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Who is Your Source?

"Bill, I don’t see why you spend so much time talking about "flesh". I didn’t even bother to fill out the Flesh Inventory you distributed. I believe we ought to just love the Lord and not worry about the side issues." This brother has no idea that he’s being lulled to sleep by Satan.

A common error that Christians make is believing that we will be judged. In fact, a study of 1 Cor. 3:10-15 reveals that our work will be judged in order to see (Lit.) "…of what sort it is" (v. 13). There are only two kinds of work on earth: God’s and everyone else’s (Holy Spirit vs. flesh). Verse 10 says, "be careful how you build," Not what you build. So method is the critical factor. Is it Christ’s work through you? Or is it you doing your best, striving to enhance your self-esteem? The judgment will tell the tale. Verse 12 says God will classify each work as "gold, silver, precious stones" (Holy Spirit) vs. "wood, hay, straw" (flesh). This is a pass/fail, watershed judgment. Though the saved man may lose all rewards and carry nothing else into heaven (v. 15), he himself will be saved because salvation is a work of God. If a Believer misunderstands what flesh is, it will cost him dearly, both now and later. This is hardly a "side issue." Of the various meanings that flesh can have in Scripture, the focus at Lifetime Guarantee is to caution Christians about the Believer’s old ways that he developed for generating and maintaining his love-need supply by trusting in himself.

The most complete treatment of this definition of flesh in the New Testament occurs in Phil. 3:3-9. Verse 3 exhorts us to "put no confidence in the flesh." We can easily spot "yucky" flesh, but some of you may have old ways which seem acceptable and which generate significant self-esteem. Are you "putting confidence" in those methods? No matter how effective your flesh is, it can’t match Paul’s. His flesh yielded such a high degree of self-esteem that he challenges every reader since the first century to a flesh contest, whipping all takers (v.4). Knowing that the Bible is inspired, Paul’s boast about the "effectiveness" of his flesh is guaranteed by no less than the Holy Spirit. This guy was Captain Israel! Let’s see how he generated acceptance (love) when he was Saul of Tarsus:

"Circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless" (Phil. 3:5-6). See that word righteousness? The Bible often uses it as a synonym of acceptance. Saul aced the religious rituals of his day, which he believed made him "religiously correct" (RC) with God. He sought to merit acceptance from God and peers by being RC. He came from the "right" race, had the "right" color of skin, had the "right’ pedigree, the "right" ancestors, graduated cum laude from the "right" schools, left the Sadducees sputtering by humiliating them in public debate and left all peers eating his dust as he captured his daily bag limit of Christians while simultaneously practicing his memory verses. And why did Saul do all of this? To get acceptance from God, self and peers. And he played the game better than any of Adam’s descendants (v. 4). But, Paul would eventually see that performance-based acceptance is "a righteousness of [his] own based upon Law" (v.9), which gave him straight "F’s" on His report card.

When Saul was overwhelmed by Jesus’ love for him and got saved on the Damascus road, Sinner Saul died and was reborn with a new identity: Saint Paul. He had instantly become "righteous" with God, and his old ways for generating love became his flesh. Eventually Paul trashed any trust he had in his flesh and opted for "the righteousness (acceptance) which came from God on the basis of faith [in Christ]" (v.9). Folks, this isn’t limited to your future heaven at death; it applies to your present life on earth. (That’s worth a re-read).

Just as Saul’s lifestyle became Paul’s flesh at salvation, your former ways of generating acceptance from self and peers became your version of the flesh at conversion. The question is this: do you continue to "put confidence in the flesh" or have you trashed it, exchanging it for Paul’s method of placing your faith in your total acceptance in Christ (v.8) and allowing Him to express His Life through you? At the Judgment Seat of Christ, the first will get all your works here burned up; but the second will earn you straight "A’s". Who is your source, Christ or yourself?

About the Author

Bill founded Lifetime Guarantee Ministries to encourage people to experience the reality of Christ as life. His transparent, humorous, down-to-earth style and sense of humor made him one of the most effective teachers of his time. He communicated with great clarity the full extent of what God accomplished in Christ and what that means for the Christian identity. Although Bill passed away in June 2011, his messages are timeless and will continue to impact generations to come.