ESSENTIAL #1: The Birth of a New Nature

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"It is you whom I love and desire so that I am ashamed of myself and cast myself aside and choose you instead, and I please neither you nor myself except in you. So, oh Lord, all that I am is laid bare before you." -St. Augustine

Before starting, answer the following questions:
Do you believe it is possible, as a Christian, to not sin? Why or why not?
Why do you sin?

One of the most important things for us to realize as Christians is that we are dead to sin and alive in Christ. How this is portrayed will drastically affect our daily Christian walk. Some of us are defeated before we even try. However, before we explore this further, it is beneficial to examine heart motivation, not simply doctrine. Too many Christians live a passionless, almost lifeless existence, motivated by duty and obligation, and feel burdened by the perfect mark that they feel they must reach. They strive and strive under the heavy weight of their own expectations.

In his Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer put it like this:
"For it is not mere words that nourish the soul, but God Himself, and unless and until the hearers find God in personal experience they are not the better for having heard the truth. The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in his presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts."

Alien youth do not serve God out of obligation; they serve God because they have tasted His life and will not be satisfied with anything less.

Answer the following question:
  Why does living for God sometimes seem like a burden?

Read Matthew 13:44-46:
"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it."

We do not live for God because it is an obligation. We live for God because nothing else can compare to the joy of knowing Him. In this passage, Jesus gives us an illustration of what the Kingdom of God is like. First, there was the discovery of the treasure and an awareness of its worth. Secondly note his heart motivation: " his JOY, he went out and sold all he had…" The treasure and the knowledge that he could possess brought him joy. It was not a sacrifice. It was not a burden. It was a joy. Why does it seem like such a burden to so many of God's people? First of all, we do not understand how awesome God is, for He is our treasure. Secondly, we do not realize the miserable state we are in without God's intervention. We are calloused to sin and its effects. We do not understand the justice and the holiness of God. We think we are ok because God's grace will cover us. Yet how can we possibly understand grace without understanding the wrath of God for sin? We are ignorant of our own wretchedness.

"Everyone of us is born in sin. We are born under the wrath of God. We do not know Him, and we are evil by nature. Our greatest need is to be reconciled to God, to have our sins forgiven, to know God as our Father, to be blessed by Him and to start as a child of God" (Lloyd-Jones, Authentic Christianity).

We are desperate, lost, separated, alone, and missing what we were created for. Every once in awhile, we let ourselves become aware of that dull, steady ache of unfulfillment and emptiness. Normally we stay too busy to notice, but in the quiet, rare stillness arises the awareness of our desperation of heart. Whether you have been raised in the church or whether you have given yourself over to every imaginable vice, the desperation remains. All of our hearts are sinful; all of us are separated from God.

Romans 3:10-12: "…There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one."

A key for grasping our first essential is to realize our need for a new nature. We must come to a place of brokenness whereby we realize that there is nothing in us that can please God - nothing in us that can earn salvation.

Read Luke 7:36-47.
This passage tells a beautiful story of a sinful woman anointing Jesus with perfume. Jesus said that he who has been forgiven much loves much. This always puzzled me as a child. I had been raised in the church and never really did all the "bad stuff". I did not think it was fair that someone so "sinful" could love Jesus better than I. I wanted to love much. It was then that God began to reveal to me my own utter sinfulness without Him and His amazing grace on my life. The sinful woman understood her own depravity and sinfulness, and because of this she could love much. If we do not understand where we came from and what we have been saved from, we lack this brokenness and depth of love. Our pride must die.

"That when we enter upon the spiritual life, we should consider and examine to the bottom what we are. And then we should find ourselves worthy of all contempt, and not deserving indeed the name of Christians…"(Brother Lawrence, Practice of the Presence of God).

Within this action, her heart became obvious: "If I could just have you, I would give everything." Our Christianity tends to lack this reckless abandonment. It can be so controlled and passionless, yet it was never intended to be. We see within this passage the willingness to give everything just to obtain it. This is the most important characteristic of the alien youth - to have the willingness and determination to give all one has to find the rule, life and presence of God.

Answer the following questions:
 Is there anything in your life that you have given up in order to know Christ better?
 If so, how did it effect you?
 Is there something in your life that is causing you not to be in an intimate relationship with God?

When we realize our own sinfulness and His life, love, and the fulfillment within Him, we are faced with these decisions: "Is it worth giving everything I have to gain this life? Is it worth surrendering all I am to His control, for Him to use as He sees fit? Is it worth casting myself aside to gain this life?"

Look again at Matthew 13:44-46.
The treasure and the knowledge that he could possess brought joy to the man who purchased the field. Even though it cost him everything he had - the sacrifice of the merchant was nothing compared to possessing the treasure.

Giving up everything allows us to be dead to sin and alive to Christ. He himself is our treasure and His rule in our lives is the fulfillment for which we were created - the hope, the peace, the life, and the love. Do you see Christ as a treasure? Is He real enough to you that you have tasted of His life? Have you experienced His presence and the fulfillment that it brings?

We cannot change our nature with our own strength. All He requires of us is to give up everything to follow Him. If we do, a miracle birth follows - the birth of a new nature that is not prone to sin anymore.

1 John 3:5-6,9: "But you know that he appeared that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him…No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God."

Before moving on, read your answer to the very first question:
Do you believe it is possible, as a Christian, to not sin?

Our new nature longs to please God. It longs to taste Him and His presence in even greater degrees. Our new nature is no longer sinful. It is dead to sin, and therefore, it is unacceptable to continue sinning. However, the good news does not stop there. Not only has the power of sin been broken in our lives, but we have also been made alive to God.

Romans 6:11: "In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus."

Our new nature is not the end, but it is the means by which we know God. We are made alive to God in Christ so that we can know Him, fellowship with Him, and taste of His very essence. We can enter the presence of God because of our righteous standing in Christ. Eternal life does not begin when we die; it starts now as we daily press into knowing God.

John 17:3: "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent."

It is He that we were created for, and only in Him that we will find fulfillment of soul. None of us deserve it, but He freely offers it to us. No one is disqualified. Therefore, let us press on to know Him, run with all our might, lay down our lives, and give up everything to find Him. Let us put away compromise and walk victoriously over sin through our new nature and the power of His Spirit. Let us love like those who have been forgiven much, for we will reflect the spirit of the alien youth.

Answer the following questions:
Has the power of sin been broken in my life?
 What are the sin issues in my life?
 What can I do to help me to stop sinning?