Sunday, 31 January 2016

Spiritual Growth

Spiritual Growth

Scripture: Colossians 2 v 8-12: "But now ye also put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not to one another seeing that you have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him who created him: where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering." 
In this discourse from Paul, he is comparing the 'old man' to the 'new man'. The old man is the nature of sin we had before we were baptised in water.  It included all the old shameful things we ever did before this moment and killed them off.

Unfortunately, some people continued to bring that old man back to life and behaved as if nothing significant had happened in their lives. Baptism changes everything. It wipes out the backlog of every regrettable and horrible sin from God's memory and even our love of sin; and presents us clean and sinless before Him with a fresh start, clothed in the new man, the nature of Jesus, which hates sin.

Those old sins that try to come back need to be dealt with by self-discipline and determination to overcome them. Paul says we must put them off, remove them, so we no longer have the need to lie, cheat, envy, blaspheme, curse, be angry or malicious, gossip or malign one another.

Through baptism we become equal to every other baptised saint. God sees no different nationalities, nor status, nor affluence, nor lifestyle. Being in Jesus is the complete leveller of all that. God sees no difference between a baptised Jew or a baptised Greek. The covenant of Abraham of circumcision to separate the Jews from other races is cancelled at the Cross. The new covenant of grace welcomes every nationality into the Body of Christ.

Whether you are part of the Bridegroom or part of the Bride you still need to believe in Jesus and be saved. You still need to overcome sin and its consequence of death to be a part of Him. God wants to see us all full of kindness, love, mercy, patience, forgiveness, joy and peace. We must sort out any feuds, quarrels, divisions and destruction and live as Jesus did as our example.

Christianity is not something you wear on Sundays to look holy and pious, it is a complete change of lifestyle. People who say they are saved but not ready to go further are in denial of Jesus' full impact in their lives. He is either not real to them or they have forgotten what He has done for them. Either way they need to remove the pride in their hearts that blocks them from full salvation.

Wherever we want to save ourselves we encounter a problem. We are unable to save ourselves and find some vain philosophy that shows us how. All the self-help programs in the world put together will never save one human soul. God sent us a Saviour, His only begotten Son, Jesus, to bring our dead spirits back to life by dying in our place. We were dead in sin. Cut off forever from our Creator. The Creator had to die for all His creation to be brought back to life in Him and with Him.

Only He knew that we were all dead. Our bodies and souls were functioning but our spirit was lifeless. We were easy prey for the enemy to keep destroying us with his evil corruption. Until the day the Holy Spirit got our attention by opening our eyes to our sinful state and we asked God's forgiveness and opened our heart to Jesus. Let us never renege on that commitment for we will put Him to an open shame.

A song comes to mind: "Through the Blood of Jesus, His righteousness is like a robe upon you, clothing and covering..." Let us wear this robe with honour and not shame, never denying the power that brought us back to life.

Prayer: Father God, You long to see us grow in grace and become more spiritually alive, more effective in prayer and ministry and in our love for one another. I pray that we would all take a big step closer to You today to give You the opportunity to bless us and inspire us to grow more spiritual. We need to overcome the flesh which likes to dominate our lives and put those things behind us. In Jesus' name. Amen.