Clearing the Rubbish Away from the New Birth

One of the best ways to counter a truth is to publish a false understanding of it so that hearers think that they understand it when they really do not. Then, let it become a cliche. Next, let it become something that is not even a miracle, just a metaphor.

Take the new birth, for example. Hearers get the idea that being born again means inviting Jesus into one’s heart. Unfortunately, what the receiver all too often thinks is that Jesus is now like a jewel in a jewel box—a treasure hidden away to bring out and wear now and then for show or in a pinch.
Otherwise, life goes on, changed, but still with the idea of a wonderful new add on to the life that is still pretty much the life that was. The truth, however, is that the new birth means that the life that was died. Yes, God could find nothing to salvage in the life that was, so He insisted that we die in Christ.

That meant that God had to crucify the old self in order to raise up a new you and me cut off from sin—cut off from the spirit of error, the enemy, who for the most part remained hidden as the operator of the old self. Death in Christ brought severing from the old operator.

This is what most Christians do not get, that they died. They did not just receive Jesus. They died. Then came burial in Christ, followed by a new resurrection and ascension self in Christ. Therefore, Christ in you does not mean Christ in the old man, but rather Christ in (even as) the new man.
The Gospel is not Christ added to the self that was, not Christ added to the old man or old self. God put that self to death in Christ. God does not even add Christ to the new self, for the new self is the human and Christ as one, while both remain in tact. This is a mystery.

How can you be a you, and Christ be who He is, and yet Christ be in you, even as you? Only God knows. But since He tells us that this is how we are made new creations, we take it by faith and walk in the Spirit.

The first half of Galatians tells us who we are. The last half tells us how we walk, which is in the Spirit. This is supernatural and never gets old. It is not information but the Spirit of wisdom and understanding guiding the new man and setting forth the path and works ordained to walk in.

To see what the new birth is means that it is no longer appealing to see life as Jesus added to a self who just needs forgiveness and then some help. No, life is a miraculous new self, created in Christ Jesus, and being led by the Spirit of the living God.

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No Longer Victims of Dysfunction

My mother-in-law, Mimi, called me about a letter she received from an inmate who attended the jail Bible study we led. He was reading a therapy type book on getting in touch with anger, experiencing anger toward his earthly father, now dead, but an alcoholic while he was a child. Mimi asked me what I thought on this point, and I could only answer from my experience, which included rage toward my own father until I was forty-five. I lived constantly angry at my earthly father until he abandoned our family when I was eleven, never to come back as we slowly discovered. In fact, he completely disappeared for one stretch of fifteen years until a younger brother located him through a genealogy book.

As a youth, I felt mostly relief over his departure, but then came growing pain as I observed my classmates with regular families. Pain later turned to anger and rage, so that by my adult Christian years, I faced the need to forgive him, which I did by faith, though persistent affirmation of forgiveness, yet the distress continued.

My own sins finally brought me to a miraculous place of experiencing God’s forgiveness toward my father, no longer holding him responsible for my own choices in life. No lingering resentment remained or lack of resolution. Then came a surprise. The Lord made clear that no Christian needs to attribute anything in life to the actions of family in the past, because He has taken us out of that earthly family, placing us in a new family, the family in which God is Father and in which no dysfunction exists. This is the inheritance of a new blood line—Christ’s, and now everything comes from Him.

Some may protest at this that we need therapy to get in touch with past hurts. This is true where denial and repression still exist, but always dredging up memories may hinder settling into Christ’s new bloodline where “old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). Satan says no closure is possible; God says it is.

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Trading Relationships for Fellowship

God tests us with others to bring detachment from human relationships. Until detachment comes, the rise and fall of sanity hinges on how our relationships are doing and not our relationship with the Lord, which is a fellowship in union, with the two as one. Marriage is a severe place of learning, and God means it to be. Without grounding in who we are, marriage will be a constant expectation that the other person will bring fulfillment.

Marriages go through severe trials, even separations, during which important decisions get made. All the while, there is a shortcut to the Promised Land called “Christ plus nothing.” This might mean solitude, even years of it, but certainly no more loneliness. Emotions, hormones, and craving for companionship feel as strong as ever, but a settling comes inside that there is joyful completeness with the Lord.

This appears strange to the world that lives by these urges and measures everything by them. Someone will say, “You need a life.” However, the reply is easy: for Colossians 3:4 says, “Christ is our life.” He is our very life. He does not give us life; He is our life. Detachment means that you have only one relationship—with God. All else is fellowship. This sounds a bit inhuman, but it is the most human thing one can do because then humanity is Spirit driven, with soul and body being the perfect instruments of Spirit.

This is the simple truth of Christianity for any open to discover it. Loneliness can drive anyone there who lets it. Those living by the law will appeal to Moses, who allowed divorce for those hardened of heart. Those questing all the way, however, will find their completion in Christ that satisfies, even in their deepest marital pain. The truth gained here will generalize, and what used to be burdensome human relationships will become opportunities for fellowship in faith. Interest in others will be driven by “What does that person need Lord?” rather than, “Why isn’t that person being what I want?” Intimacy is actually enhanced by detachment because flesh is no longer the master, Spirit is.

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Bye Bye Loneliness, Hello Christ

After an exciting courtship and start to marriage, surprise hit early when low-level depression crept in. Hungering for a spirituality forgotten during the energized time of courtship, my wife and I searched the Bible looking for answers. The one that came quickly was the glorious chapter, 1 Corinthians 2, about how no one can know the things of God except by the Spirit of God, and how God has given us His Spirit and mind to know Him.

Like a foolish Galatian, however, I soon plunged into the mentality of law in order to seek perfection. I had not had my Romans 7 awakening yet, and it would come about by trying to be the Christian that I had never been, but now would strive to become. One day this verse stood out: “his commandments are not grievous (burdensome)” (1 John 5:3). I blurted out, “That’s a lie.” I was caught. Professing to believe God’s word is inerrant, I found myself arguing with the Scripture.

God has His way of boxing us in. Jesus’ disciples had caught this, and noted psychiatrist M. Scott Peck in his best seller The Road Less Traveled voices it with the riveting three-word sentence that begins his book: “Life is difficult.” At first I was not prepared to hear, not really accepting life on God’s terms, with all its suffering and temptation. Finally, after enough Romans 7, the truth was sweet and desirable that the Christian life is not we living it, but Christ living it in us.

God created us to contain and re-express His nature of self-giving love as opposed to Satan’s nature of self-for-self, false love that enslaved us as non-Christians and still kept us in bondage in our days of carnality as Christians. The awakening is to see Christ in you—a total person who completes every Christian. There is no place for loneliness in union. Sure, there is a desire for fellowship, but no longer the sense of need that drives people into the lie of living by human relationships. One relationship does it all. Fellowship abounds with others then.

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How Does Jesus Spread Fire on the Earth?

Jesus said that he came to spread fire upon the earth (Luke 12:49). At first this sounds scary because fire can mean judgment. However, when it is the burning bush or Pentecost, it is the fire of God that fires life and is life since God is a consuming fire. The point is that fire cannot be ignored, and such is God. Those who do not know God will be consumed to their dismay, whereas those who receive Him become fire-safe and love how Christ makes fire to be the delight of fellowship. Give me fire, fire, and more fire since God is the fire of self-for-others love.

Before Jesus could spread that fire upon earth, he would have to undergo a “baptism” that would crucify our old self, and cut us off from the dominion that Satan gained over man in the fall. Only then could the Spirit come as fire because the Spirit is the gift to the resurrected human, not an addition to the old man. Jesus then talks about how this baptism and fire will divide households, setting family members against other family members.

This means that the new birth is more important than even the connection of blood family. No one is to turn down birth in God’s bloodline through Christ in order to remain in favor with earthly family. Yet, Jesus did not mean that Christians should be hostile, divisive, or contentious toward their earthly family members. The idea of dividing households and removing peace is not intended to convey hostility in those born into Christ, but to convey the hostility of those who do not want a love based on needing a savior from sin. The point is not wrath from Christians toward unsaved family members, but love that is too scary to the unsaved because they do not see who Jesus is and who He is in the one who receives Him.

Where unsaved family members act out of ill will toward their Christian family members, or where carnal Christians act in the same way, those on the receiving end can weather the attacks by knowing that Christ in them sustains these attacks and even turns them to a higher purpose of believing for the hostile ones. They root more deeply down into Christ in them, even as them, and stand in faith and love for those who do not see the true love fire from the baptism that Jesus underwent for us and as us.

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Loneliness Is a Lie

Loneliness drives much of human behavior. People thrive on social connections in every form, wondering what others are doing and who is with whom. Relationships drive life, mostly romantic, followed by family and peers; yet out on the crowded streets of life, where activity continues to escalate, loneliness still hides inside unresolved. The first lonely person was Adam in the first pages of the Bible.

God saw Adam’s loneliness and created Eve as his companion. Did she meet his need? The Bible does not offer hope that romance and marriage satisfy loneliness. When Jesus shocked his disciples with the standard for marriage that a man not divorce his wife except for fornication, his disciples answered, “If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry” (Matt. 19:10). To youth, and to those who never mature, the disciples’ view is cynical because of infatuation with fairy tale hopes in literature, television, and movies.

The disciples operated from Moses, who let husbands divorce their wives because of displeasure with them, leaving men open to find a new wife. On the succession might go, and so it is today. Lose one, find another; get rid of one, get on a high with another—with women free now as well to divorce. Many Christians think the answer lies in finding the right mate, the one of God’s leading, and that this will terminate loneliness. The scriptures do say, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD” (Prov. 18:22) and “A prudent wife is from the Lord” (Prov. 19:14). Add to that Proverbs 31 and The Song of Solomon, and the case appears fixed for marriage as the answer to loneliness.

Jesus’ disciples knew, however, that things are not so simple. Surely Pascal was right when he said that there is a God-shaped vacuum in every heart, and only God can fill it. The New Testament reveals the complete human—Christ in you. Whether married or single, in a group or not in one, every Christian is whole and complete.

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Sabbath Rest All the Time

The priesthood of Melchizedek is not based on law-keeping, but on the New Covenant, in which by faith we recognize that God has written the law upon our hearts. God promised this New Covenant by Jeremiah, and through Christ, God has brought it about for those in whom Christ lives, which means that like Moses, the type of the new man, we experience the glory of God face-to-face. Moses enjoyed this kind of fellowship on the mountain, while those under law fearfully only saw the quaking and consuming fire. Yet Moses experienced glory and light. Clearly, the Lord did not deal with Moses the way that He dealt with His people still consigned under the Law. Thus, Moses is our picture of the new man in glory.

This all has great meaning for the Sabbath, which in Hebrews is the rest of ceasing to live as if believers can do any work of their own. Rest means that Christ does all the work, which is the death of the believer but rebirth as well. When a person gets too tired to try anymore, life requires a constant miracle to continue. I for one became ready for someone else to live my life. Oddly, by coming to that, I popped back into view as a self that I had never seen before. Life formerly meant trying to be like a self that I pictured in my mind—the self I thought I should be. But this picture was a lie and satanic in origin. Trying to be like this presupposed-self also took enormous work and led to exhaustion. Satan was behind all this, authoring the lie and producing the dead works.

When Christ does all the work, then comes the discovery of the real self, the new creation. Suffering and laboring in faith continue for others but not trying to produce self-generated works (really, satanic in origin). This is the continual stream of inner resurrection, because the new self is the miracle-self. There is nothing to do but believe. The Sabbath, therefore, is all the time, and works irresistibly come from rest in a “can’t help it” life.

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