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Overcome the Flesh—Think and Live in the Spirit!
Metaphysical Application Ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson on:

Mortals and Immortals

for November 9—15, 2015

by Craig L. Ghislin, C.S. Glen Ellyn, Illinois (Bartlett) / (630) 830-8683

What’s the difference between a mortal and an immortal? On the surface it seems obvious that mortals die and immortals don’t. But go a little deeper and ask yourself these questions: How do I think? Like a mortal or an immortal? Do the things of the flesh or the things of the Spirit predominate my thoughts? Regarding the Golden Text, according to John Calvin, Paul’s aim is to stir up the Christians in Rome to examine themselves more closely, making sure they’re living the renewal they preach. He writes, “It is the surest mark by which the children of God are distinguished from the children of the world, when, by the Spirit of God they are renewed unto purity and holiness.”

If we find that we are thinking more of the flesh than the Spirit, how can we correct that? The Responsive Reading begins with the promise that grace enables each one of us to spiritualize our thinking. As we learned in the Lesson on “Doctrine of Atonement,” grace is the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life (Strong). So it’s safe to say that grace doesn’t stop with our thinking, it works in us to mature our spiritual natures. Being the “perfect man” doesn’t mean becoming a flawless human being—but becoming spiritually matured. In Christian Science this is accepted a real possibility.

The author of Ephesians contrasts the Christian thought with that of the Gentiles, characterizing the “Gentiles” as those who are vain, and alienated from God, living in the darkness caused by sin. Most Christians would say that man is saved from sin through the action of grace, and some think grace needs to be earned. Scottish Calvinist Alexander MacLaren, a contemporary of Mary Baker Eddy, and a very fine thinker, posits that grace is a gift given to all that leads us to live Christian lives, rather than a reward given to us as the result of such a life. He writes, “…the essential character of the grace given through the act of our individual faith is that of a new vital force, flowing into and transforming the individual life.” This coincides with Mary Baker Eddy’s statement, that “our lives attest our sincerity” (S&H 15:23). Renewed lives are the effect of grace.

MacLaren also points out that in the King James Version, the text says we are “taught by him”—Christ himself—indicating that the way of Christ can be learned. But, the original reads, we are taught “in him.” This, writes MacLaren, indicates that “unless we keep ourselves in union with Jesus Christ, His voice will not be heard in our hearts, and the lesson will pass unlearned.”

To learn our lesson, we need to “put off the old man… and be renewed in the spirit” of our mind.” To what degree are you putting off the old man? Putting off the old allows us to put on the new man “which is created by God in righteousness and true holiness.” The passage indicates that since God is the only creative power, the new man isn’t the product of human effort or reasoning. The mere performing of rituals and ceremonies representative of renewal isn’t enough. The grace of God creates us anew and transforms our lives.

Section 1: God’s Offspring Are Immortal
As noted many times before, in context, Elihu’s words “the spirit of God hath made me…” (B1) are prelude to Elihu’s inclusion into the conversation regarding Job’s plight. But most often this sentence is used in our Lesson-Sermons as a statement of man’s spiritual origin. Other theologians have used the passage in a similar way. John Gill (1697-1771) views the passage as a declaration that the Spirit of God is the sole agent that remakes men, or makes them “new creatures.” This dovetails nicely with one of the themes in this Lesson—that the grace of God is the active agent in putting off the old man, and putting on the new.

Citation B2 is actually part of a prayer made before going into battle. God is the only power in battle and absolute trust in God supersedes any trust in man—frail as he is. The petitioner asks for deliverance from his enemies and for the future prosperity of his people. The prayer concludes by saying, “Happy is that people that is in such a case…” That “case” is described in verses not in the Lesson, but bears mention. It is a state of abundance, and safety—where enemies are unable to break in, and there is no need for the inhabitants to go out and fight. Above all, there is “no outcry” in this place—no complaining, howling, or public grievances. This describes a state of holiness exemplified by Enoch (B3).

We can assume Enoch’s conduct was taught to him early. He loved God, and was in turn protected by Him. Irrespective of the corruption around him, Enoch lived righteously. Methodist Founder John Wesley writes of Enoch, “To walk with God is to set God always before us, and to act as those that are always under His eye.” This spiritual outlook, made it possible for Enoch to ascend.

Do you believe this is possible? Elijah and Christ Jesus also are said to have ascended. So it’s not a one-time miracle, but proof that we can conquer mortality. We’ve learned in the Lesson a few weeks ago that death is not the doorway to eternal life. The path to immortality begins with recognizing that we are not mortals in the first place. We are “children of the light” (B5).

Mrs. Eddy whole-heartedly agreed. She understood man to be immortal, “the offspring of God” (S1). She says the reason we think we’re both material and spiritual is because we’ve mistaken our true nature (S2).

Are we matter and Spirit? Why would, or how could opposites like matter and Spirit comingle? Again, our Leader tells us that it is only “impotent error” that could believe such a thing (S3). The testimony of error is the product of material sense which only gives us a temporary sense of things (S4). In order for Enoch to ascend, he must have refused the testimony of material sense, and exercised his spiritual sense. To what degree are you refuting the material sense testimony and accepting only the spiritual view? To what degree are you walking with God?

For most of us it’s difficult to give up a favorite possession much less to turn away from material sense altogether. What has to happen? First of all, we need to acknowledge that mortals and immortals are not the same. One never becomes the other. We need to recognize the allness of Spirit. And I don’t mean the “someness” but literally, the “allness.” Mortal consciousness must “yield to the scientific fact and disappear” (S6). That doesn’t mean to be stashed away somewhere. It means to dissolve completely. Then the real sense of being will appear. Are you willing to put off the old man entirely?

Section 2: Angelic Thoughts Calm the Turmoil of the Flesh
There is no question that man born of a woman is short lived, and “full of trouble” (B6). Gill explains man born of a woman as “full of commotion…disquietude and uneasiness…like the troubled sea.” Such a man lives in constant uneasiness about his life—uncertain about his health, his safety, his supply, and having no confidence in God: Everything in his experience is subject to sudden loss. He who is born of flesh is consumed by fleshly wants and fears, but those reborn in Spirit have uplifted desires (B7), and as alluded to in the Responsive Reading, are happy and content, because their trust is in God, not men.

There is a remedy for the constant worry that plagues those born of the flesh—those dwelling in “the secret place of the most High” are enveloped in safety and peace (B8). The psalmist promises that those dwelling in “the secret place” will be protected by angels even when evils seem to surround us. When the angels of His presence are at hand the swirl of fearful, turbulent, fleshly doubts, and fears have no power to influence us.

The key is for us to embrace holiness—to keep ourselves sanctified and separated from fleshly pressures (B9). This requires us to make a choice as to what we look to for comfort and fulfillment. If we relish the things of the flesh, we will neglect the things of the Spirit. What makes it challenging is that the fleshly things are familiar to us. We hesitate to turn from the familiar. But the danger of adhering to the flesh is that it leads to death (B10). The only true way to life and peace is to mind and seek the things of Spirit.

Fortunately, we’re not alone in this struggle. The angels of His presence are always at hand to strengthen, guard, and guide us. Our textbook defines angels as “God’s thoughts passing to man…” (S8). We become aware of these divine messages as we put off the old, mortal way of thinking (S9). While mortal belief makes it seem like it’s more natural to seek fleshly pursuits than spiritual ones, the fact is that we really are spiritual from the outset. Christian Science teaches that God never made a mortal sinner at all (S11). Limited mortal thinking just cannot comprehend the “glories of limitless, incorporeal Life and Love” (S11). Here again though, in order to hear those angel thoughts, we have to keep the fleshly desires at bay. Our thoughts need to be lifted up into “purer desires” (S12).

Where does your thought dwell most of the time—in Spirit or in the flesh? Following Enoch’s example and walking with God, we will be demonstrating true being, which Science and Health defines as “holiness, harmony, [and] immortality” (S13).

Section 3: The Serene Christ Calms Confusion and Fear
The troubled thought of mortal belief sometimes seems relentless, but the psalmist tells us that irrespective of our circumstances, the Lord won’t give up on us (B11). Presbyterian theologian Albert Barnes (1798-1870) mentions that, “the certainty of this… would make the mind calm in days of trouble.” The Gospel of John tells us that, “the Word was made flesh” (B12). The Greek definition of “the Word” or Logos, means “that by which the inward thought is expressed.” In other words, the thought, or idea of the perfect man was expressed, or made manifest, in the life of Christ Jesus. Traditional scholars often see this as Jesus condescending to humanity by taking on a human form in order to communicate with us. That view reminds me somewhat of Elihu’s introduction into the discussion of Job’s situation. As we’ve said, Elihu was pointing out his commonality with Job in an effort to join the dialogue. Here we have the Christ accommodating somewhat to the human scene in a way that humanity could comprehend. [See CC Download in online Met version.]

John tells us too, that Jesus was the full expression of grace and truth. That grace was exemplified through his healing ability. Mark tells us that when Jesus saw the multitudes in great need, he was “moved with compassion”. This meant he was deeply moved from within, and compelled to action. Several commentators point out that Jesus had just returned from a journey, and most likely would have been looking forward to a bit of personal time for refreshment. But, seeing the people’s need, he set aside personal needs for the good of others. This is a good lesson for us. Have you ever been called upon to help others just as you were about to take time for yourself? Jesus didn’t respond by merely tossing the crowd a few crumbs of wisdom; he gave of himself fully, and taught them “many things” (B13). Helping others in need always brings refreshment.

In the healing account of the boy with a “dumb spirit” (B14), Jesus had just returned from the transfiguration. It’s not surprising that he was fully prepared to deal with whatever turmoil faced him. The disciples had failed to heal the boy who suffered attacks that produced violent convulsions. The dad was particularly afraid. [See PS.] This boy, “born of a woman” was certainly “full of trouble.” By this time the onlookers were also drawn to the scene like gapers at an accident and gathered around to see what was going to happen. Unimpressed by the flurry around him, Jesus rebuked the foul spirit, and the attack became worse. The foul spirit made one last impressive showing to the point where it looked like the boy had died. But Jesus remained calm and lifted him up. It may have looked like it was too late, but the boy arose healed. This teaches us to never give up.

Jesus’ healing power was based on the fact that all material pictures are false, and have nothing to do with the real, immortal man of God’s creating (S14). He knew that the flesh and Spirit do not share space in reality. Mrs. Eddy points out that Jesus knew this all along, but mortal belief did not know it, and needed to learn it through Jesus’ example (S16).

Jesus didn’t act through human power or ingenuity. Grace and Truth were his strength and motivation (S17). He operated on the basis of perfect God and perfect man (S18). Mortal belief furnishes a multitude of theories for disease, one of which is genetics or heredity (S19). But we can calmly see through the flurry of mortal scenarios and rest on the power of Truth. Truth destroys the turmoil of mortal belief and we see our real existence come to light (S20).

Section 4: Time Doesn’t Touch Immortality
Another one of the claims of mortality is that we inevitably and unavoidably grow old. As young people grow up, they are very keen on the idea of maturing into strong and beautiful men and women. But then there comes a tipping point in which strength and beauty appear to fade. Suddenly being mortal doesn’t looks so appealing after all. The psalmist calls upon “the mighty” to recognize that God is the source of their strength (B15). To worship the Lord in “the beauty of holiness” is thought by some to be a reference to adorning one’s self in the priestly garments when approaching God—that is to approach Him with reverence, sanctity, and respect. But Barnes adds that the external clothing is just an emblem, and that “no external comeliness, no charm of person or complexion, no adorning of costly robes” can be compared with those whose hearts are clothed in true holiness.

The prophet Isaiah reminds us that God never wears out, and that all power comes from Him (B16). Notice the word “wait” too. Those that “wait on the Lord” are not entering in with an agitated demeanor, rushing rashly into a situation. Such an approach is the mortal method, flustered by each turn of events. The godly approach is calm dominion, and patience. And when the call to action comes, God’s immortal children don’t drag their feet and stiffly labor to get up when something needs to be done. They rise to the occasion with freedom, delight, pleasure, cheerfulness, and alacrity. Rather than wearing out, this buoyancy is renewed each day. This spiritual vigor isn’t the product of human exercise or artificial stimulants. It’s the result of the Christ working within us—making us a “new creature” (B17). John Wesley wrote, “Only the power that makes a world can make a Christian.” We need a rebirth stimulated by the immortal creative power of divine Love to propel us beyond and out of the mesmeric pull of the flesh.

Mary Baker Eddy drew a clear distinction between the fading beauty and health of material sense and the “radiance of Soul” “exempt from age or decay” (S21). The ever-changing standards of mortal belief come and go. Are we devoting ourselves to emulating a mortal model of strength and beauty? Mrs. Eddy writes that if we would stop measuring our lives by the calendar we would maintain our freshness and vigor irrespective of our age. That means bluntly to stop celebrating birthdays. We are never born and we never die. Man is immortal, “always beautiful and grand” (S22). We need to refocus our views to recognize this.

Our textbook provides us with many illustrations of how the belief in age is a mortal illusion, and when we pay no attention to it, we are freed from its negative effects (S23). The actor referred to in the textbook probably wasn’t even praying about it. He just let go of his limitations and moved on. If that’s the case for someone who wasn’t particularly aware of the immortal facts of being, don’t you think we should be free from the effects of age as well? Paul noted the energy of Spirit is the only fuel to propel us toward this spiritual understanding and demonstration (S24). The more we understand that Life is God, the more we will be able to demonstrate our dominion over age, and prove our immortality (S25).

Section 5: Immortals Don’t Die
By definition, a mortal is subject to death. The ultimate demonstration of immortality is the victory over the grave. When Peter answered the call to come to Dorcas he may have been reminded of the time Jesus went to raise Jairus’ daughter. On that occasion Jesus put everyone out of the chamber. Facing a similar situation, Peter likewise dismisses everything that supports the oppressive human picture enabling him to find the peace that reveals the truth.

The words of II Timothy (B19) assure us that nothing can discourage the Christian because the power of Love overrules all fear (B19). A “sound mind” enables us to remain calm and steadfast no matter how many distractions and fears try to jostle us. British Methodist theologian Adam Clarke enhances the meaning of “soundness” as “the whole soul harmonized in all its powers and faculties; and completely regulated and influenced so as to think, speak, and act aright in all things.” Our “holy calling” is at God’s behest. Therefore, we cannot fail. Jesus’ example illuminates our course to immortality as it did for Peter. Barnes expands on the meaning of immortality in this passage; He writes, “The word ‘immortality’ means, properly, ‘incorruption, incapacity of decay’…” This points to our need to keep free from corruptions of all kinds in order to overcome the corruption of the grave.

“In Science,” our Leader writes, “man’s immortality depends upon that of God, good, and follows as a necessary consequence of the immortality of good” (S26). Our incorruptibility is possible because God is incorruptible. Very simply put, we can’t die out of matter because matter has no life to begin with. Only the things of Spirit are real and eternal (S27). Holding to the calm of spiritual reality in the midst of apparent turmoil allows us to wake to “the truth of being” and therefore, to banish the mortal dream (S28).

Section 6: Immortality Is the Present State of Being
The last section this week begins with the Correlative Scripture (B20)to the Scientific Statement of Being. MacLaren points out an interesting fact: about the word “behold.” In order to behold something, you have to be focused on it without distraction. In context of the passage at hand, it means that if we are to behold the love of God that considers us to be His sons, we can’t allow fleshly pursuits to draw our attention away from our God-given sonship. It’s also pointed out that in the Latin Vulgate and other versions, the phrase “and we are” is added to the text which indicates that John didn’t mean we were only “called” the sons of God, but the we actually are the sons of God right now. We have to keep this fact uppermost in our thoughts all the time. Doing so supports the self-purification that is needed in order to realize this holy condition. MacLaren summarizes this passage: “lay to heart this, as the upshot of the whole matter: First of all, let us turn to Him from whom all the cleansing comes; and then, moment by moment, remember that it is our work to purify ourselves by the strength and the power that is given to us by the Master.”

Mary Baker Eddy took John at his word on this. We are God’s sons (and daughters) right now. God is our Principle or origin. We can’t be mortal because we are always God’s immortal idea. As we realize this great truth the belief that we’re mortals will disappear (S29). Our textbook tells us over and over that we have to hold steadfastly to the true spiritual facts (S30), and that to do that, we have to put off the old man (S31). This is the purification process John speaks of.

It’s important too, as we’ve said before, to remember that we’re not mortals trying to become immortals. The mortal picture is a false view of man. Mortal man is illusion. As we put off that false view we wake up to what we’ve always been—“the infinite expression of infinite Mind” (S32), and that’s all we ever were. So our way to immortality is clear. Let the grace of God fill you with the Spirit of Truth, and the troubled thoughts of the flesh will disappear. Then you’ll be thinking like an immortal and waken to realize that’s all you’ve ever been.

[P.S. from Cobbey Crisler’s commentary on Mark 9: 17-29 (B14, epilepsy healed):
“We have healings throughout Mark which require your study. We have an epileptic child healed in the next few verses, 17 through 29.
Verse 21. Jesus recognizes that the first patient is the father and his thinking.
Verse 23. He turns and deals with the father, his parental thought.
Verse 25-27. Jesus then deals with the young man.
Verse 29 says, “This kind of healing.” Because the disciples had failed, this healing required two things, “prayer and fasting.” You can say this another way using two other words: “No” and “Yes” [as Mary Baker Eddy titled one of her works on scientific, mental healing.] Fasting is what we say “no” to and prayer is what we’re affirming. Once again, we see that we are given the rules of healing.” What Mark Recorded by B. Cobbey Crisler, page 59, with prior permission to share this freely given by Cobbey’s widow, Janet Crisler]

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[CedarS weekly Metaphysical Newsletter is provided at no charge to the 1,200 campers and staff blessed each summer at CedarS, as well as to CedarS alumni, families and friends who have requested it. However, current and planned gifts are a big help and are greatly appreciated in defraying the costs of running this service and of providing needed camperships, programs and operations support. Click for more about how you can provide even monthly support online. THIS WOULD BE A HUGE ANSWER TO PRAYER! Or you can always call the Huffs at 636-394-6162 to get information or discuss privately how to transfer securities or other assets to help support and perpetuate CedarS work.]THANKS TO YOU PRECIOUS DONORS FOR YOUR ONGOING, GENEROUS and NEEDED SUPPORT OF CedarS IMPORTANT WORK!

[The Met application ideas above are provided primarily to help CedarS campers and staff (as well as friends) see and daily demonstrate the great value of studying and applying the Christian Science Bible lessons throughout the year, not just at camp! YOU CAN ALSO SIGN UP for weekly emails from past CedarS staff of possible ways to share Bible Lesson applications with older, as well as younger, Sunday School classes by clicking the "Subscribe Now" button (lower left) at ]

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