Monday, August 14, 2006


"Love not the world, neither the...things...that are in the world." 1 Jn 2:15
"Know His will and approve the...things...that are more excellent. Rom 2:18 "But the natural man receiveth not the...things...of the Spirit." 1 Corth, 2:14 "Set your affections on...things...above not on the...things of the earth. Col. 3:2 "For they that are after the flesh do mind the...things...of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the...things...of the Spirit." Rom. 8:5

Finally, 1 Corth. 3:21 "Let no man glory in man, for all...things...are yours". Then Paul makes at least a partial list of those things that are yours...Paul/ Apollos/ Cephas/ World/ Life/ Death/ All things present/ All things to come..are all mine.

But I'm a bit confused. What are the "things" of the world/earth/flesh as opposed to the "things" of the Spirit/ above/ excellent? Where do I get my list of each? And if "all things" are presently mine as a gift from God, to which list is that referring. What are we to make of all this?

I did a study of the "things" of the flesh and the "things of the Spirit one time and found an amazing thing. At least to me it was amazing. They are all the same things. It was important that during that study I remembered a couple of facts from scripture. One is that the word "world" and the word "flesh" had both a neutral and an evil use. Neutral use was world/flesh referring to creation and people. "God so loved the world..." But both can refer to evil. However, that is not a "thing" but an attitude of life. John referred to it as "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life." The key word here is "lust". It is taking some "thing" and using it for an illegitimate purpose. "Self" is that illegitimate purpose.

That brings me to the second point I had to bear in mind and that is "self" is simply independence from God. So any "thing" I use or view independent of who God is as He reveals Himself to be is a "thing" of the flesh. But any "thing" I use or view dependent on who God is as He reveals Himself to be, is a "thing" of the Spirit.

So I wrote my lists. Here they are: [A partial list only.]

The "things" of the world list.
My Job
My Marriage
My Recreation
My Food
My Church attendance
My Bible reading

The "things of the Spirit list
My Job
My Marriage
My Recreation
My Food
My Church Attendance
My Bible Reading

Let me explain if I can. My Job, be it law, medicine, home making, or ministry is a thing of the flesh/world OR Spirit/heaven depending on my motive. If it is a way to make money for things I want only or to get my strokes from people if I do well, or to show how good I am, it is a "thing" of the world/flesh. But, if it is, to me, a way of providing for my own and the Kingdom of God and enjoying that Kingdom reality, it is a "thing" of the Spirit/heaven.

My marriage. If it is a "thing", to me, that gets me sex, or security, or love, or comfort, it is a "thing" of the world/flesh. But, if it is to me, a "thing" that pictures Christ and His Church relationship, or a way to be a resource to another person, or a way of enjoying Kingdom reality, it is a "thing" of the Spirit/heaven.

My recreation. If it is a "thing" that shows off my abilities, or to get the praise of men, or to prove I'm better than anyone else, it is a "thing" of the world/flesh. But, if it is a "thing" that enables me to keep the Temple of God fit, or to accomplish personal/team goals that are healthy, or to enjoy a respite from work, it is a "thing" of the Spirit/heaven.

My Church attendance. If it is a way for me to get acceptance from people or God, or a way to check off a list that shows I'm better than those who don't attend, it is a "thing" of the flesh/world. You see the point...don't you?

So in reality, every "thing" I do ,whether attending church, preaching, motorcycle riding, making money, reading my bible, eating with friends, has the potential of being a "thing of the Spirit" or a "thing of the world".
Since "all things" are mine according to Paul the Apostle maybe the only question is why I'm doing it, not what I'm doing. That's the determining factor of it's nature whether good or evil, flesh or Spirit, earthy or heavenly. So I'm just celebrating the reality of God as He has revealed Himself to be, in every "thing" in life. WOW, that means the lists can be forgotten as a standard of behavior and all of life is spiritual. It's my motive/heart in what I do that makes it evil or good [the issues of life thing].......I wonder if this applies to blogging??

Paul Burleson


Kevin Bussey said...

Great insight!

We should do everything to the glory of the Lord. Worship isn't just on Sunday, it is 27/7/365!

Tim Sweatman said...


I think you have just explained the key to being in the world but not of it. It's less about where we go or what we do than about why we go where we go or why we do what we do.



Where can I get those other three hours you have in your day? ;^)

Bryan Riley said...

Kevin seems to have three extra hours because he is a very busy man. :)

Paul, this is a very insightful word and it demonstrates well that any "thing" that becomes first before the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33) becomes an idol in our lives and disrupts our relationship with the Father. That is why we must pray as David did Psalm 139:23-24 and follow the word of Christ to take up our cross daily... It seems so hard and yet it is so freeing and releasing.

Thank you for your encouragement and love! Keep training up us "youngins."

Kevin Bussey said...

Oops! I guess my finger slipped... or did it :)

Alan Cross said...

Thanks, Paul. Very insightful. I am nearing Philippians 4:8 in our study of that book in my messages. This is good insight that I'll need to ponder on the next few weeks. I definitely could be more consistent in that myself.

GuyMuse said...

Excellent devotional thought. I think this is what Elizabeth Barrett Browning was trying to say in what has become one of my favorite quotes:

Earth's crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God; But only he who sees, takes off his shoes - The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries."