New Book on Spiritual Formation

Each year, I hold a special event for aspiring and actual authors called SCRIBE — a Mastermind Training for Authors.

Beyond the premium 3-day event, all who attend SCRIBE are given valuable bonuses. One of them is a free interview on this blog where the author can talk about their book.

Ed Kincheloe attended SCRIBE 2018, and has come out with a new book about spiritual formation. It’s called Christ in Me vs. The Flesh in Me.

Here is our interview about the book.

Enjoy!

Frank: There have been many books written over the last 60 years on the indwelling Christ and also on the so-called Sermon on the Mount (two themes you address throughout the book). Therefore, what do you believe is unique about your book that hasn’t been said on these topics (according to your knowledge at least)?

Eddie: God didn’t create Adam with iniquity. He didn’t create Satan that way either. In Ezekiel 28 God told Satan “you were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you.” We don’t know how iniquity entered Satan but we do know it entered the human race when Adam and Eve ate the fruit. Adam was created in the image of God, with some form of God’s character, but through his folly he wound up with the character of Satan—iniquity. Since that day, God’s mission has been to recover His beloved, yet defiled, creation.

The born again Christian actually has two opposing characters, the character they were born with and the character they were born again with. Jesus introduced to us this lost character of God in His sermon. This is what born again sons of God will act and look like when they have matured. I believe He intended these character traits to be principles included among the tenets of the faith, but who do you know that actually lives them? Who gives their tunic to the one who stole their cloak? In fact, who do you know that wouldn’t file charges?

Who lends money hoping the borrower doesn’t return it. “Christ in me” gives me the ability to overcome “The Flesh in Me,” so that the principles in the sermon over-power and replace the flesh. They can become my life and character, but I must choose to apply these instructions from Jesus. Jesus cries out us, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not the things which I say.” My book, “Christ in Me – VS – The Flesh in Me” is an attempt to awaken the body of Christ, to make us all aware of our power to overcome the fall. Those other books written over the last 60 years didn’t “Git-er-done.” If this book fails to do it, there needs to be others written until the church is living according to the tenets portrayed in His sermon.

The world isn’t impressed with Jesus, because they look at the church and we look just like them. But if we actually loved our enemies instead of bad-mouthing them, it would display a God like character, and as Jesus said in His sermon, Matthew 5:16, they would “glorify God.” If they could actually see in us how beautiful Jesus is, they would be impressed with Him. It says in Isaiah 60, when they do see His glory in us, they will come from everywhere “to the brightness of our rising.”

If you consider each scenario Jesus featured in this sermon, you will agree that your flesh will fight to subvert everything you might do to live this way. Just reading it will bring thoughts, arguments, and reasons from your fleshly mind, why these standards are impossible in today’s world. This is the battle of the ages, internal battles every Christian must fight. You are either fighting or you are losing.

Frank: You say that the premise of your book is that in order to overcome the world, one must overcome the flesh. How do you define “the flesh?”

Eddie: When they ate the fruit of the tree, it settled in the body, defiling it. It also defiled the rest of the person. The Bible calls that defiling factor iniquity, the same thing that defiled Satan. I don’t know why God didn’t provide redemption for the body like He did the spirit and the soul, but for some reason the redemption of the spirit didn’t include the body. It remains under the sentence of death, while the spirit and soul live on.

Flesh is a nature birthed from evil. I believe it to be spiritual because I believe evil is spiritual. It is one hundred and eighty degrees from the character of God. It has a mind of its own and is totally selfish and self centered, and seeks to control—everything—but especially the one in which it resides. Every human is born with it. In “Christ in Me – VS – The Flesh in Me,” the flesh is synonymous with Iniquity. But, though I treat them as the same thing, one has the effect of further defining the other. Iniquity is used mostly in the Old Testament, and because of Paul’s letters, flesh is mostly used in the New Testament. The two terms are so closely related, I can’t tell any difference, if there is any. The flesh loves the world and the things of the world because “the prince of this world,” who is of the same nature, has built a system that is very attractive to flesh. In the book, I call this attraction chocolate because of its allure, it seems harmless and it tastes so good, but hidden within can be all kinds of peril.

Frank: Also, what practical solution do you provide for overcoming the flesh?

Eddie: In a word, the cross. The only remedy for iniquity is death as God alluded to in Genesis 2. God’s provided instrument of death is the cross. His sermon lived out, is the cross being applied to the flesh. Every time we choose the way of the sermon, by denying the flesh its way, we are choosing the way of the cross, and a little bit of flesh dies.

Flesh cannot enter the kingdom. That’s why it will die when our body dies. But Jesus provided that as the cross is applied, the flesh will die while we are still in the body. An underlying, obscure theme in the New Testament is that crucifying our flesh is critical to spiritual maturity.

I try to feature this in “Christ in Me – VS – The Flesh in Me,” and I believe this is what Jesus desires of us and what He means when He speaks of overcoming. The sample events portrayed in the sermon are a pragmatic look at the character of God, the character that was lost in the fall, the character we are to emulate. In time, probably a lot of time, as we resist the flesh’s indulgence and engage these principles in our daily challenges, they slowly overpower and replace our “human” nature, revealing and releasing the Christ in us who has been buried under all of that flesh.

He gave us two other weapons to use against the flesh and they are related. They are repentance and forgiveness. Jesus said to strive to enter the narrow gate. We strive to say no to the flesh and when we fail, we repent. His forgiveness cleanses us to fight another day.

Frank: Give us two or three big points that your book makes.

Eddie: It is our selfishness and love for the world and the things of the world that hold us in bondage to the world, and therefore, the flesh. Do you know what amazes me Frank? How I could read James 4:4 all those years; how friendship with the world makes me an adulterer and the enemy of God, and still ignore the fact that I was a friend of the world. And I am still way too friendly with it. But I’m working on it as I work on silencing my flesh.

Contrary to what many are preaching today, it is possible to be perfect while still in this flesh infused body. Jesus said so. If we will apply His sermon’s directives and make them the way we do things, Jesus said “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” He also said “everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher,” and Romans 8:29 tells us this is our destiny, we are destined to be restored to the image lost in the fall, the image of Jesus. According to Jesus, our eternal rank and rewards are dependent upon our making application of the tenets of His sermon. In Luke’s version, after giving us the list of examples of the way we are to respond to our circumstances, Jesus said, “your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the most high.” I draw from the scriptures how everyone who is born again is a “child” of God but only those who have crucified the flesh are mature, “perfect’ sons of God.”

God is not mad at you and He is not waiting to thump you the next time you mess up. He is your ally in your endeavors to eliminate the sin from your life. Think about it, He bore the pain of the cross so He could be your friend. He forgives you and makes you perfectly clean with nothing but the wonderful gift of repentance and confession. As long as you have a repentant heart, no discipline is required. And even then it is only to help you change directions. He took our punishment at the cross, and that was enough, “it is finished.” God isn’t mad at the homosexual or those hooked on pornography, but he is resolute about defeating their flesh, my flesh, all flesh. Iniquity is His enemy, not us. One day he will wipe His entire creation clean of the effects of the fall, but for now He is interested in you and me.

Frank: You talk about overcoming addictions in the book. If someone came to you with an addiction they were being defeated by, what would be your practical advice for them to break it?

Wow! This may take a while. Though I said all of this in “Christ in Me – VS – The Flesh in Me,” and I do mention that living these principles are helpful with getting free of addictions, there is no subtitle that specifically deals with getting free from addictions. I do believe that as a Christian gains ascendency over their flesh, the hard ones get, not easy, but easier.

First on the agenda is to pray. But pray as if God is your coach, mentor or friend, not as if He is a policeman waiting to give you a ticket—and don’t quit praying. Spend every moment with Him and don’t hide from Him when you feel like you will fail. When you fail, it’s like you are a boxer and He is the guy in your corner that patches you up for the next round. Then commit to crucifying your flesh, all of it, not just the addictions. When you see success in a few of the little things, it will give you faith in your battle against the big ones. And trust that God is able to bring this about.

This is taking up your cross and following Jesus. He is interested in the death of everything you were before your conversion. All of the “old man” must die. Reading “Christ in me – VS – The Flesh in me,” should open your eyes to some of the ways your Satan and your flesh gang up on you. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring to mind all of the sins, big and little, He wants to die. Never hide your sin from Him, Jesus sent Him to be “helper,” not the enforcer. There is no one more committed to getting you clean than Jesus. When you fail, repent and confess to Him, every time, the millionth time. It is impossible to fail more times than He can forgive. I thought I would be “Super Christian” if I could ever quit smoking. NOT!

We just moved on to the next thing my flesh drove me to do. He waited 36 years to set me free from the one I considered really shameful. Every time I fell, I hated that sin, I hated me. Sometimes I wondered if I really were a Christian. But His presence in me always convicted me to confess and repent. If you think about it, the hatred I had for that sin and the conviction of His Holy Spirit was proof that I was a Christian. I would have thought nothing of it before I was saved. He never left me and He never gave up on me. In the book I call all of this what Jesus called it, striving “to enter by the narrow gate, and I cover it extensively. He knew that, in our striving, there would be failures. That’s why He provided the gifts of Repentance and confession. Never quit! Striving consists of saying no to temptation, and when you fail you repent.

Guard your thoughts. Every sin starts with a thought. Iniquity is not the real you, no matter how dirty you feel, Christ in you is. The flesh has to ask your permission in the form of a thought, and you have the right to say no. Learn to recognize the beginning of the temptation and get your mind on something else, like the last time you stepped on a nail, anything that doesn’t stimulate your flesh. Though I didn’t discover this until after I was free from addictions that tried to control my body and I don’t know experientially how effective it is against them, I have this…uh…thing…I do that has never failed to take away other temptations.

At the point where I recognize a thought that leads me to sin, I look, in my mind’s eye, in my imagination, at the Lord sitting on His throne. I keep looking until the danger has passed. I can’t explain why, but it has worked 100% of the time, if I continue looking until the temptation is passed. It is my version of Hebrews 4:16, “Let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and grace to help in time of need.” Overcoming the temptation to sin also overcomes the sin.

The very temptation itself is suffering. Hebrews 2:18 says, “For in that [Jesus] Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted. Suffering happens when you deny your flesh, but suffering is also evidence it is dying. Get ready to suffer pain, emotional pain and, in the case of addictions, physical pain. Suffering is the way of the cross, which is the only remedy for sin. Hebrews 5 says “though [Jesus] was a son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered,” and this verse indicates it was this suffering that made him perfect, making Him the author of eternal salvation.

David had already successfully fought and killed a bear and a lion when he faced Goliath. Success in gaining ascendancy over lesser, insidious, sins will give you courage to stand against your Goliaths. We all have sin we hate. I know this, because all flesh is the same. Given its freedom, your flesh is just as evil as mine.

God’s objective is for us to overcome the fall. The cross is the way He provided. By learning to apply the cross, to listen to and obey His Spirit, you are learning to draw from the power of Christ in you. In time, you will see that saying no is happening more than the failures. Again, God is not mad because you failed, He is pleased because you are gaining on it. And if you don’t feel you are gaining on it, He is pleased to cleanse you from all unrighteousness upon your repentance.

The sins that provide some sort of bodily or mental pleasure are the hardest to overcome. A friend of mine, while researching pornography, found that the endorphins produced by the body compare with those of heroin. But even with porn or drugs you must eventually say no. If you can just say “no” even once, even for a short time, you are on your way to defeating your flesh.  Depending on the level of addiction, you must do everything you can to stay away from the temptation. Until the flesh is silenced in that area of your life, it may include staying away from friends who stimulate your flesh with their influence.

Frank: What practical steps do you want readers to take after they finish your book?

Eddie: Well, the first thing is to recommend the book to as many of your friends as you can, to get it into the hands of as many as possible. I believe it would change the landscape of the Church if we would all live out the Sermon on the Mount. Secondly, take it to the streets by turning the other cheek, or giving to all who ask of you. Find something else to give the person who steals from you instead of filing charges, and all the rest of His examples. Make it a part of your personality, your nature. It is in fact your nature, your new nature provided in your new born again spirit. You only have to dig it out from under all of that flesh.

Frank: What other things do you want people to know about your book?

I write about the paradoxes of our faith. Two examples are; in Him we are dead, and now we must die; and our sin has been overcome by His cross, now we must take up our cross and overcome it. Too many Christians feel “un-safe” in their walk with Him. The gospel that many preach today holds the individual responsible for his or her salvation when, for the believer, that has been taken care of by Jesus. He is Holy and righteous because He has overcome the world, and I am a partaker of His victory which makes me holy and righteous. Now I must be holy and righteous in-deed by overcoming the fall and silencing my own flesh. But more than likely I will spend the rest of my life growing into this over-comer that He has already made me. And He will be with me as my helper and mentor every moment of my journey, when I succeed and when I fail. I am not saved upon overcoming my flesh, I am saved the entire time I am overcoming it.

We must dwell in both sides of the paradox if we are to be spiritually healthy. If the Christian tends to focus on the first parts of the paradoxes, it often retards their spiritual growth because they see no need to overcome the fall. “Why do I need to, since He has done it for me?” If the latter parts are their focus, they spend their lives trying to please the Lord while keeping Him at arm’s length, so to speak, because they don’t feel that they measure up. They don’t feel safe. This side of the paradox makes it hard to mature because with Him at arm’s length, you feel you are fighting alone, without His help you wind up fighting the flesh with the flesh. Fighting the flesh without the help of the Holy Spirit is the way it was done under the law, and Paul said the law was weak because of the flesh. The main paradox “Christ in Me – VS – The Flesh in Me” deals with is this: We have entered the kingdom, now we must enter it. We are members of the kingdom of God because we are born into it. But since flesh isn’t allowed to enter, we must deal with it while still in this body, so we might enter now instead of waiting for this body to die.

Another one is, when Jesus speaks of “entering,” in most cases, He is referring to entering the kingdom here on earth. He said one thing and we hear another. We hear, “If you want to go to heaven when you die, you must do this or that.” Because of what we hear, once again, we feel we have to earn our salvation, when in reality He is trying to get us to silence our flesh now, to enter the kingdom now. Flesh and blood cannot enter the kingdom, and though we are a child of the kingdom, if we don’t crucify our flesh here on earth, we will have to wait till this body dies, and the flesh with it, to enter the kingdom in heaven. When Nicodemus came to Jesus, recorded in John 3, He asked about the miracles Jesus performed. It doesn’t sound like Jesus answered his question, but He in fact did, by telling Nick the miracles emanate from the kingdom and the starting place to enter the kingdom is, “you must be born again.”

The writer of Hebrews compared Jesus’ flesh to the veil of the temple, which separated man from God. When the people of Jesus’ day looked at Him, because of His flesh, they didn’t see God, they saw a man, just like them. I don’t know what they were expecting, but because He lived in a body, just like them, it blinded them to His divinity. The flesh is still performing the role of a veil today. Because of its predominance in modern day Christians, the world doesn’t look at us and see Him, they look at us and see themselves. It was because of the cross that the veil was torn, allowing mankind to enter the presence of God.  When each of us applies the cross to our veil, our flesh, the world will see “Christ in us.” Then they will be impressed, not with us, but with Him.

There are many other things I would love to share, but hopefully these will provoke the reader’s interest to order “Christ in Me – VS – The Flesh in Me.” So I will end with this: There are several points about the kingdom in the book to help Christians know what to look for when seeking it. Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” inferring, “If you are not seeking righteousness you are not seeking His kingdom. It is easy to see that crucifying the flesh and seeking righteousness are reciprocal. I have pre-ordered your new book on the kingdom and will be interested in what you say. I hope we agree.

Frank: How can people order the book?    

Eddie: It is a self published book so it is available on Amazon in paperback and kindle. I blog this message on my website eddiekincheloe.com. My blog’s name is Muwth Labben, (pronounced Mooth Labain). It means “To Die for the Son.” For now, this is the trumpet he has given me and I intend to blow it. I post once per week and it is usually ready on Mondays sometime.

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