?
All scripture references from New International Version unless otherwise noted.

The natural man, not yet reborn, can’t grasp the things of the Spirit because they are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14 KJV).  Unfortunately, whether from habit or ignorance of the truth, even reborn saints tend to focus on the natural realm – which still seems more real than the spiritual realm – despite God’s exhortation to us through Paul in Colossians 3:1-2: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  For you died and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Also see Hebrews 3:1.)

This certainly does not sound very practical to the typical western mind.  But God’s Big Picture thinking reveals some hidden aspects of man’s nature in general and, more specifically, every believer’s new nature after his redemption into Christ.  And who could better explain man’s true nature than the One who created and even re-created it, God.  After all, a description of anything revealed by an Omniscient Being should trump speculations by any finite human.  Yet sadly, that logic did not prevail for centuries, usually because many influential people in Christendom did not regard the Bible as God’s inerrant, infallible truth.  Consequently, the church universal has misunderstood many key things about God, man, Satan and past, present and future realities even though they are presented in the Bible for all to see.  But one can only see through God’s gift of faith which fully trusts that His word is always true.

Paul's Gospel     

The natural mind is especially challenged by the ”surpassingly great revelations” that God gave to Paul (2 Corinthians 12:7).  To the doubters in Galatia, Paul wrote”... the gospel I preached is not something that man made up.  I ... received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 1:11-12).   And he was so sure that his message was from God that he emphatically declared in Galatians 1:8: “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!”  Additionally, Peter and the other apostles living in Jerusalem endorsed “Paul’s gospel,” acknowledging that “... the wisdom that God gave him ... is hard to understand which ignorant and unstable people distort as they do other Scriptures to their own destruction.” (Peter 3:15-16).  Classifying Paul’s writings as Scripture is praise indeed.

Paul had to adamantly defend this gospel against the harassment from the Judaizers who even influenced Peter and Barnabas to turn from the truth (Galatians 2:11-16). But perhaps none of the misinterpretations of Paul’s writings have been more harmful to the church than the confusion over man’s true nature.  God describes humans as three-part beings in Hebrews 4:12 and, again through Paul, in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 as well as in other verses.   Put simply, each person is a spirit being (made in the image and likeness of God, who is a spirit Being--Genesis 1:26 and 2 Corinthians 3:17) who has a soul and lives in a body.  However, in many Christian circles today, scripture’s three-part model is routinely reduced to a two-part model: soul and body.  How could God’s direct revelation of such a vital concept as man’s true nature be questioned and even discarded by so much of Christendom? 

Identity Theft

Historically, the answer to this mystery goes back to the Middle Ages where a battle over the nature of man raged among theologians.  On one side were those who favored the long-held, tri-part revelation described in Paul’s writings and endorsed by an early church luminary, St. Augustine.  On the other side, were those who agreed with a highly regarded monk and Doctor of the catholic church, who was unduly influenced by Aristotle’s two-part model, Thomas Aquinas.   The issue came to a head at the Council of Vienne held in 1312 -1313 where the two-part model won out.  The Council's edict set the church on a course that has caused much confusion right up to today about man’s nature and, correspondingly, about the spiritual dynamics of his relationship with God through Christ as revealed through Paul (BELIEVE Religious Information Source).

In his Big Picture experience with Jesus Christ in heaven, (2 Corinthians 12:3-4) Paul came to understand that, in the dimension of the spirit realm, he and believers everywhere are already seated in heavenly places, in Christ, in God (Ephesians 2:7).  This revelation, apprehended by faith, is the very key for appropriating the “full rights of sons” and receiving the fullness of Christ from Father-God “...who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Galatians 4:5 and Ephesians 1:3).  But, shockingly, many dismiss that revelation as just “positional truth,” implying that being “in Christ” has no relevancy to the “real world” in which we live day to day.   They conclude this precisely because they, too, disregard God’s declaration that humans are tri-part beings.  They trump this marvelous revelation from God with the traditions of men, relying on input from their five senses (sensate faith) rather than on the reality of God’s word (biblical faith.)  Yet, Abraham was justified by his biblical faith in God’s promise that contradicted circumstances; the Israelites walked in the former (unbelief) and died in the desert even while Moses walked in the latter and was called God’s friend.

New Identity

Granted, until death, a reborn person’s body is not yet redeemed (Romans 8:23) or yet with Christ in heavenly places, even though it is presently the temple of the Holy Spirit.  Also granted is the fact that the soul is often wayward in thoughts, feelings and choices because it is not yet fully sanctified.  It still struggles under the influence of old strongholds, mind sets, habits, appetites, temptations, etc. - collectively “the flesh.”  That is why David commanded his soul to “Bless the Lord,” even when it didn’t “feel” like it.  All this “programming” is left over from being spiritually in the first Adam who was under Satan’s dominion.  God’s provision for the soul is the grace of repentance - a constant renewal of one’s mind to conform to God’s thoughts about everything, accomplished by agreeing with, accepting and applying His word of truth - even when it contradicts sense knowledge!  “(Biblical) Faith is being ... certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1) just because our infallible God says it is true.

To benefit from the “in Christ” revelation which God gave to Paul, the believer must accept by biblical faith that, as a new creation spirit-being, he is a regenerated, justified, righteous, holy and sanctified saint - just by receiving Jesus meritorious work of the cross done on his behalf.  It is simply a matter of taking God’s word for it even when natural experience denies it.  Jesus, as man, lived out of His sinless spirit-self in constant communion with His Father.  He did this in spite of being born into the unredeemed human race still “in Adam.”  Now Christians, as new creation spirit-beings in Christ “belong to a chosen race, to a royal priesthood, to a holy nation....” in the realm of the spirit (1 Peter 2:9) and are "partakers of divine nature." (2 Peter 1:4).  That is why Paul can exhort believers to live “according to the Spirit” not according to the flesh (Romans 8:4).  This is a joint cooperative effort between the Holy Spirit and a Christian’s recreated spirit-self, just like it was for the man Jesus. 

Consequence of Error   

Many Christians today live in an endless “sin-confess-sin” cycle due to depending on the sense knowledge of the soul as a base of operations rather than live "in accordance with the Spirit" by the spirit (Romans 8:5-6).  This pattern can easily leave them feeling besieged, battle worn and even in despair.  They operate from a “sinner” complex, agreeing with Satan that they are inherently an evil, “old man” still in Adam rather than a new creation saint in Christ.  And their daily sensate experiences of their outer man - soul/body - consistently confirm this.  But this is not the doctrine of redemption that God revealed through Paul.  Rebirth through Christ by God brings the believer out of death into life and so, by biblical faith, he must “count yourself dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:11).  Applying this pivotal revelation makes it possible to rely on and submit to an unseen God and to resist an unseen devil by God’s spiritual power.  That is God’s way to live "in accordance with the Spirit,” in union with one’s spirit and, thus, stop an endless cycle of repeated sin.

Great News

A regenerated believer is a new creation spirit-being “put into Christ,” no matter what his soul or body does.  This is true because he did nothing to earn his position "in Christ” (just believed) so his actions, per se, can’t gain or “lose” this spirit to Spirit relationship with God.  However, Paul was quick to add that the freedom of this privileged relationship does not give the believer a license to sin (Galatians 5:13).  A continuous pattern of flagrant, unrepented sin could eventually deceive a believer to the point where his hardened soul decides to cast out the Holy Spirit and, in effect, disown God (Romans 7:11, Hebrews 3:13 and 10: 29, Mark 3:29, 2 Timothy 2: 13).  But, in contrast, the more the believer accepts by faith and understands Paul's revelation of the despicableness of his former self, now gone (Galatians 2:20), and the wonders of his new creation, spirit-self in Christ, he will agree with Paul that all else is rubbish when compared with knowing, loving and abiding in Jesus Christ. His behavior will increasingly reflect his belief and commitment. This true worldview has wonderful consequences.

That is the Good News of the totally free Gospel of Grace, which cannot be accomplished or maintained by man’s works.  It is appropriated by faith in God from first to last (Romans 1:17).  That is the primary difference between true Christianity and all other worldviews.  Salvation is offered to mankind on the basis of Jesus Christ’s finished work of His mighty sacrifice on Calvary.  It is appropriated by living according to the Spirit and, thereby, putting the misdeeds of the body to death (Romans 8:13).  The power to do this comes from the Holy Spirit who is one with the believer’s spirit-being in Christ, not from the soul which is still being renewed (Galatians 5:16).

Too Good To Be True

A legalist, enslaved to the treadmill of law-keeping to earn his salvation, likes to compare his progress with others and keep score.  Naturally, he instinctively objects to such a "free lunch” offer.  Paul confronts this fleshy response by saying, “All who rely on observing the law are under a curse.” (Galatians 3:10).  Why?  Because: 

1) “The Righteous will live by faith.” (Galatians 3:11b).  In contrast, depending on law-keeping is not based on faith in Christ’s effort on the cross but on faith in one’s self-effort which leads to death.

2) human commands and teachings "lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” (Colossians 2:23b). Despite what all the self-improvement books say, the soul is powerless to convert itself or to overcome the devil.  Unaided human will-power is doomed to failure as God clearly demonstrated through the Israelites in the Old Testament.

God's Way in Christ

Instead, God’s key to true freedom and victory over sin is agreeing with God’s new creation spiritual make over in Christ.  That surpassing revelation equips the believer to trump the power of sin’s attraction with the revelation of being and living in the power and marvelous blessings of the New Covenant through Christ, according to God’s original intent for mankind.  Living in the Spirit is as superior to living under law-keeping as is circling the globe in a plane to attempting it on a bicycle!  If the believer continues to live by the law, he will continue to experience Roman’s chapter seven; as he learns to live according to his spirit-self in the Spirit, he will progressively experience Romans eight.  Thanks to Jesus, who is Total Truth, each believer can once again choose life - daily - instead of death.

Your flesh will be prone to independence, dead works and selfishness until your body dies.  Therefore, ask your Sanctifier, the Holy Spirit to reveal if and how you are frustrating His work in you.  He will mercifully reveal to you the truth of who Father God, Jesus Christ and, the new you in Christ, really are (Ephesians 1:17-22).   Progressively, His wisdom will fill you with gratitude and love for God which will motivate and empower you to live for Him instead of for yourself.  Over time, You will experience the power and freedom of His amazing grace which has released you from the law of sin and death so that you can now serve in the new way of the Holy Spirit - one with your spirit - and not in the old way of the written law (Romans 7:6 and 8:2).  That is why Jesus sent Him.  “It was for freedom that Christ has set us free.” (Galatians 5:1). 

Total Truth = Big Picture Thinking
I welcome your questions and comments: