Krummacher: The Judicial Procedure

Series: The Suffering Savior: Meditations on the Last Days of Christ by F. W. Krummacher (1796-1868)

[learn_more caption=”Introduction and Preface”] CMC Editor’s Note: In the following preface are the words of F.W. Krummacher introducing his readers to his work. It is our intention to post all fifty three of his meditations. Krummacher is regarded as one of Germany’s greatest preachers and was often compared to Great Britain’s C.H. Spurgeon. The reader will learn much of Christ through this series of devotional meditations on the final scenes in the life of Christ on earth. The printed work (first published 1854) has been described as the greatest single volume of the entire nineteenth century on the last days of Christ’s earthly ministry. The meditations are structured around the Old Testament tabernacle. It’s our prayer that you will be richly blessed his writings.

Author’s Preface

In the following meditations I trust I have succeeded in displaying to my readers at least a portion of those riches which are contained in the inexhaustible treasury of our Savior’s sufferings. Unmutilated scriptural truth, such as I believe I promulgate, still finds a favorable reception in the world, which I have been permitted to experience in the most gratifying manner. I mention it, solely to the praise of God, and for the satisfaction of those who are like-minded, that my writings, or at least a part of them, are, as I hear, already translated into English, French, Dutch, Swedish, and as I am assured, though I cannot vouch for the fact, into the Danish language also. My “Elijah the Tishbite” has even appeared in a Chinese attire. But that which is of greater importance, is the news I am constantly receiving of the manifold blessing which the Lord of his great and unmerited favor has bestowed upon my labors. That in his condescension and loving-kindness, He would also deign to bless this my most recent work is so much the more my heartfelt wish and ardent prayer, since it has for its subject the chief supporting pillar of the whole church—the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The division of the work into the “Outer Court,” the “Holy Place,” and the “Most Holy Place,” is intended merely to point out the different stages of the Redeemer’s sufferings, from their commencement to their close, but by no means to attach a less or greater importance to them. Had the latter been the case, I would naturally have assigned the institution of the Lord’s Supper its appropriate place in the “Most Holy Place,” instead of the “Outer Court.” But in the plan of this volume, it falls among the class of events, which immediately precede the propitiatory work of the Mediator.

~ F. W. Krummacher [/learn_more]




Meditation – XVII

The Judicial Procedure

“The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord,
but gracious words are pure”
— Proverbs 15:26

Christ at the bar of the ecclesiastical tribunal is the subject to which our meditations are now to be directed. The apparent contradictions in the life of Jesus increase, and become the more striking, the nearer it approaches its close. Think of the Holy One of God arraigned as a criminal; the Judge of the world judged by sinners! Where was there ever a more outrageous contrast exhibited! And that which thus displays itself on the stage of the world’s history is not the most astonishing or the strangest part of that which here occurs. The exterior of the event, occupies, as we have already seen, the place of a screen, interwoven with symbolical figures, behind which the real judicial act is accomplished, which is typified by the former, and only obvious to the eye of faith—an act which, in a higher degree, concerns us all, and which is carried on before an infinitely higher tribunal than that of the Jewish Sanhedrin.

Night still reigns. The city of Jerusalem lies for the most part in profound slumber, and has no presentiment of the awful events which are occurring within its walls. Occasionally, isolated footsteps are heard along the streets, in the direction of the high priest’s palace, the windows of which, now glaring at an unwonted hour with the light of lamps and torches, cause events of an extraordinary nature to be inferred. Let us also repair there. An assembly of high rank, collected together in the spacious hall of audience, receives us. It is the council of the seventy rulers of Israel, with the high priest as its president. A venerable assembly, as regards its appointment; the most illustrious and awe-inspiring in the whole world; since, sitting in the seat of Moses, in the midst of the chosen people, its office is to administer justice according to the book of the law, and in the name of the Most High God. Next to the president we perceive the men who had previously filled the office of high priest. Behind these, we observe the representatives of the four and twenty classes of the priesthood. Then follow the elders or rulers of the synagogues, while the rest of the assembly is composed of the most eminent doctors of the law, men well versed in the Mosaic statutes and the traditions and ordinances of the Rabbis.

It was the primary duty of these men, as keepers of the sanctuary, to maintain the observance of the ordinances of Jehovah among the people; to settle the legal differences of the various tribes; to watch over the purity of doctrine and of divine service; and to examine and judge any heresies that might spring up. It certainly belonged to the privileges and even duties of the authority thus constituted, to bring before them a man who gave himself out for the Messiah; and to examine him in the strictest manner. And that it did not occur to the Holy One of Israel to dispute their right to this, is clearly manifest from the reverence, which, apart from the moral qualities of its individual members, did not fail to show itself in his deportment during the whole course of the proceedings. In the Sanhedrin he sees the tribunal of the Divine judge—but in a superior manner; that is, while hearing the voice of God through its medium, even when the counselors, as respects their own persons, speak from the suggestions of Satan; and while regarding the unrighteous judgments of the latter as changed, with reference to himself, into well-founded and just decisions of the court of judicature above.

Before this supreme tribunal the Savior of mankind stands bound; for we must not limit the great judicial procedure to that which is visible, but must seek it especially in the invisible world. The Lord does not stand at the bar as a Holy One, but as the representative of sinners. Our catalogue of crimes is displayed before him, as if they were his own. Our sins are charged upon him, for he bears them. He is laid in the scales of justice with our transgressions, for they are imputed to him. What may then have passed between him and the Majesty upon the throne, is concealed from us by the veil of eternity. One thing, however, we know, that he stood there in our place. Had he not appeared, that position would have been ours; and woe unto us, had we been made responsible for our sins! Such a thought need no longer terrify us, if we belong to Christ’s flock. What was due from us, he has paid. We come no more into condemnation, since he has taken our place. We know no longer any judge; for the Judge is our friend. How blissful is this consciousness! Eternal praise to him to whom we owe it all.

But we return to the hall of judgment. The council seek for witnesses against Jesus. They seek, because unsought, nothing of the kind presents itself. That which is unsought is all in his favor. But they have already decided to put him to death. Why? Because he spoils the game of the proud men, who have him in their power, and every where comes in the way of their selfish practices. Their heads are less at variance with him than their hearts. But generally this is not the case with his enemies. They dislike him because he disturbs them in their sinful haunts; because he disapproves of the ways of vanity in which they walk, judges their ungodly and carnal deeds, and pronounces them deficient in that righteousness which avails before God. And because, for these reasons, they dislike him, they seek for witnesses against him, denying above all things his divinity; for if he were God, who would absolve them from the duty of reverencing him and believing his word, which condemns them?

And what kind of witnesses do they bring against him? O the miserable authorities to which they appeal, who not only contradict one another incessantly, but themselves every moment! while the witnesses which we bring forward in behalf of our faith, are the devout seers and prophets, the holy evangelists and apostles, the thousands of martyrs, who, in his strength, have sung their psalms to him in the midst of the flames—yes, we appeal to the entire history of his Church, as well as to the daily experience of all believers, as to a continuous testimony in favor of him who is the object of our love, and of the truth of his cause.

The council of the Sanhedrin, who are anxious for the people’s sake, and probably also for the sake of their own consciences, to clothe their legal murder, with at least an appearance of justice, take great pains to find witnesses against Jesus. But a more fruitless undertaking was perhaps never attempted. They long to meet, in the garden of his life, with a single poisonous plant, from which they may weave for him a fatal wreath. They find, indeed, an abundance of flowers for a crown of honor, but not the vestige of a weed. Desperation then advises an extreme course. A number of bribed witnesses are suborned—fellows well experienced in all the arts of rendering another suspected—who strive to fasten one or other false accusation on the Holy One. But what is the result? They expose themselves, with those who hired them, in the most barefaced manner, and serve only as a new foil to the innocence of the accused. What they adduce, condemns itself as an absurdity, and not even that is attained which was indispensably required by the Mosaic law, that their testimony should correspond. They become more and more confused, refute one another against their will, and remind us of the word of the Lord by the mouth of Zechariah, “I will smite every horse with astonishment, and his rider with madness.”

The venerable assembly now finds itself in the most painful dilemma. At length, two witnesses come forward, and hope, by means of an expression which the Lord had once uttered a year before, and which they now charge him with—naturally in a malicious and perverted form, to make amends for the deficiencies in their accusation. The words adduced are those in John 2:19, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Even at the time, this expression, which he doubtless divested of any serious misapprehension by pointing to himself, was most maliciously misinterpreted by the Jews who were present. “Forty and six years,” said they, “was this temple in building, and will you rear it up in three days? But he spoke,” says the Evangelist, “of the temple of his body.” The two hirelings were aware of this. It seemed to them, however, a very suitable expression to make use of for casting upon Jesus the appearance not only of an ungodly boaster, but also of a crime against the Divine Majesty, by blaspheming the temple. Thus we hear them say, “He boasted that he was able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it again in three days.” But they, too, fall into the most glaring contradictions on the outset, as partly appears from the Gospel narratives. The one maintaining that Jesus had said, “I will,” the other, “I can;” the one, “I will destroy the temple of God, and build it in three days;” the other, “This temple that is made with hands, I will destroy, and within three days I will build another without hands.”

Suffice it to say, the opposing statements of the two complete the scene of confusion; and even the high priest is not yet base and inconsiderate enough to pronounce his judicial decision upon such miserable and suspicious evidence. His conscience was still sufficiently susceptible to make him sensibly feel the pitifulness and worthlessness of these last testimonies; and if it were not the voice of his inward monitor which raised itself against it, yet the secret apprehension that such a judicial inquiry might not satisfy the people, as well as the impressive, sublime, and commanding tranquility which the accused opposed to the wretched fabrication of the two witnesses, restrained him from it. Thus in the end, the whole inquisitorial proceeding of the judge, although so well versed in scraping together the moral weaknesses and defects of offenders against the law, only tended to our Lord’s glorification, since by it his spotless innocence was placed in the clearest light. Yes, my readers, he is the Lamb without spot, which it was necessary he should be in order to take away our guilt.

But how does the accused conduct himself during the judicial procedure? His whole conduct is extremely significant and remarkable. With a judicial mien, which only partially covers his perplexity, the high priest says to him, in an imperious tone, “Answer you nothing to what these witness against you?” “But Jesus,” as we are told by the narrative, “held his peace.” How eloquent was this silence—more overwhelming for the children of the father of lies than the severest reproofs would have been! And why make many words on this occasion? since his enemies, though against their will, witnessed so powerfully in his favor that he needed no further justification. He was silent.

How easy would it have been for him, by a few words, to have most painfully exposed the august assembly! But he honors in it, as before, the powers ordained of God, of whatever injustice they may be guilty; and, viewing the matter thus, he deems it becoming him to hold his peace. He does so, remarks an expositor, like an ill-treated child, who is silent before his unjust father. The essential meaning of his silence, however, lies still deeper. It is not merely the silence of a good conscience, but rightly understood, the reverse. His holding his peace is the reflection of a more mysterious silence before another and higher than any human tribunal; and regarded from this point of view, it may be considered as a silence of confession and assent.

When a criminal makes no reply to the accusations brought against him before a human tribunal, it is regarded as an admission of his guilt. Thus we must also regard the silence of Jesus, who, having taken upon him, before God, the sins of his people by a mysterious imputation, deems himself worthy of death and the curse. By mutely listening to the accusations of his judges, without attempting to exculpate himself, he wishes outwardly to intimate the actual offering up of himself as a culprit in our stead. Thus he is silent, not only as a lamb, but also as the Lamb which takes away the sin of the world. His silence enables us to speak in judgment, and gives us power and liberty to lift up our heads boldly against every accusation, while trusting to the justification wrought out for us by the Redeemer.

May the Lord instruct us all when to speak and when to be silent; the former, by enlightening the darkness of our natural state; and the latter, by an application to our hearts and consciences, of the consolatory mystery of the sufferings of Jesus for us! There is only one way of escaping the horrors of future judgment, and that is, the believing apprehension of all that our Surety has accomplished in our stead. May God strengthen our faith for this purpose more and more, and enable each of us from the heart to exclaim, in the words of the apostle, “Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift!”


Krummacher’s work is available through Amazon.

What Are We To Do? (Week Twelve)

[Series Index]

A. Ward Brandenstein's To Walk In The Spirit

Part 4 – What are we to do?

CHAPTER 5 – Living The Christian Life continued…

Our Conduct Or Behavior As Believers


In Ward Brandenstein’s introduction to chapter five he writes: “The Christian life is intended by God to be far more than simply a religious experience or the practicing of religion.  It is the living of life that is in balance, that is fulfilling, and that is free of regrets.  It is literally Christ living out His life through the individual.  That does not mean that the individual becomes passive and uninvolved.  Rather, it is an active participation of the person in a submissive dependency to Christ’s headship over himself.  To the extent that each believer willingly submits himself to Christ’s will and way, Christ’s righteousness will be a practical result and a benefit to that person.  This is not something that God demands of the Christian, but is something God has provided and leaves up to the individual to choose and follow willingly. In order to understand this principle of being willingly submissive to Christ, it would be well to consider several commands and admonitions that will clarify the part the believer will need to play to realize fulfilled life as a Christian.”


The Christian life is


The Walk is One of Obedience (continued)


The Christian Life is Fruitful.

On the evening before Jesus went to the cross, He taught the disciples that they would be bearing fruit as His disciples (John 15:8).  Jesus used the figure of a vine in His teaching.  Although Jesus never explained what the fruit was which was to be borne, He presented the basis of fruitbearing in the relationship the disciples were to have with Him after His ascension.  Jesus said, in John 15:1,2,5,8:

I Am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.

Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit He taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

I Am the vine, ye are the branches.  He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without Me ye can do nothing.

In this is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

Christ is the vine; Christ and the believers are the branches that are to bring forth fruit, which relationship is the essence and evidence of our identification with Christ; the fruit that Christ bears is through the believers.

First, there is a progression from non-fruit-bearing to bearing fruit, to more fruit, and to much fruit.  The bearing of much fruit results from abiding in Christ and His abiding in the believer.

In John 15, Jesus is talking to believers, not to unbelievers.  He is not talking about salvation, but about fruit-bearing.  In verse two, where He states, Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit he taketh away, the one taken away was in Him first.  The reason for not bearing fruit is not stated.  The condition of being unfruitful is mentioned in Titus 3:14, as the result of failing to maintain good works.  Good works are the result God expects from the person who is created in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:10).  In II Peter 1:8, it states,

For if these things (the godly characteristics of verses 5‑7) be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In a practical sense, the reason a person who is in Christ would be unfruitful would be the result of the works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19‑21).  In a literal sense, a vine that had been fruit-bearing ceases to be so, either through blight or becoming old.  Therefore, it could be understood that a person could be in the vine, but not bearing fruit, and that person would be removed from the privilege of bearing fruit because the Father takes him away either by sickness or by death (See I Cor. 11:30; I John 5:16).  It must also be considered that the words, taketh away, have the meaning in the Greek of “lifteth up”, possibly referring to a branch that has been beaten to the ground by rain or by blight.  Then after being lifted up, it can be cleansed as spoken of in John 15:2c‑e,

Every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth (better translated, “cleanseth”) it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

Then Jesus further states in verse 3,

Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.

The word, purgeth, in verse 2, and the word, clean, in verse 3, are from the same root word in the Greek.  This Greek word is used, as well, in James 1:27, where it is translated pure in the phrase, Pure religion and undefiled before God the Father…

Thus we see that the better way to consider the word,purgeth, in John 15:2 is in the sense of cleansing or purifying.  In John 15:3, Jesus states that it is through His word that the cleansing is accomplished.  When this cleansing has taken place, more fruit is the result.

As stated earlier, the ultimate stage of fruit-bearing ismuch fruit, which occurs as the believer abides in Christ and Christ abides in the believer.  The word, abide, means “continue” or “remain” (See ABIDE) and carries the sense of steadfast, continuous relationship in the practical life of the believer.  In John 15:8, Jesus explains that the one who is bearing much fruit is the one who is truly His disciple. The person who is bearing much fruit will realize that Jesus’ words in verse 5 are very true, that without Me ye can do nothing.  Seven of Jesus’ original twelve disciples learned this lesson, that they could do nothing without Christ, when they sought to go fishing after His resurrection, as recorded in John 21:1-11.  After fishing all night and catching nothing, Jesus met them by the seaside and commanded them to cast their nets on the other side of the ship, and they caught a net full of fish when they obeyed His command.  So the believer’s life will bring forth much fruit as he lives in continued fellowship and obedience to Christ’s indwelling presence.

Several places in Scripture will help us to see what is meant by fruit.  Undoubtedly, the primary passage for understanding what the fruit is, will be seen in Galatians 5:22,23:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, self-control; against such there is no law.

These verses demonstrate what the life of the Spirit will produce in and through the person who is living and walking in the Spirit (Gal. 5:25).  These characteristics are not those qualities which the believer produces in and of himself, but what will be the outflow of what is produced when the Holy Spirit has freedom to produce them through the believer’s life as he is filled with the Spirit, Eph. 5:18.

It is also important to note that as the vine is not nurtured through the fruit that it bears, so the believer as abranch in the true vine is not the beneficiary of the fruit of the Spirit born in his life.  God’s purpose is that those who feed on the fruit will be the ones who will benefit from it. So God’s purpose is to allow those who hunger, those who are spiritually in need, to benefit from the fruit of the Spirit in the believer’s life.

The qualities listed as the fruit of the Spirit can also be seen as the attributes of Christ.  Therefore, when the fruit of the Spirit comes out from one’s life, it is truly the life of Christ that is producing the fruit by the Spirit.

Other Scriptures which speak of the fruit are likewise describing qualities or attributes of Christ:

James 3:17,18, But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by them that make peace.

Rom. 6:22, But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

Rom. 7:4,5, Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ, that ye should be married to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.

For when we were in the flesh, the sinful impulses, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.

Ephesians 5:9, For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth.

Philippians 1:11, Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

Hebrews 12:11, Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them who are exercised by it.

There is only one Scripture which speaks of fruit in the sense of “soul-winning”, people being saved, although the verse could refer, as well, to the fruit of the Spirit.  In Romans 1:13, the Apostle Paul says,

Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was prevented thus far,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.

Another Scripture which may have a different intent of meaning for fruit is given in Philippians 4:17,

Not because I desire a gift; but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.

Fruit, as it is used in this passage, seems to have dividends or benefits as its meaning.  Paul desires for the Philippians to enjoy these benefits because of the Philippians’s loving concern for Paul’s well-being as they shared their goods to care for his needs.  The meaning is not the same as the fruit of the Spirit.

Fruit is usually described in the Scriptures as the fruit of the Spirit, the divine attributes.  Christ taught the disciples, and consequently, believers of all time, that we should bear much fruit, i.e., the fruit of the Spirit.  By abiding in Christ in a steadfast continuous relationship and by Christ’s abiding in the believer, the believer is filled with the Spirit in order to minister to others physically, spiritually, and materially.


Next Week: Part Five continued: The Christian Life is a Life of Peace

Copyright © 1996 A. Ward Brandenstein

Used with permission.
[Series Index
A. Ward Brandenstein
Pastor Ward earned an M.A. in Guidance and Counselling from Eastern Michigan University after taking special courses in psychology at Wayne State University, and earned a Bachelor of Theology (Th.B.) from Baptist Bible College and Seminary with Greek and Hebrew studies, and earned a diploma from Philadelphia Bible Institute (now Cairn U.), including New Testament Greek studies. His knowledge of the Bible and close walk with God are appreciated by all who know him and have sat under his teaching. Pastor Brandenstein and his wife Rose Ann reside in California, teaching college level singles and married couples, young professionals, and retired pastors and missionaries.

1 Peter 2:11-12 (II)


Conflict within and conflict without (II)

Peter's first letter

1 Peter 2:9-12 ESV

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.


Previously I reminded you how God’s saints have been made to be God’s people in order to show, declare, proclaim God’s praises and Peter is now urging them to do that. Peter urges them “to abstain” and then, in verse 12, he urges them “to keep your conduct honourable”. We could say that he strongly urges them to abstain and maintain. Stop doing certain things and continue doing certain other things.

It’s worth repeating, these aren’t just instructions that he’s throwing out because they sound like a good idea. They are given in a context that shows that there are important reasons for these instructions. In the hymn we’ve been singing we had the words:

“Just as I am, though tossed about

with many a conflict, many a doubt,

fightings and fears within, without,

O Lamb of God, I come, I come”

That could provide good titles for today’s sermon such as “Many a conflict” or “Fightings within, without”. You see, Peter’s instructions are given because believers in Christ live in a context of conflict and his instructions make it clear that there is both conflict within and there is conflict without. Let’s now apply ourselves to understanding the:

Conflict within

When you look at verse 11 it is clear that there is a conflict because we read the words: “which wage war”. A war is being fought. There is a conflict. The proper sense of the Greek here is actually “which continually wage war”. We’ve recently seen the commemoration of the D-Day landings. That reminds us of the awful conflict in the Second World War. Long and protracted as it was, that conflict eventually ended but peter is speaking of a continual conflict. Neither is it an occasional hostility that breaks out from time to time. It’s not referring to intermittent border skirmishes but an ongoing, concerted opposition. Why do I describe this as a conflict within or an inner conflict? Well, in any war or conflict there is an aggressor who attacks or wages war and there’s a defender who is being attacked.

In verse 11 we find that the aggressor that wages war is described as “the passions of the flesh” and the defender that is under attack is described as “your soul”. Now, “the passions of the flesh” are within you and “your soul” is the real inner you. So, this is a conflict within. Peter says that there is a battle raging within you. You’ll remember that, back in the days of the miners’ strike in the 1980s, Margaret Thatcher provocatively dubbed the miners as “the enemy within”. The appropriateness of that term was a matter of personal opinion. It depended on your point of view. To her supporters that description perfectly hit the nail on the head while to many others it was callous and deeply offensive. In the case of believers in Christ, God’s people who are sojourners and exiles, we most certainly do have an enemy within. We know that from experience but, unlike Margaret Thatcher’s “enemy within”, that is not just a matter of personal opinion or your point of view. The fact is that the Word of God tells us of this “enemy within”. It describes it as “the passions of the flesh”.

What are these “passions of the flesh” that are waging war against “your soul”?

Well, we’ve already come across this word “passions”. You’ll remember that back in chapter 1 verse 14 Peter said: “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance”. Another word for “passions” would be “desires”. When we looked at 1 Peter 1v14 we recognised that “passions” or “desires” can be good or bad. The word itself is neutral. The passions Peter had in mind in 1 Peter 1v14 were to be avoided because he was speaking of “the passions of your former ignorance”. By that he meant the natural passions or desires that controlled you before you came to faith in Christ. Here, he’s speaking of the same thing but he describes them as “the passions of the flesh”.

Now, the word flesh here doesn’t refer to our physical human bodies. Rather, it refers to our fallen, sinful human nature. So, “the passions of the flesh” are the desires that are generated by our fallen, sinful human nature. Consequently, they are sinful desires, natural desires that we have apart from the work of the Spirit. As believers in Christ we’re not exempt from such sinful desires. In recognising that, we mustn’t rationalise them away. We mustn’t view them as just being a disappointing and annoying irritation.

The reality is that they “wage war against your soul”.

We must view them as a powerful army that is attacking us. Sometimes you can be under attack and you can just shrug it off because it isn’t very serious. You can stand aloof and rise above it but in this case it’s our very souls that are under attack. That’s serious. Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 16v26: “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” You see, your soul is the most important thing that you have. The well-being of your soul is of paramount importance. Sometimes in warfare there can be strategic reasons for giving up certain things. It might be expedient to surrender some ground to the enemy so that you can better defend what really matters most. Well, in this spiritual warfare within, it is your soul that matters most so the last thing you want to do is forfeit your soul.

So, what is the Christian response to such an attack on your soul to be?

You might expect it to be to “fight against” the enemy, to “join in battle with” the aggressor, to “stand toe to toe and slug it out”. It could be the cue for Peter to launch into a rousing, Churchillian, “fight them on the beaches” type speech”. But, so much in the Christian life is topsy turvy. It’s counter intuitive. It’s the opposite of what is commonplace in the world. That’s the case here too. We see that Peter does not urge us to stand up and fight. Rather, he says: “abstain from the passions of the flesh”. Paul expresses a similar thought in slightly different words in Romans 13v14 where he says: “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires”.

Peter says to “abstain from the passions of the flesh”.

Paul says to “make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires”.

Both are saying to not engage with “the passions of the flesh”. Both are saying to not be involved with “the passions of the flesh” but, rather, to have nothing to do with them. Steer clear of them. Keep away from them. Joseph provides us with a good example of this. Look at Gen 39v6b-8a where we read: “Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.” But he refused”. That was Potiphar’s wife seeking to seduce Joseph. She was trying to inflame his passions and to get him to submit to “the passions of the flesh”. Joseph abstained from those passions and refused her advances. Like the passions of the flesh, she didn’t take “no” for an answer. We see that she was persistent because we read in Gen 39v11-12:“But one day, when he went into the house to do his work and none of the men of the house was there in the house, she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house”.

The best way to fight against “the passions of the flesh” is to run away from them! In physical warfare, victory certainly doesn’t come by running away from the enemy but when it comes to the spiritual conflict within running away is the way to victory. That is the way to win the battle for your soul.

Next, let us consider post we will consider:

Conflict without

~ Steve

Dr. Steve Orr
Dr Orr has served the Body of Christ in the United Kingdom for many years and in various capacities (preaching, teaching, etc.,). Steve is a regular contributor to the pages of Christ My Covenant. His insights into the Word of God will serve you in your personal study of God’s Word. Learn of Christ!