Soteriology – Spiritual Anatomy – Part 21 Corinthians 15:20-22 • Dr. Jim McGowan • November 20, 2016 • Soteriology - Sp. Anatomy
Dr. Jim McGowan
Soteriology – Spiritual Anatomy, Part 2 2 Timothy 2:11-13
November 23, 2016
As you can see on the screen, we’re in part 2 of a study we began a couple of weeks ago and I’m endeavoring, when I come up and I fill in for Pastor Woods to maintain whatever theme that he’s currently on, which is soteriology for our Sunday School class. So that’s the idea behind this and my hope is that by bringing a slightly different perspective or purview if you will, on this study that will maybe help drive home or clarify some of the things that he’s been going over also. You know sometimes hearing something, you can hear the same thing but hear it in a different way and sometimes that’ll minister to your heart. I’m hoping that that’s the case.
So here’s a brief outline of what we’re going to talk about this morning, Spiritual Anatomy, Part 2, I’m going to review some concepts for you that we went over last time and then we’re going to get in a little bit deeper and farther along. I’m going to introduce some clarifying subject, topics to you, we’re going to talk a little bit about some identification synonyms and that will be helpful. We’re going to talk about what it means when we say that death is separation, what we mean when we talk about Adam’s spiritual history, that again will be a little bit of a review, and similarly with Christ’s spiritual history. And then we’re going to try to answer the question, is this just all a bunch of gobbelty-gook, is this just hypothetical, you know, is this just some way to tickle the ears or is this really important information. And that’s our hope that we can prove that.
So let’s start with our review here; we said last time that all human beings are conceived and born in Adam and what we mean by that is that they are positionally in Adam and they’re identified with him. We said that each unbeliever has Adam as his or her spiritual head. And we said that Adam is the seminal head of fallen mankind. And we emphasized the fact that that’s a fixed position… a fixed position for every unbeliever. And what do we mean by that? Basically what we mean is that there’s nothing that the unbeliever can do in his own power to change that situation. He’s fixed where he is “in Adam.” And then we said all unbelievers share Adam’s spiritual history and the consequences of that history through their identification with Him. All right.
We said all of those who are conceived and born in Adam, upon believing the gospel of salvation, what happens? They are now placed into Christ; they’re from that time forward “in Christ” and that’s done all by God. And that’s an important thing that we understand. We said all believers being “in Christ” share Christ’s spiritual history; just like Adam has a spiritual history, Christ has a spiritual history. And so we, being joined to Christ, we now share that spiritual history and the consequences of that history because of our identification with Him.
I showed you this chart or this picture graphic last time and again this is just a representation to sort of give you… you know, some people are sight learners, I’m kind of a sight learner, I kind of like to have a lot of different ways of seeing something and a pictorial representation helps me a lot of times. So here’s a representation of what we mean when we say that we’re “in Adam” as unbeliever, the old man is a positional person… a positional person; the old man is all of who each of us was as an unbeliever “in Adam.” So when we’re talking about being “in Adam” we’re talking about a whole picture here. What does it mean to be “in Adam.” Well, it means that we’re an old man, and this old man possesses a sin nature. We said, when we talked about the sin nature that the sin nature is the collection of attributes and characteristics of how the old man is inclined to believe, and that’s an important thing to understand.
And we said that the sin nature is not the same as the old man, if you’ll go back to the previous presentation I gave you ample documentation there and gave you a couple of links to a couple of somewhat lengthy articles that go into great depth explaining that when we talk about the sin nature and the old man they are not the same thing. And I encourage you to go back and review that.
And then we also said that it’s important to understand that the sin nature, when we refer to the sin nature it is pertaining to the physical human body. So this is what we meant when we talked about Adam, being “in Adam.” Now what do we mean when we say that we’re now “in Christ” as believers? Again, here’s another representation for you so this person, this new man is also a positional person and this new man is made up of all of who we now are as believers in Christ. And of course, part of our reason we study the Word of God is to really find out what that means. You know, our entire Christian life is learning more and more and more and more what it means when we say all of who we are now “in Christ.” And we said that this new man possesses a new nature.
Again we’re making a distinction here, we don’t want to confuse the new man with the new nature. And that’s what we’re saying here, the terms “new man” and “new nature” are not interchangeable terms for the same thing. And that becomes important as we get further in our study this morning.
Still reviewing, we said that the believer continues to have the sin nature, and that sin nature you’ll recall dominates… dominates the life of the person who is in Adam; they don’t have a choice, they are constantly, continually under the tyranny of the sin nature. And we said it’s associated with a physical human body even though the believer is “in Christ.” Now we mentioned last time, what’s the difference? One huge difference between the unbeliever and the believer; if both have a sin nature what’s the big distinction? Well, the big distinction is that now as believers who are positionally “in Christ” we actually not only have a choice not to sin but we have been empowered by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit to enable us not to sin. And that’s significant because the unbeliever doesn’t have that enabling power and hence the reason for all the self-help books, the reason why all kinds of unbelievers are involved in all kinds of different sins. Many times the things they do, addictions and such, are designed to cover up that sin nature that’s constantly gaining control and they’re trying to squelch, they’re trying to control it in their own strength and you can’t do it.
We said that the sin nature will be present with the believer until he or she receives the new body which is fashioned after Christ. We know that when we were saved we were justified, God declared us righteous at that moment. We know that we’re in this present stage of sanctification and we know that there’s a coming glorification. Right?
Well, what is it that remains to be redeemed, if you will? It’s the physical human body; that’s the only thing that’s remaining to be redeemed; that’s going to happen when we’re glorified. And so we see here that this sin nature is just hanging around; he’s trying to regain control in the life of the believer. But praise the Lord, the day is going to come when we either arrive in heaven, one of two ways, right? We’re either going to die and be with the Lord or we’re going to be raptured and be with the Lord and we’re going to have a reconstituted, if you will, glorified human body, spiritual body and won’t it be wonderful to not have to deal with the sin nature.
Have you thought about that? Have you ever just stopped to think about how much time you spend every day dealing with the sin nature? Now I just challenge you tomorrow when you wake up, just start thinking about that; how often do you find yourself having to just literally stop and resist the sin nature. You start to have bad thoughts or say a bad word or do a bad thing; how often are you struggling with that sin nature. You know, hopefully as believers as we grow in Christ that we’re getting more and more submitted to the Holy Spirit, so that the sin nature doesn’t win as often as it does. But if we’re all honest we know that there are times when the happens, don’t we? I don’t know about you, I can’t wait, come Lord Jesus, I don’t even care if I finish my message this morning, right? And somebody out there said “amen brother.”
What is the nature… we throw this word “nature” around and we said nature is not all of what a creature is but it is, on the other hand, a collection of attributes and characteristics that cause that creature to behave a certain way. And again that’s the reason why we don’t have crocodiles up in trees like you see here in this little picture.
And then we introduced this concept of the continuing person and we said that the individual personhood of every person continues from Adam through to becoming “in Christ.” Right! And we talked about the fact that what do we mean by that. I mean well, as much as I would have liked for it to have happened I would have just been so tickled if when I came to Christ I had the Mr. Universe body, you know, right. I didn’t get that… you knew that, right? I didn’t get it, I didn’t get other things, my characteristics didn’t change, my personal life and dislikes didn’t necessarily change; some did. My personal identity, you know, I didn’t… from going to being in Adam to being in Christ I didn’t cease to be Jim McGowan (which my wife can attest to), and others in my family. I’m still the same person but now I’m “in Christ.” We said this part of the believer that changed over time, and when we talk about these processes that the Bible talks about which are the conforming, transforming processes, the growing and maturing processes, the process of being sanctified, where is that taking place? That’s taking place in the continuing person… the continuing person. And we said that it is this continuing person that Paul referred to as a believer when he said things like I used to be this way, I was that way, that’s what he’s referring to.
And then we said also that just as there’s no variation in being in Adam… remember we said that if you’re an unbeliever in Adam there’s no variation, right? You’re in a fixed position. Well, guess what? Once you’re in Christ… excuse me, there’s also no change in the old man and the sin nature. What do we mean by that? Well, that kind of comes back to what I said previously, is that the world is out there endeavoring to fix the old man; they’re endeavoring to deal with the sin nature but they don’t have the wherewithal to do that. Why do we have so many different religions in the world? Because so many, really many of these religions, beside the fact that there’s doctrine of demons of course, but at some level they’re endeavoring to deal with this issue of good and evil.
We said that there’s also no change in the new man or the new nature since there’s no variation in being “in Christ.” And this is something that’s very important for us to understand also, I can’t improve upon what God has already done. I can’t improve upon the new nature; I can’t make it better. How do I make it better? How do I make the new man better? These things are fixed positionally. And that’s something very exciting to know.
And so then we answered the question here, does this really matter Jim, you’re just wasting our time. Well, I hope not. Here’s some questions that I think when we begin to understand what’s going on we begin to come up with some really good answers to question, but here’s the first one: Am I trying to make the sin nature better? We, as believers, as we engage the sin nature are we somehow under the false assumption that we can fix it? We can put a little makeup on it, a little rouge here, a little eye makeup there, whatever. No, we can’t change the sin nature. We have to ask the question, is it God’s plan for me to try really, really, really hard to be a good Christian or to be more like Christ. You know, many people say oh yes, that’s exactly correct. Have you ever seen anybody doing that? What their life is like? More often than not people who are caught up in this are very legalistic and God’s called us to liberty.
Do we need to improve the new nature? Jesus said “It is finished” on the cross and He’s referring to everything that pertains to life and godliness for the believer so now we said we’re in Christ, we’re a new man and we have a new nature, so do we need to somehow improve that new nature? Well, Jesus, You got it pretty much right but you know… as Andy’s prone to say, you know, the Lord got the dinner and we want to get the tip, so to speak. Well let me make you laugh here. Do we need to improve the new man? No! Do we need to get more “in Christ” than we were yesterday? Oh, you know, I’m just not “in Christ” enough, you know. We may not actually say that in our daily conversation but you know we think that way. You know, if I could just be more in Christ, if I could just, you know, as if something were lacking with regards to what Christ has done for us.
How about this one; where are you on this? Okay, today, now let’s see, you know, I had a bad day yesterday so… man, I remember that low point, I’m only 10% in Christ today, but you know, I’ll do better tomorrow, I’m going to shoot for that 75% or if I’m really, really motivated, you know, REALLY motivated, I’m going to get my act together, I’m going to strive for that 95%. Now nobody out there is like that, right? I think sometimes we fall into these faulty ways of thinking and then that reduces the opportunity for victory in our lives. So I’m answering my own question here, does this really matter? Absolutely it does! Getting these concepts clear is vitally important, otherwise we may find ourselves doing what? Trying to change things that can never change or never need to change. What’s that old saying, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”
Believers often get frustrated. Does this describe you? I have to confess that before I was introduced to some of these truths and began to live them out and experience them this described me, very much so. Believers often get frustrated, confused, and flustered wondering what God is doing because they don’t have a clear biblical understanding of these concepts. Have you ever had circumstances really go a strange direction in your life and then what’s the first thing you do? God, why is this happening to me, you know. What’s going on, you know, I thought You loved me. Well, if you understand some of these concept there’s some great answers to those types of questions.
So when we understand biblically how God made us and what it is that God is changing in us and how it is that He’s producing that change in us, then our perception comes in line with God’s perception and His Word instead of with that of the world, the flesh and the devil. Isn’t that where we want to be as we walk with Christ. I think so!
Now I just put this up here because sometimes people think that when I teach this material, well Jim, you know, you’re letting your old charismania creep back in here and you know, you’re just kind of giving us a name it and claim it thing. No, not at all, that’s not what I’m talking about at all. I’m talking about factual information from the Word of God and what did we say last time? When we observe the spiritual facts and we apply faith to the spiritual facts then what happens? We experience spiritual victory. And that’s what this is all about.
Some points of clarification; we’re saying here that once we clearly understand these concepts we won’t have any false self-imposed problems, notice the self-imposed is bolded, we won’t have any self-imposed problems that spring from an erroneous understanding of God’s Word, trying to change something that won’t change, and struggling to be more in Christ and more like Christ. Remember Paul talked about… he said “I run in such a way as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air.” [Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air;” 1 Corinthians 9:26] Do you ever feel like sometimes that that’s what you’re doing? I mean, I could confess there are times when I felt that way. We’re saying that we must correctly understand the following questions again: What is God doing in the life of the believer? What has God already accomplished? That’s so vitally important. What is God accomplishing right now in the life of the believer? What specific changes does God intend in the life of the believer? And then we ask the question, are we trying to change what never will change and was never intended to change? That’s really a gross picture, I apologize for that, a couple of guys up there in diapers, that’s terrible.
Okay, so that’s just a review of where we have been but let’s go on to the next section and the newer material; shall we? So we’re going to talk about deeper in and farther along in this identification truth stuff. So identification truth, we said before, is predominantly related to the church age believer, and it’s being explained most fully by the Apostle Paul. Now again we’re not setting him off against the other writers in the New Testament, they do have some things to say. But again, Paul is the one from which we really get the clearest and most detailed information.
Identification truth is revealed and understood entirely by the will and actions of God, and the blessings of our identification with Christ are accomplished entirely by God’s infinite, eternal and amazing grace. And wow, all I can say is Amen to that, right? Ephesians 1:3-4, how do we know what I just said was true. Well, look at this, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” where is that now? “in Christ,  just as He chose us” how did He choose us, “ in Him,” “in Christ.”
See, that’s what it’s all about, brothers and sisters; it’s all about being “in Christ.” And we really need to grasp this. I would just challenge you sometime when you don’t have anything else to do get your highlighter out and go through the epistles especially and just go through them and just mark every time you see “in Him,” “through Him,” “with Him,” “by Him,” or similarly instead of Him, Christ, or Lord Jesus or whatever, just go through… you will blow your mind at how many times that you’re going to see that and every time you see that, in almost every instance it’s dealing with identification truth information.
Okay, the word “identification” again throwing this word around, the word “identification,” what does it mean? Well, it’s just a convenient handle. Anybody used to use CD’s? I remember when I was in high school some people don’t even know what a CD is any more, right? When I was in high school the hot thing was everybody had to have a CD in your car if you had a car. So when I finally got a car I had to THE accessory, and THE accessory was the CD and of course you had to have a handle. Anybody ever do that? Of course, somebody …. Nobody is going to be honest and admit it… Well, do you know what my handle was? My handle was “King’s Kid.” So you know, “Breaker, breaker, this is King’s Kid,” you know, blah, blah, blah. I thought I was so cool.
Well, identification is just a “handle” that we use. When we talk about identification how do we identify, how do we locate or find identification truth. Well, again here’s what I was saying; we see words like “in,” “with,” “together with.” In Romans 6 it’s “united with.” In Romans and Colossians, “baptized into.” These are terms that are used to introduce and describe and explain identification truth.
A key principle that we need to really understand is that when we talk about identification truths that when we see the word “death” we need to understand that “death” means separation. All right, and if you’ll stop and think about that for a minute it makes sense. The Bible nowhere teaches annihilation, that when someone dies they just cease to exist; right? That’s not taught in the Scriptures. Death, all the way back to the Garden of Eden, what happened; you know, God told Adam and Eve that they weren’t to eat of the tree; Satan said don’t touch it, I almost messed that up there, but God said don’t eat of it, right? And they ate of it. He said if you eat of it what’s going to happen? You’re going to die. And so they ate of it and they just dropped dead right on the spot, didn’t they? NO, they didn’t. In fact, for all practical purposes and all appearances there really wasn’t anything external that changed, that anyone would be able to see.
But they did die, didn’t they? They died spiritually. Now what does that mean? Does that mean suddenly they no longer had.. the spirit that they had was annihilated, it was gone? NO, it doesn’t mean that. It means that because of their actions, the act of sin that they died toward God and they were now separated from Him. The wonderful fellowship that I can’t imagine… can you imagine God walking with you in the Garden. I’m not really sure how that worked, you know, maybe that will be a question when I get to heaven. So God, did you come down and was it… you know, was it a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ, I don’t know what happened, but just the thought of it, you know, wow, how awesome. Well, that was gone when they sinned; death came into the scene; they were separated, weren’t they.
When Isaiah said that the sins of the people of Israel had caused a separation from God he meant spiritual death. When Jesus told the Jewish leaders that unless they believed in Him they would die in their sins, remember that? He was pointing out that they would suffer a death that would separate them from the very God they claimed to know. Death is separation. And then Paul taught that death means separation in the following passages. Ephesians 2:1-3, verses 11 and 13; chapter 4:18 and Colossians 1:21.
[Ephesians 2:1-3, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,  in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.  Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands.  But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. [Ephesians 4:18, “being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart.” Colossians 1:21, “And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds,”]
So death is separation; and guess what? Death is really bad news unless it’s good news. Right? What do I mean? Well, God uses the death is separation principle in a gracious way, for our benefit. When we were identified with Christ in His death, in Christ’s death and burial and resurrection this was our benefit. So look what we see here; if you go look at these passages you’re going to see that in each one of these instances what Paul is saying is that death means separation.
So in Romans 6:1-11 he says we’re dead to the sin nature. Now again, does that mean the sin nature is annihilated, it no longer exists? Absolutely not. It means we have been separated from it, it is no longer the tyrant, it is no longer the domineering force in our life; we’ve been empowered over it through the Holy Spirit.
In Romans 7 he says we died to the Law, wow… we “died to the Law.” We’re going to actually talk about some of that in the next message so I don’t want to get too wound up here on that. But 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 he said that we’re dead to ourselves, isn’t that interesting, and we’re alive to Christ. Again, Galatians 2:19, I guess He was serious about this because He repeats the fact that we died to the Law, that must be important for us to know. Colossians 2:20 says we died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world. Does that mean that the world somehow for us ceased to exist? That, you know, we now encapsulated in a Holy Spirit bubble and we just sort of float through life, right. And maybe we see what’s going on but it doesn’t affect us or anything… NO, it may be kind of fun but NO, I don’t think so. Then he says that we’re “dead to sin” again because we died with Christ to the world. All this is the concept, the idea of death being separation.
Let’s talk about what we mean here when we talk about “being joined to.” So identification means that you’re “joined to” something. We said that death separates us, right? Hopefully we just proved that. Death separates us from something but you know, we don’t just get separated and then just founder around out there somewhere. When we die to one thing we’re then joined to something else. So here we go; our identification, then, with death, with what? With Christ’s death joins us to that death and that death separates us. When we were identified with Adam, in other words, when we were “in Adam” guess what? We were joined to the death of separation that Adam experienced. Each of us was joined… how so? We were joined to the sin nature, to the law of sin and death, to the world, and all of Adam’s spiritual history.
So what’s happening here? We were separated from what? We were separated from God, and we were joined to what? We were joined to Adam and his spiritual history. That’s the bad news. As an unbeliever identified with Adam each of us again, we were what? We were separated from Christ, from His righteousness and from His spiritual history.
Now this is an important point that I think sometimes people kind of get confused on a little bit. Adam was created in innocence; he was not created righteous. There’s a difference. What do we mean? Innocence was simply not having sin, and that’s a condition which could be lost, as was apparent with Adam. Let me ask you a question: has anyone since Adam ever been born innocent, besides the Lord Jesus? Thank you for helping me there a little bit, someone said JESUS, absolutely right, yeah!
But no, with regards to general humanity we all were joined to Adam in his death. Right? And so there’s never been anyone innocent since then with the exception of the Lord Jesus. But I want to make a clarification on that point here in just a second. He was innocent in that He had no sin nature; Adam died because he was separated from God, or he became separated from God, rather, because of rebellion in choosing his own wife. And all humanity has inherited a sin nature through Adam; all unbelievers are now in Adam and they share his spiritual history and the subsequent consequences because of their identification with him.
Well, let’s talk about Christ again for a minute. It’s a little bit of a review… but the moment we believed we were identified with, in other words, we were joined to Christ in His death, burial, resurrection, ascension and seating in heaven. Those are more than just words and they bear investigation on all of our parts. Notice that Christ is righteous, a big difference between Adam and Christ. Christ is righteous! The moment we believed we were given Christ’s righteous; we were not given innocence, were we? Isn’t that interesting? We weren’t given innocence, we were given righteousness and it’s a righteousness which is unchangeable and its eternal. Hallelujah. Right.
And what do we say here, righteousness if right standing with God. The moment we believed we were positionally “in Christ,” a new man with a new nature. Identification with Christ, then, does what? It joins us to Christ and as believers what was true of our being joined to and identified with Adam has forever changed. That’s very important! We were identified with Christ meaning we were joined to Christ, joined to His righteousness and His spiritual history, and in our identification with Christ each of us was what? Separated from the sin nature, the law of sin and death; the world, and we were completely, utterly, totally separated from Adam’s spiritual history. Wonderful news, just wonderful!
You can see a comparison here in this diagram, that basically reflects what we just said. And again we’ll come and say well, why does this matter. Okay Jim’s fun teaching here but why does it matter, why should it matter to me? Is it just hypothetical? The answer of course is no, our understanding of identification truth directly affects at least two areas that directly touch upon what God is doing in the life of the believer. Would you like to get a little information about this?
Number 1, it deals with the sin nature and our continuing person. This is some interesting stuff; identification truth provides answers to two very important questions: why did believers continue to sin? Would that be important to you? And it also deals with a situation or answers the question, how do believers have any hope of not sinning. That’s important stuff. Identification truth reveals the primary manner of dealing with the sin nature. Now we’re getting to the good stuff. It’s our identification with Christ.
Now I’m not going to read this to you here because I can barely see it myself, but if you’ll go back through the notes and look at it, the main reason I’m throwing this up here is I’ve highlighted some of… SOME of the information that is specific to identification truth in Romans 6:1-14. I just said “some of” there’s more. So I encourage you to go back and look at that passage.
[Romans 6:1–14 (NASB95),  “1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, 13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”]
And all through here, as you’re reading Romans 6 you’ll recall that I said last time that we need to understand again that the sin nature is the collection of attributes and characteristics of how the old man is inclined to behave. And we said that when contextually appropriate that the terms “flesh” and “body” which you will find in this passage, is often best understood as referring to the sin nature as it acts through the physical human body. That’s a very important point as you read Romans, especially chapter 6.
SO, how do we deal with this sin nature problem? Here it is: “Even so consider” or “reckon yourselves to be dead unto sin,” or the sin nature. [Romans 6:11] Now most of us read this passage and this is where we stop; okay, so get out your tablet, start listing all of the sin in your life, give yourself some little check boxes so that you can reckon yourself dead to sin. So tomorrow morning get your little check books out and as you go through the day start checking those things off. Now you’re not allowed to add to the list once you get started in the morning but you’re going to need to, so when you get to the end of your list, guess what? You failed! All right. Isn’t that wonderful news?
Well, my point here is just this, that we endeavor in our own strength to deal with the sin nature. How did that work for us when we weren’t believers? Not too well. Guess what? It’s not going to work very well for you as a believer, if you’re trying to do it in your own strength. You have to add the rest of the bridge here. I don’t know if you can tell that that’s what that was, but if I want to get across the river I need the rest of the bridge. So let’s add the rest of the bridge. Oh, okay, “Consider yourself to be dead unto sin,” why do I want to do that? Because that’s part of the identification truth. Right? That’s what’s already true about me, but that’s not enough. I have to now also reckon myself to be alive unto God in Christ Jesus. That’s the rest of the story.
I have a somewhat lengthy quote here but let me read it, if you’ll bear with me on it because I think this gives some great information on this particular topic. This comes out of Thomas Constable’s notes; he says, referring to this verse, “Since God has united us with Christ we should “consider,” “count,” or “reckon” ourselves as those who are not under the dominating influence of sin any longer. In some parts of the United States, “I reckon” means “I guess,” or “I hope”. That is not its meaning here. It means to count on something being true, and then to believe it. The verb is a present imperative” that’s a command form, “in the Greek text indicating that we should definitely and constantly view ourselves this way. We must realize that we are free to enjoy our new relationship with God forever.”
He says furthermore that “Paul previously stressed the importance of knowing certain facts about this identification” and he lists verses 3, 6 and 9 in the same chapter. Then he says, “Now he said that we should count on those facts as being true. We must not just understand them, we must believe them.” He says, “He used the same Greek word [logisthesetai] here as he did in his explanation of justification” and then he lists the verses. [2:26; 4:3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 22, 23, 24]. He goes on and says, “God puts righteousness down on the believer’s account.” When we’re talking about justification. “Similarly we should put it down as true that our relationship to sin and death has changed. Only as we do so will we relate to temptation, sin, and death realistically. If we fail to believe that sin no longer dominates us, we will be much more vulnerable to yield to temptation, to practice sin, and to fear death. However if we believe sin does not have that power, we will be more apt to resist temptation, to stay clear of sin, and to anticipate death less fearfully. “Consider” or “reckon” is in the present tense in the Greek text indicating that we need to maintain a realistic view of our relationship to the sin nature.
And then one more comment, Newell writes that “the word ‘reckon’ is a word for faith in the face of appearances.”
So, how are we doing on time here, pretty good. Identification truth explains that the changes in our continuing person, which are the ongoing processes we mentioned here, conformed to being transformed, etc. They’re always in the direction of Christ. So here we are, this is our path. Right. Let’s see if I can do that again. This is fun. All right, here we are in our Christian life, wouldn’t we just love it if our paths just went like this all the time. But here’s more realistic, we’re up a little bit, we’re down a bit, we’re up, but we eventually get there and that’s what we want to rejoice about.
Identification Truth explains that the changes in our “Continuing Person” take place as we ‘walk consistent’ with who we have been made to be in our eternal identity (positioned in Christ), and those changes are realized because” notice, “it is Christ, Who does the living in and through us – by faith. This is one of my most favorite passages in the entire Bible. “For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested” where’s that going to happen? “in our mortal flesh.” [2 Corinthians 4:11]
So isn’t interesting that we have this sin nature vying for control of what– “our mortal flesh.” And then we have the Lord Jesus asking us, begging us, to allow Him to live His life through “our mortal flesh.” Identification truth explains that these changes that these changes take place as we walk consistent with the One we have been joined to and what we have been separated from in Christ.
So, let’s wrap it up here. We’re saying here that God Himself is carrying out specific processes in each believer to produce actual spiritual change. He’s doing it.. He’s doing it! And that this spiritual change is taking place within our continuing person. God’s processes are not random or vague. It feels that way sometimes. We think that sometimes, God has forgotten us, you know, we get caught up in our own little world and we forget that God is still on the throne, He still loves us, He’s still working in and through our lives. His processes are not random and vague but they’re directed toward a person, which is Christ. God’s processes are not merely to change our character but also have as their end that we will be like Christ when we see Him as He is.
So as I said last time, we are in this life as believers; what are we doing? We are running to catch up to who we already are in Christ. God sees us “in Christ,” complete. God wants us to see what? That everything that happens to us, in us, and around us, is part of His plan to accomplish His processes in us. Now that’s a powerful statement right there and I pray that you’ll let that seek into your heart. If you understand this, and if you allow the Holy Spirit to meet that right there to your heart it will change your perspective on your life and how you live it. God’s processes in us are what? What are they doing? They’re conforming us and they’re transforming us into the image of His Son, so that when we walk through heaven’s gate we will be like Him.
I hesitated to put this up here but I thought that I wanted to give a realistic example of where I’m understanding identification truth might possibly help us. Let’s talk about secular counseling here for a second. Now if you’re a secular counselor out there bear with me. Secular Counseling always focuses on what? It focuses on our personal history ‘in Adam’” and that’s gone for a believer, is it not? That’s all that they can do because secular counseling doesn’t understand or even recognize Christ. In fact, they to the very opposite direction. Secular counselors (and sadly, uninformed Christian counselors) struggle to improve the old man and the sin nature!
On the other hand, why is true biblical counseling important. Because “Biblical counseling focuses on” what? “our personal shared history ‘in Christ. Only informed Biblical Counselors can share real hope and encouragement because they do not address the Old Man “in Adam”, but deal with the New Man who has a New History “in Christ.”
You see, where you start from has a lot to do with where you’re going to end up when you’re counseling someone. Right. Now, as a biblical counselor one of the first things that I should do is when I’m engaged in counseling someone is determine are they a believer or not. Does that make a difference where I’m going to start my counseling? Absolutely, doesn’t it. It would be ludicrous for me to endeavor to try to counsel someone about Godly Christian principles if they don’t even know Christ, because it won’t even make sense to them. Do you see where I’m going here?
So what I’m saying here is that, you know, if a person needs counseling and there may be a time in life where any one of us might need counseling; use great wisdom in where you go to get your counseling, make sure you know the source, the fount from which they’re going to draw, if you will, to counsel you. And if I back up again I’ve got some pictures on that one, and sometimes if you want to do an interesting read, go read on the key figures in the secular counseling movement and it’s going to absolutely blow your mind the kind of things that they believe and participated in. And I will leave that to your further discussion and research.
All right, that brings us to the end of our lesson this morning. I hope that I’ve challenged you in some small way begin to investigate the truths of God’s Word a little bit more and let’s close in prayer.
Heavenly Father, I just thank You so much for the faithfulness of Your Word and for how when we’re exposed to truth we become responsible for that truth, Lord. And I just praise You and just give You the glory because as we submit ourselves, Father, to the truth of Your Word, if we submit ourselves and yield our bodies as instruments of righteousness to the Holy Spirit that You are everything to us, You are our Counselor, our Provider, You are the lover of our souls, You are the One who leads us to personal victory and Father, I just thank You for that. Thank You so much now for these people present today. I pray that You would help them and me to be able to recognize what is the chicken and what is the bone and to apply it appropriately. In Jesus name, Amen