Classic Christianity – New Years P2 (12-31-19)
So when you become born again, what is your identity? Are you a Baptist, a Presbyterian, or whatever title you choose to associate with? No. The bible only gives you one identity, a child of God. Denominations teach you denominational persuasions of men. It might be true. It might not be true. How do you know that what people are teaching you is true? By the word of God you hold in your hands, and by the Spirit of God, living in you, who has promised to guide you into all truth. Do you test whatever any man says is true? Do you test what is being said by looking into God’s word, asking the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to you? That is what the apostle Paul commended the Bereans for doing. We also have the exhortation to study the word so at to rightly divide the word of God. We are instructed to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
Did you know that we are also a part of the body of Christ? So what is the purpose of the body? Are we not to encourage one another daily, exhort one another, love one another, look after one another, and build one another up in the faith. The church should be a place to learn truth that will set you free. So if a believer is struggling in sin, is the church to isolate and ignore him and cast judgment on him? No, the church is a place for growth, for instruction in the ways of God. If a person is not flaunting his sin, but is caught up in sinful behavior, then what error is he believing that has him ensnared. Love covers over a multitude of sins. Truth dispels error. Jesus came full of grace and truth and so should we. Grace reaches out in love and compassion to the hurting and truth shall set you free.
So how is a believer to live in the new life God has given? Is he to live by the letter of the law? No. Why not? He is no longer under the supervision of the law. He has been set free from the law of sin and death and is now under the law of the Spirit of life. This Spirit is the Counselor who lives in you, who instructs you, disciplines and renews your mind, for the new life God has given. The letter kills but the Spirit gives life. You have been imputed with Christ’s righteousness. The Spirit lives in you to teach you to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions.
Did I ever have any righteousness of my own? No. So who do I go to to receive counsel? You communicate with the living God. Communicate with Him through His word. Let Him teach you. But you also can rely on believers to help you find the word of God you need. Those who have been in the struggle you are now experiencing, and have taken a hold of the truth that has helped them to walk in the new freedom God has given, can help you. Are we not all children of God? Yes. And what do children do? They fall down when they are learning how to walk. So the church is there to pick you or me back up when you or I fall and help us to learn to walk by trusting Jesus, and with truth. We will continually be in need to walk by faith and not by sight, when the winds and waves of life tends to take our focus off Christ, or when the bombardment of the world knocks us off our game.
Consider what Jesus explained to us in John 15, about the vine and the branches, to learn about this dependency on the Spirit to overcome the flesh. We are receivers, the branches, and the Spirit is the producer, the vine, which is Christ in you, the source of life, who produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Learn who you are in Christ through the book of Ephesians. Learn doctrine through the epistles of Paul. Learn the nature and character of Christ through the synoptic gospels, particularly the gospel of John.
We all have natural tendencies of the flesh, and God calls us to be overcomers. We are overcomers by our testimony and the word of God, which demolishes strongholds. The flesh is contrary to the Spirit and the Spirit contrary to the flesh. But the Spirit lives in us to will and to act according to His good purposes. We, who are in Christ, can choose to walk by the Spirit or walk by the flesh. But if we walk by the Spirit we will not carry out the desires of the flesh. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.
What does it say about a lost person?
19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
Does that sound familiar? How many of you does that sound familiar to? How many of the rest of you have been living in a vacuum? Is this not what the flesh does? The flesh loses all sensitivity. We give ourselves over to sensuality and indulge in every kind of impurity and have a continual lust for more. Sin does not want less. It always wants more.
20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned
You did not learn of Christ through sensual indulgence.
21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;
We are to put off our old self. What does it say about our old self? It is being corrupted by its deceitful desires. Do you have a former way of life and a former self that is still being corrupted by its evil desires. Do you have an experience like that? What is that called? It is called your flesh. Do you still have desires of the flesh? It is a good thing because if you didn’t you would be dead. As long as you are alive, are you going to have desires of the flesh? Yes. That is a reality.
12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God
Jesus Christ is alive in you spiritually. Is that true? Yes. Your new identity is what? A child of the living God. You only have one identity. Do you realize that? You do not have two identities. You are not a child of God and a child of the devil at the same time. The moment you stepped out of Adam into Christ, you stepped into being a child of the living God.
We can come up with all kinds of identities in this world. Satan loves to give us all kinds of identities other than a child of God. In the Christian world we have substituted that with: “I am a Baptist”, ”I am Presbyterian” and that kind of stuff. Do you see those names in the scriptures? No, it is not in there. John the Baptist is in the scripture but that does not mean he is a baptist. Instead of us saying we are a child of God, we would rather say “I am a baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Plymouth Brethren, or Assembly of God, or whatever it might be. And that becomes our identity.
How many of you have you walked up to and he says “I am a child of God.” A person asks you, ”where do you go to church?” The reason he asks that is so he can have an inkling of what you believe. “I will at least know what you believe in baptism by dunking or not”. “Bob, where did you go to seminary?” What they are saying is, “What denominational seminary did you go to, so I can know whether I want to listen to you or not, so I can see if you agree with me denominationally”. As far as an identity, we only have one. You are a child of the living God.
1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation – but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
You have flesh and Spirit that are in conflict with each other. The Spirit of God, who lives in you, is in conflict with the flesh that you were born with. They are at enmity with one another. The desires of the flesh are totally contrary to the desires of the Spirit, and vice versa. Do you notice that in your life? The issue is, which one am I going to yield to, and which one am I going to allow to control my life? Because it says when we give into the flesh, we will be mastered by that flesh. In other words, the flesh has the capability of mastering you. Also, when we yield to the Spirit, then we are being controlled by the Spirit of God.
Now folks, the interesting thing about this is that it being controlled by the Spirit is somewhat like being under the control of aerodynamics in an airplane. As long as you are under the control of aerodynamics, you are going to be flying. But if you decide that you would like to step outside and get some fresh air, you are immediately coming under the control of gravity, and you are going to splat on the ground. You will get your air all right. You do not choose that. You do not choose to come under the control of gravity. It is the by-product of coming out from under the control of aerodynamics. When you and I are in Christ, and we choose to be controlled by the Spirit of God, and we are saying, ”Lord, it is my desire for You to control me by your love. I want to walk in truth, not in error. I want to walk in truth. I want to walk in grace.”
You cannot be controlled by the Spirit walking under the law. The law is not for a Christian. So we have a lot of people who think they are a Spirit-filled legalist. That is a contradiction of terms. It is impossible to be controlled by the Spirit of God when you are under legalism. The law is contrary to the Spirit. That is like saying “I want mercy under the law”. That is impossible. There is no mercy in the law. If you are going to obtain mercy, you have to obtain it apart from the law. When you put mercy in the law, you have watered down the law. You have ruined the law. When you put mercy in the law, you have ruined it.
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Under the law, the wages of sin is death. You put mercy into the law. Let us call it out of fellowship. What do we do? Water down the law until it has no meaning to it. I do not have to fear being under fellowship, when I can get back in. Death? That is another question. We have come down and watered down the law and made it lose its meaning until there is no respect for life because I do not even know I am dead. I have never been taught that the wages of sin is death. Under the law, it is death, death, death. No mercy under the law.
21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement [propitiation], through the shedding of his blood – to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished – 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
<sup27< sup=””> Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. 28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.
If you are going to receive mercy, you will have to receive it apart from the law. That is exactly what Jesus did. He came apart from the law and gave us mercy. He cancelled the law so he could give us mercy. You cannot put mercy in the law. If you do, you ruin the law. That is why there is no man greater than the law. If your nation loses the law, it loses the nation. We better understand that as Christians. When your laws and the enforcement of those laws get diminished, you have diminished your country. There is no man greater than the laws of the land, regardless of what you think. Mercy apart from the law, absolutely. As a born again Christian, there is mercy apart from the law. But under the law, you better carry that out. If you don’t, you have lost it. Not a popular stance today, is it? People who take that stance are called bigots and everything else under the sun. The fact of the matter is, we do not see the ramifications. When God says the law is this, stick with it. You cannot go wrong when sticking with it.
So we have desires of the flesh and desires of the Spirit. They are in conflict with each other. So what did he say in regard to that?
23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds;
How are you going to be made new? By changing your actions? No. By changing your mind. There are a lot of people that are not Christians that are acting better than us. By outward actions, you could not tell the difference. You go over into some of the Muslim countries, you will see some pretty good behavior. If you do not, you get your hand cut off, if you steal something. You will get your eye plucked out if you look at a woman wrong. Do you want to live over there? Outward actions are one thing and inward attitudes are another.
Matthew 15:18-19 (KJV)
18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.
19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
1 Samuel 16:7 (KJV)
7 But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.
God came to change the attitudes of the heart. Those attitudes will change your actions but do not think those actions cannot be imitated. In the final analysis, is it not really true, that everybody has got this emphasis on outward action, but in the final analysis, how many people in your experience really know what you are like? How many? If you are married, your mate? They know what you are like. Your children know what you are like. Outside of that, hardly anybody knows what you are like. Can we not become performers? Because it is just for a short while, and then you get home and kick your shoes off, and say “praise God, now I can be myself”. So you start knocking everybody in the head. So folks, you see why God wants to change the attitudes of our hearts. This outward can be changed. It can be faked, can’t it?
That is why when people get married. You do not really know somebody until you get married. Why is that? I thought I knew him. You did not live with him. Yes, but we lived together. But that is not the same. So what we have to come to realize is that not a whole lot of people really know how we are like. We are to be made new in the attitude of our minds. Until our attitudes are changed, nothing will change.
24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
We are taught to put on this new self that has been created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Genesis 5:1-3 (KJV)
1 This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;
2 Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.
3 And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, and after his image; and called his name Seth:
You were born of mom and dad but you were created by God. Do you realize that? How many of you think man was created in the image of God? Is that true? No, that is not true. Man was created in the image of Adam. Remember that in the 5th chapter of Genesis, when Adam and Eve had Seth. Seth was born in the image of Adam. Adam and Eve were created in the image of God. Seth was born in the image of Adam. God created only two people, created by the hand of God. From that point on, man was born out of man and woman. When you and I were born again, what is that? It is called a new birth, but what is it? A new creation.
2 Corinthians 5:17
17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Why? Spiritual birth comes from God. So it comes from God, not from mom and dad. Spiritual birth comes from God, a spiritual creation. We are not born, but created brand new, to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. If I am created to be like God, what does that mean? How can you be like God? God is Spirit. So how am I going to be like a Spirit? But he says we are created to be like God in true righteousness. Do we have any righteousness of our own? No. So if I am going to have true righteousness, where is that righteousness going to come from? Him.
1 Corinthians 1:30
30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption
I have been re-created by God to live in His righteousness and in His holiness. How many of you are made complete in the sight of God? How many of you are made holy in the sight of God? It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for you your righteousness. So who is your righteousness? Christ. Do you have any of your own? No. But are you righteousness in the sight of God? Yes. Why are you righteousness in the sight of God. Because He gave you His righteousness. So how many of you know you are righteous in the sight of God?
14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy
So by that one offering, he made everyone perfect in the sight of God, all of you whom he has made holy. So how many of you are complete, or perfect, in the sight of God? How many of you are holy in the sight of God? How many of you accept that, believe it by faith? So is holiness predicated on your acting holy? Is your holiness predicated on how you look, short, long, or in a bun, or any other way? No. How many people have tried to make themselves holy by looking strange? Like a holiness church that forbids cutting hair, that it makes them so ugly to go to the beach that the tide won’t even come in. We have to realize that that is not what holiness is.
You and I are set apart because of the change of attitudes in our minds. Should that thinking result in different behavior? Yes, of course! Does that take time to work itself out? Yes it does! We are in the process of continually being renewed in the newness of attitude of our minds. We will be in that process until the day we are absent from the body and present with the Lord.
Does God want you to know all the ramifications of your inheritance? In other words, you have an inheritance from God. What is the inheritance? He made you holy and He already set you apart. If he set you apart, can you make yourself more apart? No! Can you make yourself less righteous? No! Why? Because it was never yours to begin with. If he gave you life, can you get more life? or less life? No! You are in Him. You have been raised from the dead and you are secure in Him, and when you die you are absent from the body and present with the Lord. The issue is death, and is a bigger issue than many of us think about.
2 Corinthians 4:13-14
13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself.
2 Corinthians 5:8
8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
Three leaders met and the topic of death was discussed. Hugh Downs was among them and he was petrified of death, for he did not know where he was going when he died. Even though he heard the message concerning Jesus Christ, he still did not believe. Larry King live of the Larry King Live show had many spiritual leaders as guests on his show. He admires them but he is lost. He would rather put faith in how knowledgeable he is. No matter how knowledgeable you are, can you answer the question: “Do you know where you would go when you die?”
If you are not prepared to die, then you are not prepared for living. If you are afraid of dying, then you are afraid of living. Not until you settle that issue, that you are in Christ not because of what you do or think but because of what Jesus Christ did, and received His offer of salvation. You came to Christ admitting you are a mess and let Jesus clean you up. God is telling you, if you are a lost person, that you have hearts of stone and that He will give you a heart of flesh. The motive is God’s love. Those who are saved have responded to that love. Because of that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I will be in the presence of the Lord, seeing Him as He really is. None of us likes the process of death, but for the born again, there is no fear of death. Death is just simply going to a better place to live and to live with Him forever. While there, I am just waiting for others among my family and friends to be with Him. Since you are prepared to die, then you are prepared to live, just because of being saved in Christ Jesus. There is no fear of death for those in Christ Jesus and no one can explain that but it is true.
25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.
So we are to put off the old self, no need to think like a lost person, and put on the new self, to be made new in the attitudes of our minds, to be created to be like God in all righteousness and holiness.
We are all members of one body. We are part of the body of Christ. That is what happened in the spiritual birth. The Spirit of God came to live in us and placed us in the true body of Christ. The church is not on the corner of walk and don’t walk and many such places called church can be made of saved and unsaved. The true church is the Ecclesia, meaning the called out ones, and is only composed of born again believers. Only the true Ecclesia is joined with Jesus at the head and joined down here with the body. That is the only church He is dealing with. Church is not called Baptist or Presbyterian or Plymouth Brethren. Church is in relationship with Jesus Christ. There are born again believers all over world that are saved just like you, with the same experience of coming to the Lord, with no fear of death. Regardless of nationality, color or creed, we are one in Christ. Believers gather together locally, as in the church at Ephesus or the church at Philippi. Not a bunch of churches all over Philippi but where the local believers met together. Just one group of born again believers. Not just nice people, with activities for children, or something to do, but have Christ living in and through them.
We learn something of the life of the first church after Christ rose from the death from the book of Acts.
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
The believers met daily for the Apostle’s teaching, for fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer. Unless you are in a local community with other like-minded believers, not something easy to do. These things are done in a local community. Not huge communities, not huge in nature. That is what church was like. The church was not an activity center or denomination or place to go to get entertained. No, the church was a place to learn, to get your mind renewed, to be about learning more about God and the new life He has given you. The church in those days was about studying the scriptures.
Because we are a part of the body of Christ, we are to be honest and speak truthfully to one another. The reason that we should speak truth to one another is because we belong to one another. We would not think of lying to another part of the body. The nose is not lying to you when it says it is itching, and would not even think of doing so. No, the whole body knows it is itching because the nose told you so. Is there fear in telling the truth? If I tell the truth, do you think this person might not love and accept you? Sadly, oftentimes what is called church today is the last place you go if you have a serious sin problem. People have called Bob when they have had a sin problem because they know they will not be judged for it. God is not judging so neither should we. The last place to find condemnation and judgment is the body of Christ. So what do we do? We lie because we are afraid of being judged. We lie by saying everything is great when it is not. Such a tragedy. So enamored of being socially accepted that we do not want anybody to know we have some failures. We all have failures because of the desires of the flesh. One person’s desire in the flesh may be strong in one area and someone else in another. We do not all struggle with the same thing.
Bob relates a time when a lady named Liz called him for help concerning her husband Sid. As a married couple they both had there struggles with alcohol since college. Liz came to know Christ and was living free but was bothered that he husband was not free, for he had heard the same gospel message, and she loved him and wanted him to be free. So she called Bob for help concerning her husband for Sid was often drunk. Bob prayed and asked the Lord for understanding and was puzzled concerning Sid. So he went over to their house to talk to Sid to discern where he was at in his thinking.
Sid said, “Do you know why I got drunk? Do you know what my boss and secretary are doing? They are in a motel some place.” Bob said, ”They are probably sitting in that hotel saying, ‘you know what old Sid is doing, he is getting drunk’. You are getting hung up on what they are doing, drunk as a skunk, and they are doing what they are doing, and they are not drunk, probably criticizing what you are doing? So which sin is worse? Did you accept Jesus the God or Jesus the man?’ Sid said, “What do you mean?” Bob said, “Did you accept the Lord Jesus Christ who walked on the face of the earth who performed miracles, who made the blind to see, the deaf to hear, or did you receive the living Christ who was raised from the dead today and seated at the right hand of God as God ready to give you life? Did you come to Christ for forgiveness or did you come to him for life?” Sid said he came to him for forgiveness, to Jesus the man. Bob said, “Are you ready tonight to accept Jesus as God for life?” Sid got on his knees and accepted Jesus for life, stopped drinking that night and never drank again in his life for the Holy Spirit took residence in him and changed him from within.
What was wrong with Sid? Did he have a drinking problem? No. No one has a drinking or drug problem but a heart problem. It is not what a man puts in his mouth or in his veins that defiles a man but what proceeds out of his heart. What comes from within a man’s heart is what defiles a man.
11 Not that which goes into the mouth defiles a man; but that which comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.
17 Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body?
18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.
19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts — murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.
All of these things are a misplaced dependency. We are dependent on those things to do for us what only Christ can do for us. There comes a time when you say, “I don’t need alcohol to deaden my mind anymore. I can depend on Jesus to renew my mind. I do not need alcohol to make me bold. I can depend on Christ to make me humble. I do not need these things to make me happy. No, I can have Jesus to give me joy and joy is better than happiness.” The Holy Spirit changes the hearts of men, from within. Salvation is a heart change. It is coming to the Lord saying you no longer want to be controlled by such things, doing my own things and thinking my own thoughts, but to be controlled by the Spirit of God.
When Jesus hung on the cross, he said this to those who nailed him there.
34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
2 Corinthians 5:21
21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Jesus took upon the sins of the world, to take away the cause of death, which is sin, in order to be raised from the dead to give you eternal life, with His righteousness, so you may live a new life in Him.