We have only one hope of salvation. That is to crucify our carnal mind, receive the “mind of Christ" and be born of the Spirit. The Bible teaches us that sin is overcome, not by determination, but by giving up—by surrendering our all in faith to Christ, and being born of the Spirit.
A brief study of the spiritual birth and life:
“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
The above words of the Philippian jailer have been echoed down through the ages from people of all walks of life. For the most part, man recognizes that there is a creator and lawgiver to whom we are responsible—and to whom we are guilty! This recognition of guilt is the first step to salvation. We cannot be saved if we do not acknowledge our need to be saved. If we are not convicted of our just damnation, we are not ready to accept salvation from it.
From the time of our birth our ultimate goal has been self gratification. As an infant, this is innocence, since an infant can have no higher goals. But as we come to the age of accountability, this goal of self gratification becomes rebellion against God, because God, through His moral law which He has given in our hearts, requires His will to be our highest goal. In other words, when we have the ability to decide whom we will serve, if we do not surrender to God, we are remaining in voluntary wicked rebellion against Him!
The problem of our voluntary rebellion against God can not be solved just by voluntarily attempting to do good instead of evil. Our selfish will would still be in rebellion against God. Why? “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8:7). What we need instead is a new (spiritual) mind. “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (v.6).
The only solution to our voluntary rebellion against God is a voluntary total surrender to God. In which we allow even our mind to be controlled by His Spirit working within us.
“Christ in you, the Hope of Glory”
Since the carnal mind cannot be subject to the law of God, we have only one hope of salvation. That is to crucify our carnal mind and receive the “mind of Christ.” We must not only confess our sins, but we must surrender our wicked rebellious will totally to the will of God, and plead Christ’s sacrifice for the atonement of our sins and our selfish, willful nature. This is a sacrifice on our part. We are giving up our rights to running our own life, and to believing what we want to believe. We have completely sold ourselves to Jesus Christ. We are no more our own, but we are “bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:20).
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).
Too often Christians are satisfied with a faith that is mere knowledge, when it should be a voluntary act of trust in Christ. One that lets go of all that is of ourselves, and surrenders our wills and beings to Jesus Christ.
Too often we are satisfied with fighting against sin and attempting to imitate Christ, when we should have the mind of Christ within, working out His will and righteousness through us.
Too often we are satisfied without the infilling of the Holy Spirit—we are satisfied appearing to be Christians, when we should, “Do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:13).
Our aim should be, “Christ in you, the hope of Glory” (Col. 1:27). May each one of us allow our hearts to be so controlled by God’s Spirit that His will is the natural product of our lives.
“Sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under Grace.”
Why does it so often seem that sin has dominion over us? It seems that Christians today are expending most of their energy either serving sin, or fighting against sin. Yet the apostle says in Romans 6:14 “Sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” Is that possible? If so, what is wrong that we so constantly need to focus so squarely on sin? Should not our focus be on Christ?
Let’s first look at how we deal with sin, and then at what Christ teaches us about sin. The typical way of dealing with sin, such as pride for instance, is to determine with the help of God to cast it out, by force of will and prayer. This is not very effective, because we are only dealing with the sinful act, and not with the nature from which it naturally springs.
What is sin? Sin is our voluntary preference toward self gratification rather than serving God. That sin of pride means that we are allowing our own will rather than God’s will to control our hearts. Sin, in other words, is a breach of our commitment to God. This should give us an idea of the most effective way to overcome sin.
When we became converted and received the power of God’s Holy Spirit, did we receive it by resolving to first rid our life of all sin? Many of us first tried that and it didn’t work. As Paul wrote, “Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Gal. 3:3) That is in effect depending on our own righteousness rather than the power of the Holy Spirit. The Bible teaches us that sin is overcome, not by determination, but by giving up—by surrendering our all in faith to Christ. We “Purify our hearts by faith.” (Acts 15:9)
“Power from on High”
Just before Jesus ascended to heaven, He told His followers, “Behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). As Christians today, we too, have the promise of the Father. We too, can have this “Power from on high.” It can change us too, like it changed Peter, one who made great claims about his faithfulness, but denied his Lord when the test came, to one who stood up boldly in the midst of death threats, and preached the Word without fear of any man.
This power from on high can be as life changing in the twenty-first century as it was in the first. God is still just as willing to fill us with it as He ever was. The only reason Christians today are not blamed for “turning the world upside down” (Acts 17:6) is because we are not as willing to be filled with Christ. As long as we are so self-serving, God cannot fill us with this power from on high, because we are already nearly full of ourselves. Until we can surrender our all, we will not be filled.
Why aren’t we all endued with this power from on high? We desire it and pray for it. Why don’t we have it?
Because we only think we want it. We are really not willing to be so entirely controlled. We are not ready to give up our control so completely. We are still serving self. Our self-interest is too great to allow God to fill us with His Spirit. To be filled with the Spirit of God we need to reconsider and become willing to live in the will of God. Our own will and reputation can no more be consulted. May each one of us come to realize the blessing that comes from being emptied of all self will and filled with that power from on high.
“That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit…The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” John 3:6, 8
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