When the cats are away, the mice play. When the Spirit is away, the body reigns. However, one would ‘rather be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord’ (2 Corinthians 5:8) because it is better for one that ‘the sinful body may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord’ (1 Corinthians 5:5). But a certain generation did not know this. ‘Another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel’ (Judges 2:10). ‘They forsook the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshipped various gods of the peoples around them. They provoked the Lord to anger because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths’ (v12-13). When the Spirit was absent, the body was very much at home and so ‘In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit’ (17:v6). And when the body is unleashed, sin and defeat are inevitable.
God in His mercy raised up judges to supress their sins for a time. ‘Whenever the Lord raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of the enemies as long as the judge lived . . . but when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their fathers . . . They refused to give up their evil practises and stubborn ways’ (2:v18,19). God raised up judges who had ‘the Spirit of the Lord’ (3:v10), and whenever the Spirit of the Lord was among them through the judges, the Israelites experienced victory from their enemies. As long as the Spirit of the Lord was among them, they witnessed victory, because ‘where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty’ (2 Corinthians 3:17). One of the judges, Deborah, notes, ‘Village life ceased, ceased until I Deborah, arose, arose a mother in Israel’ (Judges 5:7).
Eventually, the judges would die and the vicious cycle would begin. The struggle between body and spirit. Between sin and victory. Between death and life. God actually notes the vicious cycle was due to the fact that people refused to turn to Him, and each pursued their own course. God even asks, ‘When men fall down, do they not get up? When a man turns away, does he not return? Why then have these people turned away? Why does Jerusalem always turn away? They cling to deceit; they refuse to return’ (Jeremiah 8:4-5). When they were present in their bodies, the Spirit was subdued, and God adds, ‘Am I only a God nearby and not a God far away? Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him? Do I not fill heaven and earth?’ (23:v23-24).
Finally, God raised up a King to be the last Judge, not only of Israel, but of all peoples because sin reigned in mankind. The entire human race was contaminated by our first father Adam, who when he sinned and God’s Spirit left him, death was welcomed. Chinese Christian teacher, Watchman Nee, notes, ‘Death of the spirit is the cessation of its communication with God. Death of the body is the cutting off of communication between spirit and body.’ The human race was dead in spirit, meaning communication with God ceased. Each followed their way like Israel of old. Our spirit and body were merged into one because the body was very much alive, so that the Spirit was so suppressed to convict of any wrong doing. Human race thus followed a wrong course and persisted with evil.
Unlike the other judges, when the ultimate Judge died, mankind could now abandon their corrupt ways once and for all. Jesus Christ, when He died, resurrected, and ascended to heaven, His Spirit did not go with Him like all the other Judges. He instead sent down His Spirit freely to all who believe in Him. He said, ‘It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counsellor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgement, because the prince of this world now stands condemned’ (John 16:7-11).
When God’s Spirit, ‘the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth’ (v13). One of the major things that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, does is to assassinate our bodies so that our Spirit can live. The same ‘Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead’ (Romans 8:11) now works in all those who believe in Jesus. Paul writes, ‘For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once and for all; but the life he lives, he lived to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires’ (6:v9-11).
The last Judge, Jesus Christ, managed to put to death the body by cutting off communication between spirit and body. Because as Watchman Nee again observes, ‘God not only wants to break the outer man . . . He wants our spirit and our soul . . . our inner man and outer man to be separated from each other.’ So when ‘Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because God lives in you’ (8:v10). We can now say like Paul, ‘I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me’ (Galatians 2:20).
‘And he (God the Father) has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man’ ~ John 5:27