THE BLOOD AND THE BODY

Today I had the privilege to share a little about the blood and body of Christ with my home church. We have been going through quite a transition lately because the pastor of forty years has retired. When I say retired I mean he has step down from being pastor; I don’t suppose he will ever stop sharing the gospel but for now he is no longer our pastor. This means others have to step up and fill in the gap left by his departure.

We usually celebrate the Lord’s supper or communion on the last Sunday of the month so today was the day. Joe Scott moved into the role of preacher today and when the time came for us to take the bread and juice of communion he asked me to come and share a bit, so I gladly did.

As most, who have attended church regularly and have participated in communion services before, know there are two elements set on the table–one being the juice, or wine, symbolizing the blood of Christ and the other being bread symbolic of His body. I shared with them how most understand the blood was shed for the forgiveness of sins, but many have never even stopped to think about what the body part is all about. The scriptures tell us “without the shedding of blood there is no remission, or forgiveness, of sins.” So, in other words, the blood deals with our sins, meaning plural, or sins we have committed but what about the body?

The bread, or body side, has yet another significance. As I have heard it put “The body death” deals with the sin-maker. It is an amazing thing to know that Jesus’ bloodshed covered, or dealt with my sins, but it is an altogether other thing to know the death of His body did away with the “Sinner.” Let me see if I can explain it this way. If I wanted to get rid of all the alcohol in this country I could go around to every house, grocery, liquor store and bar and smash millions of bottles but that wouldn’t really solve the alcohol problem would it? No! The reason is because the factories, or distilleries that bottle the liquor, would still be producing them. So if I really wanted to do the job correctly I would deal with the bottles, but I wouldn’t stop there, I would shut down the place producing it. This is exactly what God has done in Jesus Christ’s blood and body death on the cross. His blood was shed for our sins, or deeds, and His body died to shut down the sin-producer.

All of us were born with what is commonly known as a “sinful-nature” except Jesus. He of course was born of a virgin therefore bypassing the sinful-nature in order for Him to live a sinless life. Since He was sinless He was the perfect candidate to take our sins upon himself in order to redeem us. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “He has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” What this is telling us is Jesus became what we were, our sin-bearer, so we could become what He was which is the righteousness of God. Wow! This is indeed “Good News” isn’t it?

We were crucified with Christ in order for us to be set free from the Sin master. Romans six tells us we are either a slave to sin or a slave to righteousness but we are always a slave. You see in the fall Adam actually joined himself to the sin-boss, Satan himself. In Ephesians 2 we read how all of us “used to walk according to the world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience.”

God created humanity to be containers or vessels in which He could dwell. The Bible tells us we are temples, branches, vessels, bodies etc. We were always meant to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God but in the fall another spirit, the spirit of error, the spirit of the prince of the power of the air came to live within us. A spirit requires a body in which to live therefore in order to rid us of the deceitful, indwelling spirit of error we had to die. This is the whole point of the cross and us being co-crucified with Christ. A spirit needs a body so when Christ died on the cross with us in Him the spirit of the god of this world left and God raised Him and us out of death by way of His Holy Spirit who now dwells in us. God has moved back into His property.

The blood of Jesus Christ shed for the remission of sins is His job alone we do not participate in it in anyway. The body, on the other hand, includes us for we too have been crucified, buried and raised to walk in newness of life in Him. The spirit of error has been cast out never to enter into our inner man again. That’s not to say he doesn’t shout at us from the outside and tempt us to join him, but the difference is now we can say no to him whereas before he ruled us. Thankfully we have a new boss now and His name is Jesus!

Louie

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THE TRUE NATURE OF A CHRISTIAN

Does a Christian continue to have a sinful nature?

When someone teaches a Christian doesn’t have a sinful nature they will inevitably be met with the question, “If we don’t have a sinful nature anymore why do we still sin?” This question presupposes the need of a sinful nature in order to commit a sin, but what about the first Adam? When Adam was created he didn’t have a sinful nature. Yet we know he partook of the forbidden tree which was a direct violation of God’s one and only prohibition. In other words, Adam committed a sin even though his nature wasn’t sinful.

There is no question in my mind that we are all born sinners in Adam. If someone wants to make the argument we are born with a sinful nature I wouldn’t disagree. The problem occurs when people think we carry that nature with us even after being born again.

In the New Testament there are really only two places where the word “nature” is used in this sense. The first one tells us we used to be “dead in our trespasses and sins.” We use to walk according to the “Prince of the power of the air”, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. We were by nature “Children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:1-3). In other words, we are not only born sinners we are indwelt by the “spirit of error” (1 John 4:6), hence the sinful nature.

Upon being born again the spirit of error has been replaced by the Holy Spirit. According to 2 Peter we “become a partaker of his divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, isn’t going to be a roommate with the spirit of error. Jesus told us we can’t serve two masters. He also told the Pharisees they were of “their father the devil” (John 8:44). Jesus had clearly come from the Heavenly Father, but those religious leaders had another father and it was his lusts they were doing. You’ve heard the old saying, “You act just like your father” haven’t you? It’s true and we can only have one either God or Satan.

God created human beings to be expressions of him. Don’t you remember? He said, “Let us make man in our image” (Genesis 1:26). We were designed to have the Spirit of God living in us so we would be an expression of his character (nature) manifested for all of creation to see. At the cross He accomplished all that was required for us to fulfill this original purpose.

According to Romans six we were “crucified with Christ and our old man, or self, died with him, in order that our old body of sin might be done away with, and we would no longer be slaves to sin.” Did you catch that? Our old self died. Wouldn’t this mean our old “sinful” nature died?

If we need a few more verses to show us our old man has died lets look at Galatians 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” The Apostle Paul tells us plainly it is no longer I but Christ! What part of Christ has a sinful nature? Another tells us, in Christ we have “put off the body of the sins of the flesh…” (Colossians 2:11) The old man really is dead!

Okay, you say that sounds pretty good, but let’s get back to why we still sin then. Fair enough. My answer is twofold. One reason I believe born again people sin is because they are living with an unrenewed mind. The other reason is simply because of outside temptations. If we are living with an unrenewed mind, in a world full of temptations, we are bound to fall. In Romans 12:2 we are told “Be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” When I was born again I was 31yrs old. Believe me God had to rearrange a few things in my thinking. If we are born again in our spirit but our minds haven’t quite caught on yet we may discover parts of our lives to be the same as before. This is, I believe, why people come to the conclusion we still have a sinful nature.

The conclusion then is our nature is determined by the spirit we are in union with. Either we are in union with the spirit of error, and have a sinful nature, or we are joined to the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of truth), and we are partaking of his divine nature.

The biggest part of renewing our minds involves learning to see ourselves from God’s perspective. When we look at ourselves, or listen to what others say, we will start to believe it. If we determine we have a sinful nature based on our past experience, or how we have always thought of ourselves, it is no wonder we continue in sin. Part of what the Bible does for us is to describe God’s viewpoint on his children. He tells us “In Christ” we are whole, blameless, holy, righteous, sanctified, and justified dare I say perfect? He doesn’t look at us through the same lens the world uses.

Taken from my booklet “Some Things You Need to Know”

Louie

JESUS IN THE LIKENESS OF SINFUL FLESH

When Jesus was hung on the cross he became sin. Jesus compared himself to the bronze serpent Moses placed on a pole in the story found in Numbers 21. He said, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness so shall the Son of Man be lifted up.” Why do you suppose he would choose that particular story?

The Apostle Paul told us in Romans 8 God sent his Son in the likeness of sinful flesh… In the story found in Numbers 21 the Children of Israel had been complaining about their conditions; so God sent fiery serpents among them and many were bitten. God told Moses to make this serpent and place it on a pole and all that looked to it would be healed of their snakebite. In the same way Jesus was lifted up on the cross and became sin. You see he became what we were so we might become what he is. He gives us his righteousness for our sin. He took upon himself “Sin” so we might become a partaker of his divine nature.

When Adam fell he opened himself to the serpent; since then all of us have been born with the nature of the serpent in our flesh. So you see it isn’t merely a question of morals, or being “Good”, we are in need of a change of natures. Although it is so easy for us to get caught up in attempting to manage our sins, God is looking to get to the root of our problem. This is why Jesus had to come in the likeness of sinful flesh. “Since the children share in flesh and blood, He himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death he might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil…” He took our sinful nature upon himself, carried it to the grave and triumphed over sin, death and the grave by being raised three days later!

Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, lived his life as a human. The Bible teaches us human beings are vessels, Temples and branches designed to house the Holy Spirit. When the sinless vessel, Jesus Christ, was lifted up he absorbed sin. Now all that look to him in faith are healed of their sinful nature. Jesus said, “Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up form the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” We, that place our faith in the lifted up Savior, will be set free from our sinful indweller and the Holy Spirit will move into the brand new, cleansed Temple. Like I said, God is after the root of our problem and once we look by faith to the crucified Son of Man we become a partaker of his divine nature. The old serpentine, sin nature is out behold all things have become brand new!

In 1 John we are told “now we are the sons of God, and we don’t know yet what we’ll be but we know when we see him we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he really is.” Jesus Christ came here in the likeness of sinful flesh in order for us to one day be in his likeness with a brand new body to go with our new nature. For right now we’re still looking forward to our new bodies but we can rest assured as the Apostle Paul said, “As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.”

Louie

RENEWED IN THE SPIRIT OF OUR MIND

When it comes to walking the walk as a Christian the way we see ourselves is vital. Some define themselves as “Sinners saved by grace.” This is wonderful if the emphasis is on the saved part rather than the sinner part. What I mean is if we have been born again is it proper to call ourselves “sinners”? What does God’s Word tell us about our identity?

First I want to look at Paul’s letter to the Ephesians chapter 4:22-24. In these verses we are told regarding our former manner of life, to lay aside our old man or self, which is corrupt. He then tells us to be renewed in the spirit of our mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. Wow! So our old self is to be put away from our thinking and we are to see ourselves as new, righteous and holy!

In Paul’s letter to the Colossians he tells us essentially the same thing only with a little more detailed description of our old man’s behavior that should be no longer a part of the believer’s life. He says in Colossians 3 we no longer live like the old man “since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him.”

For those who think, even after being born again, we still have a sinful nature let me ask you this. Why would God tell us to put off the old man if he is still a part of who we are? Wouldn’t it be slightly irrational for God to ask us to put off our very nature? The truth is for those of us that are in Christ we are brand new creatures and in our inner man we are holy, blameless, righteous, justified, and sanctified and all that God says we are even if we don’t feel it or fully understand it. We are who and what God says we are regardless of what our feelings, traditions, religions and the world tell us. Our real problem is stated in the passage from Ephesians–we need the spirit of our minds renewed. We have to start seeing ourselves as God sees us or else we are going to continue to live in a state of struggle with an old man that God no longer sees in us.

One of the best illustrations of transformation I’ve discovered in nature is the change a caterpillar undergoes in order to become a butterfly. Recently while thinking about this it struck me. There is a point when the caterpillar no longer exists and a fully formed butterfly is present but still in the cocoon. I think this is where a lot of Christians are. They are holy, blameless and righteous in Christ but haven’t put off thinking they are still the old sinful man. I wonder what would happen if a butterfly never had his mind renewed and just stayed in the cocoon thinking he was a caterpillar. I fear this is what is going on with some Christians. They are whole and complete in Christ because they are saved and yet they still see themselves as just “A sinner saved by grace.”

Oh, Lord I pray that Christians will break out of the cocoon of seeing themselves as the old, sinful caterpillar spread their wings and start to see themselves as you see them–a beautiful free expression of Christ!

Written by Louie

BEING HUMAN ISN’T THE PROBLEM

Dog we met at the God unlimited conference 2012
Mans best friend we met at the God unlimited conference 2012

Is there really any such thing as human nature? Or does our nature derive from the one we are in union with, either the spirit of error or the Spirit of Truth? Could it be that we humans have no nature of our own?

It seems most of the time when someone messes up one of the excuses is “Well, I’m only human” or “It’s human nature.” These responses come across almost as a way out, as if to say, we’re “only” human what more can you expect? After all nobody’s perfect so don’t blame me; or what did you expect anyway?

I suppose what I’m really getting at is the fact that being human isn’t a bad thing. God created man and said “It is good.” Jesus Christ walked the earth as a human and even now sits at God’s right hand as a human, although he is now in a glorified body. So, please stop talking about humanity as if it is a bad thing, because it isn’t. In fact God thinks mankind is pretty keen.

Back to my first thought about our nature and how it seems to me to be derived from somewhere, or better yet someone else. God created man to be a branch attached to a tree never to be a branch on our own. So if we are indeed a branch that is attached we simply express the nature of the one to whom we are attached.

Because of Adam’s disobedience in the Garden we all are born with a sinful nature. This sinful nature isn’t our nature because we are humans but rather because we are joined to what the Bible calls “the prince of the power of the air…the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.” When the fall of Adam took place mankind became indwelt by the “spirit of error” which has been passed down from generation to generation. This is why Jesus says, “You must be born again.” Or maybe you have heard it put this way; we must be regenerated. In other words, we need to be placed into another family which is the way we receive a new nature.

In Christ we become brand new creatures with a brand new nature. In 2 Peter 1:1-4 we discover through God’s “precious promises we may become partakers of the divine nature.” So when Jesus tells us in John 15 “I am the true vine and you are the branches” He is subtly telling us we, as human being’s, are a branch no matter what, but the question is are we attached to the true or false vine? In other words our humanity isn’t the problem but rather an expressor of the one who is the problem.

God looks to the source behind everything. He isn’t looking at us thinking there’s a pretty good one but that one over there is another story. No, he simply sees either humans that have received his Spirit or not. He sees branches attached to two different vines and wants all of them to be cut off from the false one and joined to the true one which is his Son. He knows unless we are joined to Jesus Christ we can do nothing that is of value to him so he patiently waits wanting all to come to repentance.

When the Apostle Paul walks us through his struggle in Romans 7 we discover something invaluable. After he suffers trying and failing to perform up to God’s perfect and holy standard he shares quite an insight with us. He says, “So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.” He goes on just a few verses later to say again, “I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.” This is some of the most remarkable things anyone has ever written.

Paul tried and failed and tried and failed in his own strength until he finally saw the truth. In his humanity alone he could never be pleasing to God and the longer he tried the more he sinned. He then realized that sin was in fact the problem not his humanity. He said, “Nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.” He didn’t say his flesh was no good rather the sin that dwells in it. He began to see where the source of sin in his life really came from and it wasn’t that his humanity, in itself, was the problem but rather the spirit of error or sin dwelling in it. He saw that he had been attached to the false vine.

If you look at Galatians 2:20 you will see the very same thing on the other side. Paul said, “It is no longer I but Christ…” So you see it isn’t about Paul, or you and me, it’s really about who is dwelling in Paul and you and me. If we see ourselves as just human we will have no choice but to blame our humanity. On the other hand if we could just get the revelation that our humanity is joined to another, either sin or Christ, we will have come a long way in discovering being human isn’t the problem.

Written by Louie

SURFACE DWELLERS

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Google Images

We are not our feelings or our thoughts; in fact we are spirit joined to Spirit if we are in Christ. My friend Sylvia Pearce says “We are surface dwellers.” I would have to agree, and I think it is simply because we have lived so long on the surface (feelings and thoughts) we have a difficult time just believing what God says is true about us in our spirit.

I think most would agree that we are born sinners or, in other words, born with a sinful nature. This of course is why Jesus said “You must be born again.” Being born again means to be born from above. Although it is true that we have inherited a sinful nature from our Father Adam; through the new birth we can have a brand new nature. Paul wrote “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) That’s right! The old “sinful nature” has passed away, and behold the new “divine nature” has come. 2 Peter 1:4 tells us great and precious promises have been given to us and by them we might become “partakers of the divine nature.” So you see, once we receive Christ we become a partaker in his nature which is holy, blameless, righteous and just.

Jesus told us he was the true vine and we are branches. Well, the part about us being branches didn’t just start with us being attached to him. No, we have always been a branch, but we used to be attached to the false vine or shall I say “the spirit of error.” We used to be joined to “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience.” We have always been in agreement with a spirit whether it is the spirit of the world (the  enemy) or the Holy Spirit of God but either way we have never been independent or a lone branch.

The deception of being an independent being is what drives many, many people to believe they can perform up to some standard in order to be pleasing to God. The truth is it is only the life of the Son that is pleasing to God and there is no amount of trying or effort that can bring that life about. This is why it is only by grace we are saved through faith. Salvation God’s way is salvation by grace and there is only one way to receive it and that’s by faith. We place our faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ in order to be saved. Faith is also the way we live each and every day. We live because Christ is our life, and what appears to the watching world to be us living is really he in us living his life out through us.

Walking by faith is what is required for living in the Spirit. As a believer one thing that has to happen is I have to have my mind renewed. I have to learn how to walk after the Spirit after years of walking after my emotions and thoughts. This, I think, is why most simply don’t see what I’m talking about here. They haven’t embraced the mind of Christ that is within them by way of the Spirit of God. The reality of Christ, not simply giving me life, but actually being my life usually only comes about after trying and failing to live the Christian life as if I’m independent. What I mean is attempting to live the Christian life rather than letting him live it in me. There is, after all, only one person who has ever lived the Christian life and that is Jesus Christ himself. The good news is now he will live it in and through me if I will just let him. We walk by faith not by sight… emotions…or intellect. While we are made up of spirit, soul and body we are to be lead by the Spirit rather than the soul/body or in other words—stop being such a surface dweller!

Written by Louie