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

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TRADING SIN FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS

When Jesus went to the cross he went there fully man and died as a man. The Bible tells us he was made sin so we would become the righteousness of God in him. What a deal! The question is what really happened on the cross?

We can read elsewhere that Jesus came in the flesh and if anyone denies this they are a deceiver and the Antichrist. Some pretty harsh words but they show us how serious it is that Jesus Christ was in fact a human being. As a human, like us, he was a vessel or temple that housed the Spirit of God. On the cross he said, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me.” There are many differing opinions about whether or not God really left Jesus but for me it seems this was the moment he became sin which is why the Father seemed to be forsaking him.

Let me give you a bit of background to what I’m saying here. It is my belief that when our first human parents sinned in the Garden the spirit of error entered the human race. This is why we are all born sinful. We are all born indwelt by the “prince of the power of the air…the spirit that works in the sons of disobedience.” This means salvation is more than just having our sins washed away it means having a brand new Spirit placed in us. Its God’s out with the old and in with the new Spirit program. It is the ultimate in exorcism’s; our sinful nature is replaced with God’s Divine nature. Our formerly dead human spirit is resurrected, and we are joined to God in a union of his Holy Spirit and our human spirit.

When Jesus hung on the cross we were there. According to Romans six we were crucified, buried and raised with Christ. God took us out of Adam and placed us into Christ. We now walk in newness of life according to the Spirit of God in us.

Even though Jesus had no sin of his own he died as a sinner that day. He became sin. “He condemned sin in the flesh, so the requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us.” “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us…” He took the prince of the power of the air, the spirit of error, (Sin) into himself and died in the flesh. His body was placed in a tomb for three days and the spirit of error came out of him. Without a body the spirit had to go and it did, but the good news is God sent the Holy Spirit to enter Jesus and raised him back to life. When we, by faith, are joined to the Lord we are one spirit with him.

Not only did Jesus shed his blood to forgive us of our sins; he gave his body too. While many understand the blood washes away our sins, most still don’t see that he now lives in them. This is pictured in the first Passover. The Children of Israel were instructed to kill a lamb, put its blood on the doorposts and eat the whole lamb inside. The blood on the doorposts of course is showing us we are protected from the destroyer, but it’s the eating of the lamb that gives us the life and energy to live. Without eating the Lamb, the Children of Israel would have never made it on their exodus from Egypt. Jesus is the Lamb of God, and he told us if we don’t eat and drink of him we have no life in us. His life in us is the source of power and life whereby our journey is made possible also.

Written by Louie

WHO YOU WERE AND WHO YOU ARE

Most people you come into contact with are walking around unaware of who they are. They think they’re just them like I used to think I’m just me. If you asked me “Who are you?” my response would be “Well, I’m me! What do you mean who are you?”

We all have some sense of identity. Some of us live with an identity that comes from our family name, some get their identity from their job, title or money or maybe they identify themselves as an addict. Which ever one it is we all have some way we look at ourselves and others in order to identify each other; you know how we love to put people in compartments. We say, “She’s one of those rich girls or he’s one of those guys that gets high or he’s a workaholic type” etc. What do you say we look at how the Bible identifies us for a minute?

The Bible breaks all of humanity down into one of two groups. According to Romans 5 we are all either in Adam or in Christ. Therefore we aren’t just ourselves we are identified as being in Adam by way of natural birth and those of us that have been born again have been placed into Christ. Either way you are born in one or the other.

Another way we are identified in the scriptures is we are either called a sinner or a saint. A sinner of course is what we are by being born in Adam. When Adam sinned we all sinned therefore we have to be forgiven and transferred out of Adam and put into Christ. The big question is how does that happen?

I’m glad you asked because it is quite the story. In Romans 6 we discover that those of us who have been baptized into Christ have been baptized into his death. This means that on the cross God placed us into Christ. In other words he now sees us as having been crucified, dead and buried with him. While this is marvelous news it is really even better than that because we are also told we have been raised with him to walk in newness of life. We have been given a completely new identity. We are no longer called sinners but now we are known as saints.

All of the New Testament letters are addressed to “the Saints.” They are never written to “Sinners” because once we have been born again, by being placed into Christ, we have a brand new identity. Now there are plenty of people that will tell you, “We were born sinners and we’ll always be sinners”, but that isn’t what the Bible says. The Bible tells us that “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.”

God cannot allow sin into his kingdom that’s why he changes us completely. “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.” Now that’s a pretty gnarly list of sinners don’t you think? But I love the next sentence. “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” God has “transferred us into the kingdom of his dear Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” We are now identified as one of God’s sons!

Written by Louie

NEW HEART, NEW SPIRIT, NEW WANT TO

I  will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. (Ezekiel 36:26-27)

These are the main two verses I used tonight while speaking to the men in jail. I shared with them that God isn’t looking at us as if to say, “You should be doing better than that.” Rather he’s looking at us, if we haven’t been born again, saying, “I will give you my Son, I will put my Spirit in you and change you from the inside out.” Ever since I first read these verses I have been in awe of them. To think that most people are trying to live the Christian life in their own strength and hundreds of years ago God promised He, Himself, would move us to do what he says.

It seems as though I’m always taking these guys all the way back to the Garden of Eden to explain why we’re in the condition we’re in. Without seeing that Adam died in his spirit when he disobeyed, we can’t really see that we too were dead in our trespasses and sins. I want so badly for others to see that we have a deeper problem than just bad behavior. We have to be enlivened by God’s Spirit.

According to the scriptures, we have been crucified with Christ, buried and even resurrected to walk in newness of life. It isn’t that he wants to make us “bad people”, good. He wants to resurrect our dead Adamic spirit. Once we have been joined to Christ, we’ll begin to see changes in our behavior. That’s the part about him causing us to walk in his statutes and observe his ordinances. It can only happen after our heart transplant and Spirit infusion.

As I shared these things with the men tonight I could tell some were quickly becoming distracted, some were really scrunching their faces wanting to get hold of what I was saying, and others were sitting with their heads down. One of the men sitting right up front raised his hand and spoke up saying, “What you’re saying may be a little deceiving…You’re saying to just place your faith in Christ but the Bible says, “faith without works is dead.” I reminded him that Jesus said he was the vine and we are the branches, and apart from him we can do nothing. I agreed with him that there will be “works” but only as a result of Christ and us joined together not us independently attempting to do things “for” God. Our main work is to agree with him and he will move us on to good deeds.

Overall, my point to them tonight was God wants to change our hearts and our want to’s. There’s a story I once heard a preacher tell. He said back when he was a lost man he used to love to fight. He said, “I used to love fighting so much if I were to drive down the street and see two men fighting I would stop and ask if one of them wanted to rest a while.” He went on to say, “Since I became a Christian I can fight all I want to, I just don’t want to. I can chase all the women I want to, I just don’t want to. I can drink all I want to, I just don’t want to.” I thought this summed the night up pretty well. God is after our hearts. If he can get our heart he’ll have all of us.

My wife Tracey says it like this. “I don’t clean the house or cook dinner for Louie because I have to. I do it because I love him and I want to.” She doesn’t have to look on the refrigerator every morning to read the Ten Commandments of how to love my husband; she just loves the one she is joined to and the works, if you will, are the outward evidence.

Louie

A QUICK WALK THROUGH ROMANS 1-8

Pondering the book of Romans today gave me an interesting viewpoint. The genius that the Apostle Paul was never ceases to amaze me. No matter how much time one spends reading and studying Romans you can always see a little bit more.

Today my thoughts seemed to be about how Paul breaks things down into one of two categories throughout the letter of Romans. In the beginning, while we are all under sin, Jew and Gentile alike, we are divided into two distinct groups. Those with the Law and those without, and of course we quickly learn that those with the Law are really no better off than those without because no one will ever be justified by the law.

We read in Romans 3 & 4 that we are only justified by faith. Paul seems to always refer back to Abraham when the issue of justification comes up because he was a man of faith. Once again nationality has absolutely no bearing on justification and if we are of faith we are righteous just as Abraham was righteous. We are his heirs according to the faith.

When it comes to Romans 5 we discover everyone is either in Adam or in Christ. We learn “as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.” We all start out in sin joined to Adam. Upon placing our faith in Christ we are joined to him by way of his Spirit and declared justified therefore being forever removed from Adam and placed in Christ.

The sixth chapter defines for us how this transfer takes place. We read that those of us who have been baptized into Christ have been baptized into his death. In other words we have been co-crucified with Christ, buried and raised again to walk in newness of life. The cross is God’s way of cutting us off from Adam freeing us to be joined to Christ, by way of the Holy Spirit. We are told “sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” We are no longer a slave to sin, but now we are a slave to righteousness.

The first part of Romans 7 gives an illustration of a woman and two husbands. Of course, according to the law, you can only have one husband unless he dies then you are freed from that law and can marry another. This is what Paul is saying has happened to us except the husband didn’t die we did. The husband represents our first union with Adam who we know is under sin, under law and under condemnation. Thank God, through our co-crucifixion with Christ, that marriage has been severed, and we are now joined to our new husband Jesus Christ himself. The rest of Romans 7 is Paul’s description of what it looks like for anyone still trying to please the first husband. It is an endless cycle of trying and failing to obey the Law. The greatest thing is Paul doesn’t leave us there he cries out “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Of course he then gives us the answer and it’s Christ, our new mate! We no longer have to operate under the old system of trying to keep the law, failing and living in a state of condemnation.

Finally we come to Romans 8 where we read how it is only through the Spirit of God that we live. “The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the Law of sin and of death.” We could never be made righteous by way of the Law because the flesh is weak. The Law itself is pure and holy, but in the flesh it is impossible to please God. Of course God always planned to dwell within us and be our life, but we didn’t know it. Thank God he implemented a plan to bring this to our attention. The plan was giving us his law so we might try and keep it, come to our senses, realize we can’t and cry out to receive Christ.

In conclusion, we have discovered it doesn’t matter if we are Jew or Gentile we must by faith be joined to Christ. According to the Word of God we have been transferred from Adam to Christ, from sin to righteousness, and from under the Law to walk in the freedom of the Spirit. All of this, by the way, is only possible because the Son of God lived a sinless life, and He died a sinner’s death only to be raised three days later by the Spirit of God. This is the same Spirit that now dwells in we that have placed our faith in his finished work. Amen!!

Louie

REVIVAL

There is talk going around the church about revival. It seems as though someone is always making the point that the church is dry, dead or asleep. “We need revival” everyone says. Well my question is what exactly is revival and how will we know when we’ve had it?

Revival defined is bringing life back into something. It would be like someone giving mouth to mouth to another and their life coming back into them. In essence it is someone coming back from the dead.

Now Jesus told us He was the way, the truth and the life. He also said “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” So it seems to me that if revival is life coming back into someone, and Jesus is life, then revival means Jesus coming back into someone. Hmmm? I’m not so sure if I am following this. Didn’t Jesus say he would never leave us nor forsake us? Doesn’t the Bible say we are sealed, with the Holy Spirit, until the day of redemption? If Jesus is the life and he promises to never leave us, and we are sealed until the day of redemption, then we already have the life.

I think I may know what our problem might be. I think the church is mistaking their soul feelings for their spirit reality. You see in our soul we have fluctuations depending on all sorts of variables. We may have a cold,be tired or hungry and therefore not be very exuberant or excited. We may be stressed or feeling neglected. This doesn’t have anything to do with whether or not we have life. Jesus is our life. In our spirit we, by faith, trust the Word of God and the witness of the Holy Spirit. According to both of them we are saved and have, right now, eternal life. This may or may not manifest itself by shouting, crying or some other outward expression.

Most of what seems to pass for revival appears to be no more than some very loud and exciting preaching meetings. I submit to you that real revival might come by revelation of our true inner life. Maybe if we truly see who we have dwelling within we would become excited, and it would be an excitement that would outlast a mere week’s worth of meetings.

The Bible tells us in Romans 6 that those of us who have been baptized into Christ have been baptized into his death. It then goes on to say that if we have been joined to him in his death then we have also been joined to him in his resurrection. This means that since Christ has been raised we also have been raised to walk in newness of life. Now that is revival.

Louie