Fleshly Feelings Vs. Spiritual Life

Michael E. Phillips

In Titus 3:5, the apostle Paul wrote, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost." When one is saved, there is a spiritual renewal to be expected, based upon faithful obedience to the Will of the Lord. This spiritual renewal was promised to the people on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:38, identified as "the gift of the Holy Ghost." It was expected "when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord" (Acts 3:19). It was the "newness of life" (Romans 6:4) that was caused "through the faith of the operation of God" (Colossians 2:12). It was the time when the Corinthians were "washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Corinthians 6:11).

While all these passages are dealing with the spiritual cleansing of the faithfully obedient soul, some might wonder if this process can be physically "felt." After all, some in the religious world strive for a physical "experience," or a strange warming of the heart, at the time of conversion to Christ (as instructed in accordance with the doctrines and commandments of men). Yet, what do the Scriptures teach regarding the physical "feeling" of the renewal process carried out by the Holy Spirit? Should one expect to "feel" the process of the removal of sin from the soul?

In John 3, Jesus discussed the need for man to be "born again," saying, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3:5). Thus, this is a direct reference to the practice of coming forth from being buried by baptism in water, but it also references an active role of one's being born "of the Spirit."

When the Holy Spirit acts in the redemptive process, should it be "felt physically?" Jesus again answers this in the same text, in John 3:8, saying, "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." In other words, the effect of the new birth in a person's life (i.e. joy, peace) can be noticed, but the act of the new birth is not physical, but spiritual! "The effort was to show Nicodemus that it was the spiritual part of man, not the fleshly part, that is to be born again. The man which is born, or begotten, of the Spirit is not the fleshly man that you can see, but the intangible, spiritual part of man the spirit, invisible, like the wind." (David Lipscomb, JOHN, p. 46).

The Holy Spirit grants the new birth through the inspired Word, as 1 Peter 1:23 states, "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever." This is not a fleshly process. Jesus said, "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63). Fleshly dependence on physical experience amounts to nothing, but dependence on the Spirit given Word offers life! -P. O. Box 176, Belington, WV. 26250.


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