“From the Heart” teaching by Drs. Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne.
When we were living in the flesh (mere physical lives), the sinful passions that were awakened and aroused up by [what] the Law [makes sin] were constantly operating in our natural powers (in our bodily organs, in the sensitive appetites and wills of the flesh), so that we bore fruit for death. 6 But now we are discharged from the Law and have terminated all intercourse with it, having died to what once restrained and held us captive. So now we serve not under [obedience to] the old code of written regulations, but [under obedience to the promptings] of the Spirit in newness [of life]. Romans 7:5-6 AMP
Every person lives in a body of flesh that they have to deal with on a daily basis. People are not necessarily born either good or bad, but they are all born with sin in their flesh – a sin nature (Psalms 51:5). Before Jesus, God gave us the Law to govern our actions, not only to make us aware of His standards, but also to make us aware of our inability to keep the Law and therefore our need for a Savior. Thank God, through Jesus, we are delivered from mere rules and regulations. Instead we are to yield ourselves to the Spirit, for Him to regulate our lives in joy and freedom. We serve Him because we love Him not just because we have to!
If then you have died with Christ to material ways of looking at things and have escaped from the world’s crude and elemental notions and teachings of externalism, why do you live as if you still belong to the world? [Why do you submit to rules and regulations?–such as] 21 Do not handle [this], Do not taste [that], Do not even touch [them], 22 Referring to things all of which perish with being used. To do this is to follow human precepts and doctrines. 23 Such [practices] have indeed the outward appearance [that popularly passes] for wisdom, in promoting self-imposed rigor of devotion and delight in self-humiliation and severity of discipline of the body, but they are of no value in checking the indulgence of the flesh (the lower nature). [Instead, they do not honor God but serve only to indulge the flesh.] Colossians 2:20-23 AMP
People, without the Holy Spirit, judge things by outward appearance and they try to control behavior without requiring a heart change. That’s like trying to take a pill to squash a symptom without curing the disease. The disease is still there and it will manifest itself again. There must be a heart change and only God can change your heart.
In Jesus, the Law is no longer your schoolmaster – the Holy Spirit has been given as your guide. Because the world has no Holy Spirit, they rely on external things to control the flesh. Indeed, when you were a child, foolishness was bound in your heart, so you needed a rod to correct you, which was applied to your flesh. As you grew up with discipline, you began to learn the difference between right and wrong and the center of control shifted. As an adult, you should have learned to take control of your fleshly impulses from within, with no more need for the rod. In the world, jails and punishments are for those people who have never learned to control their carnal instincts and fleshly impulses.
Christians, who try to punish, starve, deprive, injure, and humiliate their own bodies in order to become more spiritual, are thinking and operating like the world. Many of them would much rather torture their bodies than offer themselves as a living sacrifice to the Lord and allow Him to change their hearts! They act humble but it is really false humility – pride masquerading as humility! The Bible says that these practices have an outward appearance of wisdom – they seem really “holy” and “spiritual” to man, but in reality they are completely ineffective in checking the indulgence of the flesh. If you could do it without Jesus, then why do you need Him at all? Trying to deal with the flesh without God, without the Holy Spirit, is both prideful and useless and it in no way honors God. It’s not about stopping bad behavior, thoughts, words, and actions – it’s about starting to do what is good and right in God’s eyes.
Being a Christian means that you have died to material ways of looking at things. Under the New Covenant, the Spirit of God sets your boundaries. He will convict you of sin you have committed, so that repentance can come and fellowship with the Father can be restored. He will stop you from committing sin by alerting you to a wrong choice you are about to make. He will also lead and guide you to do the right thing. Your control comes not from without, but from within: from the Holy Spirit Who lives in you, from your own spirit, and from your own senses and mental faculties that have been trained by the Word and the Holy Spirit to discern between good and evil (Hebrews 5:14).
Rules and regulations could not save you from hell and they certainly will not make you more spiritual after you are saved. Only the blood of Jesus can save and sanctify you. You must depend on Him and not the flesh! We are to glory in nothing, but GOD and what HE has done, giving all honor and glory to Him!