Spirit vs. Flesh

Thoughts, Walking in the New Nature
One of the constant sources of conflict in living the supernatural Christian life is our flesh.  Not in the biology sense of our physical skin, but in the biblical sense of our flesh being the source of our sinward inclinations.  Remember, sin was not eradicated at the new birth.  It only had a change in status (it no longer reigns) and our relationship to it (we are no longer slaves).  Sin's presence and nature still exist in the believer and its summary term, the flesh, is the source of many a conflict. Our role in the conflict with the flesh is two-fold.  First, we are to choose the way of the Spirit over the way of the flesh.  "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry…
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Walking in the Spirit

Thoughts, Walking in the New Nature
"But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh" (Gal 5:17).  Up to now, our posts have explained the foundational aspects of our new identity.  When we embrace the gospel message of Jesus Christ, we become a new creation with a new nature, a new master, new clothes, and a new heart.  We have also done the accounting to register these new facts in our ledger.  At this point we might say, "So what?" How does this knowledge affect our daily thoughts, choices, and actions?  How do we address our besetting or recurring sins?  Does a new identity mean sinless perfection is possible?  Or at the other extreme, does sin even matter now that we have been set free from the law? …
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Accounting 101

Analogies, Thoughts, Walking in the New Nature
"Christ died for us" (Rom 5:8) is a fact of Scripture that we are quite comfortable with.  If you are part of God's family, you are not only comfortable with that fact, but you believe it.  So what do you think of the fact stated one chapter later, "Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin" (Rom 6:6-7)?  The fact that "our old self died with Christ..." carries the same scriptural weight as "Christ died for us", something we readily accept and embrace.  So what does God want us to do with "our old self died with Christ..."? God wants…
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The Discipleship Earthquake

Analogies, Thoughts
I am taking a one-post break from our new identity train of thought for this exciting development.  As a geophysicist, I am familiar with the physics of earthquakes; their magnitude, the tsunamis they produce, their precursors, and their aftershocks.  Precursors are hard to identify until after the fact, but most major earthquakes give some signal that something big is coming.  In the spiritual world, I believe we are feeling the precursors of a coming "discipleship earthquake."  This idea was reinforced by the cover headline, "A Discipleship Revolution" on the latest issue of Mission Frontiers magazine.  The publication is available online and I highly recommend it. Over the last century, by the grace of God and the work of His servants, the gospel message has reached around the globe.  People groups…
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A New Heart

Thoughts, Walking in the New Nature
"The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it?" (Jer 17:9).  The word "heart" is the most common and complete description of man's essential essence in the Bible.  The heart is the center of our thoughts, intents, motives, understanding, choices, and actions.  In its unregenerate state, the heart is the seat of our evil thoughts, plans, and actions. The theme of the deceptive and wicked heart continues into the New Testament where Jesus uses a debate about clean and unclean food to launch into the following discourse.  "Do you not see that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him; because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?  That which proceeds out of the man, that…
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The Sin Closet

Analogies, Thoughts, Walking in the New Nature
"As those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on [clothe yourselves with] a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience" (Col 3:12).  In both Ephesians 4 and Colossians 3, the apostle Paul tells us more than once to "put on" the new self along with its character attributes, and to "throw off" the old self with its sinful traits.  We often view lists of character traits to aspire to and those to avoid as somehow equal choices for the believer.  But based on the promises of Scripture, this is not the case. The bad choices we face are not equals that we have to drum up the moral energy to resist.  They are simply clothes that do not fit our new identity.  They are clothes that don't…
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The Sin Cow

Analogies, Thoughts, Walking in the New Nature
I grew up in a farming community in northern Indiana surrounded by the idyllic landscape of contented milk cows grazing in fields of green.  These cows looked pretty happy munching away on grasses of all kinds.  Cows eat grass.  Cows like grass.  It is in a cow's nature to eat and enjoy grass. But cows aren't the only rural residents who eat grass.  Sometimes kids eat grass.  I remember lying in the grass of our front lawn on a summer afternoon thinking, "My, this grass looks tasty."  So I did what every kid has done sometime in their life.  I grabbed a handful and began to chew it up.  The chewing was soon replaced by spitting as the taste settled on my tongue.  Soon I was spitting out everything I…
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The Sin Dog

Analogies, Thoughts, Walking in the New Nature
One of the amazing things that happened to you and me when we embraced the gospel message of Jesus Christ was the beginning of a new relationship with sin.  In short, sin no longer has dominion over us.  Sin is no longer our master.  We are no longer slaves to sin (Rom 6).  (For a 7-page pdf commentary by Jay on Romans chapters 5-8 explaining the biblical basis for this concept click here.) As for this post, let me summarize our new relationship with sin with this illustration.  Prior to our conversion, sin was the Great Dane in our life that bowls us over and flattens us every time we come home.  We hear him on the other side of the door and sure enough everytime we open it, he…
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A Curious Life

Thoughts, Walking in the New Nature
When Rhonda and I teach on the topic of marriage, we often say, "Make your marriage a curiosity."  What we mean by this is that when you practice marriage as God intended, your love for each other will manifest itself in ways that make your marriage appear pretty unique.  The desire for love, acceptance, and forgiveness is universal and when we practice these to the fullest in our marriage, we demonstrate to a watching world what new life in Christ looks like. In our own journey, God took two fiercely independent souls who each view the world through different colored glasses (and thick ones at that) and forged a love that is deep and abiding.  When that love is on display, it is truly revolutionary. But the revolution for us has not been painless…
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A New Freedom

Thoughts, Walking in the New Nature
When the world thinks of the word "Christian", is the word "new" the first thing that pops into their mind?  Is there something new going on here; something fresh, something better, something I would like to get in on?  Unfortunately, the response is often just the opposite.  Christianity is associated with old, narrow, conservative...words that carry a negative connotation in today's marketplace of ideas.  We like to say that being misunderstood is just the cost of following Jesus, but could it be we who have misunderstood our own message? The world will never paint Christianity in a positive light as it operates under the influence of the Evil One (II Cor 4:4).  However, all too often we conclude that there is some nefarious plot on the part of the media,…
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Something New

Thoughts, Walking in the New Nature
A short, but compelling, word found throughout the New Testament is the word "new".  It is right there in the title and appropriately so.  After all, the essence of the New Testament message is a description of and invitation to join a new covenant, a new arrangement, a new agreement between God and us. In the gospels, Jesus ushered in a new covenant, and with it a new kingdom.  In the parable of the wine and wineskins, Jesus referred to His ministry as "new wine" (Mk 2:22), indicating that it is not just an add-on to the old covenant, but something new and as we will see, nothing short of revolutionary.  From the outset, the crowds who followed Jesus were "amazed, saying, 'what in the world is this?  A new…
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