Out with the Old – in with the New

This is taken from our good friend Brian Coatney’s blog. I simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share this on ours.

Tandy and Brian CoatneyPhoto by Tracey Lewis

Tandy and Brian Coatney
Photo by Tracey Lewis

God calls us to see the completion that He accomplished on the Cross when He put to death the old man and raised a new man 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).

This means that as a Christian, I am an entirely new creation. Though my body looks the same, and though my personality is the same, God has birthed me out of death into a new being, united spirit-to-Spirit with God through Christ. This living union did not exist when I was the old man. The old man could never get transformed into the new man. For me to be united spirit-to-Spirit with God, the old man had to die, and I had to be born a new creation, which means union with Christ.

The finiteness of my humanity, though, never does change; I’m still powerless to produce my own good. But in this union with Christ, whereby we are made one spirit (1 Cor. 6:17), Christ takes on all responsibility to produce all of the qualities He requires. Christ Himself is the Christian life, and I get carried along by faith, enjoying His life as my life.

I don’t even live by law any more because I live by His nature, and the Bible has become to me the beautiful description of His nature, and therefore, His nature expressed as me.

Why then do I have to say, “We still sin every day”? Certainly it is possible to sin every day, and who can deny that such is the experience of hosts of Christians. But who am I to say that there are sins that I cannot be kept from? Who is to say how much victory is possible?

I can hear the screams already. Some, in frantic concern, don’t want any to wave a wand over themselves or others and proclaim a state of sinless perfection. What this usually means is the baptizing of carnal responses as if they are the life of Christ in us.

Plenty of this false notion exists, and I recall well how desperately I wanted to think that certain flesh impulses were the life of the Spirit in me. Of course we want to hang onto our natural impulses and think that they are Christ in us. After all, to eat, to work, to be attracted – these are all part of our humanity, and we have taken needless guilt for them because of the sin consciousness hanging on in us before the renewal of our minds.

Natural impulses from our humanity need not cause guilt, and neither do they need to lead us to call them the life of the Spirit. The point of the Spirit’s life is that it is Spirit life. As the Spirit quickens our mortal bodies, we now no longer to take condemnation for being human; but we also do not live by natural impulses as if they are the Spirit.

Hebrews 4:12 tells us that the Holy Spirit acts like a sword to reveal to us the difference between our souls and our spirits. Our souls consist of our thoughts and feelings – our natural desires, which are always for comfort and never for the Cross. Why would our earthly parts desire denial of gratification? They wouldn’t. Only a mind that is set on the Spirit finds life coming out of death on a soul or body level, so that Spirit life can flow forth. Our natural impulses of themselves are just that; they are not an identity.

Our union with Christ is our identity, in which, as we walk in the flow of His Spirit, we major on Spirit life instead of natural desires that He sends to the Cross. Of course, we often do get to enjoy many of life’s pleasures, moments in which Spirit and soul rejoice together. Often too, the Spirit leads us to extreme discomfort and some level of death in our earthly members. We tend, until renewed of mind, to think that the Christian life is therefore hard. I often say, “It’s not hard to walk in the Spirit; it’s easy: it’s excruciating at times, but not hard.”

Again, this does not mean a proclamation of instant perfection. Yet, if perfection is a person – the person of Christ – we can walk in Christ all that we wish to. All the perfection in the universe, Christ Himself, is available to us every moment. I don’t accept settling for less.

Written by Brian Coatney

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