The New Man – Part 5 – Sacrifice and Conclusion

August 30, 2007

In closing, I would like to focus on the sacrifice we make of our lives to Christ. We must die to our old self in order to be made new in Christ Jesus. It costs us something – truly in costs us everything we used to be.

The Lord said, “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:37-39). In another place he said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15).

D.L. Moody put it this way: “If He laid down His life for us, is it not the least we can do to lay down ours for Him? If He bore the cross and died on it for me, ought I not to be willing to take it up for Him?”

To be made new, we must surrender completely. I am included in this – I must have surrendered completely in order to have any hope of being made new in Christ Jesus. Living a surrendered life is not easy, but the Lord still promises that his yoke is easy and his burden light. The Christian is truly free, though the world may see chains of another sort – chains of persecution or hardship or pain. But the Christian is free because they are free from sin. The Christian knows that they are citizens, not of this world, but of heaven. There is such joy in knowing that this world is not all there is. And in the end, I will see my Lord face to face!

“If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).


The New Man – Part 2

August 27, 2007

At its very root, salvation is a second chance at life. To receive salvation is to be saved from the sinful nature, to become a new person, and to literally have a new lease at life. The old person is steeped in sin, depraved and unable to reach God. The new person has died to the old, and has become new because of this. The new person has become new because they have received Christ – and this means that we are “in Christ.” Being seated in Christ, we receive a new nature, that of holiness, not of sin. Romans 6:19b-23 says, “…as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Galatians 2:20 says, “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.”

Allow me to use a poem by Kathleen Wheeler, called A New Leaf, to illustrate what it is like to get a second chance from God:

He came to my desk with quivering lip–
The lesson was done.
“Dear Teacher I want a new leaf,” he said,
“I have spoiled this one.”
I took the old leaf, stained and blotted,
And gave him a new one all unspotted,
And into his sad eyes smiled,
“Do better now, my child.”
I went to the throne with a quivering soul–
The old year was done.
“Dear Father, hast Thou a new leaf for me?
I have spoiled this one.”
He took the old leaf, stained and blotted,
And gave me a new one all unspotted,
And into my sad heart smiled,
“Do better now, My child.”

Just as the child could ask the teacher for a new piece of paper, when we come humbly before God and repent of our sins, he forgives us and cleanses us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Repentence is very important here. It is actually key. The boy had to surrender the soiled piece of paper to get a new one. The narrator of the poem gave the past year to the Lord in the hope that he would give her a second chance.

The victory comes when we realize that we do not only have a second chance, but the actual power and authority to not only do better, but to live up to the standard of holines that God has called us to. 2 Peter 1:3 says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” This is possible because we are in Christ, and because Satan is below Christ’s feet, and we are in Christ, Satan is also below our feet (Ephesians 2:6).

Freedom From the Sinful Nature

July 29, 2007

We received a question today about how exactly the Christian puts to death the sinful nature. This is a huge part of our salvation and a big part of the hope we possess.

To possess salvation means to be saved from something. This something is the sinful nature. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believed in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). To perish is to be condemned to hell due to the sinful nature we are all born with (John 3:18). But Christ died once for all so that we can be forgiven and freed from the sinful nature (1 Peter 3:18).

“If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). And again, “It was for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). The key word here is freedom.

So how do we obtain this freedom? Salvation is received by being born again. “No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3). This is a spiritual rebirth whereby we die to the sinful nature and receive the gift of Christ. Being born again is possible because Christ not only died for our sins but rose again on the third day. The resurrection is essential, because if Christ did not raise from the dead then sin and death were not conquered and we are still trapped in our sin (1 Corinthians 15:14). Finally, Christ ascended back to heaven, where all things have been put under his feet (Ephesians 1:22). This means that Christ has the ultimate victory over all things, including Satan himself. Sin is conquered and we may be free in him.

To be in Christ is to have these things true of us as well. Just as water can be poured into a cup, when we become saved we are placed in Christ. And just like when that cup is then placed on a table the table is beneath the cup and the water, when we are placed in Christ Satan is at our feet too.

Salvation occurs when we receive this victory of Christ in our own lives. The freedom is made possible because of the work of Christ.

So why do Christians still struggle with sin? Because they do not understand this victory. How do we die to sin? By living these truths in our lives by FAITH.

The Christian must live consciously of their thoughts and actions every day. When I recognize that I have victory over sin in Christ Jesus, I am not going to believe the lie that I’m always going to sin. When I don’t believe the lie then I don’t live under the lie. And if I don’t live under the lie, then my life is truly free of it and I live by the truth, which is that I am not bound by sin.

This plays out practically in everyday life when the Christian takes captive their thoughts and actions. I recognize when a sinful though is about to enter (or already has entered) my mind, and I cast it out immediately in the name of Jesus Christ. To dwell the thought is to give it a foothold and be conquered by it. To cast it out is to have victory over it and conquer it.
Victory over our actions works in the same way. This is done a lot easier when our thoughts are taken captive. If we have victory in our thought lives, then we will no longer be led astray by them and walk into the sinful act we are thinking about. When we are not thinking about sinning, we are not going to take it into our hands to act out that sin.

When it comes to impulsive actions, again we must take our thoughts captive. We must stop and think when we feel ourselves ready to blow up, or walk into a bad situation, or whatever that impulsive behavior may be. When we slow down, we can then take the thought and action captive, and then walk away from it and be victorious over it.

All this is done by faith. We know what Christ has done for us, have received his gift of salvation and been born again, and walk in the victory we have in Christ Jesus. Because Christ has overcome this world of sin, in Christ we have this same victory. Praise God for all he has done!

Forum – The Bible and Homosexuality – Part 5

May 3, 2007

In closing off this week’s discussion on the Bible and homosexuality, I would like to focus in on the topic of love.

People who claim to be both Christian and homosexual usually appeal to the perception that they are “in love” in order to defend their lifestyles. As we have seen, this is used even to say that passages of Scripture do not apply to their situation. But, if I may ask the question, is it really love?

The Bible says that everything about people is corrupt from birth. The mind, emotions, conscience and will are all corrupted by the sinful nature. Therefore, while one is still in the sinful nature and not born-again, the perception of even love is corrupted. Before I was a Christian I experienced many relationships, some of which I claimed I was “in love.” When I was 19 years old I met the Lord Jesus Christ and he changed everything about my life. I repented of all my sin and he made me a new creation. Now I am married, and let me tell you, the love I experience with my husband, being born-again in Christ, is nothing like what I thought love was before I was saved. To use an illustration, it’s like the difference between powdered milk and whole milk. If you’ve never tasted whole milk and have always had powdered milk, you don’t know the difference and you don’t know that what you are tasting is any different than other milk. But once you’ve tasted the whole milk, you realize what the powdered was and is really made of, and that the whole is the real stuff.

In his book Choosing God’s Best, Dr. Don Rauniker uses the term “counterfeit oneness” to describe what happens in a relationship that is not right with God nor ordained by him. It may feel like love, but in the end it is not the real thing, only a counterfeit. And it can cause a lot of damage to the people once it ends. It’s like gluing two pieces of paper together, letting the glue dry, and then trying to separate them. Pieces of each will be permanently stuck to the other, and usually you can’t separate without tearing the pages apart.

Before I was a Christian I thought I was in love. I do not doubt that many people in same-sex relationships believe they too are in love. But apart from Christ all things in the human soul are corrupt, including the perception of emotion. I know that someone living an openly homosexual lifestyle is not in Christ because that life is not in line with what the Word of God says is a born-again new creation in Christ. Repentance, turning away from sin, is absent. And usually there is no repentance because there is a denial of sin in the first place; that person does not believe what they are doing is wrong; or they have simply rationalized it in order to appease the conscience. But again even the conscience is corrupt apart from Christ.

Homosexuality is not a “sexual orientation,” as if that makes it alright in God’s sight. As we have been examining over this week, it is a sin.

If the Holy Spirit is convicting you of this sin, do not ignore it. That conviction is God drawing you near to himself, wanting you to repent, turn away completely from you sin, taking upon yourself everything that Christ has done to deliver you from all sin and death. He want to give you new life in Christ Jesus, complete freedom from the old self. It can be done. The Lord Jesus Christ said it himself, “It is finished.”

Consistency in the Vine

April 23, 2007

In The Root of the Righteous, A.W. Tozer writes a chapter about the encroaching jungle. He points out that you can put all sorts of work into clearing the jungle and planting a field, but that if you leave that field to itself for just a couple of years, the jungle will overcome the cleared land and take over once again.

The same is true of the Christian life. A lot of sweat and tears, prayers and loss of sleep goes into sanctification. It is a mighty work of God to be made holy by the work of Christ Jesus our Lord. The surrendered life is a radical transformation compared to the sinful nature of the old self. But if the holy, sanctified, blameless Christian takes their eyes off the Lord for only a minute, the jungle of the flesh starts to grow back and take root in that life. Just as the field must be continually tended in order to bear fruit, such is the Christian life. It does not take much time away from the Lord at all for that life to return to the wild, jungle state.

Thus it is essential to be consistent in the Christian walk. “No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5). To remain in Christ is to remain in the cleared, fruitful field; to depart from him is for you to allow the jungle to take over again and conquer your life. So abide in the Vine, and live. Apart from him, you can do nothing; you can bear no fruit in your life alone.

Answering Easley – Part 5

April 12, 2007

“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ and again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:26-31).

The challenge we have been addressing this week is Dr. Michael Easley’s dare to show from in the New Testament that a Christian must do something to continue in the faith. We have talked about throwing off sin, doing good works, and pressing on with confidence. One important question comes to mind in conclusion: Can a Christian forfeit their salvation?

We believe they can. The above passage is a great warning concerning this. It is talking about one who keeps on sinning after receiving knowledge of the truth. The word “we” is used, indicating that the writer is one with the group of people he is talking to, which throughout the book of Hebrews is clearly shown to be Christian. This warning is dire: to continue to sin will lead to judgment and the fires of hell.

Again, we want to stress that the Christian is not saved by works, but does have a responsibility of action in the Christian walk. This is illustrated time and time again throughout the New Testament. Passages constantly discuss actively throwing off the things of the flesh and taking on the new self, as well as performing acts of good works. We are exhorted to “live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Ephesians 4:1).

And again we want to stress the importance of taking heed of these words of Scripture, being the very Word of God spoken to us. God has given us clear instructions concerning the life we are called to live as Christians. We take an active part in obeying these commands and living out the things set before us. For a Christian, somewhere along the way in their walk, to refuse to obey God and to turn away from the gospel which they have received carries eternal consequences. “If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them” (2 Peter 2:20-21).

Answering Easley – Part 4

April 11, 2007

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14).

This week we have been addressing a dare that Michael Easley gave on Moody Presents on Sunday: “I dare you to prove otherwise from the New Testament, that we have to do something to glom on.” Today I want to take a look at the words which he used, “glom on.” defines the phrase “glom onto” as meaning “to take hold or possession of.” The word is well chosen and appropriate. The root means “to snatch at,” like the jaws of a vice. This is exactly what we are talking about: taking hold of Christ and the life he would have us live.

In the Christian life we are not supposed to be merely stumbling along as if we were still lost and blind. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). No, we press on boldly in this life we are living for the glory of God.

Part of our walk, as we have been examining in the last few days, involves action. (Truly, how can we walk without walking? The very thing of walking is an action.) Specifically we looked at the acts of putting of the things of the flesh and putting on good works. We affirmed that the Christian is not saved by works, but does have certain responsibilies of action.

So as we obey the Lord’s commands over our lives, let us do so boldly. We do not trudge on through this walk, but press on toward the goal. We press on to take hold of that goal and that prize, because Christ Jesus has taken hold of us. He has captured our hearts and souls. Indeed the Lord Jesus said, “If you love me you will obey my commands” (John 14:15). It is not a chore to live this life, to put off the old self and take on the new, but our joy and privilege and blessing, and most of all, our salvation. In this life, we have eternal life, the knowledge of God (John 17:3) and in the next, great rewards await (Revelation 22:12). But even this reward is based on action.

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