Christ in the FleshBy: Joseph H. Murray
God made provision for Himself a temple for the indwelling of His Spirit in the body of Jesus. “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: when as His mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:18–21).
John has this to say of Him: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon Him” (John 1:14, 29, 32).
It was at this time that Jesus the son of Mary became Jesus Christ (or Jesus the anointed one). This is the reason Andrew sought out his brother, Peter, and told him, “We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ (or the anointed one)” (John 1:41).
The apostle Paul gives us this testimony concerning Jesus, “and without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (1Tim. 3:16).
The only way God is manifest on earth in the flesh is through and by the Spirit of God indwelling itself in the body of Jesus and those whom He chooses to be like Him. One of the prophets wrote these words concerning this, “Behold, I will send my messenger (John the Baptist), and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord (Spirit or anointing), whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple (Jesus), even the messenger of the covenant (or new covenant), whom ye delight in: behold, He shall come, saith the LORD of hosts” (Mal. 3:1).
The first chapter of the book of St. Mark shows us that this messenger was John the Baptist. And after he had preached “make His paths straight” and baptized many in water, including Jesus, and seeing the “Spirit like a dove descending upon Him,” it was made known to us the fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy given three hundred and ninety–seven years before Jesus was born.
Some of the Old Testament worthies bore witness of the manifestation of God in the flesh. One of them was Job. During his afflictions, he foresaw his deliverance. We give you his words, “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another” (Job 19:25–26).
This prophecy may not be completely fulfilled until after Job is resurrected in the judgment and in the world to come, but Iím sure he saw a measure of its fulfillment in his lifetime, this being accomplished when he was delivered from his afflictions. “And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before” (Job 42:10).
God not only manifest Himself in the healing of Job’s body, but gave him twice as much earthly goods as he had before, gave him ten more children and added one hundred and forty more years to his life. This is a manifestation of God in the flesh, not in God’s flesh, mind you, but in the flesh of Job.
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels,” said the apostle Paul, “that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus sake, that the life also of Jesus might be manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you” (2Cor. 4:7–12).
This same apostle wrote these words to the Ephesians, “For through Him (that is Jesus) we both (Jews and Gentiles) have access unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Eph. 2:18–22).
The fact of the matter is that we are to be cleansed from both sin and sickness. Sin is a defilement and filthiness of the soul, and sickness is defilement and filthiness of the flesh. Either one of these two will hinder our faith in God.
The preacher admonishes us to, “Remove vexation from your mind, and put away pain from your body” (Eccles. 11:10 Revised Standard Version).
Moffatt gave it to us in these words, “Banish all worries from your mind, and keep your bodies from pain (for youth and manhood will not last)” (Eccles. 11:10).
The translators of the King James version put it in these words, “Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh: for childhood and youth are vanity” (Eccles. 11:10).
In reference to the above Scripture, the apostle Paul has this to say, “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2Cor. 7:1). Though we may be afflicted and pine away and our souls draw near to the grave, there is still hope to those who put their trust in God.
Listen to Elihu as he reasons with Job, unjustified, but nevertheless sound. “If there be a messenger with him...to shew unto man his uprightness; then He is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom. His flesh shall be fresher than a child’s: he shall return to the days of his youth” (Job 33:23–25).
Healing and health isnít for the young alone but for all whether they be young or old. The anointing that abides in our mortal bodies (or Christ in our flesh) restores youth to the old and keeps the young young.
Evidently the Psalmist David tapped the flow of this fountain of youth, for he said, “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Ps. 103:2–5).
Since sin is defilement of the soul and sickness is defilement and filthiness of the flesh, they neither one belong to the children of God. It is our rightful heritage to be delivered from them both since Jesus has provided this by stripes being laid on His back for healing of our sickness and death on the cross for our sins.
Ninety years after the birth of Jesus, John, the beloved, warned us, “Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye (or here is how ye know) the Spirit of God: every Spirit that confesseth (or testifies) that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh (that is, the flesh of the Saints, His Body, the Church) is of God” (1John 4:1–2). Remember what happened at Pentecost. “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4). Only the Spirit of God testifies or speaks when He comes into us. The spirits that donít speak are dummies and are spirits of antichrist, John tells us in 1John 4:3. These things are understood by those who are of God. This is also how we know who has the Spirit of truth and who has the spirit of error (1John 4:6).
In the third chapter of this same letter, John wrote these words, “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; (or does not live in continual sin) for His seed remaineth in him; and he cannot sin, (or he cannot be content or satisfied in sin) because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother” (1John 3:7–10).
It is the Spirit of God that purifies our sinful flesh now by its indwelling in us. “For if the blood of bulls and goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Heb. 9:13–14).
It is our duty to keep ourselves purged, body, soul, and spirit, by the blood of Christ. In this way, and in this way alone, is the spirit and flesh of man brought into subjection to the will of Christ.