New Wine for New Wineskins June 2013

By , June 1, 2013 11:40 pm

Be Holy

1 Peter 1: 13 – 15

13 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

For years I thought this was a threat rather than an invitation. It is important to recognise that he says BE holy and not DO holy!  Too often we try to DO in order to try and BE instead of simply DOING out of who we already BE.  Jesus DID what we could never DO so that we could BE what we could never have BEEN and then go on to DO what we could never have DONE!  Unfortunately, we have many times tried to DO holy and continually fallen short in our efforts, and have opened ourselves up to the paralysing effects of condemnation as a result.

Romans 7: 13 – 25; 8: 1 – 2

13 Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. 16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

Personally, there have been times in my Christian experience when I just couldn’t understand why I kept falling into the same sinful behaviour.  I remember what an ex-employer wrote about me in my pre-Christian days after he had dismissed me from my job as a barman.  He had to give an explanation to the Unemployment Benefit Office as to why he had let me go, and so he wrote what almost amounted to a glowing reference in that he stated that I was honest, diligent and hard-working. But then he added the tag-line that revealed why I was of no long-term benefit to him.  He said that I had “insufficient strength of character to work in the licensed trade”.  What he meant was that I couldn’t resist the temptation to accept the offer of customers to “have one yourself,” which in turn rendered me incapable of working effectively as I came under the influence and intoxicating effects of alcohol.

So what can I do if there is a pattern of sin and failure in my life that appears to be unbreakable?  Does saying a little prayer and hoping that I can try harder, or even saying a big prayer every few minutes and trying even harder to try harder – with a load of promises thrown in to never do again what I keep doing again – really cut it?  Unfortunately not.  Like the alcoholic with his bottle or the addict with their drug of choice it doesn’t really matter how long you manage to stay away because once you take another swig or find another fix you are right back where you started.  There is no point in congratulating yourself that you managed six months this time, because all of the mess catches up with you – along with all of the resulting chaos – and finally the remorse and the guilt and the shame come rolling in.  As the Bible teaches, the pleasure of sin is only seasonal and it is always a short summer followed by a long, hard winter!

Sin is sin is sin, and sin will always cause us to fall short of the glory of God and prevent us from finding and fulfilling our purpose which is to glorify God while enjoying the trip!

So how am I to deal with this insufficient strength of character that manifests in weakness and failure?  Paul asked, “Who will deliver me from this body of death?”  Well, there is only one thing that you must do with a dead body and that is bury it!  If you don’t bury it then it will begin to putrefy and spread disease everywhere it goes!  The really good news of the gospel is that if you will acknowledge that you are a dead man and submit to this burial then you can be raised up as a habitation of God, and as a carrier of his life!

Romans 8: 10 – 12

10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

1 Corinthians 3: 16

16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

1 Corinthians 6: 19 – 20

19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Our new life is not our own do with as we please.  When we sell a house to someone else and they come to live there we no longer have a say in what happens to it.  Jesus said to pray this way:

Matthew 6: 8 – 13

8 “…Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts,  as we forgive our debtors.  13 And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.  For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”

This is not a religious prayer and it is not a selfish prayer – it is a prayer of surrender and submission and consecration to the will of God which is always the best.

If I fail to grasp the full implications of the gospel but I still want to try and live a religious life and to try my hardest to be a good person then I will either become a self-righteous pharisee and fall short of the glory of God through the ugly and pernicious sin of pride, or I can develop a double life of outward conformity to the required standard while I continue to stumble along in secret and still fall short of God’s glory!

You see, the poor old man who had insufficient strength of character to work in the licensed trade without sampling the wares still has insufficient strength of character in and of himself to live in this world that is crammed full of opportunities to sin, and he still lacks the moral fortitude to resist the temptation to occasionally fall off the wagon and sample sin’s counterfeit delights!

The message of the gospel is not that I can become a reformed character but a transformed character.  Reformation can be short-lived, but transformation is permanent!

Romans 12: 1 – 2

1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Jesus came into this world but he never became of this world.  His light shone permanently and consistently and produced a conviction wherever he went that God always has a better plan and a higher way.  His prayer for us was and still is that we too would be in this world and yet not of it, and that our light would not be an intermittent glow, but would shine just as brightly and as permanently as his.  Obviously, he had a handle on something that we may have missed or neglected along the way.

Basically, if our light is to shine as his did then we must discover the source of that light.

John 1: 4

4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.

It was the life that was in him that produced the light!  If we are going to shine then we must have the same power source – we must have the same life in us!  It is impossible to have this life without death, burial, and resurrection.  Jesus didn’t die so that he could be raised up into newness of life but so that we could!  He already had that life!  He had to taste our death so that we could receive his life!

Hebrews 2: 9, 14 – 16

9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone…14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

It is a liberating revelation to discover that I cannot live this life in and of myself because there is nothing in my flesh to stop me from falling again.

Romans 7: 18 – 19

18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.

So where does the secret to an overcoming life lie?  Well, really it is quite simple!

Romans 7: 24 – 25

24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Romans 6: 1 – 14

 1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

This doesn’t just happen because I want it to happen or try to make it happen – this happens through a supernatural transformation that takes place when I surrender my life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and submit my old life to be buried – not so that I can have a new life of my own, but so that his life can manifest in me!  It kind of brings a whole new take to John 10: 10, doesn’t it?

10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

That old flesh man so wants to hang onto life and squeeze as much selfish pleasure out of it as he can. That is always the way of sinful flesh.  Just a little bit more, just a little bit longer, and yet it is never satisfied!

Jesus’ life was completely sold out to the will of his Father, and so must ours be or we have made a travesty of the gospel and are engaged in nothing more than another religious and futile attempt to hold it all together.

Jesus said that we are to take up our cross every day if we are going to follow him.  We are not following him in the sense that he is walking out somewhere ahead of us and we are trying to keep up with him.  We are following his example and yielding ourselves completely to the life that he is living in us!  Taking up our cross every day reminds us that we are dead to living our own lives our own way and are under new ownership.

The highest call is not always to lay down our physical life as a martyr, but can be to lay down our self-life as a disciple. We can lay down our physical life in an instant, but to take up the Cross daily  requires a much more long-term commitment.

Galatians 2: 19 – 20

19 For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

The weak man of the flesh is no longer a problem when the life of Christ is in me.

Romans 8: 28 – 30

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

We are the called according to his purpose – not ours!

Philippians 1: 22 – 24

22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. 24 Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.

I will the will of God!  I choose God’s will over my will!  I will fulfil my call for God’s glory – resisting every attempt of the enemy to derail or divert me!

Galatians 6: 14 – 15

14 But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.

I have absolutely nothing to boast about because I couldn’t do it – I was a consummate failure!  But he did it and he is still doing it, and he will continue to do it because it is his life that is in me!  All of the pressure to perform is gone!

Philippians 4: 13

13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

I will be holy because he is holy, and I will do holy because I be holy!

Aren’t you glad that “Be holy, for I am holy ” is an invitation and not a threat?


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