“It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”
John 6:63 NRSV
Talking this morning about the words of Christ, we know from Paul’s teaching that faith comes by hearing the words of Christ. And mixing the words of Christ with our faith brings us to salvation. The context of this verse in John 6 comes just after a very difficult teaching, many get offended with Christ and begin to leave him.
There are seeking Christ, not for his teaching but those who are just looking to Christ to be fed, however, they left as soon as Jesus began to speak on eating flesh and drinking blood.
Jesus' teaching can be difficult to understand especially to those who don’t have the spiritual ears to hear, often Jesus speaks in parables and later explains them to his followers.
This is very different to some others who would seek fame and fortune and say things that will please the crowd. Or keep to safe topics not wishing to be cancelled or in those days put to death.
Jesus takes a different approach saying things that he knows will offend the Jews. Kosher food was a big deal to the Jews. In hindsight, we know that Jesus was speaking metaphorically. If you don’t eat my flesh you can have no part with me. We pick this up a few verses down.
“So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
John 6:67-69 NRSV
My three points this morning are as follows first, understanding and knowing the difference between spirit and flesh. Second, What does it mean to please God and not people, and finally what is the connection between words and eternal life? The Bible (God’s Word) is radically different from any other book in the entire world, secular or sacred. It is alive as the Holy Spirit of God speaks to us through it.
- The difference between flesh and spirit.
We must approach scripture with spiritual insight and discernment and not just with the mind of our flesh. Jesus said my words are spirit and life, the flesh is useless, useless in our understanding of God. Spiritually we need to be awakened or enlightened by the words of Christ in our understanding and our flesh does not profit.
“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
“We [believers in Jesus] have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. The man without the Spirit [of God] does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:12,14)
- Living to please God
Two reasons we are not living to please God, these are common traps we all fall into. The first one is living according to our flesh, which is living to please ourselves, and the second living to please others or people pleasing.
In Romans 8 we read that being in Christ means that we are living to please God and not our flesh.
"There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus."
It can be said of no one else: only "to those who are in Christ Jesus." Who are they? Verses 9 and 10 begin to answer the question of what it means to be "in Christ Jesus." Notice as we read these verses that the "Spirit," the "Spirit of God," the "Spirit of Christ," and simply "Christ" are all interchangeable:
You are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit if the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness.
It is evident from these verses that the Spirit of God is one with the Spirit of Christ. There are not two Spirits, there is one and he is the Spirit of the Father and the Son. Therefore, when we have the Holy Spirit we may be said to have both the Father and the Son dwelling in us by the Spirit.
The coming of the Holy Spirit into a person's life and the working of the Spirit to liberate that life from the law of sin and death always accompany genuine faith and there is no other way to have it. We learn this from Galatians 3:2–5. Paul asks a series of questions and expects the answers to be obvious:
Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun with the Spirit are you now ending with the flesh? Did you experience so many things in vain—if it really is in vain. Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Galatians 3 2-5
It is by faith that we receive the Holy Spirit, and it is by faith that the Spirit works within us.
- Words and eternal life
“Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life.”
John 5:24 NRSV
The logos is divine, the logos the word of God was there in the beginning, and the words God uttered are creative and divine. Christ is the word of God, speaking with the authority of God. The Word of God is spirit and life (John 6:63); it is living and active (Hebrews 4:12) and, when quickened by the Holy Spirit, has dynamic power to impart spiritual life to us.
The Holy Spirit is the only one who can reveal and communicate the Bible’s spiritual truths to us. Those who read the Bible apart from the Holy Spirit teaching them cannot understand it because, unlike all other books, it is spiritually discerned. It is not a mental exercise but a spiritual one. (See 1 Corinthians 2:6-16).
Those who read the Bible without relying on the Holy Spirit to breathe spiritual revelation of it to them will gravely misunderstand it (2 Peter 3:15-16). This is where different interpretations of the Bible arise. There is only one absolute truth and one correct interpretation of the Bible, and that belongs to God. The more time we spend reading the Bible with the Holy Spirit ‘quickening’ it to us, the more he arights our misinterpretations and aligns us with his one.
The disciples of Christ, the twelve, were unique in that they saw that Jesus had the word of eternal life, they had something in them like God a creative power. It required them to beloved in Christ's words and trust them as truth. The word of God is more than words on a page open to interpretation as Christ himself is the word and isn't just true it is the truth.