Every Christian—no matter what his denominational preference or his present level of maturity—has received (not partially, but fully) the Holy Spirit. However, there is a big difference between the receiving of the Holy Spirit and the releasing of the Holy Spirit. The real question is not how much of him you have, but how much of you he has. Whenever the Holy Spirit is released to fill your life, the experience is so overwhelming the Bible speaks of it elsewhere as a baptism—something that floods, engulfs, immerses, and overcomes. In the most profound and practical way, this baptism is indispensable to releasing our new nature, our “Born Again Identity”. This week in Part 3 of out series, we look to the transformative power from the Holy Spirit that enables us to live the life He has created us to live and be who we already are in Christ!!!
What happened? This is a question theologians are still asking whenever they contemplate Adam’s fall in the garden. All agree that when created by God, Adam entered this world like no one else ever would—not just scientifically, but morally! The blanket indictment that applied to all the rest of us—“There are none good; no not one”—did not apply to Adam, at least not in the beginning. At the time Adam was created, God said of him that he was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). But then Adam sinned and whatever man was left with after the fall, he has had to endure to this day. How should we describe this heart, what the Bible elsewhere calls “the old man” or “the natural man”?
In attempting to describe it, we must keep in mind that this is the heart all of us were born with, the very heart God vowed to replace. This week we hear from God just what it means to, “Reckoning the old man dead”.
Of all the biblical teachings describing the life of a believer, none is more important—and none is less understood—than the doctrine of the new nature. What the Bible says about the new nature is so elevating in vision, so widespread in application, and so profound in impact, one can hardly stack enough superlatives to describe its importance. Most of us routinely quote the verse that says we are a new creation, but have almost no idea what is being asserted. We know something profound is being said, although we find it hard to believe that at the time of our conversion a radical change actually took place inside us. While we did experience the joy of having our sins forgiven and the thrill of beginning a new relationship with Jesus, we also experienced, soon enough, the return of our old sinful ways. So, based on this continued and unwanted sin-struggle, we had to conclude that whatever happened at that moment we became a Christian must not have meant becoming a totally different person. And yet, II Corinthians 5:17 does seem to be wide-sweeping in its scope when it asserts that not only have we become a new creation but that old things have passed away and that all things have become new. So what passed away—and what became new?
Today, I want to just bring some things to your remembrance. I know this is a special time of the year in our country when we remember our freedom. We celebrate what it means to be independent, to be free, to enjoy liberty. And I suppose as Americans, if we were to isolate one thing that is sort of the hallmark of our nation it would be our love of freedom. America has become a term in the world that is somewhat synonymous with being free. That is our highest held and most praised of all blessings. And we do enjoy that. And we thank God for the freedom that we have. In the name of freedom an awful lot of things go on that are a terrifying abuse of freedom, and if continued will lead as they always have in history to the loss of freedom. It is the nature of freedom that it can be abused to the point where it is lost. And what is true in the political and sociological world is also true in the spiritual world. And I’d like to have us focus on that today, on Christian freedom and its potential abuse.