Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Grace, Christ, & Us: Part 2. Baptism in Water, and The Old Flesh is Dead

This is a five-part piece that covers a number of topics. It was written as a continuance, but I chose to break it so it is easier to read. For those who like to read it all the way through, I will post it as such as well. With lots of Love, Chris!

2.       Baptism in Water, and The Old (Flesh) is Dead

But even though Christ was born in the flesh with a perfect (Holy) Spirit, He still needed to be water baptized as well as receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost). So then, why did Jesus need to be water baptized…for water baptism is the baptism of repentance? What did Jesus have to repent of? His own free-will way of living life.

Jesus, though sinless, was a human like you & me. He had a human free-will like us. He had the choice of living the rest of His life as a human any way He wanted. Just like we have the same choice.

Water baptism is both a sign of repentance (a choosing of turning from one way of living to the Lord’s way of living) and a representation of our flesh having been crucified & raised up with Him in death.

For Jesus, this was a baptism of repentance as John the Baptist was preaching (not of the flesh dying, as He had not yet been crucified). What Jesus did (being water baptized) was the point where He turned away from His life as a Carpenter & turned to a life focused by choice on the Cross. His flesh knew this & did not want to (as evident in His prayers on the Mount of Olives right before His arrest). In a sense, He had to “deny himself”; just as we must “take up our cross”.

Luke 9:23-24
And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.

When we lose our life to ourself, we gain His Life through us, out of our Spirit in us. And a greater Life not just meant for only after we pass away, but here on earth now. When we get water baptized, we need to hold true in our hearts both the sign of repentance (the turning to the Lord) as well as the representation of our old flesh (our old man) having been crucified and us being raised up, now living out from our Spirit (our new man). But more than that, in combination as a whole, we have now been made like Him: not only in Spirit, in health (body), in emotional stability (soul), & in mind—having the same authority & freedom from sin (Holiness). For as He is now, so are we in this world (1 John 4:17b).

We experience this likeness of Him when we deny what we have come to know & renew our mind to who we really are & have already been made into. Who we are is exactly like Jesus Christ.

This is the best Good News we can hear! How much more of a free gift can we ever receive than this. This is “almost too-good-to-be-true news”. But this does NOT compute with the mind at all! Not at all! Which is exactly why we must renew ourselves in the spirit (thoughts / rememberances) of our minds.

This renewing is part of our salvation (soteria). We all come from different childhoods, experiences, iniquities, & choices in life that have ingrained our life with the realities of this fallen world. But Christ came to Save (sozo) us from all we were & all that exists in a fallen world state. Where we renew our minds from (with our emotions & our bodies), into His Truth & His Reality is us working out our own salvation (soteria):

Philippians 2:12-13
Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

When Born-Again, we don’t have to stop at just that existence; we have been set free from who we were. We mustn’t come to a standstill. Yes, we can allow ourselves to; but as Romans 10:9-13 includes, “it’s with our mouth that we confess unto salvation.”

Salvation is the Saving force which begins the change in & of us from where we are to the concluding destination of being with the Lord forever. Salvation is a destination that we hold onto for the remainder of our life. This salvation is not only about the now, but about the now & future here on earth with the culmination of Eternal Life.

When we begin to confess to ourselves, and out from ourselves to others, the Truth of what the Lord says about us in His Word, we transform from the brokenness, faults, & iniquities we came from into who we already are in Him. We become saved from our old flesh & spirit (past) into the new flesh & Spirit we have been made to when we accepted Jesus. When we believed in our heart, in that instance, not only was our Spirit made new & Holy, but our flesh was crucified with Christ & we now live a new flesh (the new man).

Romans 6:3-11
That as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Galatians 2:20
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Galatians 5:24-25
And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Ephesians 4:20-24
But ye have not so learned Christ; if so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: that ye put off concerning the former conversation [behaviours of] the old man, which is corrupt [destroyed] according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

Colossians 3:9-10
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.

Our old flesh is dead. Our old ways of life are dead. And because of it, we no longer live by that flesh (which we used to live by); but now live by our Holy Spirit (Christ Spirit) in us, that is us (Galatians 2:20). Who we are is not our flesh & the behaviours of that former flesh; who we are is a Spirit (a Holy Spirit). Yes, we are in this earthly vessel, but who we are stems from our Spirit. We don’t have to try to be what the Lord wants us to be; we already are, and all we need to do is just Be Him in us. Yes, it is as simple as just being who we already are—no, not who we were (in the flesh), but who we are (in the Spirit).

And the best way to “just Be” in the Spirit is to discover what that means. This is done through understanding who Jesus was & how He was. He did not try to be Christ Jesus, He was. Jesus walked His life in the Spirit here on earth just like we are doing now. He had the benefit of being born sinless in the flesh, but we have been made sin-free (Righteous) by Him now…made as Him, like Him now. And when we read about Him in scripture, we can see how He let the Spirit Be Him. He did not struggle trying to be the Spirit in Him, He just was. And we now can do the same.

Often times, we try & “mimic” the life of Jesus out of our own free will ability in the flesh. But all that creates is a set-up to failure. We can never live a sinless life, perfect life, faultless life on this earth—the Law proved that. And because we experience our own imperfections, we put up facades to conceal them to others—closing off & being critical & hypocritical.

This was me. This is what I tried to do—live the life I thought I was supposed to do by living the most “perfect” life I could through acting it out. Yet I failed over & over & over again. I tried to keep up appearances, but it became such a burden, I collapsed under my own weight I carried—to the point of absolute frustration & quit. Living the “moral Christian life” was impossible. I needed to break, and I did. And in that true moment of humility of self, calling out to the Lord, He poured over, in, & through me His Grace! When I expected Him to not be near, to not hear me, He answered me. But He did not answer me with the answer I thought He would: anger & wrath. No, He answered me with Love & Grace.

Now He could build me up on His Truth that I am not the one who needs to “live right”, but that it is Him in me living out of me that makes me live right. When I live an experiential life from Him in me, Him Loving me, me Loving Him (not fearing Him), the Life I experienced fulfilled me & set me free from trying. I could now “just Be” Him in & through me. I began to allow the Spirit in me to start producing His Fruit.

Galatians 5:22
The fruit of the Spirit is (Agape) Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faith / faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

Was this an easy change? No! This is why we need renewing of our thinking & of our heart. When we allow the Lord to change our heart (when we soften our heart to Him), we change. We must allow our hearts to be shaped by Him through His Word—for it’s more than hearing the Word, but the knowing of His word that sets us free. And we hear by the Word which then gives us the understanding of living by Faith

John 8:31-32,36
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

Romans 10:17
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Luke 11:28
blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.

Proverbs 2:1-2
My son, if thou wilt receive my words,
and hide my commandments with thee;
so that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom,
and apply thine heart to understanding;

It’s His Word that that cuts us free from who we became, cuts us free from our soul-ties to our former spirit, penetrates into our bodies to bring healing, and cuts through to our heart.

Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

It is His Word we must hear more than the words of this world. We must let Him & His Word change us—not change our actions, but change our heart. For when we change our heart, our actions change. It’s from our heart that we make the choices in our life. It is our “free-will-generator”. What we do does not define who we are; who we are defines our actions. What is in our heart defines those actions—or more specifically, what we’ve allowed into our heart. For we believe from the heart, and we do the things we believe (whether of the Holy Spirit or our own / former nature).

Proverbs 4:23
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

Proverbs 23:7
for as he thinketh [reasons out / calculates / reckons / estimates] in his heart, so is he

Matthew 12:34
for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.

But we have something (someone) amazing that can & does change our hearts. So even if our hearts aren’t fully aligned with Him, He is greater. We can align our hearts with Him.

1 John 3:20-21
For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.

We have a Loving Father that sees the whole & complete picture of our lives & the influences or iniquities we’ve had on our lives that cause us to do what we do: He knows all things. And because He does, He knows how to untangle the mess of thoughts, emotions, strongholds, ties, & actions in our lives. He has done this for me in countless ways.

My past growing up in an abusive environment that lacked much of the positive nurturing a child needed, began a life developed in fear & control. And my self-protection was to build walls around me: both in words & in emotions. My child-mind (in my subconscious) tried to control minimize the abuse through control. “If maybe I would say less, the less I’d be in trouble.” But that didn’t work, but that was the only route I could take, because I didn’t know of any other way—I was didn’t have the knowledge (ignorant) of seeking help or advice from others or having the wisdom through experience to know better. I closed off. And I too, had to shut down emotionally to protect myself. I went from a young, open, adventurous, emotion-filled, love-expressing, little boy; to a quiet, shy, timid, boy, anchored in shame (which I didn’t know as shame at the time). This changed my life forever.

This was not how the Lord wanted me. But the Lord knew this would happen to me. So He wrote into my life His Grace (His True Gospel) that I would hear through others to begin to set myself free. By this time, I was 40 years old. My life, my choices, my actions my whole life till then was due to someone elses (this fallen-worlds) affect on my life.

But, Praise be to the Lord, He orchestrated into my life the people I needed: from my to-be wife, to my mom & step dad, to church & the people at church, to pastors & teachers of the Gospel of Grace, to my counselors. He cared so much for me, that He used all He could at His disposal to start my change in life from who I was to who He made me to be!

We all have experiences—alot from childhood—but also from traumatic experiences at any age. This, without always knowing it, affects (shapes) our heart. And as such, our actions in life are affected.

Additionally, we continue to live in a fallen-world that bombards us with things contrary to the Word of God. This is seen in some areas of government, political institutions, education systems, science, media, music, movies, & television. This is why we are instructed to protect ourselves:

Ephesians 6:10-13
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil [diabolos]. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

It’s the “wiles of devil” we are protecting ourselves from. This is those things which counter the Word of God. We are not talking about the Devil himself—the Greek word for devil is diabolos; it means:

1.       prone to slander, slanderous, accusing falsely
a.       a calumniator, false accuser, slanderer,
2.       metaph. applied to a man who, by opposing the cause of God, may be said to act the part of the devil or to side with him

And the Greek word for wiles is methodeia, meaning: cunning arts, deceit, craft, trickery.

What we are facing is someone (or an over-arching group of people like a government or organization) that speaks, implements, or enforces a way of life or understanding that “opposes the cause of God”. We have to stand firm against the deceit of slander & false accusations. These are the persecutions we face.

And because we can be deceived (even by others who themselves are deceived), our heart becomes affected. We can easily start believing the lie. Our natural tendency at times is to believe what we experience more through our natural senses (see, hear, feel, taste, & smell) than that which is by Faith (often unseen). But when we do surround ourself with Faith-experiences (like Jesus did with His Twelve Disciples), it begins to break down our “known” into a new Reality: God’s Reality.

Just as our lives (through our heart) get shaped by our experiences, so does our life get shaped by our experiences with the Lord.

Psalms 38:8
O taste and see [experience] that the Lord is good:
blessed is the man that trusteth in him

When we experience His Goodness, we change, and we change dramatically. This fallen world has caked over us a hardened crust (like porcelain) that has caused us to be who we are by our actions. But the Lord rescued us from that through Christ Jesus. He came to set us free—to break out from the hardened enclosure around us. To be free, to mover free, to live free: free from sin, free from offense, free from ourselves. For we believe we know best, but we don’t!

Proverbs 16:2
All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes;
but the Lord weigheth the spirits.

Proverbs 21:2
Every way of a man is right in his own eyes:
but the Lord pondereth the hearts.

Proverbs 28:26
He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool:
but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.

When we do as we have determined in our heart for ourself, it is contrary to the Lord. We walk in our own imagination.

Jeremiah 7:24
But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward.

Luke 1:51
He hath shewed strength with his arm;
he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

This is why we must submit to Him. This is why we mustn’t believe the stories we tell ourselves in our hearts that excuse (self-justify) our actions.

How often do I dwell on a fault or an error (either my own fault / error, or that of someone else), then play out a story—usually one that justifies my actions or to-be actions. A story that is usually worst-case scenario that gives me reason to behave, act, or not act in what the Holy Spirit wants me to do. I hold onto unforgiveness or bitterness. And what ends up happening is I either close myself off to the other person or myself. Sometimes I lash out about how I’m affected (in a prideful / self way). None of which is just being in the Spirit. This is falling back into the behaviours & norms that I learned in the old flesh.

This is why we must align our heart to Him—for when we do, we do His Will as our will.

Proverbs 3:5
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

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