Saturday, March 2, 2013

Made New

A question that plagues many unbelievers, and even some born again Christ - believers, is “Am I good enough for Jesus to love and save me?” The answer to this proverbial question is a resounding YES! Our brokenness is the reason He shed His blood for us, to cover those sins, to make us new in His image! Without God's unconditional love and sacrifice of His only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, we would be nothing! When you receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, you will be making the wisest decision you'll ever make. Jesus will never leave you nor forsake you, as promised in Deuteronomy 31:6, "Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you”and, if you follow His instructions, He'll make your life more meaningful than you could ever imagine! More meaningful than you could even begin to do on your own. It won't be easy, and in fact, it'll be a very tough journey at times, but so is life without Jesus. The difference is that WITH Jesus, there is meaning, hope, love, joy, a future promised and eternal life to be lived out with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Without Him, it's empty, meaningless, and eternal damnation which is not what God intended when He created us. We have a choice though! The good news is there's a long line of godly soldiers marching ahead of you who wouldn't trade their battle scars for anything and who will be there to mentor your walk along the way too! God places those soldiers all over for many of His divine purposes, and one of those purposes is to spread the gospel and witness all over the world. We're talking about a life of honor, faith, and courage. We're talking about the highest calling known to man, the call to be a good soldier of Jesus Christ!


But many unbelievers fear they aren't good enough or lovable enough, so much so that they truly believe that they must get their lives in order FIRST before coming to the Lord. This, my dear readers, is the opposite of the truth. This is how the enemy tries to work his way into the minds of others, to keep them believing the lies in order to keep them away from the Lord Jesus Christ. It's when we are broken the most, that we need the mercy and grace of God! It's when we are broken, bruised, torn and confused that we are in need of the Savior the most and it's when He will come into your heart if you ask. He doesn't expect you to be perfect, or have your life in order. He doesn't expect you to be sinless because you AREN'T and NEVER can be because Jesus is the ONLY SINLESS one! Who better to use to witness to those who are broken than His own soldiers!

Soldiers of God March On
His soldiers know what it's like to be broken because we are all broken and we've been on our knees crying out for the Lord! His soldiers march in unison because the Holy Spirit resides in each of them so they can witness and mentor those coming up behind them. You don't have to be perfect in your life because nobody is perfect except our Savior! If any of us waited until we had everything in order, we'd never call upon the Lord, repenting of our sins, and asking Him to be our personal Savior because it would never be in order. Technically, God expects NOTHING of you as a Christian. Jesus said in John 15:5, "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing." He said,"nothing." A branch is no good without the vine. A branch by itself will die and become useless. God expects all believers to DENY themselves and acknowledge their need to allow Jesus Christ to work THROUGH them, just as a vine produces fruit through its branches, so too will we produce fruit through Jesus Christ. By simply obeying God's word a Christian SERVES God and GLORIFIES Him. Jesus said, "And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.”" (John 8:29)

So what can make us NEW? In 2 Corinthians 5:17 it states this clearly, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” The Commentary “Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible” explains that the first word of this verse is “connected with the words in 2 Co 5:16, 'We know Christ no more after the flesh.' As Christ has entered on His new heavenly life...so all who are 'in Christ'...are new creatures.” This is a profound statement because it means that just as the Lord has risen and been glorified, so can we partake of a glorified nature now. God's people are literally a distinct brand of people from the rest of mankind. The reformer John Calvin gave clarification on this, stating, “When the prophets speak of the kingdom of Christ, they foretell that there will be a new heavens and a new earth, (Isaiah 65:17) meaning thereby, that all things will be changed for the better...As however, Christ's kingdom is spiritual, this change must take place chiefly in the Spirit.” God's people have been set free from their former state of being, their former selves, and are now given a fresh, new spiritual vibrancy as they become permanent citizens of the future government of Jesus. Amen!

Born Again = Made New
It's important that Christians understand this reality though, because often they can become discouraged and hopeless, feeling that they're just miserable sinners, since they are frequently tempted to do what is wrong. God's desire though is for His people to see themselves as free from the bondages of darkness, experiencing the victory that Jesus has over sin and death. He wants us to see ourselves the way He sees us! Those who are born again must see themselves as being totally liberated from their past weaknesses before they can begin to move forward and manifest the strength that is in their new identity.  “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” as Colossians 3:5 commands. Yet the fact can then be overlooked that there is a fantastic, joy-filled life of godliness that believers can then walk out instead. It's not enough for people to quit looking at who they used to be because the devil is there to quickly remind them. However, their focus now needs to be on rejoicing in the blessings of their new closeness with Christ. 

The negative aspects of life have been completely replaced by positive ones, and people need to understand what a holy and peaceful existence is available for them in order to begin walking it out. 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 it says, “So we are always of good courage; we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. We are of good courage, and we would rather he away from the body and at home with the Lord.” The first reason is that we are in touch with the Lord by faith, not by sight. We don't see Him, He doesn't come and sit down beside us and talk to us and put His arm around our shoulders and encourage us in person as one of our friends or family members do. But, nevertheless, we have His presence with us and WITHIN us. That's the first great reason always for renewed vigor and courage. No circumstance we go through ever means that we are abandoned and left to ourselves and to fend for ourselves.

Notice how Paul puts it as he introduces this passage to us here. In verse 6, "So we are always of good courage"; then again in verse 8, "We are of good courage." That note has been sounded again and again throughout this passage. In 2 Corinthians 4:1 he says, "Having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart"; and in verse 16 of Chapter 4 he says, "So we do not lose heart." The key, of course, is the little word "so." Because of what he has been saying we do not lose heart, he says, we are of good courage. "So" - what does that mean? Well, all through the account, of course, he has been talking about the power and activity and availability of God. That's the whole basis for Christian hope. It's the answer to the flooding despair that is overtaking many people of this world. It's the fact that God is going to do something, is doing something, and can be counted on to act is where the renewing of hope in a person must sprout. God is going to act both in the future way beyond death, and He is acting and is going to continue to act in the present, the "right here, right now" right in the midst of all the threats and dangers of this life as we know it! 






And one day, we will be at home with the Lord, in His very presence, seeing Him not only with the Spirit within us, but face to face! How wonderful that day will be! As Peter puts it in 1Peter 1:7-8, "v(7) that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, (v8) whom having not seen[a] you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory..."  How much more will that be true when we see Him face to face? So we have to go through the difficulties of these days and to be of good courage because we are heading into the light instead of darkness. Part of being remade is to read the inerrant word of God! God's word is intended for all people. For thousands of years God has communicated to millions of simple, lay people through His word. In fact, many things are hidden from the learned and clever but revealed to the merest children (Luke 10:21) When we hand our lives over to the Lord, it is like a changing of the guard; a new, fresh set of eyes now guards the prize. So when we each turn the page on our life, giving it to Christ, we are holy, as Leviticus 19:2 points out, “Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy." and also in 1 Peter 1:16, "because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy." 

Paul is telling us specifically how our lives should be different now that we have turned the page to our new life in Christ as referenced in Ephesians 2:1, "And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins.." and in Colossians 2:13, " And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses." Paul says, that prior to turning the page to the new creation God has made in us, we are blinded by the god of this age. The devil. This is how the devil works. He blinds people to the truth of God through all kinds of deception which "deadens" the hearts and minds. Just read the news headlines in any given western country’s papers on any given day and you will know what I am referring to. How many scandals are there, involving the elected leaders of the world, our country and various provinces? We have a political system with which the devil feels right at home because he has taken the driver's seat. It's about control. That's what the devil wants is control of the world...and those who reside in it. It all boils down to a popularity contest every few years. Look at how much violence is going on all over the world. The numerous crimes against children, enough to sicken the most hard hearted. The elite's agenda to control, manipulate and lie to the masses through the media, music, television and movies. Look at the tragedies taking place every second of every day and look at the wars, rumors of wars, and weather related catastrophes just to name a few. 

Paul writes, 2 Corinthians 2:15-16, “For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?”  This is cause for happiness because we are the fragrance of life for some and this is cause for sadness because we are the smell of death to others. Those who have not been made new....those who choose not to surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ we are the smell of death to them. Some people really hate Christians and some people really hate Christ which that seems to be a viewpoint that is more the norm than the exception in this world these days. It can be so easy to forget how different the followers of Christ are from worldly-minded people. We live among them, work with them, generally eat the same kind of food, and engage in many of the same activities, like watching movies or ball games, going on vacations, raising children, and so on. But we ARE different from the worldly-minded people because we have been made new in Christ Jesus! The reality of Christ and the gospel requires a new way of evaluating people. 

Believe the Gospel
So in our daily life, we need to bring a gospel outlook. The way we act in our family, our workplace, and our gathering must be influenced by the reality of Christ’s death and resurrection! He must be front and center in all that we do! When you dine at a fine restaurant, there is usually as place to check your coats. We must never put the Lord and the gospel in the coat check room, while we seek our own “pleasure,” like speaking in a nasty or negative way to a family member or a dear friend. The focal point is on how we regard, view, appraise, or value people. In other words, the gospel changes our way of thinking. A new seed is planted. What the Lord accomplished through His death and resurrection forever alters the way we look at all things, including people. Through new eyes, with a new heart, a new mind and a new spirit!   


We are renewed! Isaiah 42:9 says, "Behold, the former things have come to pass,
And new things I declare; Before they spring forth I tell you of them.”

The old has gone. The new has come.


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