We now continue our look at what Christ Jesus did on the Cross. In the previous The Power of the Cross here at Apprising Ministries we focused more on what the sacrifice of Jesus of Nazareth meant in regard to salvation and now we begin to look a bit more at the effect the Cross has on the believer.

Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.

No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.
(1 John 3:7-10, NASB)

The Pure Poison Of Liberal Theology

As we get started I’d like to draw your attention to an issue that will eventually usher in the death of this nation if we don’t stand against it as Christians. And at the same time it illustrates the effects of one of the major areas that I have been teaching you about. The issue I’m referring to is the same-sex marriage controversy. To properly understand how this even became an issue within the Church—of all places—one needs to know a little about the Cult of Liberal Theology. The late Dr. Walter Martin, who was without a doubt America’s foremost authority in the area of non-Christian cults, once called this “the most insidious and all-pervasive cult operating in this country.”

And the venom of liberalism injected into the Church from this brood of vipers has already paralyzed—and/or—killed virtually every mainline denomination. You must know in the Spirit that this very same deadly poison is currently seeping deeply into veins of the evangelical camp as well through false teachings of postliberals like Rob Bell and postevangelicals like Rick Warren with their respective Emergent Church and Purpose Driven Church. People who do ascribe to liberal theology—and in our timid times its been repainted in a “postmodern” postliberalism—will eventually deny everything that historic, orthodox Christianity has always stood for, and there can be no doubt that people of this evil persuasion now hold virtually all of the teaching positions in so many of our nation’s seminaries and Bible colleges.

Maybe you thought it was secular historians and professors who have been attacking our faith in the Bible. Well clearly, they are not alone. The most insidious attacks on the credibility of Holy Scripture have actually come from some of the most respected seminaries in the country—all of which were once thoroughly in the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. Here’s an example of what I am warning you about. Consider Rev. Gretta Vosper, a woman who has been pastor for the last ten years at West Hill United Church in Toronto, who:

has written a book, published this week — With or Without God: Why the Way We Live is More Important than What We Believe — in which she argues that the Christian church, in the form in which it exists today, has outlived its viability and either it sheds its no-longer credible myths, doctrines and dogmas, or it’s toast.

She is considered one of the bright, if unconventional, minds within the United Church, Canada’s largest Protestant Christian denomination. She holds a master of divinity degree from Queen’s University and was ordained in 1992. She founded and chairs the Toronto-based Canadian Centre for Progressive Christianity…

Ms. Vosper does not want to dress up the theological detritus — her words — of the past two millennia with new language in the hope of making it more palatable. She wants to get rid of it, and build on its ashes a new spiritual movement that will have relevance in a tight-knit global world under threat of human destruction.

She says there’s been virtually a consensus among scholars for the past 30 years that the Bible is not some divine emanation [and there’s virtually a consensus that the Bible is as well] — or in Ms. Vosper acronym, TAWOGFAT, The Authoritative Word of God For All Time — but a human project filled with contradictions and the conflicting worldviews and political perspectives of its authors.

And yet, she says, the liberal Christian churches, including her own, won’t acknowledge that it is a human project [there’$ many rea$on$ for thi$], that it’s wrong in parts and that, in the 21st century, it’s no more useful as a spiritual and religious guide than a number of other books. (Online source)

What utter blasphemy! And these words from Almighty God thunder from Holy Scripture — The Spirit clearly says that [in these last days] some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and the doctrines of demons (1 Timothy 4:1)… For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to [tell them exactly what they] want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3). Men and women, the time has clearly come to heed this warning from the Lord — the end of things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers (1 Peter 4:7, NKJV).

The Power Of Repentance

Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse, a well-respected teacher of the Bible, speaks of:

a Sunday School teacher [who] once asked a class what was meant by the word “repentance.” A little boy put up his hand and said, “It is being sorry for your sins.”

A little girl also raised her hand and said, “Please, it is being sorry enough to quit [sinning].” There is, indeed, a vast difference between the two. That is why the Lord said through [His prophet] Joel — Rend your heart and not your garments (Joel 2:13). (Illustrating Great Themes of Scripture, 128).

He who is truly sorry for something will admit he was wrong, thereby taking responsibility for the wrong, and He will stop doing that thing. As Barnhouse also said:

The [true] born-again Christian, looking upon his heart, is forced to say: If I were but the justice of God, I would send myself to eternal separation from God. If I were but the holiness of God, I would separate myself eternally from that holiness. Then we can understand that only by that redeeming love which came to the cross and bore the stroke of that justice and the separation of the holiness, is it possible for love to redeem us and draw us to Him (ibid.).

Therein lies another aspect of The Power Of The Cross which it is vital for us to understand. It’s also the area that Satan wants to keep Christians from understanding. Because if he can keep you from understanding this then he can keep you from being effective in your witness for Jesus in this hour of apostasy where even people within the Church of Jesus Christ are so desperately in need of this power unleashed by God at the Cross. And what Satan doesn’t want you to discover is, that when you are “born again,” the Devil’s control over you is broken—you are no longer a slave to the prince of the power of the air. Do you see; the prince of air—ruler of…well, nothing! So what we’re going to do now is to focus on some of the effect the Cross has upon the believer.

The Reward Of Diligence

Now we all pretty much know that to enter the Kingdom of Heaven Jesus told us — “you must be born again” (John. 3:7). And most of the people reading this will know that for this to happen Jesus of Nazareth would have to go to the Cross to sacrifice His life and to shed His blood to make peace with God the Father for us. Jesus then rose from the dead as proof that He was God—just as He said He was—as well as proof that the Father had accepted His sacrifice. The Bible then tells us — everyone who believes that  Jesus is the Christ is born of God (1 John 5:1). We’re going to cover a bit of ground quickly here as we look at what the Bible has to say about the believer after he is saved. And as we do we’ll stop and break down a couple of key Scriptures from God’s Word concerning just what happens to us as we are born again of God. It’s imperative as the darkening shadows of this apostasy deepen and spread that we see just what the Lord Himself has said as we look at these verses in context to make sure we really understand them.

When we are through with this teaching we will spiritually strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. As we — Make level paths for your feet (Hebrews 12:12-13). And you’ll also know for certain why the following verse of Scripture is a fact for the true born again believer in Christ – we are more than conquerors through Him Who loved us (Romans 8:37). And please understand that based on Hebrews 11:6 from the Word of God — And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him; a message like this is dealing with one such reward. So I encourage you to really take hold by faith what we will go over and you will grow in your relationship with your Lord. No doubt many will have read these Scriptures before—some many times—and now I pray you will let the truth of God’s Word blossom deep inside of you.

I tell you the truth, you and I live in an evil and perverse generation where the Lord is now going to rebuke many within the mainstream evangelical church—whether you call yourself the Emerging Church or whatever the the flavor of the day may be—for their lack of faith. God says — And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes everyone He accepts as a son (Hebrews 12:5-6). You see men and women, it’s one thing to talk about having a “personal relationship” with Jesus; but it’s a whole other thing to actually walk in said relationship. For the Apostle Paul wrote — I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him (Philippians 3:10). And here’s another Scripture for you to consider as well — Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory (Romans 8:17). I can tell you this for certain: if you think you will be able to really get to know Jesus and to walk with Him without being willing to sacrifice; you are a dreamer.

Putting Off The Body Of Sin

We turn now for a moment to the Book of Colossians, chapter 2, beginning with verse 8. Now it might come as a shock to some of you to find out that Jesus is not happy with much of has come to pass itself off as orthodox Christianity these duplicitous days. What has happened here in the American Church is that as our country was blessed by God and prospered as a people we became fat and lazy; both physically and spiritually . So instead of seeking a real relationship with Christ Jesus people just got used to doing what seemed comfortable to them personally. When you mix in the independent spirit of pride deeply rooted in this arrogant nation along with the ignorance of those who have not studied the Bible for themselves you have Satan’s rancid recipe for deception and dead orthodoxy. As best exemplified by the semi-pelagian Purpose Driven life phenomenon sweeping through the spiritual void extended by the Emerging church and filling in the large cracks of a shallow self-centered people as a kind demonic expanding foam insulation.

Now the following from chapter two of Colossians:

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, Who is the head over every power and authority. In Him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ having been buried with Him in baptism and raised with Him through your faith in the power of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (vv. 8-15)

As always with any passage of the Word of God, for those who have eyes to see, there is a wealth of information here. But for our *ahem* purpose here, as we look at The Power Of The Cross, let me focus your attention on verse 11 in particular—the putting off of the sinful nature. The Bible Knowledge Commentary points out:

the words putting off are from the noun apekdysei (“total breaking away from”), which occurs only here in the New Testament. This putting off of the old life occurs at the moment of salvation, when a believer is buried with Christ in baptism by the Spirit (cf. 1 Cor. 12:13) and is raised with Him to new life (New Testament, 677).

What we are being told by God the Holy Spirit in Colossians 2:11 is that because of Christ’s work on the Cross—those who are believers in Him—can, and are to, “put off” and “totally break away from” our sinful nature. And now you are ready to understand something that somehow has been lost upon us, which has contributed to the Devil’s infiltration of the evangelical community these past few years, and this would be just what Jesus means when He says — If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me (Luke 9:23).

I think it’s a good idea for us at this point to focus our attention here in Luke’s Gospel so that we can look at something together. Please allow me to show you just how deep a verse of Scripture can be as we go ahead “mine” this one for some of the valuable “treasure” of knowledge contained for us therein. Then He — [Jesus] — said to them all: If — [this means there is a choice, as in if a person will do this; anyone — [here the Master refers to you, me, anyone who would be His disciple must make this choice. Would come after Me — this is to follow Jesus and press on to get to know Him, i.e. to be like Him.

So, for those who have become spiritually impaired through the vapid and vacuous man-centered teachings of postevangelicalism and/or postliberalism, here’s what we have so far: Christ says —“Should any human being desire to be my disciple he will make this necessary choice to get to know Me and to try and be like Me.” And now the Master continues: He must deny himself — the word “deny” here is from an old Greek word that means, “to have nothing to do with.” This idea now connects back to our discussion concerning Colossians 2:11 — putting off the sinful nature. Remember that we have already seen that this putting off is to “totally break away from” or “to have nothing to do with.”

Can you see how this works now? To truly come after Jesus Christ the believer must be like Him—totally breaking away from—and having absolutely nothing to do with his old human nature, which the Scriptures teach is our sinful flesh. The Master calls us to a life of total denial of the importance of self. It’s the exact opposite life-style of our nation, and of that which is being perpetrated upon the unsuspecting through emerging aberrant teachers e.g. like Erwin McManus and Brian McLaren. The true believer in Jesus of Nazareth must abandon every shred of the pride and of the innate self-preservation that is inextricably rooted in our “flesh” i.e. our sinful nature. The true life of the Christian is to be a life of always dying to self while being made alive in and empowered by the Holy Spirit; seeking to please God—every second of every day—regardless of the resulting cost. The true follower of Christ Jesus of Nazareth must be every bit as much a son or daughter of God as was our Lord in His humanity on earth. This is simply impossible in the flesh; however, with God all things are possible.

Decreasing For Christ

Of the creation of mankind the Bible says — Let us make man in our image, in our likeness (Gen. 1:26). But the truth is, when Adam and Eve sinned as a result that image was marred beyond repair on our own. You may have heard the saying: God didn’t make junk. This is true; He didn’t, but our own sin has indeed turned us into junk. However, God knew this would happen, and as the Scripture says — For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers (Romans 8:29). When will those so enraptured with seeking experience over relationship in corrupt Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism and those seeking self-satisfaction with some fictional purpose, understand that only in Jesus Christ of Nazareth do we see God’s image restored in man. Now remember back to what Jesus said — I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing (John 14:12). Do you recall a moment in our Lord’s life where He ever thought of anything other than doing the will of God? And do you recall the most important Commandment: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength (Mark 12:30).

Now, do you see any room here for your self-esteem; or for you to do things the way you think they ought to be done? No! This is a high road and a very narrow way, isn’t it? The absolute truth is: Christianity is about hating that old self—our sinful human nature. In fact, only by a total abandonment of your self-esteem will you ever begin to come to really know Jesus. I have often taught my local church that the things of the true God of the Bible are just about the polar opposite of what you have been taught by so many of today’s lukewarm evangelical preachers attempting to find popularity with the world. It is written — He who trusts in himself is a fool (Proverbs 28:26). And shame on these leaders within the evangelical community for ever letting the occultic philosophies of this self-esteem nonsense—literally rooted in the Mind Science cults—be taught in our Lord’s Church in the first place. God Almighty would say: “You should have known better. Have I not said My — Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse, who leave the straight paths to walk in dark ways (Proverbs 2:12,13).

So maybe you should stop and think about all of this the next time you find that you have a little “free” time; you know, just for your–self. Trust me, those who have ears to hear what the Spirit says will be uplifted by a word like this because it magnifies the Lord. And how can Christ Jesus be magnified unless a man was also to become smaller at the same time. Remember, John the Baptist said — [Jesus] must become greater; I must become less (John 3:30). And, if you find yourself saying: But this is just too hard—it’s impossible—I can’t live like that! Then good; no, make that very good! Now you are right where God wants you at this point of this message. Men and women, hang in there it gets better. And I tell you the truth if you are a disciple of Christ you will be encouraged by God the Holy Spirit before we’re through here. For the Bible says — As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17). Can you see; the blade of the knife must endure the friction, if, it ever hopes to become sharp for the Master’s use.

Now we are ready to return to Luke 9:23. Here’s where we left off; our Lord Jesus has said — “Should any human being desire to be my disciple he will make this necessary choice to get to know Me and to try and be like Me and he will then have to have nothing to do with himself.” Let’s go on to the last part of this verse of Luke — and take up his cross daily and follow me. And — means there’s more; something in addition to what the Master has just said. As if to say: You think that is tough, then wait until you hear this! Anyone who would come after Christ must — take up his cross. And we have previously seen that the cross is an instrument of death. Anyone who truly wants to follow Jesus of Nazareth will literally have to die to his old sinful nature—to totally put off his old self—and have nothing to do with the way he once lived.

The Satanic Schools Of Deception

Here’s the heart of I’ve been trying to help you see with these two messages on The Power of the Cross as regarding the person of our Lord, Christ Jesus of Nazareth. You see we already know that the “other” Jesuses in the Kingdom of the Cults are false. These are actually fairly easy to spot—although sadly even this is becoming more clouded with e some evangelical leaders appearing ready to embrace the Mormon Church as brothers—but we really may look at this area of deception as the elementary school of Satan’s myriad number of tricks.

Now we come to the next level of Satan’s deadly deceptions—the liberal churches of the mainline denominations—which have already apostatized long ago. These would e.g. the Episcopal Church, the Congregational Church, the Methodist Church—large sections of the American Baptist Church, the Lutheran Church and the Southern Baptist Convention—as well as an ever-increasing part of the Presbyterian Church just to name a few notables. When we reach this level—essentially the “High School” of Satan’s perverted Kingdom—we are now dealing with apostates in leadership positions as evidenced by the item from the recent news I shared earlier. There is a bit more difficulty in this area, as these people are also using the same words and terminology that true followers of Christ use; and many of these apostates are doing so from platforms within the Church of our Lord. So this means that one must be more knowledgeable in the Scriptures—in systematic theology—and in the wisdom of the Holy Spirit in order to be able to decipher their false teachings and to see through their phony Christian façades.

Which now brings us now to a rather startling thought. It has rapidly become apparent that the “middle of the road” churches—what we would even call “evangelical” churches—have also begun to apostatize. I guess we shouldn’t really be surprised as the Bible says — Don‘t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day — [the Second Advent of Christ Jesus the Lord] — will not come until the rebellion occurs (2 Thessalonians 2:3). The King James Version reads: for that Day shall not come, except there come a falling away first. Are you starting to see now that even the “Social Reformer Jesus” of so many of the “postmodern” postevangelical churches is also but a figment of men’s imaginations? And here we come to Satan’s “college level” deceptions, and those who have eyes to see are now beginning to understand just how far we have drifted away from our “first love.”

I cover this apostasy in more depth in The Falling Away of the Evangelical Church. And sadly, this is what the Lord is saying to so many leaders within the evangelical camp — I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first (Revelation 2:4-5).

Submerging The Gospel For Comfort At The Expense Of Holiness

This is the sad fact of this characterless generation: God’s message of salvation has been tragically softened, for whatever reason, in recent years. And a new brand of seeker sensitive Christianity has emerged, which Dr. John MacArthur dubbed “Christianity Lite” in his book Hard To Believe. If you listen in the Spirit you may hear the Word of the Lord along the lines of, “Men have compromised My message; supposedly in an attempt to make My Gospel more appealing to unbelievers. But what they ended up doing—and why the real reason they have done so—was to make life easier and more comfortable for themselves in order to justify their own lack of faith and commitment.” And in time, because people weren’t studying to show themselves approved, this user-friendly “easy-believism” became accepted as if it is what the Bible actually teaches. Do you remember this — Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true (Acts 17:11). Please, do search the Bible to see if what I say is true, for it’s our hope that all of us will be doing what Christ asked each of us to do when He literally comes again to His earth. And Jesus Himself said — It will be good for that servant whose Master finds him doing so when He returns (Matthew 24:46).

Have you ever stopped to wonder about, and to truly meditate on, the awesome holiness and majesty of Yahweh Elohim—the LORD God Almighty—as He is revealed in the Bible, most particularly in the Old Testament? Do you see how the Holy Scriptures are adorned with praise for the one true and living God? O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your Name in all the earth! You have set Your glory above the heavens (Psalm 8:1). Your right hand, O Lord, was majestic in power. Your right hand, O Lord, shattered the enemy. In the greatness of Your majesty You threw down those that opposed You (Exodus 15:6,7). Then Daniel praised the God of Heaven and said: “Praise be to the Name of God forever and ever; wisdom and power are His. He changes times and seasons; He sets up kings and deposes them (Daniel 2:19,20,21). And have you ever noticed how the Bible lifts God up—and emphasizes His greatness—even at the expense of mankind? O Lord — Give us aid against the enemy, for the help of man is worthless. With God we will gain the victory, and He will trample down our enemies (Psalm 108:12-13).

Now, let’s take a moment and think about today’s evangelical churches. Would you notice anything different? Is this what you will hear preached on Sunday? Does your pastor tell you that it is God Who is in control and you on your own are a mere creature are stained with sin and absolutely helpless before Him. Jesus says — Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of [God] the One Who can destroy both soul and body in Hell (Matthew 10:28). O mortal man—purpose driven or not—a supposed “seeker” in the Emerging Church or not—are you afraid of God? You should be, for this is what the God says to everyone who does not have a personal relationship with Him through a commitment by faith to surrender completely to Christ Jesus of Nazareth as their Lord and Savior. Because my seeker sensitive friend, whether you acknowledge Him as such or not, God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the Name which is above every name, that at the Name of Jesus every knee [will] bow, in Heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9-11).

The Backward Worship Of Man

O how much I do hope Satan was listening, for we saints of the Lord will—and sooner than we may think—watch the defeated Devil himself bow before our great God and Savior Jesus of Nazareth. And if you aren’t sure that you personally know Christ Jesus as your Lord and Savior then you have much to be afraid of yourself. You won’t hear much today about Almighty God’s absolute holiness and majesty in far too many evangelical churches who are now busy bowing before the narcissistic so-called postmodern culture of the United States of self-worship. This magnificent truth has been lost in these mere hollow shells of lukewarm compromise where more and more professing Christians are content to seek for God, whatever their subjective concept of Him might be, in the Ecumenical Church Of Deceit (ECoD). And in many cases you wouldn’t even be able to hear the above truth—even if it was preached—amid the din of worshiptainment in these sinner-friendly playpens masquerading as churches.

But don’t they know that it’s our glorious and majestic, great and mighty God Who controls whether they even take their next breath—or—not? And still the Bible sounds a clear and pristine warning:

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the Law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:26-31)

Tell me, have you heard this message lately? Have you ever heard the “other side of the Good News” Well, far too many spiritual thrill-seekers in the ECoD of postevangelicalism haven’t. And the message of God’s absolute holiness is hopelessly obscured underneath all the psycho-babble ala Robert Schuller in the purpose driven churches where so much time is spent trying to build up self-centered sinners already inflated self worth? I say, if a person struggles with their self-esteem, it’s because a holy God wants them to, so that they will give their lives to Christ Jesus. For only then will you ever have anything to esteem in the eyes of Almighty God your Creator. Do you see; it’s just as I told you before, for far too long in the diseased evangelical church here in America we’ve been thinking as men and not as the Lord thinks so we truly have turned everything backward. And this is the fatal flaw Satan’s Ecumenical Church of Deceit, daughter of the apostate Roman Catholic Church. If only the plethora of Rick Warren and Rob Bell and Joel Osteen clones who pastor these seeker friendly Christian playpens within the ECoD of postevangelicalism could finally see it!.

Who Even Admires God Anymore?

For the problem really is this simple. As I have been seeking God concerning this subject for this past year, here is what I believe the Lord showed me. In this arrogant and self-centered heathen culture, we don’t even admire the God of the Bible anymore—let alone worship Him. Need proof; just look at the lack of reverence we have shown Him, and may Lord forgive us for not seeing this sooner. A.W. Tozer was all too right when he said more then half a century ago:

The dictionary says that to admire is “to regard with wondering esteem accompanied by pleasure and delight; to look at or upon with an elevated feeling of pleasure.” According to this definition, God has few admirers [even] among [evangelical] Christians today. Many are they who are grateful for His goodness in providing salvation… But God’s admirers, where are they? The simple truth is that worship is elementary until it begins to take on the quality of admiration. Just as long as a worshipper is [still] engrossed with himself and his good fortune, he is a babe. We begin to grow up when our worship passes from thanksgiving to admiration. As our hearts rise to God in lofty esteem for that which He is (“I AM THAT I AM,” Exodus 3:14), we begin to share a little of the selfless pleasure which is the portion of the blessed in Heaven (Tozer On Christian Leadership, June 4).

The sad fact is, most Christians simply have precious little training in the Old Testament Scriptures, and as such, there is a severe lack of knowledge concerning the majestic holiness of Almighty God in the Christian Church today. And as a further result of the seeker sensitive Church Growth Movement—of which the Emergent Church is a part—most people tend to think of Jesus as their “buddy,” and this has led to a horribly deficient understanding of our Lord’s true character. What has happened by watering down the Gospel message is that people have now come to see God as a kind of slightly more powerful version of man. Hence the ridiculous idea of “the Big Man” upstairs, or those who flippantly refer to the Almighty Creator God of the universe as “the Boss.” No orthodox Jew—who because they are trained in the Old Testament—would ever dare refer to the LORD God Almighty in such a demeaning and insolent manner. The truth is, they won’t even write out the word G-d, nor do they use the term L-rd. Instead the faithful Jew will mostly refer to God as Ha-Shem—the Name. How utterly absurd the type of behavior where we as the people in whom He would dwell would ever refer to our Lord in the derogatory manners described above.

We need to recapture the truth about the awesome power and grandeur of the one true and living God. Our loving Creator, Who is a Self-existing–multi-dimensional Spirit of unfathomable intellect Who is so pure, powerful and holy that you would immediately disintegrate in His dreadful presence. God commanded an incredibly complex and vast universe of billions of galleries to exist, and it immediately appeared fully formed and fully functioning in a nanosecond. And as Dr. Martin has said: The Lord is sustaining this with a single ultra-dimensional command — “Stay where you are!” And it does. To give you a further perspective concerning the unfathomable power of this personal Spiritual Being Martin further points out, “it takes 10 to the 241st power of energy to sustain this universe for one minute. That’s as close as we can figure with high speed computers. And God’s power transcends that by infinity.” I hope you are finally beginning to get the idea that God is…O…just a little bit more powerful than you are. How foolish we are to think that we can comprehend even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percentage of the knowledge God possesses!

The Christian Is Dead To Sin

Alright, with all of this in mind, I promised you that it gets better. No doubt some of the things you have read here will seem new to you, and might possibly sound quite difficult. Cheer up; that’s because the life of the true Christian is impossible. And further, it is meant to be! It’s basically like this: God created the universe and man. God is in control of everything and every event in that universe. Man lives in rebellion against God and was powerless to save himself. So in the Man—Jesus of Nazareth, God the Son, second Person of the Holy Trinity—God came into His universe and saved mankind Himself; who in turn, “thanked” Him by attempting to kill his own Creator. And yet God forgave man, and even still draws them to Himself—all the while unfortunately—most of mankind continues to live in selfish rebellion against our Lord. I would hope you get the idea: It’s God Who is important in all this and not you! And the fact that preaching like this still makes men angry just proves how evil and selfish our human nature really is. Now think about this: If all the talk about how sinful mankind is wicked and rebellious and that God alone is great and mighty upsets you; and if this idea of praising the Lord all time bothers you, then exactly what do you think you would be doing for all eternity in Heaven?

The truth is that only by being regenerated by—and filled with—the Holy Spirit can you ever even hope to live for Jesus. Or what do you think the Bible means when it says – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). The old sinful nature of the true Christian does die with Jesus on the Cross and he is born again in his spirit, baptized in, and sealed by, God the Holy Spirit. Let’s turn to one more place in the Bible—Romans, chapter 6, and verse 6, and I will show you that this is exactly what God says will happen to the regenerated believer. The genuine Christian’s sin nature was destroyed at the Cross. We have already seen in Colossians 2:15 that in the superior power of what happened at the Cross God disarmed the [satanic] powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the Cross. Romans 6:6-7 — For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sinbecause anyone who has died has been freed from sin. This is not meant merely as an idea, nor is it some abstract concept to try and live up to. No, we are to understand this as an incontrovertible fact, and it is the way our Lord and Master Christ Jesus commands His true followers to live!.

And a little further on in this passage from the Book of Romans we read this incredible good news about what our Lord also did on that Cross:

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, He cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over Him. The death He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. (Romans 6:8-12)

What we are being told here as believers in Christ, is that the moment we were regenerated and surrendered our lives to Jesus, our old nature was literally crucified with Him! This is exactly what the Bible is saying here. If you are in Christ, as has been pointed out elsewhere, your old nature—your old self—was given a mortal wound and rendered inoperative. What a glorious truth; our old sin nature has no real power. And now we have uncovered one of the most devastating deceptions that Satan has imbedded into the Christian Church today. The Devil has been successful in convincing thousands of Christians that they are just poor old sinners unable to live up to the impossible demands of a mean ol’ God Who holds out a standard that’s just too high to even attempt to live up to. But the real truth is, as you can plainly see, this is not what the Bible is telling us here at all, is it? However, for this truth to be in effect we have to appropriate it by faith, and we must exercise our faith in what the text of the Bible actually says. And if we buy a satanic lie and don’t count ourselves dead to sin, then the power of our old nature—our sinful human nature—will seem real. For those who have eyes to see, this is exactly what is happening in the horribly underachieving “Christian” lifestyles of the postevangelical sinner sensitive evangelical community today.

This is so vitally important to come to fully understand in order for you to live a life worthy of the true Christian. If you truly have been born again, then you are a new creation and you have a brand new nature—a regenerated spiritual nature! 2 Corinthians 5:17 means exactly what it says — Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! And this is also what the Bible means when it says to believers — Dear friends, I urge you as aliens and strangers in this world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul (1 Peter 2:11). Notice that God the Holy Spirit doesn’t say that these desires war against your sinful nature—which is your flesh, your body—your outer man. No, once you are born again your sinful nature—your flesh—is crucified with Christ, and your inner man—your spirit—is made alive. Does all this begin to make sense now? The desires of the flesh die and the desires of the Spirit are born with you; but remember, Satan will try and prevent you from understanding this truth if you let him. And the sad fact is that right now the Devil’s venomous lies in this area have virtually paralyzed the vast majority of evangelical Christianity.

So Don’t Go Back; Go On

Do you see it now? Jesus said — The thief [Satan] comes to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they [Christians] may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10). And the full, or “abundant,” life our Lord speaks of here is not the vile hogwash taught by ECoD Word-Faith teachers like Kenneth Copeland and Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer and T.D. Jakes, ad infinitum, ad nauseaum. Rather, the Lord speaks of an overcoming power from God the Holy Spirit to live “fully” — above — the desires of the flesh; to live a full and pleasing spiritual life for God—right here and right now! O how Jesus longs for you to understand this so you can experience Him while you’re still in this world but not of this world. And then as His ambassador, living dead to sin but alive in Christ, you can live in such a way to bring glory to God and bearing much fruit for His Kingdom. You see, I told you it gets better.

Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones puts his finger on our problem when he describes the kingdom of Satan and the Kingdom of God as two fields. When we become Christians, Jesus rescues us out of Satan’s dry, rocky pasture and places us in His green fields. But that old master, the Devil, yells at us from his side of the fence. We hear him cracking his whip and telling us to get back into his field where we belong. Self-ishness, fear and intimidation make us listen to his lies, and before you know it, we climb right back over the fence mentally. What’s amazing though is, we don’t have to. Satan is no longer our master. The Bible says — You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteous (Rom.6:18). So, here’s a good idea: Just turn away from the Devil’s lies. Understand that fear and intimidation are part of his strategy to try and force you back into his territory, but you died to sin and it is no longer your master. All you need to remember is that Jesus is your Master and you never again need to set foot outside His kingdom. In the words of the old spiritual: “Free at last, free at last! Thank God Almighty; I’m free at last!” Christ’s work on the Cross crucified the Christian, and we are dead to sin, as well as forever free from the power of Satan over our lives.

As we finish our look at The Power of the Cross, I close with these serious but encouraging words from Dr. Charles Stanley. UnfortunateIy, even though we are in the same convention, I really don’t find myself in much agreement with him anymore. But that said, here he does have some sage advice for us:

Satan makes a presentation: don’t worry about the future; you can have immediate fulfillment now! The strength of Satan’s presentation is that worldly things are available immediately. You can have them, for a price, and they will provide temporary gratification. The enemy doesn’t bring up tomorrow. He invites us to forfeit of our future by demanding immediate fulfillment of our desires. There is nothing you or I “must have” now that is worth stepping out of God’s will or losing the privileges and opportunities He had prepared for us. God has a plan for our lives, and there is absolutely nothing that can compare with His will, His purpose, and His goals.Our relationship with God is the most important aspect of our existence. No experience at any time in our lives compares with knowing Him. Yet everyday, because we must “have it now,” we’re tempted to choose what Satan has to offer. We sacrifice our future when we make irrevocable choices during times of emotional weakness. Jesus Christ can help us face any trial Satan can throw our way. The Lord is there for us, and He will never leave us, nor forsake Us.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the Church…and obey…for to obey is better than sacrifice…