Saturday, February 3

A Divine Life

Today's lesson, (#13 on finances) is from Eph. 4:22-27, one of the most exciting passages I know. I had started on this before my excursion into Psalm 37, and I left some important application questions unanswered, which I'll work on today.

A refresher: 
Passage: Eph. 4:20-24
20 That is not the way you learned Christ! 21 For surely you have heard about him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus. 22 You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. 

Paul gives us this three-fold pattern:
1. Put off your old self.
2. Be renewed in your minds.
3. Put on the new self.

This excites me so much because Paul tells us how to put on the divine nature, practically,  here and now! The apostles of Jesus literally did do greater works than he did, like he promised (John 14:12). They enfleshed the invisible God so he could be seen here on earth, like Jesus did. But I have been hopeless that God worked in this way anymore, because frankly, I just haven't seen it. I have heard of a few people who seemed to be this God-filled, such as John Wimber or historical saints, but the norm seems to be that most of us bumble along, trying to think and live as Christians, but honestly we only live slightly differently than those around us. Not very inspiring.

This passage (and similar ones I now see throughout the New Testament), along with my experience doing the Setting Captives Free courses have opened my eyes and given me explosive new hope! The problem is not:
(1) God doesn't work this way anymore;
(2) Because we won't reach perfection this side of heaven, we're doomed to mediocrity; or
(3) We struggle with worse sins and faults than people did 2000 years ago.

The problem is: We have not learned Christ (Eph. 4:20). We have not been taught, as he says in verse 21--"surely  you have heard about him and were taught in him . . ." No, I wasn't. Not much at least. 

I was taught to put on Christ in a few, select areas of my life, but those who taught me had not learned this pattern themselves! They didn't know any better. So for generations we have struggled and toiled to be obedient to all that Jesus commanded us, through will power or whatever means we could find. We were trapped in legalism or plagued with despair that we would ever walk as Jesus walked, as John taught (1 John 2:6), living without sinning (1 John 2:1). We thought we would always stumble our way through this life, contrary to what Peter believed--that we could find a way of divine life in which we would never stumble (2 Peter 1:3-10).

Paul, Peter, John--they all believed we could live without sin! (Not perfect, but without being in constant bondage and habitual sin.) I didn't, and neither did any of my teachers or forebears in the faith.

Paul tells us how here: put on Christ by putting off our old self and being renewed in the spirit of our minds. I say Christ, but Paul says the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. That sounds like Jesus to me.

So I've seen God do that for me, as I've given myself to putting off a specific sin and putting on Christ, for a 4-6 month period. God's applied the power of Jesus cross, which broke the power of sin, directly to my life. And now I am seeking that in this area of money.

I have already listed out many ways I need to put off the old self in regards to money. I still need to grapple with the renewing of my mind and what the new self (Christ) will look like.

How does my mind need renewing regarding money?
I need to study and soak in the teaching of Jesus and the scriptures regarding money and material possessions, such as:
-be on your guard against all forms of greed, for life does not consist in the abundance of possessions
-it is more blessed to give than to receive
-a wise person counts the cost of building a tower before starting
 . . . and many more. After completing this Ephesians study I plan to continue in this way with many of those passages.

What will my new self look like once I've put on Christ?
Well, that's what I'm trying to understand and imagine. Can I imagine myself:
-Honestly assessing what I have currently
-Completely content and thankful with that
-Freely giving to everyone who has need, submitting to the wisdom the Father gives
-Peaceful and relaxed about our needs and where our sustenance will come from
-Working hard, happy to have work and not shirking it

I'm sure there's much more that characterized Jesus which I will come to see as I continue this study, but that sounds pretty appealing to me! Lord, make it so according to your will. Amen.

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