Jesus always shows compassion towards people that are lost or struggling. He showed compassion to Mary (called Magdalene); He cast seven demons out of her (Luke 8:2). Jesus reached out to Zacchaeus, the tax collector (Luke 19:2), and the dad that asked Jesus for help to overcome his unbelief (Mark 9:24) and the Canaanite woman (Matthew 15:27). Jesus reached out to me when I was lost.
Here is something wonderful for believers: The Holy Spirit in us is God’s signature, guaranteeing we are His (Ephesians 1:13–14). Likewise, our signature – the thing that identifies us – is pointed out by Jesus in John 13:35: By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
This message, “if you love one another“, is recurring from my recent posts. The turmoil in our society is a symptom, more than a “condition.” You can plug in whichever turmoil you wish. Still, all of these symptoms radiate from a single, underlying disease. It is a disease that lives in the flesh of every child of Adam:
to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. – Ephesians 4:22-24
Here’s R.C. Sproul’s commentary on this passage:
Belonging to Christ involves repudiating an old life and embracing a new one. The image is that of taking off fraying clothes and putting on new ones.
The Root of the Problem
The root of the world’s travails is a double-headed monster. Mind you, it’s one monster, but it shows up in both the “old self” and the “new self.” Let’s first consider the old self.
One Head is the Old Self
Before you or I accepted Jesus’ salvation, we were convicts awaiting our sentencing. We were under condemnation (John 3:18), we were spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1), we lived and breathed rebellion against Jesus (Isaiah 30:9), the Righteous One (Acts 3:14). Integral parts of our old self were wickedness, greed, jealousy, and more. Our reprobate selves were diseased and decaying. Nothing good resided in us. So no one should expect anything good to come out of us (Job 14:4). Not brotherly love, not selflessness, not fairness, kindness, gentleness, love, and so forth. Certainly, there were occasional acts of love and kindness, but these were always fleeting, and if the real heart of any reprobate person were to be exposed, only evil would be found (Romans 3:10).
Therefore, with regard to a world bursting at the seams with death, it is hardly surprising that any number of heinous laws, systemic sins, personal wrongdoing, and more were perpetrated upon people. The ideas espoused by people like Karl Marx are lunacy for those ideas stand upon the belief that good can be found, if not in the individual, then in some collection of peoples. How utterly misguided are these theories and philosophies for they are born in sin and doomed for destruction.
The earth lies defiled under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. – Isaiah 24:5
The Second Head is Sin in the New Self
If you scroll back up to God’s Word from Ephesians 4:22-24, notice that the apostle Paul wrote this letter to Christians. He wrote it, not to the city council in Ephesus but to the church in Ephesus. Even after we are born again, our old self still lingers. You and I know this, empirically, because we have sinned after being saved. Maybe that’s too much of an assumption. I confess: I have sinned, more than once, after being saved. Therefore, I know that a battle exists between the Spirit and the flesh (Galatians 5:17), not in the “me” that is now seated with Christ in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6), but, in vain, it fights against my new self. Also, I have not fully been transformed into the likeness of Jesus because my mind, though improving, has not been fully renewed (Romans 12:2). And here’s where the monster comes in.
Just as Eve was seduced to sin in the Garden, every Christian has been seduced by God’s enemy at one time or another, resulting in sins of commission or omission. For in whatever areas of our lives we are weak, those the places where we are attacked. When a weak Christian finds solace with other Christians that are weak in the same aspects of character, then the local church starts down the path of heresy. That heresy finds “itching ears” (2 Timothy 4:3) in other churches, and soon the society undergirded by Christians becomes reprobate, espousing lies and passing laws firmly grounded in death, not life.
What can we do? If Christians never sinned there would be no reason for:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9
Yet, we are warned with passages such as:
So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. – James 4:7
And we are warned:
No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. – 1 John 3:6-8
How can we nullify that dead and decaying old man who keeps trying to cling to us, to pull us under, to steal our joy, to steal our witness, to steal our hope, to collude with weak and false believers that spew out heresies? Jesus has given us soul-medicine, the Good News that protects us from our old self. And what is our protection? John 13:35: By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. Love is how we are recognized, it is our signature. It costs us everything that is worth nothing.
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