A Model for Christian Life – Part 3 (end)

[This post ends this three-part series. Be sure to read the first two parts!]

Our Identity in Christ: “New Man”

A second aspect of our identity is that of the “new man.” Consider the following verses from the Bible:

“Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his practices 10 and have put on the new man, who is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of his Creator” (Col. 3:9–10, HCSB[1]).

“you took off your former way of life, the old man that is corrupted by deceitful desires; 23 you are being renewed in the spirit of your minds; 24 you put on the new man, the one created according to God’s [likeness] in righteousness and purity of the truth” (Eph. 4:22–24, HCSB).

“knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin” (Rom. 6:6, NKJV).

The person-you-were-before-salvation died with Christ, and that person is the “old man” or “old self” (NIV) that Col. 2:9 says we have stripped off. The person-we-became-after-giving-our-allegiance-to-Jesus is the new man that Col. 3:10 says we have put on.

Romans 6:6 states a crucial truth about the old man when it says, “our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin” (NKJV). We learn here the crucial facts that our old man was crucified with Christ, and the purpose was to break the dominion of sin by rendering it powerless.

I draw your attention to the fact that the “new man” language refers to both men and women in Christ. As we find in Gal. 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Our Identity in Christ: “People of God”

While the previous two aspects of Christian identity take on an individualistic hue, the fact that we are part of “the people of God” is plainly relational. The “people of God” language is key to 1 Pet. 2:9–10. However, in 1 Cor. 12:12–14 and Eph. 4:4–7, 15–16, we find that we are corporately called the body of Christ. Consider as well that of the hundreds of commands to believers in the New Testament, almost all are given in verbal forms that are second-person plural. In other words, we are responsible as the people of God to carry them out.

The Touchstone: Pleasing Christ

As life-managers, new men and women in Christ, who together comprise the people of God, we should make decisions and take actions with only one principle in mind: pleasing Christ. Consider the following verses:

“So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:9–10). See also Col. 3:17.

Resources for Our Journey

As we think about the resources we have for living to please Christ, we must start with the knowledge that, by God’s kindness, we lack nothing:

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. (2 Pet. 1:3)

Our first resource is knowledge of the Word of God. See 1 Pet. 1:23–25; Col. 1:9–10, 3:10; 2 Tim. 3:14–16; Heb. 4:12; Matt. 7:24. Remember that Jesus said, “The scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35).

The Holy Spirit indwells us to provide a constant infusion of insight, power and protection. See John 14:26; 2 Cor. 3:17–18; Rom. 8:13; Gal. 5:16.

By Christ’s powerful sacrifice to win us access to God, we may approach God with our prayers at any time. See Heb. 4:16; Col. 4:2; Phil 4:6.

We also enjoy the company of the people of God as our companions on the journey. See Eph. 4:1–13 and the numerous “one another” commands.

Context for Life-Management

God has given us a great deal of information about the context in which we live out our Christian lives. First, it is not a monastic life of individualism (“just-me-and-God”) but a shared life of shared joy and challenge (Eph. 4:1–13).

It is also a life of continuous transformation. Sometimes the Word speaks of this change as something being done to us by the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:18), but in most cases this transformation is embodied in a command to us (Rom. 12:2; Phil. 2:12-13; Eph. 4:23).

While the transformation process has many elements, several deserve special attention. First, there is growth in knowledge (Col. 1:9–10; Eph. 4:13–14). Second, there is our exercise of faith as an active, open response to the truth (Matt. 9:17–22; Luke 8:4–15; Heb. 4:2, 11:6; James 2:22; Gal. 5:6). Third, we are expected to manifest active love (Gal. 5:6; 1 Cor. 13; John 13:35; Matt. 25:40). Fourth, we are reminded that the purity of our perception makes a profound difference (Matt. 6:22-23; Col. 3:2–3).

Another major element in the context of our life journey has two sides. On the one hand, we are dead to sin, and so we can and should refuse to commit acts of sin (Col. 3:5; Rom. 6:11; 1 Pet. 2:24; Rom. 8:13). On the other hand, we are free to serve God, making the members of our bodies weapons for righteousness in his hands (Rom. 6:18, 22; 1 Pet. 2:16).

Finally our life-management takes place in a setting of spiritual warfare and suffering (Eph. 6:11–12; 1 Pet. 2:11; John 16:33).

To sum up, we live in a shared setting of continuous transformation, spiritual warfare and suffering, while we refuse any expression of sin and live lives of love and righteousness to glorify God.

Responsibilities of Life-Management

We have already seen that the context of life-management includes both the Holy Spirit’s action as well as our own. In this section the focus is on what Christ expects of us.

Perhaps the hallmark of Christian life is obedience (John 14:15; Matt. 7:24; Matt. 28:20; Rom. 6:17; Heb. 5:9; Phil 2:12). Jesus said, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? (Luke 6:40). It is fitting to note that this obedience often occurs through acts of love and kindness.

Among those commands we are to obey, a wise manager should take note of the great commandments (Matt. 22:36–39; Matt. 7:12) as well as the great commission (Matt. 28:18–20. We should emphasize what our King emphasized.

Another critical area of obedience is to actively cooperate with the transformation process (Phil. 2:12–13; Rom. 6:13, 8:13). Give attention to maximizing things like exposure to the truth, the active exercise of faith and love, and refusal of sin.

Next, our Lord requires us to remain alert at all times, because he may return at any moment (Matt. 24:36–44). We are to watch, not wait, for his return

Expectations That Motivate

Every manager lives with the knowledge that his or her management will come under review, and our life-management for Christ is no exception. We live today knowing that our deeds will be judged for reward (2 Cor. 5:9–10; 1 Cor. 3:12–15).

We live for Christ, knowing there is no greater cause! We look forward to receiving glory and honor in his service (Rom. 2:9–10, 8:17, 8:30; Phil. 3:21).

Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide.


[1] HCSB means Holman Christian Standard Bible.

 

Searching for Answers in Romans 8:9-17

Bruce Miller (senior pastor at Christ Fellowship), Lisa Scheffler (director of the women’s ministry at Christ Fellowship) and Barry Applewhite exchanged the following comments during an ongoing e-mail discussion about Romans 8.

Bruce, Barry and Lisa enjoy trusting friendships in which they sharpen each other as iron sharpens iron, with humor. The following dialogue involves seeking after truth among detailed interpretations over which good students of the Bible differ. All three of us share the same theology, but we differ on exactly how to understand some details in interpreting certain phrases. We respect each other and, in grace, give each other space to differ. Many statements are tongue-in-cheek as we poke at each other in fun while we strive together to understand just what Paul was saying.

We thought it might interest you to “overhear” one of these regular sessions. Due to electrical-power blackouts in Plano, it got a bit thrilling at times!

[START]

[Bruce] Struggled with meaning of S/spirit in verse 10, finally convinced of Spirit.

Struggling still with meaning of death and life in vs. 13; not convinced this is eternal life and death, but rather quality of living or dying for “brothers” who live according to the flesh or put to death the deeds of the body and then experience more death-like living or more life-like life; meaning a closer connection with the Life giver and the Living Spirit, or they quench the Spirit, reaping death in the sense of distance from the Living One.

[Barry] Oh I can see how you would think that, being a philosopher and all. What I can’t see is how Paul would have expected people he had never met to get that meaning out of his text (8:13). Should I apply similar reasoning to verse 11 and conclude that Jesus was not really dead prior to his resurrection, just feeling less lively after a hard day? Making death metaphorical has baggage.

I would not make a great deal out of “brothers” (8:12) since Paul has never met them, and any large group has its questionable members.

I agree on Spirit (8:10).

[Bruce] Nice points, and so — oh wise sage — how would you take death and life in 8:13??

Moo, Osborne and Cottrell take three different perspectives along theological lines.

I think Stott and John Owen make good sense on the point.

[Lisa]

Don’t pretend to know as much as you and Barry, but I was thinking the same thing as Barry about verse 13. To me it seems like Paul is bottom-lining it — making sure they know the ultimate outcome.

However, if he is talking about eternal life and death, I do think people will wonder if this somehow negates the security we have as believers.

Like the outline but I’d love to see a point about 8:16 — how the Spirit testifies with our spirit — since he’s the star of the chapter and all.

[Bruce]

“Brother” does not mean Christian? — Barry likes that nutty notion :)

Paul is bottom-lining it . . . [but there are] implications.

The whole chapter is about assurance, so now we are shaking that with a potential that a brother will be eternally damned?

So, this brother is not really a brother (false profession) or brothers can lose salvation [?] . . . just thinking it through.

[Barry] Uh, I believe I did say that Paul had never been to Rome upon writing the letter. He does not know these people, so I doubt he is playing spiritual fruit inspector with strangers. The chapter is big picture, not micro-focus.

“Implications” in BruceWorld is spelled T-E-M-P-T-A-T-I-O-N. Never spin a philosopher’s head!

“For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.” [Romans 8:13]

I take the 2nd and 4th italicized words as eschatological [i.e. end times] — live or die eternally.

The 1st italicized word means to live one’s life day by day. Anyone who lives day by day with the outlook of the flesh will die eternally.

The 3rd italicized word means the same thing we see in Rom. 6:11–13. Anyone who day by day considers themselves dead to sin and refuses to allow their members to serve unrighteousness will live eternally.

Romans 6 has the commands which Romans 8 lacks. Romans 6 takes the perspective of our responsibility to live for God after trusting Christ. Romans 8 takes the perspective of what God does through his Spirit to make possible the resistance to sin and death.

Romans 8:13 is a good example of how Moo drops into theological-partisan mode when some Calvinist principle is at stake. A pity because his exegesis suffers when that happens.

[Bruce] I agree that the second and fourth highlighted words appear to be eschatological – eternal death and life — however I am struggling with the referent of “you” back to word “brothers” in verse 12 (I know there is not a personal pronoun in Greek, but implied by the verb). The brothers to whom he is talking are the ones who are in Christ, in the Spirit assured of life even though they have mortal bodies. In 12–13 Paul is not making another statement of fact (although it is indicative, there is an implied imperative/exhortation) because this is now our “obligation” as those who have received the Spirit and are now in the Spirit. That’s where I am struggling. So my solution is to find a wider meaning in “die” and “live” which is possible in the field of meaning and use in other NT passages, but I grant that the more common meaning is eschatological.

So, troublesome facts in the text:

Brothers
and
Obligation

Back to you authors (whom I may contradict on Sunday! :) —

P.S. agree on Moo — so sharp and then . . . I do not see this passage addressing Calvinist/Arminian issues — I do not see the “perseverance of the saints” as the topic. And in my view, not even an implication one way or the other. What’s at stake is our ability to experience life today in the Spirit which is contingent on our  putting to death the misdeeds of the body by the power of the Spirit.

[Lisa] My postmodern education must be showing, because now I can see how you could both be right. <sigh> That’s exhausting.

So it really couldn’t be another statement of fact? Could the “you” be more proverbial – sort of a general summation of the contrast he’s been making? It just seems odd that Paul would be so literal in discussing death and resurrection in 8:11, but switch to something more philosophical in this verse.

All that being said, I like this…”What’s at stake is our ability to experience life today in the Spirit which is contingent on our putting to death the misdeeds of the body by the power of the Spirit” precisely because you’d preach it without it being a perseverance issue. And it does seem to stay with the assurance theme that Paul has been developing.

So…what do you do for the poor Life Group leaders when you two disagree like this?

[Barry] You two are making my bald head hurt!   :)

Romans 8:9 is the key to this entire section because it can only go one way. Only those who have the Spirit are in Christ; the others do not belong to him. This isn’t quantum physics where maybe you are a Christian or maybe not, or maybe more life-like or maybe not.

Also, how can you have assurance without perseverance? Looks like a riddle to me.   :)

[Bruce] My post-modern education leans me the same way — he may be speaking proverbially or metaphorically — I don’t think it is philosophic. It is a tough issue. Barry has stated the other view well, even better than most of the commentators I’ve read. Either you explain how “therefore” and “obligation” are contingent on the fact that “brothers” means something more like attenders OR you explain that life and death are not eternal damnation but the experience of more of less of God’s life available by the Spirit today — tastes of real life — we know eternal life starts today and it is a quality of life not just duration.

[Barry] Okay … I’m laughing at the idea that post-modernism is not philosophical.

I’m waiting for you to apply your “more or less of God’s life” theory to Romans 8:9.

[Bruce] Apples and oranges, my friend.

I stand in the rich tradition of John Owen and John Stott against those modern commentators, Moo, Schreiner and Osborne! Joined by two others who shall not be named!

[Barry] Well, I do agree you are standing in something …  :)

[Bruce] a umph,

Trace the concept of life in vs 9 “The Spirit gives life” then connect to the minority view someone [i.e. Barry in the Romans 8 study guide] took of “will also give life to your mortal bodies” — just what “life” is this? Well of course the same life that is referred to in verse 13. By the Spirit we can experience life today, but the extent of our experience varies by our death-dealing to deeds of the body.

BTW — not sure about that view of 11 — weighing explicit reference to Christ’s resurrection against the word “mortal” — you have a point that makes sense (at least you are not irrational or crazy), but I’m not sure “mortal” weighs enough against resurrection reference and analogy to Christ, but I like your view because it supports my view of 13!

[Barry] Holy cow — quoting me against me!! That’s got to be cheating of some kind.
:)

In verse 11, my view says that the Spirit provides all the power necessary for the person in a mortal body to say no to an act of sin. I do not hold that the Spirit gives sometimes more power/life and sometimes less. I fully admit that I do not know how the Spirit does these things; just as John 3 says, we are in the dark about all that.

So, under your theory of sometimes more life and sometimes less … is an act done with 75% life an act done while “walking according to the Spirit,” or not? How about 85%? At what point is the person “walking according to the flesh”?

[Bruce] That’s an engineer for you — applying percentages to wonderful spiritual truth — ruining metaphors with numbers  :)

So, we get an injection of power that we can use or not?

[Barry] Yeah, it’s kind of like a total and complete salvation that we can accept or not. Odd, isn’t it?

[Bruce] So confused, once again.

Justification vs. sanctification — already and not yet — one is total the other is partial — unless you don’t sin . . .

[Barry] You didn’t leave your meds at home again, did you?

[END]

Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide.

Torah Observance by Christians – Part 1

Statement of the Issue

Issue: Must Christians now obey the laws recorded in Genesis through Deuteronomy — “Torah observance” — or not? For instance, are all Christians required to keep the dietary laws, celebrate festivals and circumcision?

This question has some practical implications. Is Sunday the day God intended for Christians to worship? Should Christians keep the Passover? Is it acceptable to God for Christians to eat bacon? These and many other practical questions are implicated in the theological issue stated above.

The Law of Moses Has Been Superseded

The New Testament gives numerous reasons for believing that the Law received by Moses was superseded by the death, resurrection and present intercession of Jesus Christ as our high priest.

First, we will consider the little-known facts about Jesus’ role as our high priest. The high priest defined by Mosaic Law must be a descendant of Aaron (Exod. 29:7-9; Num. 3:10), but Jesus, of the tribe of Judah, is our high priest (Heb. 8:1; 7:14), contrary to the law received by Moses. How can that be?

Jesus did not become a high priest according to the Mosaic Law. Instead, Jesus was appointed a priest in the order of Melchizedek (Heb. 7:17; Gen. 14:18), and he holds his high priesthood permanently since he lives forever (Heb. 7:24; 8:1). Further, the author of Hebrews tells us that when the priesthood changes, such as when the high priest is appointed in a non-Mosaic way, a change in the law must come as well (Heb. 7:12). Indeed the law has changed!

The law received by Moses has been set aside because it is weak and useless and made nothing perfect (Heb. 7:18-19). Those are strong words, but the author of Hebrews does not hesitate to state them forcefully. Do other NT books say the same?

Paul tells us that all believers in Jesus Christ have died to the Law in order that they might serve in the new life of the Spirit (Rom. 7:4-6; Gal. 2:19). He later says that Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness for all who believe (Rom. 10:4). In Galatians, Paul explains that the Law served as a guardian until Christ, but now that faith has come we are no longer under a guardian (Gal. 3:23-25). All of these statements point in the same direction, and Paul applies the concept in Eph. 2:15-16 in terms of the unity in Christ of believers from both Jewish and Gentile backgrounds.

The Priesthood of Jesus Far Surpasses the Law

The ministry of Jesus is superior to all others, including the Law, since the new covenant he mediates is also better than the old covenant and is enacted on better promises (Heb. 8:6). The author of Hebrews says that If the covenant through Moses had been faultless, no one would have looked for a second (Heb. 8:7). But God demonstrated the fault of the old covenant when he said that the people did not continue in it and had no regard for it; as a result God promised a new covenant (Heb. 8:8-12 quoting Jer. 31:31-34).

When God speaks of a new covenant, he makes the covenant through Moses obsolete (Heb. 8:13). When did this new covenant take effect? Jesus declared that the “new covenant” was instituted “in my blood” (Luke 22:20). The death, resurrection and appointment of Jesus as “Son-of-God-in-power” (Rom. 1:4, NET) all provided for the institution of the new covenant.

Jesus Mediates the New Covenant

As mediator of the new covenant, Jesus died to set free all those who had failed to keep the covenant received through Moses (Heb. 9:15; 9:26). Formerly, under the Law of Moses, the sins of the people had to be dealt with in a different way. The priests under the old covenant had to offer sacrifices over and over, year after year (Heb. 9:25), but the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sins permanently (Heb. 10:4). God did away with sacrifices offered according to the Law in order to establish the one sacrifice made once and for all (Heb. 10:8-9) by Jesus’ offer of himself for our sins (Heb.10:10).

[Continued in Part 2]

Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite, Plano, Texas. All rights reserved worldwide.