Growing to Maturity in Christ Jesus

Jesus Christ, our Savior

Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God. But he is also God, the second person of our triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is our creator God. As God had always planned, Christ left his throne in heaven, he came to earth, and he was born as a baby to a human mother with God the Father as his birth father, for his mother was impregnated of the Spirit of God. Thus, when Jesus lived on this earth he was fully God and fully man.

Now, the plan for Jesus to come to this earth was two-fold. First it was for him to spread the “Good News” of salvation from sin and of eternal life with God, and to let the people of the earth know the cost of following him as their Lord and Savior. For Jesus did not teach the soft-pedaled gospel message that is popular in America today. He taught death to self and death to sin and full surrender to him as Lord and Master.

But the religious rulers in the temple of God, for the most part, did not approve of Jesus. They did not like it that he healed people on the Sabbath. They didn’t like his message. They were appalled at him because he claimed to be God. And they hated him and persecuted him largely because they were jealous of him and of his popularity among the people, but also because he confronted them in their sins and he told them that they were doing wrong.

Since they were unable to keep the people from following him, and they were not able to stop him, they plotted his death and they had him hung on a cross to die. But this was in God’s plan all along that Jesus should die on that cross, for this was the second and ultimate purpose for why Jesus was born into this world and lived on this earth. He came to die for our sins. Although he was sinless, he became sin for us on that cross to put our sins to death with him so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.

Romans 12:1 ESV

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

Therefore, because Jesus Christ, God the Son, died on that cross in order to put our sins to death with him, and he was raised from the dead, we are able, by faith in him, to die with him to sin and to be raised with him to walk in newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. For this is why he died and was raised that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness for the glory of God.

But we don’t just die to sin once, but daily. For Jesus said that if we want to come after him we must deny self, take up our cross daily (daily be putting sin to death) and follow him in obedience. And Paul reiterated that when he said that we who believe in Jesus are debtors, but not to the flesh to live according to the flesh. For if we live according to the flesh we will die, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the body we will live (Luke 9:23-26; Romans 8:12-14; cf. Titus 2:11-14; Galatians 5:16-21).

And Paul continued to teach that, as did Peter, John, James and Jude. They taught faith in Jesus Christ as something that is present and active and ongoing, not as something only past (one time). And they taught our salvation as progressive sanctification that involves us daily dying to sin and living for the Lord which will not be complete until Jesus returns for his bride and which is conditional on us forsaking our sins and obeying our Lord.

[Jn 8:31-32,51; Jn 14:15-24; Jn 15:1-12; Rom 2:6-8; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 11:17-24; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Col 1:21-23; 2 Tim 2:10-13; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 5:9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:1-5; 1 Pet 2:24; 2 Pet 1:5-11; 2 Pet 2:20-22; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Matt 7:21-23; 1 Jn 2:3-6,15-17,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10,24; 1 Jn 5:2-3; 2 Jn 1:6; Jas 1:21-25; Eph 4:17-24; Jude 1:1-25]

Romans 12:2 ESV

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

So, if we believe in Jesus Christ with God-given faith, we die with Christ to sin, not just once, but continuously, and we live to him and to his righteousness as a matter of practice, of life course. And it isn’t dying to sin daily if you continue in habitual and deliberate sin and that all you do is confess your sins to God each time you sin. Putting sin to death daily means you are not making sin your habit, but righteousness is your practice.

And what goes along with this is that we die to the ways of this sinful world, too. Our lives are no longer conformed to the ways (patterns, behaviors, thinking, attitudes) of this sinful world, but we are being transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ, which is what it means to be holy, to be living lives which are separate (unlike, different) from the world because we are being made to be like Jesus in character and in actions.

And when we do live like this, and not like the world, we are going to be rejected, but not just by those who make no profession of faith in Jesus Christ, but by many who profess faith in him but who are still living like the world. They won’t approve of us if we are taking the Lord and his word to heart and if we are actually living what it teaches. They will want us to lighten up and to not take life so seriously and to join in with them.

And so our faith is going to be tested in these times when we will have to choose between following the Lord in daily dying to sin and walking in obedience to him or to follow after the ways of the world and of worldly professers of faith in Jesus Christ who are teaching a diluted and altered gospel which is intended to appeal to human flesh and to coddle people in their sins rather than to require of them death with Christ to sin.

But through these times of testing we have the opportunity to mature in our walks of faith in Jesus Christ and to be even more committed to our Lord. For as we are being pruned we will be able to bear more spiritual fruit in keeping with repentance and for the kingdom of God. And our Lord will be able to use us in the lives of others to lead them to genuine walks of faith in Jesus Christ and to mature in their walks of faith, for the glory of God.

[Matt 5:10-16; Matt 10:16-25; Matt 24:9-14; Matt 28:18-20; Lu 6:22-23; Lu 21:12-19; John 15:1-21; Acts 1:8; Acts 26:18; Rom 5:3-5; Rom 12:1-8; 1 Co 12:1-31; 2 Co 1:3-11; Eph 4:1-16; Eph 5:17-27; Phil 3:7-11; Col 3:16; 1 Thess 3:1-5; Jas 1:2-4; Heb 3:13; Heb 12:3-12; 1 Pet 1:6-7; 1 Pet 2:9; 1 Pet 4:12-17]

Rejoice in the Lord

By Ron Hamilton

God never moves without purpose or plan
When trying His servant and molding a man.
Give thanks to the LORD though your testing seems long;
In darkness He giveth a song.

I could not see through the shadows ahead;
So I looked at the cross of my Savior instead.
I bowed to the will of the Master that day;
Then peace came and tears fled away.

Now I can see testing comes from above;
God strengthens His children and purges in love.
My Father knows best, and I trust in His care;
Through purging more fruit I will bear.

O Rejoice in the LORD
He makes no mistake,
He knoweth the end of each path that I take,
For when I am tried and purified,
I shall come forth as gold.

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