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.”
In the last session, I talked about Peter, more specifically the process he went through to demolish his fleshly thoughts and the training for obedience.
Even before he received the Holy Spirit, Peter tried to obey Jesus in all matters.
After he received the Holy Spirit, he followed the voice of the Holy Spirit and followed the will of the Lord more completely.
He manifested the works of repentance and amazing healings and brought about revival in the early church.
By that time Peter’s heart already became sanctified, but he still went through more training to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit more deeply.
It’s because he had what is called ‘traces of flesh’.
This is the 16th session on the voice and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
In this session, we will talk about the traces of flesh.
But even though you listen to the messages on how to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit for many hours, it is useless unless you apply them in your actual lives.
I hope you will actively apply the message in your lives.
I pray in the name of the Lord that you will have clear communication with the Holy Spirit.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
If you cast off all the obvious untruths, evil in conscience and even evil in your nature, you won’t have any more fleshly thoughts.
You will hear the voice of the Holy Spirit clearly.
But even though all of you have cast away evil and become sanctified, the level and depth of hearing the Holy Spirit’s voice will be different from person to person, according to the extent to which your traces of flesh remain.
We cannot say traces of flesh are evil, but as long as you have them, it is difficult to hear the Holy Spirit’s voice more deeply.
Traces of flesh, simply put, are the effects of your personalities, temperaments, and knowledge that you had before you changed into spirit.
When you wash clothes, the ground-in stains will not go easily. They will leave a trace on the clothing.
Traces of flesh can be compared with such stains.
Of course, the knowledge here does not refer to the knowledge of untruth that is against God.
You will have already demolished such knowledge.
The knowledge I am referring to here is the knowledge that affects one’s way of thinking.
For example, you might have a memory of a shocking event that you had in your childhood.
In Galatians chapter 2, we find an event where Peter did not understand the will of God in depth due to his traces of flesh.
Peter was eating with the Gentiles, and when the circumcised, namely, the Jewish believers who considered the Law very important, came, he just left the place.
It is because the Law of the Jews prohibits having fellowship with the Gentiles.
Peter did not want to be judged by the legalistic Jews.
But it was not because Peter had any evil that he acted that way.
He once received the command of the Lord and preached the gospel to Cornelius.
It was first time for him to preach the gospel to a Gentile.
Seeing the vision that the Lord gave him, he realized that it was the will of the Lord to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, too.
So, he was not stubborn in his own righteousness, but obeyed the will of the Lord.
So, would he have intentionally disobeyed the Lord’s will here- He never wanted to.
It is just that the traces of flesh moved him for a moment.
Peter had kept the Law all his life.
Also, after he became the leader of the early church, he had to see many arguments and conflicts because of the Law.
Among them there were some who said that even though they accepted Jesus Christ, they couldn’t receive salvation unless they were circumcised.
Some of them said even insisted that the Gentiles had to live by the Law of the Old Testament and caused them to stumble.
Such legalistic knowledge and righteousness, and various experiences in relation with the Law affected Peter’s judgment and actions for a moment.
But Peter finally got rid of such traces of flesh through the works of the Holy Spirit.
He became united with the Holy Spirit and preached the gospel not only to the Jews but also to the Gentiles.
When he had to choose between two ways that seemed almost the same, God worked on him through the Holy Spirit.
God let him know His will.
Such a thing happened when he was martyred, too.
There is a story that has filtered down about Peter’s martyrdom.
Before Peter was martyred, he was ministering in Rome.
Most of those who had social power in Rome did not like Peter.
It’s because of his emphasis on holiness every time he preached.
Finally, there was a rumor that the authorities wanted to kill Peter.
So, the disciples asked Peter to escape and leave Rome.
Peter was one of the leading representatives of Christianity, and the authorities thought his death would stop the spread of the Gospel to a great extent.
Peter accepted the suggestion and escaped from Rome.
Something happened right after he had escaped from the danger in Rome.
He met the Lord coming towards him!
How happy he must have been just to see the Lord again!
But the Lord just passed him by without even looking at him.
He did not say to Peter anything like, “My dear disciple, you’ve worked so hard until now. Quickly escape from the danger!”
So, Peter asked the Lord, “Lord, where are you going-“
The Lord said, “I am going to Rome to be crucified again.”
So, Peter went back to Rome.
He realized that it was the will of the Lord for him to preach the gospel in Rome, even if it meant he would be martyred.
He was eventually arrested and crucified.
He requested that he be crucified upside down, saying he didn’t deserve to be crucified like the Lord.
He humbly took the cross upside down and went to the bosom of the Lord.
It was not for his physical comfort that he tried to escape Rome.
He didn’t have any intention to disobey the will of the Lord.
He chose as he did to preach the gospel to more souls.
But the will of the Lord had a deeper meaning.
The Lord knew that numerous souls in Rome would be saved through the blood of martyrdom of His foremost disciple Peter.
Also, it was the best time for Peter to become a martyr.
Peter understood the heart of the Lord seeing Him just for a moment.
He did not fear death, and he turned back to follow the will of the Lord.
It tells us Peter was united with the Lord to such a great extent.
Dear brothers and sisters,
Even though you hear the same voice and see the same vision of the Holy Spirit, people might have different interpretations.
It’s because the depths of their understanding is different.
In Acts chapter 21, we can see Paul and other workers heard the voice of the Lord, but the depth of their interpretation was different.
After his 3rd mission trip, Paul visited Caesarea on his way to Jerusalem.
There, he met the believers in Caesarea including Philip.
One day, a prophet called Agabus saw in a vision that Paul would be arrested by the Jews and handed over to the Gentiles.
Hearing this news, Paul’s companions and the believers in Caesarea asked him not to go up to Jerusalem.
Some of them asked him with tears.
Then, Paul said in Acts 21:13, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart- For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”
Before this, Agabus once prophesied through the Holy Spirit that there would be great famine.
It was fulfilled.
Agabus could clearly hear the voice of the Holy Spirit.
But the depth of his interpretation could not match that of the apostle Paul.
Also, there were some believers in Caesarea who came from Jerusalem, trying to avoid the persecutions of the Jews.
They kept their faith even in life-threatening situations.
And because of their experiences of persecutions, they tried to stop Paul from going to Jerusalem.
Because of the thoughts that derived from their experiences, they could not understand the will of God deeply enough.
On the other hand, Paul understood the will of God deeply, and he chose to go to Jerusalem even if it meant his death.
Paul finally went to Jerusalem where he was accused by the Jews, arrested and then sent to Rome.
If you just consider the situations in reality, it seems that the way of spreading gospel was blocked, but it was not true.
When he was detained in Jerusalem, the Lord appeared in his dream and spoke the following.
Acts 23:11 says, “But on the night immediately following, the Lord stood at his side and said, “Take courage; for as you have solemnly witnessed to My cause at Jerusalem, so you must witness at Rome also.”
As spoken, even though Paul had been charged as a criminal, held under house and remained in Rome, and freely preached the gospel for 2 years.
The time when Paul was sent to Rome was just before the severe persecutions against Christianity began.
At this important moment in time, Paul gave a proper understanding of the gospel to the believers in Rome, reaffirming their faith.
Dear brothers and sisters,
When Paul chose to go to Jerusalem, he did not follow any of his own wisdom or belief.
He had already cast off even the traces of flesh. And just like the Lord who took the cross like a lamb, Paul also followed the will of God in his eagerness to save more souls.
In order to realize our traces of flesh and cast them away, we have to deny ourselves in everything.
We have to rely on the Holy Spirit and seek the good and perfect will of God thinking about how we can bear more of perfect fruits in greater quantity.
Then, we will reach the level that is mentioned in Romans 12:2 that says, “You may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
We can bear really good and abundant fruits only when we reach such a level.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Until we can hear the voice of the Holy Spirit clearly and in depth, we have to pass through the steps.
In these processes, along with the guidance of God, we obviously have to try hard on our part.
The more we actively try to do it, the more quickly we can finish each step.
In the beginning many times we are not able to obey the voice of the Holy Spirit.
But through those experiences, we can gain understanding and keep it in our mind.
Once I had the following experience when I was a deacon.
I was listening to the message in the Sunday morning service, and I heard a strong voice telling me to donate 30,000 won, or 30 dollars to a certain pastor.
So, I made up my mind to get 30,000 won and give it to that pastor.
But as I was coming out of the church after the service, there were many other thoughts coming into my mind.
In fact 30,000 won at that time was a big amount of money for me.
I thought, “If I have that amount, I would give, but where can I get that much money- Obviously it seems he is better off than I am! I must have had idle thoughts in the service!” and I forgot about it.
But the next day, that pastor’s mother-in-law came to my house.
She said her daughter had the labor the night before, and they had a hard time trying to get 30,000 won.
They somehow got the money and went to the hospital, but it was quite late and she had to suffer a lot until she gave birth.
I repented immediately upon hearing the news.
I regretted thinking, “If I prepared the money and gave it to them, they didn’t have to suffer all night! There must have been the money somewhere because God moved me to do it, and God would have blessed me pressed down, shaken together, and running over!”
It was not long after I became a Christian.
In addition to this occasion, I received the training to obey the voice of the Holy Spirit several times.
Through such training I came to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit more clearly and in more depth.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
1 John 2:27 says, “As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.”
The anointing here refers to the presence of the Holy Spirit.
To be anointed means that we have received the Holy Spirit sent by the Lord.
You all have different personalities, experiences, knowledge, measure of faith, and circumstances.
Nevertheless, if you just try to deny yourself and obey completely, the Holy Spirit will consider all the variables and give you the right answer.
I pray in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ that you will clearly receive such answers and live a life of prosperity.