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The Battleground Of Body And Mind
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As Paul tracks the path of spiritual death, he doesn't lay all of the blame on the world around us, neither on the corrosive fellowship of unbelievers nor on the might of Satan and all his cohorts. He tells us of the enemy within-our own physical and intellectual nature. We are the battlefield. Sometimes when an emotional flare-up has broken a relationship, we hear, "But that's just the way I am. I can't help being this way."

Of course that's the way they are. Who would dispute it? But it's tragic to remain that way when the spirit of God is available and willing to enter our lives.

Not only do we find some kind of relief from our rationalizations about ourselves, but we also look around us to rationalize the whole world's behavior. We may even be better than the people around us. After all, who wouldn't like to compare his own virtues with another's vices. As they say, "In the world of the blind, the one-eyed man is king." In Ephesus, as in much of the world today, believers were a minority. It seems always so. The world around us is no excuse for the world within us. In our day of sociological stereotypes, it's easy to say, "Change the environment, and you will change the people." Nature should teach us. A lily blooming in a muddy pool is as white as one in the florist's window.

A fish living in a world of salt water still needs to be salted before becoming tasty. Lionel Arrington once wrote a song that reminded us that all the water in the world wasn't enough to sink us unless the water got inside the boat.

One of the words Paul uses carries more significance than we usually give it: "Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past ." (Eph. 2:3). Rightly understood, the word conversation means "citizenship." ("Life in association with others, in the everyday intercourse of society." Interpreter's Bible, 1953, Vol. 10; p. 641.) Citizenship was a cherished word to Paul. He was a Roman citizen, even when he was far from Rome or any Roman province. As such, he demanded and got the special recognition and privilege of the empire. Now he talks of his former citizenship in the world of iniquity. This has changed. He's now a citizen of the kingdom of heaven. Later in this chapter he speaks of being "aliens to the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world" (Eph. 2:12).

It is impossible to carry two spiritual passports---you must both choose and be chosen.

Fortunately, God has already chosen, so now we must choose.
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The Brain-Body War Mark Twain said, "Man is the only animal that blushes, or needs to." All other animals can live correctly by obeying their animal instincts. Humans can't.

It's impossible for an animal to change his nature, not that he needs to do so. "Can the leopard (change) his spots?" asks God, in Jer. 13:23. The leopard fulfills his destiny by obeying the desires of his flesh, his physical nature---not so with humans.

If we were merely animals, we could do what comes "naturally," but when we do that, we act worse than animals. Who ever heard of a homosexual chimpanzee? Or a rebellious sheep? But humans? They defy description in the level to which they can descend.

Not only is this true physically, but mentally as well. If we let our appetite run away with itself, we can become terribly overweight or seriously ill. If we let our minds become undisciplined, anxiety and depression are the result.

The law of nature makes the animal kingdom harmonious: the law of nature (according to Paul) decrees that those who follow their basic, undisciplined desires become the "children of wrath" (Eph. 2:3)

Anyone can prove his three-fold nature. If you don't believe that you have a soul, try living as though you are only a body. Or, try living as though you don't have a body, and you will become ill---your ignored nature will cry out for attention. Soul, mind, and body---these three are the three sides of the human triangle---remove one side and the other two collapse. This three-sided pattern shows up in three distinct ways in Paul's letter to the Ephesians: (1) Past---present---future; (2) Body---mind---soul; (3) God---ourselves---others.

At this point in Paul's letter, the secret, the mystery, and the hidden wisdom began to clear up. It is God's eternal purpose to bring all these different (and sometimes warring) elements together to create unity. Ah, yes, to create not only compatibility, but unity.

We might even insert a modern word---synergy. The law of synergy says that three things brought together become more than the sum of the parts---they create something new.

To illustrate: A pile of bricks is not a house; a hundred bags of mortar mix are not a house; a mason is not a house. But a mason takes the bricks and mortar and creates a house. The three elements must be brought together to create something that no one could do by itself.

As Paul contemplates this, he is overwhelmed with the miracle: But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph. 24-6).




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