Bella Vista Church of Christ

LIFELINES

06/19/2019

Randall Caselman

Raised To Live differently

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.

 

  We all do it don't we, sin? Doing that which we don't want to do, even that we hate. The Apostle Paul is found saying: "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do" (Romans 7.15). In First Timothy, he admits his being the worst of sinners: "But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display His unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on Him and receive eternal life" (1Timothy 1.16). Why? Why do we sin? Why do we do the very things we know we shouldn't, the very things we don't really want to do?

 

• We want to lose weight, but we don't.

• We want to save money, but we don't.

• We want to be more faithful to God, but we aren't.

• We want to stop that sin that so easily entangles us, but we don't.

 

How can we deal with sin in our life?...

 

  First, we've gotta admit the problem. Not only must we admit our sin problem, we must admit that the problem is our fault. We live in a "No-Fault Culture." The Bible knows of no such thing!! In fact just the opposite, it is our fault, totally! "Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin" (James 1.14-15). Indeed, God has given each of us a will, and with that will, we decide; we control our thoughts, attitude, disposition and behavior. We are who we will to be.

 

  We cannot blame our parents, our genetics, our environment, just ourselves. Yes, each of these contribute to molding us into who we are, but God has given each the power to change, to rise above our genetics, upbringing, and environment, to become the people and person He calls us to be. Until we admit that who we are is our choice, we will continue to allow sin to rule and ruin our life. Amen?

 

  Understand our sinful flesh nature. Because our spirit is housed in this flesh body, we have desires that are outside God's will. Scripture makes this battle plain in Galatians 5.16 beginning: "Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh... Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control... Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires"  (Galatians 5.16-24 NRSV). As long as we're living in this body, this flesh/Spirit battle will continue.

 

  Winning this battle is not easy, but the "how to" is in the next two verses: "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit." Church, being guided by the Spirit is knowing truth, walking in the light, living by God's Word: "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3.16-17).

 

  Listen, isn't it time we remove those items which spark our flesh nature into anti-spirit desires: Movies, websites, television shows, books, magazines, etc.?

 

  Change our way of thinking. Two scriptures come to mind from the pen of Paul: "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above... Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things" (Colossians 3.1-2). Then in Philippians he tells us what he means by "heavenly things": "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me - put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you"  (Philippians 4.8-9).

 

  Church, do we understand that thinking turns into behavior? If we think evil thoughts, we become evil people. Those focused on sexual immorality become immoral. Those who constantly think about money become materialist. David's lustful thoughts made him an adulterer. Demas' love of the world caused him to forsake Paul and his faith. In fact, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus indicated that hate and lust were sins without the behavior. As born again believers, we are raised to think differently. Amen?

 

  I read this statement by Thomas Lindberg a preacher in the Pentecostal faith: "Christianity is not our living for Jesus; Christianity is Jesus living in us!" Do we see the difference?Indeed, we are raised to walk a new life, Jesus in us!

 

—Randall Caselman