When we understand the two identities (flesh and spirit) and learn how to identify ourselves with the spiritual “I” as Paul did, we can then truly begin to live by the New Covenant. If we do not understand this basic New Covenant truth, we will always identify with the flesh man and believe it is called to receive salvation.
There are two main results of such thinking. Either a person will remain confident that the religious activities of the flesh are sufficient, or a person will recognize his deficiency and will suffer from guilt, inadequacy, and mental anguish all of his life.
Some, of course, simply do not care one way or the other, because their intent is to pursue happiness in this life and hope for the best in the next.
The flesh is something that we are born with. We were born according to the will of the flesh—that is, by the will of our fleshly parents. Having lived all our lives in a body of flesh, we know there are problems with this body, but yet we find it difficult to identify with anything else. This natural body is our comfort zone. It takes a special effort to decide to identify with something else.
Most people believe that they have faith, but their faith is usually misplaced. Christians tend to believe that with the help of the Holy Spirit, their old man can be disciplined sufficiently to be saved. They think that their inner flesh man can become righteous and thus fulfill its Old Covenant vow.
The truth is that the flesh man can indeed come under discipline—and it should—but it has already lost its “eternal life” before we were even born. It carries the sentence of death, and for this reason it must be “crucified,” not literally, but in the sense that it must identify with Christ’s death on the cross. The new man is then raised up in its place. The old man will not be raised from the dead, but will “return to the ground” (Gen. 3:19).
If our faith is in the old man, our faith is misplaced. We all have faith, but we do not all have faith in that which alone can save us. If we have faith that Jesus will save our flesh, it means we still believe that there is hope for the old man. If we have faith that the Holy Spirit will help our old man fulfill its vow of obedience, then we remain yet under the Old Covenant, regardless of how we may protest otherwise.
The Law of Sonship
Becoming a child of the flesh came easy for us, because it was done by parental decision. Becoming a child of God comes by a form of legal adoption illustrated by the law in Deut. 25:5, 6,
5 When brothers live together and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the deceased shall not be married outside the family to a strange man. Her husband’s brother shall go in to her and take her to himself as wife and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her. 6 And it shall be that the firstborn whom she bears shall assume the name of his dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out from Israel.
This law was illustrated in the book of Ruth, who was childless when her husband died. Boaz wanted to marry Ruth, but there was a “closer relative” who had the first right to marry her, according to the law. The law merely upheld the right of the closest relative, heaping shame on him if he did not perform that duty. But in the end, the closest relative was not forced into such a marriage.
So in the story, the closest relative refused, and Boaz, being next in line, was able to marry Ruth. When a son was born to them, Ruth 4:17 says,
17 And the neighbor women gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi!” So they named him Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David.
Biologically speaking, Baby Obed was the son of Boaz and Ruth, but legally speaking, Obed was the son of Naomi and Elimelech (who had died). The difference between biological and legal sons is important, because under the New Covenant this is the Law of Sonship.
Jesus died childless, and Heb. 2:11 says of those who believe in Him, “He is not ashamed to call them brethren.” Because we are Jesus’ brothers, we are called to raise up a first-born son that will “assume the name of his dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out from Israel” (Deut. 25:6).
Under the Old Covenant, this law applied to two parents, both of whom were fleshly. It was about retaining land inheritance. But under the New Covenant, because Jesus considers us to be His “brethren,” we are called to bring forth Christ in us as a son of God. Although we are the biological “mother” of this son, he is legally the son of God. That son is destined to inherit Jesus’ estate as a first-born son of God.
Of course, this Son is a many-membered body in the large picture, with Jesus Christ being the Head of this body. No single law can express the full scope of the divine plan. The law was weak in that its earthly applications could not account for the source of spiritual seed. But “the law is spiritual” (Rom. 7:14). Hence, the New Covenant shows that God Himself is the Father and we are the mother of the Christ in us. Boaz, then, pictured God, who provides the spiritual seed to beget Christ in us, while Ruth represented us as “mothers.”
In other words, under the Old Covenant this law applied to two earthly parents, whereas under the New Covenant, there is a heavenly Father and an earthly mother.
The main contribution of the law in Deuteronomy 25 is to set forth the distinction between a biological son and a legal son. When Obed was born, his biological parents did not have the lawful right to possess him as their son. The law gave Naomi that right. This is one of many places where we see that the law trumps biology. Boaz and Ruth did have rights as biological parents, but Naomi’s legal right took precedence over biology.
So also is it with those of us who are mothers of the New Creation Man, which is the Christ within, the son that will be a co-heir with Christ. We give birth to Christ’s legal heir.
The New Covenant Inheritance
The Old Covenant inheritance was limited to the earth. Specifically, Israel’s inheritance was the land of Canaan, although they also colonized other parts of the earth. Even so, the Old Covenant could give them only an earthly inheritance. The New Covenant inheritance included the whole earth, but also heaven.
Since Christ had a heavenly Father and an earthly mother, He is their “Heir of all things” (Heb. 1:2), both in heaven and in earth. His Kingdom includes both realms, all that He created (Gen. 1:1). He inherits all things, and hence we read that the meek will inherit the earth (Matt. 5:5 KJV), and as co-heirs with Christ, they will also inherit heaven.
The Garment Laws
Jesus had authority in both heaven and earth (Matt. 28:18). He could pass from one dimension to the other at will simply by “changing clothes.” The garment laws prophesy of this, and Paul tells us that at the present time our heavenly garments are reserved for us in heaven (2 Cor. 5:1). This metaphor is likened to the earthly high priest, whose garments were locked up and could be used only on certain occasions such as the feasts.
There are two main garment laws that prophesy of our inheritance. The first is the law about the high priest wearing special garments when he ministered to God in the tabernacle (Exodus 28:40-43). Ezekiel tells us the linen priestly garments were not to be worn when the priests ministered to the people in the outer court (Ezekiel 44:19). Neither were they to wear wool in the inner sanctuary.
This law prophesies of the two types of garments in Paul’s discussion in 2 Cor. 5:1-5. Paul says there are heavenly garments and earthly garments, and he says they represent spiritual and earthly bodies. We currently live in our earthly garments, but we long for the day when we will have access to our heavenly garments. In other words, the day is coming when we will be able to travel freely between heaven and earth with no restrictions, even as Jesus Himself did after His resurrection.
Meanwhile, on a deeper level, our spirit already has the ability to go to heaven, because as a spirit, it is already clothed with a spiritual body. It wears no “wool” and cannot sweat, for it has entered into God’s rest. This gives us the ability to walk in the Spirit, to pray in the Spirit, and to commune with our heavenly Father in His temple in heaven. Nonetheless, there is another event coming, which will see a change of body, so that this new body will be able to disappear from the earth and go to heaven at will.
The second garment law that Paul mentions in 2 Cor. 5:5 is found in the law of pledges in Deut. 24:10-13. Under the Old Covenant, when loans were given, sometimes the creditor would require collateral as a pledge. He was forbidden to take a handmill or the upper millstone as a pledge (Deut. 24:6), but he was allowed to take someone’s garment (Deut. 24:13, except in the case of widows, Deut. 24:17).
This law regulates loans and restricts the rights of creditors to ensure that debtors are not unduly oppressed in their time of need.
Under the New Covenant, Paul applies this law to the heavenly garments which are reserved for us in heaven. After writing about the two garments, Paul says in 2 Cor. 5:5,
5 Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge.
Pledges are given by debtors to the creditors. So the fact that God has given us a pledge shows that God has placed Himself in the position of a Debtor to us as believers. How is this possible?
It all started in Genesis, when Adam sinned and thereby incurred a debt to the law. As a debtor, he lost his heavenly garment, for it was given to God as a pledge on his debt. But when Jesus died on the cross to pay that debt, suddenly God owed us that heavenly garment.
Yet, Paul says, God continued to reserve it in the heavens for us. In other words, He did not immediately give us the garments after our debt was paid. We all want to get it back, and for this reason, “we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven” (2 Cor. 5:2). Because we never got back that garment, it is plain that our garment is “on loan” to God.
Thus, God became indebted to us, for He owes us a heavenly garment. As God’s creditors, He gave us the Spirit as a pledge, or as collateral on that loan, Paul says, so that we may enjoy the fruit and gifts of the Spirit while we wait for Him to pay His debt to us.
The law says that He must release it “when the sun goes down” (Deut. 24:13 NASB). The literal Hebrew wording reads, “when the sun comes.” At sunrise the sun seems to leave the earth, and at sunset the sun seems to “come” to earth. This prophesies of Christ’s coming to earth at the end of the day, because He is the “sun of righteousness” (Mal. 4:2). It is therefore a prophetic law about the coming of Christ—in this case, His second coming.
The law, then, prophesies of a time where the tables would be turned. From Adam to Christ, we owed a great debt to the law and gave up our heavenly garments as pledges on that debt. When Jesus paid our debt on the cross, God then became obligated (indebted to us) to give back those heavenly garments. But God chose to keep those garments until the second coming of Christ. His debt to us was secured by giving us the Holy Spirit as His pledge—collateral on the loan of that heavenly garment.
God’s debt will be paid to us at the coming of the “sun of righteousness,” when Christ comes to reconcile this debt. At that time, we will receive our inheritance as co-heirs with Christ, having the authority to minister to God in the heavenly Sanctuary and also to minister to the rest of mankind that remain bound to the earth.
The next thousand years will be a time of world evangelism, where the Kingdom of God will grow until it fills the whole earth (Dan. 2:35). People of all nations will come to the heavenly “Zion” to learn the laws of God and to crown Jesus king over their nations. In this way, the Kingdom of God will spread throughout the earth as never before.