Category Archives: Born Again

Real Life in Christ

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Since you have been raised to new life with Christ,
set your sights on the realities of heaven,
where Christ sits at God’s right hand in the place of honor and power.

Let heaven fill your thoughts.
Do not think only about things down here on earth.

For you died when Christ died,
and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.

And when Christ, who is your real life, is revealed to the whole world,
you will share in all His glory.

So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you.

Have nothing to do with sexual sin, impurity, lust, and shameful desires.
Don’t be greedy for the good things of this life, for that is idolatry.

God’s terrible anger will come upon those who do such things.

You used to do them when your life was still part of this world.

But now is the time to get rid of
anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language.

Don’t lie to each other,
for you have stripped off your old evil nature and all its wicked deeds.

In its place you have clothed yourselves
with a brand–new nature that is continually being renewed
as you learn more and more about Christ,
who created this new nature within you.

In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile,
circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free.
Christ is all that matters, and He lives in all of us.

Since God chose you to be the holy people whom He loves,
you must clothe yourselves with
tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

You must make allowance for each other’s faults
and forgive the person who offends you.
Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love.
Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony.

And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts.
For as members of one body you are all called to live in peace.
And always be thankful.

Let the words of Christ, in all their richness,
live in your hearts and make you wise.
Use His words to teach and counsel each other.
Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.

And whatever you do or say,
let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus,
all the while giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

~Colossians 3:1-17

I haven’t always lived like this in my Christian walk.

Oh Father, make me wise through Christ’s words. Let me be a true “little Christ” as I follow after Your Son. Thank you, Lord, for bestowing upon me love, grace, and patience. Empower me to fulfill Your will. I ask in Jesus’ name, amen.

Embrace the Cross

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Then Jesus called the crowd, along with his disciples, and said to them,
“If anyone wants to become My follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me.”
(Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23)

When we preach that Christ was crucified,
the Jews are offended, and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense.
(1Cor. 1:23)

I have been crucified with Christ; and 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 up for me.
(Gal. 2:20)

Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
(Gal. 5:24)

We know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be destroyed,
and we might no longer be enslaved to sin.
(Rom.6:6)

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him.
(Rom. 6:8)

Since Christ lives within you, even though your body will die because of sin,
your spirit is alive because you have been made right with God.
(Rom. 8:10)

May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
(Gal. 6:14)

“And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.”
(Matt. 10:38)

Embrace the cross
Where Jesus suffered
Though it will cost
All you claim as yours
Your sacrifice will seem small
Beside the treasure
Eternity can’t measure
What Jesus holds in store

Embrace the love
The cross requires
Cling to the one
Whose heart knew every pain
Receive from Jesus
Fountains of compassion
Only He can fashion
Your heart to move as His

Oh, wondrous cross our desires rest in you
Lord Jesus make us bolder
To face with courage the shame and disgrace
You bore upon Your shoulder

Embrace the life
That comes from dying
Come trace the steps
The Savior walked for you
An empty tomb
Concludes Golgotha’s sorrow
Endure then till tomorrow
Your cross of suffering
Embrace the cross
Embrace the cross
The cross of Jesus

A New Heart — A Right Spirit

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“I’m learning the insidious ways of denial.
For myself, I’ve needed to believe I was ‘good’ and did not recognize my ability to fall.
To see my depravity, up close and personal…ugh.”

~Me…from an old comment thread

Maybe it’s a need we all have, to believe we’re better than we are.
To hide from the disappointment and shame of living on this side of Genesis 3.

Our ability to self-deceive is frightening.
Most of the time we don’t even know we’re doing it.
We blame others for the sin in our own lives.
Or, we hide behind coverings of our own making.

The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?
~Jeremiah 17:9

To begin to see the motivations of the heart is to take a frightening journey into the inner workings of the soul.

Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it flow the springs of life.
~Proverbs 4:23 (NASB)

The springs of our lives flow from the heart.
If the heart is deceived and desperately sick, how can the source of our lives be clean?
A spring does not pour out fresh water and bitter water from the same opening, does it? ~James 3:11

Above all else, guard your heart,
For it affects everything you do.
~Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)

The world tells us to follow our hearts.
“If it feels good, do it.”
But our hearts are the problem!

We want what we want when we want it,
and we’ll stop at nothing to get it.

I speak from experience…
Unfortunately.

No one wants to feel pain day-in-and-day-out. We search for something to satisfy. Food. Alcohol. Drugs. Sex. Relationships. Success. Video games. Clothes. Busyness. Anything to make the pain go away for awhile…

We tell ourselves it’s nothing. It won’t hurt to indulge…just a bit.  And before we know it, we’re: obese, alcoholics, addicted to pornography, promiscuous, in an affair, climbing the corporate ladder, walking over anyone to get to the top, spending hours in front of a screen in a fantasy world, buying more and more things to look better, staying busy with anything to stave off the pain…instead of looking for Real Life.

This is the state of our being since the Fall.
We all live on the other side of Genesis 3.
Then the eyes of both of them opened, and they knew they were naked;
so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Have you ever seen what happens to a leaf when it dries out? That shriveled-up crunchy thing can’t cover nothin’! So what do we do? We gather more and more leaves and sew together our “covering” every day —  maybe many times a day — so people can’t see how very naked we are.

Our “coverings” won’t work.
They are only shriveled-up leaves.

Then…they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

We are cowering behind leaves as we hide from…
What is it we are hiding from?

Our self…each other. The memories…the shame.
And…The Only One who can help us.

They heard the sound of the LORD God …
and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God …

Are you hiding?

Are you ashamed when thoughts come to mind?

Is your covering not really covering anything?

Our hearts are deceptively wicked.
We need new hearts.
We need a perfect covering.

“If you only knew the gift God has for you
and who I am,
you would ask Me, and I would give you living water.”
~Jesus
(John 4:10)

Do you want a new heart…one that has clean water pouring forth?
Do you desire The Living Water of God?
Do you want Jesus?

Here’s a prayer of repentance you can pray.
He is faithful and just and will forgive you of all your sins.

He will give you a new heart.

Have mercy on me, O God, because of Your loyal love!
Because of Your great compassion, wipe away my rebellious acts!
Wash away my wrongdoing!
Cleanse me of my sin!
For I am aware of my rebellious acts;
I am forever conscious of my sin.
Against You – You above all – I have sinned;
I have done what is evil in Your sight.
So You are just when You confront me;
You are right when You condemn me.
Look, I was guilty of sin from birth,
a sinner the moment my mother conceived me.
Look, You desire integrity in the inner man;
You want me to possess wisdom.
Sprinkle me with water and I will be pure;
wash me and I will be whiter than snow.
Grant me the ultimate joy of being forgiven!
May the bones You crushed rejoice!
Hide Your face from my sins!
Wipe away all my guilt!
Create for me a pure heart, O God!
Renew a right spirit within me!
~Psalm 51:1-10

Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst;
but the water that I will give him will become in him
a well of water springing up to eternal life.
~Jesus
(John 4:14)

Authentic Conversion

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No one is born Christian.  By nature we are flesh.  The Christian life begins with the work of the Holy Spirit in rebirth.  The term “born-again Christian” is almost a misnomer.  It is a redundancy.  It is a kind of theological stuttering.  If one is born again, then he is a Christian.  If he is a Christian, then he is born again.  There are no nonborn-again Christians and no born-again non-Christians.  To be reborn is to be born into Christ by the Holy Spirit.  This is a prerequisite for the Christian life.  It is also the genesis, the beginning of the Christian life.

Everyone starts the Christian life the same way: We all start by being born again.  Our experiences of rebirth may differ, but the fact of rebirth is necessary for all of us.

It is important for us to understand that no two Christians begin their Christian walk with the same baggage.  Some people are born again at five years old, some at fifty-five.  Some come to faith from a well-disciplined background, others from a life of riotous and unbridled wildness.  We struggle with different sins.  We carry mixed and matched luggage.

Some of us know the day and the hour we were converted.  Others have no distinct recollection of when we were reborn.  Billy Graham speaks of a meeting held by Mordecai Ham where he met Christ.  Ruth Graham can’t pinpoint within five years the date of her conversion.   Some people weep at conversion, others are giddy with joy.

It is a grave mistake to insist that everybody display the same outward signs of conversion that we experienced.  Those with a sudden and dramatic conversion experience tend to be suspicious of those who cannot name the day and the hour.  Those whose experience is less dramatic may wonder about the emotional stability of those who cite a sudden experience.

Here we must honor the work of the Holy Spirit, who convicts people in different ways at different times.  The ultimate question we face is not when we were converted or where we were converted.  The only real question is whether we are converted.  If we are born of the Spirit, then we are brothers and sisters to all who are in Christ.

Paul tells us:

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one  should boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.     Ephesians 2:8-10, NASB

At this point we are all equal.  None of us has converted ourselves.  Rebirth is the work of God.  We are the workmanship or the craftmanship of Christ.  Christ is the master craftsman.  His workmanship is neither dull nor monotonous.  When He redeems us He does not destroy our identity nor our individuality.  Each Christian is a distinctive work of art fashioned by Christ.  Each redeemed person is literally a masterpiece…

Sanctification is a process.  It is a gradual process.  Run for your life from those who promise instant sanctification…called the doctrine of perfectionism…

Sanctification requires far more than a quick experience of the laying on of hands.  Rebirth is instantaneous.  Justification is instantaneous.  But sanctification is a lifelong process.  It involves a diligent struggle against a multitude of obstacles.  It is like the journey of Bunyan’s pilgrim, filled with pitfalls and laden with perils.  It is a journey that takes us through the dark night of the soul, through the valley of the shadow of death, and through the wilderness of temptation.

The journey has but one guarantee: Christ promises to go with us and to bring us out the other side.  Our Lord finishes what He starts.  He does not abort His handiwork in the middle of its creation.  He does not leave us staring at walking trees.

No, the Lord is intensely interested in our welfare and maturing.  He wants us to learn more and more about God and how to please God.  He wants us to find joy in pleasing God.  He wants us to change, like the healed blind man, so that our vision clears, so that we grow in how we perceive the world and how we act in it.  Growth and change in such perception means learning more and more about what pleases the holy God.  The growth in pleasing God is sanctification, and that is what this book is all about.

R.C. Sproul from his book, Pleasing God.  It is an excellent read.  He expresses beautifully what I have been trying to say so inadequately.