Daily Archives: April 1, 2021

DEAD OR ALIVE?

DEAD OR ALIVE?

“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to Him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.” Romans 6:12-14.

“But,” you ask, “why am I not sinlessly perfect now if I died and rose again with Jesus? Why do I still struggle with the temptations of my old nature?”

Firstly, God would have to take you out of this present evil world in order to set you free from all the allurements to sin, and He will. Although He did not have a natural bent towards sin, Jesus Himself was not immune to temptation.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet He did not sin.” Hebrews 4:15.

Secondly, God has left us in the world, and He has not obliterated our old nature because He is training us to be His sons and daughters. Without the temptation to do wrong, we would not have opportunity to exercise our will and learn submission and obedience to Him in the environment of sin and disobedience. The very hardships we endure and the temptations that come with the tests, are God’s way of strengthening and purifying our faith in Him.

“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as His children…No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:7a; 11.

Thirdly, by learning to make the right choices in the face of temptation, we strengthen our love and loyalty to the One who saved us and called us into fellowship with Himself. We are witnesses to the enemies of God, both human and demonic, that God is worthy of our love and trust. He reveals who He really is through us.

People are suspicious of God because the devil has lied to them. They cannot abide His holiness and they think He is out to get them. They create their own gods to replace Him because their gods are manageable and more like themselves. They think they are not obligated to live up to His standards and to be accountable to Him if they have their own god. But in the end, they will stand before Him to give an account of the way they lived.

How then, do we overcome the old nature that still rages within us? Paul said, “It’s dead. Now act as though it were dead.” In his book, My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers said that we must go to our own white funeral. In other words, we must see our old nature in a casket, being buried in the grave with Jesus. We must visualise ourselves rising with Him and leaving the old sinful nature behind in the tomb.

On the strength of that, we are to make our mortal bodies a present to God, using every part of it for His purposes, not our own. We are constantly being pulled in two directions, towards gratifying ourselves or pleasing God by meeting the needs of others. Paul said, “…Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.” Romans 12:1b. How do we do that?

Again, Paul tells us: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” Romans 12:2a.

Change the way you think by thinking what God thinks. Just as sin begins in the mind, so obedience to God begins in the mind. Instead of dwelling on your own wants and wishes, fill your mind with what God says and desires, and the slow transformation into the way Jesus thought and acted will begin to happen. This means taking time to read God’s word and taking the trouble to find out what His thoughts about you are and how He wants you to live.

Yes, it does demand time and discipline, but the rewards are out of this world!

Acknowledgement

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

UNITED WITH HIM

UNITED WITH HIM

“For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we will certainly also be united with Him in a resurrection like His. For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him. For we know that, since Christ was raised from the dead, He cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over Him. The death He died, He died to sin once for all, but the life He lives, He lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Romans 6:5-11.

That’s quite a mouthful, isn’t it!

As we were saying, Jesus’ death in our place has many more implications than the forgiveness of our sins. Our faith in Him has produced a spiritual union that affects everything about our lives. When we were baptised in water, we witnessed in a physical act our identity with both His death and His resurrection. Jesus’ death and our acceptance of His death for us by faith cancelled our debt of sin and broke sin’s hold over us. The Holy Spirit raised our dead spirits to life, reconnecting us to God, to His life and to His power which enables us not to sin.

In our old state, before we believed in Jesus, we had no power not to sin because the pull of our old nature was towards disobedience. But now, in Christ, sin’s hold over us had been broken. God has restored His own nature in us and the Holy Spirit is united with our spirits so that we are able to respond to His prompting towards trust and obedience.

Paul put it this way: just as we died with Jesus symbolically in our baptism, so we also died in Him in reality when He died on the cross. In the same way, just as we rose symbolically from our watery grave, so we also rose from the dead in Him. His resurrection guarantees our life because He can never die again. Death is the cut-off point of this life. What happens afterwards depends on what happens here and now.

This has all happened in the unseen realm, legally if you like. We have been legally declared “Not guilty,” and our debt has been cancelled. God has removed all the barriers between us and Him. We have access to Him without sacrifices or priests, through Jesus our High Priest and Mediator. Our status has been changed from “sinner” to “son”. We are in Christ and since He is alive, we are alive in Him.

But where do we go from here? From God’s perspective everything has been done. It’s not about “what we will be” but “what we are”. We have not only been forgiven, rescued and set free; we have also been made perfect in Christ. Our entire past has ceased to exist. We are free from its debt and its guilt and shame, to pursue who we now are.

So, Paul says, “Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Since this is all a fait accompli, act on it because, and as if it is true. “But,” you say, “that’s all very well, but I still cannot do the right thing on my own.” But that’s the point. You have been set free to choose to obey God rather than the dictates of your old selfish and rebellious nature. Once you have made your choice to obey God because you value Jesus more than yourself, the Holy Spirit supplies the strength to do it.

That’s what Paul means by “count”; reckon, accept that it is so and make your choice accordingly. The Holy Spirit is in you to enable you to carry through on your decision. Every time you deliberately choose to obey God, it becomes easier to do it the next time. In this way you will be strengthening the divine nature in you and putting to death the old nature which is already potentially dead in Christ.

God has equipped us with two sources of power – the Holy Spirit and His Word. Look at this Scripture:

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that, through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort…” 2 Peter 1:3-5a.

It has happened! Now make it happen.

Acknowledgement

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.