Sunday, October 23, 2011

New Things Have Come

For the love of Christ constrains us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not from now on live to themselves, but to him which died for them, and rose again. Why from now on know we no man after the flesh: yes, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now from now on know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses to them; and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be you reconciled to God. For he has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. 2 Corinthians 5:14-21

The scripture above has become one of my personal favorites.

For me as a Christian, this has become my purpose statement.
I have put it to memory in more than one translation.
It clarifies for me my old ways and that they are to be of the past for me.
And then it explains the new things that have come to me in Christ.

When we are following Christ, and when God looks at you and I … He sees Christ.

I know this sounds impossible, but with Him all things are possible, even for you and me.

How can we possibly ever live up to this Truth? We can't. Jesus can!

We must know the Truth and the Truth will become alive in each of us.

His Word and His Spirit will transform us.

So the question is: What new things have come?

The new things Paul outlines here are many, and will fill up our entire life if we let them, but in this short post, we will only discuss one thing.

When “the love of Christ constraineth us; or controls us; or compels us; therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh.

Why from now on know we no man after the flesh. AKJ
Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh. NAS
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. NIV

Now that is most powerful when you consider it. Think about this for a minute. Meditate upon it. Does the love of Christ control or compel you to the point where you recognize no one from a worldly point of view or according to the flesh?

I must admit that although I see things much differently than I did before I became a Christian, and I am much less judgmental, and much more forgiving; I still often fall into the old habit of viewing others according to the flesh, and unconsciously judging them accordingly. Most recently a clip of Muslims burning Christians alive comes to mind, and left me with desires that were not loving, but with anger, pain, and remorse for the Nigerian Christian martyrs.

Imagine the mind of Christ and how His perfect love automatically separates the person from their actions and evil ways and loves them and wants them to be saved and delivered into His kingdom eternally. Only when we come to understand His love which is foreign to our natural man can we watch as the Love of Christ controls us.

We must be transformed by the renewing of our minds; and we will come to a point where: “we are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” 2 Corinthians 10:5 This can only become a reality when we are following the leadership of the Holy Spirit and the guidance of God’s eternal Truth.

An Old Testament example of this came to mind earlier today that inspired this post. My pastor was preaching from Daniel Chapter 6. We all know the story of Daniel and the Lion’s den, but to help you see my point I will quickly bring the facts to your attention:

1. The king had appointed 120 satraps or princes over the kingdom of Babylon.
2. Over these 120 princes the king had placed three presidents or commissioners of whom Daniel was first to be answered to.
3. The king had decided that because of Daniel’s excellent spirit that he would be placed over the entire realm.
4. The other leaders were jealous and vindictive and searched for any fault or corruption in Daniel but could find not a single fault.
5. They did know that Daniel was faithful to His God and set about to deceive the king into irreversibly condemning Daniel to the Lion’s Den.
6. When Daniel was observed praying three times a day to his God as he always did, the traitors challenged the king with his foolish decree.
7. The king forced to enforce his decree regrettably had Daniel thrown into the den of lions.
8. The following morning; when the king called out Daniel, the following exchange took place: “The king spoke and said to Daniel, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you constantly serve, been able to deliver you from the lions?” Then Daniel spoke to the king, “O king, live forever! “My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths and they have not harmed me, inasmuch as I was found innocent before Him; and also toward you, O king, I have committed no crime.”
9. Daniel was freed and the king dealt with Daniels accusers most harshly.
10. But more importantly the king made a new decree: “that in all the dominion of my kingdom men are to fear and tremble before the God of Daniel; For He is the living God and enduring forever. Daniel 6:26
God used the love of Christ in Daniel's heart to win the king, and his kingdom.

So how does this story relate to the Love of Christ controlling or compelling Daniel? Well obviously if anyone ever had reason to hate, it was Daniel; but not one ill word towards the other men was spoken by Daniel. All He could talk about was God, and his justice, His power, and the angel that He had sent to shut the mouths of the lions.

Daniel’s heart and mind were unwaveringly focused on God and His promises and God honored and delivered him from the lions. Daniel was transformed by the renewing of His mind and heart and He took every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Daniel is our example that mere men can allow the love of Christ to control them.

Another perfect example that God has given us to look up to is Joseph. When his brothers sold Him into slavery and later when God made him the second most powerful man in all of Egypt and his brothers were brought begging before him, what did Joseph say? Joseph could have easily been bitter, vindictive, and vengeful ... but no, listen to Joseph's words:

"And his brothers also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be your servants. 19And Joseph said to them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? 20But as for you, you thought evil against me; but God meant it to good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. 21Now therefore fear you not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spoke kindly to them."
Genesis 50:18-20

Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh. KJV
Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh. NAS
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. NIV

As impossible as it seems, if they can do it, we can do it also.
God’s Word and the Holy Spirit will lead us to victory over our old self.

God bless you my friends, Bob

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