How do I live a new life in this earthly body?

It’s war. Scriptures don’t sugar-coat the reality of our situation: As children of Adam, we have inherited a nature that is sinful and selfish. But as children of the Father, we have been given a new life by the Spirit of Christ. As long as we live on this earth, our old human nature will want the opposite of what Christ wants to do in our new life.

So what is our hope?

Our hope is that the slavery to our old nature is broken! That Christ’s power is greater. That His power—in spite of human nature’s resistance—can produce lives and character that we never could produce on our own.

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

How do we live our lives when the old nature continues to battle the new life?
By believing God’s promise that His power is stronger.
By living on this certain hope, that the power of God in us breaks the chains of our “human nature.”

By trusting God to do what He says He will do.

You alone are our hope, Jesus. Help our unbelief.

Amen.

 

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Psalm Prayer:

O LORD, you alone are my hope. (Psalm 71:5)

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More words of hope for freedom from the old:

Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23; Luke 14:27; Romans 6:3-4, 6-14; Romans 7:21-25; Romans 8:1-4, 7-17; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15; Galatians 2:20; Galatians 3:27; Galatians 5:16-25; Ephesians 1:19-20; Colossians 1:9-14; Colossians 2:11-12; Colossians 3:1-3, 10; Titus 2:14

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© Elaine Starner 2015

The power of the life-giving Spirit

It’s amazing, this hope we have. It’s miraculous. Only our God can do this. The Spirit of God creates a new life in me, in you, in all who belong to Christ. His power can raise from the dead—Imagine what that kind of power can do in our lives! 

(And yet we set our sights far too low. Anything we can imagine, I’m guessing the Spirit can—and will—go far beyond…)

Because this hope of the power within us is so incredible, it will be the subject of a future week’s meditations.

For today, let’s simply hear more assurance that we really can be free of the chains of our old nature and live new lives.

And because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. You are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to Him at all.)The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. (Romans. 8:2,9,11 My emphasis added)

Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. (Romans. 8:12)

So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. (Galatians 5:16)

I always have to smile (guiltily) when I read that verse in Romans 8:12. That word “obligation” kinda nails us, doesn’t it? We sometimes think we have an excuse, a compulsion, some irresistible urge to follow “human nature.”

God says, “Nope. You never have to give in to human nature again. It is no longer your master. My incredible power makes new life possible.”

Wow. Let that sink in for a moment.

Will we believe it? Will we live our new lives by that promise of God?

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Psalm Prayer:

O LORD, you alone are my hope. (Psalm 71:5)

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© Elaine Starner 2015

A new nature born in us

Here is good news, a word of hope for all of us: Lives full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are possible.

Does that seem idealistic, impossible, and -– well, just too good to be true?

If you don’t believe in Christ’s power, then all of that does sound like naive foolishness. People aren’t naturally full of those things. We’re selfish, argumentative, angry, impatient, jealous, lustful, competitive, deceitful, and self-indulgent. Yes. That is the nature we have inherited from Adam.

But if you do believe in Christ’s power, then hear this hope: We are born of a new Father, reborn as sons and daughters of God. That’s quite a claim to make. But it does not come from us — it’s God’s claim. We are born into a new life, a life birthed by the Spirit of Christ Himself. And with that new birth, we inherit a new nature.

“Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.” (John 3:6)

This new life, the Scriptures say, becomes our “real” life (Colossians 3:3), in touch with heaven and more real than the earthly one that we can see and feel and measure by days and hours.

And because this new life is of God, it is a life with possibilities—and hopes—that our old human life could never possess or even imagine.

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Psalm Prayer:

O LORD, you alone are my hope. (Psalm 71:5)

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© Elaine Starner 2015

Resurrection

I wonder what thoughts first flitted through your mind when you saw today’s title. Did you think I’m jumping far out into the future?

Our hope knows that resurrection is here and now…for the here and now…coming after death at the crossroads.

The resurrection I’m promised as a child of God isn’t only something that will happen after my heart stops, my brain dies, and my body has returned to the dust. There is another resurrection that has already taken place.

For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was (Romans 6:4).

Christ is the Messiah, the Anointed One who came to do for us everything we could not do ourselves. His death frees us from that old, old problem of guilt before God; sin and guilt no longer rule our lives. And His resurrection takes us into a new life.

Our hope has glimpsed God’s all-encompassing, ultimate plan:
He is still creating, still doing new things.
His objective is not to condemn this rebellious world. He intends to make all things new.
And Christ came to lead the way.

The old must die so the new can be born. Those who give themselves into Jesus’ keeping are in turn given a new life birthed by the very Spirit of God.

He begins a new life in us!

This hope has so much packed into it that we do, indeed, only catch glimpses of the great and wonderful truth. We’ll come back to this later, but for today, we anchor our hope on this:

For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead (Colossians 2:12).

God does not say we have to produce a new life on our own power!

It is His mighty power of resurrection that will create a new life in us. You were raised to new life… That’s a passive verb — meaning that you were given new life. It is not something you did or produced or created yourself. You were raised to new life by the mighty power of God.

There it is: Trust the mighty power of God. That power raised a man from the dead and gave Him new life. Trust that power to give you new life too.

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Psalm Prayer:

O LORD, you alone are my hope. (Psalm 71:5)

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© Elaine Starner 2015

Death at the Crossroads — Where His power meets our choice

Imagine that. A man who lived in another century and another country wrote a verse just for me! 

The Diary of an Old Soul by George MacDonald has become one of my favorites. Calling it “A Book of Strife,” MacDonald penned a verse (in sometimes hard to understand lyrics) for every day of the year. The “Strife” refers to the struggle of a soul desiring God and yet still fighting that old nature.

MacDonald says in his introduction, “In this book we are met.” He and I do meet each other there (even though he wrote in the 1800s). The verse assigned to my birthday is all about the demons that still “dare shoot from my hell into the world above.” MacDonald prays for help from the God-given Spirit, to “wither” those things and leave his own spirit calm, wise, and clear.

(Lines penned just for me, about me! On my birthday!)

“Haste to me, Lord,” MacDonald prays, “when my fool-heart …”

We might all have our own endings to that prayer:
“Help me, Lord, because my fool-heart loves to nurse this grudge.”
“Help me, Lord, when the thing I want most is to strike back.”
“Haste to help, Lord, when I am ready to cheat.”

We need His help because we cannot, on our own, free ourselves of our old nature. All depends on Christ and the cross:

We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. When he died, he died once to break the power of sin (Romans 6:6-7).

Jesus says choosing to follow Him must also include following Him to the cross. Choosing to die. The old Self must be crucified so that the new life can flourish.

The cross marks a decision point for every person.
Will we choose to take the path that leads to reconciliation with our Creator?
Will we “die with Christ”?
Will we let the One who came to rescue us break the power of the old self?

Saying yes to these choices is the only way to be free of the tyranny of our self-centeredness, our moods, our anger, our impatience, our lack of love, our unfaithfulness.

We must consent to crucify the old at the crossroads of the cross. If we do that, then there at the crossroads, Christ’s power will meet our choice — and God declares our slavery to our human nature is over.

In my day today, that will play out in all those moments when the old selfishness, self-righteousness, unbelief, or pride rears up and asserts itself and tries to guide me down the wrong path. I have a choice in those moments—do I let myself float along with all the old currents or do I raise my hand and call for help from the One who can save me?

(I just had the most aggravating telephone call … right in the middle of this writing! And my temper was simmering, so close to the boiling point …)

I’m going to make my prayer even stronger … help, yes, I do need help. But, Jesus, I want all of that old to die!

The choice is ours. The power to free and heal is Christ’s.

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Psalm Prayer:

O LORD, you alone are my hope. (Psalm 71:5)

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© Elaine Starner 2015