[Romans 8: 12-16]
“So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh  for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.  For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.  For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”  The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God,”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
This is the fourteenth session on the ‘Voice and Guidance of the Holy Spirit’.
Proverb 20:5 says, “A plan in the heart of a man is like deep water, but a man of understanding draws it out.”
Here, a plan refers to the ways to achieve such goals in life as victories in battles or success in life.
Human beings are actually good at planning.
God gave them excellent thinking ability.
But they say that even the most intelligent people in human history could not use even half of the ability that is given by God.
We can understand why a plan in the heart of a man is like deep water.
But, you are more than able to draw it out.
We can do that by the help of the Holy Spirit.
But there is a condition. That is, we have to pull out the evil that is in the depth of our heart first.
It’s because the Holy Spirit is good.
To understand the will of the Holy Spirit, we also have to become good.
The fleshly thoughts that are derived from self-righteousness and frameworks usually stem from the evil deep inside one’s heart.
Therefore, in order to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit clearly, we have to cast away the evil in our conscience and nature that is hidden in the depth of our heart.
In the last session, I talked to you about the evil in our conscience.
Today, I am going to talk about the evil in our nature.
Then, I will explain with the example of Peter about the relationship between the fleshly thoughts and obedience.
I pray in the name of the Lord that you will cultivate a truly good heart and win the victory with plans that are drawn out by the Holy Spirit.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, our natures are the fundamental characters of the heart.
Men are born with a nature that is a mixture of good and evil.
It’s because all men are descendants of Adam and we inherit original sin in our nature.
Of course, our nature is not formed just by what is inherited alone.
Even though we are born with a relatively evil nature, it can become good if we keep on accepting good things in our heart.
However, even though we are born with relatively good nature, it can become evil if we keep on accepting evil things into our heart.
And the evil in our nature is placed in a location that is even deeper than our conscience.
Our nature can be compared with the characteristics of the soil.
If you remove weeds and rocks and plant the crops, you cannot really tell whether the soil is good or not just by looking at it.
Likewise, if you remove obvious untruths and pull out the evil from your conscience, you cannot really see any forms of evil that may remain in you.
And, they are not easily revealed.
But because you have this evil in your nature, you come to have fleshly thoughts without realizing it.
We can understand this if we examine the process of Job casting off his evil.
God spoke to Satan, speaking highly of Job.
He said that Job was ‘blameless and upright’, and ‘he shunned evil’, and ‘there was no one like him’.
Just as God had said, Job had done nothing against God’s will in his deeds.
But even Job had fleshly thoughts.
For example, when his children had a party, he was worried that his children might have committed sins, so he called all his children and offered sacrifices.
The Bible says Job did this continually.
He was blameless in trying to have peace with God all the time by not creating any wall of sin.
But, if you consider the other side of his deeds, you can see his fear of God.
He was afraid that God punished sinners.
The Bible says love casts out fear.
The fact that Job was afraid of being punished means that he did not cultivate perfect love in his heart.
Also, Job had misunderstandings about God.
God accepted the accusations of Satan against Job and several trials came upon Job.
Job lost all his children and possessions, and finally he was struck with painful boils all over his body.
When his wife saw this, she said, “Do you still hold fast your integrity- Curse God and die!”
Job was supposed to have been consoled by his wife, but instead he was despised by her. But, he did not commit sins with his lips.
But as we hear his words, we can understand that he had misunderstandings about God.
Job 2:10 says, “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity-“
Is this right according to the truth- No.
Proverbs 10:22 says, “It is the blessing of the LORD that makes rich, and He adds no sorrow to it.”
God gives blessings to those who deserve to receive them, but He does not send disasters and calamities.
He gives only good things to His children.
It is the enemy devil and Satan who bring disasters.
The calamities that came upon Job were all brought by Satan.
Suppose a worker has the same fleshly thoughts as Job’s, and he is counseling somebody.
He may speak of God as a fearful God, thereby causing the person to become more distanced from God.
So, now, how can we find the evil in our nature-
We can find it through trials.
Job realized the evil in his nature through severe trials.
He came to cast off the evil in his nature and made true peace with God through trials.
But we don’t necessarily have to go through such harsh trials to realize the evils in our nature.
We can realize them if we thoroughly reflect ourselves through the word of God.
Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
Moreover, the holiness gospel that you are listening to is like a very well sharpened sword.
It can penetrate into minute evil in the nature, too.
Also, 1 Timothy 4:5 says, “…for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.”
Therefore, we have to realize our evil in the light of the word of prayer and cast it away.
Do any of you feel that you don’t really commit any particular sin as such, but at the same time you don’t feel at peace either-
The evil in your nature could be the problem.
If you do not have true peace in your heart, it means you are having fleshly thoughts.
I hope you will cast away evil in your nature in the light of the Holy Spirit through fervent prayers.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, now, let us consider the relationship between fleshly thoughts and obedience.
We can obey the voice or the guidance of the Holy Spirit only when we break our fleshly thoughts.
On the other hand, if we obey the voice of the Holy Spirit our fleshly thoughts that remain in us can be destroyed.
When we obey the voice of the Holy Spirit, we can meet God and experience how He works beyond men’s thoughts.
We can receive solutions to various problems and answers to our heart’s desires.
We can accomplish the kingdom of God greatly through His power.
Fleshly thoughts will be demolished through these experiences.
Obedience as explained gives us the double blessing of our soul being prosperous and all things going well with us.
The Bible also tells us about the people who received blessings by obeying the voice of the Holy Spirit, the word of God, or the word of the Lord.
Peter is one such person.
Peter had a strong ego, but as a result of being trained to obey Jesus, he changed into a person who could obey with all his life.
He performed the works of the Holy Spirit and spread the gospel to numerous people.
Let me share some of the kinds of blessings Peter received when he was going through the process of his breaking fleshly thoughts, obeyed and destroyed his fleshly thoughts.
Based on the different levels of fleshly thoughts that I have explained so far, I hope you would gain great understanding through this example.
Also, I hope you will have a greater hope that you can also change.
Peter was a fisherman. He caught fish in the Sea of Galilee, which was in Israel’s border area.
At that time, Jews were suffering from the foreign rulers.
For that reason they wanted a Messiah who could change the reality of their conditions and save them.
They were waiting for a political Messiah, a powerful ruler like King David.
Peter was also one of those Jews.
Even before he met with Jesus, he followed John the Baptist who was preaching about the Messiah.
Meantime, he came to meet Jesus for the first time through his brother Andrew.
Although he met with Jesus, Peter did not just decide to leave behind all things in his life and live the life of a disciple.
But one day something amazing happened, which changed his life.
In Luke chapter 5, Peter was catching fish in the Sea of Galilee as usual.
But on that particular day, he couldn’t catch any fish though he struggled all night.
He was about to call it a day, but Jesus got in his boat and preached the word of God.
Then, He told Peter to put out into the deep water and let down the net.
Peter was an experienced fisherman. He knew about the Sea of Galilee more than others.
If had had fleshly thoughts like, “I worked all night but only in vain! Jesus doesn’t have any of the experience or knowledge about fishing that I have!” then, he couldn’t have obeyed Jesus’ word.
But he just forgot about his own knowledge and experience and opened the door of his thoughts.
He obeyed the word of Jesus.
Then, he caught so many fish that his nets began to break.
The two boats that collected the fish were about to sink.
Seeing this, Peter knelt before Jesus and said, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!”
He finally opened his heart fully towards Jesus.
He decided to become His disciple, forsaking everything.