Bypass the “good” flesh
One of the clearest statements in the Bible regarding bypassing the good flesh is Paul’s utterance in Philippians 3:3-7: 3
“For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.”
In other words, all the gains of his ‘good flesh’ were counted as loss to Paul. He bypassed the ‘good flesh’ and went directly to the excellency of Christ! His testimony is found in verses 8 through 10:
“But indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.”
These verses are telling us that God wants us to bypass the good flesh that is occupied with self-effort, self-righteousness, and self-glory. Bypassing the good flesh is in order that we would be occupied exclusively with Christ – to gain Him, to be found in Him, and to know Him.
Bypass by turning the heart to the Lord
The secret of bypassing the flesh is by learning to turn the heart to the Lord. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:15-16, “But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. But whenever their heart turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” Then he continues in verse 18, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding and reflecting as a mirror the glory of the Lord …” These verses show us that in order to bypass a hardened heart to behold the Lord we need a turned heart. A turned heart is one that is positioned toward the Lord. In other words, our heart has been turned in another direction – away from the Lord – now we need to bypass what distracts us by turning our heart toward the Lord.
Our heart may be distracted by many things, but our one unique need is to turn it toward the Lord. Our tendency is to have our heart turned toward our problems or turned toward our defeated condition or turned toward what we see in ourselves that is still not subdued by the Lord. But the most important thing in bypassing is to get our eyes off ourselves and onto Him. Regardless of how we feel or what we see in ourselves, we need to bypass it all.
Hebrews 2:8-9 is another passage that describes what is involved in bypassing; “You have put all things in subjection under His feet. For in that He put all in subjection under Him, He left nothing that is not put under Him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to Him, but we see Jesus …” There are two things to take note of in these verses. First, the fact that “we do not yet see all things put under Him”; and second, “but we see Jesus.” These two things are going on at the same time. That means we may see many things in us that are not yet subjected to Him – things that are not under His feet, under His ruling. But even in such an unfinished state, we still see Jesus! Despite the existence of the unsubjected things, our heart can turn to the Lord – this is the bypass. So do not be distracted or discouraged by what you see in yourself. Keep your eyes upon Jesus and trust Him to subdue every unruly thing.
If turning is the secret of bypassing the flesh and every other distraction, then what is involved in turning our heart to the Lord? To answer this we need to see from the Book of James that the turning member of our entire being – spirit, soul, and body – is our tongue. James uses two examples of the tongue as our turning member – the bits in the horses mouth and the rudder of a ship. James 3:3-4 says, “Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires.” The “bits” and the “rudder” are the keys to turning a horse and a ship. Even so, says James, the tongue is set among our members.
How then do we turn our heart and bypass? It is simple. Knowing that the tongue is the turning member of our being, we just need to pray, to sing, to give thanks, to make melody in our hearts, to fellowship, to share the gospel. We need to let the Word of Christ dwell in us richly by declaring it like the Lord did in Matthew 4:3-10. Do everything to help activate and fill your spirit (Eph. 5:18-21). Today everyone is exercising their body. And in the universities everyone is exercising their mind. Then if you go to a concert, everyone is exercising their emotions. So everyone is exercising these parts of their being. But the Bible shows us that on this earth the genuine humanity comes by exercising the spirit (1 Cor. 2:11). When our spirit and our mouth are used to turn our heart, we bypass the flesh and go directly to Jesus.
The key is with our tongue – opening our mouth. Just realize that by praying, by touching the Lord, this mouth of ours can turn our whole being in the middle of a thought, in the middle of reactions, moods, depression, feeling bad about yourself. Just interrupt it! Feeling bad about yourself is typical for the flesh. That is how the flesh always feels. It never seems to want to give up its mood. So interrupt it. Call upon the name of the Lord, and immediately you bypass the mood and end up with Jesus!
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Bill Freeman wrote and taught the Galatians 2:20 message through Ministry of the Word. This article is from The Christian newsletter, vol. 18, no. 4.
Italics added – JBW
For more on turning the heart to the Lord, see Theodore Monod’s classic message, “Looking Unto Jesus”.
We have a networking relationship with Luther Rice College and Seminary. This school offers accredited Bachelors, Masters, and Doctoral degrees in Biblical Counseling. Students may opt for Grace Fellowship’s equipping events for their practicum. To inquire see www.LutherRice.edu, Dr Ann Kerlin.