Monday, March 28, 2011

Spiritual and Spirit-Filled (Part Four)

God desires and intends that all those who have been born of His Spirit would then go on to live spiritual and Spirit-filled lives. But according to my observation (and I'm pretty sure most of you would agree) it appears that very few Christians live the kind of life they were saved to live. The apostle Paul said, "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Gal. 2:20). How many of us can say this with a good conscience or even have a good understanding of what this really means? To the saints at Corinth Paul wrote, "And I, brothers, was not able to speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to fleshy, as to infants in Christ" (I Cor. 3:1). Although they had been sanctified in Christ Jesus and were called saints (I Cor. 1:2), they were not living spiritual and Spirit-filled lives. How about us? First John 2:6 says, "He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk even as He walked." Are we walking as Jesus walked? What kind of walk did He have? John 8:28-29 says that He did nothing from Himself and that He always did the things that were pleasing to His Father. Is it possible for us to live such a life? The word of God commands that we do.

I write these things with no intention to bring condemnation, but with the hope of spiritual conviction that would lead to a spiritual and Spirit-filled life. So how can we live this kind of life?

First, we must see that we are tripartite (I Thes. 5:23). This means that God made us with three distinct parts: a body, a soul, and a spirit.

Second, it is crucial that we understand the condition of each part as children of God.

1. The body is called the body of sin and the body of death (Rom. 6:6, 7:24). Sin dwells in our mortal bodies (Rom. 6:12; 7:17). Nothing good dwells in this body of flesh (Rom. 7:18). It is in need of redemption (Rom. 8:23), and will one day be transfigured to be conformed to the body of God's glory (Phil. 3:21).

2. The soul is the psychological part in which we think, choose, have and express emotion and moods, get offended, criticize, judge, etc. It also has been damaged by sin and therefore needs to be renewed and sanctified and fully transformed from one degree of glory to another by the Spirit of the Lord (Rom. 12:2; I Thes. 5:23; II Cor. 3:18). It is called the old man which was crucified with Christ when He died on the cross (Rom. 6:6; Gal. 2:20).

3. The spirit is that which God created in us so that we could not only have fellowship with Him, but even become one with Him (I Cor. 6:17). It is a lamp to contain the Lord who is light (Proverbs 20:27). At the time of our initial salvation, it was our human spirit that was born of the Spirit of God (John 3:6). It is the place where the Spirit of God gives us the sure testimony that we are His children (Rom. 8:16). It is in this spirit that the only true worship takes place (John 4:23-24).                                                                       

In summary, our spirit is the regenerated dwelling place of God, our soul is the crucified old man in need of daily transformation, and our body is the dwelling place of sin that awaits its redeeming transfiguration.

Third, we must learn how to let the Spirit in our spirit become our dominating part.


I intend to clarify this matter in the forthcoming lessons.

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Spiritual and Spirit-Filled (Part Three)

When did you get saved? How did you get saved? Is so and so saved? These are very common questions asked by many true believers in Christ. By "saved", they are referring to the time in which through faith in Jesus Christ, someone is born of the Spirit and becomes a genuine child of God. At that moment, their human spirit is regenerated by the Holy Spirit and they become a new creation in Christ. But this is just the beginning. It is a birth. It's the beginning of a race.

To the Galatians Paul said "having begun by the Spirit...." That was the beginning of their Christian life through faith in Christ. But Peter writes in First Peter 1:9, "Receiving the end of your faith, the salvation of your soul." Paul's point in Galatians is that as our Christian life begins by receiving the Spirit through faith, it should also continue to be a life of living and walking by the Spirit by faith. This, and only this, constitute a true, spiritual, and Spirit-filled Christian life; it is the way of growing unto maturity and running well to the finish, that is, "the end of our faith."

In the previous lesson I began to list some verses that substantiate the fact that having experienced the "beginning" salvation, it is then crucial to continue to live a spiritual and Spirit-filled life to the end. I now continue.

Second Timothy 4:7-8
Close to the end of his life, Paul declared that he had "fought the good fight, finished the course, and kept the faith." It was based upon this, that he had the assurance he would receive the crown of righteousness. It was not just his initial salvation that gave him this confidence.

Hebrews 2:1-3
Here, the writer warns of drifting away by neglecting so great a salvation. It is possible to be truly saved and not give adequate daily attention to the salvation we have received. This is a serious and sober warning.

Hebrews 3:7-4:11
In using the children of Israel as an example, the writer warns the New Testament believers concerning falling away from the living God because of an evil heart of unbelief. The issue is not the loss of salvation, but of fully entering into a Sabbath rest. In fact, we are exhorted to be diligent to enter into that rest lest we end up coming short of it as did those who died in the wilderness.

Hebrews 5:10-6:1
The concern in this portion is not for initial salvation; it is for the growth and maturity of the saints. It is not normal for those who have been saved for some time to remain on a diet of milk and be dull of hearing when it comes to the solid food of the word of righteousness. It is crucial that we are all brought on to maturity.

Hebrews 12:1-2, 14-16
Having begun the race of the Christian life, we must now run with endurance by putting away every encumbrance and sin and by keeping our eyes on Jesus. If not, we are in danger of falling away from the grace of God and giving up our birthright as did Esau.

James 1:12
The crown of life is promised to those who are approved by testing as they endure trials while loving God. How different this is than the common thinking among many Christians that we are guaranteed the crown of life because of our initial salvation. That is not what the Bible teaches.

Second Peter 1:10-11
Peter charges the brothers to be diligent to make their calling and selection firm. It is this diligence that will keep them from stumbling and enable them to have a rich and bountiful entrance into the eternal kingdom supplied to them.

Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26-28; 3:5, 11-12, 21
In his apocalyptic and prophetic writing to the seven churches in Asia, John gives a very clear and strong message that reward is not given just because you are a believer in one of the churches. Reward is given to those who overcome not only the obstacles to their initial faith, but to everything that would hinder them from growing up and running well. How much overcoming is needed once we have been born of God and started the race of the Christian life!

Revelation 22:12
The Lord's reward when He comes is given based upon our work (by the Spirit by faith). Our initial salvation secures our eternity with God. But it is a spiritual and Spirit-filled fruit bearing life that brings reward when He comes.

The verses listed in this and the previous lesson should be adequate to show us that having been born of God and having started the Christian race, it is crucial and essential that we continue to grow up and run well. To be content with our initial salvation and assume that all will be well when the Lord returns is ignorance of the truth and negligence of the clear word of God.

Having seen the great need to live a spiritual and Spirit-filled life, we will continue in the coming lessons to see how such a life can be lived.

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