• Paul

    by Published on 07-23-2017 12:23 AM     Number of Views: 44 
    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 06-12-2017 12:14 AM     Number of Views: 79 
    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 03-18-2017 02:41 AM     Number of Views: 139 
    1. Categories:
    2. Spiritual Christian Life

    Christ Is Our Righteousness

    What, then, is our righteousness? This is a basic lesson which we Christians must learn thoroughly. We ought to know that in providing for our salvation God solved the problem of righteousness as well as that of sin. Through righteousness God has forgiven our sins, and He has also prepared for us a righteousness by which we can always come to Him. Forgiveness is like taking a bath; righteousness is like wearing a robe. Among men we are clothed that we may appear before them. So too, God clothes us with righteousness that we may live before Him; that is, that we may see Him. He has already cleansed our sins and given us a righteousness by which we may live in His presence.

    What is our righteousness? The word of God tells us that our righteousness is Christ—the Lord Jesus himself. “But of [God] are ye in Christ Jesus, who was made unto us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Cor. 1.30). From this rich verse we will lift out but one item and concentrate our attention upon it alone—namely, that God has made Christ our righteousness.


    Not the Righteousness of Christ

    Before we discuss how Christ is our righteousness, we wish to explain briefly that the righteousness of Christ and Christ our righteousness are two totally distinct subjects. It is wrong to con sider the righteousness of Christ as our righteousness. The righteousness of Christ cannot be our righteousness; it is Christ himself who is our righteousness.

    The word found in 2 Peter 1.1—“the righteousness of our God and the Saviour Jesus Christ”—points to the righteousness which Christ himself possesses. If the Lord Jesus himself is not righteous, He is not qualified to be the Saviour, and we have no way to be saved. This righteousness is purely for Christ himself, not for Him to give to us. The Bible never says the righteousness of the Lord Jesus saves us, because this righteousness is for the purpose of qualifying Him to be our Saviour. His righteousness cannot be reckoned as our righteousness. His righteousness is that which He lives out while on earth. It is His personal standing before God. It is the righteousness of Christ’s personal conduct. It has no way to be imparted to us. Christ’s righteousness is what He himself has worked out. It is exclusively His and is absolutely unrelated to us. It is for this reason that the word of God never says we are “in Jesus.” In being Jesus He is still the only begotten Son of God—He has not yet become the firstborn Son and hence we are not yet the many sons. We therefore have no part in Him.

    Let us understand that our union with Christ begins at His cross, not at His incarnation. Until the time of the cross, all that Christ has is exclusively His own; He has not yet shared anything with us. If a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it bears much fruit (many grains). Only since the Lord Jesus has died are we now those fruits, those many grains. Our union with Christ begins at His death, not at His birth. Calvary is where we are united with Him; at Bethlehem there is no such union. Before Calvary, we can only view His righteousness; we cannot share in it. The Bible from its beginning to its end tells us that we are not saved by the righteousness of Christ nor do we become righteous by His righteousness. Our becoming righteous before God is only because of Christ himself.

    Some may ask, Does not the Bible tell us that God has given us the righteous robe of the Lord Jesus? But we would counter, Does God’s word say that God will clothe us with the righteous robe of the Lord Jesus or that He will clothe us with the Lord Jesus as a righteous robe? In other words, are we clothed with the righteousness of the Lord Jesus or clothed with the Lord Jesus himself? In point of fact, we have never read in God’s word that we are clothed with the righteousness of the Lord Jesus; we read instead that we are clothed with the Lord Jesus: “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 13.14).

    We see here a most wonderful and distinctive thing: our righteousness before God is not the earthly conduct of the Lord Jesus, our righteousness before Him is the Lord Jesus, a living person. Today we come to God because we are clothed with the Lord Jesus himself. The Lord Jesus is our righteousness; and this is not the righteousness which He has, but He himself as righteousness. Accordingly, since the Lord Jesus lives forever, we have righteousness before God at all times. We may come to Him with boldness at any time, for we have the Lord Jesus as our righteousness.