Posts Tagged ‘flesh’

New Faith and a New Nature

October 11th, 2018

Your new faith did not erase your old nature.

“Given to us are exceedingly great and precious promises, that you may be partakers of the divine nature.” 2 Peter 1:4 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “new faith and a new nature.”

Salvation resolves the problem of your eternal destiny. Salvation does not solve all your problems in this life immediately. That is a process of grace. So, you are a Christ-follower now. Shouldn’t everyday life become easier? Do you ever wonder if you should be further along in your spiritual growth than you are? Should you be winning new battles instead of still fighting so many of the old ones?

Salvation reconciles your history and begins a wonderful new journey, but there is much more that God wants and needs to accomplish in you. God cares about your destiny. Remember when you finally realized that you could not save yourself by your good works? Paul wrote,  He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. Titus 3:5 NIV.

Yet it is alarmingly easy to still assume that now you can take it from here. The Bible calls those, dead works. You can no more live your Christian life on your best behavior now, than you could save yourself by your good behavior previously. You know what the problem is? Your new faith did not erase your old nature.

I envision Paul rejoicing as he wrote the words, Because of His great love for us, God, Who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. Read Ephesians 2:1-5 NIV. You remain vulnerable to the relentless pull of desires incompatible with your confession and spiritual convictions.

And when that happens, feelings of guilt return and doubts cloud your confidence about salvation. You thought that battle was in the past, didn’t you? The Apostle Paul asked and answered the question our hearts ask, Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:23-24 NIV.  Here’s the good news! “Walk in the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16 NAS. I suggest that you cannot consistently and successfully walk in the power of the Holy Spirit until you request, receive, and realize that you have been filled with the Spirit.

By His Spirit, God Himself dwells within you to deliver you from your old nature, much the same as He redeemed you from your sins by Jesus Christ. See Galatians 2:20 NIV. You will be better, do better, and live better when you rely upon the power of the Holy Spirit. I have heard this wonderful progression of spiritual life and growth explained this way.

At salvation, you were saved from the penalty of sin. In the ongoing process of sanctification, you are being saved from the power of sin. And in eternity you will be saved from the presence of sin. The old nature will then be eradicated forever; never again will you contend with its inclination toward sin.

To accomplish this, there is both an indwelling and an infilling of the Spirit. The indwelling is constant and occurs when the Spirit baptizes you into the Body of Christ. Read 1 Corinthians 12:13 NKJV. The infilling occurs at your invitation – anywhere, anytime, every time – as Jesus baptizes you with His Spirit. The Bible says, 17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is,18 be filled with the Spirit. Ephesians 5:17-18 NKJV. The Greek word in that verse that is translated, “filled,” describes the influence of something rather than the quantity of something.

Consider this. A sail boat moves under the influence and direction of the wind when its sails become filled with the wind. Similarly, “When the Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce this kind of fruit in us . .“ Galatians 5:22 NLT. Live full of the Spirit; the Spirit then gives you the power you lack to forgive, be patient in trials, be loving when mistreated, trust and obey when you don’t understand, break habits, and live as your heart for God desires.

As a child of God, the infilling of the Spirit does not give you more of the Spirit than already abides in you. Yielding more of yourself to live within His authority releases the Holy Spirit’s fullness and influence. See Galatians 5:24-25 NIV. Live every day, in and by the power and influence of the Spirit of God.

Today I pray for you to rely every moment on the power of God’s Spirit.

Christian Communications 2018

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Abiding and Abounding

August 5th, 2014

“I am rejoicing to see . . the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.” Colossians 2:5.

The life which abides in faith abounds in Christ.

My thoughts and comments today are about “abiding and abounding.”

England has long been one of my favorite places to visit. I especially enjoy having lunch in British pubs, the older and authentic the better. I enjoy seeing signs on businesses, such as, “Established 1868.” Such information evidences pride in history and heritage, implying promise of reliability.

Several things have prompted my thoughts today. A few days ago, I came across the notes from my first sermon as a young pastor at Trinity Church, “The Life That Is Established,” May 25, 1975. I knew that was a Biblical principle I wanted to visit again. And over the weekend, I officiated at long-time friends’ Renewal of Vows on their 70th Anniversary. Then Sunday, I dedicated our great grandson, Carter, as Gayle and I also celebrated our 51st Anniversary. I guess I like people, places, and things that have been and will continue to be around a while. Your faith in Christ should be like that.

Paul was intent on Christian life being lived with confidence and security. I am rejoicing to see . . the steadfastness of your faith in Christ. As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in [the faith] with thanksgiving.” Colossians 2:5-7. Paul refers to both “your faith,” which you are to exercise and be “steadfast,” as well as “the faith” in which you are to abide and be “established.”  Your faith abides upon the greater faith. See John 15:7, 9-10/1 John 2:24. What God begins in grace He continues in faith and concludes in thanksgiving. That process results in your being “established and abounding with thanksgiving.” The life which abides in faith abounds in Christ.

The world is a complex state of flux, symptomatic of shifting politics, international alliances, erratic economies, disintegrating marriages, and dysfunctional families. You need a place of emotional, moral, and spiritual equilibrium. David wrote, “He set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth – praise to our God.” See Psalm 40:1-3. Such a place is only found in God and His truth. There you recover direction and determination.

A proper outcome requires much more than good intentions and optimistic beginnings. A final outcome results from what you do between where you begin and when you finish. Keep God as “the Author and Finisher of your faith,” at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end. The Bible provides a practical guide for abiding and abounding. Read Hebrews 12:1-4. There is much that will oppose and discourage you. The Bible describes those oppositional forces as, the world around you“every weight and the sin that ensnares you” (vs. 1-2), and the flesh within you “weary and discouraged in your souls” (vs. 3), and the devil against you“striving against sin” (vs. 4). After Paul’s lengthy and practical discourse about the Resurrection, he logically concludes, “Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58.

Today, my prayer for you is that you abide in Christ and abound with thanksgiving.

Christian Communications, Inc.

(All Bible references are NKJV unless otherwise noted.)

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Inner Conflict

July 17th, 2013

“The war . . lasted a long time.” 2 Samuel 3:1 NIV

A heart with incompatible loyalties creates inescapable inner turmoil.

My thoughts and comments today are about “inner conflict.”

Interpersonal conflict is disconcerting; intrapersonal conflict is even more distressing. You face an intrapersonal conflict every day, sometimes subtle, more times blatant. Your humanity would like to enjoy living right and doing right most of the time, but occasionally doing as you wish. That is a recipe for spiritual disaster. “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate, I do.” Romans 7:15/18-25 NIV. A heart torn by irreconcilable affections is a sure formula for a miserable life. When I was a teen, my Dad accurately described a young friend of mine as, “having too much of God to enjoy the world and too much of the world to be at peace with God.” That describes the spiritual torment of inner conflict.

The prophet, Samuel, tells of a struggle between those loyal to King Saul (who represents the man of the flesh), and those loyal to David (who represents the man of the Spirit). Samuel poignantly reports that, “The war . . lasted a long time. David grew stronger and stronger while the house of Saul grew weaker and weaker.” 2 Samuel 3:1 NIV. To the degree one prevails the other weakens. The war within one’s soul will endure if indulged. That war is not with God; it is within yourself.

A heart with incompatible loyalties creates inescapable inner turmoil. There is an ongoing spiritual struggle inside every Christ-follower, until finally resolved. Your old nature – the way you used to be – is in opposition, an enemy of Christ which longs for its old ways, loves its own will, and seeks pleasure without regard. Read Romans 6:21-23 NLT. Within is a new nature fashioned after Christ, drawing you toward the person you really want to be – redeemed, delivered, and brand new in Jesus. See 2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV.

You can’t enjoy serving God while struggling with guilt and shame from not doing what you know is right to do. See James 4:17 NIV. Be thankful you can’t enjoy what the Bible describes as the, “passing pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25 NIV), because the Spirit is faithful to convict your heart of sin and stir your longing for God. This war will last a long time, unless you decide with finality.Your victory in this inner conflict is only found by choosing firmly and finally to simply follow Jesus – without exceptions, excuses, or compromises.

“So I advise you to live according to your new life in the Spirit. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The old sinful nature loves to do evil, which is just opposite from what the Holy Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives you desires that are opposite from what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, and your choices are never free from the conflict . . Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed their sinful nature to His cross and crucified them there.” Galatians 5:16-24 NLT. Nailing? Crucifying? Does that sound severe? It’s not too severe if you want to win this inner war instead of allowing it to, “last a long time!” Paul made the process simple, “If you are living now by the Holy Spirit, follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in every part of your life.” Galatians 5:25 NLT.

My prayer today is that you will recognize the enemy and win the war.

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May 5th, 2010

“I fear that somehow you will be led astray from . . devotion to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:3 NLT

Your strategy for success over temptation is very simple; choose to do what’s right.”

My thoughts today are about “temptation.”

No one is exempt from temptation. The area of temptation may vary, but the reality of it is common to all. I have been bit more careful about my diet lately to strengthen my health. Have you noticed how all of the wrong things look and sound so appetizing when you are on a diet? Sometimes when you try the hardest to do right, you still struggle with thoughts that oppose that, in spite of your best efforts. Paul understood that human dilemma, “So I discover this principle, when I would do good, evil is present with me.” Romans 7:21.

So, is that evil around you? Yes, most definitely. The Bible calls that the “world,” a spiritual gravitational pull that draws you down and away from doing right. But isn’t there evil also within you. Yes! The Bible calls that sympathy for sin, the “flesh.” And be aware, evil is also against you. The Bible calls that very real and sinister power, the “devil.”

Jesus warned Peter, “Satan has desired you that he may sift you as wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith would not fail.” Luke 22:31. Temptation does not just happen or only occur when you are not being careful. There is a purposeful and evil strategy for your failure and its entry point is your mind. Peter knew well what he was talking about when he later wrote, “Be sober. Be on the alert! Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion. “ 1 Peter 5:8.

As there is a complicated and committed strategy for your failure, you can have a simple strategy for victory over temptation and sin. You may have little choice in the temptation you face, but you have everything to say about whether or not you sin by yielding to temptation!

Your strategy for success is really very simple. Don’t invite temptation by enticing yourself with evil. Read James 1:14,15. Don’t join in others’ evil. Don’t hyperventilate about NOT doing wrong; simply choose to do what’s right. Keep your focus positive, and positively on Jesus. Always depend on Jesus’ victory over sin on your behalf. “But thanks be unto God, Who always causes you to triumph in Christ Jesus.” 2 Corinthians 2:14.

“But God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape that you may be able to be victorious.” 1 Corinthians 10:13.  Yes, temptation is common, but use that very moment to look for God’s “exit sign,” which He has promised as the avenue for your escape. Do everything to maintain “your pure and simple devotion to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:3 NLT.

My prayer for you today is: remember Jesus said He was praying for you. And so am I.

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