Grace & Peace


Monday, January 29, 2018

New Creations in Christ-Part 3 No Longer Enemies in our Mind

In this third and final segment of this series, "New Creations in Christ," I simply present an example- or a practical application of how what we have learned in parts One and Two of this series might play out in the life of a believer. We have been delivered from the law and the condemnation of the law (ref. Rom. 7:6, 8:1 and 2 Cor. 3:9), but we must understand how these truths- and the choice we make to properly apply them- reflect on our view of God.

A great example of this is something I've seen many times. Christians who smoke often feel very condemned; some I've known have allowed this condemnation to hinder them from church attendance and fellowship. They feel beat up with condemnation because of their powerlessness to quit this habit, but if they are born again, are they righteous? Yes, they are, and they have to know that they are and rest in this truth. Righteousness means they have a right-standing with God, apart from their works or self-effort. Now, we know smoking is harmful, and God knows it, too, but this addictive habit is very difficult to break. If a Christian who smokes rests in the fact that he or she is in right-standing with God, even as a smoker, he removes himself from the condemnation of the law, along with the desires or sinful passions aroused by the law, and thus eventually loses the desire to smoke, breaking his dependency on this habit. God wasn't mad at him for smoking. He's the One who made a way to set him free. [excerpt from Gates: Thanksgiving Papers, pg 38-39]

The enemy is on a smear campaign to distort our view of God's true love for us. It says in the book of Colossians, "And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight;" (1:21-22)

I hope this study has allowed you to understand who you are as a new creation in Christ. God bless.

Monday, January 22, 2018

New Creations in Christ - Part 2 Our New Nature

The limitations of our physical bodies, which are weak because of the flesh, meant we as humans, in an unregenerative state had no ability or strength to meet the righteous requirements of the law. (ref. Rom. 8:3-4)  The supernatural change that took place in us the moment we became born again, allows us to supercede the weaknesses of the flesh. This all began and continues in response to faith.

The Apostle Paul's lament, found in the 7th chapter of Romans, reads as follows: "For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin, which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (vs.'s 22-24)

He answers his own question by writing, "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God: but with the flesh the law of sin. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Rom. 7:25 KJV, Rom. 8:1 NIV)

And Paul continues, "For the law of the Spirit of life hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness."  Rom. 8:2-10 KJV

We, as Christians, no longer have Adam's [Adamic] nature, but a new nature, because our nature abounds from our spirit, which has been renewed. As a Christian, my "spirit man," the real me, is always on top of its game, always abounding in the fruits of the Spirit and always has the peace of God, even though my actions and emotions may say otherwise. (ref. John 14:27)

The indwelling Holy Spirit is my Comforter and brings to remembrance the things God has given me. As a believer, you don't bounce back and forth out of the Spirit and into [the flesh that you died to] at conversion, when you became a new creation. As Paul said in Galations, "And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts." Gal. 5:24 KJV (ref. Rom. 6:6, Col. 2:11-12)  You were once spiritually dead in Adam - and dead in sin; now you are spiritually alive in Christ and alive in righteousness. Once again, the Apostle Paul states, "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you." Rom. 8:9a KJV

Paul is saying that at the moment of conversion, we died to the flesh and received the Holy Spirit. To put this all into perspective, it really helps to understand that a proper biblical definition of the word righteousness means "our right standing with God," and thus the righteous requirements of the law that are fulfilled in us conveys a continual right-standing with God. We are continually in the Spirit and not in the flesh - because we died to the flesh and are alive in the Spirit. (ref. Gal. 5:24, Col. 2:11-14)

Now this brings us to our response of faith. The Apostle Paul writes in his letter to the Ephesians, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast," (ref. 2:8-9) which is true, but he also writes in Romans, for we are saved by hope. (ref. 8:23-24) Now, it is this hope that first revolutionized our heart and mind and continues to - as we live from faith to faith. Paul writes, "And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." Rom. 5:5 KJV

So when we were born again, because of this hope, the love of God was shed abroad in our hearts and minds, when we received the Holy Ghost. Those under the law have no hope of fulfilling the righteous requirements of the law. In the epistle to the Ephesians, Paul writes about the unsaved person under the law, "That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:" Eph. 2:12 KJV

The law demands perfection [and that it be kept perfectly] if one thinks he can keep it apart from faith in Christ. (ref. James 2:10) The law is demanding and unyielding and always makes you come up short. It always says there is yet one more thing you must do to be in right-standing with God. It always leaves you in despair, with no hope, looking at your short-comings and weaknesses. But the law was given so we would stop having faith in our own ability and merit, and realize that apart from Christ, we are sinners who need a Savior. (ref. Jer. 18:11-12, Gal. 3:24-25)

The word of God says, "Study to shew (show) thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." 2 Tim. 2:15 KJV  What this means for us is that we are to look into the word of God and find out that, as Christians, we are approved of by God, all because we are in Christ. We have an imputed righteousness from God (right-standing with God) and we are not to be ashamed. (ref. Rom. 4:6, 11)

As stated in chapter one, verses 16-18 (NIV), of Paul's letter to the Romans, "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel, a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith." The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness,"

Recorded in John's gospel, Jesus said, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him. (3:36 KJV) In Paul's epistle to the Ephesians we find, "Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past, in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others." (2:3 KJV)

Before we were born again, we were "by nature the children of wrath," but now as believers in Christ, we have been delivered from the law and the penalty of transgressing the law. (ref. Rom. 7:6) As stated in Romans 4:15, "Because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression." Also, as found in the Apostle John's first epistle, "Whosoever commiteth sin transgresses the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. (3:4 KJV)  It tells us in the book of Romans, "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (6:11 KJV)  And for the Christian, there is no condemnation. (ref. Rom. 8:1) The law is referred to as "the ministration of condemnation and the ministration of death." (ref. 2 Cor. 3:7-9) So, we as Christians are no longer by nature children of wrath. In John's gospel, it is written, "But as many as received Him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name;" (John 1:12 KJV)

To believe on Jesus' name is to believe in His inherent goodness, and His work of the cross demonstrated His love for all of mankind. It's an unconditional love, because none of us deserved it. (ref. Rom. 5:8) But now once again, for we as Christians, His love has been shed abroad in our hearts, and the Apostle Paul's lament in the 7th chapter of Romans, saying, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" hopefully is better understood by his answer. "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh, the law of sin." (ref. Rom 7:24-25)  But now remember, "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwells in you." Rom. 8:9a KJV

If you're born again, the Spirit of God is dwelling in you. Now this brings us to the root. Our soul, which is made up of our mind, will and emotions, is how we possess this knowledge and transfer what is in our spirit, "the fruit of the Spirit and the supernatural realm" to all areas of our life.

Our own willpower often doesn't work and lacks any value when it comes to restraining sensual indulgences. (ref. Col. 2:20-23 NIV) But we do have the power of choice. We can choose to recognize Romans 8:9a, which says, "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be the Spirit of God dwell in you." And when you understand this, you are thinking correctly and honoring the word of God that tells you what took place the moment you became born again, as well as understanding that before you were born again, scripture tells us "For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now, we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter." Rom. 7:5-6 KJV

This is choosing to be spiritually minded vs. carnally or fleshly minded. Now - God's laws are written on our hearts and minds and we are led by the leading and prompting of the Holy Spirit, not by an external code, and the dominion of sin has been broken over our lives because we are not under law but under grace. (ref. Rom. 6:14)  God has given the believer, as promised, a new heart and a new spirit and taken away our stony heart, and now our hearts are no longer deceitfully wicked.  (ref. Ezek. 36:26, Jer. 17:9)

We no longer have the spirit of bondage again to fear, but we have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba Father. The Holy Spirit is always present to convict the unsaved person of his sin, the devil - that he has been judged - and the believer of his righteousness. (ref. John 16:8-11, Rom. 8:15, 1 John 4:18) By knowing and thinking this way, we are being renewed in the spirit of our mind and allowing our soul, which is our mind, will and emotions, to function as it should. This is something we as Christians can do, and the unbeliever cannot. (ref. Eph. 4:22-24, Eph. 4:17)

Our mind must be focused on the truth of what we studied here. This is done by an active choice of the will, and it will greatly affect our emotions. (ref. Rom. 12:2, Eph. 4:21-24, Isa. 26:3) Hebrews,  chapter 6, tells us we have hope as an anchor of the soul. (ref. Heb. 6:19) Our mind is to be renewed to these truths. We once, before we were born again, were enemies in our minds toward God; we thought He was out to get us. (ref. Col. 1:21) Now, we know better, for after all, faith is to believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (ref. Heb. 11:6)

Scripture tells us, "But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ." I Thes. 5:8-9 KJV

I'll end this teaching with this; scripture tells us, "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." 1 Cor. 13:13 KJV Our faith and hope in Christ are first received by receiving the unconditional love given to us from God, then we are able to extend that love we've received to others and truly be God's hands and feet.  God bless.

Monday, January 15, 2018

New Creations in Christ - Part 1

What can we as Christians learn from the butterfly?  Quite a bit, really.

Let's take a look.

First, for the butterfly to have become a butterfly, it had to start out in life as a caterpillar and go through a process called metamorphosis. Without getting too technical, this caterpillar became, in a sense, a new creation. It once was, or started out as, an earthbound mud and tree crawling creature that had to inch its way along to survive. It and it's fellow caterpillars would have to be content to slug along in the mud and branches, unable to escape the limitations of their bodies.

But, through a wonderful process called metamorphosis, the earthbound caterpillar becomes transformed into a winged butterfly, able to soar on the winds, high above the mud and trees of the earth of which it was once limited. Now, this butterfly has the ability to fly to the specific food sources it would need to survive and also it's new winged body would permit it to catch the fast-moving trade winds and jet streams that would easily allow it to escape the harsh winter climate in which it could not survive, enabling it to move to a warmer climate.

It truly would be harmful, as well as silly, for the butterfly not to know it's a butterfly and continue to remain earthbound, crawling along in the mud, not using it's new ability of flight as a means of escape from the oncoming elements. Like the wings of an airplane, which incorporate "the principal of lift," which creates an upward pull, which when in motion allows the airplane to supercede the pull of gravity; the butterfly has the ability to fly and supercede the earthly gravitational pull, but to do this it must instinctively, or naturally, know it can, in order to put this all in motion. It's no longer a caterpillar, but now has a new identity.

For the once earthbound caterpillar, who is now a butterfly, being able to fly, the training process is probably short, as well as instinctive. The patterns and repeated methods of operation that the former caterpillar had lived by, had to be discarded, as it adapted to it's new way of doing things.

We can learn things through repeated process. When I was a child growing up, first learning to tie my shoes, it seemed really hard. I had to attempt it over and over, with the aid of my mother, to get to the place where I could accomplish it. I'm now in my '50's and it would be silly for me to still be struggling with tying my shoes. Through repeated attempts as a young boy, I reached a place where, as the saying goes, "It seems like second nature."

In the case of the caterpillar who is now a butterfly, there is a truthful reality to that which has taken place. For the caterpillar, it happened during the process of metamorphosis, but for us as Christians, this change took place the moment we became born-again and were placed in Christ. "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." 2 Cor. 5:17 KJV

The limitations of our physical bodies, which are weak because of the flesh, meant we as humans, in an unregenerative state, had no ability or strength to meet the righteous requirements of the law. (ref. Rom. 8:3-4) The butterfly escaped the earthbound limitations of his former wing-less body by the transforming process of metamorphosis. The supernatural change that took place in us the moment we became born again, allows us to supercede the weakness of our flesh. This all started and continues in response to faith. The gospel message is the message that says we gain a righteousness (right-standing with God) apart from works or the law (merit or human effort). (ref. Rom. 3:20-22 and also Phil. 3:9) The message allows us to take our eyes off of ourselves (and our weaknesses) and place them squarely on Jesus and His finished work; the work of the cross and His resurrection.

The word of God says, "And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight;" Col. 1:21-22 KJV

We are no longer enemies in our minds (toward God) because of wicked works (our short-comings or weaknesses in the flesh) This creates continued faith, rather than condemnation, which is by the law (ref. 2 Cor. 3:9). My spirit man, the real me, is righteous. This all took place the moment I became a new creation. (ref. Col. 2:11-14) Scripture tells us, "Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created Him. (Col. 3:9-10) KJV

It also says, "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin" (Rom. 6:6 KJV) and as found in Gal. 5:24, "And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts."

Since this all took place the moment we became born-again, (once again-ref. Col. 2:11-14) we can rise above our earthbound limitations (the flesh) and think on things above, (ref. Col. 3:2) where we are seated with Christ in the heavenlies (ref. Eph. 2:6, Eph. 4:21-24). I'll conclude with the scripture found in Romans chapter 12, verses 1-2, "I beseech you therefore brethern, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."

Now, God bless and soar high!