WHAT IS GOD DOING TO US?
Copyright © 2017 Robert B Thompson. All Rights ReservedScripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. (II Corinthians 5:17-19)
What God is doing to His elect is utterly profound. It is nothing less than the flesh being made the Word of God. But then, what would we expect considering that God is creating a family for Himself?
I refer to us as the fellowship of the Bosom. We are dwelling for eternity in the Bosom of the Father. Each of us in the Bosom (the center of God's personality) has a fanatical, fierce, determination that God's complete will shall be accomplished in every aspect of His creation.
No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known. (John 1:18--RSV)
I believe this determination originated in the ancient days in Bible school, where it was taught that no one can do God's complete will, and He has given us grace so we can be accepted by Him even though we are partly in a state of rebellion.
In those days, when I was a lot younger than I am now, I decided that if God would keep showing me His will, and providing the enabling wisdom and power (grace), I would do His will. I have kept that promise for seventy years and have no intention of changing one whit!
The profound work of the new covenant in transforming us into a new creation has something to do with writing the will of God in our mind and heart, and with the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. But I am not clear as to how all this comes together.
I do realize that the blood of Christ is to become our life, and the flesh of Christ is to become our substance.
In addition to this transformation, we are to have the mind of Christ.
One thing I do understand is that the new creation is infinitely more than a nice person who is involved in religion. The new creation is the offspring of God. Their metabolism is conducted by the Spirit of God. Their being is of the Substance of Christ. Their Law is the Holy Spirit Himself, working in them. They still are human, but their Nature is that of Jesus Christ Himself.
They are life-giving spirits, prepared to go to the farthest reaches of the creation, bringing the Presence of the Godhead with them. These are God's chariots, now taking the place of the Cherubim.
There is a point of doctrine that I never have understood clearly. I understand that the blood of animals, under the covenant of Moses, enabled God to forgive the sins of those who had transgressed the Law unintentionally.
But the Book of Hebrews contrasts the covenant of Moses and the new covenant by stating that the old covenant could never take away sins, the implication being that the new covenant, the Christian covenant, can take away sins. This is why the Book of Hebrews states that God already has forgiven all our sins.
In other words, when we receive Christ, all our sins are forgiven and the issue no longer is forgiveness but bringing forth a new creation.
We no longer are playing the game: I sin, and God forgives me. I sin again, and God forgives me. I sin again, and God forgives me. We may suppose the game will be played in Heaven, but such never will be true of the family of God.
We must understand clearly that when God speaks of taking away our sins, He does not mean merely forgiving our sins. He means removing the sinful acts of our personality.
There are three sinful acts of our personality: the love of and participation in worldly activities and trusting in the world to satisfy our need for pleasure and security; the various lusts of our flesh; and self-will, self-love, and all the remaining symptoms of our self-centeredness and willful stubbornness.
The desires of our flesh.
The new creation no longer harbors a love for these three forms of rebellion against God, because it is in the image of God. God is not afflicted with these three perversions. He is holy!
For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more. By calling this covenant "new," he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear. (Hebrews 8:12,13)
"Moses" is dead. The new covenant has come. But does that mean we are free to sin?
My personal opinion is that numerous Christians think it does.
My belief is that we of today do not understand the new covenant clearly. On the one hand we say that God sees us through Christ and therefore He does not see our sinful behavior. On the other hand, we may be confused about the seventh-day Sabbath. Do we observe it or not?
It appears to be difficult for us to consider the Sabbath commandment as obsolete. Isn't that true? It is because we do not understand the new creation, the Christian covenant.
Let's think for a moment about God's desire. God is building a family of sons and daughters. He created them to be in His image and to govern the works of His hands. Therefore a covenant that is restricted to continually forgiving their antics is not fulfilling God's desire.
God is developing a new creation that does not trust the world (Antichrist) spirit; that does not have in its body a lust to sin; and that has had its personality changed from a living soul to a life-giving spirit.
But all of us who are pursuing Christ at all times find that we behave on occasion in a manner not true to the image of God. What then do we do?
We confess our sinful behavior and look to our Master to take the desire out of us.
The Bible says if we confess our behavior that is not in the image of God, God will forgive our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
And cleanse us from all unrighteousness!
God not only keeps us in a state of forgiveness but cleanses us.
By confessing our behavior I do not mean merely making a list of what we are doing, I mean looking to Jesus to help us turn away from the behavior. We must abhor our sin, being determined fiercely that it shall no longer be a part of our personality.
Are you determined to be cleansed of everything in your personality that is not of God? If not, get that way if you expect to be taken to the Lord when He appears.
I have prayed with people who have stated they want to be released from the bondage of alcohol. Sometimes they are not delivered after the prayer. Why is this? It is because they do not truly desire to be delivered from alcohol. They cannot even imagine being delivered from their beer.
What does this tell us. It tells us that in order to participate in the program of becoming a new creation we must count our first adamic life, our soul, as dead. We must reckon ourselves dead, as Paul taught us.
If we think that all people who want to become a new creation will be ready to turn away from their first personality and follow the Lord Jesus, we are sadly mistaken.
They may talk the Christian talk. But down deep in them is their self-love.
If we ask God in sincerity to crucify that self-will, God will bring us into circumstances that expose our love of self. Then we must offer up to God our "Isaacs."
Offering to Christ all of our idols is as easy or as difficult as we make it. We can give our idols to Christ joyfully, or we can moan about how we are suffering. The choice is up to us.
Much of the Christian discipleship is a matter of our choices! We shall be tried at the Judgment Seat of Christ concerning our choices, not about the fact that we were born in sin.
I think the great error of our day, the error that has produced a seemingly endless spiritual immaturity, is the idea is that "grace" is God's way of enabling us to disobey His will and still have God's approval. "I know I shouldn't do this, but God will bring me to Heaven by grace."
On one occasion a girl told me that she was going out with a young man and they would do sinful things. But that was acceptable to God because the next day they would say they were sorry and God would save them by grace.
I wonder how many Christ believe that because of Divine grace they can sin willfully.
If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. (Hebrews 10:26,27)
If the verse above were preached in every pulpit in America, I believe we would see a great revival, as the Christian people began to call upon God for purification.
Divine grace is God in Christ enabling us to grow into His image. It signals complete release from the Law of Moses, including the Sabbath, but it is not a license to sin. It is not God's way of bringing us to Heaven while we still are in our old adamic nature.
What is the solution? The solution is the Holy Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit, the born-again experience, and the understanding that God will enable us through Christ to overcome worldliness, the lusts of our flesh, and our self-will.
Did you know that God poured out His Spirit at the beginning of the twentieth century? People began to speak in tongues, because that is the new covenant way of demonstrating that people have received the Holy Spirit. That dispensation of the Spirit was issued because God is moving us toward His image.
As we might expect, following the example of the Jewish elders in rejecting Christ, speaking in tongues was not received by everyone. I guess speaking in tongues was not dignified enough for many seasoned Christians.
I just wish people would read their Bibles. Isaiah tells us that speaking in tongues is the way into the "rest of God." And so it is. It enables us to converse with God when ordinary utterance seems to weak to cope with our fiery trials.
Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people, to whom he said, "This is the resting place, let the weary rest"; and, "This is the place of repose"— but they would not listen. (Isaiah 28:11,12)
Instead the people preferred a Moses-like program of works instead of dancing with the Spirit of God.
So then, the word of the Lord to them will become: Do this, do that, a rule for this, a rule for that; a little here, a little there so that as they go they will fall backward; they will be injured and snared and captured. (Isaiah 28:13)
Paul was captured, wasn't he, when he tried to deal with covetousness in his own strength.
I personally speak in tongues a great deal, It is an important aspect of my worship of God.
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. (I John 2:15)
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)
I think it is clear enough that we are not to continue in sin. But how do we respond to temptation when God already has forgiven us?
The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: "This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds." Then he adds: "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more. And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary." (Hebrews 10:16-18)
Notice that the problem is that if we continue live in the appetites of the flesh we will not inherit the Kingdom of God. The issue is the Kingdom of God, not Heaven. We were born again so we would enter the Kingdom of God.
I have said that the solution is the Holy Spirit.
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. (Galatians 5:16-18)
In order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:4)
So what it boils down to is that while the Law of Moses consists of the adamic man obeying various rules and regulations (do this, do that), and being forgiven by the offering of the blood of innocent animals, the new creation is quite different. It consists of our inner nature not being removed but being changed into the substance and nature of Christ.
Our mind and heart are not being replaced. God is writing His Laws in them. This was not true under the old covenant.
It reminds me of the butterfly coming from the cocoon. According to my understanding, the emerging butterfly does not leave a shriveled up caterpillar in the cocoon. Somehow, in a manner suggesting our own transformation, the caterpillar has become the butterfly.
Obviously this is different from the adamic man empowered by his fleshly nature endeavoring to obey what Moses had declared.
Why then did God give the Law of Moses? Its purpose was to keep sin under control until the promised Seed, the Lord Jesus Christ, should come and make an atonement for the sins of the world by the sacrifice of Himself. Now that the grand atonement has been made, there are no more offerings for sin.
The obligation on us now is to walk in the Spirit of God; listening to and obeying the will of Christ at each moment; presenting our physical body a living sacrifice; overcoming through Christ the temptations to sin that Satan presents to us. This is not always easy; but the rewards for pursuing the life of victory in Christ are absolutely incredible!
We indeed would be foolish to go back to the "Do this, do that, a rule for this, a rule for that; a little here, a little there."
We have to learn how to live in the Spirit, and speaking in tongues helps a great deal. We note that Jesus Christ thinks as God is thinking; speaks as God is speaking; acts as God is acting. This is the way one lives in the Spirit and overcomes sin.
We are to think along with the Lord Jesus; speak along with the Lord Jesus; act along with the Lord Jesus—at all times, day and night. The result will be that we will become the image of God in our behavior.
You might say, "Oh Brother Thompson, I could never live like this. I have accepted Christ as my Savior and that is as far as I want to go."
My response is, "accepting Christ" is the beginning of the way to eternal life, not the entire journey. In any case, the term "accept Christ" is not in the Bible, as far as I know.
You and everyone else indeed can live like this. It is how we live in the Spirit, obeying Christ at each point of our discipleship. It is a choice we make. If we look to God for help, we will receive it, for this is what He desires.
When we choose to obey Christ at all times, God forgives all of our sins and removes the sinful tendencies from our personality. Otherwise, the only overcomer would be the Lord Jesus. We indeed can overcome all the obstacles Satan puts before us; but we have to continually draw upon the overcoming Spirit of our Lord Jesus.
Christ is the great Overcomer. We can overcome only as we become a branch of the one true Vine.
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
Yes, or no? Will we choose life and the image of God, or continue trusting that God has given us grace because His commandments are too difficult for weak humans to obey?
Actually it is Satan whom we never can please. God's commandments are not grievous, according to the Bible.
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:24)
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: (Ephesians 6:13)
Do you and I truly desire to attain to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ? With God's help we can do it, you know!