A Living Hope
Dr. Jay Worth Allen
"I have waited for Thy salvation, O Lord."
A few years ago a preacher paid a visit to one of my father's buddies - a tall, ex-Texas rancher who was known for his wit. The story goes - as told by my father - that as the preacher approached the rancher's barn he noticed high above the roof a sizable weathervane. On top of the weathervane was a sign which read, "God is love." The preacher pointed to the sign and in a tone of rebuke said, "Friend, do you think God's love is as variable as the weather?" "No," said the rancher, "I put that sign up there to remind me that no matter what the direction of the wind, God is love."
We are saved, we are being saved and we will be saved.
The Present Truth
"Beloved, I now write unto you . . . which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance, that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandments of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior . . . Wherefore, I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though you know them, and are established in the present truth."
There is a philosophy in this day and age, which has been cultivated in various church circles which defines Peter's statement, "the present truth" to be unique to the late 20th and this early 21st century. Let me say, with all emphasis, "the present truth" began on the day of Pentecost, when we entered into the kingdom of God and has prevailed successfully until this present hour - and will triumph absolutely until He comes. That is "the present truth."
"Yea I think it fitting, as long as I am in this tabernacle (i.e. Peter's body), to stir you up by putting you in remembrance, knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shown me." (2 Peter 3:1,2; 1:12-14).
Our salvation is in three stages: Soteria: deliverance and preservation; Soterios: bringing salvation; Soterion: the hope of salvation.
We are saved, we are being saved and we will be saved.
The apostle Peter’s emphasis on salvation is in two of salvation’s three tenses: We are being saved. We will be saved. He speaks to the first - We are saved. - but his emphasis is on the last two. The dominant thread we see in both of Peter’s letters is that of the suffering of the believer and the steadfastness of the Lord through that suffering, “by the power of God through faith unto salvation.” “God is love;” no matter the direction of the wind or the size of the storm - "that your faith and hope might rest in God.”
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, according to His abundant mercy, has begotten us again" - or borne us again - "unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fades not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, for a little while if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than that of gold that perishes, though it be tested by fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom, having not seen, you love; in whom, though now you see Him not, yet believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls . . . Wherefore, gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope full upon the grace that is to be brought unto us at the revelation of Jesus Christ . . . He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, who through him you do believe in God, who raised Him up from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope might rest in God" (1 Peter 1:3-9, 13,20,21).
Isn't that an interesting expression? "Your faith and hope might rest in God." Because God has raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His own right hand, glorified in His presence, therefore our faith and our hope is in God. "If indeed Jesus be not raised from the dead, we are yet in our sin, and are of all men most miserable." Aren't you glad that you know, that you know, that you know, that Jesus Christ is seated alive, at the right hand of the Father and that "our faith and hope rests in Him." The man who does not know that rest, is without hope.
"Seeing that you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned" - in sincere - "love of the brethren, see that you love one another with a pure heart fervently, having been born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and abides forever" (1 Peter 1:22,23).
Peter emphasizes three infallible truths, which are to be found in Paul's letters as well - of which Paul makes great emphasis: "He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, who through him do believe in God, who raised Him up from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope might rest in God." And, "in sincere love of the brethren, see that you love one another with a pure heart." Three bona fide, unchanging truths, "faith, hope and love. These three abide forever." The remainder of the elements which we enjoy, in so far as the function of the person of the Holy Spirit, being found in Him, in this present hour are temporary. "Whether there be prophecies, they shall be done away; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away." But these three abide forever. "Faith, hope and love."
So Peter emphasizes the aspect of faith. Faith, as something which has already worked in us, by belief - for the experience of our new birth. "He has begotten us again to a living hope." Which is the phrase "born again." Again, faith is the noun, believe is the verb. Both are the same Greek word. Pistis, pisteuo, pistos: noun, verb, adjective - belief and faith are the same word. If you have believed, you have faith. If you have faith, you confirm yourself standing - believing - through that faith, in the finished work of Jesus Christ. And, as a result of that belief, the gift of the Holy Spirit has been given to you and you have experienced what Paul refers to as, "regeneration," or as Peter here renders, "new birth." You are born again. "For by grace you are saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God."
God, by His grace, through the blood of Jesus Christ His Son has washed you from your sins and as a result of that cleansing, purifying work He has now given you the gift of the person of the Holy Spirit whereby you are "regenerated," whereby you are "born again"! "Not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God." "Not through the vain conversation received from your fathers." Not through worldly methods or good works. Not through a discourse or hypothesis. Not through a membership card. Not through water baptism. But rather, by faith in Jesus Christ we experience forgiveness of sin and as a result of that faith the "new birth." - which brings us to something very interesting. Salvation is already obtained.
"And the apostles and the elders came together to consider of this matter." The matter referred to here, had to do with the legalistic systems which, certain of the Jewish Christians wanted to be placed upon the Gentile believers. "And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, you know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, who knows the hearts, bore them witness, giving them the Holy Spirit, even as He did us; and put no difference between us and them" - Jew and Gentile believers - "purifying their hearts by faith" (Acts 15:6-9). What a relief. Our hearts have been purified by God, as a child of God - the work is accomplished. Salvation is already obtained.
You may be asking, "If salvation is already obtained why do I still see all this wretched stuff operating in me? Why is sin still working in my body?" Because you're looking at your carnal nature and not your heart.
If we could probe our carnal nature, we would find it is like looking through a microscope at what appears to be a clear drop of water, when in fact, there's a bunch of disgusting microbes swimming around in there. But, salvation is already obtained.
The heart is a New Testament term for that organ of the body which God employs to testify to the spirit of man. Your heart is what the apostle Peter refers to as the "hidden man of the heart" - "That secret man of the heart." The spirit of man - that meek and quite spirit - which, as believers, in the sight of the Lord is, "of great price." The inward man is the soul. The outward man is the body. And Peter tells us that He has "purified our hearts." Our "hidden man." Our "heart." Our "hidden man" who God contemplates. Our "hidden man" who God inspects. Our "hidden man" who God has purified. Our "hidden man" who God sees as righteous before Him. How? "By faith." When we believed the record which God has given concerning His Son we therefore, as a result of that faith stand in the righteousness of God through Christ Jesus. The scriptures testify that through Christ Jesus, we, the believers, are as righteous as God is! Do you believe that? Difficult isn't it? Do you know why it is so hard to believe? Because we all have the propensity to picture ourselves according to our behavior, rather than looking at ourselves in terms of what God has already done for us. We will become most like what we most look at. If we continue to look at ourselves and groan over all that is wrong with us, then groaning is what we will produce.
Balak hired Balaam to curse Israel (Numbers 22 -25), but he couldn't do it. Balaam could not curse Israel, because he said, "He has not beheld iniquity in Jacob." The Lord saw no iniquity in the people of God Israel. Although Israel had complained, tested the Lord, disobeyed and by all outward witness, was an unrefined sinful people. Yet, the Lord saw no iniquity in Jacob. Why? Because Israel had believed God. And God judges the "hidden man." "But to him that works not but believes on Him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also described the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputes righteousness apart from works, saying, 'Blessed are they whose iniquities are covered, blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin'" (Romans 4:5-8). Israel believed and was justified by faith in the eyes of the Lord. We are a redeemed people, because of our faith. Although God judges our sinful behavior the same way He disciplined Israel's, our standing is eternally secure and perfect before Him - though our state may require the Father's discipline (1 Corinthians 11:30-32; Hebrews 12:4-10); concurrently, God is eternally "for us" (Romans 8:31).
The finished work of Jesus Christ is brought about, in us by simple faith. And by simple faith, in the shed blood of the Lord Jesus we obtain an imputed righteousness - a bookkeeping term - God has accounted to us, given to us, looks upon us in the righteousness of His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. We are as righteous as God is, as a result of our simple faith - we do not have to understand it to believe it; we do not need to understand the hypostasis union of the theosophic man to go to heaven - all we need to recognize is: Jesus Christ, His Son died for our sins. And by that realization, that belief we are made as righteous as God is. We do not have to understand it to believe it.
When the children of Israel meandered in the wilderness they rebelled against God and He sent fiery serpents into the camp to bite them. The children of Israel began to die. So they cried out to Moses, "We have sinned; for we have spoken against the Lord, and against you; pray unto the Lord, that He take away the serpents from us." So Moses prayed to the Lord for the people. And God said to Moses, "Make you a serpent and set it upon a poll; and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looks upon it, shall live." So "Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived." (The serpent of brass, "He who knew no sin became sin for us.") Literally, " whoever looks thereon will be healed" (Numbers 21). Faith.
Suppose, if you would, that there were a few weak-eyed Israelites in the camp - Israelites who were a bit nearsighted or blind. Suppose those Israelites could not push through the masses of people standing near the poll. Suppose those Israelites could not get close enough to the serpent of brass on the poll to see the serpent of brass clearly or at all. What about them? Remember, we do not have to understand it to believe it. When they "looked thereon," they were healed. "Whoever looks thereon will be healed." They may not have been able to describe in great detail, or in any detail at all what the serpent of brass looked like, but they were healed. Why? Because they looked. Maybe some of them couldn't see the serpent on the poll, they could look upon; seeing, if you will by faith. Whether they could actually physical see it or not. They believed by faith the word of the Lord. "Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet believed." In the words of the prophet Isaiah, "Look unto Me all ye ends of the earth be ye saved." By embracing what God has done - we do not need to understand to believe that Jesus Christ, His Son died for our sins - by our simple faith, we are "born again."
But Peter doesn't leave us there. Peter goes on to emphasize our hope in the salvation which is set before us. We are being saved. We "who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." Peter is anticipating the day when we will be taken out of our defunct bodies and receive bodies "like unto the body of His glory" and experience the salvation God has prepared for all those who love Him. "Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls." Which is what we're really anticipating: we will be saved. Which is our blessed hope, indeed.
People who do not have this blessed hope, have not believed to the saving of their soul. People who are not confident that ultimately Jesus Christ, most surly is going to take them out of this earthly sphere and into His presence and give to them a "body like unto the body of His glory" are without hope. This is the type of person who, when their finances collapse, blow their brains out. This is the type of person who, when their health fails, calls Dr. Death. They do not have a blessed, divine hope. A hope made sure by the testimony of the Lord. A hope which anticipates the end of this and the "glory that will be revealed in the sons of God." "Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet believed." We are saved, we are being saved and we will be saved. It is not "seeing is believing." But rather, "believing is believing."
This hope is not something we're not sure will happen. This hope is a settled conviction. A recognizing that God has given a promise, and "the promises of God in Christ Jesus are yea and amen," to the glory of God - it cannot fail. This hope is a hope whereby we stand in a sure anticipation of the coming of the great God and our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ. This hope is the hope the Apostle Peter addresses - the anticipation of Jesus Christ coming. And therefore as a result of this hope, in the words of the Apostle John, "He that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure." We will be saved.
With all of the grace of God, which I seek to make known, with all of the emphases made on the sovereignty of God, some may say, as some have already said to my face, "You're giving license to sin." Well, I am in good company. In his epistle to the Romans some were slanderously saying that Paul was preaching, "Let us therefore do evil that good may come." In the words of Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones - the successor of G. Camble Morgan at West Minister Chapel in London England - "Brethren, when you have preached the grace of God to such an extent that they begin to accuse you of giving license to sin, rejoice! You've come nigh to the truth." The grace of God that is in Christ Jesus super abounds any sin that you might find yourself having fallen into. Don't take my word for it. Take Paul's word for it: "Where sin did abound, grace did super abound!" And with that, "he that has this hope in himself purifies himself."
There is within this hope an attitude to please God. A hope which is generated in the heart of the child of God. Which is why Paul bears witnesses in his epistle to the Romans, "The things I would do, I do not." We want to serve God. "I delight in the law of God after the inward man," the "hidden man . . . But I see another law in my members bring me into captivity to the law of sin and death." We may not always do what we want to do but, our yearning, our heart's desire is to please God. Which is all the Lord requires of us, a want to.
"Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear; slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God." (The militancy which is arising in the church of the Lord Jesus in so many quarters today, is so contradictory to the nature of Christ and the nature of the body of Christ and to the emphases of the New Testament record.) "Wherefore put away all filthiness and overflowing of wickedness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls" (James 1:19-21). We read in Acts 15, He has "purified our hearts by faith." The heart is the spirit of man. Here, in James, it is the soul the Lord is going to save. If, in fact, He has already saved our spirit, we may ask, how then is He going to save our soul? The spirit was saved by faith. The soul is being saved by the word of God. (More is said about this in my narrative, One Baptism.) The word of God does the work of God within our soul - the place of appetite in the believer. It then becomes our responsibility to hide His word in our heart that we "might not sin against Him." We are being saved. 1 Peter uses this same expression in chapter one.
"Seeing that you have purified your souls by obeying the truth." And what is the truth? "Thy word is truth." So we embrace the divine record, (we are saved). We hide His word in our heart, which is purifying our soul (we are being saved). We are obtaining a new value system. We are learning a new frame of reference. We are, getting our "mind renewed" (Romans 12).
When I recall hurdles I faced in the beginning of my walk with the Lord, problems which seemed so difficult, so unworkable, hindrances which caused so much distress in my soul - challenges which are not equally as difficult in this hour - I am awed. What happened? God changed my appetite. I do not hunger after the food I once did. I hunger after different food. My taste buds have changed. The terrestrial spice which was once indispensable has lost its flavor. God has given me a new value system. A new mind - "the mind of Christ." A new appetite.
A Baptist pastor friend of mine from Austin, Texas told me a story about a sailor who, a few years back, he witnessed being saved, and then saved. This is how he explained that curious statement.
The good pastor had been asked to drive down to Corpus Christi, Texas to evangelize a particular Baptist congregation one hot Texas summer. From a hot July Sunday morning through the next Wednesday night he preached - in hopes of enlarging the church roll with new converts. "By Wednesday," he told me, "nothing much had happened. The usual stuff, you know, church members repenting of one sin or another and the like. Which was great, but this was not why they asked me to preach." Apparently, from his discourse, the last night of the revival wasn't going any better than the first. The church members were not stirred and the lost weren't coming forward for salvation. "So," he continued, "I decided to close the service early. I motioned to the organist to start the customary invitation song, I Surrender All, and as I was stepping away from the pulpit, on my way to the front of the stage, this enormous, burly guy stood up in the back of the church, began running, at break neck speed down the entire length of the auditorium, coming straight up to me screaming, 'I need to be saved!' So, I stepped off the stage and knelt down and prayed with the man. And bang! The man stood up and shouted, to a not-so-excited audience, 'Hot, damn, the Lord saved me!' Which did, in fact wake up the previously drowsy congregation."
At this point in the story, the good Baptist pastor's language was as gruff to me as the newly saved man's was to that Corpus Christi Baptist congregation and probably to you as well. It woke me up too.
"Now just wait a minute brother, let me finish the story." He was grinning from ear to ear as he finished the story. "Jay that man was a sailor for an oil company in the gulf. That's just the way he spoke. That's the way everybody he knew spoke. He didn't know any better. As shocked as I was I hugged the him, turned him around and introduced him to his new Corpus Christi brothers and sisters. After a week or so the church did embrace their new brother and he was baptized not long after." Now here's where the story takes a turn. He told me that he kept in touch with the man for some time and "You know Jay," he said, "it took the Lord almost a year to save that man's mouth." Glory. We are saved, we are being saved and we will be saved.
If you are young in the Lord, the problems you are facing, the sins which seem so unchangeable, the hindrances which so plague your soul - rejoice! - God is changing your appetite. He is convicting you of sin. Which works in you a "repentance not to be repented of." He is painstakingly, meticulously, thoroughly giving you an appetite for Him and His word. "Flee youthful lust, which war against the soul." (A man can get saved in his sixties and still have youthful lust.) Flee every lust which rises up within your body, those passions, those appetites which are antagonistic against all the Lord wants to work in you; they "war against your soul." They are in conflict with your whole new thought process. And how do we deal with those old appetites? We hide ourselves in the word of God. We eat His word. Find comfort in the words of Job, "I have seen Thy word more necessary than my necessary food." The word of God will passively, by our subjection to that word, change our mind, our appetite; by the word of God we are "getting our mind renewed." We are being saved.
The longer we walk, the older we are in the Lord, the more our appetite for what is in the world decreases - or it should be decreasing. If your desires have not changed, then you have a dilemma. The trouble with some of us is that we don't want our appetite, our desire, our mind changed. We rather enjoy this temporal stuff. "Enduring the pleasures of sin," delightfully. How contradictory to the work of the Spirit of God in the heart of a man. The first attribute of a redeemed man is that a redeemed man will hate sin. One of the difficulties we have in this day (of which I am deeply concerned) - one of the hindrances with some Christians - people who have been born of the Spirit - is that we have never been convicted of sin.
Have we ever been ashamed? Really, genuinely ashamed? Caught in the act, exposed in the presence of everyone. All our wrongs are exposed. The humiliation is overwhelming. The embarrassment is devastating. Coming into the presence of a Holy God, the one Holy God, can be very embarrassing, because the light of His glory suddenly replaces the flicker of our candles. We instantaneously see ourselves for what we really are - in the words of Job, "I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear, but now my eyes see Thee and I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes." Have we really grasped the import of that? Have we ever really been ashamed? Have we really been convicted of sin?
Every great revival which has ever struck this world - whether it is the Welsh revival, the Shantung revival (in eastern China), the Herrnhut (the Moravian Church) revival, the Great Awakening or whatever revival which has ever moved across this world notably in England and the United States - has always been in combination with the humiliation of the flesh, the conviction of sin in the children of God, as they stand in the presence of a Holy God. I am deeply concerned that the chief problem with the saints of God in this day is that we have never been convicted of sin. We have been convicted just enough to realize that we do not want to go to hell - we want revival, but we do not want to stop enjoying all our stuff.
The one sure sign that God is moving in real revival among His people is conviction of sin. We have the term "revival" misrepresented - misconstrued in our thinking. We think of revival as a time which is marked by people jumping up and down, having a good time, nice warm feelings going up and down their spines, all manner of gifts of the Spirit being manifested and people dropping like flies, moved by the Spirit of God. Beloved brother, revival is always proceeded by conviction of sin. Not by singing in the Spirit. Not by a preacher working the people into a frenzy. Not by anything the flesh would glory in. But rather by conviction of sin. Revival is always proceeded by the people of God down on their faces weeping before God. Because - for many of them, this is the first time in their lives - they see the degradation and the wretchedness of their own sin and their own flesh and they are humiliated in the presence of a Holy God. The best time for revival is here and not there; standing before His throne "giving account of our deeds done in the body." "Therefore abide in Him," John said, "that you be not ashamed before Him at His coming."
We Will be Saved
You "who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time . . . That the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto the praise and honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ." What God has worked in us will be to His glory in that day. We are going to receive a new body, "like unto the body of His glory." We are going to find ourselves, in that day, as Jesus Christ is now. What He is now, is what we, as a part of the church of Jesus Christ, are going to be in that day. We will be saved.
Paul, in Romans 8, encourages the believers to understand that it is the hope of His coming and the realization of that hope which will be the end of the conflict and misery which we, the believers, are experiencing in these our natural bodies. That will be our salvation. Our deliverance. Our glorification. The sufferings which we are going through, the temptations which we are enduring - which are the result of the fleshly bodies we are now in - will be wrapped up. Done away with, at His coming.
Temptations do not arise out of the work of Christ in your heart, "for God is not tempted with sin, neither tempts He any man." Temptation arises out of these shells we walk in. "The lust of the flesh, of the eyes and the pride of life" arises out of these cadavers we are inhabiting. It is what Paul refers to as, "sin that works in my members." Again, not the members of the church, but rather the members of your body: your hands, your feet, your lips, eyes, mind, etc.
Brother Lester Roloff - a brother who was so maligned in the course of his ministry, but was a Godly man - in one of his messages, Dr. Law and Dr. Grace said, "When the fellow began to see that he had difficulty living, he went to see Dr. Law. And Dr. Law told him that he needed an operation. He needed a new heart. The fellow told Dr. Law, 'It's not my heart that's the problem. It's my hands! They keep taking stuff that don't belong to them. And its my feet. They keep dancing with other men's wives. It's my eyes, they keep looking at things they shouldn't look at . . .' And Dr. Law said, 'It's your heart'."
We try to refine the flesh. Educate the flesh. Culture the flesh. The philosophy of present day is, "If we could put the flesh in the right environment everything would be all right."
I lived in Dallas, Texas for a time in a rather wealthy part of the city. I myself was not rich (things haven't changed that much), but my friend, in whose guesthouse I lived, was - God's grace to a seminary student. Anyway, the problem the Dallas city fathers faced was juvenile delinquency. And for the most part, it was in the upper class kids. The wealthy class. The rich kids were committing most of the crimes in Dallas. Environment didn't help those children at all. What was the problem? Their heart. Not their background, culture, education or their surroundings. Their heart.
Arising out of our flesh, we feed a system - in us - which has a propensity to disobey God. "A law," Paul said, "that works in my members." Paul addresses this subject in Romans 6 and 7, until he comes to the deliverance, "Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" Paul concludes, "I thank God through Jesus Christ, our Lord." So, "as long as I am in the flesh I do mind the things of the flesh." The flesh would drive us against God.
Then Paul brings us to Romans 8 and God's final solution. There will no longer be a vehicle for sin. God's going to fix our problem. He isn't going to culture our flesh or refine it, He's going to do away with it. "There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk under the economy of the flesh, but under the economy of the Spirit."
Paul is not addressing in Romans 8 the manner in which we behave, as in "Walking after the flesh," the term used in his letter to the Galatians. There Paul was addressing behavior. Here, in Romans, Paul is addressing where we live or what sphere we have been brought into. That is: whether you are born once in the first man Adam and are still in the sphere of the flesh; or whether you have been born again in the last Adam (the Lord Jesus) and you have been placed into the sphere of the Spirit. It isn't our behavior Paul is addressing here. Which is evident in verse 9, "But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if any man has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His." Paul cuts a fine line. Either you're redeemed through the shed blood of Jesus Christ and you stand in His righteousness, which is absolute and eternal, which cannot be changed; or you're hopelessly undone and lost "Without hope and without God in the world."
Most of us live as if we are never going to die. So it doesn't make a lot of difference to us how we live, until . . . we are confronted with the convicting work of the Spirit of Christ. Then all of a sudden, "God have mercy on me a sinner."
Paul goes on in Romans 8, beginning in verse 10, as he is anticipating the deliverance, "And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness." Which is why Paul said, "If I therefore sin, it is no longer I who sins but sin that dwells in me." God has made a distinction between what you are in your physical body and what you have been made in Christ Jesus - in your spirit. And God refuses now, through Christ, to impute sin to the believer. There I go giving license to sin again. But I would that each and everyone would go and do exactly what they really want to do. Not what they feel like doing. But what they really want to do.
Most all of us make an effort to constrain our church members to live like Christians. Why? So the church looks good. We want the world to see the church without spot or wrinkle. But the church is full of redeemed sinners, and sinners have spots - in the flesh, not in the spirit. I would hope that each one of us have realized that we have a Father who loves sinners. Churched or not. So just go out and do what you please. If you want to do righteously it is because you have been born of the Spirit. You may fail in your doing because there are feelings - fleshly fears which arise - which comes up so that you do what you feel like doing, rather than what you want to do, and you fail. Feelings arise out of our flesh, want-to's arise out of the heart. That is why God refuses to impute failure to us. Because that's not what we wanted to do. We don't want to fail. We felt like a failure and so we failed. But we didn't want to. Feelings arise out of the flesh. Want-to's arise out of the heart. God addresses our heart. God is addressing our want-to's. Not our feelings. Not our failure. David went with his feelings a lot. But God said of him, "There is a man after My own heart." God was addressing David's want-to's. Not his failures. David's heart was right before God because David wanted to do right. He failed in his doing many times, but God didn't count David's failures. God counted David's want-to's. Just like us. God looks at our want-to's.
On the other hand, the unregenerated man wants to sin. There is no motivation by the Spirit of Christ in him to do anything other than sin. So he has a heart to sin. He goes after sin. "He pursues sin." Which is what John meant when he said, "He that is born of God does not commit sin." This is in the continuous tense in the Greek. "He that is born of God does not pursue sin." Believers do not go after sin. We don't want to sin. We do sin. But we do not want to sin. Why? Because we are born of God and "His seed remains in us." All of this is a matter of our heart.
The Lord spoke to Moses, "Put your hand into your bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom; and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow. And He said, Put your hand into your bosom again. And he put his hand into his bosom again; and plucked it out of his bosom, and behold, it was turned again as his other flesh" (Exodus 4:6,7). The heart (bosom) stands for what we are, the hand for what we do. What we are is ultimately what we do. What we do must be guided by what we are. Our hand (what we do) must be a cleansed hand responsive to and by a new heart. "A good man, out of the good treasure of his heart, brings forth that which is good; and an evil man, out of the evil treasures of his heart, brings forth, that which is evil; for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks" (Luke 6:45). All of this is a matter of our heart.
"For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation waits for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creation was made subject to vanity, not willingly but by reason of him who has subjected the same in hope. Because the creation itself also shall be delivered from bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God" (Romans 8:18-21).
The whole of creation is under bondage of corruption, from the fall of Adam to this present hour - showing decay and death on every hand - it isn't getting better, it's getting worse. The environmentalists can make every effort to preserve the earth if they wish, but they're like a physician treating terminal cancer. It's a hopeless cause. The patient will die. Only the manifestation of the sons of God will make the difference. "For we know the whole creation groans and labors with birth pains together until now." The earth, yes, all of creation must die - and be resurrected again in newness of life. "And I saw a new heaven" - everything above the earth - "and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away." All creation must die and experience resurrection.
Each time we hear of another earthquake, of another volcano; every time there is an upheaval in the physical creation, (not long ago, we witnessed comets hitting the planet Jupiter, "signs in the heavens") are all part of the birth pains. Every time there is an earthquake, the earth is saying, "I'm about to be reborn. Resurrected." "Not only that, but we also have the fruit of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, that is, the redemption of our body." Our spirit has been redeemed. Our soul is in the process of redemption, by the renewing of the mind. And our body is going to be redeemed. " For we are saved in this hope." There you are!
God is going to do away with all of your agony. He going to get rid of your old body of sin and death and He is going to give you a new one. Your new body will not have the propensity to sin whatsoever. What a release. We will not have the desire to sin. To disobey God. Our new body will be created in and with the nature of Jesus Christ. Our new body will manifest His glory the same way a light bulb manifests the glory of electricity. We will be the manifestation of the character of Jesus Christ. With no propensity to sin. Believers realize the importance of this. If you don't see the importance in any of this, then you're in real trouble.
We are saved: The fallen spirit in us had to be replaced
by the Spirit of Jesus Christ. We were "born again.
We are being saved: He is saving us daily by the washing
of the word. By the renewing of the mind.
We will be saved: The body of flesh we are now in is only the seed
of what shall be. It will be sown in the ground and come up
a body "like unto the body of His glory."
"It does not yet appear what we shall, be, but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is." What an astounding anticipation. What a grand hope. My dear friend Daisy says it like this, "You can fly baby, but that cocoon has got to go."
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