Thursday, October 16, 2008

Works - Part 2 of 4

I don't believe that God created Adam and Eve (the first humans) and the rest of the human race for the purpose of living by instructions. In fact, wasn't it the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that God told Adam not to eat from? We all know what happened (sin entered the world, and death through sin), but as we fast-forward to the Cross, and the Resurrection of Jesus we see that Christ came to take away sin, and through faith in Christ, man can be restored to LIFE. Through faith, man now has righteousness, holiness, completeness, goodness. God has taken away the sinful spirit that we were born with in Adam and has given us a new spirit that is alive together with Christ. By faith, we can walk according to this newness of life.
Rom 6:4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
The "baptism" above isn't water baptism, but it's a death and burial of our old sinful nature - the spiritual person we were in Adam. It's now dead and gone, and we've been raised together with Christ into new life! The natural result of growing and maturing in who we now are in this new life is a life of goodness. And the growing process is lifelong. It's by no means instantaneous.

This new life - which is nothing less (or more) than the very life of Christ in us - is where holiness and goodness and righteousness and good works flow from. This new life - Christ-in-me - is the foundation of the Christian life.

16 comments:

  1. I wish God did take my old nature away but I still sin. If I just had the new nature I would not sin. I don't want to go to hell but someone is wrong? People tell me to just believe in Jesus. I do but you say I have a new spirit and the old one is gone? I either am not saved or you are wrong. I hope you are wrong.

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  2. Gary Sparrow10/16/2008 1:54 PM

    Anonymous,

    I just posted about this on another blog. Most important is knowing you are saved. If you believe Jesus Christ Died on the Cross for your sins and have asked Him to forgive you and accepted him as your Savior you are saved. Once you have done that Jesus does live in your heart in the Person of the Holy Spirit.

    If you've done that you are now part of God's family and there is nothing you can do to change that. Your Spirit and Christ's are now One but you still live in the flesh which is sinful. You cannot overcome this in your own power but must yeild to the Spirit to guide you. Your concern about sinning shows your heart is in the right place. Being saved doesn't make us perfect, we have to be patient and know that even when we sin we are still God's children.

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  3. I am not very smart but I have done that. I am smart enough to know that me doing that does not save me. That would mean that I did something to be saved. Everybody wants to go to heaven and so do I. Everybody believes in Jesus. And so do I. Most people I know including myself believe in Jesus but still live in sin. There are people on one side that say grace-grace-grace and there are others who say the same thing but warn you that if there is no change then what you are believing ain't saving. SOMEONE is wrong and I guess I am hoping I can go to heaven and still live like me because I really believe.

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  4. Anonymous--I'm sure Joel will have more to say about this, but I do have some good news. Every great saint of God has struggled with sin. From the apostle Paul to Billy Graham, you'll find them talking about how far short of God's standards they fall. So, you're fighting the same fight that we all do.

    Gary is completely right: the fact that you are concerned about sinning against God shows that the Holy Spirit is at work in you.

    A lot of people confuse two things: salvation, and growing in grace. Your salvation is a one-time event. When you believe that Jesus' death paid for your sins, and take Him as your leader in life, you are saved. You are a new creation, adopted into God's family, and given the Holy Spirit and a new nature that is alive to the things of God. That happens once, and it never needs to be repeated.

    After God saves you, you begin a new life, which includes a daily process the Bible calls working out your salvation. It's a lot like watching a child grow and mature, in that it's slow, there's a lot of making mistakes,and sometimes it's painful. This process doesn't end until we get to heaven.

    You would never say that a baby isn't a baby because it does something wrong or makes a mistake. Making mistakes is part of a baby's growth. In the same way, you can't say that you're not a Christian because you "fall down" as you live out your faith.

    Growing and maturity is an ongoing process that includes a lot of mistakes. But the truth is that God is at work in all of us, and He's promised to continue His work until we're at home with Him...

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  5. gary sparrow,
    are you saying that redemption is received by an act of my will?

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  6. i pushed the button too soon...
    in other words, are you saying that my works produce my salvation/redemption? If I confess Jesus I'm redeemed? I thought that Paul wrote in Eph. 2 that redemption is a gift from God.

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  7. If our "work" of confession is what we have to go by in determining our redemption status, then perhaps this is why anonymous is struggling with with whether salvation is secure. If our works produce our redemption/salvation, then our "works" can take it away if we mess up. I think it's safer to just receive the gift. Paul said it was not of ourselves lest we boast.

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  8. Hey all, it's been a busy day so I've not been able to respond here today. Feel free to continue to discuss if desired... I'll be back in the morning.

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  9. anonymous & Mary,

    If I somehow implied it was a work we do that saves us I am sorry. Jesus did all the work we just have to accept what he did. Just like we would accept any gift. Maybe my use of the word "done" confused my point.

    anonymous, my main concern is that you are saved, the Holy Spirit will do the work in your life after that.

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  10. garry sparrow,
    thanks for clarifying. I thought that's what you meant. Perhaps I didn't read it right.

    anonymous,

    Hopefully this will help. Your spirit is alive in God. He sees you as perfect and dwells in your spirit. This is the real you. Any behavior problems you are concerned with are simply outflows from your mind and heart. These are the parts of you that need renewing on a regular basis. The mind and heart are physical parts of our body. These parts of us, our memories and feelings, are not going away. We will always remember things and feel things as long as we live on this planet. Sometimes things hurt us and need to be healed. This is where the renewing comes in.

    In the spirit God sees you as perfect. The mental and emotional parts of you are still part of your physical body. These parts don't always work the way we would like. But remember, your behavior does not determine right standing with God. It has no effect on your relationship with God. It may have an effect on you and your natural relationships. Some of these are things you may actually need to take control of yourself. I don't know what the case may be. What is out of your control simply rest and let God do it.

    You are forgiven. Trust that what Jesus did on the Cross was enough for all eternity. You are redeemed and you have entered into new life through Christ.

    Many people insist that you need to concentrate on not sinning. Paul tried this in Romans 7 and he found out that it didn't work. The opposite happened. There is power in the Gospel. (Romans 1:16) Let God be the one in charge of cleaning you up however He sees fit.

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  11. Thanks, everyone, for your thoughtful and grace-filled response to Anonymous. As I've thought about this during the past day, I've had many of the same thoughts, and I'll try not to outrightly repeat what anyone else has said, but if there are any similarities, it's because we're thinking like-mindedly. :)

    Anonymous,

    First I'd like to share a blog post I wrote earlier this year called Who we are in Christ. In it, I put together several paragraphs that are all derived from scriptures that tell what is true about anyone and everyone who is in Christ.

    All of these things are true of you because in Christ you have become a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come. This is all what happened to you in the very essence of who you are - your spirit. Perhaps better said, you are a spirit who has been born again of incorruptible seed (1 Peter 1:23), and as a born-again spirit, you live the rest of life on earth in a body that is corruptible.

    When you were born for the second time, of the Spirit, God did not give you a lobotomy. (He didn't take away the brain). Your various "flesh patterns" (thoughts, feelings, emotions, etc) were not "born again" along with your spirit. You still are able to think evil thoughts and carry out evil deeds in your body.

    None of that means that you weren't saved. None of that means that you haven't truly been born again. It simply means that the true person that you are (a holy, righteous, blameless, perfected creation of God) still has growing to do when it comes to walking in the outward expression of who you truly are.

    As a righteous person that has been joined together with God, the real you is prone to righteous living! When you sin, you simply are not being who you truly are. But let me ask you this. When you focus on how sinful your behavior is, does that ever help you to stop sinning? In my case, it causes more and more sin!

    And so the way to live as who we truly have been created to be is to stop focusing on trying to stop sinning, but rather continuously focus on the truth of who we are in Christ - whether we "feel" it's true about us or not.

    As far as who is right and who is wrong, check out what the Bible actually has to say about you. I mean, sure you can listen to people, but line it up with what the New Testament actually says about you. I truly think you'll find that you are not who you think you are! You are loved by God and accepted in the Beloved, apart from anything you do or don't do.

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  12. A couple more thoughts. I was thinking of the various saints who the Apostle Paul wrote letters to. In a few instances, he was rebuking them for various things they were doing. But I've noted a couple of things about all this. First, even though he was rebuking them for various sins, he still addressed them as "saints." Not once does he call them "sinners." Secondly, I've noted that while he made an issue out of certain things they were doing that were sinful, he made a much bigger issue out of who they truly were in Christ!

    As I read Paul's epistles, when I see him exhorting the people to love and good deeds, it's almost always a matter of telling them "this is who you are, and this is how it looks like when lived out." In other words, he never tells them "stop sinning and do good things in order to become a better Christian or in order to maintain your righteous standing with God." Rather it's more like, "since you are righteous, since you are holy, since you are God's beloved, here's how that looks like when you live it out."

    So yeah, it's true that as Christians we don't want to simply continue in our fleshly ways of living (which, by the way, includes self righteousness), but it's not a matter of God wanting to put us in bondage. Rather... it's just the opposite! He loves us and has made us new creations and the life of the new creation is sooooo much greater than the life we try to eek out from our flesh. He has put the very life of Christ in us - and the life of Christ is EXACTLY how true, abundant life is meant to be.

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  13. Joel,
    Your explanation is so good.

    I want to thank you for the hours of work you have put into this website. My husband and I are beginning to walk aware of the grace of God more and more and the information I read here helps much. Thanks so much for giving of yourself to offer us (and countless others) your understandings of Christ. It's good news for sure.

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  14. I want to thank everybody who is trying to help me. A preacher told me to go to 1 John and take the test to see if I am really saved. He told me that not everybody who professes faith in Christ are saved. Ok, I took the test. 1 John says that the one who says that he knows him and does not keep his commandments is a liar and the truth is not in him. I flunked. I have preachers on one side of the aisle saying if you ask you will recieve and others saying if you recieve you will obey. I do not want a false assurance but I can't keep living in this torment. Somebody is wrong. Some say that there is only one way and that is Jesus. I'm ok with that and believe that. But than I have someone else point out that in Matthew the gate is narrow but the way is narrow also. I guess it all boils down to I want to go to heaven but I still want to live my life my way. I want my cake and eat it to? I'm sorry for rambling but I just see two sides of this. One side is easy and the other side is hard. The Bible says that most people take the broad way to hell. Why can't we all be saved. Why can't we all read the bible and come to the same conclusions. I do not want to go before the Lord some day thinking I am saved and go to hell. I just want to be sure and I don't want someone to tell me I am saved if I am not. Since I am anonymous let me ask you this. If I told you I was living with someone who I am not married to would you say I am saved or lost?

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  15. Mary,

    Thanks for your kinds words. This truly is good news and I love sharing in the life of Christ with my fellow brothers and sisters in Him, as we encourage one another in the gospel.

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  16. Anonymous,

    All I can really do is point you to Christ. I don't mean that in a cliché kind of way, I mean literally to Christ and Him crucified and resurrected.

    Set your behavior aside for a moment. I'll explain why. God knows if you're saved or not. I don't. Your actions may be a result of still being identified with Adam since you're not born again, or it may be a result of you walking according to the flesh even as a born again person. All I can see is the outside. God knows the inside. "Man looks on the outside, God looks on the heart."

    So from my point of view (as a human being who doesn't know if you've been born of the Spirit or not), all I can do is point you to Jesus Christ. Whether you're not saved, or whether you are saved and are sinning, the answer is still Christ.

    Forget about whether you want your cake and eat it too. Every person (not just you), when living from the flesh, wants to fulfill the desires of their flesh. The answer is not to take some test to see if you're passing or not! The flesh will never pass!

    The only thing that matters is Christ in you, your hope of glory, your hope of righteousness, your hope of victory, your hope of anything and everything. If reading 1 John discourages you, then don't look to 1 John. Look to Christ. The only way you can grow in love is by the life of Christ in you. There is no other way.

    Even when we were still sinners, Christ died to redeem us, not condemn us. So whether you're a sinner (still in Adam) or whether you've been born again as a saint, Christ is for you, not against you.

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