Call-In Classic Christianity Radio – Bob George P667 (09-02-21)
Be Set Free to Grow in Grace, With Christ Alive Living in You, Teaching You Truth
Many people have this concept of separation of church and state, where what you do on Sunday at church, or what you believe about in the religious or spiritual realm, has no bearing on the physical realm. It is like what scripture says, that they have a form of godliness but deny its power thereof (2 Timothy 3). But church is people who have the Spirit of the God living in them (Romans 8:9-11). Church is not where you go on Saturday or Sunday, a building on the corner of walk and don’t walk. The Spirit lives in a believer so he can make proper judgments about all things (1 Corinthians 2:14-16), and filters what comes to his mind based on what truth is by means of a dynamic relationship with the living God. He can take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). A lost person can only relate in the physical realm through his human spirit that is dead to God. His human spirit is alive to this world, influenced by the thinking of this world, which is often contrary to the thinking of God.
There is this conflict between the born again believer and the lost in regard to how man is to function and operate in this world. The lost man relies on his own understanding and does not acknowledge God. Two man can be kissing each other on the streets of San Francisco, and the lost person sees nothing wrong with that, but the born again knows the nature and character of God and His design for His creation. The born again sees two men enslaved in sin and the lost person sees two people who have chosen an alternative lifestyle that should not be criticized but accepted. The born again person can weigh everything, as he grows in the knowledge and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and then choose to make adjustments in his behavior to be in line with who he is, a child of God. Many a former homosexual people have come to Christ and turned from that sinful behavior to a lifestyle of faith pleasing to God, as you can read in 1 Corinthians 6.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Let us look at a simple example of how a born again person renews his thinking to adjust his behavior or attitude. A born again person is desiring to be married. He wants to choose a godly woman, one who knows Jesus, someone he can communicate with. But it is brought to his attention that he needs to evaluate what godly is. By looking for someone who is godly implies that he thinks he is godly and that the women he desires as a mate has to match up to his godliness. But scripture says there is no one who is good but God alone (Luke 18:19). Scripture also tells us that he who compares himself with others is not wise (2 Corinthians 10:12). So knowing these truths, how then does the born again person adjust his attitude and thinking toward desiring a mate?
If he has this legalistic attitude, then if he does get married that would only tend to lead to a divorce. He would have unrealistic expectations put on his wife that she cannot live up to and there would be a tendency toward a critical spirit towards her, rather than an attitude of extending grace and patience. So, having been confronted with truth from God’s word, he reevaluates his thinking to be in line with God. Yes, he knows not to be unequally yoked with an unbeliever (2 Corinthians 6:14). But his perspective of himself and what attitudes of heart to have is pondered. He realizes that can only come about by a total dependency on Christ alive living in him (John 15). He ponders over the humility that is in Christ, who did not consider equality with God something to be grasps but emptied himself, always serving mankind in love, and ultimately became obedient to death on a cross (Philippians 2:1-8). That man was you and me God had in mind.
He realizes that unconditional love and acceptance is not something he can receive from any woman, a potential mate, but from God alone. He also realizes that he cannot produce that himself, even though he desires to. The desire is there, but moment by moment, with sin-indwelling flesh, with his own flaws and weaknesses, being in conflict with the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-18), he must depend on the Spirit of God living in him to produce what he can never produce (John 15:5). So this grateful attitude of how God works in and through him, through a frail and weak human being, is marvelous to think about. We can envision a Proverbs 31 woman, but when you consider the definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13, every person will fall woefully short of that. That is a definition of God’s love where love never fails. You decide on someone who is a born again believer with the attitude I want to serve this woman in love the rest of my life, yet realizing the dependency on the Lord Jesus Christ every moment of your life, for only He is the one who can produce love.
Let us look at another example. A young person thinks that the gospel is getting your sins forgiven, for that is all he has heard. So he thinks he is born again, but later in life as an adult, he has doubts of his salvation. Why is that? He has heard only half a gospel. That Jesus died for my sins is what the majority of people respond to. Many times they are a forgiven lost person but they never dealt with the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4, Romans 5:10). You have to deal with your problem. The real problem is not that you sinned. It is your problem that it caused your spiritual death but your real problem is spiritual death. Until you dealt with that problem, you have not dealt with salvation. Until you dealt with the fact there is a consequence to sin called death (Romans 6:23), and there is only one solution to that death, and that is the resurrected life in Christ Jesus. So you need life. It is not just forgiveness. I need life. I need that resurrected life. Otherwise, we are living on the strength of our life not on the strength of His because we do not have it to live on. So many times, as a child, your understanding of salvation never goes beyond getting sins forgiven.
Now a believer can also doubt his salvation. He can truly be born again, but he has a faulty understanding of how a person who is born again is to live, with unrealistic expectations of fallen humanity. He had envisioned sinless perfection as a born again believer. But it does not take long to realize you still sin. For example, anything that does not come from faith is sin (Romans 14:23). So worry is sin. You still can worry about tomorrow, have unsettling fears after losing a job, of how you are to provide for your family now. You have real life issues that need to be worked through but if you are relying on your own understanding and take your eyes off Jesus, you will not be experiencing love and joy and peace. You have stopped abiding in Christ, who is your life.
So as a believer you must realize the Christian life is not about stopping sinning because we still have sin-indwelling flesh but to start living in the new way of the Spirit. Our spirit was saved but our flesh has not yet been saved. We have the Spirit living in us with a promise of the future redemption of our bodies, a new immortal body (Romans 8:23). So God left us in this weakened state so that we can depend on Christ. If we did not have weakness in our flesh to overcome, would we depend on Christ? This is why the apostle Paul said I delight in my weakness, for then the power of Christ may rest on me (2 Corinthians 12:9-11). We were never designed to produce the fruit of the Spirit for that is what the Spirit produces (Galatians 5:22-23). Our job is like a branch that remains attached to the vine, and in so doing the vine produces the fruit which the branch in turn bears the fruit (John 15).
So what happens in a young believer not grasping this conflict between the flesh and the Spirit within him, so that he thinks he is not saved. He hears accusations of Satan who reminds him of his failure. You may hear accusations like this, “So you think you are a Christian? And you did that? You dirty rotten sinner.” First of all, you have a new identity and are no longer a dirty rotten sinner. You are a child of God, a saint, set apart by God in your thinking, under the grace of God, not under the law of sin and death (Romans 7:14-25, Romans 8:1-17).
You are free from accusation so you can be free to grow in the knowledge and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Why is that? Jesus died on a cross to take away the sins of the world (1 John 2:2 NASB). The price of all sins, even before you were born, was paid in full. You received the life of Christ and in that life is the forgiveness of sins. God made you a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Paul addresses believers in his letters to the churches as saints, and those saints were far from perfect in their behavior. That is not sinless perfection as far as your behavior is concerned, but a gift of God, God’s imputed righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21, Romans 4:20-25), where God has said I will remember your sins no more and where these have been forgiven there is no more sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 10:17-18). God also made you a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), with the sinless perfection of Christ in you, dealing with you not on the basis of sin and death, but on the basis of a child of God (Romans 8:1-2). A child needs his mind renewed so he can walk in the new way of the Spirit (Romans 12:1-2). A weak flesh needs instruction, encouragement and discipline from a Father who perfectly loves you. The Father has given you His Son for that purpose. So when you sin you thank God for His forgiveness you already have and you then go boldly to Him (Hebrews 4:16) to receive the needed instruction to change your thinking with truth so that truth will set you free (John 8:32). You will then see your behavior change to be in line with who you are as a child of God.
Jesus has told us that there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). So we can tell Satan to get lost because we have the promise of God. Our sins have been paid in full and nothing will separate us from the love of God because God has secured our salvation by what He alone did for us (Romans 4:16, 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, Ephesians 1:13-15). Yes, we want to restore our relationship with the person we wronged, if that is the situation, because that is where sins need to be forgiven. But between you and God, the sin and death issue has already been solved. Even our growth in Christ, where true life is, learning how to overcome the misdeeds of the flesh, is all from God, as we allow Him to renew our minds with truth, and allow His love to well up in our hearts. God has promised to complete the work He began in you (Philippians 1:6). God has told us that He lives in us to will and to act according to His good purpose (Philippians 2:13). When that grace of God is comprehended, that love of God shows itself up in our interactions with others, for love does its neighbor no wrong. If we, as born again believers, are members together of the body of Christ, what sense does it make to hurt your own body? We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). This love is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) that God produces in us and through us as we grow in our understanding of God’s love for us and abide in that love.
As a final example, oftentimes when believers come to Christ they find themselves under false teaching that keeps them burdened with a heavy weight that should not be so, legalistic teaching of law rather than from a covenant of grace. An example of this is the teaching of tithing prevalent in so many churches. It is so disheartening and damaging to the body of Christ. Not being acquainted with the word of God, being a recent believer, that teaching keeps them under law rather than freedom under grace. I have heard so-called pastors tell a widow to pay back 10 years of back-tithing! This is wrong and a person should leave such a legalistic church! When a person is saying you are robbing God, and I am sure you heard that, that is a lie. That is not New Testament teaching. According to 2 Corinthians 3:6, God has made us competent as ministers of a New Covenant, not of a letter of the law that kills but of the Spirit that gives life.
2 Corinthians 3:6
6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant- not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
There is no place in scripture in the New Testament (from the death of Christ on) that tells a person to tithe. Tithing was for the purpose of supporting the Levitical priesthood. It has nothing to do with the New Testament at all. Jesus freed us from the laws that do kill and led us to be led internally by the Spirit. So attitudes or giving are contained in Corinthians where Paul devoted actually almost two chapters to teaching you the attitudes of giving. We are to give joyfully, to excel in the grace of giving. Yet you go to church that teach you are under the law of tithing. Paul says you are to excel in the grace of giving, that we are to give willingly, to give joyfully, to be a hilarious giver, to give in accordance with what you do have and not in accordance with what you do not have, to give enthusiastically, ready to give a generous gift, never one grudgingly. Every man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not what somebody has told you to give.
2 Corinthians 9:7-8
7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
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