One of the significant problems which exists in understanding anything pertaining to the teaching and doctrine of the the Scripture is a failure to adequately and effectively distinguish between the physical world and the spiritual world. These two worlds are not the same, and though man inhabits both, there is sparse understanding of these worlds and their differences and distinctions. Man actually knows very little about the physical world that is apparent and seemingly plain to us. We know far, far less about the spiritual world, though we are actually two parts spiritual (soul and spirit) and only one part physical (the body). Without dwelling too much on it, the reason this disparity exists is because man is dominated by what he perceives in the physical, while largely ignoring the spiritual.
If we are to proceed further, it is essential that our lack of understanding of the basic differences between the spiritual and the physical are corrected. We also must understand how the LORD God perceives offenses if we are to correctly understand how the LORD holds man guilty of violating only Him and His law. Of all statements in Scripture, the instruction of the Lord Jesus Christ to Nicodemus is most clear and plain in clarifying and distinguishing between the physical and the spiritual:
That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (John 3:6)
Here the Lord Jesus Christ drew for Nicodemus the relationship between the two worlds: that is – they are mutually exclusive. They do not mix, and other than the principles which govern all aspects of creation, what is applicable to one is not necessarily applicable to the other. If one is born of the flesh, that is not spiritual but physical, and will remain physical. That which is born of the spirit is and will remain spiritual, and has no bearing on the physical.1 No matter what is done in either state, there is no ‘crossing over’ between the states of existence. Hence:
For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. (Romans 7:14)
It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. (I Corinthians 15:44-46)
The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him, Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother: Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh. And last of all the woman died also. Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her. Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. (Matthew 22:23-30)
Without getting into too much detail, the things which we are concerned with physically are not applicable spiritually, neither in the life to come. The above passages detail the folly of attempting to fulfill and satisfy spiritual law with physical actions. Likewise, as the Sadducees were instructed, it is folly to think of eternity, and our existence in eternity by what we experience on this earth. Briefly comprehended, the differences between our physical existence and what occurs with us spiritually are considerable. Due to this, we should not to judge one by the other, neither should we generally make decisions concerning one using information and experience from the other.
This being understood, the relationship between the two is like a leaf and its shadow. In this case, the spiritual is likened to the leaf and the physical to its shadow. Though the leaf and its shadow share a common outline, and the shadow would not exist but for the leaf, the shadow is not the leaf, and the leaf is far more than its shadow reveals.
Let us bear this in mind and realize that, as a result of these differences, there are also two vastly different perspectives which exist.
There are only two perspectives that we need be concerned with as we examine this issue:
- The perspective of the LORD God.
- The perspective of man.
Of the two, the LORD God’s perspective is accurate and all-encompassing; man’s is not. Man’s perspective is limited and biased, and is subject to considerable distortion due to the iniquity of our existence. This includes every aspect of our existence: body, soul and spirit. Primarily, the area where man suffers most is the arena of the spiritual. Though we are two parts spiritual, it is the physical which dominates man, severely limiting our perception of the spiritual world. Thus, we experience a considerable disadvantage in perception.
It is the LORD that makes us aware of our deficiency in His statement to Samuel about Eliab, a son of Jesse and brother of David:
And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the LORD’S anointed is before him. But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. (I Samuel 16:6-7)
This deficiency is somewhat rectified in the believer by the new birth and the indwelling of the Holy Ghost. Yet, this is subject to the believer’s desire and willingness to rule over the flesh. Hence, though the following passage is true, spiritual perception can be very limited in the believer:
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. (I Corinthians 2:9-15)
The above passages demonstrate the stark contrast between the perception of the LORD God and that of man. As we are aware from Jeremiah 17, verse 9, man does not accurately perceive his own heart. Therefore it should be no great surprise that man does not perceive the spiritual world in any significant detail either. By all evidence, we must concede that the LORD’s perspective is not limited, but man’s is. Moreover, that limitation is dependent upon whether any particular individual is born again and how willing they are to allow the spiritual to dominate. If, and it is a big “if,” the believer is willing, they can perceive much spiritually, but only because of the indwelling of the Holy Ghost. Without the Spirit of the LORD, such perception is virtually non-existent.
The limited perspective of man
It is unfortunate that man does not really understand how limited his perspective actually is. Even in the physical sense, in which we cannot perceive things that are often mere feet away from us (and in some cases, inches), we think we perceive more than we actually do, and believe that our perspective is better than it actually is.
So it is with transgression and sin. As man, we believe that the transgression and sin occur when we see something happen, however, the reality is that the transgression and sin occur before any outward action is ever taken. The reason for this is due to the transgression and sin occurring spiritually before it manifests through the vehicle of the flesh. As a result, we believe that there is no need to ask forgiveness, if we didn’t do anything to anyone, but merely considered it and ultimately left it off for whatever reason. We fail to realize that in so doing, we have already sinned against the LORD God – though nothing outward and visible occurred, and neither did any harm occur to the person we thought to injure.
This is also true with respect to who we transgress and sin against. Though we do not readily perceive it, we always transgress the law of God (and thus sin), whenever we transgress against our fellow man. In fact, we may not perceive that we have transgressed against the LORD at all, thinking we have only done something against our fellow man. Thus, we tend to think that we also have the power to forgive when someone transgresses against us. However, as we shall see, we have no power at all to forgive sin and transgression, no matter what was done against us.
|The Scriptural Case Against Abortion
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|Appendix F: Against Thee, Thee Only Have I Sinned
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|Who Can Forgive Sins|
- Physically, other than the end result of salvation being the resurrection of a body like Christ’s body, and thus being freed from the corruption of iniquity, there is no effect upon the flesh of the believer. If you have the flu, cancer, heart disease, etc., and are saved with that affliction, then you will still have that affliction after salvation. The salvation of the soul has no direct effect upon the body in this life. It is in the life to come and after the resurrection that these afflictions and infirmities are done away with. [↩]