Apart From Faith

Tuesday, October 07, 2014, 5:55 a.m. – the Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “Unless You Are Born Again.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Galatians 3. I will quote selected verses in the NIV.

According to Self

You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain? So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? ~ Gal. 3:1-5​

Paul was addressing the issue here of the Galatian Christians returning to man-made (of human origin) religion after having begun their Christian lives by faith in Jesus Christ, and by the Spirit of God. They were guilty of deserting their Lord, and they were turning to a gospel of the flesh of humans, which was no gospel (good news) at all. They were being led astray to follow after religion of human origin (of the flesh) by false brothers and sisters in Christ who had come in among them and who were perverting the gospel of Christ. So, Paul was appealing to them to come to their senses. Thus he set before them an argument (a discussion) on the topic of flesh-driven religion versus genuine faith in Christ Jesus.

In the context of this passage of scripture, the Greek word translated as “flesh” here means: “referring to making decisions (actions) according to self – i.e. done apart from faith (independent from God's inworking). Thus what is ‘of the flesh (carnal)’ is by definition displeasing to the Lord – even things that seem ‘respectable!’ In short, flesh generally relates to unaided human effort, i.e. decisions (actions) that originate from self or are empowered by self. This is carnal (‘of the flesh’) and proceeds out of the untouched (unchanged) part of us – i.e. what is not transformed by God” [Res: biblehub.com].

In Today’s Church

This switch from faith to flesh is a HUGE problem in today’s modern church movement here in America. They make bold claims (boasts) that they are now under grace and that they are no longer under the law, and yet so many of them do not follow the Biblical teachings on grace at all, and they are almost entirely flesh-driven, instead. So, they are being hypocritical in that the very thing they say they have rejected is what they embrace.

A true understanding of God’s grace instructs us that God’s grace is NOT a free license to continue in willful sin while excusing sin away under the guise that the believer, who is now under grace and not under the law, is no longer required to do what is right in God’s eyes. The truth of the matter is that God’s grace teaches us to say “NO” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled and upright lives in this present age while we wait for Christ’s return (See: Tit. 2:11-14). As well, we must understand that Jesus Christ died so that we would no longer live for ourselves but for HIM who gave himself up for us to die on the cross for our sins (See: 2 Co. 5:15). Jesus Christ died to set us free from slavery to sin, and to free us to walk in Christ’s righteousness, so how can we live in sin any longer? (See: Ro. 6-8; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 4:17-24; & 1 Jn. 1-5). We must die with Christ to sin!

The way in which today’s modern church is being flesh-driven is multi-faceted. The first and foremost way is through this dilution and twisting (perverting) of the gospel of Christ to make God’s grace out to be a free ticket into heaven absent of the necessity of the believer to die with Christ to his or to her own sin, and to walk daily in the power of the Spirit in the holiness of Christ within us. Added to that is that today’s modern church relies heavily upon the teachings and philosophies of humans, human marketing schemes for how to grow their churches, and modern and worldly means and methods for bringing the world into their meetings. So many of their meetings, though, are not Spirit-led at all, but are entirely driven (orchestrated) by the flesh of humans who want to appeal to the flesh of other humans so that they will feel comfortable in their meetings, and so they will want to come back. In reality, the Holy Spirit has no freedom of movement in most of these churches or in the individual lives of those who profess Christ but who are walking according to the flesh.

Baptized Into Christ

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. ~ Gal. 3:26-27​

What does it mean to be “baptized into Christ”? I believe the best understanding of this phrase comes from Paul’s teaching in Romans 6 where he said that we, who are in Christ, have died to sin. When we were baptized into Christ, in salvation, we were baptized into his death. “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life… For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin… You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness… But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.”

I fully understand that scripture teaches about both spiritual baptism and physical baptism. I am well aware, as well, that there are varied understandings and teachings on this subject. So, I will just share here what I believe scripture teaches.

First of all, the word translated here as “baptize” means: “To cleanse; to make clean; to immerse; to submerge; to dip under” (Res: biblehub.com). To immerse means: “To become completely occupied with something, giving all your time, energy, or concentration to it” (Res: Encarta Dictionary). Combining these two definitions together, I believe we can get a good understanding of the meaning of “baptize.” It means to give ourselves wholly to the cleansing of our sin via faith in what Jesus Christ did for us in dying on the cross for our sins. And, this commitment of faith involves giving ourselves in death to sin so that we can now live new lives in Christ free from slavery to sin, and free to walk in his righteousness. This baptism, thus, is a spiritual baptism of the heart and of the flesh nature, and it is symbolized in physical baptism in water as a testimony of the transformation which has already taken place of the Spirit in our hearts, via being baptized with the Holy Spirit, in transforming our lives away from living for sin to walking in Christ’s holiness.

When we are baptized into Christ, in salvation, we have thus clothed ourselves with Christ. To be clothed means: “To put on; in the sense of sinking into a garment; to invest with clothing” (Res: biblehub.com). To sink into something means to become absorbed in it (similar to becoming immersed). To clothe ourselves thus means to provide or supply ourselves with some quality; to cover completely; to slip into;” and/or “to wear” (Res: Encarta Dictionary). So, to be clothed with Christ means that we are completely occupied with him, giving all of ourselves to him – our time, energies, personalities, gifts, resources, passions, desires, possessions, etc., in submission to him and to his will and purposes for our lives, forsaking all others (other gods), and to be faithful to HIM ONLY.

Unless You Are Born Again
An Original Work / November 3, 2013

Based off John 3:1-21

Jesus told Nicodemus that no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again. When Nicodemus questioned how this could be done, Jesus answered him that people are born of the flesh when they are born from their mother’s wombs, but they must each also have a spiritual birth if they want to have eternal life with God. In other words, we must be reborn, not physically, but spiritually. Still Nicodemus did not understand, yet it was not for lack of knowledge. He knew the scriptures, and he taught the scriptures, yet he chose not to accept what he heard, i.e. he chose not to believe in Jesus Christ as the Messiah.

God the Father gave his Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins. Whoever believes in him will not perish, but will have eternal life. “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already.” And, this is the verdict of the trial in God’s heavenly court: Jesus Christ, the Light, came into the world to save sinners, but people loved darkness instead of the Light because their deeds were evil. Those who practice evil hate the Light, and will not come into the Light for fear that their evil deeds will be exposed. But, whoever lives by the truth comes to the Light, “so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out by God.” [Res: John 3]

Nicodemus came to Jesus.
He acknowledged God was with Him.
Jesus said, “You can’t see heaven
Unless you are born again.”

“How can a man be born when he’s old?
Can he enter into his mother’s womb?”
Jesus answered, “Flesh is flesh,
So of the Spirit, you must be.”

Jesus said to Nicodemus,
“You’re a teacher, and yet you don’t
Understand of what I tell you,
Because you will not believe.

“For God so loved the world that He gave
His one and His only Son for your sin.
So, whoever believes in Him
Has eternal life in heav’n.

“Light has come into the world,
But human beings love the darkness,
Because their deeds are so evil,
So in truth, they stand condemned.

“Everyone who practices evil
Fears that the Light will expose his sin.
Yet, whoever lives his life by the Light
Does so through his God.”