Monday, August 10, 2020

Complete Do Over

The Holy Spirit through the apostle Peter tells us, "having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever." (1 Peter 1:23) The Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul tells us, "What harmony can there be between Christ and the Devil?" (2 Corinthians 6:15) Both of these verse reveal a wonderful truth, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." 
 (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Many Christians believe that when a person confesses the Lordship of Christ and receive Him as Savior that they receive eternal life but the old nature is not removed and that the new and old nature war with each other. The reason for this comes from a teaching from Romans chapter 7. However, if we take a closer look at the entire chapter we will notice the the words, grace, believer, beloved, etc. are not seen in any part of these verses. What we do see is the word law mentioned twenty three time in the KJV of the Bible. Many church leaders have extracted and taken out of context verses fifteen through twenty three. They miss the entire point that the apostle Paul is conveying to the Jewish believers, Paul is not explaining the experience of a believer, but of himself before his conversion, that is, as a Jew under the law. He reveals that the law awakens the conscience to sin which opens the door for his flesh which desires sin. The conflict that he experienced as a Jew under the law was between his mind recognizing the law is good and his flesh that wants to operate contrary to the law, that is, its desire is sin. Paul conclusion to the matter is, "O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God — through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:24-25)

Paul honors and attributes the Lord as the only way that one can be deliver from this war between the flesh and mind. To make it simple, faith in Jesus Christ stops the war. For the believer, there is no dual nature at work. The believer is not under the law but under grace. Let's look again at the above verses that the Holy Spirit has spoken through Peter and Paul, (1 Peter 1:23)  "having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever." To say that the believer still has the old nature in him is to say that the believer is not completely born again because he still maintains a measure of the satanic fallen nature, that is, corruptible seed and that corruptible seed shares the believer with God's incorruptible seed. But look again at what Paul says, (2 Corinthians 6:15)  "What harmony can there be between Christ and the Devil?" 

When a person is born again, they are born of the Holy Spirit and their spirit is recreated, but the flesh and the mind have not been recreated. However, in God's eyes, the believer is in fact "a new creation; old things (satanic nature) have passed away; behold, all things have become new." This is a fact but it takes faith to realize, accept and walk out in our lives. There is certainly nothing wrong with the physical body. God formed the body as a means to operate in the natural realm and to be a servant to the human spirit. Mans spirit was to rule over the flesh and mind. However, the fall of man caused spiritual death "And the LORD said, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh...Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." (Genesis 6:3, 6) Through the spiritual death of mankind, his flesh the servant, has become the ruler leading him into confusion and anarchy (look around). Now you can see the dilemma that believers face. It is not a dual nature, but letting the flesh continue to have rule over the recreated spirit.

There is a solution that eliminates this dilemma. Paul continues into Romans chapter 8, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you." (Romans 8:1-11)

Honestly, does this sound like a man who has experienced new birth and still is a sinner? Absolutely not! The Holy Spirit reveals through Paul the solution of being freed from sin, that is, the believer is no longer a sinner if he/she lives a life in fellowship with the Holy Spirit and does not let their flesh have control of their life. For church leaders to tell the saints that they are sinners, because after the great apostle Paul was also a sinner even after his conversion, reveals their lack of understanding the Pauline Epistles. It also is apparent that they are apparently not having fellowship with the Holy Spirit. Instead, they are excusing sinful behavior by accepting doctrines of the church over the Word of God. The greatest problem with this erroneous teaching is that the believer has no hope of living the victorious life that the Father has provided through Jesus Christ. After all "I'm just a sinner saved by grace and still have the old sinful nature."

I share these things because I sit with pastors from various denominations who I believe love the Lord but believe that they are just sinners or beggars. However, look what Paul tells us in his first letter to Timothy, "This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life." (1 Timothy 1:15-16) Paul was not saying that he was still a sinner, but that Jesus came to save sinners and due to him persecuting the church (his past) he, Saul of Tarsus, considered himself to be a great sinner, but we see that he obtained mercy, that is, he Paul the believer, was forgiven.

Paul tells us to, "...Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." (Galatians 5:16) He also tells us to, "Put off the old man (old fallen nature) and put on the new man (new created nature)" (Ephesians 4:22, 24) But how does one do this? "And be renewed in the spirit of your mind." (Ephesians 4:23) and "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind..." (Romans 12:2) The way that a believer can walk by the Spirit and not fall prey to the lust of the flesh is to renew their mind through reading, studying and most important, meditating on the Word of God. God's Word feeds and strengthens the spirit, renews the mind and grows faith. This takes a process of time (it depends on the individual) but as your spirit grows your mind and body (flesh) will once again become the servant to your spirit. Again, this has nothing to do with having a dual nature, but everything to do with faith in Christ, His redemptive work and in God's Word which says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." (2 Corinthians 5:17)

A final thought concerning new birth it that the new man (the new nature) that one receives from God, is given immediately upon confessing the Lord Jesus Christ and receiving Him as Savior. Paul tells us concerning the new man, that it "was created according to God, in righteousness and true holiness." (Ephesians 4:24) So logically thinking and looking at all that is shown hereon, how can a believer have God's nature (the new man) and the devil's nature (the old man) ruling their life at the same time? They absolutely cannot! Jesus said, "And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand." (Mark 3:25) So let us stop living our Christian life as who we were, sinners, but who we are in Christ, the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

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