"For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh" (Phil. 3.3). "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him. God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything; even the depths of God" (1 Cor. 2.9,10).
I was saved no sooner than 1995, but no later than January, 2001 by the grace of God. Seeds were planted as early as 1995 when I received a most amazing miracle in my life from which I began to consider God of the Bible, but I believe I received initial salvation in January, 2001 based on circumstances in my life in which I finally gave up and gave in to Christ. He gave me eternal life right there in a moment according to John 6.47, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life."
From then on I was devoted and knew Him. Subsequently, within a few months afterwards, I had an experience in the Holy Spirit in which I thought my spirit had reached Third Heaven, though I can not be certain. I never wanted it to end, it was so incredible unlike anything I had ever experienced in my life. I prayed for it to last as long as possible, and it lasted a half an hour. I believe God gives us these experiences as a memory of his amazing power and a foretaste of what Heaven will be like so that we keep one eye on Him at all times diligent in our walk in the spirit and the Word.
Spiritual advancement is measured by faithful obedience. Natural endowment does not affect spiritual life one way or another, although it yields priority to the flesh. In spiritual experience everybody begins at the same starting point, passes through the same processes, and obtains the same results.
The crucifixion of the flesh is not dependent upon experiences, however different they may be; rather is it contingent upon the fact of God’s finished work. “Those who belong to Christ Jesus”—the weak as well as the strong—“have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” You say you still sin, but God says you have been crucified on the cross. You say your temper persists, but God’s answer is that you have been crucified. You say your lusts remain very potent, but again God replies that your flesh has been crucified on the cross. For the moment will you please not look at your experience, but just hearken to what God says to you. If you do not listen to His Word and instead look daily upon your situation, you will never enter into the reality of your flesh having been crucified on the cross. Disregard your feelings and experience. God pronounces your flesh crucified; it therefore has been crucified. Simply respond to God’s Word and you shall have experience. When God tells you that “your flesh has been crucified” you should answer with “Amen, indeed my flesh has been crucified.” In thus acting upon His Word you shall see your flesh is dead indeed.
God considers our flesh as crucified already.
To Him it is an accomplished fact. Whatever may be our personal
experiences God declares that “those who belong to Christ Jesus have
crucified the flesh.” In order to possess such death we must not give too
large a place to discovering how or to noticing our
experience; we should instead believe God’s Word. “God says my flesh has
been crucified so I believe it is crucified. I acknowledge that what God
says is true.” By responding in this fashion we shall soon encounter the
reality of it. If we look at God’s fact first our experience will follow
The problem is due to not knowing God’s fact. Hence the first step towards deliverance is to treat the flesh according to God’s viewpoint. And what is that? It is not in trying to crucify the flesh but in acknowledging that it has been crucified, not in walking according to our sight but according to our faith in the Word of God. If we are well established on this point of acknowledging the flesh as already crucified, then we shall be able to proceed in dealing with the flesh experimentally. If we waver over this fact, the possibility of our definitely possessing it will escape us. In order to experience co-crucifixion we first must set aside our current situation and simply trust the Word of God.
God has done what He could do. The question next is, what attitude do we assume towards His finished work? Not just in name but in actuality has He crucified our flesh on the cross. If we believe and if we exercise our will to choose what God has accomplished for us, it will become our life experience. We are not asked to do anything because God has done it all. We are not required to crucify our flesh for God has crucified it on the cross. Do you believe this is true? Do you desire to possess it in your life? If we believe and if we desire then we shall cooperate with the Holy Spirit in obtaining rich experience. Colossians 3.5 implores us to “put to death therefore what is earthly in you.” This is the path towards experience. The “therefore” indicates the consequence of what precedes it in verse 3; namely, “you have died.” The “you have died” is what God has achieved for us. Because “you have died,” therefore “put to death what is earthly in you.” The first mention of death here is our factual position in Christ; the second, our actual experience. The failure of believers today can be traced to a failure to see the relationship between these two deaths. Some have attempted to put their flesh to nought for they lay stress only upon the death experience. Their flesh consequently grows livelier with each dealing! Others have acknowledged the truth that their flesh in fact was crucified with Christ on the cross; yet they do not seek the practical reality of it. Neither of these can ever appropriate experimentally the crucifixion of the flesh.
If we desire to put our members to death we first must have a ground for such action; otherwise we merely rely upon our strength. No degree of zeal can ever bring the desired experience to us. Moreover, if we only know our flesh has been crucified with Christ but are not exercised to have His accomplished work carried out in us, our knowledge too will be unavailing. A putting to nought requires a knowing first of an identification in His death; knowing our identification, we must exercise the putting to death. These two must go together. We are deceiving ourselves should we be satisfied with just perceiving the fact of identification, thinking we are now spiritual because the flesh has been destroyed [made ineffective]; on the other hand, it is an equal deception if in putting to nought the wicked deeds of the flesh we over-emphasize them and fail to take a death attitude towards the flesh. Should we forget that the flesh is dead we shall never be able to lay anything to rest. The “put to death” is contingent upon the “you have died.” This putting to death means bringing the death of the Lord Jesus to bear upon all the deeds of the flesh. The crucifixion of the Lord is a most authoritative one for it puts away everything it encounters. Since we are united with Him in His crucifixion we can apply His death to any member which is tempted to lust and immediately put it to nought.
Our union with Christ in His death signifies that it is an accomplished fact in our spirits. What a believer must do now is to bring this sure death out of his spirit and apply it to his members each time his wicked lusts may be aroused. Such spiritual death is not a once for all proposition. Whenever the believer is not watchful or loses his faith, the flesh will certainly go on a rampage. If he desires to be conformed completely to the Lord’s death, he must unceasingly put to nought the deeds of his members so that what is real in the spirit may be executed in the body.
The opposition manifested by the flesh against the spirit and against the Holy Spirit is two-fold: (1) by way of committing sin—rebelling against God and breaking the law of God; and (2) by way of performing good—obeying God and following the will of God. The body element of the flesh, full of sin and lust, naturally cannot but express itself in many sins, much to the grief of the Holy Spirit. The soul part of the flesh, however, is not as defiled as the body. Soul is the life principle of man; it is his very self, comprising the faculties of will, mind and emotion. From the human viewpoint the works of the soul may not be all defiled. They merely center upon one’s thought, idea, feeling, and like or dislike. Though these all are focused upon self, they are not necessarily defiling sins. The basic characteristic of the works of the soul is independence or self-dependence. Even though the soul side is therefore not as defiled as the body side, it nonetheless is hostile to the Holy Spirit. The flesh makes self the center and elevates self-will above God’s will. It may serve God, but always according to its idea, not according to God’s. It will do what is good in its own eyes. Self is the principle behind every action. It may not commit what man considers sin: it may even try to keep God’s commandments with all its power: yet "self" never fails to be at the heart of every activity. Who can fathom the deceitfulness and vitality of this self? The flesh opposes the spirit not just in sinning against God, but now even in the matter of serving Him and pleasing Him. It opposes and quenches the Holy Spirit by leaning upon its own strength without wholly relying upon God’s grace and simply being led by the Spirit.
Whether good acts or evil, all
are but the expressions of the same flesh. If the flesh is not furnished
opportunity to sin, it is willing to do good; and if once the opportunity to
perform good is provided, the flesh will soon revert to sin.
Here Satan deceives God’s children. If believers would habitually maintain the attitude of the flesh being crucified Satan could have no chance; for "the flesh is Satan’s workshop." If the flesh in whole, not just in part, is truly under the power of the death of the Lord, Satan will be totally disemployed. He is consequently willing to allow the sinful part of our flesh to be offered unto death if he may only deceive us into retaining the good part. Satan is quite aware that should the good side remain intact the life of the flesh will continue to be kept alive. He still has a base from which to operate to recover that side which he has lost. He knows very well that the flesh could win and regain its victory in the realm of sin if the flesh succeeded in squeezing the Holy Spirit out in the matter of serving God. This explains why many Christians fall back into the service of sin after they have been set free. Should the spirit not actually be in complete and continuous control in the matter of worship, it will be unable to maintain dominion in daily life. If I have not yet entirely denied myself before God I cannot deny myself before men, and therefore I cannot overcome my selfishness. These two are inseparable.
The Lord frequently leads the saint through painful experiences in order that he may not love the Lord for his own sake. When one loves with his own affection and for his own sake he can only love when he senses the affection of the Lord. However, one who loves with God’s love and for His sake will be made by God to believe in His love rather than to feel it. At the beginning of a Christian life the Lord uses many ways to attract the believer to, and to assure him of, His love. Later, He desires to guide him further on by withdrawing the feeling of love while leading him on into believing His heart of love. Please note that that first step of being attracted by the feeling of the Lord’s love is necessary for the believer’s subsequent deeper walk with the Lord, because unless he has been drawn by the Lord’s love he shall be powerless to forsake all and follow Him. During the initial stage on a Christian’s spiritual path the feeling of the love of the Lord is vital and helpful, something to be sought diligently. After an appropriate time, though, he ought not cling to such feeling, for to do so will bring damage to his spiritual life. Various spiritual experiences are apportioned to different steps in one’s spiritual walk. To encounter a certain experience in its corresponding stage of life is both proper and profitable; but to hanker again for those early experiences at a later stage in our walk constitutes retreat or retardation. After the Lord has made a person feel His love, He wishes Him to believe in His love. Hence when one has experienced for a time the love of the Lord in his emotion, God will remove that feeling (although not immediately) in order to create in him the essential belief that the love of the Lord never changes. Consequently, let that one not be surprised should he, following a period of feeling the Lord’s love, lose that feeling. The time has now arrived for him to believe in the Lord’s love.
This has been my experience.