Friday, January 25, 2013

The Two Ditches

Source: Lloyd Kahn
It’s probably no surprise to anyone that our flesh tends to run to extremes. You’ve heard about the “pendulum swing,” I’m sure. People take one extreme position and then realize that it is wrong. Then to combat the first extreme position, they tend to swing clear over to the other side, only to find themselves in another extreme position on the opposite side. This is what I refer to as the two ditches.

As I observe Christianity, I find this more and more to be true. The crazy thing is that we never admit that we’re in a ditch. We’re not on the straight and narrow. We’ve veered off. Instead, everyone presents himself as balanced and biblical; everyone presents herself as holding to truth. Yet it seems we have both sides looking to shoot holes in each other’s positions or stands, or lack thereof.

Group One will proclaim that they are “defending the faith once delivered.” Group Two points out Group One’s double standards and hypocrisy. Then Group Two will jump on the word “liberty,” and Group One points out that they’re using liberty as “an occasion to the flesh.” While both sides are holding their ground, they truly believe the other is missing the point.

Group Two complains that the other is too dogmatic, while they are being accused of compromise and not having any convictions. Group One will complain that they are falsely attacked, all while they attack the ones they claim are attacking them.

In Luke 18:11, we see a picture of a crowd that prays like this: “I thank Thee that I am not as other men are.” This crowd is very proud of their holiness and religious actions. We all point to this Pharisee and bewail his hypocrisy. This crowd continuously criticized Christ and his disciples, even for eating with unwashed hands.

In today's economy, with our religious crowd, it seems that nobody is as holy as they are. But notice something else with me. In Luke 9:49, the beloved John saw a man casting out devils in the name of Christ, and this beloved disciple who was often found leaning on the breast of Jesus, rebuked this man because he was not running in their crowd. Then a few verses later (verses 53-54), when Jesus was not received, those who had the most intimate relationship with Christ were seeking to call down fire from heaven on those who didn’t receive the One with whom they have this relationship. Again, in today's economy, it seems as if the crowd that emphasizes intimacy and relationship with the Lord (with which crowd I would identify) tends to be just as harsh, even while they may not realize it.

We see two groups of people in Jesus’ time: One group of zealots and another group walking with Liberty Himself, yet both seemed to have the same kind of spirit towards those with whom they didn’t agree. We never want to identify ourselves with either of these groups.

If you find yourself entangled in arguments and disagreements, rather than simply living the difference that a yielded life to the Holy Spirit creates, I’m afraid you may have to admit that you’re in a ditch!

There is a straight and narrow way between the two ditches, but “few there be that find it.” May we learn to yield to the Holy Spirit and live the difference that HIS life creates.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Divine Nature

To whom will you yield?

2 Peter 1:3-4 teaches us that according to the divine power of God, He has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness, such as exceeding great and precious promises. By these promises, granted by His divine power, we are able to be partakers of HIS divine nature (paraphrase mine).

In Ephesians 2:3, we see this phrase “were by nature the children of wrath.” In verse 5, this is further illustrated by the phrase “dead in sins.” But then the miracle happened… Those who were dead were made alive, and that which was alive is now dead.

2 Corinthians 5:17 states that “if any man be in Christ, he is a NEW creature: old things are [passed away]; behold, ALL things are become new.” Ephesians 2:10 puts forth this thought: “We are HIS workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.”

All my life I’ve been told that we have two natures living within us. I accepted what I was told, but struggled with that thought for years. I just can’t find that concept in the Scriptures. One will tell you that because of his “sin nature,” sinning is just beyond his control. In another angle of the argument, someone will tell you that she has reached a level of sanctification where it is impossible for her to sin.

Many ask: How can a Christian still sin if he has only a divine nature?

To answer that, we must understand that our being is a trichotomy. We are made up of three parts: 1.) the body (with its five senses), 2.) the soul (its functions being our mind, will, and emotions), and 3.) the spirit (the part of man that bears witness with the Holy Spirit—Romans 8:16).

When you combine body and soul, you have what the Scripture calls the “flesh,” and this part of man never did get saved when you were “quickened”—made alive.  Your body is still wracked with sin and decay; your soul (mind, will, and emotion) still has every capability of sin, as it did before you got saved.

So what happened, then, when you got saved? Your dead spirit was made alive and now bears witness with the Holy Spirit, and your previously alive nature (the old man) has once for all been crucified—it’s dead—the old passing away, making way for the divine nature, which is now imparted by the divine power of God!

Romans 6:10-11, along with Colossians 3:3, Galatians, 2:20, and 2 Corinthians 5:17, clearly teach that the old man (your sin nature) has been put to death and no longer can be the excuse for sinning.

Sin and death no longer have dominion over you (Romans 6:14, 18), and that is why Romans 6:12 states that we are not to let sin reign, meaning that we have a choice in the matter of sin’s reigning or not.

The chapter continues in verses 13-16 with the answer as to how we live without letting sin reign. You’ll notice the word “yield” keeps coming up. To whomever you yield yourself, his servant you become.

Why do Christians still sin? Because we yield to sin. No, we can’t blame the “sin nature.” This is like the little kid saying, “The devil made me do it.” Rather we have to be honest with ourselves in stating that we sin by choice.

Some may debate: The things I should do, I don’t do, and the things that I shouldn’t do, I still do. To that I agree, for Romans 7:17-18 clearly state that “it is no more I” but rather the sin that is in my flesh (members) that still causes all sorts of trouble. That is why we see in Galatians 5:17 that the Spirit and the flesh are constantly at war with each other.

How does this apply to living the difference? This truth from the Scripture brings us to a realization that we need to live 100% dependent upon the Holy Spirit of God. Recognizing that my flesh (body and soul) is as lost as it’s always been… but that my spirit bears witness with the HOLY SPIRIT… my body and soul yielding themselves to the power of the Holy Spirit… I then can practically live out what Christ has already positionally made me.