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The New Jerusalem—a Pattern for Living—the Gates of Pearl

Tamarajo is an avid Bible scholar who loves nothing more than seeking out the treasures in God's Word and sharing them with others.



A full description of the New Jerusalem, the topic of this study, is recorded in John's book of Revelation.

And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west. Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And he who talked with me had a gold reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. The city is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand furlongs. Its length, breadth, and height are equal. Then he measured its wall: one hundred and forty-four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel. The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

— Revelation 21:10-21

This heavenly depiction is more than a fantasy home to look forward to at the end of our earthly journey. It is the blueprint of an entire Christian life lived for God.

Much like the Old Testament Tabernacle, where every detail spoke of salvation through a sacrificial system that Christ fulfilled, this structure's elements will also have something to say about a life lived in fellowship with God. Both structures' main goals and focus are to dwell with God eternal.

This structure consists of the individual lives of believers.

For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building.

— I Corinthians 3:9

And It is also a picture and symbol of how God was able to take collective sinful humanity and bring forth a new and beautiful creation.

. . . you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

— I Peter 2:5

Every foundation and gate of the New Jerusalem includes people that were not perfect but submitted themselves and surrendered their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ, whose name means salvation. And in the end, the Lord creates a beautiful and suitable habitation in their lives.

So it is with us. Our individual lives may not bear much beauty from our mistakes and the effects of sins committed against us. But as we place our faith, trust, and hope in the saving work of Jesus' death for our sins and the sins committed against us, and in His resurrection, we can believe that we will be resurrected and transformed into a beautiful new and perfect creation.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

— Romans 8:28

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

— Ephesians 2:10

This lesson will study the precious pearl of the "New Jerusalem."

A pearl is the only gem in the city's structure that is not formed by heat and pressure. The suffering of the mollusk develops it. For a pearl to be obtained, the mollusk has to die. The gems in the foundations speak of external heat and pressure. The pearl speaks of the inward workings of refinement.

It's About Suffering, Death, and a Resurrection

Author J. Preston Eby describes the pearl development process and its spiritual application in the following excerpt.

"The Pearl is made when a mollusk (clam shell) is inflicted with a foreign object. This foreign object is irritating and painful to the mollusk and it begins to excrete a material called nacre. Layers of nacre are oozed over the object in response, thereby forming a pearl.

The pearl is formed within a living creature by a living process. Pearls do not grow in open air, or exposed to outer elements. Most are formed within an oyster, hidden away within the depths of the seas. The oyster is certainly not a beautiful creature on the outside, yet God has ordained a spiritual lesson for us in that on the inside of the oyster, through processes that He has ordained, something BEAUTIFUL and GREAT VALUE can be formed. Thus a pure heart a divine mind, a heavenly nature is formed in the center of the ugliness of an outwardly earthly creature. It is a living thing - a living process - and has its seat a the very center of the life. The creation of the pearl is initiated by the introduction of and irritant - and in the life of the over comer that irritant is THE CROSS. It is produced out of suffering, and the crucifixion of a life beginning with Jesus death on the cross."

"The sea is a type of soul, and the living process involved in making the pearl is the living dynamic work of GRACE that flows from our spirit joined to His Spirit, in response to the in working of the cross, producing the beautiful character qualities that give us an entrance into the higher dimension of God's Kingdom. Our hearts are made pure, the new creation life is formed in soul and body, through the crucifixion of the natural life and the out flowing of His grace. The cross enters our lives as something that hurts - we may see it as a trial, a difficulty, a hard place, a crisis experience - but it pierces the flesh-life, evoking streams of the pearly nacre of HIS LIVE AND GRACE, forming the beauty of Christ within.

Leland Earls wrote: "A pearl cannot be produced without suffering in the oyster. Heb. 2:10 says that Jesus was made perfect through suffering. In Heb 5:8 where we read that Jesus learned obedience through the things which He suffered. All the experiences that Jesus went through which prepared or perfected Him for His role or ministry as KING-PRIEST in the Kingdom of God. And remember - Jesus is not only our Savior, but also the PATTERN SON for all the sons who are to be brought to His same glory and share in His King-Priest ministry and rule. We are now being prepared for future roles of responsibility. And the experiences of life correspond to the irritants that invade the oyster! How we respond to them is important. If we let the Spirit of God exude divine grace within us, even as the oyster exudes a living substance to form a pearl then our right and grateful response to every experience can be used of God to form the pearl-like beauty of His nature and character in us. Pearls may be rose, cream, white, bronze, brown, or pastel shades of lavender, blue green, etc. depicting the various hues of the Lord's work in us by His Spirit. It is not the irritants (experiences) themselves that make us over comers, but rather our drawing upon His grace - His divine life substance, that builds layer upon layer of pearl-like beauty in us. The appealing iridescence and the luster for which pearls are prized are due primarily to the reflection and refraction of light on the surface of the translucent gem. Ah, beloved, the light of the New Jerusalem is the GLORY of God. Can we be ready for that City unless when that glory shines upon us there is a reflection and refraction of HIS OWN beauty and image developed within us.1

By this quote, we can see that the flesh life must die so that the spirit may live.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

— Romans 8:5-6

But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.

—Romans 6:22

The "flesh" is the propensity to live apart from God as one's own god. If we're not under the dominion of God, then we're under the dominion of sin being ruled by the impulses and urges of the natural man.

Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?

— Romans 6:16

Sin is the part of us programmed with attitudes and behaviors characteristic of a life apart from God. A life separate from God naturally follows the processes of death and disintegration.

As fallen humans, we need more than different thoughts. We need a new operating system, one that is bent with faith toward God and His truth.

Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

— John 3:3

The above verse speaks of the born-again experience. We need to start over with a clean slate. A heart that is not bent towards ourselves but is bent towards God. The slate needs to be cleaned. Whether we are victims or perpetrators of our current misery, we need a new life.

. . . having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever.


Flesh Is Temporary

All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away, But the word of the LORD endures forever.”Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.

I Peter 1:23-25

This physical world and life are but a blade of grass. Here today and gone tomorrow. Most fleshly things derive from the premise of "this is all there is," "eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die." In the flesh, we live to survive in this world and preserve ourselves. The new life is about eternity, and this life is but a taste of things to come. The flesh life is to live as if there is no God.

Being born-again in Christ is the beginning of a new life; then comes the crucifying of the flesh and the renewing of the mind. Without this experience and revelation, we have nothing but ourselves and this physical world to depend on and look forward to. Our views and options become severely limited and narrowed.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

— Romans 12:1-2

And to renew our mind is to be transformed by the life-giving Words of God Himself.

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.

— John 6:63

When our hearts or soulish and fleshly, self contrived perceptions and feelings rule. Our flesh always wants to justify its own activities. It wishes to shun the responsibility for thoughts and behavior that are independent of God.

“The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?

— Jeremiah 17:9

Every time we use our natural mind to assess our problems, situations, and circumstances and our limited resources for solutions without seeking wisdom in prayer and the Word, we can be sure that manipulation and justification are most likely involved.

The following verse describes the works of the flesh.

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

— Galatians 5:19

At first glance, we may be tempted to exclude ourselves from the list of offenses stated in the above verse. They all seem like pretty overt and obvious sins that many religious folks can swear they never do except for maybe a little jealousy, wrath, or selfish ambition here or there. That's not so bad, or is it?

"When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die"

— Deitrich Bonhoeffer


Flesh Defined

I want to expand the definition of these descriptions of the flesh so that we can see ourselves more clearly in them. No condemnation is intended, but the Word of God can be like a mirror showing us places where we have not yet trusted in the Love of the Father and not yet forsaken our fleshy ways.

Each fleshly characteristic is evidence of our self-attempts at intimacy, identity, exaltation, and control.

The first three describe self-attempts at intimacy.

  • Adultery: can be spiritual or physical in thought or action.

But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

— Matthew 5:28

We typically think of a man and what he might lust after, but I also believe this includes romantic fantasies that women might form and fashion in their minds.

Most importantly, adultery includes anything we are using to replace God's place in our lives and causes us to depart from Him. It is finding our joy and satisfaction apart from Him. Hosea describes a type of adultery committed against God.

My people ask counsel from their wooden idols, And their staff informs them. For the spirit of harlotry has caused them to stray, And they have played the harlot against their God.

— Hosea 4:12

  • Fornication: taking pleasures or benefits from God or others with no commitment to a relationship.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.

— John 10:1

God's laws and principles will work for anyone. He designed spiritual laws, but He is offended when we use them with no obligation or responsibility to a relationship with Him. Our culture is a living example of how this looks and works. Our current relationship situations are reflective of our spiritual relationship with Him.

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!

— II Timothy 3:1-5

  • Uncleanness: This is a state of being caused by the above two and is described as twisted, deceitful thinking.

Her uncleanness is in her skirts;She did not consider her destiny; Therefore her collapse was awesome; She had no comforter. “O LORD, behold my affliction, For the enemy is exalted!”

— Lamentations 1:9

To receive intimacy from another source is not to consider our destiny and eternity and give place to our souls' enemy.

  • Lewdness: the absence of restraint, having no boundaries for behaviors. Anything goes. Feelings rule, and there is a sense of entitlement.

Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint;But happy is he who keeps the law.

— Proverbs 29:18

Many people live lives with their emotions on the throne and entitle themselves to many ungodly things because of them. "how would you feel" is a classic response to any confrontation on the matter. The Bible says here that it is because there is no revelation. Who God really is isn't clear to them.

The rest of the list involves self-attempts at identity, exaltation, and control.

  • Idolatry: is placing anything over God (activities, relationships, material possessions, career). Excessive attachment to anything that borders on adoration.

For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king.”

— I Samuel 15:23

In the above portion of Scripture, King Saul had careful instructions about how he was to handle the spoils of war, including not sparing the life of a king whose descendants would later cause great tragedy to the Israelites. In this case, Saul admits that he was more interested in looking good to his men than He was in obeying God's instruction, and God equates this with idolatry.

  • Sorcery: includes drug use and dependence. The Greek word used for witchcraft is "pharmakia." It is where we get our word pharmacy. This word also describes the practice of casting spells and speaking curses over people's lives and includes the idea of control and manipulation of others and circumstances. Some less obvious versions of this would be using guilt trips, buying friendships, threats, and maybe even gossip can be included as a form of cursing as in agreeing with evil about people.

“When you come into the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD, and because of these abominations the LORD your God drives them out from before you. You shall be blameless before the LORD your God. For these nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, the LORD your God has not appointed such for you.

— Deuteronomy 18:9-14

And when they say to you, “Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,” should not a people seek their God?

— Isaiah 8:19

Along with this verse, I find it disturbing that so many Christians read their horoscopes, visit hypnotists, and call upon psychics when it is clearly forbidden. God expresses His displeasure with these practices through the prophet Isaiah.

“Stand now with your enchantments
And the multitude of your sorceries,
In which you have labored from your youth—
Perhaps you will be able to profit,
Perhaps you will prevail.
You are wearied in the multitude of your counsels;
Let now the astrologers, the stargazers,
And the monthly prognosticators
Stand up and save you

— Isaiah 47:12-13

These are spiritually dangerous activities and an invitation and an open door for the enemy to wreak havoc in one's life.

  • Hatred: bitterness towards others, meanness. It shows a belief that someone else has power over your soul and denotes a desire to be in control of others.

looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;

— Hebrews 12:15

  • Contentions: is the expression of hatred through debate or brawl and an unfriendly disposition.

The mouth of the righteous is a well of life, But violence covers the mouth of the wicked. Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all sins

— Proverbs 10:11-12

  • Jealousies: one-upmanship, negative competition, sense of superiority, desire for the depression of others to exalt oneself, desire to make war upon good which it beholds in another through fault finding, unfound suspicions aroused in the heart over the excellence of others.

Our soul is exceedingly filled With the scorn of those who are at ease, With the contempt of the proud.

— Psalm 123:4

  • Outbursts of wrath: unbridled angry outbursts, always poised on a razor's edge, attempt to control others and circumstances through temper outbursts.

A wrathful man stirs up strife, But he who is slow to anger allays contention.

— Proverbs 15:8

Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry,

— Ecclesiastes 7:9

For anger rests in the bosom of fools.

  • Selfish Ambition: self-seeking ambitions and seeking to win followers can also include gossip as a tool.

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. ~ Philippians 2:3

  • Dissensions: creating division among others and rallying support for your own personal agenda or opinion. Forming selfish groups to the exclusion of others based on personal prejudice. Gathering allies.

for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?

— I Corinthians 3:3

  • Heresies: Self-willed opinions substituted for truth.

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.

— II Peter 2:1

  • Envying is a feeling of displeasure produced by witnessing or hearing others' advantages or prosperity and having ill will towards another.

For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.

— James 3:16

  • Murders: This one seems a little extreme. Most of us can say, "I have never done that." Still, let's look at Jesus's definition of murder. It begins as thoughts in our hearts, and if we would consider how easy it is to assassinate another person's character, reputation, and esteem simply with our mouth or attitude. The power of life and death are on the tongue.

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.

— Matthew 5:21-22

  • Drunkenness: seeking our joy in a bottle or chemical than in the Holy Spirit.

And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,

— Ephesians 5:18

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth— For your love is better than wine.

— Song of Solomon 1:2

  • Revelings: partying and living like the world as if there is no God.

“But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly.

— Luke 21:34

These attributes are fruits of living the "self-life" rather than a God-centered life. We could call it self worship.

Jesus is our example in crucifying these areas in our life. He endured the cross because He knew the joy set before Him. We must understand that there is a joy set before us in doing so. First of all, Scripture tells us that we will not inherit the Kingdom if we practice these things and continue to persist in having and doing things our own way; we will not see the provisions of God.

We need to bring every thought into captivity.

. . . casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ . . .

— II Corinthians 10:5

We cannot allow our own limited view of situations and circumstances and solutions to dictate or be Lord over our thoughts, actions, and reactions. These are all opportunities to know through our experience the Father's love.

Examples of self and how we can trust God in each of these areas. What we need to know is what we need is legitimate. The source we get it from is the vital key.

  • self-proclamation (The Lord lifts up the meek) Psalm 147:6
  • self-glorification (Those whom He justified He also glorified) Romans 8:30
  • self-exaltation (I will exalt you in due time) I Peter 5:6
  • self-confidence (The Lord shall be your confidence) Proverbs 14:26
  • self-righteous (Our righteousness is of Him) Isaiah 54:17
  • self-made (In the image of God He created them) Genesis 1:27
  • self-acceptance (we are accepted in the beloved). Ephesians 1:5
  • self-esteem (we are a royal diadem in the hand of our God). Isaiah 62:5
  • self-sustained (He will sustain us) Psalm 55:2
  • self-governed (He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords) I Timothy 6:15
  • self-willed ("The will of the Lord be done.”) Acts 21:14
  • self-improvement (It is God who works in us both to will and do His good pleasure) Philippians 2:13
  • self-taught (The Holy Spirit teaches us all things). John 14:26
  • self-help (Our help comes from the Lord) Psalm 21
  • self-support (I will uphold you with my right hand of righteousness) Isaiah 40:10
  • self-provision (Our God shall supply all our needs) Philippians 4:19
  • self-reliant (Blessed is the man who trusts in Him) Psalm 84:12
  • self-sufficient (our sufficiency is of God) II Corinthians 2:16
  • self-assurance (He gives assurance unto all men) Acts 17:31
  • self-satisfaction (He satisfies the longing soul) Psalm 107:9
  • self-gratification (He satisfies the desire of every living thing)Psalm 145:16
  • self-pleasure (There is joy in His presence) Psalm 16
  • self-protection (You alone Lord make me dwell in safety) Psalm 4 "8
  • self-defense (our defense is God) Psalm 7:10
  • self-justification (He was raised for our justification) Romans 4:25
  • self-pity (He pities us like a father pities his children) Psalm 103:13

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

II Corinthians 7:1

For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

— Matthew 6:32

Then Peter began to say to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You.” So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.

— Mark 10:28-30

Whatever fleshly thing we give up for Jesus, He will repay with the real thing and more than we could have ever expected from our false sources.

If we attempt to handle things in our own ways and on our own terms, God won't handle them for us.

Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.

Romans 13:19

I take this verse to mean that we leave no room for God to work in that situation if we handle the problem ourselves.



An example of flesh in scripture is found in John chapter eight, with a woman caught in adultery.

But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”The Pharisees therefore said to Him, “You bear witness of Yourself; Your witness is not true.”Jesus answered and said to them, “Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from and where I am going. You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one.

— John 1:8-15

The woman's behavior is an evident work of the flesh, but if we notice at the end of this story, Jesus tells the religious leaders that they are judging according to the "flesh." If we look closely, their motive for dragging this woman to this type of public humiliation was not to procure the righteousness of God amongst them. If that were the case, they would have brought the man with her, making their plot more transparent. It reads that they did this to try to entrap Jesus and make Him look bad in the eyes of the people who had come to dearly love Him and follow Him. If He agreed to their claim of his right to stone her, the people would not like Him, and if He did not condemn her, they could accuse Him of not doing the righteous acts of God. They did it out of their selfish ambition and jealousy. It was shown that their scheme was no less fleshly nor sinful than the act of adultery. They were accusing this woman of when Jesus told them that if they were without sin, they should cast the first stone. I believe that when Jesus wrote in the dust, he was writing their names, and that is why they turned and ran away. Jesus had just exposed them the same way they exposed this woman. They were no less guilty before God than she was of adultery and unfaithfulness to God.

Our flesh always looks to preserve the status quo in this life. It seems to the resources of this world and its ingenuity to satisfy and make things right.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.

— I John 2:15-16

According to Jonathan Robie, the "lust of the flesh" is the desire of the natural human body. "The lust of the eyes," of course, is a desire for the things we see, and "the pride of life" is once I have obtained the lusts of my flesh and eyes, I can show them off to you and gain status in this world because of them.

It has to do with how we fashion the environment in which we live to make ourselves comfortable. Normal functions and desires (instincts) of our natural makeup not submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ can become the ruling force. We become controlled by our base and instinctual appetites.

But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

— John 1:14-15

Lusts are our own insatiable needs and methods of obtaining them. It allows our feelings and desires to sit on the throne of our hearts and rule and govern our lives. "I can't help it" "it's just the way I feel." It is an uncontrollable desire. We tend to think of it in terms of sexuality, but this is not the only form. There is a lust for power, control, food, and relationships. Lust speaks more of our insatiability than it does of the particular venue we seek to express it.

"The basis of all temptation is our natural desires that become uncontrollable. Satan has no other tool to work with than this area of our life, our natural, God-given desires."

The devil doesn't have much to work with apart from our own unyielded flesh.

Simon Peter, a bond servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

— II Peter 1:1-4

I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness. ~ Romans 6:19

Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

— James 1:15

"It is doubtful that anyone deliberately and knowingly chooses to hurt himself by choosing sinful methods in fact the opposite is true. He is trying to satisfy and preserve himself. Therefore in order for one to sin one must believe that he is gaining something which is in someway beneficial to him. Thus scripture teaches that the real disease of the sinful heart is it's deceitfulness (Jeremiah 1:9) Sin takes shape to exert power in the human life through a lie."

— Dr. Robert Saucy)

The world consists of worldly goods, endowments, riches, advantages, pleasures, intellectual pursuits, education, science, human-made religious systems, business, medicine, arts, and politics. It is the definition of "the world" that God's Word is speaking of as that which Satan controls. We become "independent" in the way we use them if we do not put them under the power and direction of God. God does not want to deny man these things; however, unless we allow God to rule over us, they become the ruler of our souls.

Alan Redpath, in His book "Blessings Out of Buffetings" p.37-38, applies this great truth to our lives.

"The principle of the world is "self-glorification," and the principle of the Christian is "self-crucifixion." The principle of men is greatness, bigness, pomp and show; the principle of the cross is death. Therefore, whenever a man has seen the glory of God in the face of Jesus once he comes right into a head-on collision within his own personal living, with all of his principles and motives upon which he has lived until his moment...if there is to be a continual manifestation of the Holy Spirit life, there must be a constant submission to the crucifixion of the flesh, not simply sometimes but always . . .

. . . I see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, in the measure in which I am prepared to die . . . Why is it that so many Christians behave like kindergarten children? Because they have not seen His face!

. . . And the cost in Christian life . . . Deep down in the Christian's life, always and all the time, there is to be a "no" to every demand that the flesh make for recognition, and every demand that the flesh make for approval, and every demand that the flesh may make for vindication. Always the Christian must bear about in his body the marks of the Lord Jesus."

I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.

— I Corinthians 15:31

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

— Galatians 2:20

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

— Romans 13:14

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.

— Romans 8:5-7


Born Crucified, Yet Alive in Christ by Will Pounds

The Christian life is a daily putting off all that belonged to the unregenerate old self and constantly putting on all that belongs to the new life in Christ. The cross and the resurrection extend their power and influence over the believer’s entire life.

The Christian life is constantly producing new life. This new life in Christ through His Spirit must be daily replacing within the soul what our daily crucifixion of the flesh is taking away. This new life in Christ fills the emptiness created by self-denial with some new likeness of Christ. In place of natural affection, there comes some new divine affection (Eph. 4:17-32).

“You are dead . . . . you are risen with Christ”

— Col. 3:1, 6.

The flesh will never produce a strong spiritual life that pleases God and looks and smells like authentic Christianity. The flesh will always disgrace the Lord Jesus Christ no matter how you try to dress it up in legalism.

The Holy Spirit is busy making real in the believer’s life what is already true of him doctrinally.

The believer has not only died, but is to “die daily” with Christ as long as we live in this present life because we are in “an irreconcilable enmity” between the flesh and the spirit (Gal. 5:17). We have no option but to take up the cross daily in following Christ. The flesh can only reproduce itself. It holds no possibility of a divine life. This dying to self and sin is something we do daily.

Our life-long growth in Christ-likeness is a determination to deliver us to death for Christ’s sake all that is kin to our old life before we gave our lives to Christ. It is also a commitment to put on Christ daily.

It is each believer’s responsibility to submit to the work of the Holy Spirit in mortifying the flesh and therefore bring our body under the dominion of the cross of Christ.

Moreover, the Christian life is not just a life of crucifixion; it is also a new life in Christ Jesus.

“You are risen with Christ.” This is the second part of this essential doctrine of Christian living. Our progressive sanctification includes both “taking off” the old self and “putting on” the new. Since “you are risen with Christ” keep on “seeking those things which are above.”

Yes, we “die daily,” but we were also made a “new creation” in Christ and our inward person is being “renewed day by day.”

The apostle Paul wrote...

“I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me”

— Gal. 2:20.

The daily spiritual growth of the Christian towards perfection lies always in these two opposite directions. The believer is always subjecting, repressing, and mortifying the natural man on the one hand, and nourishing, developing, and renewing the spiritual man on the other. It is not one or the other; it is both principles and activities working in conjunction with one another.

It is our responsibility to daily judge and mortify all that we find in our attitudes, behaviors and values that are in the flesh and contrary to authentic Christian living. Yes, there must be a daily denial to anything that is not Christ-like.

A negative process is never adequate to accomplish a positive goal. And no amount or kind of self-denial can make a person holier, or sinless. What is needed is the means of bringing him into more intimate fellowship with Christ. Every retreat from the life of the flesh must be followed by a deeper entering into the life of the Spirit. We take off the old man, and we put on the new man in Christ.

As we abide in Christ, we walk as our Lord walked.


Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.

— I Peter 4:19



(A lot of the material for the beginning of this study was inspired by J Preston Eby. (Dr. Robert Saucy)

© 2011 Tamarajo

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