BEING BORN AGAIN

Being a “Believer”, a “Christian”, means being “Born again” and no one can be born from a religion, tradition, program or denomination. You can only be born again from a Person, and in this case, the Person is God. How can I be born again you may ask. That is a great question.

To be born again means to be born from above, born of God. The way this happens is by receiving His word by faith. You hear the message that Jesus was crucified, buried and raised to live forever and by faith you receive that word into yourself. He died for your sins and offers you everlasting life. Once you receive this, God says, “You have been crucified with Christ and you no longer live but Christ now lives in you.” Just as a woman receives the seed of a man in order to produce life, we receive the Word/Seed of God and we will bear fruit for God.

So, being born again means we receive God’s promise of new life in Christ by faith and He brings it to pass!

“For you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:23).

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THAT’S WHAT NEEDS TO DIE!

If, as Christians, we have been “crucified with Christ”, “died to sin”, “died to the law” and we “no longer live” how can we say we must “die to self?”

According to Romans 6:6, “our old self/man was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin…” If who we were in Adam has in fact died in Christ, just what self are we to die to?

The old man/self has already died in Christ and we have been transformed into a new creature in Christ, one who is holy, blameless, forgiven, sanctified, made righteous, complete, etc. So there is no longer any old self/man to die to, right?

On the other hand, we do live in a world full of temptation and pulls on our flesh but the flesh is not who you are! So, if you say, we have to die to what our flesh might be tempted to engage in, I could agree to that. The trouble for me is many Christians think they still have an “old man” that needs to die. According to the Scriptures that simply is not true!

The old man wasn’t merely wounded in Christ, he died in Him! We need to die to the lie of a separate self apart from Christ. That’s what needs to die!

Louie

WHAT ABOUT DYING TO SELF?

The following conversation started based on this statement–The term “die to self” is not found in the Bible. Those who have received Christ have already died and have received a new heart that is free from sin.

Todd: you come to Christ denying yourself. And that means you take Christ on His terms, not yours. The proud sinner wants Christ and his pleasure, Christ and his covetousness, Christ and his immorality, but you don’t get Him on those terms. And then once you’ve come to Christ, Jesus is saying here it becomes a way of life to deny yourself. A happy way of life, admittedly, is it not? For I’m not happy when my self acts, I’m happy when the Spirit of God acts in me. Joy comes to me in obedience, in holiness.

Arthur Pink said, “Growth in grace is growth downward. It is the forming of a lower estimate of ourselves, it is a deepening realization of our nothingness. It is a heartfelt recognition that we are not worthy of the least of God’s mercies.”

That’s why in Colossians 3:5 it says we have to commit suicide. We have to mortify our members that are on the earth. We have to put off, Ephesians 4:22 says, the old man, corrupted by lust.

So, self‑denial then is the way in and it becomes the life pattern. We say no to self and we say yes to the Spirit of God. As long as we’re in this body, “the flesh” we will have to deny our natural reaction. Now we are in Christ, and yes we should hate sin…this is our position in Christ. That is how corrupt our flesh is..

Louie: “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ….” He is the “All” in our nothingness for sure. We have already been co-crucified with Christ. Reckoning ourselves dead is the only way the Christian life is lived because it’s really Christ living it. I am not in competition with Him as if I am going to attempt to live it. As far as mortifying the members upon the earth, I don’t think those are who I am. In other words, dying to fornication, uncleanness, covetousness, etc. isn’t dying to self. I am a new self in Christ and that new self is a right self therefore I don’t deny it (the new self). I am at home with who I am in Christ. He doesn’t operate through me in spite of me. In fact He operates through me because of me. You see the invisible God makes Himself visible through common, ordinary folks who have come to see themselves as having died (already) not still dying to sin and the Law.

Todd: Rom:7:14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am fleshly, sold under sin.
15 For I don’t know what I am doing. For I don’t practice what I desire to do; but what I hate, that I do.
16 But if what I don’t desire, that I do, I consent to the law that it is good.
17 So now it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwells in me.
18 For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwells no good thing. For desire is present with me, but I don’t find it doing that which is good.
19 For the good which I desire, I don’t do; but the evil which I don’t desire, that I practice.
20 But if what I don’t desire, that I do, it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwells in me.
21 I find then the law, that, to me, while I desire to do good, evil is present.
22 For I delight in God’s law after the inward man,
23 but I see a different law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity under the law of sin which is in my members.
24 What a wretched man I am! Who will deliver me out of the body of this death?
25 I thank God through Jesus Christ, our Lord! So then with the mind, I myself serve God’s law, but with the flesh, the sin’s law.
So Paul did recognize that how corrupt the flesh is…that why have to die daily not for Salvation, but deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow him…We wait with anticipation for our Glorify body. I am not argue your point, but we still have the flesh.

Louie: We do have flesh but flesh is not me (self). Romans eight tells us “you are not in the flesh if the Spirit is in you.” “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:17). This is why we are told to walk in the spirit and you won’t fulfill the lust of the flesh. In fact the real you (spirit joined to the Holy Spirit) doesn’t want to sin. On the other hand, the flesh is apt to do anything!

Todd: If I ask you another question; who lives your Christian life? Who? It’s a basic question. Come on, you’re doing this every day. Who’s doing it? You say, well, it’s me. That’s too simple an answer. If you’re living the Christian life, is it you or is it the Holy Spirit? Look, you don’t want to take credit for the good stuff, and you don’t want to blame the Holy Spirit for the bad stuff, so who is it? See, you have the same dilemma. Let me help you. The apostle Paul said this: “I am crucified with Christ nevertheless I live, yet not I.” So, he didn’t understand it either; that’s the reality of it.

Louie: Well, that’s where I have to disagree with you. The Apostle Paul understood totally! The Romans 7 chapter is Paul walking us through what it looks like when someone is attempting to live the Christian life by obeying the Law. Of course obedience to the Ten Commandments was never why they were given in the first place. In fact they were given to show us our inability not our ability. The Apostle Paul’s great revelation in that chapter is he (we) have been truly delivered from trying. In Romans 6 we read we are dead to sin. In Romans 7 dead to Law. Romans 8 teaches us we are free in the Spirit! Galatians 2:20 is a one verse summary of Romans 6-8 wherein we discover the Christian life is in fact only lived by Christ but it’s in, through and as us. You see we are in a union with Christ. So when someone does “good stuff” it’s obviously Christ. On the other hand, if they do “bad stuff” it’s the enemy. Of course that begs the question of accountability. You might say, “Well, you’re blaming the devil for your sins and don’t want to own up to them.” What I’m saying is we are not the source of “righteous” deeds or “sinful” deeds. We are in fact always joined to another whether it be Mr. Sin or Mr. Righteousness. The good news is when we “sin” as a believer we are actually acting contrary to our nature. We have been born from above and are partakers of His Divine nature. We only sin when we are deceived or have forgotten we have been cleansed and transformed into a new creature in Christ.

Todd: Now, this is like trying to unscrew the inscrutable. You really cannot resolve these divine tensions. If we talk about the doctrine of the security of the believer, that we’re held safe by Christ, you can’t talk about that without flipping it over and talking about the perseverance of the saints. We will enter into glory if we continue in the faith. Every major doctrine regarding salvation in the Scripture, and many beyond salvation, have within them an apparent paradox that cannot be resolved on the human side. This is one of the evidences that God wrote the Bible and not men, or they would have eliminated all of those unsolvable paradoxes.

Louie: I was just saying this to Tracey as you were writing. When we are a spirit living in a earthly, temporal body, life is definitely lived in paradox but I wouldn’t say Paul didn’t understand it. I think He knew full well that He and Christ were joined therefore he “worked out his own salvation and yet it is God who works in you to do it.” Good stuff!

Louie: I love how this discussion of “dying to self” circled right around and found its way into Romans 6-8 which I believe is the center of the Apostle Paul’s revelation and what he taught everywhere.

THE CROSS IS FOOLISHNESS TO THOSE WHO ARE PERISHING

“The word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).

Defeat and despair is what those at the cross saw the day Jesus was crucified. Some even shouted “Save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” To those who don’t have faith, or eyes to see, a naked, dying man on a cross doesn’t seem to be much of a victory does it?

While the world clamors for wealth, strength, intelligence and power over their enemies, God calls us to see our weakness. You see the fall of man centers around the lie of independence. The root of humanity’s problem is we think we’re in charge of something. If there’s something we don’t like or want to hear we’ll simply shut it down whether it’s by ignoring it or putting it to death. In this case we, meaning all of us represented at the cross that day, thought we would kill God off. Maybe if we get rid of this Jesus we’ll be able to go about our way and live life the way we want to live it. Sometimes the truth is difficult to take isn’t it? If we could only hide our heads in the sand maybe the truth will go away, maybe we won’t be responsible.

You see God is Spirit, therefore He is invisible to the natural eye. So, when one looks upon a man dying on a cross what’s really happening may not be as it appears. Jesus was “put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit…” (1 Peter 3:18). We too must learn to look at the unseen rather than being fooled by the seen. The Apostle Paul told us to “look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).

The Apostle Paul revealed the truth about real power and weakness in 2 Corinthians 12 after he implored God three times to remove something he saw as negative in his life. God’s response to him was, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is perfected in weakness.” In other words, what appears to be strength in the seen really isn’t. This is why Jesus told us we must come as a little child and how He, himself, was meek and lowly. What appears to be weak to the watching world is really where God’s strength lies.

Although I have never really attended twelve-step meetings I have to agree with the first step wholeheartedly. The first step tells us we have to admit we have the problem and we are powerless over it. So whether it’s drugs, gambling, shopping, sex or eating too much chocolate cake the first step is admitting powerlessness. Weakness carried out to it’s fullest extent is death wouldn’t you agree? Now we’re starting to get somewhere. 2 Corinthians 13:4 says, “For indeed He was crucified because, or through, weakness, yet He lives because of the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, yet we will live with Him because of the power of God…”

Let me give you an example in the natural to help explain the idea of weakness or powerlessness. Scientists have deemed 459 degrees below zero to be what is called “Absolute Zero.” At that temperature absolutely nothing moves. While nothing actually moves there is something in the unseen that will move even better at this temperature and that’s electricity. They say absolute zero is the best temperature to conduct electricity because there is no resistance. Similar to electricity, God’s Spirit moves better through people who have stopped resisting. When I say resisting I mean living under the delusion that we, in and of ourselves, can care for ourselves without God. In other words those still believing the lie of independence inherited from the fall.

You see if the truth is told mere weakness isn’t enough because we might still have a bit of movement left. This is why the cross is necessary. According to God’s perspective we don’t need a little bit of help we actually need Him to do all. The great revelation God showed us through the Apostle Paul was how the solution is for us to be co-crucified with Christ. When someone is dead there is absolutely no movement, or resistance. Weakness is one thing, but dead is something else! So we are told to “reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Once we start to see ourselves as having died and raised back in Him, we will discover the secret of the Christian life which is “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” The life of Christ will then find no resistance and He will finally be able to move freely through us to others.

Louie

 

 

WHAT IS GALATIANS 2:20 REALLY SAYING?

The whole of the Gospel is defined for us in Romans six through eight. The Apostle Paul tells us We have died to sin and have been joined with Christ in his death, burial and resurrection in Romans six. Immediately after we read the great news of having died to sin we discover in Romans seven we have also died to the Law. Dying to the Law means it has no jurisdiction over we who have placed our faith in Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. Romans 10:4 tells us “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”

Thinking about Galatians 2:20 I sort of saw it in new light; let me see if I can explain. Paul said, “I (our supposed, independent I but the I that is really in union with the spirit of error) am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I (new me now separated from the prince of the power of the air and in union with Christ) live; yet not I (as if independent), but Christ (in union with me) lives in me; and the life which I (really Christ) now live in the flesh I (joined to Christ) live by the faith (faithfulness) of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

Ultimately the work of God, through the cross of Calvary, is the breaking of man’s unholy union to the spirit of error in order to restore mankind to our oneness with God. God’s image in man was damaged through the fall so Christ (God in human form) came here, lived the perfect sinless life and yet died our sinful man’s death on the cross. In that horrible death he “became sin” so we might be made “the righteousness of God in him.” Jesus Christ took the spirit of error into himself and died. When he died the spirit of error left him, because he had no sin of his own, and once a body dies the spirit has to leave. So God is telling those, that have placed their faith in Christ, we have been crucified with him so we might be freed from the spirit of error through him to walk in newness of life.

Louie

 

LIFE AND A NEW NATURE

“Jesus didn’t come to make bad people good; he came to make dead people live.” Since the first time I heard Ravi Zacharias say this I have never forgotten it. Wow! What a powerful thing to say, don’t you think?

According to the Bible we were all “dead in trespasses and sins.” It’s important to note we weren’t just people who sinned we were in fact Dead! God’s ultimate goal wasn’t just to wash us off it was to give us life. Don’t get me wrong, dealing with sin is a biggy but it isn’t the only thing God has done for us. On the cross Jesus’ blood was shed to take care of our sin, but he gave his life so we could be joined to him and live forever. You see according to Romans six we were crucified with Christ, and joined with him in his death, burial and resurrection so we could walk in newness of life. This newness isn’t just a state of “no sin” it is the life of Christ himself being lived out through us as the new creatures we are.

The key to this whole thing is faith. We are to place our faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. On the cross he declared “It is finished.” The work he was sent to do had been completed. All that is left to do is for us to believe in it, or as I’ve heard it put believe “into” it. We have to put our full trust in what Christ has done on the cross in order to be joined with him in his death, burial and resurrection. According to Ephesians we are not only resurrected, but we have also ascended with Christ and are seated in him in the heavenly places.

Just as a caterpillar goes through a metamorphosis in order to become a butterfly we too have to be changed. We went into Christ, a dead in trespasses sinner, but we came out of the grave with him a brand new creature, and he is now the very life of the believer.

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) 

Louie