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We ARE It (Without Hands pt. 1)

I’ve written many times about the fact that in Christ/Spirit, we have died and risen into new life.  In Colossians 2:11-13 (ESV), Paul uses the illustration of physical circumcision to make this same point:

“In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses…” 

There are several important things Paul states about this spiritual circumcision. First, it only exists “in him,” meaning in Christ/Spirit.  It’s not something that is seen in the physical body or felt with physical senses.  Second, it was done “without hands,” meaning that man had no part in it and cannot alter it.  Third, this circumcision didn’t cut off a foreskin, but the entire “body of the flesh.”  By doing this, God did what man couldn’t (and still can’t) – end the flesh. As God sees, in the Spirit, EVERYTHING which has been birthed from the “seed” of man is condemned, dead, taken away.  Fourth, Paul says God did this while men were dead in trespasses and (spiritual) uncircumcision.  We didn’t “earn” this, it was done in God’s timing and by His decision.  Paul says by cutting off the flesh, God was forgiving all trespasses and uniting men with Christ, making them alive TOGETHER with him. Needless to say, a radical change has taken place!  This change, for those with eyes to see, is not in the physical world, and not in the darkness within or outside of us.  Those things remain dead.  This change is in the Spirit, which then alters our perception of and relationship to everything, and which ultimately will consume all that is not in accordance with it!  

In a recent post, I mentioned some questions I wanted to address in light of these things.  Here are a few of these:

1. How should we relate to other people?  

-I agree with Paul, who in 2 Corinthians 5:16 wrote believers are to “know no man after the flesh.”  Knowing that in the light of the new covenant, all flesh has been cut off and put away, and all men reconciled to God, we will not relate to people (positively or negatively) based off what is dead and cut off.  It’s unnatural and often very difficult to walk this way, but I think the term for it is LOVE.  For example, In 2 Corinthians 5:14, Paul wrote: “…the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded (recognized) this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died…”  In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul also famously wrote that love keeps no record of wrongs, is longsuffering and kind and never quits.  I believe this is because love is based on the eternal, accomplished fact that Christ died for all, as all, reconciling all men to God, who is no longer counting sins against anyone. 

 

2. What should our relationship be to the world? (I define “world” not as planet earth, but as the systems and values that have been founded and established by man on the earth).  

Again, scripture answers this quite clearly:  

  • “…the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”  -Galatians 6:14

  • “…all that is in the world–the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions–is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” -1 John 2:16-17 ESV

Recognizing the cross of Christ was our cross too, and that his resurrection was our resurrection too, we will not make any firm attachments to anything still founded on the old creation, nor will we let its values or deceitful desires enter our hearts.

3. What is our relationship to religion?  

-We realize that God is satisfied in His son, and places no value on anything except an increase of His spirit.  In the new creation, there is no benefit (nor intrinsic harm) in any outward observances of any kind.  The only obligation we have is to love one-another.  Seeing the mind and hand of natural man underlying all forms of religion, and knowing natural man is spiritually dead, we simply leave religion be, calling men to come out of it as the Spirit reveals the new creation within them.  We then follow the Spirit in freedom and Life, outside of pretense and ritual.

4. What do we make of it when we still “sin?,” if we have died and been raised with Christ?  

– First, let us remember, according to scripture, Jesus became sin on our behalf, took away the sin of the world, and God is no longer reckoning sin against anyone.  So while sin exists (in a sense), it is, in the final analysis, a moot point, a defeated foe, a nullified issue, and one that we would be much better off not worrying about at all.

Assuming this is true and we are reckoned sinless and have been raised to new life in Christ, it is still the case that the MANIFESTATION of this reality is not instant or painless.  We remain human, and scripture gives many examples of carnal behavior even among the early church.  Even when we genuinely are seeking the Kingdom, it often takes time for us to let go of habits and attachments that were formed in darkness, especially those deeply-rooted issues which often develop from traumatic experiences and subconcious lies.  It also often takes time to unlearn and undo the fear-based, self-focused way of relating to God many of us were raised under.  And because some of these things remain, sometimes old behaviors/habits persist for a time, or temporarily return.    

But, the key thing is, having died with Christ, we know these things are not “us.”  As Paul wrote in Romans 7, it was not he (Christ, his true identity) that sinned, but the vestiges of sin (the old man/Adam) that remained within him.  Knowing Christ alone is alive, he sought and suffered to see that truth become the manifest reality of his existence.  Knowing any old, sinful ways are not “us” and are not being held against us, we can avoid the two deadly errors: either thinking we “have it” and becoming proud, or thinking we “don’t have it” and becoming discouraged and fearful.  We don’t “have it” or “not have it.”  We ARE it!   It’s just a matter of revelation, refining, and manifestation.  

Here’s what I mean by “we are it.”  A few scriptures speak of purification or refining, which is a process that identifies and removes foreign material so only the valued substance remains.  In the same sense, the Spirit isn’t working to make us something new or better, but simply to identify and consume what ISN’T our true and valuable nature – Christ/Spirit/love.  As we yield to the Spirit’s gentle work, painful as it may be, the falsehoods and impurities are removed, making us become MANIFESTLY a new creation in the process.  It may not look like the ideal person religion has presented, but more like Jesus.

~

Father, renew our minds and hearts to the reality of the new creation.  Let us always remember that in the end, the “hands” of man are useless.  May Christ, our life, be manifested, unhindered by our own efforts or misunderstandings.   Thank you that you removed sin and are not dealing with us accordingly.  May we be the same, for ourselves and others, that fear might diminish, and love and wisdom grow.  Amen.

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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