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 Who We Are in Christ/ Our New Identities in Christ (7 part series)

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PostSubject: Who We Are in Christ/ Our New Identities in Christ (7 part series)   Thu Feb 09, 2012 2:24 am

(Part 1)

Please excuse this first post because it is mostly statements without Scriptures backing them up. That is because this is my introduction. The rest of my posts for this series will include Scriptures backing up everything I have said in my introduction. I couldn't choose which title, so I chose both titles for this series. I purport that too many Christians do not know who they are. We have a spiritual identity crisis. We are no longer the same creatures once we became saved. The old us is gone and the new us has come. If you still call yourself a "sinner," you do not know who you are in Christ. Moreover, if you say that you still have a "sin nature," you do not know who you are in Christ. Even the NIV translation erroneously translates "flesh" as "sin nature." The two are not synonyms. The Christian no longer has a sin nature. Something has drastically happened to us to change our nature. I am not saying that the Christian does not sin. I will explain what happened to our sin nature, but I'm telling you early, that we no longer have it.

Here is my basic theme here: "We are no longer sinners, we are saints who sin." Non-Christians have a sin nature. Christians do not. It is imperative that we know who we are. Why should we care about our identity in Christ? Would we be saved if we don't know who we are? Of course we are saved if we don't know. But knowing who we are gives us access to much more power in Christ, we find out the rights we have in Christ, we find out how to live godly lives, we find out how to defeat Satan and demons, and knowing, gives us a great foundation we need in order to learn about healing in the bible. So much we miss out on in not knowing who we are in Christ. A secondary benefit of knowing is that knowing this, opens up many scriptures that may have otherwise been obscured to our understanding. It is throughout the New Testament. So many of Paul's epistles opens up to complete understanding just knowing this.

If we think we are sinners, then naturally, we will live like sinners live. But if we know that we are no longer sinners, but saints, then we will start living like the Saints we are. If we know who we are, we will no longer be defeated Christians, but live life victoriously in Christ. Before I open up the Scriptures, let me paint the backdrop. You and I consist of a body, soul, spirit, and God's Holy Spirit is in you too. Soul and spirit are very similar, yet can be distinguished. But first, you are not your body. You are inside of your body. You are your soul and spirit. One day, as long as Christ does not return before we die, you will drop your body, and all that will be left will be your soul and spirit. The difference between soul and spirit is that every creature, including humans, animals, insects, and bugs have a soul. But only mankind (Christian and non-Christian) have a spirit. Look at the definition the bible gives for a spirit in Job 32:8-"But it is the spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding." A soul gives the creature life to live, breathe, eat, ect., but the spirit gives mankind understanding. It is the spirit that connects mankind to God. Everyone is able to know God because we have a spirit. Remember, God is Spirit. (Interestingly, all spirit hauntings that have been purported have been people spirits. I never heard of a cat, dog, or a fish haunting a house.) Spirits live on. Souls without spirits don't. I highly doubt that there is a heaven for pets---sorry folks. Soul and spirit are so closely linked. You are your soul and spirit. You are not your body.

When the bible speaks of "flesh" it is literally referring to your fleshly human body (it is important that I blatantly point this out in Scripture because many consider it as a synonym for our “sin nature”). Everyone is born with a sin nature. According to the bible, sin is passed on through the male seed since Adam. We inherit a sin nature. No one has to teach a child how to lie. No one has to teach a child how to disobey and be bad. It is inherit in their nature. And by "nature" I mean "spirit." One reason Jesus was and is sinless is because he skipped the sin seed passed down through the father. Mary, Jesus' mother was a virgin. The Holy Spirit implanted the male seed (sperm) to birth Jesus. Jesus skipped the curse of Adam. Through this curse of Adam, all are born with a sin nature, and therefore all have sinned. And sin separates us from the life of God. Jesus gives us a new nature when we believe in Him, and thereby connecting us to the life of God. For the non-Christian, before one becomes saved, sin abides in the person's spirit and flesh. When one becomes a believer, the Holy Spirit immediately comes into the person (that is, their spirit), and transforms the person into a new creature. It says the old has gone, and the new has come. When that happens, there is no longer any sin that abides in that person's spirit. The spirit gets cleaned out, but the flesh does not. Jesus died for your soul and spirit. He did not save your flesh. And most importantly, the flesh is not you, but is the house that houses you (your spirit and soul). The flesh is your temporary residence where you live. Our flesh is contaminated with sin, and this is why Jesus is going to raise up new bodies so that we will have a fleshly type of body that is without sin.

If we are still sinners, Christianity would not make sense. Think about it. That would mean that when we drop our sinful bodies when we die, that Jesus would have to die on the cross again to purify our spirits before we come to Him. God will not live with sinful man in Heaven. The point of the Cross was to purify our spirits. So now when we die, we have already been purified, and immediately come to the presence of Christ in our perfected selves. Absent from the body is to be immediately present with the Lord. It is the bodies that we drop that are imperfect. Let me explain the flesh a bit. The flesh is your body and everything that your body is made up with: all of its organs, bones, etc. The flesh is naturally antagonistic to God because of its nature. Our eyes naturally want to see what God told us not to look at. Our hands naturally want to touch what God said don't touch. Our brains are flesh. Our brains naturally want to think what God told us not to think. Our mouths and vocal chords are flesh. They naturally want to say things God told us don't speak. Our flesh is in opposition to God because our greatest granddaddy sinned: Adam, and passed the contaminated nature down to us. The flesh is a sin producing factory. The sin we do comes from the flesh. Of course, Satan can tempt the flesh to produce more sin in us. Where does that sin go? (Stay with me here.) It is okay to think of sin as some sort of substance. Sin is throughout the flesh, and much of the sin that is produced from this factory goes to and abides in the person's spirit. For the believer, Jesus shuts down the factory that was producing sin, and cleans out the spirit to make the spirit you free of sin. The flesh no longer produces sin, but the sin it did produce up to the time you got saved still abides in the flesh. Yes, it is gone from your spirit, but it resides in your flesh. And remember, you are not your flesh. You are your soul and spirit. The immediate application here is that the quicker or earlier one becomes saved in life, the quicker Christ shuts down the sin producing factory called the flesh. The less residual sin the person has to deal with and overcome after that.

Four things happened to you at the cross when Jesus died and resurrected and you believed. Most people if you ask, don't know this and they tell you that just one thing happened. If you ask most Christians, "What did the cross do for you?" most would just say "God forgave me of my sins." That is only one fourth of what He did for you. God forgave you of your sins, he took away your sin nature, and He purified you by giving you His nature, and He gave you His Holy Spirit. When Jesus died, you (spirit you) died with Him. When He rose, you (spirit you) rose with Him. I'll explain this more later on.

I guess we can say 5 things happened since Jesus also shuts down the sin producing factory of the flesh. The bible says the flesh has died. Jesus put to death the deeds of the flesh. Some Christians start off worse than others because some have had their sin producing flesh factories working overtime before they got saved. They were bad, bad, bad, and when they finally got saved and Jesus shut down the factory so that it stopped producing more sin, well, their flesh is still filled with it. Jesus did not clean out the flesh on the cross. These people will have a more difficult time in attempts to not sin because their flesh tempts them more strongly, as opposed to a nice unsaved person who got saved, they have less sin in their flesh to deal with. There are ways to break all of that down and weaken the flesh, and I'll get to all of that later. But just briefly, Paul said that when I (the flesh I) am weak, then I (the spirit I) am strong. Yes, us Christians have multiple personalities because of the flesh and our new spirit, and the Holy Spirit on top of all of that. There is a passage in 1 John that says that we cannot sin. That does not make any sense unless we understand everything that I just explained here. It is true that the new you cannot sin. The sin factory of the flesh has been shut down and you are not your flesh, you are your new spirit. We are incapable of sinning because we have God's Spirit in us and our new spirit is incapable of sinning. We are still able to choose to sin because we still have this flesh of sin (our bodies) that we are carrying around. I explained the basics here. In my next post I'll open up the scriptures too to prove everything I said in this post.
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PostSubject: Who We Are in Christ/ Our New Identities in Christ (part 2)    Thu Feb 09, 2012 2:26 am

Who We Are in Christ/ Our New Identities in Christ (part 2)

It should be noted that Christians are called Saints about 62 times in the New Testament. Only once in the New Testament are Christians referred to as "sinners," and that is found in James. James is different from Paul's letters because James is talking to Christians from a worldly perspective. James' style and rhetoric is unique and exclusive to James. Of course, James is speaking God's word in his book, but we must understand James' audience and his perspective to understand fully what he is saying because a couple of things he says seem to contradict Paul's writings. I'll deal with this issue of the Book of James first, so we can move on to Paul's writings. James' audience is Christian. He is not telling non-Christians how to get saved. He is telling Christians how to get into fellowship with God. In fact, James is not dealing with salvation at all in his book. Without knowing this, it looks like James directly contradicts Paul. Look at James 2:24. It reads, "You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone." Well, Paul said in Romans 3:28, "For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law." Paul says in Galatians 2:16-17, "...know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law, no one will be justified." And Paul says in Ephesians 2:8-9, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast." If James is talking about how to get saved, then both Paul and James cannot be true. Martin Luther wanted to take James out of the bible because he thought that it contradicted Paul's writings. But James is not talking about salvation. Paul is. Christians fall in and out of fellowship with God as they live their lives, choosing sin, then repenting and turning back to God. If a Christian repents with no works to show forth, in other words, if a Christian repents of getting drunk with alcohol, but does not stop getting drunk, they are not justified for fellowship because they simply have faith that they are. "Faith" as James is using it here means trusting that God will do what He said He will do, and acting on what God says simply because He said it. James 2:14 reads, "What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?" The word "save" here is not referring to eternal salvation. It means "rescue" here. Look at how James uses the word "save" in James 1:21, "Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you." Only a Christian has the word "planted in them." "Save" here means "rescuing" from trials and tribulations the Christian goes through. Well it's the same word James uses in 2:14, and he is using it the same way: to mean "rescue." The “trials” theme is prevalent in the book of James (1:2-18, 5:7-12).

That is one example of how James is coming from a different perspective from Paul, and we must understand his perspective to understand that what seems to be contradicting Paul, is really a different topic than Paul's. James is not dealing with the Christians' new identity in Christ as Paul, Peter, and the author of Hebrews are all careful to pay attention to in their letters. Here is an example: James 4:8 reads: "Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded." Compare that to Ephesians 1:1 "...To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus." 1 Peter 2:9, "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." Heb. 3:1, "Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess." No where does Paul, Peter, or the author of Hebrews call a Christian a "sinner" because we are no longer sinners, we are saints who sin. Jesus is the one who technically purifies our hearts. He did that on the cross (past tense). We do not have the power to do what only Jesus was able to do. But James here tells the Christian to purify the heart. James' perspective here is from the perspective of the flesh. Our flesh sins and tempts us to sin, but we are not our flesh. Perhaps I can illuminate James' perspective from the flesh (as opposed to the perspective of our new power in Christ) with this example. Look at James 3:8 "...but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison." Well, from the perspective of the flesh, that's true, but from the perspective of our new selves, using the power of Christ, the tongue can be tamed. Look at Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." Galatians 5:16, "So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh." If we, by our humanly effort, try to tame the tongue, it is impossible as James said, but in Luke, Jesus said, "With God, all things are possible." If we speak not from the flesh, but from a spiritual perspective, then we submit our flesh to God, and Christ tames our tongue for us by His power, not by our own power. There is nothing wrong with the book of James. We just have to know and understand his perspective (he is talking from the perspective of the flesh to Christians about fellowship) to not get his writings confused and think that they contradict other passages. This is a sort of pre-introduction of my series. My next post will officially begin this series of "Who We Are In Christ."
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PostSubject: Who We Are in Christ/ Our New Identities in Christ (part 3)    Thu Feb 09, 2012 2:27 am

Who We Are in Christ/ Our New Identities in Christ (part 3)

Most of Romans is about our new identities in Christ. But I would like our theme verse be 2 Corinthians 5:17-"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" There are two verses that are closely related to our theme verse. One is Ephesians 4:24-"...and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." And the other is Titus 3:5b to 3:6-"...He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior..." All of these verses speak of our new identities in Christ. We are no longer who we were before we got saved. A literal change took place within us, although we did not feel a change happen. Notice that the old is not suppressed. 2 Corinthians does not say that the old is weakened or somehow still here, it says that it is gone, eradicated, vaporized. Your old sin nature is gone. The new spirit of righteousness has come. And of course this entire series is speaking only of Christians. For a Christian to say, "I am a sinner, saved by grace," is an inaccurate statement. An accurate statement would be, "I was a sinner, but now I am a Saint saved by grace." It is accurate to say we are sinning saints, but a sinner we are not.

Your new nature, according to Ephesians 4:24 was created to be like God, and you are completely righteous and holy because God is completely righteous and holy. And Titus says that the Holy Spirit washed us in our rebirth (when we got saved). The Holy Spirit washed away all of the sin from our old nature. You recall from part one of this series that the Christian's spirit (and soul) is now completely pure, without sin. Sin used to be in our spirit before we got saved; before the Holy Spirit washed us, but now our spirits are sin-free. Our bodies, on the other-hand have not been purified. Our bodies (the flesh) still harbors all of the sin we had before we got saved. So please do not identify yourselves with your body because you are not your body. Your body is just the shell of you (your spirit).

Romans chapters 2-8 speak of our new identity in Christ. I would like to briefly go through those chapters because they not only tell of our new identity, but they also tell of the application of this knowledge. The application of this knowledge is powerful and a life-changer. This is why I am setting out to do this series. The meat and potatoes are really in chapters 6-8. I'll pick it up from Romans 3:9. Paul is explaining mankind's nature, that is, before they get saved and Jesus purifies them. He says, "What shall we conclude then? Are we [Jews] any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. As it is written: 'There is no one righteous, not even one..." And skipping to verse 23, Paul climaxes this point saying, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." For that reason, all need Jesus to cleanse them from their sins. And cleansing He does. See the next verse, "and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." This justification and cleansing is free. That means that it is unearned. There is nothing for us to do to receive it except believing that He paid the payment for our sins for us. It is by His grace and not by works. Romans 11:6 reads, "And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace." Grace is only grace if it is devoid of works. Once works is added, grace is no longer grace.

Back to chapter 3. Verses 21-22 reads, "But now a righteousness from God, apart from the law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe..." Verse 27 Paul basically says that there is no boasting because salvation is by faith, that is, we cannot say we did __(fill in the blank)___ to get ourselves saved. There is nothing we do but believe. A good way to see if a Christian is a Christian is to ask them how do you know that you are saved. Believe it or not, many answer wrong, saying, "Well, I go to church every Sunday." Or, "I say my prayers and tithe." Or, "I'm a good person." But if they do not say that it is by faith alone that Jesus paid the payment for my sins, then they need to learn God's plan of salvation. Verse 28, Paul says, "For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law." But note in verse 31 Paul says, "Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law." The basically consists of the Old Testament Commandments. Paul says that the law is not required for salvation, but don't neglect the law. (You are aware of Ephesians 2:10: “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works…”). God's laws were given to show man his sins. God knew we couldn't keep them all so He sent Jesus to fulfill them for us. Jesus said in Matthew 5:17, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them." Jesus paid the penalty for failing to do the law perfectly, but we are still commanded to "obey your parents; not lie; love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind; etc."

Briefly covering chapter 4: Chapter 4 is important because it tells us one of our new rights we have because of who we are in Christ. When we are saved God adopts us into His family and we are called sons and daughters of God. Abraham is called the father of faith because it took faith in God for Abe to believe that God will resurrect Isaac from the dead after God commanded him to sacrifice Isaac. Abe believed that God would resurrect his son Isaac because Abe was told by God that through Isaac, God would increase his offspring to be the number of the sands of the shore and stars in the sky. Well this didn't happen yet when God told Abe to kill Isaac. Isaac did not have any offspring yet. So Abe figured God would just resurrect Isaac. And you know how the story goes—an angel stops Abe and points out a lamb in the bush to sacrifice in the place of Isaac. The bible says that God credited his faith to him as righteousness. Perhaps the highlight in chapter 4 is verse 16, "Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all." Those of the law are Jews of the Old Testament. Those of faith are everyone who becomes a Christian by faith in Jesus. Here God promises all of the promises that were given to Abraham and his offspring the Jews are also given to us who are of faith. As Christians, we have been adopted into the family of God and can claim all of the Old Testament promises on our behalf.

I'd love to go through the Old Testament here and point out the many great promises. I'll just point out a few: Psalm 85:8-"I will listen to what God the LORD will say; he promises peace to his people, his saints-but let them not return to folly." Isaiah 26:3-"You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you." 1 Samuel 2:9b-"He will guard the feet of his saints..." 1 Samuel 10:19b-"...your God, who saves you out of all your calamities and distresses." Exodus 23:22b-"...I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you. My angel will go ahead of you..." Exodus 23:25-26-"Worship the LORD your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you, and none will miscarry or be barren in your land. I will give you a full life span." Proverbs are good promises too. Proverbs 21:21-"He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor." Deuteronomy 28:1-14 is a good list of blessings. And many are also in Isaiah and Psalms. For all of these we can claim as ownership to these promises because we are a child of Abraham through faith in Jesus, therefore God's promise to Abe's seed, well, we are that seed through faith. If we simply pray these verses (preferably out loud) to God and tell God He promised it to us will bring forth these blessings into our lives. When I continue, I'll pick up with Chapter 5 of Romans, but as I said before, the meat and potatoes are in chapters 6-8, so please stay tuned.
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PostSubject: About Grace   Thu Feb 09, 2012 2:29 am

About Grace:

It is very important to understand biblical "grace.” I’ll probably also give it its own thread, but I need to interject it here into this series for clarification. Before I give us a working definition, I would like to just quote some key "grace" scriptures that will lead to our definition. Study each verse and see how grace is active in these verses:

2 Corinthians 12:9-10: "But Jesus said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

John 1:17: "For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ."

Acts 6:8: "Now Stephen, a man full of God's grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people."

Acts 15:11: "No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are."

Romans 1:5: "Through him and for his name's sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith."

Romans 3:24: "...and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."

Romans 4:16: "Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring-not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham..."

Romans 5:2: "...through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand..."

Romans 5:17: "...how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ."

Romans 11:6: "And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace."

Romans 12:6: "We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith."

Romans 16:20: "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you."

1 Corinthians 1:4-7: "I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way-in all your speaking and in all your knowledge...Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift."

1 Corinthians 15:10: "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them-yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me."

2 Corinthians 1:12b: "We have done so not according to worldly wisdom but according to God's grace."

2 Corinthians 9:8: "And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work."

Ephesians 1:6: "...to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding."

Ephesians 2:8: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast."

Ephesians 3:7: "I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God's grace given me through the working of his power."

Ephesians 4:7: "But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it."

2 Thessalonians 2:16: "May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope..."

2 Timothy 1:9: "...who saved us and called us to a holy life-not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time..."

2 Timothy 2:1: "You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus."

Titus 2:11: "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age."

1 Peter 4:10: "Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms."

1 Peter 5:10: "And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast."

2 Peter 3:18: "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen."

I hope you see that the word "grace" is not a general term that should be overlooked, but is vital to understand for our victorious Christian living. Each of these verses give an extra quality about grace that we should come to learn and understand. There is not a true condensed definition of "grace" that covers it in a sentence or two. Grace definitions: Grace is God's power freely given to us. Grace is God freely doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Grace is free and unearned working from God devoid of all human efforts. To distinguish grace from mercy: grace is God giving us what we do not deserve; mercy is God not giving or doing to us what we do deserve. Salvation is grace because salvation is God saving us when we could not earn or save ourselves by our own efforts or merits. God's wisdom is grace. Grace includes God's promises of blessings that we cannot achieve by our efforts. God's perfect peace is grace. God's righteousness is grace. God's healing, power to heal, and power to cast out demons and evil spirits are all God's grace. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are also grace.

We are to live our Christian lives by grace: that is, we are to live life not by our own efforts, but by the power that God freely gives us. The law is practically antithetical to grace. The law required us to work and achieve righteousness by our efforts of the flesh. In order to apply grace to our lives, it requires that we be still, and let God do His work in us. It requires that we humble ourselves, and not get in His way by our efforts. It requires that we not feed the flesh by choosing to sin, but rather, living by the power of the Holy Spirit. Grace is trusting that God can do it for you through faith. Grace is something Scripture tells us we have to grow or cultivate and mature in. A part of the definition of faith is trusting in God's grace upon your lives, that is, trusting that God will do for you and through you what He said He would in His Word. Grace provides us with the power to overcome temptations of sin by faith. Trust God and pray that He is able to get you through your temptation without sin through His power, and not your own. In all verses of “grace,” God is the one doing the action.
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PostSubject: Who We Are in Christ/ Our New Identities in Christ (part 4)    Thu Feb 09, 2012 2:30 am

Who We Are in Christ/ Our New Identities in Christ (part 4)

I am just going to pull out one verse from chapter 5 and go right on to chapter 6. Romans 5:19: "For just as through the disobedience of the one man [Adam] the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man [Jesus] the many will be made righteous."

We are talking about our new identities in Christ. Romans 6 speaks of one of the things that happened at the cross to those who believe in Jesus. We have a new nature, and therefore we should live our lives reflecting that. Romans 6:2b, "We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?" Jesus both died on the cross and resurrected from the dead. Christians, because we believe in him, have followed Jesus to the cross and have died with Him [therefore, dying to sin], and we have followed Him into His resurrection, and have raised with Him [therefore, raising to righteousness]. These are two separate things and both should command our attention. If we just died to sin then we would have power over sin, but we would not have our spirits purged of sin. If we were just raised to righteousness, without dying to sin, then we would have holy, righteous spirits, but we would not have power over the sin that is left over in our flesh.

Verse 4: "We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life." Both Jesus' death and resurrection from the dead has affected the believer's spirit nature, and therefore, leading to a change in their daily living. Our old nature died with Jesus and was buried with Him. Our new nature rose from the dead unto a new life with His resurrection from the dead.

Verse 5-6: "If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. [Verse 6] For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin." Verse 6 can be a theme verse. What happened to our old nature? It was crucified. What does crucified mean? It means it died. What does die mean? Death means...well, death, inoperative. Remember our theme verse: 2 Corinthians 5:17-"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" What does "gone" mean? Sorry to sound mundane, but "gone" means...well, "gone." [Please stick with me because everything will make complete sense by the time I finish covering Romans 8.] Our old nature has not been just weakened. It is not dormant and still somehow sticking around. It is gone. It is dead and crucified with Christ. Christ killed the sin producing factory line, or the sin producing machine, if you will. Our flesh, before we knew Christ, produced sin—which can be likened to something being produced on a factory line. If you shut down the factory line, nothing more gets produced, but that which was produced is still there. The flesh cannot make new sin because it has been crucified with Christ. But that which it accumulated up until the point when we knew Christ was wiped clean from our spirits, but resides in our bodies, our flesh. Note that verse 6 calls our bodies a "body of sin." The word "flesh" in the New Testament refers to our "body of sin" or literally our physical bodies. We are not our physical bodies; we are our spirit/soul. Sin used to be throughout our body, soul and spirit. But in Christ, the old nature of sin died from "us" and its carcass, if you will, resides in our body. Absent from our bodies is not only to be present with the Lord, but it also means absent from this carcass of sin that we must carry around in this lifetime. This "body of sin" is not who we are.

Now as Christians, we are to not operate through the flesh, but through our new recreated selves, our spirits. When we operate outside of our flesh, the end part of verse 6 manifests itself: "that we should no longer be slaves to sin." Verse 7: "-because anyone who has died has been freed from sin." This is done through grace because it is something that can only be achieved by God’s power. By putting to death the flesh, which Christ did for us, we have been set free from sin and its power. Since sin has no bearing on our spirits, then it has been completely weakened because it can now only operate through our flesh.

What do we need to do? We need to stop hanging out in the graveyard. The flesh has died, so we need to get out of the graveyard and hang out with the Holy Spirit. Look again at this wonderful promise that will keep us from sin: Galatians 5:16 reads, "So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh." Add that to what Romans 1:5 says, it is an “obedience that comes by faith.” Living by God's Holy Spirit is a learning process that we must grow and mature in, but when we learn it, we see just how effortless, devoid of the flesh it is. Do not give the flesh power by feeding it with its desires, and put no confidence in the flesh (cf. Phil 3:3). The flesh (or our efforts) cannot overcome the flesh (our habits/addictions.) Only through the Spirit is the flesh conquered.

Death to the flesh through Christ equates to life in the spirit. Verse 8: "Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him." If we still have a sin nature then when we die and drop our bodies, we will still have a sin nature in us (our spirits, the real us), and Christ will have to die again, to rid it from us for good. But since we are not our bodies, Christ does not have to die a second time. Verses 9-10: "For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he [note, and we] cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God." Jesus lives to God for us so that through Him, we live to God. Verse 11: "In the same way [so it's the same topic] credit yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus." In the same way as Christ died once to sin, we too died once to sin and are alive through Christ's death and resurrection. It tells us to credit ourselves just as dead to sin and alive to God as Christ is. Verse 12: "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires." How do we let sin reign in our bodies if it has been crucified? By feeding the carcass. When we pluck a rose, it is dead because it no longer is connected to its roots. But we prolong its beauty by putting the stem in a jar of water. Our bodies are yearning for the "water" of sin so that it can be fed and gain its strength to tempt us. Verse 13: "Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness." When we starve the flesh of its desires, our spirit of righteousness becomes stronger and is dominant.

Please allow me to sidetrack a bit. This is why fasting is so important. We are never commanded to fast in the New Testament, but fasting is important because it weakens the flesh. It literally starves the flesh so that the Spirit that is in you can have more room to take over and give you the power you need. We have to seek to starve the flesh of all of its desires as often as we can so that we can more easily live for Jesus.

Verse 14: "For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace." I'll end chapter 6 highlighting one more verse. Verse 18: "You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness." And Paul reminds us that it is better to be a slave of righteousness than to sin because he says sin leads to death. "The wages of sin is death." Death in the New Testament means separation from the presence (fellowship) or life of God.

Important note: The irony of operating in the spirit and not in the flesh is that we are in actuality, not doing it [whatever it is that needs to be done] through our own power, but rather through Jesus' and the power of the Holy Spirit within us. It sounds ironic or oxymoronic because we are doing it, yet it is not us who are doing it. We are submitting ourselves, denying ourselves, so that we can pull it off in God's power that He gives us. We are in essence increasing our strength by denying our human strength because now God can work in us and through us. God is much, much, much more powerful than us, so we are greatly increasing our strength when we deny our own strength and count on His to work within us. That is how God operates with His children. God lets the prideful and the strong do it themselves, but He gives strength to the weak and humbled. Better His strength than ours. Emptying ourselves of ourselves does not mean that we focus on our weaknesses. We are not to go with a defeated face on, for we are to take the stand that we are victorious because we have God on our side. In emptying ourselves, or as Jesus puts it, denying ourselves, we are to focus on Him and His power and strength. God does not us to feel weak but strong. He just does not want us to get in His way, so it is mandatory that we empty ourselves of ourselves, and of our pride. Then what Paul says can be made manifest in our lives: "When I am weak then I am strong."
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PostSubject: Who We Are in Christ/ Our New Identities in Christ (part 5)    Thu Feb 09, 2012 2:31 am

Who We Are in Christ/ Our New Identities in Christ (part 5)

I am almost finished with this topic. I just have chapters 7 and 8 of Romans to quickly cover, and then I want to make sure all of the applications of our new identity in Christ are fully explained. What does our new identity mean to me? How can knowing that help me live my life? I want to make it practical for us. Particularly in Romans 7, I would like to focus on verses 7-25. Again these verses speak of our new nature in Christ. Our theme verse is 2 Corinthians 5:17-"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" And Ephesians 4:24 compliments our theme verse-"...and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." So our new nature is created to be like God and it is perfect, righteous, and holy. The old nature is completely gone, that is, from our spirits. The old resides in our fleshly bodies, and we are not our bodies. We sin only because we have the freedom to choose between the temptation that comes from the flesh (or Satan tempting the flesh) or the righteousness of our new selves, just as Adam and Eve, in their pre-sin perfected selves had the ability to choose to act on the one or the other. Again, I must digress: Did you know that God did Adam and Eve a favor by kicking them out of the Garden of Eden? God gave Adam and Eve the freedom to eat from every tree in the garden with the one exception of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. There was one tree that would have solved our sin problem beforehand, and that they were allowed to freely eat from: the Tree of Life. Before Adam and Eve sinned, they were free to eat from the Tree of Life. Why did God kick Adam and Eve out of the garden after they sinned and posted an angel with a flaming sword at the gate to guard them from coming back into the garden? It was especially to keep them from now eating from the Tree of Life. After the two sinned, had they eaten from the Tree of Life in their sinful state, they would have been locked into their sinful state forever, and Jesus’ righteousness would not have been able to be transferred to them. But now that Jesus purified all believers, we believers will one day have access to the Tree of Life and we will then be able to eat from it because we have been completely purified from all sin. And when we eat from it, we will be locked into righteousness for an eternity, even though we are already righteous the moment we became saved. You can see where we will have access to the Tree of Life again in Revelation 22:1-2.

Back to our topic at hand:
Outside of our flesh, we Christians cannot sin. I believe I alluded to the verse in 1 John 3:9: "No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed abides in him; he cannot sin, because he has been born of God." This verse speaks of our new nature, and it says that our new nature that has been born of God "cannot sin." It is impossible for our new nature to sin. It cannot sin because it has been made holy like God who is holy and cannot sin. Only our fleshly selves sin. So let's look Romans 7. Verse 7 is basically talking about the law being like the speed-limit sign. The law tells us what is wrong without empowering us to live up to its standards. Without the sign, we wouldn't know what breaking the law is. Sin (this substance) is empowered by the law because the law gives sin an opportunity to manifest itself because disobeying the law produces sin. So sin seized its opportunity from the law to tempt us to go against it so it can increase itself. That is why the end of verse 8 says, "For apart from the law, sin is dead." Please note here that sin resides in our flesh, and it is produced in our flesh; and, before we knew Jesus, it was in our spirit/soul as well. Paul says in verse 9, "Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died." Before Paul realized the law, he thought he was living right; he thought he was a good person. But when the law was brought to his attention, his realization of his sin increased and he died, realizing that he was separated from the life of God. Verse 10 reads, "I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death." The law was never intended to give life. Nor does the law empower us to abide by it. Grace empowers us, the law does not. The law points out our failures; grace gives us God's power to overcome our failures. Verse 11 reads, "For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death." Please note in all of these verses that sin is a separate entity from Paul. "Sin" itself deceived Paul. Paul does not relate himself to his sin because sin is no longer in Paul, it is in his flesh. The word "sin" here is distinct from the "I's" and "me's" of the rest of the verses.

Verse 12, "So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good." Paul wanted it to be clear that there is nothing wrong with the law within itself because the law is just the traffic sign. He goes on "...But in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful." Simply saying that sin increases when the knowledge of the law points out sin then we realize how much sin we have. This was restated from Romans 5:20, "The law was added so that sin might increase..."

Verse 14 reads, "We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin." That statement is really straightforward. The "I" here is clearly his flesh (He is talking about his sin nature, which is no longer him, but it resides in his flesh. And keep in mind that when we were sold to sin before we were saved, we were bought by the blood of Jesus after we got saved, and therefore, we no longer belong to sin.) Here is where things get complicated. Please closely follow the pronouns. Verse 15, "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. [verse 16] And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. [So he is saying he is on the side of the law. What the law says is wrong, Paul agrees. Non-believers do not agree that the law is good, and therefore they do what they want to do even though the law says to not do those things they want to do. Paul is doing what he does not want to do because he is on the side of the law.]

Verse 17, "As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me." There it is. Paul says that what I do is not I who do it, but it is sin that is in me (that is, his body) that does it. Paul cannot do it because he is totally and completely righteous in his new state. It is the sin in Paul that does it, not him. Recall 1 John 3:9. Paul is not giving excuses for his sin. He is speaking of the distinction between his new nature and the sin that is in him. This is why we should stop calling ourselves sinners. We are not sinners, we are saints who sin. The sin is not us. Our identity is not our sin. We have been washed by the Holy Spirit and been made new in Christ. Paul is going to say exactly where this sin abides in verse 24. It abides in his "body," which he calls this "body of death." And also Romans 8:10, "But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness." And really, Romans 8:10 is the summary of everything I'm trying to say. Your body is dead because sin resides in it...but your spirit is alive because no sin resides in it. Your body is not you. You are your spirit. Verse 18, "I know that nothing good lives in me, that is in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out." And we cannot carry out taming the flesh through the flesh because the nature of the flesh is to sin. We are not going to change that. We cannot change the flesh's nature. Jesus did not die to purify our bodies. He died to purify our spirits. That is why new years resolutions don't work. A new years resolution says, "I am going to give a great effort through my flesh to change my flesh and stop these additions." Well, the flesh wants to do those things, so you are not going to change that. Instead we should say, "I am going to put no confidence in my flesh (see Phillipians 3:3) and instead, submit to Jesus who will empower my spirit through His Spirit so that He will overcome these addictions for me. So Paul says in verse 18 that nothing good resides in "his flesh." But note that all the good actually resides in his new perfected "spirit." Verses 19-20, "For what I (the flesh) do is not the good I (the spirit) want to do; no, the evil I (the spirit) do not want to do-this I (the flesh) is what I keep on doing." We have to follow the "I's" because the I's are not all the same here. One is the spirit, perfected "I." The other is the flesh "I" which is not really Paul, but sin in Paul. Verse 20, "But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me."

Verse 21, "So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being [his spirit] I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body [his flesh], waging war against the law of my mind [his spirit] and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members [his body, or his flesh]." [verse 24] "What a wretched man I [the flesh] am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?" He answers his question in the next verse, "Thanks be to God-through Jesus Christ our Lord!" He continues, "So then, I [spirit I] myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature [flesh I, which he already pointed out is not really him, and also in Romans 8:10-11 shows that it is not in you, your spirit, but in your flesh, not you.] a slave to the law of sin." He tells us that our spirit is located in our inner being and in our minds. But note that our minds are located in our brains, which is made up of, yep, flesh. We think with our minds, but our thoughts are always battling the desires of and thoughts of the flesh.
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PostSubject: Who We Are in Christ/ Our New Identities in Christ (part 6/ conclusion)    Thu Feb 09, 2012 2:32 am

Who We Are in Christ/ Our New Identities in Christ (part 6/ conclusion)

Who We Are in Christ/ Our New Identities in Christ (part 6/ conclusion)
There is really no need to cover Romans 8 because in my previous post, I mentioned the important verses I would focus on. I’ll just so briefly cover a couple of important verses in Chapter 8. Verse 1 says that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Can I lose my salvation? Absolutely not! But what if I sin? The spirit you, the real you is purified, righteous and holy. Oh, beware of God’s discipline and punishment in this life for your sins! But losing salvation is not possible once you believe in Jesus to be your Savior. When God looks at us, he sees Jesus. He sees our spirits, our new selves, not our bodies or old selves. Certainly our bodies are the Temple of God. But the temple is just the house that houses our perfected spirits; Jesus did not die to save our current bodies.

The next important verse I’d like to highlight is verse 9: “You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” There is a lot in this verse, but I just want to state a huge application from it. It says that only those who have the Holy Spirit belong to Christ, and if anyone who does not have the Holy Spirit, that means that he or she does not belong to Christ. Some raise the question when does the Holy Spirit come to the believer? And can the Holy Spirit leave the believer? This verse says that the moment the person is saved, they have the Holy Spirit. It comes with the package. And in fact, the only way a person lacks the Holy Spirit is if they are not a Christian. Elsewhere the bible says that we were sealed with the Holy Spirit until the Day of Redemption. And I hope that through verse 8 and through my series you see that the flesh is synonymous with our earthly bodies, and not with “sin nature” which we no longer have.

I conclude with some final thoughts and applications. A quick summary of applications: We are no longer sinners. We act like the people we think we are. If we think we are sinners, we will live likewise, but if we know we are saints, then our focus will be living saintly. Our sin nature has been crucified and it no longer enslaves us. By putting no confidence in the flesh, and submitting to God's power, we can live by the Spirit and pull off things in our flesh that God gives us the power to do through His Spirit. Galatians 5:15 says, "So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh." God wants us to live by the Spirit only and not by the human effort of our flesh. So true that is that I can make the statement: God does not want us to live the Christian life. That’s right. God does NOT want us to live the Christian life. Only one person has lived the Christian life, and that is Jesus, and we are not Him. God wants us to submit to Jesus, put to death our flesh so that He will live our Christian lives through us. Please review these verses about this:

Colossians 2:29--"To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me."

Colossians 1:11--"being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully..."

Philippians 4:1--"I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."

Philippians 3:3--"For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh." Paul says to put no confidence in the flesh. We can't break addictions through the flesh because the flesh wants to do those additions. There is no new years resolution the flesh will abide by. So put no confidence in it. Just faith in the power of Jesus that He can do it for us.

2 Corinthians 4:11--"For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body." He says here that when we put to death our mortal bodies (the flesh) then Jesus' power is able to shine and live for us. In other words, when we die, then we live because Christ lives through us.

2 Corinthians 12:9--"But Jesus said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in (your) weakness." So Paul says, "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." He concludes that point saying, "When I am weak, then I am strong."

In Galatians 3:2-5, Paul is really talking about living the Christian life by God's efforts and not by our own efforts. He reminds the Christians that they received salvation by faith (grace) and he is wondering why they are then trying to obtain successful living by the efforts of their works. Paul is saying that miracles and successful Christian living does not come by works either--just as salvation doesn't. Successful Christian living and miracles all come through faith, that is, trusting in Jesus to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. I'll quote the passage here: "You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing--if it really was for nothing? Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?" So it goes both for our salvation and our Christian living that we are to live by faith in Christ and his power, and take away our efforts. Christ wants to work His power in our lives and we just get in the way when we try to live righteously ourselves. He does change us. If we submit to Him, He will change us and we will naturally drop all addictions because He supplies the power for our change, not from anything within ourselves—the flesh.

Finally, I need to mention the battle between our minds and the flesh. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, which reads, "For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." Paul calls this a war. A war requires two parties. No one wars against himself. Note the two parties involved in our war include "we" [Christians] versus anything that sets itself against the knowledge of God, including our thoughts. These are the thoughts of the flesh that we have to take captive as soon as they manifest themselves. Our flesh has its own thoughts and we have our righteous thoughts. We must consciously take captive every ungodly thought that the flesh brings to our minds. We must realize that not all thoughts are our thoughts. As stated in this series, the new us cannot think a sinful thought because the new us cannot sin. We must realize that a thought that tells us to disobey God is a thought that came from the flesh or from Satan or his goons who implanted that thought in us. It is not your thought. In all wars, each party camouflages themselves. The enemy does not want you to know that the thought implanted in your mind is not your thought, but his. Since it is not our thought, we don't have to act on it. We need to acknowledge it for what it is, rebuke it, and take it captive, putting the thought at the feet of Jesus, who will destroy that thought for you. But this is something that we must do. We must take the thoughts captive. If we don't they can reign in our minds and we will identify with the thoughts as our own. There is divine power available to us to demolish all strongholds. What's a stronghold? Any sinful addiction or disorder that controls our lives and minds is a stronghold. And remember, the only weapon Satan has on us are his lies. Be on guard for his thoughts he implants in us to try to get us to accept them as our own and act on them. Be on guard for the thoughts of the flesh that does the same. This concludes this series.
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