A LETTER TO THE SAINTS and a link to the audio teaching series: Living as a New Creation in Christ
Hello Beloved of God, Cherished of our Father;
Anyone who desires to live for God has the consequential desire to control ungodly fleshly desires. We just don’t want live contrary to God. The natural and logical solution is to stop doing things contrary to God by submitting to standards of “do’s” and “don’ts.” Then, when we are failing by these standards, the next logical thing to do is to discipline ourselves more to be more committed to these standards.
If you have not been caught in this snare you probably know other Christians who are. Trying to live for God by bettering yourself through rules and regulations, doctrines and commandments of men, is not only common in the Church today, it was also common in the First Century Church. In a type of false humility we feel good about ourselves when we do things which looks so right. It is an easy snare to fall into being that it appears to be wise, godly and oozing with humiliation.
Take a look at the end of Colossians 2 into chapter 3. The saints at Colosse were also caught in this common snare:
- Colossians 2:20-3:3: “Since you have died with Christ to the elemental forces of this world, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations: “Don’t handle, don’t taste, don’t touch”? All these regulations refer to what is destroyed by being used up; they are human commands and doctrines. Although these have a reputation of wisdom by promoting ascetic practices, humility, and severe treatment of the body, they are not of any value (power) against fleshly indulgence (desires). Since you have been raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
See the bold-faced section in this passage? Rules and regulations “are not of any value against fleshly indulgences.” They simply don’t work. Sure, we can discipline the flesh and glory in our conquests, but trying to be better, do better, be a better person, through rules and regulations produces the opposite effect of living with and for God. By rules & regs we find spiritual death because they give sin and self-sufficiency the opportunity to reign above God in our attitudes and behavior:
- Romans 7:11:“For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me, and through it killed me.”
- 1Corinthians 15:56:“Now the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.”
Paul obviously was not writing about physical death there in Romans 7:11, after all he was still alive to write what he wrote. He was talking about separation from God in his walk. And these passages are not talking about sin as most people may think about it. Remember, Lucifer's fall was due to loving and trusting himself more than God. We walk better with God as a result of growing stronger in His grace, and we grow stronger in His grace by way of believing the good news pertaining to Christ. For example, our old man was crucified with Christ:
- Romans 6:6: "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him [Christ], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin."
What power does a dead man have?
This leads us to the right solution for the problem of ungodly fleshly desires, the one with God our Father’s signature of approval. It could accurately be called gospel transformation. Moral reformation does not work according to God's purposes. Sweeping and garnishing the flesh from the outside does not change the inside. Take a pig for example, you can put a dress on a pig, but it's still a pig. God says the old man is dead, and because God said it, that settles it, put the dress away and leave that pig in the grave. We put off by putting on, by putting on the new man which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness (Ephesians 4:24). This is the renewed mind process that we are to undertake as believers.
We read above in Colossians 3:1-2, "...you have been raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth."
Dwelling on the things "on the earth" is not the solution. Rules and regulations are NOT God's solution to sin problems, Jesus Christ is the solution; therefore, we do not to seek any aspect of the solution elsewhere. The passage above from Colossians, as well as many others, clearly proclaim that rules and regulations do not have any value (power) against fleshly desires.
The gospel is the power of God. God's solution is Christ. We are called to set our minds on the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God, NOT on any other thing (for listings of "things which are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God".
Jesus said "it is finished" with his last breath on the cross. Our part is to accept this as being true and keep our minds fastened there. The transformation of our thoughts and behavior, as well as the spiritual fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, forgiveness, etc., will follow as a result of God's love and power doing their work from the inside out. The bottom-line is not our ability to adhere to rules and regulations, it is a matter of whether or not we trust that the gospel is able to accomplish the results God promises.
Love in Christ, Your Brother
Living as a New Creation in Christ:
The individual sessions in this audio teaching series systematically build upon each other. It is highly recommended that the listener start with the first session and proceed in succession.
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