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    by Published on 10-15-2017 09:55 PM     Number of Views: 6 

    Conscience and Knowledge

    In abiding by the spirit and listening to the voice of conscience we should remember one thing, and that is, conscience is limited by knowledge. It is the organ for distinguishing good and evil, which means it gives us the knowledge of good and evil. This knowledge varies with different Christians. Some have more while others have less. The degree of knowledge may be determined by individual environment or perhaps by the instruction each has received. Thus we can neither live by the standard of others nor ask other people to live by the light we have. In a Christian’s fellowship with God an unknown sin does not hinder communion. Whoever observes all the will of God known to him and forsakes everything known to be condemned by God is qualified to enjoy perfect fellowship with Him. A young Christian frequently concludes that due to his lack of knowledge he is powerless to please God. Spiritual knowledge is indeed quite important, but we also know that the lack of such knowledge does not hinder one’s fellowship with God. In the matter of fellowship God looks not at how much we apprehend of His will but rather at what our attitude towards His will is. If we honestly seek and wholeheartedly obey His desires, our fellowship remains unbroken, even though there should be many unknown sins in us. Should fellowship be determined by the holiness of God, who among all the most holy saints in the past and the present would be qualified to hold a moment’s perfect communion with Him? Everyone would be banished daily from the Lord’s face and from the glory of His might. That sin which is unknown to us is under the covering of the precious blood.

    On the other hand, were we to permit to remain even the tiniest little sin which we know our conscience has condemned, we instantly would lose that perfect fellowship with God. just as a speck of dust disables us from seeing, so our known sin, no matter how infinitesimal, hides God’s smiling face from us. The moment the conscience is offended immediately fellowship is affected. A sin unknown to the saint may persist long in his life without affecting his fellowship with God; but as soon as light (knowledge) breaks in, he forfeits a day’s fellowship with Him for every day he allows that sin to remain. God fellowships with us according to the level of the knowledge of our conscience. We shall be very foolish if we assume that, since a certain matter has not hindered our fellowship with God for so many years, it cannot later be of any consequence.

    This is because conscience can condemn only to the extent of its newest light; it cannot judge as sinful that of which it is not conscious. As the knowledge of a believer grows, his conscience too increases in its consciousness. The more his knowledge advances the more his conscience judges. One need not worry about what he does not know if he but completely follows what he already does know. “If we walk in the light”—that is, if we are walking in the light which we have already—“as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin (though many are still unknown to us)” (1 John 1.7). God has unlimited light. Although our light is limited, we shall have fellowship with God and the blood of His Son shall cleanse us if we walk according to the light we have. Perhaps there are still sins today unremoved from our life, but we are not conscious of them; hence we can continue to have fellowship with God today. Let us keep in mind that, important as conscience is, it nevertheless is not our standard of holiness, because it is closely related to knowledge. Christ Himself is alone our single standard of holiness. But in the matter of fellowship with God, His one condition is whether or not we have maintained a conscience void of offense. Yet, having fully obeyed the dictates of conscience, we must not visualize ourselves as now “perfect” A good conscience merely assures us that so far as our knowledge goes we are perfect, that is, we have arrived at the immediate goal, but not the ultimate one.

    Such being the case, our standard of conduct rises higher to the degree our knowledge of the Scriptures and spiritual experience increase. Only when our lives become holier as our light progresses can we preserve a conscience without offense. It shall invariably accuse us if we accompany this year’s knowledge and experience with only last year’s conduct. God did not cut off His fellowship with us last year because of our sins unknown to us then; but He certainly shall sever it today if we do not forsake the sins unknown last year but now known this year. Conscience is a God-given current standard of holiness. Whoever violates that standard is assumed to have committed sin.

    The Lord has many words for us, but in view of the immaturity of our spiritual understanding He has to wait. God deals with His children according to their respective conditions. Due to varying degrees of knowledge in the conscience some are not conscious of sins regarded as very great by their fellow-believers. Hence, let us not judge one another. The Father alone knows how to handle His children. He does not expect to find the strength of “young men” in His “little children” nor the experience of “fathers” in the “young men.” But He does wait for each of his children to obey Him according to what he already knows. Were we to know for sure (which is not easy) that God has spoken to our brother on a particular matter and that our brother has failed to listen, then we can persuade him to obey. Yet we should never force our brother to follow what our conscience says to us. If the God of perfect holiness does not reject us because of our past unknown sins, how can we, on the basis of our current standard, judge our brother who only knows now what we knew last year?

    In fact, in helping other people we should not coerce obedience from them in small details but only advise them to follow faithfully the dictate of their own conscience. If their volition yields to God they will obey Him when the Holy Spirit sheds light on the words clearly written in the Bible. As long as his volition is yielded, a believer will follow God’s desire the moment his conscience receives light. The same is applicable to ourselves. We should not overextend ourselves to the point of exciting the strength of our soul to understand truths beyond our present capacity. If we are disposed to obey today’s voice of God, we are considered acceptable. On the other hand, we should not restrain ourselves from searching any truth which the Holy Spirit may lead us intuitively to search. Such restraint would mean lowering our standard of holiness. In a word, there is no problem for that one who is willing to walk by the spirit.
    by Published on 07-23-2017 12:23 AM     Number of Views: 43 
    1. Categories:
    2. Regeneration

    The Regeneration of Man

    Why must a sinner be born anew? Why must he be born from above? Why must there be a regeneration of the spirit? Because man is a fallen spirit. A fallen spirit needs to be reborn that it may become a new one. Just as Satan is a fallen spirit, so is man; only he has a body. Satan’s fall came before man’s; we therefore can learn about our fallen state from Satan’s plunge. Satan was created as a spirit that he might have direct communion with God. But he fell away and became the head of the powers of darkness. He now is separated from God and from every godly virtue. This, however, does not signify that Satan is non-existent. His fall only took away his right relationship with God. Similarly, man in his fall also sank into darkness and separation from God. Man’s spirit still exists but is separated from God, powerless to commune with Him and incapable of ruling. Spiritually speaking, man’s spirit is dead. Nonetheless, as the spirit of the sinful archangel exists forever so the spirit of sinful man continues too. Because he has a body his fall rendered him a man of the flesh (Gen. 6.3). No religion of this world, no ethics, culture or law can improve this fallen human spirit. Man has degenerated into a fleshly position; nothing from himself can return him to a spiritual state. Wherefore regeneration or regeneration of the spirit is absolutely necessary. The Son of God alone can restore us to God, for He shed His blood to cleanse our sins and give us a new life.

    Immediately the sinner believes in the Lord Jesus he is born anew. God grants him His uncreated life that the sinner’s spirit may be made alive. The regeneration of a sinner occurs in his spirit. God’s work begins without exception within the man, from the center to the circumference. How unlike Satan’s pattern of work! He operates from the outer to the inner. God aims first to renew man’s darkened spirit by imparting life to it, because it is this spirit which God originally designed to receive His life and to commune with Him. God’s intent after that is to work out from the spirit to permeate man’s soul and body.

    This regeneration gives man a new spirit as well as quickens his old one. “A new spirit I will put within you”—“That which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (Ezek. 36.26; John 3.6). The “spirit” in these passages has God’s life in view, for it is not what we originally possessed; it is accorded us by God at our regeneration. This new life or spirit belongs to God (2 Peter 1.4) and “cannot sin” (1 John 3.9) ; but our spirit, though quickened, may yet be defiled (2 Cor. 7.1) and in need of being sanctified (1 Thess. 5.23).

    When God’s life (which can equally be called His Spirit) enters our human spirit, the latter is quickened out of its coma. What was “alienated from the life of God” (Eph. 4.18) is now made alive again. Hence “although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness” (Rom. 8.10). What we are given in Adam is a spirit made dead; what we receive in Christ at regeneration is both the dead spirit quickened and the new spirit of God’s life: the latter, something Adam never had.

    In the Bible God’s life is often labeled “eternal life.” “Life here is zoe in Greek, denoting the higher life or spirit life. This is what every Christian receives at his regeneration. What is the function of that life? “This is eternal life,” prayed Jesus to His Father, “that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent” (John 17.3). Eternal life means more than mere future blessing to be enjoyed by believers; it is equally a kind of spiritual ability. Without it no one can know God nor the Lord Jesus. Such intuitive knowledge of the Lord comes solely upon receiving God’s life. With the germ of God’s nature within him, an individual can ultimately grow into a spiritual man.

    God’s aim in a regenerated man is for that man by his spirit to rid himself of everything belonging to the old creation, because within his regenerated spirit lie all the works of God towards him.
    by Published on 06-30-2017 10:15 PM     Number of Views: 51 
    1. Categories:
    2. Spiritual Warfare

    Make No Provision for the Flesh

    If we allow the Spirit of God to do a deeper work by the cross our circumcision will become increasingly real. “We are the true circumcision, who worship God in spirit, and glory in Christ Jesus, and put no confidence in the flesh” (Phil. 3.3). That confidence in the flesh is relinquished through the circumcision performed without hands. The Apostle makes glorying in Christ Jesus the center of everything. He explains to us that there is danger on the one side yet security on the other. Putting confidence in the flesh tends to destroy glorying in Christ Jesus, but worship in spirit gives us the blessed joy of life and truth. The Holy Spirit uplifts the Lord Jesus but humbles the flesh. If we genuinely desire to glory in Christ and to let Him secure glory in us, we must receive the circumcision of the cross and learn to worship in the Holy Spirit. Do not be impatient for impatience is of the flesh. Do not try different methods because they are useful solely in helping the flesh. We must distrust the flesh entirely, however good or able it may be. We should trust instead the Holy Spirit and submit to Him alone. With such trust and obedience the flesh will be humbly kept in its proper place of curse and accordingly lose all its power. May God be gracious to us that we may put no confidence in the flesh—yea, that we may look down upon ourselves and acknowledge how unreliable and utterly fruitless is our flesh. This is a very real death. Without it there can be no life.

    “Do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh” (Gal. 5.13). We have obtained freedom in the Lord; let us not therefore give any opportunity to the flesh, for its rightful place is death. Do not unconsciously construe the activity of the Holy Spirit to be your own, but forever be on guard lest the flesh should be revived. Do not usurp the glory of His triumph and thereby afford the flesh a chance to resume operation. Do not grow overconfident following a few victories; if so, your fall cannot be far away. When you have learned how to overcome and the flesh has long lost its power, never imagine that thereafter you are altogether triumphant over it. Should you not rely upon the Holy Spirit you will soon be thrown once more into a distressing experience. With holy diligence you must cultivate an attitude of dependency, else you will be the target of the flesh’s attack. The least pride will supply the flesh an opportunity. Do not be fearful over the possibility you may lose face before others. The Apostle, immediately after his teaching on the crucifixion of the flesh and walking in the Spirit, said: “Let us not become vainglorious” (Gal. 5.26 Darby ). If you humbly recognize how worthless you are before God, then you will not attempt to vaunt yourself before men. Suppose you hide the weakness of your flesh before men in order to receive glory. Are you not unwittingly giving occasion to the flesh for its activity? The Holy Spirit can help and strengthen us, but He Himself will not supplant us in performing what is our responsibility. Therefore to fulfill that responsibility we on the one hand must maintain the attitude of rendering no occasion to the flesh; but on the other hand we must put that attitude into actual practice when called upon to deny the flesh in all the daily realities of our walk.

    “Make no provision,” exhorts Paul, “for the flesh” (Rom. 13.14). For the flesh to operate it needs a harbinger. That is why no provision ought to be made for it. If the flesh is to be kept confined to the place of curse, we must be watchful always. We must examine our thoughts continually to see whether or not we harbor the least self-conceit, for certainly such an attitude will give great opportunity to the flesh. Our thoughts are most important here because what is provided for in the secrecy of our thought life will come forth openly in words and deeds. The flesh must never be offered any ground. Even when conversing with others we need to be on the alert lest in many words the flesh is equipped to perform its work. We may love to say many things, but if these are not uttered in the Holy Spirit it is better to say nothing. The same applies to our deeds. The flesh can conjure up many plans and methods and be full of expectations. It has its opinions, power and ability. To others and even to ourselves, these may appear to be quite commendable and acceptable. But let us be reckless enough to destroy even the best of them for fear of violating the Lord’s commandment. The best the flesh has to offer must be delivered mercilessly to death for the simple reason that it belongs to the flesh. The righteousness of the flesh is as abhorrent as is its sin. Its good acts should be repented of just as much and as humbly as its sinful deeds. We must always maintain God’s view of the flesh.

    In case we fail, we must examine ourselves, confess our sin, and resort to the cleansing of the precious blood. “Let us purify ourselves from every pollution of flesh and spirit” (2 Cor. 7.1 Darby). Not only must there be the work of the Holy Spirit and that of the precious blood; we ourselves must work towards cleansing too. We must search out all the uncleannesses of the flesh and consign them to the cross of our Lord. Even the best that is done—though it may not be sinful according to man—is nevertheless condemned by God as unclean. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh.” This covers both the person and his deeds. God is not so much interested in the form or shape as in the source. Hence we must be purified
    by Published on 06-12-2017 12:14 AM     Number of Views: 77 
    1. Categories:
    2. Old Man Crucified,
    3. Dividing Spirit, Soul, Body,
    4. The Fall of Man

    The Existence of the Flesh

    Let us note carefully that though the flesh may be so put to death that it becomes “ineffective” (the real meaning of “destroy” in Rom. 6.6), it endures nonetheless. It is a great error to consider the flesh eradicated from us and to conclude that the nature of sin is completely annihilated. Such false teaching leads people astray. Regenerated life does not alter the flesh; co-crucifixion does not extinguish the flesh; the indwelling Holy Spirit does not render it impossible to walk by the flesh. The flesh with its fleshly nature abides perpetually in the believer. Whenever opportunity is provided for its operation, it at once will spring into action.

    We have previously seen how closely associated are the human body and the flesh. Until such time as we are freed physically from this body we shall not be able to be so delivered from the flesh that no more possibility of its activity exists. Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh. There is absolutely no eradication of it until this body corrupted from Adam is transformed. Our body is not yet redeemed (Rom. 8.23); it waits for redemption at the return of the Lord Jesus (1 Cor. 15.22, 23, 42-44, 51-56; 1 Thess. 4.14-18; Phil. 3.20-21). As long as we are in the body, therefore, we must be alert daily lest the flesh break forth with its wicked deeds.

    Our life on earth can at best be likened to that of Paul, who remarked that “though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh” (2 Cor. 10.3 ASV). Since he still possesses a body he walks in the flesh. Yet because the nature of the flesh is so corrupt he does not war according to the flesh. He walks in the flesh, yes; but he does not walk by the flesh (Rom. 8.4). Until a believer is set free from the physical body he is not entirely free from the flesh. Physically speaking he must live in the flesh (Gal. 2.20); spiritually speaking he need not and must not war according to the flesh. Now if by obvious inference from 2 Cor. 10.3, Paul, being in the body, remains susceptible to warring according to the flesh (though from v.4 we see he does not war that way), who then dares to say that he no longer has any potentially active flesh. The finished work of the cross and its continual application by the Holy Spirit are consequently inseparable.

    We must pay unusual attention to this point for it brings in grave consequences. Should a believer come to assume that he is sanctified completely and has no more flesh, he will slip either into a life of pretension or into a life of indolence void of watchfulness. One fact needs to be underscored here. Children born of regenerated and sanctified parents are still of the flesh and in need of being born anew just as any other children are. None can say they are not of the flesh and have no need to be born anew. The Lord Jesus asserted that “that which is born of the flesh is flesh” (John 3.6). If what is born is flesh, it proves that what gives birth to it must likewise be flesh for only flesh can beget flesh. That children are fleshly bears concrete testimony that the parents are not delivered completely from the flesh. The saints transmit to their children their fallen nature only because it is theirs originally. They cannot impart the divine nature received at regeneration because that nature is not originally theirs but is received individually as a free gift from God. The fact that believers do communicate their sinful nature to their children indicates it is ever present in them.

    Viewed from this approach, a new creature in Christ we realize never fully recovers in this life the position Adam had before the fall, for the body at least is still awaiting redemption (Rom. 8.23). A person who is a new creation continues to harbor the sinful nature within him; he is yet in the flesh. His feelings and desires are at times imperfect and they are less noble than those of Adam before the fall. Unless the human flesh is eradicated from within, he cannot have perfect feelings, desires or love. Man can never arrive at the position of being beyond the possibility of sin since the flesh persists. If a believer does not follow the Holy Spirit but instead yields to the flesh, he certainly will be under the reins of the flesh. Despite these realities, however, we should not emasculate the salvation fulfilled by Christ. The Bible informs us in many places that whatsoever has been begotten of God and is filled with God has no tendency towards sin. This though does not mean there is categorically no possibility of sinful desire. To illustrate. We say wood floats—that it does not have the tendency to sink; but surely it is not unsinkable. If the wood is soaked sufficiently enough in water it will sink of its own accord. Nevertheless the nature of a piece of wood clearly is not to sink. Similarly, God has saved us to the extent of not having the tendency to sin, but He has not saved us to the extent of our being unable to sin. Should a believer remain wholly bent toward sin, it proves he is of the flesh and has not yet appropriated full salvation. The Lord Jesus is able to bend us away from sin; but in addition we must be watchful. Under the influence of the world and the temptation of Satan the possibility of sinning stays with us.

    Naturally a believer should understand that in Christ he is a new creation. As such, the Holy Spirit indwells his spirit; and this, together with the death of Jesus actively working in his body, can equip the believer to live a holy life. Such a walk is only possible because the Holy Spirit administers the cross upon the believer’s flesh in putting to death the deeds of its members. It is then no longer active. This is not to imply, however, that he has no more flesh. For a believer continues to possess a sinful flesh and is conscious of its presence and defilement. The very fact that sinful nature is transmitted to the children has established beyond doubt that what we now possess is not the natural perfection of sinless Adam.

    A believer must confess that even in his holiest hours there may be moments of weakness: evil thoughts may creep into his mind unconsciously; unbecoming words may escape his mouth unknowingly; his will may find it sometimes difficult to yield to the Lord; and he secretly may even endorse the thought of self-sufficiency. These are none but the works of the flesh. Therefore let it be known to believers that the flesh is able to exercise its power again at any time. It has not been eradicated from the body. But neither does the presence of the flesh mean sanctification is impossible to a believer. It is only when we have yielded our body to the Lord (Rom. 6.13) that it is possible for us no longer to be under the dominion of the flesh but under the dominion of the Lord. If we follow the Holy Spirit and maintain an attitude of not letting sin reign over the body (Rom. 6.12), then our feet are freed from stumbling and we experience sustained victory. Our body thus delivered becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit and is at liberty to do God’s work. Now the way to preserve one’s freedom from the flesh must be exactly the way this freedom is first obtained at that juncture of life and death when the believer says “yes” to God and “no” to the flesh. Far from it being an aoristic once for all event in time, the believer must maintain throughout his life an affirmative attitude towards God and a negative response towards the flesh. No believer today can arrive at the point of being beyond temptation. How necessary to watch and pray and even to fast that one may know how to walk according to the Holy Spirit.

    Nevertheless, the believer ought to dilute neither God’s purpose nor his own hope. He has the possibility of sinning, but he must not sin. The Lord Jesus has died for us and crucified our flesh with Himself on the cross; the Holy Spirit indwells us to make real to us what the Lord Jesus has accomplished. We have the absolute possibility of not being governed by the flesh. The presence of the flesh is not a call for surrender but a summons to watchfulness. The cross has crucified the flesh wholly; if we are minded to put to nought the evil works of the body in the power of the Holy Spirit we shall experience indeed the finished work of the cross. “So then, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—for if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live” (Rom. 8.12-13). Since God has bestowed such grace and salvation, the fault is altogether ours if we continue to follow the flesh. We are no longer debtors to it as we once were before we knew such salvation. If we now persist in living by the flesh it is because we want so to live, not because we must so live.

    Many matured saints have experienced sustained victory over the flesh. Though the flesh abides, its power is reduced practically to zero. Its life with its nature and activities has been laid to rest so consistently by the cross of the Lord in the power of the Holy Spirit that it is relegated to a state of existence as if not present. Due to the profound and persistent operation of the cross and the faithfulness of saints in following the Holy Spirit, the flesh, though existing, loses all its resistance. Even its power to stimulate believers seems to be nullified. Such a complete triumph over the flesh is attainable by all believers.

    “If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live.” The entire relationship expressed in this verse hangs upon that word “if.” God has done all that is necessary; He cannot do anything more. It is now up to us to take a stand. If we neglect this perfect salvation, how then shall we escape? “If you live according to the flesh you will die”—this is a warning. Although you are regenerated you nonetheless will lose out in your spiritual walk as though you are not alive. “If by the Spirit” you live, you also die, but you die in the death of Christ. Such a death is most authentic because that death will put to nought all the deeds of the flesh. One way or the other you will die. Which death do you choose: that which stems from lively flesh or that which issues in active spirit? If the flesh is alive the Holy Spirit cannot live actively. Which life do you prefer: that of the flesh or that of the Spirit? God’s provision for you is that your flesh and its entire power and activities may be put under the power of Christ’s death on the cross. What is lacking in us is none other than death. Let us emphasize it before we speak of life, for there can be no resurrection without prior death. Are we willing to obey God’s will? Are we amenable to letting the cross of Christ come out practically in our lives? If so, we must by the Holy Spirit put to death all the wicked deeds of the body.
    by Published on 06-03-2017 11:18 PM     Number of Views: 65 
    1. Categories:
    2. Regeneration,
    3. Calvinism

    Whoever Does Not Believe Will Perish

    The Bible declares that the Lord Jesus died for all. If a person does not believe in the Lord Jesus, will he perish?

    Answer:

    “The love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that one died for all, therefore all died” (2 Cor. 5.14). The “one” here is Christ. The “all” whom He died for are all men. Now it may appear from this, therefore, that even though a person does not believe in the Lord Jesus, he should not die. Yet in John we read that “he that believeth not hath been judged already, because he hath not believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God” (3.18). What can be said about the righteousness of God and His way of operation?

    Let us look into this matter:

    “The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20.28). “Who gave himself a ransom for all” (1 Tim. 2.6). What is the difference between “many” and “all”? The “many” in the first passage includes all who believe, and the Lord Jesus has died for all the many who believe in Him. The “all” in the second passage refers to all men, for whom the Lord Jesus has prepared a ransom. The “for” in Matthew carries in it the idea of substituting, while the “for” in 1 Timothy conveys the idea of providing. With respect to the believers, the Lord Jesus has died to substitute His death for their death as well as to provide for them a ransom. With respect to sinners, however, His death has provided for them a ransom, though it does not serve to substitute for their death. Hence the scope of substitution before God is limited.

    The words “one died for all” in 2 Corinthians 5.14 means to say that one had died on behalf of all. It means that the death of the Lord Jesus has provided sufficiently for the use of all men. So far as provision is concerned the death of the Lord Jesus is for all men so that all may have the opportunity to be saved. Only for the believers would the word “substitute” be used.

    “He is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the whole world” (1 John 2.2). Christ is the propitiation for the unbelievers as well as for the believers. But again the meaning here is not substitution, but provision. The salvation of God has already been prepared. When you receive it you then will be reckoned by God as being one among the “many”. Christ died on behalf of all men, since His death has made provision for all men; but it cannot be taken to mean a substitution in death for all men. If anyone does not believe, he will perish. This is man’s responsibility before God.

    “I may observe once for all, that in the usage of these two words, as applied to our redemption by Christ, all is the objective, many the subjective designation of those for whom Christ died.” Henry Alford, The Greek Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1968), Vol. I, p. 206.
    by Published on 05-22-2017 09:30 PM     Number of Views: 75 
    1. Categories:
    2. Regeneration,
    3. Old Man Crucified

    The Conflict between the Old and the New

    It is essential for a regenerated person to understand what he has obtained through new birth and what still lingers of his natural endowment. Such knowledge will help him as he continues his spiritual journey. It may prove helpful at this point to explain how much is included in man’s flesh and likewise how the Lord Jesus in His redemption deals with the constituents of that flesh. In other words, what does a believer inherit in regeneration?

    A reading of several verses in Romans 7 can make clear that the components of the flesh are mainly “sin” and “me”: “sin that dwells in me . . . , that is, in my flesh” (vv. 14,17-18 Darby). The “sin” here is the power of sin, and the “me” here is what we commonly acknowledge as “self.” If a believer would understand spiritual life he must not be confused about these two elements of the flesh.

    We know the Lord Jesus has dealt with the sin of our flesh on His cross. And the Word informs us that “our old self was crucified with him” (Rom. 6.6). Nowhere in the Bible are we told to be crucified since this has been done and done perfectly by Christ already. With regard to the question of sin, man is not required to do anything. He need only consider this an accomplished fact (Rom. 6.11) and he will reap the effectiveness of the death of Jesus in being wholly delivered from the power of sin (Rom. 6.14).

    We are never asked in the Bible to be crucified for sin, that is true. It does exhort us, however, to take up the cross for denying self. The Lord Jesus instructs us many times to deny ourselves and take up the cross and follow Him. The explanation for this is that the Lord Jesus deals with our sins and with ourselves very differently. To wholly conquer sin the believer needs but a moment; to deny the self he needs an entire lifetime. Only on the cross did Jesus bear our sins; yet throughout His life the Lord denied Himself. The same must be true of us.

    The Galatian letter of Paul delineates the relationship between the flesh and the believer. He tells us on the one hand that “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (5.24). On the very day one becomes identified with the Lord Jesus then his flesh also is crucified. Now one might think, without the Holy Spirit’s instruction, that his flesh is no longer present, for has it not been crucified? But no, on the other hand the letter says to us to “walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh” (5.16-17). Here we are told openly that one who belongs to Christ Jesus and has already the indwelling Holy Spirit still has the flesh in him. Not only does the flesh exist; it is described as being singularly powerful as well.

    What can we say? Are these two Biblical references contradictory? No, verse 24 stresses the sin of the flesh, while verse 17 the self of the flesh. The cross of Christ deals with sin and the Holy Spirit through the cross treats of self. Christ delivers the believer completely from the power of sin through the cross that sin may not reign again; but by the Holy Spirit Who dwells in the believer, Christ enables him to overcome self daily and obey Him perfectly. Liberation from sin is an accomplished fact; denial of self is to be a daily experience.

    If a believer could understand the full implication of the cross at the time he is born anew he would be freed wholly from sin on the one side and on the other be in possession of a new life. It is indeed regrettable that many workers fail to present this full salvation to sinners, so that the latter believe just half God’s salvation. This leaves them as it were only half-saved: their sins are forgiven, but they lack the strength to cease from sin. Moreover, even on those occasions when salvation is presented completely sinners desire just to have their sins forgiven for they do not sincerely expect deliverance from the power of sin. This equally renders them half-saved.

    Should a person believe and receive full salvation at the very outset, he will experience less failure battling with sin and more success battling with self. Rarely are such believers found. Most enter upon only half their salvation. Their conflicts are therefore mainly with sin. And some do not even know what self is. In this connection, the personal condition of the believer plays a part before regeneration. Many tend to do good even before they believe. They of course do not possess the power to do good nor could they be good. But their conscience seems to be comparatively enlightened, though their strength to do good is nevertheless weak. They experience what is commonly called the conflict between reason and lust. Now when these hear of God’s total salvation they eagerly accept grace for release from sin even as they receive grace for forgiveness of sin. Others, however, before believing, harbor pitch-black consciences, sin terribly, and never intend to do good. Upon hearing of God’s whole salvation they naturally grasp the grace of forgiveness and neglect (not reject) the grace for deliverance from sin. They will encounter much struggle over sin of the flesh afterwards.

    Why is this latter case so? Because such a re-born man possesses a new life which demands him to overcome the rule of his flesh and to obey it instead. God’s life is absolute; it must gain complete mastery over the man. As soon as that life enters the human spirit it requires the man to leave his former master of sin and to be subject entirely to the Holy Spirit. Even so, sin in this particular man is deeply rooted. Although his will is being renewed in part through the regenerated life, it is still tied to sin and self; on many occasions it bends towards sin. Inevitably great conflict will erupt between the new life and the flesh. Since people in this condition are numerous, we shall pay special attention to them. Let me remind my reader, however, that this experience of prolonged struggle and failure with sin (different from that with self) is unnecessary.

    The flesh demands full sovereignty; so does the spiritual life. The flesh desires to have man forever attached to itself; while the spiritual life wants to have man completely subject to the Holy Spirit. At all points the flesh and spiritual life differ. The nature of the former is that of the first Adam, the nature of the latter belongs to the last Adam. The motive of the first is earthly; that of the second, heavenly. The flesh focuses all things upon self; spiritual life centers all upon Christ. The flesh wishes to lead man to sin, but spiritual life longs to lead him to righteousness. Since these two are so essentially contrary, how can a person avoid clashing continually with the flesh? Not realizing the full salvation of Christ, a believer constantly experiences such a struggle.

    When young believers fall into such conflict they are dumbfounded. Some despair of spiritual growth thinking they are just too bad. Others begin to doubt they are genuinely regenerated, not aware that regeneration itself brings in this contention. Formerly, when the flesh was in authority without interference (for the spirit was dead), they could sin terribly without feeling any sense of sinfulness. Now new life has sprung up, and with it heavenly nature, desire, light and thought. As this new light penetrates the man it immediately exposes the defilement and corruption within. The new desire is naturally dissatisfied to remain in such a state and longs to follow the will of God. The flesh begins to contend with the spiritual life. Such battle gives the believer an impression that housed within him are two persons. Each has its own idea and strength. Each seeks victory. When the spiritual life is in ascendancy the believer is most glad; when the flesh gains the upper hand he cannot but grieve. Experience of this kind confirms that such ones have been regenerated.

    The purpose of God is never to reform the flesh but to destroy it. It is by God’s life given the believer at regeneration that the self in the flesh is to be destroyed. The life God imparts to man is indeed most powerful, but the regenerated person is still a babe—newly born and very weak. The flesh long has held the reins and its power is tremendous. Furthermore, the regenerated one has not yet learned to apprehend by faith God’s complete salvation. Though he be saved, he is still of the flesh during this period. Being fleshly denotes being governed by the flesh. What is most pitiful is for a believer, hitherto enlightened by heavenly light to know the wickedness of the flesh and to desire with full heart victory over it, to find himself too weak to overcome. This is the moment when he sheds many tears of sorrow. How can he not be angry with himself, for though he harbors a new desire to destroy sin and to please God his will is not steadfast enough to subdue the body of sin. Few are the victories; many, the defeats.

    Paul in Romans 7 voices the inner anguish of this conflict:

    I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate . . . For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members. (vv.15-23)

    Many will respond to his cry of nearly final despair: “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (v.24)

    What is the meaning of this contention? It is one of the ways the Holy Spirit disciplines us. God has provided a whole salvation for man. He who does not know he has it will not be able to enjoy it, neither will he be able to experience it if he does not desire after it. God can only give to those who believe and receive and claim. When man hence asks for forgiveness and regeneration, God surely bestows it upon him. And it is through conflict that God induces the believer to seek and to grasp total triumph in Christ. He who was ignorant before will now seek to know; the Holy Spirit will then be afforded a chance to reveal to him how Christ has dealt with his old man on the cross so that he may now believe into possessing such triumph. And he who possessed not because he sought not will discover through such battle that all the truth he had was merely mental and consequently ineffectual. This will stir him to desire to experience the truth he only mentally had known.

    This strife increases as the days go by. If believers will proceed faithfully without giving in to despair, they will incur fiercer conflict until such time as they are delivered.
    by Published on 04-20-2017 12:04 AM     Number of Views: 104 
    1. Categories:
    2. Apostles Set up Churches,
    3. Boundary of Local Assembly,
    4. Unity of the Body of Christ

    I can't be any more simple than this to describe the 7 church periods in Rev. 2 & 3.

    1st century - don't lose your first love (Biblocality)
    2nd century - endure martyrdom
    3rd century - don't marry church and state
    4th century - don't be like the Roman Catholic Church
    16th-19th century - weak revivals filling up a glass with less water each time
    19th century - brotherly love true overcomers (brethren movement, only wanted to be called Christians)
    20th-21st century - neither hot or cold, just lukewarm

    The first 3 church periods are consecutive, they came and past (their teaching is still true though).

    The last 4 church periods stay with us (RCC, Reformed/Calvinist, Brethren, and Emergent/Pentecostal).

    The RCC, Reformed/Calvinist and Pentecostal/Emergent are corruptions of the Church. Most people in these 3 groups are not born-again. They are going to Hell.

    The correct Church has these 5 characteristics: 1) OSAS Arminian; 2) Biblocality; 3) Partial Rapture; 4) Gap Restoration; 5) Dividing of Spirit, Soul and Body.

    http://www3.telus.net/trbrooks/7churches.htm

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