Tuesday, April 4, 2017


In many ways, the Bible claims that we are a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). Despite our many imperfections, the Bible describes us as children of light and the righteousness of God:

·       Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial [Satan]? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (2 Corinthians 6:14-16; ESV)

We are truly different from the rest of the world. We are born again (John 3:3) and regenerated by the Spirit:

·       For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit. (Titus 3:3-5)

We have been made alive and, in a perplexing sense, we are already seated in the heavenly place with Christ (Ephesians 2:7) and are becoming partakers of His Divine nature (1 Peter 1:4), having become one spirit with Him (1 Cor. 6:17) and incorporated into the Body of Christ, where we are members of each other. Consequently, we are now a holy priesthood (1 Peter 1:5).

Paul described us as an aroma of Christ:

·       But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? (2 Corinthians 2:14-16)

However, we do not see these things (1 John 3:2). They are hidden from sight (Proverbs 16:2; 21:2; 30:12). Consequently, the Lord reprimanded His Prophet Samuel:

·       “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

Unless Scripture has taught us otherwise, we highly esteem the sinful things of the world, as Jesus had warned:

·       And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God. (Luke 16:15)

How then are we to believe that we are truly a new creation, when everything we see tells us that we are not? Instead, it seems that the closer we get to God, the more we are grieved and humbled by our moral failures and the indwelling sin that wages war against our Spirit (Galatians 5:17).

Let me try to illustrate the reality of our situation this way. Paul had given us a deeper insight into the difference between us and the world. First of all, our Lord has humbled us, revealing that He has scraped the bottom of the barrel to bring us to Himself. He has chosen the least of people to make it plain that we have nothing to boast about (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).

He also revealed that, at our core, we are truly born from above by giving us a portrait of the unredeemed:

·       Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. (Ephesians 4:17-18)

At the very core of their being, they have hardened their heart against the light of God. As a result, their minds are darkened and they live in ignorance. Jesus had described them as lovers of the darkness (John 3:19-20). Consequently, they are dying a slow spiritual death as God allows them to pursue the desires of their heart (Romans 1:24-28).

Nevertheless, from the outside, they might look great. We do not perceive that their house is built on sand, lacking a foundation (Matthew 7:24-27). Admittedly, we find much to esteem about them. Samuel had so esteemed the sons of Jesse that he was ready to anoint one of them to be the next King of Israel. God had to restrain him (1 Samuel 16:6). Instead, it was the least likely one, whom God had chosen to be His King.

What does this say about us? Our heart has been regenerated. What does this look like? God gave us a picture of His new creation:

·       “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. (Ezekiel 36:26-29)

For us, this is a long and painful process. With our new and reborn heart, we want the things of God and grieve over our sins (Matthew 5:3-6), but we are opposed by the sin that still resides in our unredeemed flesh (Romans 7:25). God has made a beachhead in our lives and has guaranteed our victory and an eternal place with Him. However, we await His finished work:

·       For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? (Romans 8:22-24)

Meanwhile, we groan as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, struggling against sin, and await our completed adoption and the “redemption of our bodies.” However, Paul warned that we must not expect to see this hope. It is unseen.

However, the natural unregenerate man lacks this hope. It is foolishness to Him:

·       The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14)

He does not seek after God (Romans 3:10-12) as we do, unless our Lord is opening his heart and drawing him to the things of God. This is at the heart of the difference between the children of the light and those of the darkness. We come to the light; the others find a refuge in the darkness, where their sins are not exposed:

·       “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:19-21)

The regenerated heart is receptive to the light; the unregenerate heart hates it. However, receptiveness to the light doesn’t mean that we have much of it. Instead it is a process:

·       So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)

Notice that Jew didn’t say that “you already have the truth” but that “you will know the truth.” But how? By abiding in His Word! But it is a process. We have a long way to go, but already, we are a new creation, a child of the light.

This lesson is very important for a multitude of reasons. For one thing, the belief that we are children of the light, while the others are children of the darkness has become highly politically incorrect. We are now told that we are creating a gulf between ourselves and the rest of the world, a dangerous divisiveness, instead of trying to find a basis for unity. For example, Emergent Church guru, Brian McLaren, has charged that:

·       Christians have been taught to see in "us vs. them" terms for centuries, and it will take time to reorient faithful people in a new direction -- "us with them," working for the common good (“Huffington Post Religion Blog,” 2/19/03).

However, the entire Biblical revelation maintains this distinction. To neglect it, is to distort the entire Biblical message.

Although we do believe in finding common ground with the world, unity is something that comes from God and is found within the Body of Christ:

·       ….eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism. (Ephesians 4:3-6)

We are not free to create a unity of Spirit where one does not already exist. To force such a unity is to violate Biblical revelation, our relationship with our Savior, and to incur His displeasure.

Instead, we need to be assured of the great riches we have been given in Christ:

·       See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. (Colossians 2:8-10)

When we fail to realize how infinitely rich we are in Christ – we have become co-heirs with Him (Romans 8:17) – we can easily be taken captive by a competing philosophy to our great detriment.

Besides, when we realize what we share in common with our brethren, we become all the more ready to nurture them. Love has to begin in the household of faith:

·       So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:10)

However, this teaching also has become muted within the Church. Why? Because it is now politically incorrect to favor the brethren before others!
However, this is the very thing that Jesus called for (John 13:35; 17:20-23). In fact, the best way to love the world is to first love the brethren. Similarly, the best way to love our neighbors is to first to love our own family. If we don’t love our own family first, we cannot love the family of our neighbors. Such a love is nothing more than a sham.

One last thought! We need to believe in this reality of our salvation and our unalterable connection to our Savior that we might be full of assurance and gratefulness. It is only through this assurance that we can come before Him boldly and joyfully (Hebrews 10:19-22).

No comments:

Post a Comment