Daily Discipline #114
By Colleen Donahue
Over the 32 years that I have been a Christian I have found myself baffled by others that also proclaim they are Christians. Let me describe a few scenarios and you'll soon see what I mean. (The names are changed). Curt and I worked at the same place. He was a nice guy but always late, somewhat lazy, and generally undependable. He said he was a Christian.
Ron was also a co-worker. He was moody and uncommunicative. Customers thought he was downright unfriendly. He said he was a Christian.
Mary would make a commitment to go somewhere with me but at the appointed time would back out with an excuse. She just wouldn't feel up to it. She said she was a Christian.
Sarah made life miserable for many. She was hard and demanding; a woman of principle, but without mercy. She said she was a Christian.
Eileen talked about the faults and failures of others without hesitation. She spoke disrespectfully of ones in leadership with whom she didn't agree. She said she was a Christian.
Larry was selfish - always thinking of himself and his needs first. He would help others, but only if asked. There was never a voluntary giving of time or money. He said he was a Christian.
Carla was out of control. She could not quit eating and gluttony seemed to be swallowing up her life. She said she was a Christian.
And what about me? How many times did I weep over words that should not have been spoken or actions that I regretted? Yes, I was a Christian. I knew that Jesus had forgiven my sins and that His Holy Spirit lived within me -- but what about all these un-Christlike behaviors that I was seeing in myself and others?
All this confused me and caused me to ask the question......
If Salvation Is So Life Changing, Why Are There So Many Miserable Christians? - Part One
Day 1- Many Christians are "saved" people still living under the power of sin. They have forgiveness of their past and they know they have eternal life in the future but TODAY is often like hell on earth. The Apostle Paul expressed for all of us this unhappy state.
Day 2- We see that Jesus Christ is adequate to deal with our past and the future but we don't know God's answer for the present and therefore we do the only things we can: we try to handle the present on our own. We substitute a consecrated, dedicated "self" (instead of Christ) to handle the awful present. Therefore the "world" sees religious people who proclaim themselves to be something they aren't. They see people who are trying hard, doing all kinds of "good" activities but without the love, joy, and peace that are to characterize the lives of Christians.
Romans 3:20 / Galatians 2:16 / Ephesians 2:8-9 / Titus 3:4-5
Day 3- The Apostle Paul faced this problem in his own life (see Day #1) but came to see that God has a complete answer. This is found in our "union with Christ". He writes about this as a "mystery revealed".
Day 4-What is this mystery or the secret? It is that Jesus Christ dwells in every believer. This is the key to Christian maturity and being "more than conquerors". It is the key to living in the present.
Colossians 1:25-27 / Colossians 2:2-3
Day 5- Most of us have only the first part of the gospel presented to us.
Ephesians 1:7 / John 3:15
Notice this first part covers our past and the future. We don't have trouble trusting Jesus Christ for the past and the future because we can't do anything about it anyway. But when it comes to living TODAY, we think we must battle it in our own strength. We are told we must try harder and do more. What we don't realize is that our efforts to "live for God" get in the way of "Christ living through us".
Day 6- The second part of the gospel is almost totally overlooked today - i.e. the fact that Christ dwells within us. We need to stand solidly on this truth:
It is no longer just Christ IN me but Christ AS me.
Day 7- Paul, in this prayer for the church, knew the answer he had received was the missing key to the victorious life.
THE KINGDOM OF GOD
Day 8- Many believers do not realize that their inheritance in the Kingdom of God begins today. The reign of God is in their lives today and this changes their whole perspective. We can live victoriously and fully NOW.
Revelations 11:17 / Revelations 12:10
Day 9- The Kingdom of God is the reign of God in the lives of men. It is an eternal and not a temporal kingdom.
2 Corinthians 4:18
Day 10- The Kingdom of God can't be seen by human beings. You enter it by becoming alive spiritually.
John 3:3 / Romans 8:9,17
Day 11- Scripture therefore places our being in Heaven firmly in the NOW. We are citizens of God's kingdom. It is all around us and though invisible it is totally real. We enter into the heavenly places in Jesus.
THE FAILURE OF RELIGION
Religions are based on the philosophy of someone who once lived a relatively praiseworthy life. We copy someone's philosophy, and live by their rules. It's following a set of principles or imitating an example.
Day 12- By being religious we attempt to imitate godly living and thus try to be something that we aren't. Man tries to solve problems from the outside. But here is what Jesus Christ says is man's fundamental problem.
Day 13- The root of all evil is within a man's heart. What man DOES is the result of what man IS. Therefore no religion, philosophy, or set of principles can deal with it. We have inherited a fallen nature from Adam and Eve and therefore we have a natural hostility toward the ways of God.
Ephesians 2:3 / Romans 8:7-8
Day 14- History is a record of man's groping around in separated alienation from God. We stumble like the blind with darkened minds. With all of man's scientific skill and ingenuity we have not been able to cure the human heart. Man's condition remains the same.
Jeremiah 17:9 / Isaiah 59: 9-13
Day 15- This doesn't mean that man as God's creation is evil. Man is still created in the image of God. But, when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, Satan's spirit of disobedience entered them and suddenly their viewpoint was altered.
Genesis 3: 7-9
How was their viewpoint altered? Their lives left the spiritual realm and became physical. They functioned from self-interest and man became the center of his own universe.
Day 16- Sin is living as independent, separated people. Satan is an indwelling master and his nature is "self-centeredness". Sometimes it manifests itself in something bad, but quite often it will be good and benevolent. This is why there is much good in the world even though it is under Satan's rule. Satan is always consistent in promoting "self" -- whatever that means. Until we are converted he is our god and we manifest him.
John 8: 44 / 1 John 3:10
Satan is pleased with religion because religion is based on the improvement of self and striving to be better is just the manifestation of self. If religion isn't the path of righteousness, then what is?
A NEW HEART
Day 17- While it is impossible to live as Jesus did while we have a heart centered on self, there is a solution. Our old nature must be removed and then a new one implanted. Ezekiel spoke of it long before Jesus came to implement it.
Ezekiel 36: 26-27
Day 18- Jeremiah in looking forward to the New Covenant spoke of it as the internal rule of the king within his subjects.
Jeremiah 31: 33-34 / Hebrews 8:10-12
Day 19- How does God remove our old nature and implant a new one? It is through death (Jesus' death) that we enter into life.
Romans 5: 18-19 / 1 Corinthians 15:22
Day 20- When Adam sinned all of us were reckoned to have sinned. Because of his sin he became joined in spirit to Satan and from then on people have been born as natural citizens of the kingdom of darkness. But with Jesus Christ's death, the penalty for sin was dealt with on our behalf and we can now be identified with Christ (or "the last Adam"). We died with Him.
2 Corinthians 5:14-15 / Romans 6: 3-6
Let’s talk about Romans 6:6 for just a moment.
Before we become a Christian we have only one nature driving us – it is what the Bible talks about as the “old self” in Romans 6:6. In a cosmic miracle, God put our old nature – inherited from Adam and Eve – into Jesus on the cross so that when Jesus died, we (our old self) died. But the English translation of this verse can be misleading. Various translations talk about the old self being destroyed; but always there is a foot note to that word destroyed saying that it means the old self was “rendered inoperative or powerless.”
Here is how Romans 6:6 is translated in the Amplified Bible:
“We know that our old (unrenewed) self was nailed to the cross with Him in order that (our) body (which is the instrument) of sin might be made ineffective and inactive for evil, that we might no longer be slaves of sin.”
Why is this important? Before we received Christ we had one nature. But after we receive Christ, we now have two natures within us. The old one was essentially made powerless at the cross so that Christ could take His rightful place – but it is still there -- and it will not stay quiet for long. Satan doesn’t want Christ ruling our lives. PERIOD!
For a while, a new Christian will have a honeymoon period of joy, peace, and victory over sin. But soon enough, we all find those pesky old habits returning, and now we face the danger of acting the part of a victorious Christian. Since we may have already boasted to a few unbelieving friends about our victory over sin, we have to keep up appearances and “fake” a victory that we aren’t sure we have anymore. We now find ourselves defeated and feeling like a hypocrite! If we aren’t taught properly, we’ll begin to doubt our new life in Christ and soon fall back into feeding the old nature – lying dormant and waiting to be fed again so it can spring back into life.
UNDERSTANDING WHAT HAPPENS TO US WHEN WE BECOME A CHRISTIAN
Day 21- Jesus has rescued us from Satan’s Kingdom of darkness and transferred us to God’s Kingdom.
Day 22- The reason Jesus gives us His Spirit (as our new nature) is so that we have an inside tutor to teach us all things.
We’ll need to be retrained to be citizens in God’s Kingdom.
Day 23- It’s Christ’s Spirit within us that teaches us how to be “servants of righteousness” after a life time of being slaves to sin.
Day 24- Here is what happens to our lives in three phrases:
2 Corinthians 5:17
A. Our old life is passing away
B. Our new life is coming into being
C. All of these changes are made by Christ.
According to this verse, where is Christ dwelling?
Day 25- The Holy Spirit within us wants our cooperation in the fight we’ll have to engage in to stay victorious over sin and self. He won’t force us to fight it, but he’ll be right there with us if we do. Jesus has won the victory over Satan, but we must hold our ground by “taking our stand”.
Ephesians 6:10, 13-14a
Christ is not asking us to “take ground”, for He has already done that. We need only to “hold our ground”. As soon as we feel we need to take back ground we have lost the fight.
Jesus confirms this fight that we’ll be in by asking us to do three things:
To keep the old nature ineffective, we’ll have to deny ourselves in some way. That denial of self will keep our old nature from rising again. The cross we’ll “take up” won’t be the cross Jesus bore for we could never take on the sins of the whole world. No, our cross will be tailored made for us. It will usually come in the form of a person. A willingness to “receive” what God allows for us will be exactly right for staying victorious in following Christ.
Day 26- Christ is in us by His Spirit, but scripture also talks of us being “in Christ”. We enter into union with God through Christ.
It is God Himself who puts us into Christ.
1 Corinthians 1:30A
We have died as a sinner and been born again as a saint. When we “reckon” ourselves as dead, then we accept as true what God says is true – we died when Christ died—i.e. our old nature was rendered powerless and ineffective at the cross.
Day 27- As we cooperate with the Holy Spirit, a radical change takes place in us.
Christ now lives in me and continues to live his own life as me.
When we begin to acknowledge what is already a spiritual reality (despite temporary appearances) then we’ll finally come through into knowing that spiritual reality and outward change always follows.
Our salvation has three aspects to it:
First, there is a point in time when Christ enters our life. Because we have all of Christ, we have all the fullness of what Christ is within us.
Second, there is a process of time where the power of Christ’s Spirit within us (our new nature) gives us victory over the old nature. But this part of the journey is a fighting stage that will require our cooperation. God has freed us from having to be a slave to our old nature, but always the choice will be ours. That’s why Jesus gives the directive to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him.
Third, there is a final point in time when Christ will set us free forever from the presence of the old nature.
HOW DO WE EXPRESS OUR NEW NATURE TO THE WORLD?
Day 28- Jesus did not act independently as a human. He was a container to express His Father. He didn't get a list of rules and instructions and start to imitate Him. Rather, he lived spontaneously and simply manifested the Father.
John 5: 19, 30 / John 12: 49 / John 14:9-10
Day 29- In the same way that Jesus Christ manifested the Father; we are to manifest Christ.
John 14:20,23 / John 17: 21-23 / Galatians 2:20 / 1 John 3:24
When people see us they are seeing a manifestation of Christ through us. We are the visible expression of an invisible Christ.
Day 30- God is no longer "up there". He is "in us". We are in the Holy of Holies. We are at the Father's right hand. Our sins are dealt with in full and God no longer takes note of them. Nothing can now affect our relationship with God.
Romans 8: 31-39
Day 31- If we do sin we must acknowledge it and thank God for Jesus who is our advocate with the Father.
1 John 2:1
Day 32- Under the Old Covenant men and women tried to keep external laws. But the New Covenant is the life of Jesus springing up from within us like rivers of living water. It comes naturally without any effort on our part.
John 4:14/ John 7: 37-38
Day 33- God wants us to live by faith -- a moment by moment walking in His will. All of our trying can never fulfill the law of love. It only happens when we let God live in us.
John 15: 4-5 / Galatians 2:20 / Ephesians 3:16-17a, 20
Day 34- We do not have an improved vessel or container. We now have the glory of Jesus Christ within us giving light to a dark world. This is the mystery of Christ within us.
Reread: Colossians 1:27
|Daily Discipline Table of Contents|