Two, Part IV: Old Man – New Man

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What about the old man? What about sin? Does Christ indwelling us mean that now we can trust Him in us every morning and then just go about our day walking in the Spirit, never being tempted or sinning?

It is just in this tight spot that we find the story of the Exodus useful.

The Hebrews were saved from Egypt’s dominion over them. But then they had to make a journey. They were not only saved from something; they were saved to something.

They were saved to the Promised Land – from bondage to freedom. But nearly the entire first generation didn’t make it there. Their un-faith in God’s promises produced fear, which brought  the desire to control their own lives. “Let’s go back to Egypt.” “Not Thy will, but mine be done.”

After years of this, God had had His fill, and after the carcasses of that generation fell in the Wilderness, Joshua and Caleb went in and took possession of the Land by a process – a continual process of faith. Whenever they resorted to their own human effort rather than relying God’s power and their identity as His chosen people they lost that particular battle. But eventually through faith they subdued the Land – more or less.

The Land was theirs already by divine decree, in the Unseen. All they had to do was seek God’s face, trust Him, and walk in that trust, and that Land would progressively become theirs in the Seen. God would go before them, sending hornets, being their strength, confusing the enemy.

Likewise, in Christ we are saved from something – the bondage and power of Sin. Mr. Sin, in fact. We are cut off from his dark domain.

But there is a Wilderness – the no-man’s land between bondage and freedom. This is the believer’s Wilderness.

Christ has redeemed you from sin, from bondage. He has loved you, called you His chosen. He has put His Spirit in you, made you one Spirit with Him. The old you in Satan (Eph 2:2) died, and the new you in Christ is risen to walk in newness of life. You are called to enter the Land and subdue the giants, the fierce inhabitants. All this happens by faith, not by exertion of human power. We seek the Lord’s face, trust Him, and go forward in that trust.

The problem is that most of us won’t enter the Land. We spend years in no-man’s land – the Wilderness. Mix one part salvation and one part longing to return to bondage. “I’m such a sinner. An awful sinner, and I can’t change. Thank God for grace.” Or, “I’m doing better than Joe down the street. At least I go to church and read my Bible.” Or worse, “I’m involved in this church program and I host a Bible study and I’m doing this and that and these other things for God (and what an excellent fellow I must be! I’m so much better than all those other people!).” We give up and refuse to trust God; we trust our own effort, our own programs, our own ways, our own thoughts. We believe in sin’s power over us. And we trust God to “get us to Heaven.”

One foot in Canaan and one foot in Egypt. Doing the splits makes it a little hard to walk.

The question for us is this: Do I really believe the Word? Am I dead to sin? Am I dead to the Law, to using my own effort to become good? Am I a new creation? Am I holy?

That’s what God says is Fact. Immutable. Eternal. These things are true right now. And we must deal with Fact, face it – believe it, or choose to believe our eyes, because this subduing of Canaan starts and continues and ends by faith.

We can look at the giants. We can look at the fierce inhabitants. We can cower in fear. I can look all day at things in my psyche and think, “Oh man. This is never going to change.”

Or we can look at God’s Word. His promises. His reliability. His love. His power to accomplish what He says He will do.

What He wants is those who will go forward – not those who look back. He wants us reaching for the prize – a Holy Spirit empowered, gigantic butt-kicking of all the junk we were saddled with in our psyches, junk that we have followed our whole lives. It’s all got to go. And it does – as we faithe.

That new man in us wants to push through the accretions of years of wrong thinking, falsely independent attitudes, and self-reliance, to break through into the Land and take it over. This of course is a process, like the land of Canaan. We are “being made holy” in our thoughts, attitudes, and actions, because in Christ we are filled with the Godhead by the Spirit. We don’t have just an outer, transcendent God, but an inner, immanent one.

That’s the real you, the real me. The new man – a union between the human vessel and Deity, just as the old man was a union between the human vessel and the false deity. God wants to turn this new union into a unity of thought and being, where His will is our will at all times and in all situations. But we’ve been fooled into thinking that the old man is still alive. We’re to put off his deeds because he is dead; although Satan still shoves his thoughts into our minds he has been circumcised right off of us and is no longer a part of our identity.

God wants faith-warriors. When we hook into that Power by faith, we become unstoppable. One by one, the inhabitants fall. The question is do we want to subdue the Land “more or less,” or totally?

Profile photo of Ron Block

Winner of 147 Grammys (or so), Ron Block is the banjo-ninja portion of Alison Kraus and Union Station. When he's not laying down a bluegrass-style martial-arts whoopin' on audiences around the world, he's taking care of his donkey named "Trash" and keeping himself busy by being one of the most well-read and thoughtful people we know.


8 Comments

  1. Tony Heringer

    Ash Wednesday is an appropriate day to tackle this one bro. Perfect timing!

    Exodus sets up the sin cycle that Israel experiences for the rest of the OT: Sin, Slavery, Supplication and Salvation. The cycle is broken forever by Messiah – Jesus Christ. We appropriate our own freedom by our faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross. And as Jesus said “When the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.”

    “Walking In The Spirit” is the absolute key to the Christian life. Apart from the Spirit of God working in me, living the Christian life isn’t just hard, its impossible.

    I could say more, but this 16 or so minute teaching on this subject from my pastor Randy Pope says what I’d type here and so much better than I ever could: http://www.perimeterchurch.org/index.php?module=ministry&submodule=cms&artid=549&mid=40846#spirit

    Like Russ Ramsey, Randy is good for a living and you and I are good for nothing. 🙂

    I’ve had a pattern of two posts for the 2 series, but in this case I’ll leave it to one. Look forward to Part V — Should we start calling you George Lucas? 🙂

  2. Profile photo of Ron Block

    Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Tony,

    Trouble with me was I didn’t know what “walking in the Spirit” meant, nor did I know what “reckon yourselves dead indeed unto sin” meant either. I thought it meant I had to try not to sin and try to do good. I tend to think there are many believers like that – who don’t know that we are dead to Law, no longer under the old system of “become by doing” rather than the new system of “goodness will pour out of your inmost being by faith.” Our minds, programmed by the world system, still will gravitate to some idea of a “me” that has to perform good and avoid evil. But in Christ there is no performing human “me,” just a neutral cup that can choose to trust God or Satan.

    A George MacDonald quote (he was a Bible teacher booted from his regular Church gig): “It is God we want, not Heaven; His righteousness, not an imputed one, for our own possession; remission, not letting off.”

  3. debbie

    Wow really well said. problem is most christians do not understand union.
    it is about who we really are because of who He is!! I have to say that is the path He has had me on for the last several years. teaching this union message this exchanged life if you will…
    Have to recommend a great book by Ian thomas “The indwelling life of christ” great devotion book that really delves deeply into this.
    We are kingdom people and we really need to understand that identity and live out of it!!
    thanks for a great blog here.

  4. Micah

    Ron, I think that Christians know in their heads that they are saved by Grace Alone, and we are taught that. However, in my expierence, growing up in the church I heard constantly that I was called to be Holy and righteous. I began to think that the Christian life required me to do something in my own strength. It has been a huge struggle for me to break out of the mindset that my own actions can bring me closer to God or pull me farther away from him. This series of posts has been great for me to read and affirm the things that God is teaching me in my own personal study. Thank you for that.

  5. Profile photo of Ron Block

    Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Micah,

    Thanks for the encouragement – I appreciate it.

    I had that same dichotomy – saved by grace, but sanctified by my own trying to be holy. The trouble was I failed miserably because it’s like trying to drive a car with the engine off. The car may look great, but it just sits there failing at its primary job (transportation) until the engine is started. The word “saved” has so much more depth than we recognize – Jesus effected an all encompassing salvation that didn’t leave anything out. Our bodies will be redeemed. Our souls are being made holy. And our spirits are made perfect forever by one sacrifice. It’s a process working from the inward to the outward – by faith.

    But it starts with faith in the static reality of our total identification with Christ. He died; I died. He rose; I rose in Him, and Him in me. I no longer live, because He is the one who lives in this human me.

    When I see that, really see it, I fly. When the devil piles me under an onslaught of false-self thinking, law thinking, and I succumb to it temporarily, I can’t even crawl. It’s getting where I can’t breathe the air of the wrong Tree anymore for very long and I am diving right back into the right one.

    The Good News seems almost too good to be true. Christ did it all – including living in and through us. That’s why people are throwing down their crowns at His feet in Heaven – because He does it all and then we get rewarded for His working.

  6. Greg Bainter

    WOW!Boy did I need to hear this today! Thanks Ron! The reality (God inspired)of your words have brought me to tears. This has been such a struggle in my life for so many years, that I kinda gave up, waived the white flag, and said “I give”. Beleiveing the lie that I will always fail so why even bother, has really crippled me. Just the simple answer of “Christ is risen” is really all I need.

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