Saturday, February 16, 2019

190217 The Indwelling Spirit

Romans 8:8-11 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
Chapter 8 is the central passage in Paul’s letter to the Romans. It begins with “no condemnation” and ends with “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Without question, this material has had a great impact on my life. In it, we learn that the law of the Spirit of life not only gives life but empowers the believers to do what is right. Even the rules given by God on Mount Sinai and those that followed the 10 Commandments could not enable man to save himself. We see two ways of living, according to the flesh and according to the Spirit.
We need to live out how we are. Let’s look at…
The evidence of the flesh. Found in Galatians 5:19-21. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
This is a very depressing list. As we look over it we see that not much is changed in the last 2000 years. TV, social media, even the day to day news reflects these attitudes and actions.
There was a pastor who had made the choice not to have a television in his home. He had one child, a son, who had never seen television. One day his son came home from school and asked if he could spend the night with one of his classmates. After checking it out the pastor and his wife agreed that their son should go to his friend’s house for an overnight stay. So for the first time, this eight or nine-year-old boy saw television! He didn’t even get to the evening programming! When the news came on he watched in horror. He called home and asked his father to come to get him. He was in tears as he asked his dad why? Why did people do those horrible things? His eyes had been opened and his heart had been broken.
I suppose it was necessary for this young man to be exposed to the evil in the world because it is impossible to avoid it.
The works of the flesh. What do we mean when we use the term “flesh”? We are certainly not talking about our physical body. Instead, we are talking about a spiritual lifestyle.
A good definition is: “Flesh refers to the old ways or patterns by which you have attempted to get all your needs supplied instead of seeking Christ first and trusting Him to meet your needs.”  Gillham, Bill. Lifetime Guarantee.
Let’s look again at the list. Sexual immorality is so built into our society that it hardly seems immoral anymore. Impurity is found in the mind as well as the body. Sensuality refers to feelings and often is the precursor to drug addiction. Then we look at the socially acceptable idolatry that is so common in our society. Sorcery is just laughed at as a parlor game. Enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, all are reflected in our current society. The works of the flesh result in envy drunkenness and orgies. People who are following these things are under a curse and need to be cautioned that what we plant is what we reap.
Paul presents this list and then it is…   
Compared to the Spirit. Let’s read on Galatians 5:22-23. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Just a few verses before this passage Paul tells us that “the whole law is fulfilled in one word: you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Galatians 5:14). So if love fulfills the law the fruit of the Spirit becomes our path to freedom.
I believe we can look at this list and let it instruct us in how to love. The fruit of the Spirit is love! “God’s love means that God eternally gives of himself to others.
This definition understands love as self-giving for the benefit of others. This attribute of God shows that it is part of his nature to give of himself in order to bring about blessing or good for others.
John tells us that “God is love” (1 John 4:8). We see evidence that this attribute of God was active even before creation among the members of the Trinity. Jesus speaks to his Father of “my glory which you have given me in your love for me before the foundation of the world (John 17:24), thus indicating that there was love and a giving of honor from the Father to the Son from all eternity. It continues at the present time, for we read, “The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into his hand” (John 3:35). Grudem, W. A. (2004). Systematic theology (pp. 198–199)
Growing out of love is joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Love contains the whole of all that God desires for us and requires from us. The leading of the Spirit produces the fruit of the Spirit and that is the fulfillment of the law turning aside or propitiating its curse.
The flesh points to death. Let’s go back to Romans 7:18-20. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
At first glance, we might say that Paul represents all the good in the world. However, his own judgment is “nothing good dwells in me… In my flesh” he tries to do good but finds he does not have the ability. It seems that the evil habits built into his life — flesh — dominates his activities. Indwelling sin that has not been rooted out by the indwelling Spirit is constantly controlling his life. This passage is Paul’s spiritual autobiography. And if we are candidly honest it is ours as well. It’s necessary for the truths taught in Romans chapter seven be presented before the victory in Romans eight. But the reality is Romans seven and eight are side-by-side in our lives. There are days when the flesh seems to dominate our experiences. There are other days when the Spirit dominates and we can almost feel that we have the victory. Day by day we experience frustration.
Thomas a Kempis (1380-1471) wrote of the same frustration: “I desire to enjoy Thee inwardly, but I cannot take Thee. I desire to cleave to heavenly things, but fleshly things and unmortified passions depress me. I will in my mind to be above all things, but in spite of myself I am constrained to be beneath, so I, unhappy man, fight with myself and am made grievous to myself while the spirit seeketh what is beneath. O what I suffer within while as I think on heavenly things in my mind; the company of fleshly things cometh against me when I pray.” (Taken from The Imitation of Christ).
The flesh leads to death but…
The Spirit is life and peace. Let’s read the words of Jesus found in John 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. The Spirit gives us the kind of life that counts. It is the kind of life that transforms us into new creatures in Christ Jesus. Not only does the Spirit transform us the Spirit transforms the world we live in.
When evangelist D. L. Moody described his conversion experience, he said: “I was in a new world. The next morning the sun shone brighter and the birds sang sweeter … the old elms waved their branches for joy, and all nature was at peace.”
The flesh with its constant attempts to give us a contented life without Christ is really no help at all. The flesh becomes our attempt to have our needs met without our Lord in charge of our life. Please, read and reread the Gospels as found in the New Testament. Jesus spoke words that are spirit and life and the Gospel writers — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John — recorded them for us. What a glorious privilege we have to open the word of God and have the Spirit of God — who is the author of the Bible — interpret it for us. The Spirit gives us life eternal because…
The Spirit brings the believer into Christ. Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 12:12-13. For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
We are not born again in a new way of living alone. Instead, we are part of the body of Christ. He is the head of the body and the body represents all men and women everywhere who have come to faith in him. We are joined together to share our joys and our suffering.
John Fawcett wrote the words that we often sing after we partake in communion. Blest be the tie that binds Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds  Is like to that above.
In the third verse, we find these words: We share our mutual woes,
Our mutual burdens bear; And often for each other flows The sympathizing tear
In one Spirit we all are baptized into one body. Not into lonely isolation but into a fellowship of loving Christian family.
The Spirit points us to life, gives us peace, brings us to Jesus who is our Lord and Savior. Not only are we brought to Jesus we are incorporated into his spiritual body that has existed through the ages and we will be eternally united with each other. Each believer fits into a special place in the life of Christ. And we are brought there by the Holy Spirit. Not only are we given life by the Spirit but also…
The Spirit guards us. Let’s look at 2 Timothy 1:13-14. Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.
Paul is talking to his son in the faith. Timothy was a believer when Paul met him but Paul took him under his wing and helped him to mature in Christ. So Paul is encouraging Timothy to remember the sound words that he taught him.
Paul goes on in the letter to Timothy encouraging him to take the good deposit — which is teaching and training — and give other men the same words who would then be able to teach others one Christian generation after the other. How do we know that what we teach, indeed what we have been taught, is right? We rely on the Holy Spirit that Jesus gave to the church as an interpreter and guide. The Spirit guards us day after day after day! And as a part of the guarding that we receive…
The Spirit guides us. Let’s look at the words of Jesus found in John 16:13-15. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
The Spirit has always been present. In the beginning of the creation, the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. The selfsame Spirit throughout history has guided and guarded his people into the truth. Throughout the Old Testament, the Spirit moved upon godly men giving them God’s word for themselves and for the future. In our age, the Spirit who was present with Christ in his baptism came on the day of Pentecost in power and gives guidance to God’s people. Guidance is given by taking the truth and interpreting it for each generation. We do not have to depend on men unless we are guided to them by the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit has guided the church through the minefields of false teaching and false practice. Jesus told us that the purpose of the Spirit is to glorify Jesus. He takes Jesus’ gifts and gives them to us. He takes the gifts of the Father and makes them ours. So that everything we need is given to us.
The Spirit is life and peace! The Spirit brings the believer into Christ! The Spirit guards us! The Spirit guides us! When we say that we are in Christ we are asserting that in him we live and move and have our being. Think about these things! They are the gift of the eternal God!
The indwelling Spirit was promised by the Lord Jesus while he was on earth. Jesus identified him as “another Helper” who will be with us forever (John 14:16). And in the same passage he goes on to say “I will not leave you” (John 14:18). Indicating that when one is in Christ Jesus he or she is clearly in the Holy Spirit. When people become Christians the Holy Spirit begins a process of cleansing us and equipping us. Jesus promised that when the Spirit comes he will convict the world concerning sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8). This convicting work enables us to make a decisive break with the pattern of sin that dominated our lives. The Spirit gives growth in grace and knowledge. If you will place your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ the Spirit of God will do his work freeing you of the past habits and giving you a new way of living.

All scriptures quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton, Ill, Standard Bible Society.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

190210 In Christ Jesus

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
The Bible tells us that we were chosen “in Christ” before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). In Christ, we have been appointed to live “for the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:11-12). Every believer in Christ, not just believing about Christ, has been seen by God as having been in Christ before the world was created as well as during Jesus’ life on earth. So that Jesus, as our representative, bore the punishment of our sins. Therefore, there is no condemnation!
One of the greatest weapons of Satan is to have his demons convince us that we are condemned. It’s easy to misinterpret Scripture so we need to be careful, very careful, to believe the truth of God rather than the lies of our enemy. To hear, “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”, (Romans 3:23) can cause a person to feel defeated. After all, that is the bad news that leads us towards the good news. It is true “the wages of sin is death” but it is important to remember, “the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23). And that’s the good news which is even better when seen in the light of Romans 5:8, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” There is no hope for the person without Christ. However, in Christ Jesus, there is great hope. We need to remember that…
Christ Jesus carried our sins to the cross. Let’s look at 1 Peter 2:24. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
When we think of the cross we usually consider the awful pain suffered there. There is nothing much more horrible than the recounting of what the Roman soldiers did to Jesus. We need to remember that the psychological pain of bearing the guilt of our sin, having no sin of his own, would have been much more serious. Jesus was perfectly holy. To say he had no sin of his own is to say that he was completely clean. The thought of sin was opposite to everything in his character. Jesus instinctively rebelled against evil! We see his reaction to becoming sin for us in the Garden of Gethsemane. There he prayed, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you well.” (Matthew 26:39b). Jesus did not have to undergo this torture. When he was arrested he stated, “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than 12 legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53).
Jesus canceled the debt we owed nailing it to the cross. He nailed it there and he buried it in the grave and left it there. Praise God our representative paid our price. And it was…
Not just our sins but ourselves. Let’s look at Galatians 2:20. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Paul clearly understood that Jesus was not just a sacrifice for our sins he was our representative taking our place. When the Father looked on the crucifixion of his Son he also saw us dying with him. In the process of sanctification, we learn to live by faith rather than by sight. Baptism symbolizes our death, burial, and resurrection. The change that the Holy Spirit brings about in our character is best understood when we recognize that we have died to our old way of living.
“What died? It was everything about the former “you” that God could not tolerate in His holy presence. The old sinner you, your old spiritual identity, was executed and replaced by a lovely, new, godly saint. In Christ, at salvation, you were not only given a new present and a new future, but you were also given a new spiritual past! Absolutely! Your spiritual roots are no longer in Adam, but in Christ.”
Gillham, Bill. Lifetime Guarantee.
We are dead to sin and alive to God! Because it is Christ living in and through us. This is not something that can be done in our own strength. It is only possible because Christ lives in us. So our life becomes one of faith.
The deeper we get into the Bible the clearer we see…
To be a Christian is to have died with him. Let’s look at Romans 6:6. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.
Here, the Holy Spirit speaking through Paul’s writings assures us being crucified with him is a known fact. God the Father saw the Son going to the cross and he saw us with him! We died with him because of the body of sin that we were born with cannot be reformed. It has to die! I am not talking about the physical body. I’m talking about the spiritual body. If it is possible for us to be trained into being good Jesus’ death on the cross is meaningless. Remember, in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed that the Father would take the cup of suffering away. If there were any other way for our body of sin to be eliminated then the Father is cruel and unjust. The evidence of history is very clear. There is no other way named among men that we can be saved from ourselves except by the substitutionary death of Jesus on the cross.
Not only did we die with him…
We were buried with him. Let’s look at Colossians 2:12. having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.
Baptism is “show and tell” regarding our salvation. We died with him and death required burial. Rather than putting us in a grave, we are buried in water. In baptism, we are giving public testimony that we have died with Christ and have passed through the grave into a new life. Our death burial and resurrection with Christ is a faith-picture of the powerful working of God. When God raised Jesus from the dead he saw us in Jesus just as he had seen us in Jesus on the cross, dead and in the grave. When God the Father raised Jesus from the dead he included us.
The wages of sin is death resulting in our burial.
Therefore, we were raised with him. Let’s go back to Romans 6:4. We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
Our day to day experience often causes us to doubt our spiritual death and new life. We “feel” like we are still in the old life. Friends we have come to the place that we are enabled to walk a new life. Let me share with you a very long quote from Bill Gillham.
Let’s “examine the biblical verses which speak of our being “in Christ”, “in Him”, “in Whom”, “in Jesus”, “in Jesus Christ”, “in Christ Jesus”, etc. We must note the verb tenses to determine whether they speak of some future nature we’ll acquire at physical death or if they speak of present-day reality. This will then reveal your true identity.
Let’s examine some Scripture including some comments.
You are justified and redeemed (already)—Romans 3:24.
Your old self was killed (crucified)—Romans 6:6.
You are not condemned. (My performance is condemned when I don't trust in His life through me, but God does not condemn the performer, just the performance.)—Romans 8:1.
You are free from the law of sin and death—Romans 8:2.
You are accepted. (All my life I've sought to be accepted. Now I am!)—Romans 15:7.
You are sanctified (holy, set apart)—1 Corinthians 1:2.
You have wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, redemption (I am ransomed—restored to favor)—1 Corinthians 1:30.
You are always led in His triumph (whether it appears so or not)—2 Corinthians 2:14.
Your hardened mind has been removed—2 Corinthians 3:14.
You are a new creature. (Even though I don't always feel or act like it.—2 Corinthians 5:17.
You are the righteousness of God. (You can't become more righteous than this.)—2 Corinthians 5:21.
You are liberated—Galatians 2:4.
You are one with all believers (not inferior to anyone)—Galatians 3:28.
You are a son and an heir—Galatians 4:7.
You are blessed with every spiritual blessing in heaven—Ephesians 1:3.
You are chosen, holy, and blameless before God—Ephesians 1:4.
You are redeemed, forgiven—Ephesians 1:7. You have obtained an inheritance—Ephesians 1:10,11.
You are sealed with the Spirit. (Imagine yourself sealed up in the envelope of God Himself.)—Ephesians 1:13.
You are alive (formerly a dead-to-God spirit-being)—Ephesians 2:5.
You are seated in heaven (already)—Ephesians 2:6.
You are created for good accomplishments. (And I can let Christ live through me to perform this.)—Ephesians 2:10.
You have been brought near to God—Ephesians 2:13.
You are a partaker of the promise—Ephesians 3:6.
You have boldness and confident access to God (not slinking as a “whipped dog”)—Ephesians 3:12.
You were formerly darkness, but are now light—Ephesians 5:8.
You are a member of His body (not inferior to other members)—Ephesians 5:30.
Your heart and mind are guarded by the peace of God. (God’s peace comes from knowing His truth, not always feeling it.)—Philippians 4:7.
You have all your needs (not greeds) supplied—Philippians 4:19.
You are complete (perfect—perfectly made in Christ)—Colossians 2:10.
You were raised up with Him—Colossians 3:1.
Your life is hidden with Christ in God—Colossians 3:3.”
Gillham, Bill. Lifetime Guarantee
We are already seated in heaven. Let’s look at Ephesians 2:6. And raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
This is one of the harder passages to understand. God saw believers in Christ on the cross, in the grave, and raised in new life. Believers are not just raised to live a new and godly life on earth, in the eyes of God, his children are already seated in heaven. Maybe it will help you to understand if we imagine heaven suits seated in heavenly places waiting our departure from our earth suit. When this suit — or body — lies down for the last time we step out of it and into the awaiting heaven suit. That illustration is about the best I can do though it is very imperfect.
Believers in Christ have become a new creation. Look at 2 Corinthians 5:17. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
It is so important for us to see these passages referred to what has already happened. We still have to live it out but God sees the future as present and not something to be waited for!
“The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus now have real effects in our lives. ‘You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead’”, Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 842. In the writings of Paul the Holy Spirit explains to us what it means to be a Christian. We die with him, we were buried with him, we were raised up to life in him, we have been seated in heaven with him, and we have a new life in him Praise God! If you put your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? The word of God says that today is the day of salvation! It can be yours if you put your faith in him.
All scriptures quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton, Ill, Standard Bible Society.