Is This the # 1 Killer of Christian Peace of Mind?

You know what can ruin my peace of mind?  Does this happen to you?

It’s when people innocently and excitedly tell me that they are growing spiritually due to a new book, a new YouTube video, a new ministry, or something of the sort. When I hear of some book I haven’t read, or some preacher I haven’t followed, or some teaching I don’t know, then I put myself under a false condemnation that now, in some way, I am not living on the cutting edge! I’m out of the loop on the latest and greatest, and I feel this internal pressure to now catch-up and get on the ball with being a better Christian.

            Does this happen to you? It’s not the other person’s fault. It’s something terrible I do to myself.

            In the church today here is one way we get deceived: we put ourselves under law.

            We came to Christ “apart from the Law.” That is, we were not born-again by keeping the Law of Moses. We came to be children of God when we received His life, by faith alone. Period. When His grace-offer collided with our faith, we received His life in our spirit, and we became the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.

            Now for an important question: Now that Christ is your life, what will not help you now?

            What do we not need now?

            We don’t need the Law as a means of self-improvement (Gal 3:3). We have The Holy Spirit and the Righteousness of Christ to lead us into the fruitfulness of God’s life in us.

            In Rom 7:9 Paul says, “I was once alive apart from the Law.* Here, Paul is saying that after his salvation (which happened back in chapter 3) and his awareness of union with Christ’s life (chapter 6), he was walking in righteousness apart from keeping the Law. That is, without focusing on any law, he was “alive in Christ” (Rom 6:8, 11), joyfully living the Christian life.

            Thus, when he was alive in Romans 7, he says that something came and “killed” him. Something came to him as an “alive” person, and killed his spiritual energy. What was it? It was a Commandment (7:9). The Law. (Or today it could be some so-called Protestant Church Law, Catholic Law, Charismatic-Full-Gospel Law, or My Sister-in-Law’s Law!). Someone was talking about not coveting, and Paul felt convicted to re-dedicate himself to the self-discipline of making sure that he kept that law. As a Christian he was supposed to walk in The Spirit, but he fell under the false guilt of being a poor-performing-little-Christian when someone showed up preaching “law.” Paul foolishly rose up in his own strength to be the great law-keeper he had been in his former life.  He began to live under the burden of self-performance to stop coveting, and it resulted in condemnation of unworthiness before God.

            Here’s another way it can happen. Someone comes up to me and says, “Wow, I’m reading the greatest book right now . . . and it’s changing my life” and I quit listening for a moment. I think to myself, “Phooey, I’m not reading enough . . . I’m so undisciplined . . . I need to get this book, too.” I let this other man’s comment put me under a law: “Thou shalt be reading all informative, new, hot-off-the-press Christian books . . . or you are losing!”

            A young mother tells another young mother that she has been reading on the Internet, and has changed the dietary choices in her home, and the second mother says to herself, “Oh, Dear Lord, I’m failing as a mother . . . I’m not helping my family eat better . . . no wonder my baby still has a runny nose . . . I’m failing as a Christian mother . . . I might as well forget about home-schooling.” The second mother put herself under law, and her spirit was slain by the ruinous grief of self-condemnation.

            A man comes to his preacher and says, “God has been teaching me to pray . . . and I’m now seeing that we are just not praying enough in the church today!” What happens in the preacher’s heart? He falls under the curse of condemning himself for not praying enough. The “law” in his head is, “Ain’t nobody holy enough today, for no one is praying as they should!” And the law throws him into shame.

            Be careful.

            There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:1). So, don’t put yourself under the condemnation of not living up to some person’s latest spiritual shift and renewal. Don’t make a “Law” out of their new decision, and chastise yourself for not “keeping” that law for yourself. Bless them and honor them. But don’t put yourself under a false condemnation and lose your Christian peace. Jesus is not putting this on you. You are doing it to yourself. Stop.

-Carter

* In Paul’s theology, a non-Christian is never “alive.” Unbelievers are “dead in their sins” (Eph 2:1 and 5; Col 2:13); needing God to bring life to them (Rom 4:17); for we all died in Adam (Rom 5:15); and we had the sentence of death within us (2 Cor 1:9). In Paul’s writings, people are never “alive” until the Life of God comes into one’s spirit.

YOU DIED TO SIN . . . Do You Get It?

Someone made a great statement back in preaching class in seminary:

“If there’s a mist in the pulpit,

there will be a fog in the pews.”

Isn’t that good? But it is so true, and when the Apostle Paul starts Romans chapter 6, he creates a mist in our minds that grows into a fog for others as soon as we try to teach it. I’m referring to another of Paul’s confounding statements:

“How can we who died to sin still live in it?”

            Paul forms this as a question, but with the question He is declaring a fact: We have died to sin.

            I could never understand this. Never, until I understood Identity. Let me explain. The first few verses of Romans 6 set the table for our understanding of Identity. And our identity is found in the Greek word for “baptism,” which occurs three times in these verses.

            The original definition of baptizo (the Greek Word) meant literally “to dip or immerse” something into a liquid, like a dye to color it, or in water to cleanse it. Figuratively, it meant “to identify something with that which it was immersed into.” Thus, a cloth is baptized (dipped) into a dye, so that the cloth and the dye have the same identity.

            This understanding of the Greek definition must be in our minds as we come to study Romans 6. In verse 2, again, Paul asks, “How can we who died to sin still live in it?”

            When did you die to sin?

            We died to sin when Jesus died to sin.

            How could that be? He died 2,000 years ago. I haven’t yet died.

            Not physically, but you have died in your spirit.

            This is accomplished through baptism. Not the water baptism done down at church. Being dunked in water cannot bring about our death to sin. But the ancient Greek understanding of baptism can do this.    

            When you accept Jesus Christ as your savior, the Holy Spirit dips your spirit, or immerses your spirit, into the historical life of Christ Jesus. Your spirit life —not your physical life, of course— is immersed into the history that Christ lived in 33A.D. Your spirit was immersed into Christ’s death, His burial, and His resurrection, so that His death, burial and resurrection become your death, burial and resurrection, too. Through this baptism His history becomes your history. His death becomes your death, and so, His resurrection becomes your resurrection. This changes your identity. Your spirit is now identified with Christ, and His life becomes your life in the spirit.

            Since He died to sin, you have died to sin. Your soul has not died to sin. Your body has not died to sin. Only your spirit was immersed by the Holy Spirit into Christ. Therefore, your spirit has died to sin, and you should no longer live in it (Rom 6:2).

            Romans 6:7 Paul re-phrases it this way: he who dies is freed from sin. If you die, then you are no longer going to sin. Dead people don’t sin, in case you hadn’t noticed.

            You died. Your spirit died through being immersed into Christ, who died.

            Therefore, you are no longer a sinner in your spirit. Your body and soul can overwhelm you, take control of you and lead you to sin. But your spirit has been made a partaker of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4), and your spirit does not sin.

            God made you brand new at the level of identity. Spirit is the place of identity, and your spirit has been “dipped” into Christ, so that His life is your life. His identity is your identity. Even the Apostle John says in I John 4:17, ” . . . as He is, so are you now, in this world.” As He is, so are you. Well, He is righteous and He does not sin. So, it is for me, in my spirit.

            My spirit does not sin, so I should no longer live in sin.

            So many people in my Christian reading and listening are trying to get me to quit sinning by guilting me, shaming me, scaring me, or lecturing me. God has a better way. He dipped my spirit into the breakthrough freedom of Christ. My spirit is now free to express the resurrection life of Christ.

            Application: just be who you are, and walk in the Spirit. You are a spirit-being, and your spirit will not sin.  Your soul and body will be triggered to lure you into sin.  So, walk in the Spirit, and from your spirit you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh (Gal 5:16).

            The truth will set you free, so ask the Holy Spirit to teach this to you.

 

-Carter

DIDN’T GOD ALREADY CHANGE US AT THE LEVEL OF IDENTITY?

            So Rusty called me this week. He had an epiphany as he read last week’s blog. He called me up to ask this question, “Carter, you always speak about making a change at the level of Identity, but hasn’t God already done that for us? Didn’t he already change us at the level of Identity when we got saved? He did it, and it’s already done. Right?”

            Bingo! Rusty saw it, and I hope you are seeing it now.

            As we read the New Testament it is important to get the facts straight. One of the more interesting distinctions the Apostle Paul makes is in his statements about crucifixion. In Romans 6:6 he says that “our old man was crucified with Christ.” Then over in Galatians 5 he says, “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh . . .” (5:24).

            God crucified our old man. But we crucify our flesh.

            We could not crucify our old man. Only God could accomplish that. That is a part of the mystery of our union with Christ, that our old spirit is united with Christ in his death. But we have the responsibility to crucify our flesh, that is, to “put to death the deeds of the body, by The Spirit” (Rom 8:13), so that we don’t walk according to the flesh.  

            God does one thing, and we do the other (by grace through faith, as well).

            Yes, there is an identity change that God does at the beginning of your salvation experience. In fact, it is the change that makes you a child of God. He crucified your Adamic-spirit with Christ on His cross 2,000 years ago, and then raised up that spirit into newness of life in Christ. God changed you at the level of Identity instantly, through Holy Spirit-baptism into Christ. This is the import of Romans 6:3-7.

            God did it. It is His sovereign work. He has already changed you at the level of Identity.

            So, then, what is left to do?

            Now, we have to crucify our flesh, the coping behaviors of our shame-based identity in the soul that fight against the Holy Spirit. What is left for us is to heal our soul, so that it no longer cries out to control us with those coping behaviors. This healing involves the renewing of the mind.

            We are to recognize, acknowledge, and renounce the inferior, shame-based identity that is in our soul, and all of its sinful behaviors. This sub-identity, this identity built around our shame (our pain, our lies, our sins, and our vows) is the identity we are to come out of and quit depending on. We are to quit giving allegiance to this identity, quit believing that it is our true-self, for it is not. Think of it as your second change at the level of Identity.

            You make this second change by grace and truth. In dialogue with God He shows you the truth about your shame-based identity and behaviors. Then you must press deeper and ask God where this came from in your life. When did you first begin to think of yourself this way? At what event did it get impressed on you? When did you develop these coping behaviors?

            In prayer you go into those hurtful memories with God and get the healing from Him. I have written about this process many times before. Go browse older blogs and brief yourself again on how to pray.

            Or come to a Pure Heart Weekend, where you and God can initiate the “second” process of changing at the level of Identity.

 

-Carter