FOUR ASPECTS OF THE REST OF GOD

FOUR ASPECTS OF THE REST OF GOD Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

There are four aspects of the rest of God, that is, of our land of promise. The first is untroubled rest in the center of God’s Person and will. The second is a character like the Character of the Lord Jesus Christ. The third is an immortal, sin-free body like that of the Lord Jesus. The fourth is the inheritance of all God has made new in Christ.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Rest in the Center of God’s Person and Will—a Change in Our Motivation and Direction

    We Abide in Christ in God         God and Christ Abide in us

A Character Like the Character of the Lord Jesus Christ—a Change in Our Soul    

     Christ Is Conceived in Us       Christ Is Formed in Us          Through the gifts and ministries given by the Spirit          As we receive and reflect His Glory          As we choose to resist the lusts of the flesh   

    The Removal of the Sinful Nature From Us          Putting to death the sinful deeds of the body          Removing the sinful nature from the body of the saint          Clothing our resurrected flesh and bones with a robe of eternal life

A Body Like That of the Lord Jesus Christ—a Change in Our Appearance 

    Raising Our Flesh and Bones From the Grave      Clothing Our Resurrected Flesh and Bones With a Robe of Eternal Life

The Inheritance—All God Has Made New in Christ 

    The Nations and the Earth       All Things

Conclusion

FOUR ASPECTS OF THE REST OF GOD

So, as the Holy Spirit says: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, Where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’"  (Hebrews 3:7-11)

Introduction

The Book of Hebrews is one long exhortation to Jewish believers to make every effort to enter the rest of God. The expression "His rest" or "God’s rest" refers to Canaan, the land of promise—that toward which we are to be pressing diligently every day.

These Jewish believers knew all the points of doctrine familiar to us, and had joyfully suffered persecution. We would consider them mature Christians; but the writer of the Book of Hebrews refers to them as spiritual babies whom he could not teach the deeper things of the Lord.

The Jewish Christians were saved and filled with the Spirit of God, as we use those terms. But now they had become complacent. The writer of Hebrews reminds them that after the Israelites had been saved out of Egypt they had grown hard of heart and rebellious. Therefore God declared on oath in His anger that the Israelites would not enter His rest, the land of promise.

The implication is that the Jewish believers whom the Book of Hebrews addresses were in a situation similar to that of the Israelites in the days of Moses. They were in the wilderness of testing, and there was a danger of their becoming rebellious and disobedient, not understanding that God chastens His sons.

Perhaps we American Christians are in a similar situation today. It is possible we are becoming complacent and are on our way to rebellion and hardness of heart.

The Israelites had one advantage over us. They knew where they were going. They had been told about Canaan, the land of milk and honey. But they had lost faith that God would be able to bring them there successfully.

The Israelites knew the enemies they would encounter along the way and as they attempted to enter the good land the Lord had promised them. However, they were not told the exact geographical boundaries of their land of promise until Moses had died and Joshua was the commander of the Israelite armies.

Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Great Sea on the west. (Joshua 1:4)

Our problem is compounded in that for centuries we Christians have been looking toward a land of promise that God did not promise. We speak of Heaven, the spirit world, as being our eternal home, our Canaan. It is not. There is no passage of Scripture that states Heaven is the eternal home of the saints.

However, we do have a goal, a rest. Paul speaks clearly that he was pressing toward a mark. Paul describes his mark as knowing Christ; as knowing the power of Christ’s resurrection and the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings; as attaining to the resurrection from among the dead.

It may be true that we of today are gathered on the east bank of the Jordan, so to speak, preparing to enter our land of promise. Perhaps this is why we are beginning to think more accurately and biblically concerning our destination. It is possible that our Lord Jesus is changing from His role as Moses, the shepherd, to Joshua, the commander of battle.

It appears we understand little of that to which the Apostle Paul was referring. One would have to look about a bit to find a pastor preaching on attaining to the resurrection from among the dead as being our goal.

When any person or institution is uncertain of his or its goal, or speaks of a goal that is not really its goal, there is confusion all along the line. When we are ignorant of our goal we have no way of knowing if what we are doing is moving us in the right direction.

Because we view eternal residence in Heaven as our goal, and grace (unconditional forgiveness, as we interpret it) as the means of getting there, Christian doctrine is not as biblical as it should be. This lack of correct teaching is revealed in the spiritual immaturity of the believers, and also in the several unscriptural ideas that keep surfacing, such as the "prosperity" and "faith" errors. The pre-tribulation "rapture" error may be the most common deviation from the New Testament text.

The basic misunderstanding, from which many of the other errors proceed, is the interpretation of the Apostle Paul’s writing in Romans and Galatians to mean Divine grace is an alternative to righteous behavior, rather than what it actually is, an alternative to the Law of Moses.

Let’s move forward now and think a bit about what probably are the four principal aspects of our Canaan, our land of promise, the rest of God.

Rest in the Center of God’s Person and Will—a Change in Our Motivation and Direction

That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so the world may believe you have sent me. (John 17:21)

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

    We Abide in Christ in God.

The Lord Jesus Christ Himself is the Rest of God and always lives, moves, and has His being in the rest of God’s perfect will.

How wonderful to always live, move, and have our being in Christ, in the Center of God’s Person and will! There is no other way of living to compare with it.

Every person born on the earth, if he lives long enough, uses his brain to figure out what to do to survive; how to have pleasure; who or what to worship; and what it is he is supposed to do with his life.

If he comes to know Christ, he now has an alternative way to conduct his life. Instead of using his own knowledge, wisdom, and abilities to survive, to find pleasure, to choose what to worship, to do something meaningful with his life, he can turn to God and learn how God wants him to survive; what pleasure God wants to give him; how he is to worship God; what it is he is supposed to achieve during his lifetime.

There are not three ways of living, moving, and having our being. To not look to God for our needs is to default to our own understanding, and thus to live in bondage to Satan.

There is no rest, no deep, fulfilling satisfaction apart from the Lord Jesus Christ. Only in Christ can the human personality find the ultimate joy it is seeking.

Some Christians learn this early in their experience; some later on; some never arrive at the certainty that they can find what they are looking for only in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Christ lives in the rest of God, in God’s perfect Presence and will.

The Book of Hebrews exhorts us to make every effort to cease attempting to create our own heaven and earth and to press into the heaven and earth God has ordained for us.

The Bible says the righteous live by faith. This means the righteous live by trusting in the Lord rather than in their own abilities.

It requires faith to let go of our own schemes and just look to Christ for every aspect of our life. This was the problem in the beginning. Eve was advised that it was not sufficient to do what God said. If one was to find joy, he or she had to take matters into his own hands. This Eve and Adam did. We know the result.

Therefore one of the primary aspects of our Canaan, our land of promise, is the place of abiding in Christ. We have to fight to enter this rest because there are many forces seeking to keep us from letting go of our own understanding and ambitions, such that we might just rest in God’s will. Each one of us can indeed make a success of entering the rest of God, but we have to really be determined. Any double-mindedness in us will keep us from attaining to this part of our goal.

We must present our body a living sacrifice if we are to prove the will of God for ourselves.

    God and Christ Abide in Us.

Of course it is true that when we abide in Christ, we also are abiding in God through Christ, and God and Christ are abiding in us.

Yet there is a verse that needs our attention at this point.

Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." (John 14:23)

All through the days of our discipleship we are to be abiding in Christ and the Father, and they in us. But the above verse may indicate as we approach the end of the age and are close to the return of the Lord, the Father and the Son will enter us to a greater extent than before and make Their eternal home in us.

If this is true, then the coming of the Father and the Son to make Their eternal home in us would be the complete spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles. It is possible that we will have to have a glorified body before such fullness is available to us.

A Character Like the Character of the Lord Jesus Christ—a Change in Our Soul

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:29)

If we are to be the brothers of Christ; if we are to find and fulfill the role in the Kingdom that God has for us; we must be changed in character until we are like our elder Brother.

Think about the character traits of the Lord Jesus Christ, and then consider yourself to see how you measure up:

Joyful. Good. Courageous. Truthful. Absolutely honest. Righteous in behavior. Free from unclean spirits. Free from immorality. Free from idolatry. Meek. Generous. Dignified. Sympathetic. Sensitive to other people. Gentle in peace; fierce in war. Willing to rule; willing to serve. Helpful. Appreciative. Sternly obedient to the Father. Loving. Compassionate. Wise. Self-controlled. Faithful. Zealous for God’s will. Patient. Courteous. Peaceful. Honorable. Merciful. Humble. Friendly. Totally free from self-pity. Willing to sacrifice Himself for others. Kind.

We have a long way to go, don’t we? If we consider our own weakness and foolishness, we don’t see how we could ever arrive at such maturity.

But there is one factor we must keep in mind: it wasn’t our idea to be changed in character to this extent. It was God who chose us from the beginning of the world that we might be exactly like the Lord Jesus in our soul.

God who created the firmament with His Word is wise enough and powerful enough to make us like His firstborn Son. He made us from the dust in the first place, and He knows how to transform us. We are the grass, the flower of the field, dust being made the eternal Word of God.

Our soul is our character, as I understand it.

Our spirit is our personality, one might say. It is the communication of our soul; that which radiates from us.

Our body is merely the house in which the soul and spirit dwell. The body gives a form to our soul and spirit that other people can see. Our body is our appearance.

The battle is for our soul, our character. This is where we make our decisions, our judgments. It is our soul that is saved or lost. God tests our soul by placing it in a body with a sinful nature, in the midst of sinful people and spirits.

God is making rulers. If we are to rule with Christ, our soul must fight to do what the Spirit of God and the Word of God command.

If our soul chooses to follow the sinful nature that lives in the body, the soul will not be changed into the moral character of Christ. Our spirit, our personality, will reflect the corruption that is in our soul. Then the soul, the spirit, and the flesh will be morally filthy.

What we have become in character, in soul, will be made plain in the Day of Resurrection. God gives to every seed a body as it pleases Him.

But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. (I Corinthians 15:38)

We might infer from this that we will receive a body suitable for what we have become in our character, our soul.

    Christ Is Conceived in Us.

For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. (I Peter 1:23)

When we first believe in Christ, the Spirit of God conceives in us the Divine Seed. All that God is, is in that Seed.

We would be in despair over the idea of ever having a character like that of the Lord Jesus, except for the fact His Character is in that Seed. When the Seed comes to maturity it will be exactly like the Lord.

The Seed is Divine, not human. It reproduces the likeness of the parent from which it came. Just as the fruit of a tree is independent of the country in which it is grown, but reflects the parent from which it came, so it is true that the Seed of God is independent of the particular race or characteristics of the person but reflects the Parent from whom it came.

We cannot see or enter the Kingdom of God apart from the Seed of God that has been planted in us.

    Christ Is Formed in Us.

My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, (Galatians 4:19)

It is interesting to note that the Galatian believers were saved, as we use the term, and had received the Holy Spirit. Yet the Apostle Paul recognized that Christ had not been formed in them.

So it appears, as in the birth of a human, there is a conception and then there is a forming of the infant.

It is my opinion, based on the parable of the sower, that an individual can have Christ conceived in him, and the seed start to multiply, and then be aborted because of lack of roots or because of the cares of this world. I know there are many who maintain that once we "accept Christ" we can never lose our eternal life. I don’t think the Bible bears this out. I believe the doctrine of eternal security gives a sense of assured salvation that is not supported by the New Testament.

There are at least three ways in which Christ is formed in us:

Through the operation of the gifts and ministries given by the Holy Spirit. Through our receiving and reflecting the Glory of the Lord. Through our choosing to resist the lusts that dwell in our flesh.

    Through the gifts and ministries given by the Spirit.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. (I Corinthians 12:7)

There are many different ministries and gifts given to the members of the Body of Christ. The purpose of these is to build up Christ in the members of His Body.

Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:13)

The level of maturity that is to be reached by each one of us is stated as "the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." When God says He has predestined us to be changed into the image of His Son, God means exactly that. We may protest that the standard is higher than we can attain. If this is our attitude, we are looking in the wrong direction. It is true that in our own wisdom and strength we cannot attain such a maturity of character. But since God said it, God will do it. With God, such transformation is possible.

If we don’t believe God can do it, it will not take place.

Paul was an example of a ministry travailing to bring about the fullness of maturity in the believers in Galatia.

My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, (Galatians 4:19)

    As we receive and reflect His Glory.

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (II Corinthians 3:18)

The above verse is one of the defining passages of the new covenant. We are being transformed in character into the likeness of Christ by receiving and reflecting the Glory of the Lord.

We notice a similar passage a few verses later:

For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness,"  made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (II Corinthians 4:6)

Paul goes on to speak of the various pressures and sufferings he was experiencing. The idea seems to be that as we are brought low through tribulations, the glory of the Lord raises us up. In this manner we receive and reflect the resurrection Glory of Christ. As a result, Christ is formed in us and in those whom we influence.

    As we choose to resist the lusts of the flesh.

I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one. (I John 2:14)

Christ grows in our soul, our character, as we minister and are ministered to by the gifts and ministries given by the ascended Christ. Christ grows in our soul as we receive and reflect the resurrection Life of Christ. Christ grows in our soul as we overcome, through the Spirit, the sinful impulses that dwell in the members of our body.

When we yield to our sinful nature our soul is changed into that sin. That is how we lose our soul. Instead of our soul controlling our body and spirit, as God intends it to, the soul yields to the pressure of sin in our flesh and becomes conformed to that corruption.

One may notice that the major promises of the New Testament are to the victorious saint. The victorious saint, the overcomer, is the believer who stands strong in his or her soul. By obeying the Spirit, the soul becomes like the soul of Christ. The spirit is purified through its oneness with the Spirit of God.

The river Kishon swept them away, the age-old river, the river Kishon. March on, my soul; be strong! (Judges 5:21)

    The Removal of the Sinful Nature From Us.

I believe the most important fact we Christians of today have to learn concerning the sinful nature of man is that it is not inherent in our flesh, blood, and bones. It is a spiritual force that lives in our body.

For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; But I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. (Romans 7:22,23)

When God created man, God did not create him with a sinful nature. The sinful nature has been gained through the centuries.

I think the common teaching in the churches is that as long as we are in the world we have to sin. This concept came from Satan. It is not at all scriptural.

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves. But God has made a way for us to get rid of our sinful nature. It is not part of us. We are to reject it through the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit.

Paul tells us in the Book of Galatians that if we choose to follow the Spirit of God we will reap eternal life in the Day of Resurrection. This means we will be filled in our body, our soul, and our spirit with the eternal Life of God.

But if we choose to obey the desires of our sinful nature, we will reap corruption and destruction in the Day of Resurrection. This means our flesh and bones, when they are raised from the dead, will take on the appearance of our deformed character.

"This night your soul shall be required of you," God said to the man who decided to retire. "What will it profit you if you gain the world and lose your soul?"

You lose your soul when your soul chooses to obey the sinful nature. The soul loses all of its godly characteristics and becomes the animal that your sinful body is.

The righteous will be clothed with their godly deeds.

The wicked will be clothed with their ungodly deeds.

The above is true whether or not we have believed in Christ.

The day of the LORD is near for all nations. As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head. (Obadiah 1:15)

There is a salvation that is past, when we first believed in Christ. There is a salvation that is present, as we work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.

Then there is a future salvation. The future salvation is the removal of every trace of our sinful nature. In order to be a candidate for the future salvation we have to be faithful in living as a disciple today.

Man was not created with a sinful nature. The sinful nature began when Adam and Eve rebelled against God’s directive. It appears since that time the sinful nature has intensified with each succeeding generation.

Today we have inherited a sinful nature containing a wide range of lusts and passions. We did not ask to be born with these, with a nature that rebels against God’s eternal moral laws. God knows that we did not desire such a personality. Therefore God does not judge us for having a sinful nature but for what we do about our sinful desires.

The sinful nature resides in our physical body. It is not an inherent part of our flesh, blood, and bones. One could dissect the body in every imaginable way and not find any evidence of the sinful nature. But these compulsions are present nonetheless.

There is not much the unsaved person can do about his or her unrighteous tendencies. People know what is good and what is evil because the moral law of God is written in their conscience. There are numerous people in the world who do not know Christ but who use their will power to reject what is wicked and embrace what is righteous. Sometimes worldly people live more righteous lives than is true of Christians.

But God has a plan by which Christians can gain victory over the sinful nature, and finally be rid of it.

The operation of redemption of the body has two phases:

Putting to death the sinful deeds of the body. Removing the sinful nature from the body of the saint.

    Putting to death the sinful deeds of the body.

For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Romans 8:13,14)

In the seventh chapter of the Book of Romans, Paul explains to the Jews that the Law of Moses was unable to deal with the sinful nature. Paul wanted to practice righteousness, but the compulsions to sin dwelling in the members of his body caused him to do what he did not wish to do. The Law of Moses only made the sin appear more sinful. The Law brought sin to life, in this sense.

In the eighth chapter of Romans, Paul shows that the new covenant does have a method of dealing with sin so the believer no longer can be forced to sin.

Beginning with the first four verses, Paul stresses that whoever will believe in Christ and then follow the Spirit of God will have the righteousness of the Law ascribed to him.

Paul emphasizes that we need to pay strict attention to the Spirit of God, for the Spirit is the one who, in the Day of Resurrection, will make alive our sinful body. Making alive our sinful body means ridding it of the sinful nature that keeps it in a state of spiritual death.

Paul then tells us what to do. He urges us to put to death the actions of our sinful nature.

When we are living as a disciple, denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following Jesus each day, the Spirit of God begins to point out to us the sins we are practicing. As soon as we are shown a sin we are to confess our action clearly to the Lord. Then we are to say out loud that it is an unclean behavior, or spirit if you will, that does not belong in the Kingdom of God. We are to denounce it clearly, because our denunciation is an act of eternal judgment against Satan.

Then we are to renounce the behavior, declaring as Christ helps us we never will do this again. We are to renounce the sin vehemently; vigorously.

Then we are to ask God to fill us with the body and blood of Christ so that particular part of our personality is not left vacant but is filled with the Lord.

The reason people do not get delivered from sinful bondages is that they have not made up their mind they want to get rid of the sin. The sin feels good to them and they are unwilling to let it go. In this case the bound Christian is to pray for strength and determination so the sin might be confessed, denounced, and renounced with vigor.

Several years ago there was an emphasis on the indwelling sin being composed of various evil spirits. Some Christian leaders took objection to this teaching, claiming "a Christian cannot have a demon."

I choose to not make an issue of this. However a little reflection will reveal that if the sinful nature dwells in the members of our body, as Paul claims, and if it is not an inherent part of our flesh, blood, and bones, then maybe it does consist of unclean spirits.

My point of view has been that how one regards these motivations is not important. The object is to get rid of them, not discuss them. If a Christian tells lies, uses profanity, is addicted to lust and pornography, flies into violent rages, then we can state he is doing the will of Satan. The Apostle John informs us that whoever commits sin is of the devil.

At least we can say that Satan has a door of entrance into the believer, whether or not we want to term the wicked behavior an unclean spirit.

The above is how we put to death the wicked acts of our flesh.

Paul teaches us that if we do not through the Spirit put these deeds to death, we will die. Referring to the context, Paul means if we do not confess, denounce, and renounce our sinful deeds, we will die spiritually. When the Lord returns, the Spirit of God will not make alive our mortal body and will not remove the sinful nature from it.

This is what Paul had in mind when he said, in the Book of Philippians, that he was striving to attain to the resurrection from the dead. He meant he was pressing into Christ so at His coming the Lord Jesus would deliver him from the body of death that was keeping him from living as righteously as he would like.

Let’s think a moment about putting the sinful deeds to death through the Spirit of God.

There is a difference between putting something to death, and removing it. To put it to death is to take the life from it. To remove it is to pick it up and carry it away to some other place.

We find in the Book of Joshua that the five kings of the Amorites were brought forth from the Cave of Makkedah where they had been hiding. Then they were slain and thrown back into the cave, which then was sealed with a large rock.

At sunset Joshua gave the order and they took them down from the trees and threw them into the cave where they had been hiding. At the mouth of the cave they placed large rocks, which are there to this day. (Joshua 10:27)

This is what happens to us. First the Lord deals with our minor offenses, similar to the Israelites fighting against the Amorite foot soldiers. If we gain the victory over these, the Lord brings out the great kings of our personality that have been in hiding. These kings, who directed the lesser offenses, may be lust, or murder, or lying, or sorcery, or fear, or pride, or unbelief, or covetousness.

As we name them, denounce them, and renounce them, the Spirit takes the life and fire out of them. He leaves them in our personality, but we now can overcome their lusts and passions.

Let us keep in mind that if we do not continue to live as a fervent disciple, these kings can come back to life.

The sinful nature in us has been killed as we have dealt with its components, but it will be resident in us until the Day of Resurrection.

    Removing the sinful nature from the body of the saint.

Who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (I Peter 1:5)

Now we come to the actual removal of the dead "kings."

The New Testament speaks several times of a redemption that is coming in the last time. That redemption is the removal of the sinful nature, the dead kings, from our body.

And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. (Romans 13:11)

Who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:14)

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30)

Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:23)

Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:27,28)

We know from the Scripture that when the Lord appears, those who had died in the Lord will be raised from the dead, and then they and the living saints will be changed.

Our flesh and bones will be preserved. The blood will be gone. Then our flesh and bones will be clothed with what we have done during our lifetime on the earth.

If we have sown to the Spirit of God, choosing to deny the sinful nature that lives in our body, our resurrected flesh and bones will be clothed with a body of eternal life. It is at this point that our sinful nature, which we had put to death, will be removed from us.

The Apostle Paul was seeking to get rid of the sinful nature—not to be disembodied, not to be unclothed—but to be rid of the sin and death.

This is what it means to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

We will not be free from physical death until the sinful nature has been removed from our body. Our body at the present time is dead because of sin, and it will not experience eternal resurrection life until the sin has been removed.

But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. (Romans 8:10)

The Lord Jesus told of the time when the sinful nature would be removed from the saints.

As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. (Matthew 13:40-43)

I seem to find two groups in the above passage: those of the Kingdom from whom the sin is removed; and then those who do evil.

"Everything that causes sin," which I take to be the sinful nature.

Then, "all who do evil."

If Christ removed from the Kingdom every person who does evil, there would be no one left. So I think the meaning is that the sinful nature will be removed from those who have followed the Lord diligently, but those who have yielded to the sinful nature will themselves be removed from the Kingdom—not just the sin, but those who have yielded to it.

This follows Paul’s teaching:

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7,8)

The practical import of what I am saying must be clear by now. As in the case of the Apostle Paul, we must attain to the resurrection to eternal life—the resurrection that will take place when Jesus next appears. If we are to be raised at that time, before the thousand-year Kingdom Age, we must have lived as a disciple, putting to death through the Spirit the actions of our sinful nature. We must sow to please the Spirit.

But if we sow to please our sinful nature, then, when the Lord appears, the sinful nature will not be removed from us. We have not been faithful in the least and we will not be trusted with the greater. We will reap destruction in that our body, after it is raised from its place of interment, will reflect in itself the corruption we have chosen during our lifetime on the earth. We will receive the bad we have done, as Paul warned.

I think the consensus today is that all who have made a profession of belief in the Lord Jesus Christ will be raised and caught up to meet the Lord in the air when He appears. If this popular belief is true, then several passages of the New Testament are quite misleading.

For myself, I am not going to rely on the popular traditions. I believe the Apostle Paul when he stated that if we continue to live according to the sinful nature we will die spiritually; we will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

Grace and mercy do not enter this equation. It is the Kingdom law of sowing and reaping with which we are dealing. We cannot sow to our sinful nature and reap eternal life, not by grace, mercy, God’s love, or any other factor.

Grace and mercy operate now, as we come to the Lord and receive forgiveness for the sins of the past. They do not change the statement of Paul that we will receive, at the Judgment Seat of Christ, that which we have practiced in the body, whether it be good or whether it be bad.

One of the greatest of all inheritances will be a body that is free from the sinful nature.

    Clothing our resurrected flesh and bones with a robe of eternal life.

For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. (II Corinthians 5:4)

The final answer to Paul’s cry to be delivered from the sinful nature will come as we are clothed with a robe woven from resurrection life. There will be no sinful nature in this robe.

Think of it! Total freedom from sinful compulsions!

Every time we are obedient to Christ in our trials, a robe is woven for us in Heaven; a covering that will clothe our flesh and bones when they are raised from the dead.

If we are faithful in confessing and renouncing our sins, we will keep our robe clean. In this manner we keep washing our robe in the blood of the Lamb.

But if we are not faithful in confessing and renouncing our sins, our robe will be filthy with the filthiness of our sinful nature. When the Lord returns and our flesh and bones are raised from the dead, we will be clothed with a filthy robe.

I have included this topic, "clothing our resurrected flesh and bones with a robe of eternal life," under two headings: "The Removal of the Sinful Nature From Us"; and "A Body Like That of the Lord Jesus Christ—a Change in Our Appearance."

The reason for including the same topic under two different headings is that the covering of our resurrected form with the robe of eternal life has two different effects: first, it is part of the abolition of the sinful nature; second, it causes our outward form to resemble that of the Lord Jesus. It is a change in our appearance.

A Body Like That of the Lord Jesus—a Change in Our Appearance

    Raising Our Flesh and Bones From the Grave.

All people who have been born on the earth will be resurrected—each at the appropriate time.

The Lord Jesus was the first to come forth from the grave. He now is clothed with the fullness of God’s Glory.

Next in line will be those who, through the Spirit of God, have gained victory over the sinful nature. These are the overcomers of the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation. They will come forth and be clothed with a body like that of the Lord Jesus. They will reap what they have sown. They have sown to righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God, and they will reap righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God—the fullness of eternal life.

After the victorious saints will come the remainder of mankind. Each one will receive what he or she has done in the body while living on the earth.

In the present hour we cannot tell what a person is really like by looking at his body, his or her outward form. But in the Day of Resurrection, all shall be made manifest. We shall look like what we have become through Christ. We shall be revealed, we might say.

Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God. (I Corinthians 4:5)

The error of today’s teaching is the notion that no matter how we have behaved we will look like Christ in the Day of Resurrection. This would mean the Kingdom law of sowing and reaping had been done away. This is not a scriptural position. God will not be mocked.

We have the opportunity through Jesus Christ to become a new creation. But if we do not take advantage of this opportunity, choosing instead to follow our sinful nature, then we indeed shall reap corruption and destruction. This is what the New Testament states.

The greatest enemy of man, and the last enemy to be overcome, is physical death. It was immortality in the body that was lost in the Garden of Eden. Physical death renders useless the learning and abilities we have acquired during our lifetime; except, of course, what we have experienced concerning the Lord.

I notice that recently in the newspaper there are companies that are advertising hormones and other medicines designed to promote a long life. The fountain of youth is being sought.

These efforts, however commendable, are doomed to failure. They are doomed to failure because it is sin that causes the body to die. It may or may not be true that the longevity of the earliest people, as described in the Book of Genesis, was due to the fact that the sinful nature had not grown to the level that is the case at the present time.

We are to overcome and put to death the sinful deeds of our body today.

At the end of the age, the sinful nature will be removed from our personality.

The central hope of the Christian Church is the resurrection from the dead. The climactic act of redemption is the resurrection from the dead. By the central hope and the climactic act I mean the resurrection to eternal life. All people shall be resurrected sooner or later. But not all shall be resurrected to eternal life.

We Christians are in the pursuit of immortality in the body. This is what was lost in the Garden of Eden. This is what we are to regain in Christ—eternal life in our inward nature and immortality in our physical body.

Jesus shall call forth all who have lived at one time on the earth. Their flesh and bones shall be animated, just as His were. They shall stand on their feet. They will not have been animated by eternal life but by the power of God, the power that operates the universe.

It is what takes place after the raising of the flesh and bones that is of supreme importance, for it is at this point that we shall receive our reward.

    Clothing Our Resurrected Flesh and Bones With a Robe of Eternal Life.

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 through his Spirit, who lives in you. (Romans 8:11)

Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:23)

For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. (I Corinthians 15:53)

If we have been faithful in following Christ, denying ourselves, bearing our personal cross, confessing and renouncing our sins, following Christ every day, we have a house in Heaven—a robe that we have kept clean by obedience and repentance.

In that Day, Christ will clothe our risen flesh and bones with the robe that has been woven as we have sown our physical body to the death of the cross.

I stated previously that this clothing will result in final freedom from every aspect of the sinful nature.

A second effect is that we shall shine forth as the sons of God in His Kingdom.

Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. (Matthew 13:43)

Our appearance after we have been raised and clothed with the robe of eternal life may very well determine our rank and role in the Kingdom of God. Perhaps our eternal destiny will be affected.

We can see from this that the focus of our Christian discipleship should be, as it was with the Apostle Paul, attaining to the resurrection from the dead, that is, the first resurrection—the resurrection that will take place when the Lord appears from Heaven.

I suppose when we die we will go where we fit, to a place suitable to our level of spiritual maturity. I can’t be more specific because of the paucity of passages that deal with the state of the Christian after death.

Our emphasis should not be on what happens to us after we die but on what happens to us in the Day of Resurrection. It is at that point that our future shall be decided.

Like the heroes of faith, we should be seeking a "better resurrection."

Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. (Hebrews 11:35)

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so they will be like his glorious body. (Philippians 3:20,21)

The Inheritance—All God Has Made New in Christ

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. (Romans 8:17)

    The Nations and the Earth

When our character has been changed to be like the Character of the Lord Jesus Christ, and our body has become like His glorious body, we will dwell in untroubled rest in the center of God’s Person and will. We will then be prepared to share in the inheritance with Christ.

The central aspect of Christ’s inheritance, and consequently ours, is the nations of the earth and the farthest reaches of the earth. From my point of view, the inheritance includes the present earth, especially after the Lord’s return, and also the new earth.

I know there are those who are teaching that the new earth will be the present earth purified in some manner. I do not believe this is a fact. It seems to me the Scripture stresses that the present sky and earth will pass away and there will be a new sky and a new earth.

We ordinarily do not refer to an object as being new even though it has been refurbished. A new car is a new car, not a used car that has been fixed up and repainted.

The present earth would not be able to hold all the people of the coming ages unless it was expanded many times in size. Neither could it support the new Jerusalem, a cube 1,400 miles on a side.

Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. (Psalms 2:8)

We may think we want the spirit Heaven, and gold and precious stones, as our inheritance. We are mistaken. The only inheritance worth having is people. Also, we would miss the earth were we removed from it.

It has been given to man to govern all the works of God’s hands. Christ is the first Man in God’s image. After Christ, there will come many brothers who will share the inheritance with Christ.

Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,  and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:12)

    All Things

The inheritance includes all that God has made new in Christ.

He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (Revelation 21:7)

"Inherit all this" refers to all that will be included in the new heaven and earth reign of Christ; all that God has made new in Christ.

Conclusion

So then, no more boasting about men! All things are yours, Whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas  or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, And you are of Christ, and Christ is of God. (I Corinthians 3:21-23)

God set a clear goal before the Israelites. Their goal toward which they were traveling was Canaan, the land of milk and honey.

Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Great Sea. (Joshua 1:4)

God has set a clear goal before us Christians. As I stated previously, it is divided into four parts:

Rest in the center of God’s person and will—a change in our motivation and direction. A character like the character of the Lord Jesus Christ—a change in our soul. A body like that of the Lord Jesus Christ—a change in our appearance. The inheritance—all God has made new in Christ.

When we first believe in Christ we have the wonderful experience of knowing our sins have been forgiven and of being born again by the Spirit of God.

After that we may have been filled with the Spirit to the point of speaking in tongues.

In addition we may have received one or more gifts of the Spirit, and perhaps a ministry of some sort.

It is possible we have viewed these initial experiences as being all God has for us until we die and go to Heaven. But this is not the case.

Placing our faith in Christ and in His blood atonement gives us the authority to pursue the rest of God.

Receiving the Spirit and walking in the Spirit provide the wisdom and power we need to overcome the sinful nature and to bear witness of the atoning death and triumphant resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

Receiving and pursuing a ministry gives us the opportunity to build up ourselves and others into the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God.

However, none of these is the goal, the land of promise of the Christian. Rather they are the means of attaining to the goal.

The goal consists of the four aspects I have mentioned previously.

Let each one of us begin at the level we already have reached until we attain to the fullness of all God has promised in His Word. Every resource has been provided. The only power that can prevent us from attaining to the fullness of the inheritance is our own unbelief and disobedience.

All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained. (Philippians 3:15,16)