Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Grace, Christ, & Us: Part 3. Our "selves" in this World - Changed by Grace
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!
3. Our "selves" in this World (Changed by Grace)
But this can be difficult as humans in this world as we are surrounded & bombarded by so many things that are contrary to the Lord. All of this affects us in some way. Yes, when we are Born-Again, we no longer live out from & by the fleshly life we used to; but now live in & by the Spirit.
But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit
Does that mean we are only “Spirit Beings”? No. Our spirit is eternal—whether eternal with the Lord, or apart from the Lord—but we are more than just that spirit. We are: the Spirit (that which Lives forever), in a body (physical senses), with a soul (emotions), a mind (thoughts & memories), a conscious (the discerner of good & evil), & a heart (our free-will / decision generator & where our beliefs rest).
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.
Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.
We can see in scripture all the different pieces that make up our existence. We exist on this earth with all of these as our reality; but it is Christ (being our own Spirit) that we live from & out of, changing from the Glory of our Spirit to bring that same Glory to our current reality (2 Corinthians 3:18). But in all these areas the Lord (the Holy Spirit) in us begins to renew us in—breaking off the pieces of plaster that have bound us & the cords that try & keep us tied down to the ways of the world: the thinking & believing of the world that says:
· We are sick people trying to be healthy. But Christ made us healthy, bearing all sickness & disease upon Himself.
· We are powerless against the forces of darkness & Satan. But Christ conquered Satan & instilled us with authority that was lost at the Fall—restoring that dominion.
· We have to get rich to be happy or to just live. But our Father is our provider of home, clothes, & food.
· We are sinners. Christ redeemed us & forgave all our sins—He considered us so valuble & worthy to Him that He gave His life for us.
· That I have to do everything on my own. But Christ said to share His yolk & that He does with us…we are never alone or on our own.
· That we must earn favor from God. But we have already been blessed with ALL Spiritual blessings in the here & now.
When we study scripture to see who He has made us as, being Born-Again into His Kingdom, we start to let go of what we held onto as true in our lives before. No longer then do I see myself as wanting, I see myself as having plenty. And this is not a learning-to-be, it’s a learning to know—to know what I already have been made into, and what I have already been given. To now start experiencing the me of now (the new man), forgetting the me of then (the old man).
There’s a saying sometimes credited to Michelangelo regarding his sculptures that reflects what we go through & experience as we realize our True self: David was always there in the marble. I just took away everything that was not David.
This is what the work of the Holy Spirit does with us; we begin the task of removing what does not belong to reveal our True identity: that we are now created (like Adam was), in the likeness of the Lord (Father, Son, & Holy Ghost). This is who we are. And this taking away is the pains we feel as they are our strongholds (the things / beliefs we held onto before) that break. We feel the pain of that “tearing away” at times—not always—but we can. And this is an amazing & joyous part of our life as we are set free to Be as Christ Jesus is! Let’s rejoice with Heaven as we get set free in so many intricate aspects of our Eternal Life! This is the cleansing & washing of regeneration we see happen in our external lives.
For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
1 John 3:2-3
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
1 John 4:17b
because as he [Jesus] is, so are we in this world.
This is how we can look at ourselves & see Christ Jesus, and know that (if we are Born-Again) we Live in the Spirit & our old flesh has been crucified.
2 Corinthians 3:18
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord.
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.
It is crucified with Christ. And because of that, we no longer live as the flesh, but we Live as the Spirit. If we are not Born-Again, we are still living in the flesh, and thus live a life unto condemnation—the final outcome of condemnation (not believing in Christ) being eternal Death.
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, [for they are Born-Again, and] walk not after [as] the flesh, but after [as] the Spirit.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from Death unto Life.
But if we are Born-Again we now Live from the Spirit (our Holy Spirit) in us. And we enjoy all the benefits thereof. Not only no longer a life that leads to death, but a Life that is restored which the Spirit in us brings that Life into our still-mortal bodies. All of Romans 8 brings to perspective how before we believed on Him, we lived unto the flesh; but after we believed & were Born-Again, our flesh was crucified & we now live by Christ’s Spirit (our Spirit) in us. Here are key aspects to that in Romans 8.
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 [not Born-Again]. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken [bring His Life to] your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
The Spirit itself beareth witness with our Spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
He brings us to Life—to the experiencing of that Life of Faith that Christ died to give us. It’s ours to live now. We don’t have to wait till we get to heaven. Our flesh is dead, we don’t have to fight it. So then why does it feel like I am being tested when I stand in Faith to what the Word says about me? Because my mind, my body, still remembers & holds onto the past it knew as “true”. The “test” is not from God—the test is from this world & the lies we believed. God cannot test us.
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: but every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
Thus, if it’s not God, all we are left with is this world. But when we do face that trial & persevere, we receive “the crown of life” which is His Life free from the stronghold & way of thinking we held onto before. It’s our own sin, the sin living in us, that snares us through our own temptations. These temptations are seen in the everyday choices we make in life: we are either living from the Spirit & make choices accordingly, or we are tempted by our old ways of doing things which were of the flesh. We feel the struggle. We don’t always heed to the Spirit because it is new to us & we have not experienced the results when of the Spirit…we only have a familiarity with our own control of things & the pre-conceived outcomes we have come to accept.
This is often a difficult task when we come into direct conflict with the Spirit. We know we need to submit to the Spirit, but we don’t always feel we have the strength or ability. Or aren’t willing to take that “risk”…or as we like to say, “leap of faith”. It’s hard to overcome the sin that so easily deceived & entangled us. This sin can still dwell in us just like Paul had to face. He knew it wasn’t him (as the Spirit) doing it, but that it was still sin dwelling in him that caused the conflict. He hated it! I hate it when I see it happen in me!
For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 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? 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.
Sin still dwells in the body of our flesh—that is in the memory of what the flesh was. Sin worked in the old flesh which still has memories of that time. Although that old flesh (old man) is dead, the new flesh (new man) still recalls the old ways. It’s as though the old is plugged into life support & our process is to make sure that life support gets & stays unplugged. We can’t “mortify” our members if we still keep it plugged into life support.
Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
When we unplug it, it begins to decay to a point where the sin in those members decay with it.
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.
What mortifies the flesh (body) to sin? The Spirit. What gives life-support to sin? The Law.
1 Corinthians 15:56
The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
This is why Paul so adamantly preached Grace. He was from the Law (a Pharisee or Pharisees). He knew more about the Law than anyone, yet he came to understand the fullness of what the Law does & did, and what the fullness of Christ & Grace brought. Paul’s letter to Galatia was written as a chastisement to them for not living completely in the Grace of Christ. He even called out Peter for falling back into the Law with the Jews (Galatians 2:11-16).
O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
The Law appeals to the flesh because it puts the flesh in control. But what the Law proved was that it was impossible to keep the Law—impossible. So much so, that it should bring you to repentance saying, “I need a Saviour to rescue me from this impossibility.” And that’s exactly what Christ did: He fulfilled the entire Law as well as the Prophets. And on the Cross, He exclaimed “It is finished”.
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
Christ never came to make us live a life of the Law. He came to live that life for us & set us free from living it. For freedoms sake He came to set us free.
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage [the Law]. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised [in your heart to the Law], Christ shall profit you nothing.
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: in whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
Christ is our freedom & easy yoke to live to Love, not live to obey the Law. God’s only command to us is to believe on Jesus Christ & to Love as well. And Christ’s only commandment to us was to obey His teaching & Agape Love everyone—to live in the Spirit, because Agape Love (God’s kind of Love) can only be out from His Spirit in us. And when we Agape Love, we in turn don’t sin (break the Law).
If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
1 John 3:23-24
And this is his [God’s] commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.
Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
The Law demonstrated God’s way of Love to us. This is how much He Loves us, that knowing we could not, out of our own heart & ability, Love the way He does, He came to Love that way for us. And He died to seal in that Love to be in us. He sealed us (our Spirit) with the Holy Spirit. We have that Holiness in us that is His Holiness. We are like Him. We can Agape Love just like He does. Love is what we see in Him; and Love is what others can see in us. For God is Love.
1 John 4:7-17
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.
We can Love, because we dwell in Him (Love) and He (Love) in us. Our new Nature is Love. When we Live by who we are in the Spirit, out comes Love. But we need help with this. This is why Jesus promised a Helper for us, the Holy Spirit. So, even though our own Spirit is made Holy (into a Holy Spirit) as Christ Jesus’s Spirit was, God’s provision is abundance. He provided the Holy Spirit for Jesus (who Himself was perfect). So likewise, we have that same Gift for us, because Jesus has sent Him to us.