Bible Study with Jairus – Romans 6
The subject of Romans 6 is about being united with Christ, including the experience of death and resurrection with Christ (Romans 6:1-5). Paul specifically mentioned that our old man was crucified with Christ. The sinful flesh has already been annulled (Romans 6:6-16), so we should consider ourselves alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:11). Although many Christians know this truth, they often find that their old man and flesh are still very active in their experience. How do we make sense of this? Paul’s explanation in verses 12-23 says that we should offer our bodies to God as instruments for righteousness and not offer them to sin as instruments for unrighteousness (Romans 6:13). In other words, as Paul said in Romans 8, “Setting our mind on the Spirit is life and peace, but setting the mind on the flesh is death.” (ESV, Romans 8:6).
How do we better understand Paul’s message in Romans 6? During our meeting, we cited a few examples to help our bible study members understand what Paul meant.
First of all, we must know that man is a living soul, and this living soul is the product of the combination of God’s Spirit or breath and the body formed by God from dust. Genesis 2:7 (KJB) explains, “The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.” The “breath of life” here can be translated as “spirit” or “God’s breath.” So the soul acts as an intermediary when God’s breath and man’s body of dust are combined. The soul can contact the material world through the body’s senses, and it can also contact the spiritual world through the Spirit in a person. For example, I have had many prophetic dreams since 2015. In these dreams, I will go to heaven and paradise to watch various situations. If this is a real experience, then this should be something that happens in the Spirit. It should be an experience of contacting the spiritual world in the Spirit. But I need my soul and mind’s function to remember these dreams and record them in time. Therefore, we can see that the soul helps the Spirit or uses the Spirit to contact the spiritual world.
The power of the soul is great. For example, before Adam’s fall, God asked all animals to come to Adam for him to name them (Genesis 2:20). This shows that Adam’s knowledge was very extensive. In the Local Church Movement, they often mention that after man’s fall, the body of man will fall into the flesh, the soul will fall into selfish self, and the Spirit of man will die. This is a fascinating thought. Here, we only look at this fallen soul. The Lord Jesus said, “For whoever would save his soul-life will lose it, but whoever loses his soul-life for My sake will save it.” (Luke 9:24). According to STEPBIBLE.ORG, the “life” indicated in the original text does have the meaning of “soul.” There are two souls here; one is the old, fallen soul-life that must be discarded. The other is the renewed soul-life that must be gained.
After man’s fall, the body did not immediately die, but the Spirit of man died. The soul of man is continuously dying. At this time, the man’s soul-life is no longer the wonderful soul-life that God created. Instead, it is the fallen soul-life that is mixed with the sinful life of Satan. This is the life of the old man mentioned by Paul here in Romans 6.
God created the soul the same way Satan merged his life with man’s sin producing sinful flesh. The example I gave in a previous study can still be used to explain this. Satan is like a drug dealer. If a drug dealer comes to sell drugs, and you are not weak or vulnerable, he can’t deceive you. Therefore, if a person is tricked into taking drugs and becomes addicted to them, on the one hand, it is the fault of the drug dealer. On the other hand, it is also because of the weakness of the person being deceived. When these two things are combined, it can produce a drug addict. If a drug dealer came to entice you, and you refuse to give in to him, then the drug dealer has no influence over you, nor can he cause you to be an addict. When Satan’s deception and the sin of Adam’s rebellion are combined, it produced a sinful life, which is the man’s fallen soul-life or the life of the old man that Paul mentioned. When the Lord Jesus came to accept Satan’s temptation, He did not sin and therefore, did not produce this fallen life. As He said in John 14:30 (ESV), “The evil one has no claim on me.”
When I was young, I used to work on a construction site. We mixed limestone and water, which caused a chemical reaction that produced the white plaster we used to renovate houses on the construction site. It was fascinating to watch the chemical reaction of two substances producing a third substance. Similarly, the combination of God’s Spirit and man’s body produces the soul-life, and the combination of Satan’s life and the sin of man produces the fallen old man. How do we get rid of this old man’s life? Satan is immortal. He will be tormented forever in the lake of fire. The purpose of Jesus’ death on the cross was not to kill Satan but to dethrone him and renounce his work. How is his work renounced? It is by crucifying the old man’s life, which is a combination of Satan’s life and humans’ sins. The old man is crucified by the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross, removing human sin once for all. When human sin was removed on the cross, then the old man’s life, which is the combination of human sin and Satan, no longer exists; it is dissolved. This is a spiritual truth and reality. Another way to look at it is to liken Satan to the water, human sin as limestone, and white plaster as our old man. Removing the limestone and changing it to another kind of stone that doesn’t react to water will not produce the white plaster or old man.
Why do many Christians seem to operate out of their flesh and sin even after they are saved? Why can’t they overcome sin? One reason would be cooperating with Satan’s lies through their imaginations and living in an illusion of sin. Or perhaps they set their minds on the flesh, which the Bible says is death. Why is it that setting our minds on the flesh is death and cooperating with Satan’s lies through our imaginations leads us to live according to the crucified old man?
After I left the Local Church Movement, I started to listen to many Charismatic pastors’ sermons on the Internet. One of them is Mel Bond. But an example he cited left a deep impression on me. He said that human imagination is very important. Just as God can create anything, He gives people a similar creative ability. For example, we often say that there is nothing you can’t do that can’t be done, only things that you haven’t thought of. There are often many things that you haven’t thought of. If you come up with an idea, you will find that others have already done it. Even the Bible recognizes the importance of imagination. For example, when people were building the Tower of Babel, the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will be impossible for them.” (ESV, Genesis 11:6). The word “propose” here can also mean “imagination.” If the people united and plotted evil, even God couldn’t stop it. This is why God confused their language.
Mel Bond asked, “How can we have the signs and wonders of the spiritual world, or how do we use prophetic gifts to obtain the word of knowledge and prophetic words?” He said that in addition to prayer, it was mainly through holy imagination. When we focus our imagination on the spiritual world and the presence of God, we will often be miraculously inspired and receive prophetic gifts such as prophetic words and words of knowledge.
He said that many evangelical Christians do not dare to talk about imagination for fear that they will come into contact with evil spirits after the imagination is opened up. This fear is justified, but it’s not without a solution. Satan often influences our thinking and imagination through worldly and degenerate images such as TV and movies, filling our imagination full of sinful things all day long, making us prone to sin. Similarly, as Christians, we should sanctify our imagination and always set our minds on God and heavenly things. Only then will the holy imagination open the door of the spiritual world.
This is similar to the Local Church Movement’s teaching of exercising the Spirit and setting the mind on the Spirit. In the Local Church Movement, special attention is paid to turning one’s mind away from sin and the world through pray-reading the Lord’s words, calling on the Lord’s name, and other methods of exercising the Spirit. This helps a person set their mind on the Spirit, which brings life and peace. I like to sing a song composed by a brother using Colossians 3:2-4 (ESV) “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” I often sing and read this verse to help me set my mind on the Spirit and things in heaven. I also like to pray 2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (ESV), “But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
When our minds are constantly focused on the Spirit and heavenly things, we unconsciously and naturally open up a sacred and holy imagination, thereby entering the kingdom of God’s presence and peace. At this time, our actions in life can easily flow from the Spirit and not from the mixed life of the flesh and the fallen soul. The negative experiences happen when we don’t actively focus on heavenly things and the presence of God. We live in anxiety and sorrow, ending up controlled by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life John described in 1 John 2:16.
Why? The example cited in Mel Bond’s sermon can explain this. Mel Bond said that a man drove a red Ferrari to the church for a meeting one day. During the meeting, text and pictures were displayed on the big screen, showing that a red Ferrari was smashed by a passing truck. When he heard the news, he immediately experienced all kinds of negative emotions, including anger, resentment, pain, anxiety, etc. so much that if he were tested, his body would be hypersecreting hormones. He rushed out to take a look. As expected, a red Ferrari was wrecked. Taking a closer look, it turns out that the crashed Ferrari was precisely the same as his red Ferrari, but his car was still parked in another place and was in perfect condition.
After telling this story, Mel Bond asked the audience, “The man’s red Ferrari was not damaged, but he began to think it was. This was a false fact. But I would like to ask because he thought his red Ferrari was damaged, was the feeling of anger, pain, and increased hormone secretion that he produced a real experience?” He said yes. Even though it was a lie that his car was wrecked, the experience in his heart caused by his imagination was completely real.
This is the story that Paul talked about in Romans 6. Our old man died on the cross with Christ. The Lord Jesus, as the spotless lamb, took away the sins of the world. So the old man’s life produced by Satan who combined himself and man’s sins no longer exists. This is a sacred fact. But if you think it still exists, and you live with it by imagination, you will fall into Satan’s tricks, letting it continue to live out sin in you by deceiving you. The world looks as real as how the person in the above example felt the first time he saw the photo and heard the announcement that someone had damaged a red Ferrari.
Satan has no jurisdiction over you once you are saved, but he can still control you if you believe his lies. So in the past, Satan controlled people through their sins, but now Satan controls people through lies. If you believe his lies, you will still live under his control.
If you believe in a lie, you can create a false world based on this lie. If you believe in spiritual truth, such as “justification by faith,” “he who believes and is baptized will be saved,” you can enter a real spiritual world. Christians who received salvation have this kind of experience. If someone said to you, “you can’t do anything,” and you believe it, you will find that you really can’t do anything. But if you believe that all things are possible with Christ, you can do all things through His power.
This is the importance of imagination. If the word imagination makes you uncomfortable, use the terminology in Romans 8 “setting the mind on the Spirit” and Colossians 3 “setting the mind on things that are above” to express the same meaning. 2 Corinthians 3:16-18 say that we who behold the glory of the Lord gradually become the same image as Him. In other words, we are like a mirror. What we look at, reflect on, think, and imagine, we will become.
Bill Johnson, another Charismatic pastor, often says, “You are what you are most aware of.” This means what you paid most attention to is what you will become. If you pay more attention to the glory of God and the presence of God in your life, you will slowly live in the scope of God’s presence and His glory. If you pay more attention to worldly things, you will become a part of this world. If you continuously pay attention to sinful things, you will sin and become a part of sin.
What Paul said in Romans 6:12-23 is nothing more than this. In verse 13, he said that we must offer our bodies to God as instruments for righteousness, not to sin as instruments for unrighteousness. Verse 14 says that if we offer our bodies to God as instruments for righteousness, sin will have no dominion over us because we are not under the law but under the grace of God. Because we have been set free from our sins and have become slaves of God, the fruit we get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life (ESV, Romans 6:22). These experiences are Paul’s way of laying the groundwork of saying, “Setting the mind on the Spirit is life and peace but setting the mind on the flesh is death” in Romans 8.
What kind of life we live today depends entirely on our choice. By the mercies of God, we must present our bodies as a living sacrifice, which is our spiritual worship (ESV, Romans 12:1). Our bodies must be offered to God as instruments of God and righteousness. You can’t say you want to pray and worship God while watching worldly TV programs. This type of thinking won’t work. You must separate yourself from sin, sinful behavior as well as living habits and present it to God. Second, you have to dedicate your soul and mind to God, or at least your imagination, and you should set your mind on the things above and the Spirit to live a heavenly, victorious Christian life.
Romans 7 begins to talk about the various experiences of a saved person in the flesh. Paul sighed and said, “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” (ESV, Romans 7:19). He even sighed that he was a wretched person (ESV, Romans 7:24). This was a real experience, but it was also a false experience. Why? Your imagination has not been sanctified. You are still living in the deception of the enemy. After you see this spiritual fact clearly and set your mind on the Spirit, you can enter into Paul’s experience in Romans 8; you will be set free from the law of sin and death through the law of the Spirit of life in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:2).
One of the biggest problems of many Christians today is they set their minds on the flesh. They can live a holy and victorious life, yet they choose to offer their bodies to sin as instruments for unrighteousness or put their imagination or minds on the flesh. Combining this with Satan’s deception, they live a sinful or worldly life. However, this life is an illusion. The actual spiritual reality is that Christians have already been crucified with Christ. The life of your old man no longer exists. You only need to sanctify your imagination or set your mind on the Spirit and the things above, and you will be able to be free from all the sins, failures, and weaknesses in your body and live a victorious life!
No matter what lies you believed in the past, such as “I can’t do anything,” “I am not good at socializing,” “I am not good at doing business,” “I can’t overcome a certain fear,” “I can never do that,” “No one likes me,” and so on, these words have no power in themselves. When you believe and focus on those thoughts, you create a false imagination in your mind and end up living out what you believe. I believed these lies before, but God used His miraculous salvation to bring me into the experience of healing and casting out demons. Then I was able to break countless similar lies. My life has been different from that point on.
Because I lived in a rural area in China when I was young, and my family situation was not that ideal, I believed in a lie, which was, “The reason why I am not successful is that I am the son of a farmer. Success is not in my genes.” My life was in bondage because of this thinking. I experienced inner healing in my soul, broke this lie, and broke through the life that I designed for myself because of believing this lie.
Negative words can only affect you if you believe in them. Similarly, positive words can only produce positive results by combining your faith, positive thoughts, and the power of your imagination. I hope this study blesses you.