A message for those that are new to the faith as well as those that have been around for a while.
Pre Passover message
change in character, form, or function; cause to turn from an evil life to a righteous one; spiritual change from sinfulness to righteousness; a physical transformation from one material or state to another.
We are not naturally good. We need to uderstand where we are coming from or where we came from.
Ephesians 2:3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
Not only that but we are weak and susceptible. Notice the path that we were on:
James 1:14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.
James 1:15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
James 1:16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.
Easily deceived too. The basis of who and what we are, our desires, are readily influenced by Self Satan and Society. Our human nature is carnal, it is given to sin. We are masters of self deception.
How does anyone escape it? By becoming a Christian which is accomplished ONLY by the Will and Power of God.
There is a process or formula for conversion that God uses. So what we are saying is that there are actually prerequisites for becoming a Christian…that we cannot do in and of ourselves, it takes supernatural intervention.
Many do not want to hear this, but it is what the Bible says. [Why? All you have to do is believe; or you can just work up the emotion]
By way of review and introduction let’s go briefly through this process.
Let’s go through it with a focus on the fact that there is a process that MUST be gone through in order to receive the holy spirit and become a Christian.
Not something that we did unlike the person that decides of themselves that they are going to convert.
John 6:44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.
God begins working with us by revealing the true meaning of the Bible to us.
John 8:43 Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word.
He begins to show us what we are and what we can become.
Acts 3:19 says: “Repent therefore and be[come] converted, that your sins may be blotted out.”
We must become converted. We must transform from what we are naturally to what God would have us be.
Turn from what we were and head in a new direction. Resist the pulls of the flesh and Satan and the world.
“I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Luke 5:32).
Why? Because without doing this we won’t make it.
Luke 13:3 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.
A requirement for salvation and the continuing of the conversion process.
After we repent, we are not to sin any more but have a life that heads in the opposite direction.
Acts 26:20 …do works befitting repentance.
When we turn away from sin we turn towards something else – our belief needs to be directed towards God and His Word and our faith needs to be in the resurrected Christ. It is by His life that we will be saved.
Romans 5:10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
This requires faith
We can’t stop at repentance, we must have faith in all that Jesus did and said. Without it there is no salvation…so we see yet another requirement in the process of Salvation
Another element that goes hand in hand with faith is works
The Scriptures reveal that faith must be accompanied by works?
James 2:17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. Read James, he has a lot more to say about the subject.
What we are seeing here is the necessity in repentance to stop doing the wrong thing [sinning which is transgressing or breaking the law], but in faith to start doing the right thing [living by every word of God]
Romans 3:31 Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.
The law is NOT done away with…how can it be any more plain?
Next In Mark 16:16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved [necessity for salvation]; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
is then the necessary next step in becoming a Christian
Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized [no equivocation and not a suggestion] in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. [which will define you as a Christian as we talked about in Romans 8:9]
Quick note: baptized means immerse plus there is no other example besides that of full immersion in the Bible and when you understand that it is a coming up out of a watery grave it all makes sense any way.
And now finally the last step in this initial phase of the conversion process that leads to becoming a Christian
Laying on of hands
It is not until this last and final step that we really get the Holy Spirit.
Acts 8:17 Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
It is in this instant that we become a Christian
Here is the aspect that is instantaneous, but it is predicated on ALL the steps before it being completed
IF that is done then God will give us a portion of His holy spirit.
KJV 2 Corinthians 1:22 Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
2 Corinthians 1:22 who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.
a pledge, that is, part of the purchase money or property given in advance as security for the rest:
God has given us a down payment as it were and has sealed us.
Our ways are becoming like God’s; our heart is more pure; We no longer sin like we used to; we are at the other end of the spectrum the side that is closer to God’s character.
What we are and are becoming
2 Peter 1:2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord,
2 Peter 1:3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,
2 Peter 1:4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine [Godlike] nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
We are putting it on now so that we can become it later.
Our ultimate goal
At the end of our race, the final step – when we are fully converted to spirit
There is a change that is going to take place – A CONVERSION … FROM PHYSICAL TO fully SPIRITUAL.
1 Corinthians 15:52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
No longer susceptible to the human frailties and short comings
Character set; Be like God; God does not sin
But is that it? Is that all there is to it?
But what about in between? this is the part that is not instantaneous.
Fallacy of ‘once saved always saved’: Hebrews 6:6 if they fall away [it is possible], to renew them again to repentance,
The way that we use the words, conversion and converted gives it the connotation of completion or finality.
We are not completely converted as we just saw
It is a continuing process that we will go through today and see the differing aspects of this way of life.
When we are baptized, we don’t immediately receive all of the fullness of God’s Spirit. We need to GROW into it. We need to BECOME more converted
Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.
We are changing, or converting from what we were to what we are to become.
Even though it is a gift, the gift of the holy spirit, there are expectations that go with it.
We are to continue with the conversion process, until we become fully converted with the return of Jesus Christ.
For the remainder of the message, I would like to talk about becoming a New Creation by Transformation
What is it that God expects of us now that we have His holy spirit – what are we to be doing until His return?
1. Move forward towards our goal
We are given a new life; what are we going to do with it?
We follow our example; Christ’s life is our aim and goal
This is the right direction, the one that we must continue to progress in
We are to be fefining our life; making it more clear; Bringing it into focus
Our goal and aim is to think and act as Christ did
Done by keeping the Law
Romans 10:4 For Christ is the end [aim; goal; objective] of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
To what end is the law: it is Christ. The law leads us to Christ, to the mind of Christ.
Psalms 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
Psalms 19:8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;
Psalms 19:9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
Psalms 19:10 More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
Do we see why it is more valuable, because it aids us in our conversion, the complete putting on of the mind of Christ.
In marriage, one of the things that we preach is marrying within the faith – not being unequally yoked. This is what Christ expects out of His bride as well – that we become like Him.[The law] facilitates the replacement of our carnality
When it comes to this, as James says, we cannot just be a hearer, but we must be a doer
And we do not just do everything at once; we must steadfastly keep ALL of God’s Law ALL the time.
2. We Must Endure!
Because conversion isn’t a one-time thing, it needs to be ongoing
A long/hard race
This is a race that requires us to run all the way to the end. It can be arduous, sometimes more than others.
It gets harder (analogy of math)
Is still harder, but is manageable and in the end you have grown
Example of working on the Sabbath: One of the first and probably most common trials
Now where is that in the scheme of things?
The trials that we endure now are more difficult than the ones we took on at first
We won’t be tempted beyond what we can bear.
Always a struggle
Overcoming our bad habits and sins that accompany them, doesn’t happen overnight and Godly nature does not happen instantly. It is a lifelong process, often involving great effort.
Remaining on the right path is a difficult job.
Matthew 7:13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.
Matthew 7:14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
Are we experiencing trials? We should be. If our walk is not difficult then there are some questions that we may need to ask.
With God all things are possible, [Matthew 19:26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” ] but we must do our part. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
Matthew 24:13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved.
Not saved yet, but if we keep on keeping on, if we persevere, we can make it.
Must be in it to win it.
As we continue our process of becoming more converted we need to make sure that we:
3. Don’t Revert
After baptism, our plan is to leave our previous way of life behind:
Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?
Romans 6:2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? [we no longer want anything to do with it] Romans 6:3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?
Romans 6:4 Therefore we were buried with Him [hence the full immersion baptism] through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. [our commitment was to leave that life in the past and never go back to it; continue in the new one] Romans 6:5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, [this is our hope] Romans 6:6 knowing this, that our old man [who and what we were] was crucified with Him[put to death], that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.
This was our INTENT. That we crucify and bury the “old man” the one with the carnal human nature that we had come to see. Our intention is and has been to leave him s feet under. But the “old man” keeps wanting to raise it’s ugly head:
Notice in the next chapter of Roman’s how Paul further explains this and the tendency that we will have to REVERT back to the way we once were:
Romans 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) [natural man] nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. [He says he wants to good, but can’t muster up the self-will sometimes] Romans 7:19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. [he doesn’t do the good he wants to do, but rather he reverts back to doing the things that he wanted to put behind him] Romans 7:20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. [So he says that when he does what is wrong, it is the old man that is still present and it is at war with new man that is trying to walk in newness of life] Romans 7:23 But I see another law in my members [human nature], warring against the law of my mind [the Spirit of God], and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
It is this same exact thing that we are fighting nearly 2000 years later. It is an ongoing battle and if it was for Paul approximately 20 years after his conversion, then I am sure that we can expect the same tendencies within us.
But notice that our sinful nature can be subdued:
Romans 8:13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. [So we do have a fighting chance]
We need to reject all that is not of God!
Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,
Titus 2:12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,
Titus 2:13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
Titus 2:14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.
Denying ungodliness and rejecting all that is not of God means that we are to come out of the world
There is an inevitable end to this way of life and we don’t want to have a part of it…we CAN’T be a part of it…we must turn away from it NOT back to it.
Acts 7:38 “This is he who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the Angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, the one who received the living oracles to give to us,
Acts 7:39 whom our fathers would not obey, but rejected. And in their hearts they turned back [strepho] to Egypt,
The Israelites wanted to go back to Egypt [a type of sin]
How many times did they say:
‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.”
Acts 7:39 Same word “turned back” [strepho] as converted in Matthew 18:3 and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
Since the same word can have two different meanings, the difference between converting and reverting then is a matter of direction.
If we, knowing what we know now, want to revert to an old way of life, our judgment will be death, an eternal death.
We are to purge it out;
1 Corinthians 5:7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.
This is the time of the year to really focus on this: We are to put off, our former conduct, the old man which [naturally] goes in the wrong direction and put on the new man which heads toward righteousness and holiness.
We are to CONVERT and not REVERT
God expects us to strive to be sinless
But if we do sin- and we will, what then?
What do we do when we sin after conversion?
The true Christian’s intent is to live God’s WAY of life. We WANT to do this and even try to do it. We are really endeavoring to make a habit out of this NEW WAY of life.
So, what we need to understand at this point is, if we sin this does not mean that we have completely rejected everything that we have started out to do!
But it does mean though that we MUST GET BACK ON THE TRACK [move forward]
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.[If we confess, not hide, blame, or justify] then he will forgive and we can Forget it and Move On!
We can do this through the power we were given, through the power of God, the holy spirit we can repent of our ways and obtain forgiveness.
Repentance is a turning, a converting, from the wrong way and going the right way.
Psalms 51:1 … Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your loving kindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions.
Psalms 51:2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin.
Psalms 51:3 For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me.
Psalms 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
We can see that we do not do it ALONE – we have our part and God has His.
God is willing to wipe the slate clean when we stumble and fall down from time to time if our attitude and intent are right if we do this … There will be evidence that we have
How can we be sure that we still have the holy spirit or how do we know that we have it?
How do we know then that we do have the spirit of God?
As we examine or cross examine ourselves we should be convicted of what God has done through us.
Remember where we were before He came into our lives.
We should see change: less of the carnal…more of the Christian
How can we be sure that we have it / How do we know that we have it?
Galatians 5:13 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
Galatians 5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” [When we keep God’s law, we will love our fellow man, do we have evidence of this] Galatians 5:15 But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! [obviously contrary to what we are to be doing]
Going on in the church now! It does make me question some who say they are a part of the church of God and continually act this way. We will get into it in just a minute but are they showing evidence of their conversion – or perhaps the better question is are they showing evidence of their reversion? We show what we believe by our actions – so what is it that a person, whether they are a minister or not, is showing you by their works.
Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,
Galatians 5:20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies (false teachings that are opposites; both can’t be right),
Galatians 5:21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
Galatians 5:23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
Galatians 5:24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Galatians 5:25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Example of Paul 20 years later – compare and contrast
Before his conversion, Paul, was a “zealous” Pharisee who “intensely persecuted” the followers of Jesus. Paul was a being more exceedingly zealous than his already zealous pharisees
But we see that all that he was then willing to go through for the Church [Galatians 5:15 But if you bite and devour one another] as evidenced by his writings and his trials
2 Corinthians 11:23 Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often.2 Corinthians 11:24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.
2 Corinthians 11:25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep
2 Corinthians 11:26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
2 Corinthians 11:27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness—
2 Corinthians 11:28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.
Even the struggle in Romans 7 that we read is evidence in and of itself. If the carnal mind is enmity against God and it requires the Spirit of God to understand the things of God, the fact that we are struggling and wanting to do right is evidence that we are on the right track.
How Paul did it: Paul also admonished, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). He preceded this by describing both the attitude and behavior that would be evident in the converted mind:
Philippians 2:1 Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy,
Philippians 2:2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
Philippians 2:3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
Philippians 2:4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,
Having the mind of Jesus Christ is what makes this great miracle of transformation possible
Growth is mandatory
begotten – not born again (analogy of a baby)
We do not become PERFECT all at once. We do not break all of our bad habits or overcome all of our sins in an instant. Sometimes we are not aware of them until we become more spiritually mature.
In much the same way that a fetus grows and becomes ready for birth, God allows us the time grow up spiritually in anticipation of being born again.
Because we are only begotten now we must GROW…grow spiritually in grace and knowledge 2 Peter 3:18.
[if we are already where we are supposed to be spiritually, if we are converted and there is nothing more to do, then why/how do we grow] spiritually, in grace and knowledge of Christ, as Peter writes.
Once we are baptized, God does not take complete control of us like a marionette as some believe. Now the real story is that God directs us to the degree we let Him and allow Him into our life.
It is part of our job to use the holy spirit that is within us to grow it, to not stagnate. We are to work our our own salvation with fear and trembling
Matthew 25: Parable of the unPROFITABLE servant (God expected profit and growth)
Luke 19: Parable of the Minas
God has given us different gifts we are to use them, to grow and expand them as we go on to perfection.
We are to be heading towards perfection; what does that mean; it does not mean that we can kick back and relax.
Becoming more converted and remaining on the right path is a difficult job but one that we can do.
God wants us to reach our potential
Let’s try to live perfectly by every word of God, coming to a greater understanding of the Bible, living by it and never straying away from it. If we do this we will continue to change for the better and become more and more like God all the time.