The following is a discussion that ensued from a quote from my friend Brett Burrowes. This is an excerpt, mind you, of a larger article, but I think it is sufficient to stand on its own. After reading this in full feel free to comment. Thanks!
Brett: “Sin is not the corruption of an independently operating human nature, but the enslaving spirit of Satan. Humans do not operate themselves, since Paul says that we are either operated by the spirit of sin which indwells us, “it is no longer I but sin” (Romans 7:17,20), or we are operated by the Spirit of Christ, “it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). So when is it just me? Never; there is no independently operating human self or nature in the New Testament. So does this abolish our free will? By no means, recognizing what we do not control enables us to recognize what is within our control; we have the choice to take God at His word and trust Him, or we can continue to trust Satan’s deception that we autonomously run our own lives. The choice and the consequences are ours: but why would we continue to trust one whose aim is theft and destruction instead of the One who loves us and has predestined us to share in His own glory?”
Tom: Much of this is not Biblical. God holds US responsible for ALL of our sin and it is ALL ours.We make those choices concerning what we choose to do or not do. Paul was speaking of the war between the man’s natural sin nature and the indwelling Holy Spirit working in us to resist sin, not another self that commits sin without our consent. This is New Age twisting of Biblical teaching, not New Testament. Looks like Kenneth Copeland-Kenneth Hagin New Age interpretations. Be wary of any teaching that seems to absolve us from our choice. It is always a deception.
Louie: Well Tom, I don’t see how this “absolves us from our choice.” When Paul wrote “It is no longer I but sin” he is differentiating between himself and the “sin” is he not? If he was talking about having a “natural sin nature” how could he talk as if “sin” was something IN him doing it? Sin here is definitely a personal pronoun therefore it appears to be something, or someone, other than Paul himself. Jesus did say, “I am the true vine” which brings with it the implication there is a “false vine” correct? The point is we are always and only a branch, therefore we have “No independent” nature of our own. We are either partaking of the “sin” nature inherited from the fall, or we have been born again and are now partakers of the “divine nature.” Either way we have no nature of our own. Humans were created to be an expressor of the God who created them. In the fall a lesser being, otherwise known as Satan, made his way into us. This is why we must be born again of God’s Spirit from above. I would encourage you to look into this a bit closer.
Tom: “So when is it just me? Never; there is no independently operating human self or nature in the New Testament.” This is the phrase that reveals the falsehood. It is always “me.” That is why God holds us accountable. We cannot excuse our sin by saying we were not responsible. We are responsible…always. This philosophy is falsehood, Louie. Don’t buy it.
Louie: Thankfully we don’t have to buy anything Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe! Tom who said we’re not responsible? We are responsible for who we are obeying either sin or righteousness (Jesus) Romans 6:16. This is why Paul told us to count ourselves dead to sin and alive to God and to stop presenting our members to sin but rather present ourselves to God. You see presenting is choosing.
Tom: “So when is it just me? Never; there is no independently operating human self or nature in the New Testament.” Where did this come from. That’s who said we are not responsible.
Louie: We are not the sole one responsible we are in allegiance with the evil one when we sin but we’re still responsible. If you and I go to rob a bank, you stay in the getaway car and I go in to hold them up. When I come out and you drive us away who’s responsible?
Tom: Yes, but we are the one that allows Satan’s influence over us. God will judge us and only us for our sin, not Satan. The fact that we ARE an independently operating human self is the very central doctrine of the New Testament. That man denied that in his statement. That’ is where the falsehood lies.
Louie: Who actually told you we have an independent nature? Why would Jesus tell us we are a branch only? We are the body but not the head. We are a vessel but not the contents. We are a temple not the deity that lives within it. You see we were created to house God’s Spirit. Therefore once the “spirit of error” took up residence within, deception was sure to follow. This is why we have to receive Christ but that only happens with the hearing of the Good news. What’s the Good news you might ask. Well, the good news is we have been crucified, buried and raised with Christ and we are forever joined to Him “Spirit to spirit.” We have been set free from the “the spirit that now works in the sons of disobedience” Ephesians 2:2! Amen!
Louie Check out Brett’s blog if you want to study a bit deeper on this subject. I think it will be worth your time. https://brettburrowes.wordpress.com/2013/10/10/sin-and-satan-part-2/
In John 17 Jesus prays for His disciples and those who would believe because of their word. He prayed that they would be one even as He and the Father are one. He said, “as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us…”
Later, after the cross and the death, burial, resurrection and ascension, the Apostle Paul teaches us nothing less than this same thing has actually occurred. He said in Colossians 1 that he was made a minister of the church in order to declare a mystery that had been hidden for ages and generations, but has now been manifested. He said this great mystery is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” In preaching this message his goal was to present every man complete in Christ. You see until we have Christ in us we are incomplete; for God created us to be one with Him and that only takes place through the cross.
In Romans 6 we discover those of us who have been baptized into Christ have been baptized into His death and joined with Him in His burial and resurrection. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself; so for those of us who place our faith in Him we have Him in us and we are complete. This word complete is actually not the word used in the trusty King James Bible rather it’s the word “perfect.” Hebrews 10:14 tells us “For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.”
Not only did Jesus become sin on the cross, He has joined us to himself spirit to Spirit in the process thereby making us the righteousness of God in Him. Just as Jesus prayed we have become one with Him, a new creature. In fact according to Ephesians 2 not only have we been raised, as in resurrected, we have also been “seated with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
Colossians 3 instructs us “If you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” This is why Paul says things like “I have been crucified with Christ; and 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 faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” So you see Christ not only lives in us, He is our life. The Bible clearly states Christ is the head and the believers are His body. You can’t separate a head from a body so when you see the body your’e seeing the head. The two truly are one.
“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.
We’ve been reading Romans 7 this week and have found some very interesting truths. The difference between the body of sin and the body of death for one, are closely related. The Law shows us the sin, and sin infests the body to bring forth death. Paul walks us through this process and what it looks like.
I stood before the ladies in jail and asked them if they have ever been deceived? I reminded them that we have all been deceived from the very beginning. It all started in the garden with Adam and Eve. The serpent told Eve if she ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and evil, her eyes would be opened, she would be like God, and she could make up her own mind about what is good and what is evil. Many hands went up as they could relate to what was being said. They also agreed with the struggle they have with doing what we don’t want to do and not doing the thing we want to do. Why can’t we accomplish the right thing?
I went on to explain that we have to get to the point where we are so weak that we can be no weaker, and all our expectation is in another. I said, “We are crucified with Christ, nevertheless we live, yet not I, but Christ who lives in me, and the life I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” We have already died, what does a dead man do? They answered, “nothing, because we are dead.” We are totally dependent on Jesus Christ to deliver us, oh wretched man that we are.
I think we fear that if we do nothing, nothing will happen. That is another deception we have bought into. My answer to that is God made the whole world without our help and He doesn’t need our help now. God is not going to share His glory with anyone. He wants to do all of what we need done for us, instead of us. When we think we can help God, or that He is helping us, then that gives us some kind of false sense of accomplishment. On the cross in John 19:30, Jesus said, “It is finished.” There is nothing more for Him to do or for us to do to make us righteous. Phil 2:13 says, “For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Did you see your name in there anywhere? I didn’t think so, but we have been deceived into thinking after we get saved, we must read our bible more, fill up the pews in the church building, and busy ourselves with “good works”. There is nothing wrong in doing these things, but they will not make us right with God.
Often times when I council young ladies in jail, I hear them say, “I want what you got.” Or “whatever it is, I want that in my life.” He is a “someone” not a something. His name is Jesus; He loves you very much and went to great lengths to prove how much He loves you. He is not going to shut up nor will He back up, whatever He is saying to you, just say “yes.”
He is the one who Paul cries out to, “Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” My favorite part about our next verse is, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” He is our answer, it’s all about God who began a good work in you, and He will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Let God be God in your life and don’t’ listen to the lie about you being your own person, separate and independent from God. Seemingly living your life the way you want to because it’s not going to work out the way you think it will.
The response from the ladies in regard to this teaching was astonishing. God revealed the truth, and the ladies testified to what God was showing them. I couldn’t go back to my seat because so many were responding to the Holy Spirit. One said she was going to stop eating lozenges (smoking aid) and couldn’t do it on her own. Another lady said she found forgiveness for her husband since she has been locked up. She was upset when he took her car away from her because she was drinking heavily. God did the forgiving in her for him and she knows it was God doing it.
Several ministers came out tonight to pray for these ladies, like Carla, Gina, JoAnna, Margo, Tammy Strader and myself. It was pretty awesome to be a part of what God is doing.
Written by Tracey
Throughout the Old Testament there is law upon law that man seems to be required to keep. When it comes to the New Testament we discover the real purpose for these laws are to lead us to Christ. I guess the question is once we come to Christ then what is required of us?
For me the answer to this lies in the real meaning of grace. When the Apostle Paul taught grace people seemed to hear it as a “license to sin.” He said, “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” Paul recognized that the majority of people would respond with this question; “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?” I think his response to this is marvelous he said, “May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” He then goes on to question whether they really knew that they had been crucified with Christ. Obviously this leads me to think that the reason we think grace is a license to sin comes from our ignorance of being crucified with Christ.
Paul goes on to tell us in Galatians 2:20 “it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me.” When Paul tells us we have been crucified with Christ he is also saying when Christ arose we arose, and now it is really Christ, by way of the Holy Spirit, living our lives. I know that may sound heavy or confusing but let me use one of Jesus’ examples and see if it clarifies anything.
Jesus said in John 15 “I am the vine and you are branches…apart from me you can do nothing.” Humor me if you will. If a tree produced fruit because it was commanded to how would that happen? You might say, to the branches, I command you to bear fruit! Now if you thought about this at all you would understand that in commanding the branch you were really giving the command to the vine, or tree, right? I mean the branch can’t possibly obey that commandment can it?
This is the same type of thing for us in the New Testament. When God says to us “Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.” He doesn’t for one minute think we can, does he? As a branch joined to him, by way of Christ, now that’s another story. So when there is a command given in the New Testament I think it is safe to say it is really a command given to Christ within us. He is the only real fruit producer and the only one even capable of loving others, after all God is love.
Let me end with a couple quotes from The Apostle Paul he said, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.” You see when the Spirit of God takes up residence within you it isn’t a matter of sitting around doing nothing. On the contrary you will be busy doing things it just isn’t you that is the prime doer. It is the grace of God, by way of his Spirit within, that inspires, motivates, moves and accomplishes what he wants in my life. When I sense God commanding me to do something I know I, of myself, am unable, but I also know he has placed Christ within me and he can and will accomplish all God asks of me. “For I am confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you (me) will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” I thank God that HE who began the work will be the one to complete it!
Written by Louie