Walking in the Spirit
Thinking about when I learned to swim has been helpful in understanding how to walk in the Spirit while rejecting a walk after the flesh. As when anyone jumps into deep water the first time there is a natural response to sinking as we flail about with arms and legs in an attempt to stay afloat and even with great effort failure is still the outcome. After all, we are not fish. It is not the element to which we are accustomed. Learning how to swim becomes a necessity if we are to successfully survive in this new environment.
Before learning how to swim we must first acknowledge our inability to succeed without right understanding of swimming or anything else we endeavor to do. We humans all have a governing principle in common so we sink when in water without support to hold us up. Because this principle is always in force we must learn to swim when in this alien environment of water.
A New Creature
In the same way we as believers must experience failure in our attempt to walk pleasing to God as we attempt to rely on our flesh/self to accomplish it. Our souls have desire but not power. To keep from drowning spiritually, application of scripture (2 Corinthians 5:17) that establishes our identity as a new creature becomes crucial to survival, for “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away, behold, all things are new.” This reveals the believer/saint as the new creation born or the incorruptible seed spoken of in 1 Peter 1:23.
All believers are saints, not just the well-behaved or obedient believers. The good news doesn’t stop there as scripture goes on to tell us that all things are of God for the man or woman in Christ as stated in Romans 6:20-22. To see what preceded this newness of life and why it is said, look at what was said prior to the word “therefore” in 2 Corinthians 5:17. The preceding verse 16 states something that we should take as a fact to be acted on because we the saved are to know no man after the flesh. Another way to say this is: a believer should not view anyone as being the same person that they were before they were born again.
Just as importantly, we as believers are to no longer consider ourselves to be the same person as before his/her rebirth. We are new creatures, new, new, new, not to ever be considered by ourselves or others as the same corrupted creature from our first birth. Most importantly God never sees us as sinners because of our status or standing in Christ’s righteousness nor considers us as unworthy of eternal life. This fact is often overlooked but none the less is important. Scripture is worthy of much meditation as well as consistent implementation, hence from this line of thought comes this somewhat strange title “the new race of man,” a treatise of some familiar passages of scripture that are heard in Sunday School lessons as well as sermons from the pulpit. I hope to illuminate some important aspects of these familiar scriptures.
Inoculated Against the Gospel?
Many years ago I heard a famous gospel preacher say that many people are inoculated against the gospel, particularly in the United States of America. It was his viewpoint that the reason for this immunization against the gospel of Christ happens because it is heard so frequently and yet never received in faith. I would add to his thoughts that in our culture we are comfortable with substitutes, which in our thinking displace proper thinking concerning our dependence on God and His Christ. Along the same line, I am sure that many people are inoculated against many truths that are throughout the scripture, and this “new race of man” is one of those truths and is a component of the whole or complete gospel.
The great reformation of the 16th Century was a wonderful wake-up call although Luther did not go far enough to address the incarcerating power of the Law and tradition. Consequently those who recognized themselves to be under grace concerning eternal salvation found themselves conflicted. Fear of eternal damnation loomed largely in the minds of many saints. With this fear came the opportunity for religionists who proclaimed the need for the endless pattern of crucifying Christ over and over again. The liberty secured in Christ was not taught as church doctrine due to the continuing teaching that we as saints are still under judgment if we violate the laws given to Israel.
The wonder of the grace of God was brought clearly into view concerning salvation while the dynamic liberating truth of becoming dead to the Law of Moses through our being crucified with Him remained obscured. It cannot be stated too many times “we died with Christ,” we were buried with Him, we were raised as new creations and so far as God’s condemning judgment for sin is concerned we have experienced the death that is decreed as the payment for sin. We are sanctified saints with whom He is pleased to have with Him in His perfect environment. This is because we are found in Him, having been crucified with Him.
With spiritual truth, more than observation is required. We will look at this more closely in Part 2.