I am writing this in a Word document and then will post it as I need to consider all of the thoughts, questions and ideas that you conveyed. I printed your last two posts off so I can speak to them here and cover them thoroughly and I printed 3 pages off. So expect my response to be a book! I do wish that we could speak to each other as it is so hard to convey various points for me in a post. (Also, I’m not the fastest at typing.) Also, I’m concerned that others are not interested in our dialogue but we drone on. Maybe we could ask Carson if the 3 of us could converse or what ever is appropriate. At any rate, here goes…
As to your comment that the old nature to new nature is a process, I would say yes and no. Yes, as we walk with Jesus in this life, we continue to see things in our lives that need to go. I so appreciate very old saints who don’t ever feel like they have it all but keep growing until they meet Jesus face-to-face. In that respect, it is sanctification, which has various meanings. Here is what Strong’s says about it when it is taken from Romans 6 (hagiasmos):
hagiasmós; gen. hagiasmoú, masc. noun from hagiázō (G37), to sanctify. Sanctification, translated “holiness” (Rom_6:19, Rom_6:22; 1Th_4:7; 1Ti_2:15; Heb_12:14). Separation unto God (in 1Co_1:30, cause or author of sanctification; 2Th_2:13, “sanctification of the Spirit,” meaning produced by the Holy Spirit; 1Pe_1:2). The resultant state, the behavior befitting those so separated (1Th_4:3-4, resulting in abstention from fornication). There are two other Gr. words which are translated “holiness” but they must be distinguished from hagiasmós, sanctification. They are hagiótēs (G41), the attribute of holiness, and hagiōsúnē (G42), the state of being sanctified, i.e., sanctification not as a process but as the result of a process. Hagiasmós is similar to dikaíōsis (G1347), justification, which denotes not only the act of God’s free grace in justifying sinners, but also the result of that justification upon the sinner in making him just and equipping him to recognize the rights of God on his life. Hagiasmós refers not only to the activity of the Holy Spirit in setting man apart unto salvation and transferring him into the ranks of the redeemed, but also to enabling him to be holy even as God is holy (2Th_2:13).
On the other hand, no, it is not a process in the sense that we ARE new creations - not because what I’ve done or feel but because as a believer, His Words says that. Here is where faith kicks in because it doesn’t happen gradually. We are new EVERY morning.
Now, I believe that as we act on His Word, or as in Romans 1 it is described as “through faith for faith”, we grow and become more like Him unbeknownst to us. When we act through faith, he works and uses it for faith - so that we believe Him for the next step. There is no pressure on us to produce; we only have to respond to the Holy Spirit. That is why we need His Word and fellowship but even if we still get it wrong, which we do, we truly repent of it and move on with Him. There is no attitude of, “What the heck, we just sinned.” Rather, we want to love the Lord with all of our hearts and we don’t want to get in the way of His work in us.
Angelina, if you knew me, you’d wonder why I could say such things because, though I say I am a new creation which is a work that HE did, I need to walk in it but miss the boat so often. Yet, I know that I am so different than I would have been had I not known Him. He has saved me from a variety of obvious situations. I know that Jesus in my life is more of a miracle than seeing someone raised from the dead, because I know that I was bull-headed and yet, He got through to me and raised me from the dead when I died to my wants and desires.
I get concerned saying that because I am not implying that I am or that anyone can be perfect. Of course I have to repent of sin even after being born again. However, neither do I believe that I have to live constantly defeated. As we talked about, sin has no dominion over me. That isn’t saying that I’m sinless - it just means that sin does not have to have its way in my life. At one time, I was powerless. I tried until I was blue in the face. But because of His work, I can do all things through Him. I do sin but there is no excuse. I do find that sin consists more of the Holy Spirit showing me that there is a higher way as opposed to having an attitude that I want to do it my way - a rebellious attitude.
Angelina, it’s a new day as I started the above yesterday and have considered much of what is the heart of your question during the night. Could it be this?
I think some of your questions may boil down to 1John 1&2. Here it mentions that if we don’t admit to sin, we are liars and yet, the book is written so that we may not sin. In fact, if we know Him, we will obey Him and because of that, we ought to walk in the same way as He walked. It appears that it is saying that you better admit to your sin and yet, you won’t sin if you really know Him.
Here is where I think the rub is. I’m glad that RZIM scrutinizes the posts as to correct us if we are, among other things, heretical. But I believe that there is sin and then there is sin. It’s the same word but one connotes an attitude and one conveys an action. Let me explain.
We use the example of David all of the time and how he committed some atrocious sins and yet he was a man after God’s own heart. I feel that he sinned and then repented of it. He was in deep contrition. He did not have an attitude of sin but he did have actions that were sinful. That’s why the Bible speaks of kings of Israel as evil and others righteous. Why? Because the evil kings had a heart for themselves and their kingdom whereas the righteous kings sinned, such as Hezekiah, but they hated their sin and turned from it. So the evil kings did some “good” things but their hearts were evil whereas the righteous kings sinned but their hearts desired the Lord.
So it is with us. Are we living for ourselves or for Jesus? If we live for the Lord, not only has He empowered us that we don’t have to sin but we don’t want to. “He who keeps God’s word, in him truly love for God is perfected.” The reason we are reminded to put off the old nature is because we find ourselves slipping back into our old habits whereas we need to remind ourselves not to go there because there is a new life ahead. It takes conscious thought but it is not constant introspection that would be so wearing. It’s actually freedom. Am I thinking correctly about someone? I often go over Philippians 4:8 checklist and at times I realize that I am being resentful so I confess it and I’m free. Freedom Christ has not put us in bondage but set us free.
You mentioned 1John 3:9 about not sinning if we are born of God. Again, I feel that it has to do with a sin nature - where we just let it rip because, after all, we’ll go to heaven anyway. That verse says that we don’t sin because God’s nature abides in us - the new nature, not the old. We don’t WANT to sin. We want to love the Lord with ALL of our hearts. We no longer want to live for ouselves.
The reason that I’m so emphatic is because I am saying all of this to myself - to remind myself of the truth. You hit it on the head when told me not to be self accusing because I have to deal with that often. Many times I get discouraged because it seems no one seems to emphasize this critical aspect of Christianity - not that we are going to heaven, but we don’t have to live in hell on earth because we are new. I want the whole world to know that! I envision people walking off the cliff and we sit and twiddle our thumbs. We need to be out there. I am happy when people find Jesus on their deathbeds but I think it was a waste that they lived their lives without knowing Him. Like Keith Green said, “How can they live without Jesus?”
Angelina, our hearts beat similarly as so much of what you say resonates with me. One such area that I completely agree with you on is about easy believe-ism. Oh, how I desire that I would love Jesus with ALL of my heart, as well as His church. We’re dealing with a relationship not a religion. Angelina, I’ve never met you but you are changed from what you would have been without Jesus. Your heart for digging deeper with Him isn’t due to your own merit - it is His Holy Spirit that lives IN you!
I am so envious that you met Nabeel. I loved him though I never met him. I was involved with a group that fasted monthly and prayed together weekly for him. He exemplified what you desire to see in the body of Christ - enthusiasm, passion and a love for Jesus that just exuded from him. He wasn’t a Christian nearly as long as me but he was so much farther along in his understanding in the ways of the Lord than me. When I became a Christian in the 70’s, the spirit shining in Nabeel wasn’t rare. Rather, so many were on fire for Jesus. Like you, I long to see that again.
I would present two things that have been so helpful for me. One is memorization of His Word. I am involved with a group with Connect doing so. We learn chapters. I find to learn a chapter, you get a depth and context that you don’t with a verse or two.
Secondly, prayer is critical. Are you in an intercessory prayer group? Not one that asks for prayer requests and then zips off a prayer for each request but one that goes before Jesus and seeks what He wants.
I didn’t get to everything that you wrote about because I’ve gone on too long as it is. I’ll end with saying, Angelina, I too never want to miss HIM despite my discomfort or struggles either. Our struggles and questions will never end but He will never leave us or forsake us and He will ALWAYS lead us into all truth as we desire to know it. Please be assured that you are a new creation - new today as the yesterday Angelina is already old!