Last Sunday’s message was a declaration that each believer is an entirely new creation, but will not live as such, as long as their thinking is a mixture of old and new! (www.graceriver.org/church-podcasts) No amount of sacrifices you make for God is going to change His mind about you now, because He made up His mind about you before you were even born (Jer.1:5, 2Tim.1:9). The truth is out there for all the world to see. Jesus Christ dying for you, is God’s mind made up about you.
But how does a Christian live, who thinks that God is still in the process of making up His mind about them? They live as if Christianity is a religion, a religion they can use to get God to change His mind about them. The only problem however, about thinking that your good behaviour will change God’s mind about you, is that history and the Gospel both declare that God died for us, before we had a chance to do one good thing for Him. The Gospel calls that “just the right time” (Rom.5:6)
Your behaviour didn’t make God good and your behaviour doesn’t keep God good.
He just IS good and Jesus Christ IS how good He is.
Jesus died so that we should not have to live any more as people separated from God by our sin, but rather live as people united to God by His Son (1Cor.6:17, John 14:23). Romans 7:4 tells us that we died to the Law, that we may be married to another (Christ), that we may bear fruit unto God. Now how should a husband feel about his bride living as if she is not married to him? Is that a minor thing to be overlooked, or in fact is it not something that grieves him deeply? Having loved us so deeply and paid such a high price to be married to us, is the Spirit of God not entitled to be grieved by believers still living as if their sin separates them from Him. Is He not entitled to be grieved by us living as if Christ’s blood is no better than the blood of bulls and goats, living as if some days our sins are forgiven and some days they are not and so living as if some days we are married to God and sharing in His righteousness and some days we are separated from God and have to go back to our old husband of the Law, back to religious thinking and religious behaviour, back to the life of a natural man, with no spiritual discernment? (Heb.5:12,13)
God’s new way of union with Him, abolishes the old way of living separated from Him and God does not want us to continue in an old way of thinking, once the new way has come (Rom12:2). He no more approves of mixing those two lives, than Nicola could approve of me living one day as if married to her and the next as if single.
God’s Word declares that every believer “is a new creation, old things have passed away, behold all things have become new”. (2Cor.5:17). Is the Holy Spirit not entitled to say to us, “What part of ‘all new’ don’t you understand?”
How would you feel if you paid for a brand-new car and later discovered that it wasn’t new at all, but was actually full of second hand parts? Would you be upset? Why would you be upset? Because you had paid for a new car! Christ has paid for a new life! Please don’t be surprised if He insists that the Christian life is not simply the old flesh trying harder to be good. Please don’t be upset if he insists that the gospel, the good news, is that ‘in Christ’, you died and you now have an entirely new life, a life now joined with Christ in God (Col.3:1-4, 1Cor.6:17)
This new life is not a mixture of our old life and Christ’s life. There was nothing good about our old separated from God life, that God thought He could recycle. The Christian life was not designed to be an add on to your self-life. It is the abolition of your self-life. I don’t mind saying this again and again as faith comes by hearing.
Hebrews 10: 9 compares religious offerings for sin and Jesus’ offering of Himself and clearly declares “He takes away the first, to establish the second.”
As a minister of the gospel, I cannot allow the first to remain. I must speak as a minister of the New Covenant (not the mixed covenant) and so must you. I cannot speak to believers as if the blood of Jesus has done nothing and they are still separated from God by their sin. I must speak to those born of God as if they now are of God; good and acceptable and perfect, dead to sin and alive to God. I must speak to you and deal with you as those married to God, hidden with God in Christ. How can I tell you to set your mind on things above, if I will not speak to you as ones living from above, even when your behaviour does not match that?
Even if your behaviour falls far short of someone living from God, I still must declare to you what the Holy Spirit has been declaring to the Church for 2000 years; “know you not, you are the temple of the Holy Spirit.” (1Cor.3:16). I must declare to you that your old “separated from God” life died in Christ and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. I must ask you, Christian, to set your mind on things above, on what all above can see about you; that Perfection has made His home at the core of your life, in your spirit (Rom.8:11, 1Peter.1:23). Church, we must all, as ministers of the NEW Covenant, speak to believers as who they now are in Christ (2Cor.3:6). We must see each other after the spirit, not after the flesh, as OF the spirit, not OF the flesh and for this purpose we have been given the Spirit who is from God (1Cor.2:12, 1Peter1:23)
If we are to walk in the Spirit and speak after the Spirit, then we must allow our minds to be renewed to Christ’s mind. Do you know that the Father, the Son and the Spirit, share the one mind on us (1John 16:13)? Many Christians don’t. They know that the Father says He “remembers our sins no more”, but they believe it is the Spirit who keeps bringing their sins before them (Heb.8:12,13). Then they wonder why their Christian experience is so mixed between hope and condemnation. It is because mixed experience comes from mixed thinking! The Father and the Holy Spirit do not have two different minds on our sins. God would have us to have one mind; the mind of Christ. So how does the Father see us? He sees us to be, according to Ephesians 1:4; “holy and blameless before Him”, in Christ.
When you start talking to believers like that, as if they are now holy and blameless in God’s eyes, not everyone can take that (2Peter3:16). Why not? Because so many of us who have been born from above, have not yet had our minds renewed to think from above (Col.3:1-3).
We still live as what Paul called mere men (1Cor.3:3), natural men and to the natural man, the thoughts of God toward us sounds foolish and anyone who dares to speak God’s wisdom sounds foolish (1Cor.2:14). Yet, Paul dared. He dared to speak the wisdom of God among the perfect and that’s the title of this message and the declaration of God’s Spirit to the Church today. “We speak wisdom among them that are perfect.” (1Cor.2:6). ‘Perfect’ can also be translated ‘mature’. Keep speaking to believers in a way that imparts no faith in Christ’s finished work and we leave them immature children, still under the schoolmaster of the Law, where no faith is required (Gal.3:23-25) and tossed to and fro by every new teaching that comes into the church, promising a way to change God’s mind about them (Eph.4:14).
Church, we have the mind of Christ, in order that even on your worst day, what you do does not define who you are. Christ’s perfect life given to you, defines and names you (1Peter1:23). His perfect mind given to you, will enable you to think of yourself as He does; good and acceptable and perfect in Christ, that you may be as you think; that you may be as your father in heaven is (Matt.5:48). By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. (1John 4:17)
We as believers need to hear the Gospel that God not only does not save us according to our works, but He does not call us according to our works. He does not address us/speak to us according to our works, but according to His eternal purpose, His eternal will, already given to us in Christ, from all eternity (2Tim.1:9). So I can speak to you as who He has called you to be from all eternity, or I can speak to you by the name men have called you all your earthy life. Which would you like? He speaks to us, that we may believe who He declares us to be; children of God, children born of His will (John 1:13) and as His will is good and acceptable and perfect, then so are all born of His will, for the Spirit gives birth to spirit (John 3:6, Rom.12:2.)
Even though some of you cannot yet accept that, we have no authority from God to speak to you as anything less than who He now declares you to be (2Cor.3:6). We know that not everyone can immediately accept this language; to be spoken to as a victor in all seasons (1John 5:4). Often when we feel overwhelmed by trials, we want people to focus with us on the magnitude of our problems and to take our side against someone else. But you cannot settle for playing the victim and walk in the victory of Christ. Either we will live, as if He who is in us is greater than whatever we face in this world, or we will live from an earthly, natural viewpoint of this world (1John 4:4-6). You can keep telling Jesus how awful your life has been for 38 years, or you can receive His view of your life; “Rise! Pick up your mat and walk!” (John 5:8).
So, what’s it going to be River City Church? Are we going to rise; to take some first steps into thinking, speaking and walking as who God now sees us to be; one with God in Christ? Or are we going to lie back on our mats and insist on judging everything and everyone by natural wisdom? (1Cor.2:12-16), so ensuring the Church continues to divide, over and over. Is “Church” to be merely an activity of programs and good evangelistic works to keep the saints busy until the Lord comes back? Or is the new life that God has paid for, something more than what “I” can do for God. Can this generation of the Church too, not rise to declare, “It is no longer I”? (Gal.2:20). So, forgive us, if we dare to speak the wisdom of God among the perfect. Peter said that some of what Paul wrote was hard to understand and that people had distorted what he was saying. We are all too fully aware of how speaking to believers as if their sins have been forever dealt with, leaves us open to slander and distortion (2Peter 3:16), yet we are sustained by the great fruit that has appeared in so many of your lives; perfect love casting our fear (1John 4:18) and it is by such fruit that the truth is known (John.13:35).