Jesus Christ is Lord of All

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Unity # 15: The Special Note and Vindication of the New Nature

Unity # 15: The Special Note and Vindication of the New Nature 

Dear Father,     
     You are the One who vindicates the glory of Your Name. You remain faithful to Yourself and Your people whom You have called as a part of Yourself. When we go through periods of faithlessness, you remain faithful, and You bring us back to the mind that is driven by faith. You cannot disown Yourself. You do not allow Your glory to be removed or shame to be brought to Your purposes and those who carry Your banner. Thank You for giving us a pure and enduring faith that will remain until the end after being brought through many fires.  In Jesus Christ’s Name, Amen  

Dear Beloved,    
     In the past couple weeks, I have been writing about the regeneration of the people of God by which they die to the old man, are raised with Christ, and are given a new nature made to be like Christ in true righteousness and holiness. This new nature is not only able to obey the Law of God through the Spirit’s power and grace, but the war between the Spirit which inhabits us and the flesh remnant that we still possess has eternally drifted in one direction. For the remainder of our lives, we will see the Spirit’s victory over each sin of the flesh as our heavenly Father fulfills the good work which He started in us. The indwelling Spirit in the regenerate person refuses to let him/her continue in sin because the practicing of sin is in direct opposition to the true regenerate nature of the person. Indeed, God’s New Covenant includes both the forgiveness of our sins and the installation of a new heart and spirit and the inclining of our hearts to fear Him and to obey His Law.

On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining. 1 John 2:8

     This letter is about God’s vindication of His people. The term “special note” in the title of this letter is taken from 1 Thess 3:14-15 which says, “14 If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. 15 Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” When professing believers fall into deep sin, severe discipline is administered to these people by God and is sometimes delivered though the people of God. There were three instances of individuals whom the apostle Paul instructed the people of God to hand over to Satan, so that their flesh would be destroyed and their souls would be saved. Similarly Paul tells the Corinthian church to judge those who are within the church, to expel the wicked person from among them, and to leave the judgment of unbelievers to the Lord (1 Cor 5:12-13). The glorious truth is that, in such cases where a straying believer is judged by the church, if he has truly been regenerated, he will surely be brought back and restored to the assembly of believers. As Paul spoke to the Corinthians about the man who had strayed in sin, “5 But if any has caused sorrow, he has caused sorrow not to me, but in some degree—in order not to say too much—to all of you. 6 Sufficient for such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the majority, 7 so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him. (2 Cor 2)”
     Dear saints, God vindicates His people. As Paul told Timothy, “It is a trustworthy statement: for if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He will also deny us; If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself (2 Tim 2:11-13)”. How does He remain faithful when we are faithless? Does He simply forgive our faithlessness? He surely does, but He is faithful to the entirety of His New Covenant and thus brings us back to the abiding of ourselves in Christ. He does not let us remain continually astray. There is something quite remarkable that God taught me this week. I was convicted of the countless instances in my life where I acted, spoke, or reasoned so as to defend my actions or words. I had taken it upon myself to defend myself. And yet, I had forgotten that God is my Vindicator. As followers of Christ, we truly are our regenerate selves. Our new selves are already perfect, seated in the heavenly realms with Christ. Our old natures are dead, and yet we still contain the flesh remnant. So when I defended myself, I was either defending my flesh remnant or my perfect regenerate self. There is no reason to defend the carnal flesh, for this flesh is not worthy of defense. There is no reason to defend my regenerate self because Christ defends it on the basis of His own blood; He is our Advocate. Furthermore, to defend my regenerate self rather than trusting Christ to vindicate me would be to defend the perfected new creation with my carnal flesh; how foolish this would be! And if Christ defends our regenerate self, and this self is who we truly are [we are not the old man any more], what more must I defend. Indeed I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and have Himself up for me (Gal 2:20). We have died and our lives are hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then we also will be revealed with Him in glory (Col 3:1-4). Dear saints, we need not defend ourselves, for He is our Defender and He has surely made us new. Christ is our example. When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously (1 Peter 2:23). Even Christ trusted His Father for vindication. As Paul tells Timothy “16 By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, was vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory. (1 Tim 3)”
     The Lord God has given us the tongue of disciples, that we may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He awakens us morning by morning. He awakens our ears to listen as His disciples. He opens our ears, and by His grace we are not disobedient or rebellious. We would give our back to those who strike us, and our cheeks to those who pluck out our beard; we do not cover our faces from humiliation and spitting. For the Lord God helps us. Therefore, we are not disgraced; Therefore, we set our faces like flint. We know that we will not be ashamed. Our God who vindicates us is near; who will contend with us? Who has a case against us? Let him draw near to us. The Lord God helps us? Who is he who condemns us? Behold they will all wear out like a garment; the moth will eat them up. (Is 50:4-9) Dear saints, listen to the Words of our God from Is 51:7-8, 12-13.

7 “Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, A people in whose heart is My law; Do not fear the reproach of man, Nor be dismayed at their revilings. 8 “For the moth will eat them like a garment, And the grub will eat them like wool. But My righteousness will be forever, And My salvation to all generations.”  
12 “I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you are afraid of man who dies And of the son of man who is made like grass, 13 That you have forgotten the LORD your Maker, Who stretched out the heavens And laid the foundations of the earth, That you fear continually all day long because of the fury of the oppressor, As he makes ready to destroy? But where is the fury of the oppressor? Is 51 

     God tells us to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith. If we are regenerated, we will surely recognize that Christ is in us, not because all of our actions and meditations have always been perfect, but because He has shown us His grace, transformed us, and continues to make us like His Son. However, for those who are not regenerate such an examination would be failed. We pray to God that we may never do wrong, not so that we ourselves may appear approved, but so that we may do what is right, even though we may appear unapproved. For we can do nothing against the Truth, but only for the Truth (2 Cor 13:5-9). The faith which our heavenly Father has given us is more precious than gold, which is perishable. Through great trials and temptations, the proof of this faith, even through tested by fire, will be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Pet 1:6-7). As we discover the extent of the moral depravity of our flesh, and falter in inner turmoil in the midst of trials and disaster, we will find that time after time, God will bring us out as
gold. He will cleanse us of each stronghold of the flesh and each component of moral filth through this refinement. Because of His gift of faith, we will always come out as pure gold. We are His, dear saints. We are His. With our mouths we give thanks abundantly to the Lord; and in the midst of many we praise Him. For He stands at the right hand of the needy, to save him from those who judge his soul. (Ps 109:30-31)
     One of the effects of our belief in God’s vindications of our souls is that our perspective towards other people is also based on God’s vindication of His own Name. From now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Because we are in Christ, we are new creatures; the old things passed away; behold new things have come. (2 Cor 4:16) We do not hold our faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. If a man comes into our assembly dressed with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and a poor man also comes in with dirty clothes, and we pay special attention to the one who wearing the fine clothes, giving him more hospitality and honor, while neglecting the honoring of the poor man, we have made distinctions among ourselves and become judges with evil motives. Remember, beloved that God chose the poor of this world, whether poor in material wealth or other kinds of poverty of spirit, to be rich in faith and heirs of the Kingdom which He promised to those who love Him. We must not dishonor the poor man. (James 2:1-6) Rather we must know that each of the people of God has received a special gift which must be employed in serving the body of Christ as good stewardship of the manifold grace of God. (1 Peter 4:10) Another way that we could err by regarding our flesh is to present ourselves with superiority of speech and wisdom as we proclaim the testimony of God. We should rather determine to know nothing among the people of God except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. As Paul told the Corinthians, “ 3 I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, 4 and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. (1 Cor 2)”
     Recalling the special note that we discussed that should be made of those who claim to know Christ and yet live in a continual lifestyle of unrepentant sin, we must remember God’s command to bear with and forgive one another. If we have a complaint against someone, we must forgive as the Lord forgave us. (Col 3:13) Indeed, love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). When someone sins against us, we always are to forgive them. 1 Thess 3:15 tells us that we are not to regard those who live in sin as an enemy, but rather to admonish him as a brother. Because our vindication comes from Christ, when someone sins against us, we must always forgive, entrusting judgment to our Father. When we are sinned against, our own retaliation, lack of forgiveness, and lack of love is a form of self defense. And again, it is useless to defend our carnal flesh, and Christ is the Defender of our regenerate selves and the glory of His Name. So yes, let us rebuke, admonish, warn, and exhort one another to
uphold the honor of God’s Name and Truth, but may we never fail to maintain love, mercy, and hope.
      And yet when others continue to sin against our God, we must be jealous with God’s jealousy as Phinehas was when the Israelites sinned and in so doing turned away God’s wrath from the sons of Israel so that they were not destroyed (Num 25:11). May zeal for His house consume us, and may we be willing for the reproaches of those who reproach Him fall on us (Ps 69:9). But our love and forgiveness must always be maintained towards all people, even professing Christians who live in sin. As long as the people of the earth have life and breath, we must hope and pray for their repentance. If only we truly understood the coming judgment, that the prince of the world stands condemned, we would realize that every deed, both big and small, will come into judgment. Each deed is either covered by the blood of Christ, in which case our bitter and malicious words against someone are our own attempt to judge the law. But we know that there is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy. But we are no one to judge our neighbor (James 4:11-12). And if the deeds of others are to be judged by the wrath of God at the time of final judgment, the torment that awaits them is infinitely more than what can be avenged by man. May we tremble in fear at the judgment that awaits those who remain under and even now drink from the cup of His wrath.

19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. 20 “BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Rom 12 

    Yes, while they breath, there is always hope that God will grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the Truth and that they will come to their new senses of the Mind of Christ possessed by the regenerate spirit (2 Tim 2:15).

Love in Christ,  Preethi

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