Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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God gave Moses a holy Law that contained fleshly ceremonies and ordinances. By “fleshly”, I mean “using earthly materials”. For example, in Moses’ Law, fleshly animals were used in sacrifice, and so, those sacrifices were worship “in the flesh”; priestly garments made of earthly materials was also a form of worship “in the flesh”; Sabbath days and other holy days, circumcision of the flesh, religious feasts in which earthly food was eaten, and baptism that used earthly water were also forms of worship “in the flesh”. They all employed physical substances: water, meat and wine, linen and skins of animals, knives, candlesticks, and so forth. Paul referred to God’s commandments to perform such worship as “carnal ordinances”, and he said that those ordinances were nailed to the cross with Jesus.
Now, the fleshly forms of worship commanded in Moses’ Law were of God. It is important to know that. And it is also important to know that the people to whom those commandments were given were also carnal people; they were the Jews, who belonged to God by virtue of their physical birth. And their fleshly form of worship was performed in and around a fleshly, earthly temple.
Even after the holy Ghost came and the New Testament began, God allowed His fleshly people, the Jews, to continue serving Him in the Law’s fleshly ceremonies (Acts 21:17-20), but that indulgence by God would not continue forever. Within a generation or two, no worship was acceptable to God except worship “in spirit and in truth”, and the only people God any longer considered to be His were the people who had been born a second time, in spirit.
There is much “worship in the flesh” being practiced all over the world, but none of it is what God gave to Moses for Israel. It is just religious tradition of man, which means that none of it is holy or ever has been holy, including the ceremonial traditions of Christianity. There is not a single Christian ceremony, not a single Christian “holy day”, not a single Christian religious office that God has ordained. Moses’ Law was of God; Christianity has never been of God. There was a time, under the Law, when God commanded His people to worship Him in the flesh, but God never commanded Christians to worship as they do.
Jesus said that they who worship the Father now must worship “in spirit and in truth” (Jn. 4:23). “In spirit and in truth” means by the power of God’s Spirit within you. Under the Law, men offered dead animals and other physical things to God when they drew near to Him; but now, He commands us to offer “spiritual sacrifices” such as “the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (Heb. 13:15). Such worship is impossible as long as one is “in the flesh”, for “those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if it be that the Spirit of God dwells in you” (Rom. 8:8-9).
Without the holy Ghost dwelling within the heart, no man can worship God acceptably. Jesus knew this, and to him, it was so important that we be able to worship God acceptably that he suffered and died to make it possible for us. To refuse the opportunity is sin.